February 6, 2024

Title: MACS

Constructor: Rafael Musa

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
MEET A CHALLENGE (19A: Do what's necessary to overcome an obstacle)
MISS A CUE (37A: Not go on stage when you were supposed to, for example)
MAKE A COMEBACK (50A: Win a game after being way behind at halftime)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer has the initials MAC.
Things I learned:
  • AHMED (20D: Jazz trumpeter Abdullah) I have previously written about the jazz composer and bandleader, Sun Ra, and his ensemble, which was called the Arkestra. Jazz trumpeter AHMED Abdullah was a member of Sun Ra's Arkestra. AHMED Abdullah is an adjunct professor at The New School in New York City, where he teaches a course on the music and philosophy of Sun Ra.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ACME (9A: Wile E. Coyote's supplier) The ACME Corporation is a fictional business featured in the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons. The company is the source of many devices used by Wile E. Coyote in his attempt to outwit the Road Runner, such as anvils, exploding tennis balls, invisible paint, dehydrated boulders, rocket-powered roller skates, and, well, you get the idea.
  • ODOM (14A: Actor Leslie ___ Jr.) Leslie ODOM Jr. just finished playing the title role in the Broadway play Purlie Victorious (A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch), which ran from September 7, 2023 - February 4, 2024. In 2016, he originated the role of Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical, Hamilton, a role for which he won a Tony Award.
  • COEN (15A: Director Ethan or Joel) The COEN brothers have directed numerous movies, including Raising Arizona (1987), No Country for Old Men (2007), Fargo (1996), and The Big Lebowski (1998).
  • WAGE (17A: Federal minimum ___ ($7.25 per hour)) The federal minimum WAGE has been set at $7.25 since 2009. For a full-time job, that minimum WAGE works out to an annual income of $15,080. In 2023, the Federal Poverty Level for an individual was considered to be $14,580. Fortunately, many states and cities have adopted a higher minimum WAGE.
  • YAHOO (22A: Company with a now-defunct "Answers" forum) YAHOO! Answers was an online question-and-answer website. Users could ask questions, and other users would provide answers. Users could upvote answers considered to be helpful. YAHOO! Answers has been defunct since 2021.
  • LESTER (23A: News anchor Holt) LESTER Holt is a news anchor for the weekday edition of NBC Nightly News. Fun fact: LESTER Holt plays bass guitar in a rock band called the Rough Cuts.
  • LOON (62A: Bird on a Canadian coin) Most versions of the Canadian one-dollar coin feature a common LOON on the reverse side. This has led to the coin being referred to as a loonie.
  • SING (66A: Emulate Taylor Swift) and ERA (47D: One of 10 for Taylor Swift) Rafa providing us with not just one, but two Taylor Swift references today! Each ERA for Taylor Swift corresponds to an album: Taylor Swift (2006), Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), Red (2012), 1989 (2014), Reputation (2017), Lover (2019), Folklore (2020), Evermore (2020), and Midnights (2022).
  • SMELL TEST (8D: Way to check if food is spoiled) Yep, I definitely do this, even though I know the SMELL TEST is not an accurate way to tell if food is spoiled.
  • TABBY CATS (34D: Stripy felines) TABBY CATS have a distinctive M-shaped marking on their foreheads, and stripes on their faces, bodies, and legs. Willow is not a TABBY CAT,
    A tabby cat striking a regal pose.

    but one of my son's cats is. Here's a photo of Mister.
  • LUC (46D: Jean-___ Picard ("Star Trek" character)) Jean-LUC Picard, portrayed by Patrick Stewart, is the captain of the USS Enterprise on the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • MOON (53D: "Sailor ___" (manga series)) Sailor MOON is a Japanese manga (graphic novel) series written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi. The protagonist of the series is a schoolgirl, Tsukino Usagi, who can transform into the superhero, Sailor MOON.

    Geography review:

    • IDAHO (6D: State whose license plate says "Famous Potatoes") The unofficial nickname of IDAHO is "The Potato State." (Its official nickname is "The Gem State.") IDAHO produces nearly one-third of the potatoes grown in the United States. We've seen the phrase "FAMOUS POTATOES" used as a theme answer before.
    • COUNTY (10D: Orange ___, California) Orange COUNTY, California is located in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. Anaheim, home to Disneyland, is the largest city in Orange COUNTY. Seven other U.S. states have an Orange COUNTY: Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.
    • UAE (39D: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque's country (Abbr.)) The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This Islamic mosque is the third largest mosque in the world. It features 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, the world's largest hand-knotted carpet, and seven crystal chandeliers. 
    Three fun MAC phrases today. I appreciated the consistency that all three theme answers followed the formula M___ A C___. I also thought the three answers formed a mini story arc. First you MEET A CHALLENGE. Oops, you MISS A CUE. Not to worry, you then MAKE A COMEBACK! Thank you, Rafa, for this delightful puzzle.