February 11, 2024


Constructor: Stella Zawistowski

Editor: Jared Goudsmit 

Theme Answers:
GOES NOWHERE (9D: Doesn't make progress)
IT'S NOW OR NEVER (14A: "This is our one chance to act!")
THERE'S NO WAY (24A: "That can't possibly happen!")

Theme synopsis: The word SNOW is seen FALLing in each vertical theme answer.
Things I learned:
  • SKI (44A: Compete like Julia Mancuso) Julia Mancuso is a retired alpine SKI racer. She is a four-time Olympic medalist (one gold, two silver, one bronze), holding the record for the most Olympic medals won by a U.S. alpine skier.
  • L-SITS (50D: Core-strengthening poses that hold the body in a right-angle shape) When doing L-SITS, all of the body's weight rests on the hands. The hands are placed on the floor, or on a support such as hanging rings or parallel bars. The body is held in an L-shape, with the legs held horizontally to the floor. I've seen this move performed, but was thankful for the "right-angle shape" clue here.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • TARTAN (16A: Patterned Scottish cloth) A TARTAN (sometimes called "plaid" in North America) is a woven cloth with a design of crossing horizontal and vertical stripes of various colors. TARTAN is particularly associated with Scotland, and most Scottish kilts have TARTAN patterns. 
  • EGOT (28A: Awards quartet for Viola Davis) EGOT refers to Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards. Viola Davis achieved EGOT status in 2023 when she won a Grammy Award for Best Audo Book, Narration & Storytelling Recording (for her 2022 memoir Finding Me). She had previously won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (2015, How to Get Away with Murder), an Academy Award (aka Oscar) for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (2017, Fences), and Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Play (2001, King Hedley II) and Best Leading Actress in a Play (2010, Fences).
  • TARA (36A: Olympic skater Lipinski) TARA Lipinski is a retired competitive figure skater. Representing Team USA, she won a gold medal in figure skating at the 1998 Olympics. She is currently a figure skating analyst for NBC.
  • SHOE (39A: Louboutin, e.g.) and SOLES (34D: Red parts of Louboutins) The SHOE here is a stiletto. Christian Louboutin's high-end stilettos feature a signature shiny red-lacquered SOLE.
  • SELL (43A: Put on Depop) Depop is a social network whose users can SELL items in its online marketplace, which has an emphasis on vintage and used clothing. Since 2021, Depop has been a subsidiary of Etsy.
  • REES (49A: "Bessie" director Dee) Bessie is a 2015 HBO movie about singer Bessie Smith. Dee REES won a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing for Bessie.
  • RAT (1D: Rodent that might drag a pizza slice through the New York City subway) Do you remember pizza RAT? In 2015, Matt Little posted a video to social networking sites (Instagram and then YouTube) that showed a RAT carrying a slice of pizza down the steps at a New York City Subway station. The video went viral, and has been viewed over 12 million times. 
  • THE (8D: "___ Hate U Give" (Angie Thomas novel)) THE Hate U Give, published in 2017, was the debut novel of Angie Thomas. THE Hate U Give was adapted into a movie in 2018. This clue is a great example of using a book title to add interest to a clue for a common 3-letter word.
  • ROGER (20D: "Who Framed ___ Rabbit") Who Framed ROGER Rabbit is a 1988 live-action/animated movie. Set in a 1947 version of Hollywood, the movie features toons and people co-existing.
  • LIL (41D: "Ms. G.O.A.T." rapper ___ Kim) Ms. G.O.A.T. is rapper LIL' Kim's debut mixtape, released in 2003. G.O.A.T. is an acronym for "Greatest Of All Time."
  • TET (60D: Holiday when banh giay is served) Bánh giày is a traditional Vietnamese cake. It is flat and round, and made of glutinous rice. The cakes are wrapped in cut pieces of banana leaves. Bánh giày is traditionally eaten as a part of TET celebrations. TET, also known as Vietnamese New Year, celebrates the arrival of spring. This clue is timely, as this year TET was celebrated yesterday.
  • Other clues I especially enjoyed:
    • DNA TESTS (13D: 23andMe offerings)
    • ACROSS (21D: Direction of about half the words in this puzzle)
    • URANUS (45D: Planet whose name often causes giggling)

    Geography review:

    • CITY (22A: Phnom Penh or Philadelphia) Phnom Penh is the capital and most populous city in Cambodia, a country in Southeast Asia. Philadelphia is the largest city in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.
    • DESERT (66A: Karakum or Sahara) The Karakum DESERT is located in Central Asia, covering approximately 70% of the country of Turkmenistan. The Sahara DESERT, located on the African continent, is the world's largest hot desert. The ten countries spanned by the Sahara DESERT are: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia.
    • ISLAM (23D: Main religion in Yemen) Yemen is a country in West Asia located on the southern end of the Arabian peninsula. The capital and largest city of Yemen is Sanaa. ISLAM is the state religion, practiced by approximately 99% of the population.
    SNOWFALL is a nice theme to remind us that winter is not quite over yet. This is a classic USA Today theme type, and the title enabled me to easily predict the theme mechanism. It was delightful to uncover each SNOW FALL in the three excellent theme answers. Thank you, Stella, for this enjoyable puzzle.