November 1, 2020


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard & Paolo Pasco

Theme Answers:
SPECIAL CARE (18A: What some skilled nursing facilities provide)
SPARKLING WINE (37A: Champagne or Prosecco)
SPARTAN RACE (60A: Extreme competition with obstacles)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer either begins with SP- and ends with -ARE, or begins with SPAR- and ends with -E. Therefore, each theme answer breaks the word SPARE into PARTS.

Things I learned:
  • ESSAY (4D: Many a Morgan Jerkins work) Morgan Jerkins' first book, This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America is a collection of ESSAYs. The book was published in 2018, and was a New York Times bestseller. Jerkins' second book was published in August. It is titled Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots.
  • RAP (5D: Noname genre) Not the genre in which the artists do not have names, but the genre of Fatimah Nyeema Warner, known professionally as Noname. In addition to being a RAP artist, Noname is a poet, and has competed in slam poetry competitions. The Noname Book Club, started in 2019, is dedicated to lifting up the voices of authors of color. Noname encourages readers to purchase the book selections at local black-owned bookstores, or to check them out from the library. This month's selection is Class Struggle in Africa by Kwame Nkrumah.
  • ADA (19D: Poet Limon) You can read ADA Limón's poem, "Sharks in the Rivers" at If you do so, you will learn that "Sharks bite fewer people each year than/ New Yorkers do, according to Health Department records."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • OATMEAL (26A: Breakfast bowlful) Appropriately, I filled in this answer while enjoying a bowl of OATMEAL.
  • SPARTAN RACE (60A: Extreme competition with obstacles) A SPARTAN RACE may be as short as 3 miles, or as long 30 miles, and includes various obstacles requiring competitors to run, crawl, jump, or even swim. The TV series Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge and Tough Mudder are based on the SPARTAN RACE.
  • DANCE (66A: Tinikling, e.g.) Tinikling is a traditional Philippine folk DANCE. The DANCE involves two people sliding and tapping bamboo poles in rhythm, while dancers step over and between the poles. I got so excited when I saw this clue! When I was a child, one of the elementary schools I attended (We moved a lot, and I attended five different elementary schools.) taught tinikling in P.E. Now, I am extremely uncoordinated (that's really an understatement), but for some reason, I could do tinikling! It was, by far, my favorite P.E. activity. 
  • ERIKA (25D: "Parenthood" actress Christensen) On the TV series, Parenthood, ERIKA Christensen played the role of Julia Braverman-Graham. 
  • READER (11D: Newsletter subscriber) Or you. As always, thank you for being a READER of this blog. I appreciate you!
  • ALL (31D: "To ___ the Boys I've Loved Before") To ALL the Boys I've Loved Before is a novel by Jenny Han, which was adapted into a movie of the same name. The ALL is certainly inferable here, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you will have read the title before, as I wrote about it on July 26, and guest blogger, Sid Sivakumar, wrote about it on September 17
  • NO OUTLET (40D: Dead-end street sign) I had the -OOU- filled in, and I thought, That can't possibly be right!" But it was. Nice to see a tricky, unusual letter pattern. This answer reminded me of my husband. When he is leading us on bike rides throughout our neighborhood, he has a knack for accidentally leading us onto NO OUTLET streets, not noticing the sign until he has already turned. It makes for some interesting route maps.
  • LOOPED (47D: Like Mobius strips) A Mobius strip is a LOOPED strip that has only one side. Mobius strips are fascinating! When I was writing children's curriculum, I wrote many activities exploring the properties of Mobius strips. You can make a model of a Mobius strip by taking a strip of paper, and giving one end a half twist before taping the ends together into a loop. To demonstrate that the strip only has one side, draw a line down the center of the strip. Without lifting your pencil or pen, you will meet your starting point. If a Mobius strip is cut in half (along the line you drew down the center of the strip) it will result in a long loop with two twists in it, rather than two loops.

    Geography review:
    • PARIS (9A: Champs-Elysees city) The Champs-Élysées is an avenue in PARIS, France. It is the site of the Arc de Triumph, and is the finish of the Tour de France cycling race.
    • GILA (35A: River to the Colorado) The GILA River, a tributary of the Colorado River, flows through New Mexico and Arizona. I remember the GILA River because I learned its name while writing my second blog post. We also saw the GILA River on July 19 and July 29. Interestingly, all three of those puzzles were also constructed by Zhouqin Burnikel.
    • KENYA (65A: Mombasa's country) Mombasa is a city in KENYA, located on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It is the oldest city in KENYA, established around 900 A.D. Mombasa is the second-largest city in KENYA. The capital of KENYA, and its largest city, is Nairobi.
    • ISRAELIS (2D: Tel Aviv citizens) Tel Aviv, Israel is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
    • MAUI (28D: It's southeast of Oahu) MAUI is the second-largest of the Hawaiian islands. Yesterday's puzzle marked the fifth appearance of OAHU (Hawaii's third-largest island) since I have been blogging about the puzzle. Today is the first appearance of MAUI. 
    • ALASKA (46D: Denali's state) Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America. It is part of Denali National Park in ALASKA.
    • ARAB (57D: ___ Republic of Egypt) The ARAB Republic of Egypt is the official name of Egypt, a country spanning two continents. Egypt is located in the northeast corner of Africa and the southwest corner of Asia. The part of Egypt located in Asia is the Sinai Peninsula.
    Hey, I got this posted before 9:00 a.m. (central time)! It seems like I have been late posting this week, (late for my self-imposed goal...) and all it took to allow me to post on time was an extra hour thanks to the end of daylight saving time. Anyway, let's talk about the puzzle. This was an enjoyable puzzle. Several entries that sparked some memories for me, and a few new things to learn. The puzzle GOES DEEP into geography clues, resulting in a longer than average Geography Review section. This puzzle was a delightful start to my month of November.