February 19, 2024


Constructor: Rebecca Goldstein

Editor: Jared Goudsmit

Theme Answers:
PRESIDENTS' DAY (20A: U.S. celebration in February)
POWER PLAY (37A: Advantageous situation for a hockey team)
PROJECT RUNWAY (55A: Reality series with fashion designer contestants)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is BRACKETed by the word PAY (aka INCOME).

Things I learned:
  • BEET (28A: Pkhali veggie) Pkhali is a dish that originated from the country of Georgia. It consists of chopped and minced vegetables combined with ground walnuts, vinegar, onions, garlic, and herbs. The vegetables used may be BEETs, eggplant, cabbage, spinach, or beans.
  • KELLY (69A: ___ Kapowski ("Saved by the Bell" character)) Saved by the Bell is a sitcom that originally aired from 1989-1993. The show was set in Los Angeles, and centered around a group of high school students and their principal. KELLY Kapowski, portrayed by Tiffani Thiessen, is head cheerleader and captain of the volleyball, swim, and softball teams. Though I've heard of the show, I've never seen Saved by the Bell, so needed to rely on crossing answers here. 
  • TBS (1D: "The Cube" channel) The Cube is a British game show that has been adapted into multiple versions in other countries. The American version of The Cube began airing on TBS in 2021. The show is hosted by Dwayne Wade. Contestants attempt to complete increasingly difficult tasks while inside a large plexiglass cube. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • BENT (16A: Like knees in goddess pose) Goddess pose is a standing yoga pose. The feet are placed wide apart, and knees are BENT, lowering the body into a squatting position. 
  • MARA (19A: "Matilda" actress Wilson) Matilda is a 1996 movie based on Roald Dahl's 1988 book of the same name. Matilda is a child prodigy that develops psychokinetic abilities. MARA Wilson was a couple of years older than the 6-year-old title character when she portrayed her in the movie. 
  • PRESIDENTS' DAY (20A: U.S. celebration in February) A timely answer! PRESIDENTS' DAY is a U.S. federal government holiday observed on the third Monday of February, which happens to be today. Interestingly, the name of the holiday varies by state. Some states call it Washington's Birthday, while others call it Washington-Lincoln Day. Even the states that refer to the holiday as PRESIDENTS' DAY and are split on the use of the apostrophe, with a few states celebrating PRESIDENT'S DAY, and two states observing PRESIDENTS DAY. Whatever day you're observing today, Happy DAY!
  • POWER PLAY (37A: Advantageous situation for a hockey team) In ice hockey, a POWER PLAY occurs when an opposing player is serving a penalty that results in a team having a numerical advantage. 
  • CORI (46A: Missouri representative Bush) CORI Bush represents Missouri's 1st congressional district (all of the city of St. Louis and most of northern St. Louis County) in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • PROJECT RUNWAY (55A: Reality series with fashion designer contestants) PROJECT RUNWAY is a reality TV show that premiered in 2004. Contestants compete to create the best clothes, and are given specific parameters during each challenge that may affect materials, theme, or time allotted.
  • TESS (67A: Body positive activist Holliday) TESS Holliday is a model, author, and self-described "body-positive activist." She originated the hashtag #EffYourBeautyStandards after strangers left cruel comments on her Instagram account.
  • OUT (2D: Openly pan, say) Pan, here, is short for pansexual, and refers to someone whose romantic, sexual, or emotional attraction to others is not determined by a person's gender.
  • IGOR (4D: Name hidden in "rigorous") I always appreciate a fun hidden word clue.
  • DEADPAN (10D: Like Tig Notaro's comedy) Tig Notaro is a stand-up comedian known for her DEADPAN comedy. I have previously written about Tig Notaro.
  • TAPIR (29D: Piglike mammal with a long snout) Although a TAPIR resembles a pig with a long snout, it is most closely related to a horse and a rhino. Their long snout is used to grab fruit and leaves.
  • MARIA (31D: Nobelist Ressa) MARIA Ressa is a journalist and author, and the cofounder and CEO of the Philippine online news site, Rappler. In 2021, MARIA Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace." MARIA Ressa is the first Filipino recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • HOT ONES (40D: Online talk show where famous people eat spicy wings) HOT ONES is a YouTube talk show hosted by Sean Evans, who interviews guests while they eat increasingly spicy chicken wings. I have previously written about HOT ONES
  • EYE (45D: "___ of the Tiger") "EYE of the Tiger" is a 1982 song by Survivor. It was used as the theme song for the 1982 movie Rocky III. Thanks for this earworm, puzzle! "It's the EYE of the tiger / It's the thrill of the fight / Rising up to the challenge of our rival..."
  • JEWS (56D: People celebrating Shavout) Shavout, also known as the Feast of Weeks, is a festival celebrated by JEWS. Shavout occurs 50 days after Passover. It began as a harvest festival, and also commemorates the Law being given to Moses.
  • A few other clues I especially enjoyed:
    • LANE (59A: A trip down memory ___)
    • ALL Y'ALL (43D: Southern phrase meaning "everyone in the group")
    • SPLAT (49D: Water balloon  sound)

    Geography review:

    • CAL (62D: What UC Berkeley's "C" stands for, for short) UC Berkeley is the University of California (CAL, for short), Berkeley. It is located in Berkeley, California (as one might expect from its name!). It was founded in 1868, and was California's first land-grant university, and the first campus in the University of California system. 
    It's a nice touch for this puzzle to run today, with the theme answer of PRESIDENTS' DAY. In addition to the answers I've highlighted above, I also enjoyed PEDICURE, POT GUMMY, and TWEAK. Thank you, Rebecca, for this excellent puzzle.