February 2, 2024


Constructor: Brooke Husic

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
TILL YOU LOVE ME (20A: Reba McEntire song with the lyric "I guess I can wait if that's what I have to do")
TIP INCOME (35A: What some sub-minimum-wage workers rely on)
TILE-BASED GAME (55A: Mah-jongg or Azul, e.g.)

Theme synopsis: The word TIME is CUT by each theme answer. On a music score, CUT TIME is written as 2/2, which makes this a timely theme for today!
Things I learned:
  • RAYE (52A: "Escapism" singer) RAYE is a singer and songwriter from London, England. Her 2022 single "Escapism" went viral on TikTok and became her first number-one single in the UK>
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • TILL YOU LOVE ME (20A: Reba McEntire song with the lyric "I guess I can wait if that's what I have to do") Reba McEntire released "TILL YOU LOVE ME" in 1994. 
  • HEEL (34A: Wrestling villain named for a foot part) In the world of professional wrestling, HEEL is the term for a wrestler who portrays a villain and acts as an antagonist to the heroic protagonists (called faces).
  • MARYAM (50A: Math genius Mirzakhani) MARYAM Mirzakhani was a mathematician and a professor of mathematics at Stanford University. In 2014, she was awarded the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, becoming the first woman and the first Iranian (She was born in Tehran, Iran.) to be honored with the award. MARYAM Mirzakhani died of breast cancer in 2017 at the age of 40.
  • TILE-BASED GAME (55A: Mah-jongg or Azul, e.g.) Mah-jongg, or mahjong, is a TILE-BASED GAME developed in China in the 19th century. The game is played with a set of 144 TILEs that are based on Chinese characters and symbols. Azul is a TILE-BASED GAME released in 2017. Players collect sets of similarly colored TILEs to place on their board.
  • HAIKU (58A: Poem with a seasonal reference) The short form of poetry known as HAIKU originated in Japan. Traditional Japanese HAIKU consists of three lines, with a syllabic pattern of 5,7, 5 and contains a seasonal reference. The seasonal reference may be a word related to specific season. Modern HAIKU and non-Japanese HAIKU do not always include a seasonal reference.
  • ODIN (60A: Frigga's husband) ODIN and Frigga are characters in Marvel Comics. ODIN is based on the god of the same name in Norse mythology, and Frigga is based on the Norse goddesses Frigg and Freya. 
  • GEESE (65A: Birds that love golf courses) Golf courses have wide open spaces and a water source, making them appealing to GEESE. As an added bonus, there are no predators. Sure, the golf courses have humans walking around for part of the year, but the GEESE get used to them. Of course, while golf courses may make for happy GEESE, GEESE on the golf course do not necessarily make golfers happy.
  • LUPONE (5D: "Company" actress Patti) Patti LUPONE's acting career spans six decades. She is most known for her work in musical theater. In the 2020-2022 revival of Stephen Sondheim's musical Company, Patti LUPONE played the role of Joanne. She won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance. My husband and I were fortunate enough to see Patti LUPONE in Company on Broadway in June 2022. She was amazing.
  • MEALS (7D: The Okra Project donates home-cooked ones) The Okra Project is a mutual aid collective founded in 2018 in New York City that is "focused on supporting Black Trans people and alleviating the barriers" that face the community. The Okra Project works to provide food security by providing home-cooked MEALS. They also address safety and housing security and support mental health.
  • STAMP (10D: One might be "forever") This is a fun clue! The United States Postal Service has been issuing Forever STAMPs since 2007. Forever STAMPs are sold at the current first-class postage rate, and remain valid as first-class postage forever (thus the name!) regardless of postage rate increases.
  • EWE (12D: Wooly mama) and RAM (39D: Woolly papa) I enjoyed this "woolly" pair of clues.
  • YOSHI (21D: "Super Mario" creature who lays eggs) The dinosaur character YOSHI made his first appearance in the video game Super Mario World (1990), where he is Mario and Luigi's ally, and a rideable character. YOSHI has since appeared in many of the Mario games, and also in his own series of games. YOSHI lays eggs that can function as projectiles in the game.
  • EEL (27D: Fish that works for Ursula) This is a reference to the movie The Little Mermaid (either the 1989 animated version or the 2023 live-action version). Ursula the sea witch has two EELs that work for her. Their names are Flotsam and Jetsam.
  • CASINO (47D: World Series of Poker location) The World Series of Poker is held annually in Paradise, Nevada (near Las Vegas). The event, which is held in a CASIONO, of course, consists of over 100 events, featuring most major poker variants. Last fall while we were on a road trip, my husband and I listened to the audiobook version of Victoria Coren Mitchell's memoir For Richer or Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker. It was a fascinating listen, and we learned a lot about the game and the culture of poker.
  • HYENAS (48D: Harley Quinn's pets) Harley Quinn is a DC comics character. At different times, she has been depicted as the lover of the Joker, an associate and friend of Poison Ivy, and an independent supervillain. She has pet HYENAS named Bud and Lou.
  • GIRL (57D: "XOXO, Gossip ___") Gossip GIRL is a TV series based on a series of novels of the same name. The series is narrated by an omniscient blogger, voiced by Kristen Bell, who signs off by saying, "And who am I? That's one secret I'll never tell! You know you love me...XOXO Gossip GIRL."

    Geography review:

    • UTAH (1A: Great Salt Lake's state) The Great Salt Lake, located in northern UTAH, is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. The area of the Great Salt Lake varies. In the 1980s, the lake covered 3,300 square miles. Recently, the area of the lake - affected by drought and upstream water diversion - has shrunk considerably, to 950 square miles.
    • P-TOWN (16A: Gay mecca at the tip of Cape Cod, for short) The peninsula of Cape Cod extends into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeast corner of Massachusetts. Provincetown, also referred to as P-TOWN, is located at the extreme tip of the peninsula. P-TOWN is known for its beaches and tourist industry and for being a popular vacation spot for the LGBTQ+ community. P-TOWN's year-round population of approximately 3,600 increases to around 60,000 during the summer. 
    • SEA (23A: The Caribbean, for one) The Caribbean SEA is part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Mexico and Central America, and the islands of the Greater and Lesser Antilles. The Caribbean SEA is home to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the world's second largest barrier reef (after the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral SEA).
    • BAY AREA (44D: What the "BA" stands for in BART) The BAY AREA, also known as the San Francisco BAY AREA, is a nine-county region surrounding San Francisco, San Pablo, and Suisun BAYs in California. BAY AREA Rapid Transit, or BART, is a rapid transit rail system serving the San Francisco BAY AREA.
    This is a classic USA Today theme type, where a word is split by the theme answer so that part of the word appears at the beginning of the answer and the rest of the word appears at the end. Today the word being CUT is TIME. Also, the tie between the title and the date is a fun extra! Thank you, Brooke, for this enjoyable puzzle.