April 11, 2023


Constructors: May Huang & Brooke Husic

Editor: Anna Gundlach

Theme Answers:
BEFORE HE CHEATS (20A: Carrie Underwood hit with the lyric "Maybe next time he'll think...")
MOREHOUSE MAN (35A: Alum of an all-male Atlanta school)
PIANO REHEARSAL (54A: Session for practicing Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu)

Theme synopsis: The word HERO is found RETURNing (reading backwards) in each theme answer.

Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • EYE (5A: Body part that Stuart the Minion has one of) The Minions are yellow creatures that we first met in the 2010 animated movie, Despicable Me. They also appear in the other movies in the Despicable Me franchise. The three most familiar Minions are named Kevin, Stuart, and Bob. As the clue informs us, Stuart has one EYE.
  • BEFORE HE CHEATS (20A: Carrie Underwood hit with the lyric "Maybe next time he'll think...") "BEFORE HE CHEATS" is a song from Carrie Underwood's 2005 debut album, Some Hearts. The song details a woman taking revenge on an unfaithful partner by, among other things, digging a key "into the side of his pretty little souped -up four wheel drive..." It's appropriate that this answer is crossed by GETS EVEN (10D: Settles a score).
  • SEP (25A: Mid-Autumn Festival's month in 2023 (Abbr.)) The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is an important holiday in Chinese culture. During the festival, Chinese lanterns of all sizes and shapes are used to symbolize lighting a path to prosperity and good fortune. This year the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September (SEP) 29. 
  • MOREHOUSE MAN (35A: Alum of an all-male Atlanta school) MOREHOUSE College is a historically Black men's college in Atlanta, Georgia. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a MOREHOUSE MAN, as is Spike Lee.
  • ANT (48A: Insect hidden in "Quantumania," appropriately) ANT-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a 2023 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie. Not only does "Quantumania" contain the word "ANT," it also contains the word "man."
  • PIANO REHEARSAL (54A: Session for practicing Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu) Fantasie-Impromptu is a solo PIANO piece composed by Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849). The piece was composed in 1834, but was published posthumously in 1855. 
  • NAAN (61A: Tandoor bread) and ROTI (32D: Flatbread made with 55-Down) and ATTA (55D: Palindromic flour) Lots of flatbread representation in today's puzzle! ATTA is a wholemeal flour used to make flatbreads such as NAAN and ROTI. Because of the high gluten content of ATTA flour, dough made with it is strong and elastic, and can be rolled into thin sheets. A tandoor is a cylindrical oven made of clay or metal. NAAN and ROTI are sometimes baked in a tandoor.
  • ISSA (63A: "Insecure" creator Rae) I have previously written about the TV series, Insecure, which was created and co-written by ISSA Rae, who also stars in the show.
  • EMUS (64A: Birds that lay teal eggs) The striking color of EMUS' eggs may serve a purpose to help camouflage them in the grass. I think the teal eggs resemble (large) avocados. Each egg weighs between one to one and a half pounds.
  • ELLA (8D: Civil rights activist Baker) ELLA Baker was a civil rights activist, who often worked behind the scenes as an organizer and strategist. She is the namesake of the ELLA Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California, a non-profit organization based in Oakland, California that works for justice, opportunity, and peace in urban America.
  • ROTOR (21D: Wind turbine blade) In Iowa, where I live, wind turbines are familiar sights. The majority of the state's electricity is generated by wind power. Of U.S. states, only Texas generates more wind power than Iowa (and let's face it, Texas has a lot more space for wind turbines than Iowa does). While driving on Interstate 80 through Iowa, another familiar sight is semis carrying
    Randy next to a ROTOR
    ROTORs for wind turbines. These ROTORs are enormous. For some perspective, here's a photo of my husband, Randy (who is 6'1"), next to a ROTOR.
  • DIONNE (43D: Legendary vocalist Warwick) This answer reminded me of the delightful DIONNE WARWICK tribute puzzle we saw on December 2, 2021
  • DREAM (50D: WNBA team whose name was inspired by an MLK speech) I have previously written about WNBA's Atlanta DREAM.
  • ESAU (56D: Civil rights activist Jenkins) ESAU Jenkins (1910-1972) lived on John's Island, one of a chain of islands off the coast of South Carolina. During his lifetime he worked to improve the conditions of island residents. His efforts included establishing a "Citizenship School" on John's Island to teach Black adults to read so they could register to vote. ESAU Jenkins had a motto, "Love is progress, hate is expensive."

    Geography review:

    • CANTONESE (58A: Language spoken in Hong Kong) Hong Kong is a city and special administrative region of China. The predominant language spoken in Hong Kong is CANTONESE, a variety of Chinese.
    • UAE (36D: Dubai's country) Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
    It's so nice when a HERO RETURNs, isn't it? This is an enjoyable theme. It's fun to have both country and classical music represented in the theme answers. Thank you, May and Brooke, for this puzzle that was a delightful way to start my Tuesday.