Title: DECENT START
Constructor: Rafael Musa
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
FINE BE THAT WAY (19A: "Do what you're gonna do, I guess")
OKAYAFRICA (34A: Digital media platform focused on the Black diaspora)
ALRIGHT ALREADY (54A: "That's enough!")
Theme synopsis: The START of each theme answer is a synonym for DECENT: FINE, OKAY, ALRIGHT.
Things I learned:
- MEL (24A: Author and podcaster Robbins) In addition to being an author and podcaster, MEL Robbins is an attorney, TV host, and motivational speaker. In fact, according to her website, she's had 12 different careers. (That might be more than me!) Her book, The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage was the most successful self-published audiobook of all time, and Audible's nonfiction bestseller for 2017.
- OKAYAFRICA (34A: Digital media platform focused on the Black diaspora) OKAYAFRICA (stylized as okayafrica) was founded in 2011 by Vanessa Wruble and Ginny Suss, and is a hub for African culture, music, and politics.
- NBA FINALS (3D: Best-of-seven sporting event in June) Well, if you are a regular reader (or even an infrequent reader!), you will know that sports are not my strong suit. Therefore, you will probably not be surprised when I tell you my first thought when I read this clue was, "Well, I know it's not the World Series..." Fortunately, the answer was fairly easy to discern once I had a few letters filled in from crossing answers.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- ALBERT (11A: Physicist Einstein) Did you know that "ALBERT Einstein's brain" has its own Wikipedia entry?
- ANA (14A: Actress Ortiz) ANA Ortiz's TV credits include Ugly Betty, Devious Maids, and Love, Victor.
- REST (25A: "My Year of ___ and Relaxation" (Ottessa Moshfegh novel)) Ottessa Moshfegh's 2018 novel, My Year of REST and Relaxation has an unnamed protagonist who tries to drug herself into sleeping through an entire year. I enjoyed this NPR interview with Ottessa Moshfegh, in which she discusses her most recent book, Lapvona.
- SELENA (37A: Popstar Gomez) SELENA Gomez started her acting career at the age of ten on the children's TV series, Barney & Friends. More recently, she starred in and executive produced the TV series Only Murders in the Building, with Steve Martin and Martin Short. My husband and I have become fans of that show, and are looking forward to its third season. We have a lot of questions that need answered!
- HABLA (48A: "Se ___ espanol") "Se HABLA español" means "Spanish is spoken."
- TOES (58A: Head, shoulders, knees and ___) and MASH (7D: "Monster ___" (Halloween song)) Today you have a choice of two quite different Share the Earworm selections: "Head, Shoulders, Knees and TOES" (make sure you do the actions!) or "Monster MASH." ("I was working in the lab, late one night...")
- TEEN (63A: Ms. Marvel, age-wise) Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, is a Marvel comics superhero. She's a Pakistani American TEEN with shapeshifting abilities.
- SHALL (64A: "You ___ not pass!") This is a great clue, because it's a phrase that is easily inferable standing on its own. However, fans of The Lord of the Rings will recognize "You SHALL not pass!" as a quote from Gandalf (played by Ian McKellen) in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
- EDDY (66A: Violinist Chen) I learned about EDDY Chen - half of the classical comedy duo known as TwoSet Violin - from the May 17, 2021 puzzle.
- BEER (20D: Sudsy part of a sake bomb) A sake bomb is made by pouring sake into a shot glass and dropping it into a glass of BEER.
- ART (21D: Ukiyo-e or ceramics, e.g.) Ukiyo-e is a type of Japanese ART featuring woodblock prints and paintings of a variety of subjects from everyday life. It is characterized by bold lines and vivid colors. Ceramics is an ART form that includes the making of earthenware, porcelain, and brick.
- CAT DOOR (31D: Opening for a kitty) As I've mentioned previously, since Willow
Willow taking a cat nap
is an indoor kitty, she doesn't have a CAT DOOR. However, she has trained me to open the closet door in my office for her when she paws on it so she can curl up and take a nap.
- CHI (22A: Ho ___ Minh City) Ho CHI Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam.
- ALTO (59A: Palo ___, California) "Palo ALTO" is Spanish for "tall stick." Palo ALTO, California takes its name from a specific tall stick of a sort, a redwood tree known as El Palo ALTO.
- HIKER (23D: Person on the Pacific Crest Trail) The Pacific Crest Trail follows the highest parts of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. Reaching from near the U.S.-Mexico border and extending north to the Canada-U.S. border, the trail is 2,653 miles long. A HIKER completing the entire Pacific Crest Trail would pass through California, Oregon, and Washington, and be on the trail for four to six months.
- ALOHA (49D: Greeting in Kauai) Kauai is the fourth-largest of Hawaii's eight main islands, and the second-oldest geologically. Its nickname is the Garden Island.
Well, this puzzle was definitely a DECENT START to my day! I like synonym themes, especially when the theme answers are all lively and interesting as they are here. I could hear the attitude coming through loud and clear as I filled in "FINE BE THAT WAY," and "ALRIGHT ALREADY!" And I enjoyed learning about OKAYAFRICA. Thank you, Rafa, for this puzzle that was a not just DECENT, but a fabulous way to START my day.