Title: EARLY SIGNS
Constructors: Pao Roy & Brooke Husic
Editor: Erik Agard
SUN SALUTATION (14A: Asana sequence that might lead off a vinyasa class)
MOON LANDING (36A: Televised event of July 20, 1969)
RISING ACTION (53A: Plot section before the climax)
Theme synopsis: The EARLY part (first word) of each theme answer can be placed in front of the word SIGN to form a term used in astrology: SUN SIGN, MOON SIGN, RISING SIGN.
Things I learned:
- SITAR (1A: Manju Mehta's instrument) The SITAR is a plucked string instrument. It originated from the Indian subcontinent, and is used in Hindustani classical music. Manju Mehta is a classical SITAR player.
- BABOON (12A: Primate associated with Thoth) I have previously written about the Egyptian god, Thoth, who is frequently depicted with the head of an ibis. Today I learned that Thoth was also depicted as a man with the head of a BABOON, as both the ibis and BABOON were sacred to him.
- ART (25A: What Basquiat and Bearden made) Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was an artist that had success in the 1980s. Since his death, his ART has remained in demand. Romare Bearden (1911-1988) created ART using various media, including collage. Many of his works focused on southern African-American life. Basquiat and Bearden died in the same year; Basquiat at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose, and Bearden at the age of 77 from complications of bone cancer.
- LANA (42A: Golfer Lawless) LANA Lawless is a professional golfer. In 2008, she won the Long Drivers of America (LDA) women's competition, but when she registered to compete the following year, she discovered LDA had changed their rules and she was banned because she is transgender. In 2010, LANA Lawless sued the LDA and the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) saying their rules violated California's civil rights laws. The LDA and LPGA changed their rules before the trial went to court, and LANA Lawless dropped her lawsuit.
- SEXTET (67A: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, for example) Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were a hip hop group from the Bronx that formed in 1978. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
- CEE (60D: Hip-hop duo Super Lover ___ & Casanova Rud) Super Lover CEE (Calente Frederick) and Casanova Rud (Erik Rudnicki) released their first hip hop album, Girls I've Got 'Em Locked, in 1988.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- SUN SALUTATION (14A: Asana sequence that might lead off a vinyasa class) SUN SALUTATION is a flow sequence in vinyasa-style yoga that incorporates 12 linked asanas.
- TEA (33A: Beverage in which some eggs are boiled) A TEA egg is a savory snack made by cracking hard boiled eggs and then boiling them again in TEA and spices, resulting in a marbled pattern.
- MOON LANDING (36A: Televised event of July 20, 1969) The Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the MOON. As the clue tells us, that MOON LANDING occurred on July 20, 1969. I was a little young (not quite four) to remember watching the MOON LANDING, but when I asked my husband if he remembered watching the MOON LANDING (he was 11), he said, "I think I do, yeah!"
- EAR (49A: Distinctive part of a papillon) The dog breed known as Papillon takes its name from the French word for "butterfly." The dogs, which are also called Continental Toy Spaniels, are known for the characteristic long and fringed hair on their EARs that resembles the wings of a butterfly.
- ISSUES (64A: Fanzine installments) Fanzines are non-official publications whose ISSUES are produced by fans of literature, book, or video games.
- PONG (23D: Ping-___) I am always partial to this answer, as Ping-PONG was the name of our sweet, much-loved dog. Even though she wasn't a cat, you can find her photo on the CATS of SALLY'S TAKE page. (She's included in the "+" part of Cats+.
- TWO (27D: Number of colors on the intersex flag) The TWO colors of the Intersex flag are purple and yellow.
- ADAM (34D: "Beautiful on the Outside" memoirist Rippon) ADAM Rippon is a retired professional figure skater. His memoir, Beautiful on the Outside, was published in 2019.
- IOWA (31A: ___ City, IA) Hmm, what could this answer be?! Hey, look, it's my city! Using the
state abbreviation was a nice way to avoid a duplicate in the clue. My husband likes to joke that IOWA City, IOWA was named by the Department of Redundancy Department. He also likes to say that IOWA City is neither. With a population of just under 75,000, IOWA City is a city, but certainly not a metropolitan area. IOWA City tends to differ ideologically and politically from many rural areas of IOWA. IOWA City is a university town, as I wrote about yesterday when we saw Ames, Iowa in the puzzle. We moved to IOWA City in 1990 so I could attend graduate school at the University of Iowa, and our intention was to move when I graduated. I finished graduate school in 1995, and we're still (happily!) here, so you can see how that worked out. One more fun fact: When IOWA became a state in 1846, IOWA City was the state capital. The capital of IOWA moved to Des Moines - a more central location - in 1857. The Old Capitol building in IOWA City, shown in this photo behind my daughter and her boyfriend, is now a museum.
Old Capitol in IOWA City
- ABU (6D: ___ Dhabi) ABU Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is the country's second-most populous city, after Dubai.
- INUIT (38D: Most Nunavut residents) Nunavut is a territory of Canada, and is the largest and northernmost of Canada's territories. The Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act of 1999 officially separated Nunavut from the Northwest Territories and provided the land to the INUIT for independent government.
- GUINEA (44D: Country whose capital is Conakry) GUINEA is a country in West Africa. It has coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, and borders GUINEA-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. As the clue informs us, the country's capital is Conakry.
SUN SIGN, MOON SIGN, and RISING SIGN are terms used in the discussion of astrology. If you're interested in learning more, here's an article that describes them. When I read the title of today's puzzle, I first thought of zodiac SIGNS, and then of traffic SIGNS. I was closer with my zodiac guess. A couple of clues I especially enjoyed today: (5D: Person a book's narrator might address) for READER, and (45D: Jokey response during roll call) for ABSENT. I also liked the answers LOVE TAP, NO NEED, NONBINARY, SNO CONE, and LIL NAS X. And, what an interesting grid shape! The right side of the grid almost evokes a crescent MOON. Thank you Pao and Brooke, for this puzzle that was a delightful way to begin my Monday.