January 6, 2021

Title: IN A SPOT

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers: 
SPOILER ALERT (20A: Warning prior to a plot reveal)
SPONSORED POST (37A: Promoted blog entry)
SPORTS JACKET (55A: Blazer alternative)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer begins with SPO- and ends with -T. Therefore, each theme answer is IN the word SPOT.

Things I learned:
  • STAN (1A: "The Americans" agent Beeman) The Americans is a TV series about two KGB officers posing as an American couple during the Cold War. Noah Emmerich plays the role of STAN Beeman, an FBI officer and a neighbor of the couple.
  • ABBI (51A: "I Might Regret This" author Jacobson) ABBI Jacobson is a comedian and writer. She co-created, and co-starred in, the TV series Broad City with Ilana Glazer. Her book, I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff contains personal essays about a three week solo cross-country road trip. 
  • CREOLE (48D: Leah Chase's cuisine) Leah Chase, known as the Queen of CREOLE Cuisine, was a chef based in New Orleans. In 2018, the restaurant Leah and her husband founded, Dooky Chase (named for her husband), was named one of the 40 most important restaurants of the last 40 years by Food & Wine magazine. Dooky Chase was a gathering place for Civil Rights Movement participants in the 1960s, and was known as a gallery due to its extensive collection of art by Black artists. After Dooky Chase was flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the restaurant community of New Orleans held a benefit to raise funds for Leah Chase, who was 82 years old at the time. Leah Chase died in 2019 at the age of 96.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • KOLA (15A: Nut used to flavor soft drinks) KOLA was an answer in the January 3 puzzle (also constructed by Zhouqin Burnikel). Although KOLA nut extract was originally used as a source of caffeine and flavoring in cola drinks, most commercial colas no longer use it.
  • SIS (28A: Halle, to Chloe, for short) Chloe and Halle Bailey are sisters. Together they are the R&B duo, Chloe x Halle. At the 2020 Billboard Women in Music ceremony, Chloe x Halle won the Rising Star Award, which was presented by their mentor, BeyoncĂ©.
  • SEA (46A: Place studied by Sylvia Earle) Sylvia Earle is a former Chief Scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I learned about Sylvia Earle and her study of the SEA from the June 17 puzzle (also by Zhouqin Burnikel).
  • RIOT (62A: 1968 DNC event) The RIOT that took place  during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago was a clash between protestors of the Vietnam War and Chicago police officers. An entire blog post could be written about the RIOT. In fact, many articles have been written about it, including this 2018 article in Time magazine
  • ACTED (Emulated Joan Chen) Joan Chen played the role of Josie Packard in the TV series Twin Peaks. She also ACTED in the 2020 movies, Tigertail and Ava
  • POOR (6D: ___ People's Campaign) The POOR People's Campaign is an anti-poverty campaign led by William Barber II and Liz Theoharis. The movement, which takes its name from a 1968 anti-poverty campaign, coordinated "40 days of civil disobedience" at statehouses across the United States in 2018. 
  • NAILBITERS (8D: Tense contests) A timely answer for those who stayed up last night to watch Georgia election results.
  • EAT (22D: Enjoy a bowl of mandu-guk, say) Mandu-guk is a Korean soup with dumplings in a beef broth. 
  • TROY (33D: Helen of ___ (mythical beauty)) In Greek mythology, Helen of TROY was known as the most beautiful woman in the world. A traditional story told is that Helen was seduced by Paris (the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba) and carried off to Troy. This led to the Trojan War when the Achaeans set out to reclaim her.
  • AIKIDO (47D: Martial art founded by Morihel Ueshiba) I mentioned in the write-up of the December 19 puzzle that AIKIDO was developed by Morihel Ueshiba in the late 1920s. Don't feel bad if you're a regular reader and didn't remember this - it took me several crossing answers to fill in the answer.
  • TLC (59D: "No Scrubs" trio) "No Scrubs" is a 1999 song by the girl group TLC off of their album FanMail.
Geography review:
  • PALO (14A: ___ Alto) PALO Alto, California is the home of Stanford University.
  • MIAMI (19A: Florida's second-most populous city) MIAMI, Florida is about half the size of Jacksonville, Florida. 
  • ZAIRE (53A: The Congo, before 1997) The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a country in central Africa. The country was known as ZAIRE between 1971 and 1997.
  • TAIPEI (2D: Shilin Night Market city) Taiwanese night markets operate between sunset and sunrise. Shilin Night Market in TAIPEI, Taiwan is often considered to be Taiwan's largest and most famous night market.
SPOILER ALERT - I liked this puzzle! A nice split-the-word theme with solid theme answers. I especially liked the delightful theme answer SPOILER ALERT.  NAILBITERS and SHORTBREAD were great long non-theme bonuses, and I also liked BORSCHT and IT'S TIME. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Wednesday.