Title: FOUR PM
Constructor: Rafael Musa
Editor: Erik Agard
PRIZE MONEY (16A: Reality show incentive)
PRIME MERIDIAN (28A: Dividing line at zero longitude)
PRAYING MANTIS (46A: Insect sometimes kept as a pet)
PASS MUSTER (61A: Be good enough)
Theme synopsis: Each of the FOUR theme answers has a first word that starts with a P, and a second word that starts with an M.
Things I learned:
- ISN'T (21A: "It ___ Nice" (protest song)) Malvina Reynold's 1964 protest song, "It ISN'T Nice," begins with the lyrics, "It ISN'T nice to block the doorway, / It ISN'T nice to go to jail, / There are nicer ways to do it, / But the nice ways always fail." This "pancocojams" blog post provides some background information about "It ISN'T Nice," as well as links to two recorded versions of the song.
- NIGERIAN (23D: Akwaeke Emezi's nationality) Akwaeke Emezi is a writer and video artist. Akwaeke Emezi was born and raised in Nigeria, and moved to the United States at the age of 16 to attend New York University. Their books include Freshwater (2018), Pet (2019), and The Death of Vivek Oji (2020).
- OTTO (58D: NBA player ___ Porter, Jr.) OTTO Porter, Jr. is a basketball player for NBA's Toronto Raptors. He has previously played for the Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, and Golden State Warriors. During the year OTTO Porter, Jr. played with the Golden State Warriors (2021-2022), the team won the NBA championship.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- PRIME MERIDIAN (28A: Dividing line at zero longitude) The PRIME MERIDIAN is an arbitrary line of longitude designated as zero degrees. The last time we saw PRIME MERIDIAN as a theme answer I learned about the complexity of this designation; Wikipedia has a list of 40 PRIME MERIDIANs.
- GAGA (34A: "Born This Way" singer Lady ___) Thank you, puzzle, for today's earworm. To be fair, it doesn't take much for Lady GAGA's 2010 song, "Born This Way," to get stuck in my head.
- DANCE (36A: Either "D" in DDR) DANCE DANCE Revolution (DDR) is a series of video games based on dancing to music videos.
- PRAYING MANTIS (46A: Insect sometimes kept as a pet) Because a PRAYING MANTIS spends much of its time remaining still, they don't require much space. This is one of the attributes that has lead to the PRAYING MANTIS being a popular insect to keep as a pet. A PRAYING MANTIS has a lifespan of about a year.
- AT A (50A: Take it one day ___ time) This clue reminds me of my dad. One of his favorite sayings was "One day AT A time."
- SATAY (66A: Skewered dish served with lontong) SATAY and lontong are dishes of of Indonesian origin. SATAY consists of skewered and grilled meat served with a sauce. Lontong is made of compressed rice formed into a cylinder, wrapped in a banana leaf, and then boiled.
- ANNE (67A: "The Diary of a Young Girl" author ___ Frank) In The Diary of a Young Girl, ANNE Frank wrote about a chestnut tree she could see from the attic where her family was hidden. That chestnut tree became known as the ANNE Frank tree. Although the ANNE Frank tree was blown down by a storm in 2010, thirteen saplings from the tree have been distributed in the United States. The thirteenth sapling was planted earlier this year on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City.
- NYT (68A: Newspaper that bought Wordle, for short) This was a fun way to clue The New York Times (NYT). Do you play Wordle? If so, what's your solving strategy? It's part of my morning routine. I use a different starting word each day - whatever pops into my head. I like the challenge that comes from the randomness of using a new word each day. Today was a good day, I solved it in three!
- LAP (1D: Place for a cuddly cat) At our house, cat on LAP (COL) is a
rock solid excuse for not moving. For example, "Would you get the package that was just delivered. I have COL." (I just used this one last night.) Or my favorite, "Would you please dish me up some ice cream. I have COL."
Willow on my lap
- JANE (6D: The ___ Collective ('70s abortion network) From 1969 to 1973, The JANE Collective was an underground service in Chicago, Illinois that assisted women in attaining abortions at a time when abortion was illegal in most of the United States. The JANE Collective disbanded after the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. I have previously mentioned the abortion puzzles, but this is a great opportunity to remind you that you can support reproductive justice and solve great crossword puzzles (many of them written by USA Today constructors).
- MAGMA (17D: Stuff in a volcano) This is MAGMA's second puzzle appearance in a row, and if you solved yesterday's puzzle, you know what that "stuff" is called once it is above ground.
- INCAS (27D: People who spoke Quechua) Just a few days ago I mentioned, "The official language of the INCA Empire was Quechua.
- EST (56D: Miami time zone, for short) Located on the east coast of the United States (USA), Miami, Florida is on Eastern Standard Time (EST).
- USA (62D: D.C. is its capital) The District of Columbia (D.C.) is indeed the USA's capital. This clue reminded me of the most recent episode of NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." The special guest was Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.'s delegate to the House of Representatives. During the interview, she talked about why she doesn't like to be addressed as representative, the efforts to make D.C. a state, and go-go dancing. It's worth a listen.
I briefly considered being thematic and delaying the publication of this post until FOUR PM. This is a fun set of theme answers. When the theme is straightforward it is sometimes helpful in solving, as was the case today. It was useful to know that each theme answer started with the letter P. I enjoyed the clue for IDENTITIES (10D: They can be secret or mistaken). Other great answers: RESTRAINT (what I showed by not delaying this post?), BAZAAR, PENTATHLON, and GALAXY. Thanks, Rafa, for this puzzle that was a delightful way to start my Friday.