February 17, 2024


Constructor: Amie Walker

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
PERSONAL SPACE (19A: Imaginary bubble used to determine physical boundaries)
POETRY SLAM (31A: Spoken-word competition)
PIRATE SHIP (41A: Vessel with a cannon on a Disneyland ride)
PASSOVER SEDER (53A: Jewish ritual during which kids search for the afikomen)

Theme synopsis: We have four phrases that have the initials P.S., giving us PSPSPSPS.

Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • YALE (9A: Rory Gilmore's alma mater) Rory Gilmore is the daughter on the TV series Gilmore Girls. Alexis Bledel portrayed the character on the show. In the fourth season of Gilmore Girls, Rory begins attending YALE. She graduates from YALE in the show's seventh season.
  • UDON (13A: Kitsune ___ (folktale-inspired noodle soup)) Kitsune UDON is a traditional Japanese soup of UDON noodles in a dashi broth, topped with abura-age (twice-fried tofu). In Japanese mythology, abura-age is the favorite food of foxes (kitsune), which is how the dish got its name.
  • MEOW (14A: "I want scritches") I am familiar with this request! Fun to see MEOW in the puzzle, as the puzzle's title – PSPSPSPS – is cat-related. PSPSPSPS is an onomatopoeia used to describe the sound some people make when trying to get a cat's attention. If you say PSPSPSPS, you may notice it tends to be a high-frequency sound, which may attract a cat's attention.
    A calico cat perched on the edge of a desk and looking directly at the camera.

    Whether or not this actually works, there have certainly been a number of memes about it. I've been known to use the sound PSPSPSPS to get Willow's attention, but more often, I simply MEOW at her!
  • TYLER (22A: "Archer" actress Aisha) Archer is an animated show for adults. The title character, Sterling Archer, is voiced by H. Jon Benjamin (who also voices Bob Belcher on Bob's Burgers), and the show centers on a dysfunctional intelligence agency. Aisha TYLER voices the character Lana Kane, the top female special agent of the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), and is Archer's ex-girlfriend and co-worker. 
  • ARAB (24A: ___ League) The ARAB League is a loose alliance of countries that was formed to facilitate cooperation on economic and cultural matters. Founded in 1945 with six members, the ARAB League now has 22 member states.
  • POETRY SLAM (31A: Spoken-word competition) and SNAP (30D: Show appreciation at a 31-Across) A POETRY SLAM is a spoken word competition. Poets perform before a live audience and judges. POETRY SLAMs originated in Chicago as a way to enliven the poetry scene. A SNAP is used as a way to show appreciation at poetry slams, as SNAPs are less likely to distract the performer.
  • NOUN (36A: "Every person you can know and every place that you can go" per Schoolhouse Rock) This line is from the Schoolhouse Rock song, "A NOUN is a Person, Place or Thing." Thanks for the earworm, puzzle!
  • OMAR (37A: 2023 Pulitzer-Prize winning opera) OMAR is an opera composed by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels. It is based on the 1831 autobiography, A Muslim American Slave: The Life of OMAR ibn Said. OMAR premiered at the Spoleto Festival USA in 2022, and won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
  • TUT (38A: Egyptian boy king) The pharaoh Tutankhamun is commonly referred to as King TUT. Ruling in the 1300s B.C.E., King TUT was nine years old when he assumed his reign. The tomb of King TUT was discovered in 1922 near Thebes, Egypt.
  • CASA (40A: La ___ Madrigal ("Encanto" home)) Encanto is a 2021 animated movie from Disney. The movie is centered on the Madrigal family, and their home, La CASA Madrigal.
  • MOSES (45D: Singer-songwriter Sumney) MOSES Sumney is a Ghanian American singer-songwriter. His two full-length studio albums are titled Aromanticism (2017) and Græ (2020).
  • B'DAY (46A: Beyonce album released when she turned 25) The release of Beyoncé's second album, B'DAY on September 4, 2006 coincided, appropriately, with her 25th birthday.
  • PASSOVER SEDER (53A: Jewish ritual during which kids search for the afikomen) The PASSOVER SEDER is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of PASSOVER. During the celebration of the PASSOVER SEDER, three pieces of matzah (unleavened bread) are wrapped up together and placed next to the SEDER plate. At one point, one Matzah is broken, and the broken portion, the afikomen, is wrapped up and hidden for the children to find. 
  • SHE'S (66A: "___ All That") SHE'S All That is a 1999 rom com movie about a high schooler named Zack Siler, who after being dumped by his girlfriend, makes a bet that he can turn any girl in the school into a prom queen in six weeks.
  • NORA (7D: Filmmaker Ephron) I wrote about NORA Ephron last month when we saw her full name as a theme answer. 
  • ALEC (10D: Actor Mapa) ALEC Mapa is an actor and comedian who started his professional career on Broadway in the play M. Butterfly. In 2008, he co-hosted Transamerican Love Story, with Calpernia Addams. In 2015, ALEC Mapa, Baby Daddy premiered on Showtime, based on his one-man show of the same name. The show tells the story of ALEC Mapa's experience of becoming a father through the process of foster adoption.
  • NOAH (28D: Joel Kim Booster's "Fire Island" role) Fire Island is a 2022 movie about a group of gay friends on vacation. In addition to playing the role of NOAH, Joel Kim Booster wrote the screenplay for the movie. The movie is inspired by Jane Austen's 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice, and the character of NOAH is based on Austen's character Elizabeth Bennet.
  • EYRE (43D: Literary heroine Jane) Jane EYRE is the protagonist and title character of Charlotte Bronte's 1847 novel. Here's a quote from Jane EYRE: "Most true it is that 'beauty is in the eye of the gazer.'"
  • RHEA (56D: Actress Perlman who played Ruth in "Barbie") In the 2023 movie Barbie, RHEA Perlman played the role of Ruth Handler, a co-founder of Mattel, and the investor of the Barbie doll. Here's a video clip of RHEA Perlman talking about playing Ruth Handler.

    Geography review:

    • ASTI (25D: Italian wine region) The sparkling white Italian wine known as ASTI is produced in the northwestern part of Italy, in the area around the towns of ASTI and Alba. ASTI wine is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, and is sweet and relatively low in alcohol content.
    • OMAN (32D: Yemen's neighbor) OMAN is located in West Asia, on the Arabian Peninsula. In addition to Yemen, OMAN's other neighbors are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). OMAN has coastline on the Gulf of OMAN, and the Arabian Sea. The capital of OMAN is Muscat.
    • PESO (41D: Currency of Colombia) Colombia is a South American country. Its capital is Bogotá, and its currency is the Colombian PESO.
    A great set of PS theme answers today; my favorite of the four is PERSONAL SPACE. I also enjoyed the answers YOGA PANTS and TRAIN SETS. Thank you, Amie, for this delightful puzzle.