October 15, 2020


Constructor: Erik Agard

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
CRAB RANGOON (21A: Appetizer filled with cream cheese (argon, carbon))
COUNTER CLAIMING (38A: Returning a suit, in a way (calcium nitrogen))
CLAIRE DANES (53A: "My So-Called Life" star (arsenic, lead))

Theme synopsis: The TABLE referred to in the title is the periodic TABLE of elements. SHAKING is a clue that we are rearranging or anagramming letters. Each theme answer is an anagram of the two elements listed in the clue.

Things I learned:
  • NAOMI (23D: Activist Wadler) NAOMI Wadler is a 13 year-old activist against gun violence. In 2018, she helped organize a walkout of her fellow classmates at George Mason Elementary School. Wadler was the youngest speaker at the student-led demonstration, March for Our Lives, that took place in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2018. She specifically spoke about the disproportionate number of black females who are victims of gun violence in the United States. 
  • WISDOM (47D: Orunmila's quality) In the Yoruba religion (which I learned about from the July 11 puzzle), Orunmila is an Orisha, a spirit sent by Olodumare (Almighty) to guide creation. Orunmila is the Orisha of WISDOM, knowledge, and divination.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • EMU (20A: Bird hidden in the name of a bone in the leg) The word EMU is contained in the word femur, the thigh bone. I was amused thinking of how painful (and impossible, I realize) it would be to actually have an EMU hidden in your femur. 
  • MOORE (37A: Ironic surname for someone named Les) Ha! This clue made me laugh.
  • MEAL (42A: Brinner, e.g.) Brinner is a combination of the words breakfast and dinner. It is sometimes used to describe the practice of eating foods traditionally associated with breakfast, such as eggs or pancakes, for dinner. The term brupper, a combination of breakfast and supper, may also be used for this purpose. I frequently fix scrambled eggs, frittata, or pancakes for my evening meal, but I don't call it brinner or brupper - I simply call it supper. 
  • IT'S (43A: "Baby, ___ you/ You're the one I love...") These lyrics are from Beyoncé's song, "Love On Top." I like this approach to cluing a common word such as IT'S. The clue is interesting, and even if you are unfamiliar with the song, the missing word is inferable.
  • CLAIRE DANES (53A: "My So-Called Life" star (arsenic, lead)) CLAIRE DANES won a Golden Globe Award and a Primetime Emmy for her portrayal of Angela Chase in the TV series My So-Called Life. She also played the role of Beth March in the 1994 film adaptation of Little Women.
  • REESE (22D: Witherspoon who played Cheryl Strayed) In addition to portraying Cheryl Strayed in Wild, REESE Witherspoon also helped produce the movie. Wild was an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.
  • QUINTANILLA (25D: Selena's surname) Selena was a singer, songwriter, and fashion designer sometimes referred to as the "Queen of Tejano music." Tejano music fuses Mexican, European, and U.S. influences. Selena was shot and killed 16 days before her 24th birthday, by the former manager of her fashion boutiques. Although I was familiar with Selena, I was thankful for crossing answers here to be able to come up with her last name.
  • ACE (36D: Las Vegas baller) The Las Vegas Aces compete in the Western Conference of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).
  • THING (51D: "Doo Wop (That ___)") "Doo Wop (That THING)" was the debut solo single from Lauryn Hill, from her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The song won a Grammy Award in 1999 for Best R&B Song.
  • OH NO (11D: "That's terrible") and ALAS (55D: "That's terrible) and DO IT (30D: "Hurry up already!") and C'MON (53D: "Hurry up already!") This was an enjoyable pair of paired clues. This repetition might have given you a sense of déjà vu while reading the down clues.

    Geography review:
    • OHIO (16A: State that starts and ends with the same letter) In addition to beginning and ending with an O, OHIO is the seventh most populous state in the United States. It is the 34th largest by area. It was fun to see this answer in proximity to the similar sounding, OH HI (6A: Surprised greeting).
    • MIAMI (2D: Second-largest city in Florida) MIAMI has the third tallest skyline in the U.S., with 55 buildings over 491 feet (150 meters) tall. In case you're wondering, Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida.
    Of course I enjoyed this puzzle that combined science and word play! When I saw the first theme clue, I wondered if the answers were going to contain the chemical symbols of the indicated elements. The answer CLAIRE DANES let me know this was not what was happening, since the symbols of arsenic and lead are As and Pb, respectively. Anagrams are fun, and there are some nice finds here. I am now hungry for CRAB RANGOON, however! A couple of nice long BONUS down answers in DOG GROOMING and QUINTANILLA. I also like that the grid has a "table-shaped" arrangement of black squares (that is then turned upside down). Okay, that might be a stretch, and might not have been on purpose, but I liked it anyway. The cluing was great here - no surprise, as Erik's clues always delight. I learned a few things, I laughed a couple of times, and I enjoyed the entire solve. This was a delightful way to start my Thursday. 
    By the way, my name anagrams to "scholarly heels," and on that note (though unrelated), I'd like to remind you to vote in the November 3rd election if you are eligible to do so.