November 29, 2020


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
I TOLD YOU SO (18A: "Listen to me next time!")
FLU SHOTS (28A: Pharmacy's fall offerings) 
TOFU SKIN (51A: Dim sum wrapper)
SHABU-SHABU (63A: Japanese hot pot dish)

Theme synopsis: One of the words in each theme answer ends with the letter U, and the following word begins with the letter S. Therefore, the letters U and S make CONTACT within the theme answer.

Things I learned:
  • CARA (15A: "Mirror, Mirror!" author Delevingne) CARA Delevingne is a model, actress, and singer, in addition to being an author. She played the role of Margo Roth Spiegelman in the 2015 movie Paper Towns. Released in 2017, Mirror, Mirror! is her debut novel.
  • TOFU SKIN (51A: Dim sum wrapper) When soy milk is heated, a film forms on the surface. Collected and dried, the film becomes the product known as TOFU SKIN. It is often used to wrap dim sum. 
  • OBOE (72A: Katherine Needleman's instrument) Katherine Needleman is the principal oboist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She is also a member of the OBOE trio, Trio La Milpa, along with Michael Lisicky and Sandra Gerster.
  • RALPH (7D: "Juneteenth" author Ellison) RALPH Ellison's first novel, Invisible Man, won the National Book Award in 1953. Although RALPH Ellison published eight excerpts from his second novel during his lifetime, the book itself was not published until after he died. At the time of his death in 1994, Ellison had written over 2,000 pages of the novel, but the writings were not organized and Ellison left no notes on how the pages went together. Ellison's longtime friend, John F. Callahan, edited the manuscript and put the novel together. The resulting book, Juneteenth, was published in 1999. A fuller edition of the unfinished manuscript was released in 2010 titled, Three Days Before the Shooting
  • EMO (9D: ___ bangs) EMO is a rock music genre emphasizing emotional expression. EMO fashion has been associated with skinny jeans, tight t-shirts featuring band names, and long bangs that often taper to one side. I was unfamiliar with the phrase EMO bangs, but judging by the number of hits returned when I googled the phrase, I may be the only one!
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ELI (34A: Papa Pope's first name on "Scandal") The TV series, Scandal, focuses on the crisis management firm, Olivia Pope & Associates. ELI Pope is Olivia's father, who was also the former head of a spy agency. My knowledge of Scandal comes from listening to episodes as background noise while my daughter watched it on her laptop in the dining room. 
  • NOR (48A: Conjunction in the USPS creed) "Neither snow NOR rain NOR heat NOR gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed round." Though not an official creed, the USPS recognizes the saying as an informal motto. The phrase was inscribed on New York City's General Post Office Building, which opened in 1914. 
  • ERR (56A: "We live in time; we ___, sometimes seriously" (Judith Butler)) Judith Butler is a philosopher, gender theorist, and the author of the 1990 book Gender Trouble. This quote is from an email interview with New Statesman. "...I don't think any mistake a person made can, or should, summarise that person. We live in time; we ERR, sometimes seriously; and if we are lucky, we change precisely because of interactions that let us see things differently."
  • SHABU-SHABU (63A: Japanese hot pot dish) SHABU-SHABU is a dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water and served with dipping sauces. Its onomatopoeic name is derived from the sound made when the ingredients are stirred in the cooking pot. I wrote about SHABU-SHABU previously when it was featured in a clue for the word EAT in the July 2 puzzle. Today it gets to shine as a theme answer!
  • SCISSORS (4D: Pair used in jianzhi) Jianzhi is also known as Chinese paper cutting. SCISSORS or knives are used to cut designs from folded paper to produce symmetrical designs which are often displayed in windows or hung on walls. This is a nicely tricky clue, as the wording makes it sound like a sports clue.
  • EAT (5D: "___ Drink Man Woman" (Ang Lee movie)) The title of the 1994 movie, EAT Drink Man Woman is a quote from the Book of Rites, one of the core texts of the Confucian canon, referring to the basic human desires.
  • THINK TANKS (32D: Workplaces for some research associates) This is a nice long non-theme bonus. Interestingly, this is the second time in three days that we have seen THINK TANKS as a non-theme answer, as it was also in the November 27 puzzle
  • RHEA (57D: "Better Call Saul" star Seehorn) RHEA Seehorn plays the role of attorney Kim Wexler on the TV series Better Call Saul.
Geography review:
  • AMMAN (16A: Jordan's largest city) AMMAN is also Jordan's capital.
  • TAHOE (37A: California/Nevada lake) Lake TAHOE is located on the California and Nevada border.
  • DADE (39A: Miami-___ County) As one might expect, the county seat of Miami-DADE County is Miami, Florida.
  • PASO (11D: El ___, Texas) El PASO, Texas is located in the far western part of the state. It sits on the Rio Grande River, and borders the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
  • DOHA (21D: Qatar Airways city) DOHA is the capital and most populous city of Qatar, a country in Western Asia.
  • NI HAO (54D: "Hello," in Xi'an) Xi'an is a city in northwest China. It is the home of the Terracota Army, a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Chi Huang, the first Emperor of China. NI HAO is a Chinese greeting.
Well, I certainly found plenty to write about today, didn't I?! I found many things in today's puzzle which interested me. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to start my Sunday morning. 


  1. I did like to see the voice of the crossword constructor shining through the crossword. Zhouqin is most likely someone of Asian descent as there were loads of Japanese and Chinese references here - from NI HAO to the clue for SCISSORS. Even two of the theme answers - SHABU SHABU and TOFU SKIN are Asian in nature. Great review as always

    1. Agreed - I enjoy when a constructor's "puzzle personality" shines through! Zhouqin's puzzles are always well-constructed and delightful. This is even more impressive if you consider that English is not her first language.

    2. Her first language isn't English ? I never would have guessed


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