October 30, 2020


Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Editor: Erik Agard & Paolo Pasco

Theme Answers:
SIDE EFFECT (17A: Unintended medicinal consequence)
SPACE RACE (31A: Competition spurred by Sputnik)
BOARD GAME (47A: Trouble or Parcheesi)
CAT BURGLAR (62A: Stealthy intruder)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer can precede the word WALK to form a word. We have SIDEWALK, SPACEWALK, BOARDWALK, and CATWALK.

Things I learned:
  • MONROE (20A: Rapper LoLa ___) LoLa MONROE is the professional name of Ethiopian-born rapper, Fershgenet Melaku, whose released singles include "Overtime," and "Don't Wake Me." Her chosen name is a reference to Marilyn MONROE. Like Marilyn, LoLa  is also an actress. Her movies include Before I Self Destruct, and Video Girl.
  • ANNE (66A: Poet Spencer) Although she lived in Lynchburg, Virginia, not in New York City, ANNE Spencer is considered an important member of the Harlem Renaissance, an intellectual, social, and artistic movement in the 1920s. Her poems touched on topics of race, nature, and feminism. ANNE Spencer is featured on a postage stamp issued this year in a series honoring figures of the Harlem Renaissance.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • OTTO (1A: "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" actress Miranda) Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a TV series based on the Archie comic book series of the same name. Miranda OTTO plays the role of Zelda Phiona Spellman, one of Sabrina's two aunts.
  • EGRET (23A: "Snowy" or "slaty" wading bird) As the names imply, a snowy EGRET is white, while a slaty EGRET is dark gray. Snowy EGRETs are native to North, Central, and South America. The slaty EGRET lives in south-central Africa, with the largest populations found in Zambia and Botswana.
  • ASPIC (27A: Savory molded jelly) An ASPIC is similar to a jello salad. Instead of being sweet, however, an ASPIC is savory, with gelatin added to meat stock or consomm√© which is then used to encase meat, seafood, or eggs. I'm not sure I've ever seen an ASPIC in real life, though I read about them (and see them referenced in crosswords!) Anytime I encounter the word ASPIC, I wonder why anyone would make such a thing.
  • ALLEN (50A: Singer Debbie) We previously saw Debbie ALLEN in the June 22 crossword clued as [Dance legend Debbie]. Best known for her work on the TV series Fame, ALLEN is a singer and a dancer, as well as a songwriter, actress, choreographer, director and producer.
  • TENSE (52A: Past, present or future) This clue reminded me of the joke: The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar - it was TENSE.
  • DR. NO (71A: First Bond film) DR. NO was released in 1962, and, of course, featured Sean Connery as the original James Bond. Joseph Wiseman played DR. NO, a reclusive member of SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion).
  • T-REX (22D: Cretaceous carnivore, for short) Cretaceous, meaning relating to the third and last period of the Mesozoic era. This geological period lasted from about 145 to 66 million years ago. The word cretaceous is derived from the Latin word "creta," meaning "chalk." 
  • ENEMY (34D: Poison Ivy, to Batman) The supervillain, Poison Ivy, who can transfer poison through touch, first appeared in Batman comics in 1966. We have seen Poison Ivy in a clue before. In the September 12 puzzle, BATMAN was clued as [Poison Ivy's enemy]. 

    Geography review:
    • EURO (68A: Currency in Latvia) Latvia is a northern European country. Its capital is Riga, and as noted, its currency is the EURO.
    With a B.S. in Pharmacy, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology, of course my favorite theme answer was SIDE EFFECT! Actually, I enjoyed all of the theme answers here - it was a nice set and a well-executed theme. DEARTH is an interesting word that is not seen often. EPITOME is a perfect example of a fine bonus answer to place in the center of a puzzle. This was a delightful way to begin my Friday morning.