May 4, 2023

Title: 4 BC

Constructors: Matthew Stock & May Huang

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
BRANDI CARLILE (18A: "In These Silent Days" singer-songwriter)
BOUNCY CASTLE (30A: Inflatable party rental)
BIRTHDAY CAKE (39A: Ice cream flavor with sprinkles)
BUTTER CHICKEN (55A: Dish also known as murgh makhani)

Theme synopsis: In each of the 4 theme answers, the first word begins with a B, and the second letter begins with a C.

Things I learned:
  • MOOD (13A: "In the ___ for Love" (Wong Kar-wai film)) In the MOOD for Love was written, produced, and directed by Wong Kar-wai, and co-produced by Hong Kong and France. The 2000 movie is about neighbors that develop feelings for each other after discovering their respective spouses are cheating on them. The British Film Institute's magazine, Sight and Sound, publishes a "Top 100 Greatest Films of All Time" list every 10 years. On the 2022 list, In the MOOD for Love was ranked number five. 
  • KIKI (43D: "___'s Delivery Service") KIKI's Delivery Service is a 1989 Japanese animated movie adapted from Eiko Kadono's 1985 novel of the same name. The film tells the story of a 13-year-old witch (KIKI) who uses her flying ability to make a living. In 2014, a live-action version of KIKI's Delivery Service was released. 
  • MAKEBA (47D: "Soweto Blues" singer" Miriam) "Soweto Blues" is a protest song about the 1976 demonstrations in South Africa protesting the decision of the apartheid governments to make Afrikaans a medium of instruction in Black schools. Approximately 20,000 students took part in these demonstrations, which are sometimes labeled the Soweto uprising or the Soweto riots. Between 176 students and 700 students were shot and killed by police. Hugh Masekela, who I have previously written about, wrote the song, "Soweto Blues," and it was sung by Miriam MAKEBA.
  • ERIC (56 "Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home" author Kim) ERIC Kim is a New York Times food writer and a recipe developer for NYT Cooking. Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home is his debut cookbook, published in 2022. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • HOLEY (16A: Like a 57-Down) and CROC (57D: Shoe decorated with charms) When I encountered the clue for 16-Across, I glanced at 57-Down, and immediately filled in CROC. However, it took a few letters from crossing answers for me to figure out HOLEY. When I did, I laughed; such a fun pair of clues/answers.
  • BRANDI CARLILE (18A: "In These Silent Days" singer-songwriter) In These Silent Days is BRANDI CARLILE's 2021 studio album. It is the seventh studio album from the singer-songwriter, and it won a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album. One of the songs from the album, "Broken Horses," won Grammy Awards for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song. 
  • BIRTHDAY CAKE (39A: Ice cream flavor with sprinkles) BIRTHDAY CAKE ice cream? Yes, please!
  • BUTTER CHICKEN (55A: Dish also known as murgh makhani) BUTTER CHICKEN is a dish in Indian cuisine that originated in New Delhi, and is traditionally known as murgh makhani. BUTTER CHICKEN is a curry dish with a spiced tomato and BUTTER sauce.
  • HASBRO (1D: Company that owns Monopoly) The board game Monopoly was first published by Parker Brothers in 1935. In 1991, the Parker Brothers company was absorbed by HASBRO. The Wikipedia page for Monopoly lists the setup time for the game as "2-5 minutes," and the playing time as "180-2000 minutes." Seems accurate.
  • COLAS (5D: Some carbonated drinks) Here's an interesting fact I recently learned (as part of the editing and fact checking part of my crossword world): Although we tend to think of brown sodas as COLAS, not all brown sodas have that designation. In 1969, Dr. Pepper was legally declared a "non-COLA." This allowed it to be bottled and distributed alongside Coca-COLA in the New York City area.
  • HINDU (16D: Person celebrating Durga Puja) Durga Puja is a HINDU festival that pays homage to the goddess, Durga. It is a 10 day festival in the Indian calendar month of Ashwin (September-October in the Gregorian calendar). Durga Puja is celebrated by scripture recitations, gift giving, family visits, and public processions. We saw DURGA PUJA as a theme answer on October 11, 2021.

    Geography review:

    • URDU (34A: National language of Pakistan) Pakistan is a country in South Asia. Islamabad is its capital. URDU is the national language of Pakistan, with English also having official status. Although URDU is the national language, only about 7% of Pakistanis speak URDU as their first language. Many different languages are spoken in Pakistan (77 according to Ethnologue), and URDU serves as a lingua franca, or bridge language. 
    • RENO (61A: Nevada's "Biggest Little City in the World") RENO, Nevada, located along the Nevada-California border, is known for its casino and tourism industry. RENO's nickname is "The Biggest Little City in the World."
    • DAYTONA (41D: ___ 500, major NASCAR race in Florida) DAYTONA Beach is a city on the eastern coast of Florida. The headquarters of NASCAR are located in DAYTONA Beach. Since 1959, the DAYTONA 500 has been held annually at the DAYTONA International Speedway.
    We're traveling back in time today, all the way to 4 BC. This is a clever idea for a theme and a great set of theme answers. In addition to the answers I've highlighted already, I also like IDYLIC, EVEN IF, APPETITE, DINO nuggets, and DROP BACK. Thank you, Matthew and May, for this puzzle that was a delightful way to start my Thursday.
    One more thing: If you'd like to solve another puzzle by May Huang, check out today's Modern Crossword. 
    Willow checking today's puzzle for cat references