February 19, 2021


Constructor: Hannah Slovut

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LION DANCE (3D: Chinese New Year performance)
EAGLE EYE (8D: Watchful person)
SHARK TANK (34D: TV show with entrepreneurs and investors)
BEAR CLAW (38D: Pastry often filled with almond paste)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is an APEX PREDATOR. We have a LION, an EAGLE, a SHARK, and a BEAR.

Things I learned:
  • CECILE (25A: Jazz vocalist ___ McLorin Salvant) In 2010, CECILE McLorin Salvant won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. Her third album, For One to Love, won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ELLE (1A: "The Great" actress Fanning) ELLE Fanning portrays Catherine the Great on the TV series The Great. The series is a satire loosely based on Catherine the Great's rise to power. Hulu describes the series as "anti-historical."
  • ATOM (16A: If an apple were magnified to the size of the Earth, this would be close to the size of an apple) This is a fun clue, and a fascinating hypothetical. Imagine what size you would be in this scenario?!
  • EVA (17A: "MOOD 4 ___" (Beyonce song)) "MOOD 4 EVA" is a single from The Lion King: The Gift,  an album produced and curated by BeyoncĂ©. The album contains the song "Spirit" from the soundtrack of the 2019 remake of The Lion King, as well as new songs inspired by the movie.
  • REREAD (51A: Check back out of the library, say) Do you REREAD books? I know some people don't, but I thoroughly enjoy REREADing books. I call it comfort reading; it's like visiting an old friend. Invariably, I encounter some details I have forgotten. I have REREAD some of my favorite books and series  multiple times. This includes the books and short stories of my favorite author, Agatha Christie. You'd think that since they are mysteries, they would be spoiled after one reading because I know "who did it." Instead, I enjoy watching for clues I missed the first time. (Also, occasionally I find I don't remember who's guilty!)
  • KFC (53A: Sponsor of the Lifetime mini-movie "A Recipe for Seduction") In A Recipe for Seduction, a young heiress must choose between a wealthy suitor and the new house chef, Harland Sanders. Yes, Harland Sanders as in Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC. The "secret recipe" for fried chicken features in the plot of the mini-movie. Mario Lopez plays the role of Harland Sanders.
  • DREW (66A: Fictional sleuth Nancy) Nancy DREW first appeared in 1930 in The Secret of the Old Clock. The Nancy DREW stories have been written by a number of authors, and are published under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene. I read (and REREAD!) many Nancy DREW books as I was growing up.
  • LION DANCE (3D: Chinese New Year performance) During the LION DANCE, performers wearing a lion costume mimic a lion's movements in order to bring good luck and fortune in the upcoming year.
  • SPANISH (7D: Language in which "foot" is "pie") This clue made me chuckle. It's true, the SPANISH word for "foot" is "pie," though the word "pie" isn't pronounce the same in SPANISH as it is in English. 
  • SHARK TANK (34D: TV show with entrepreneurs and investors) During the reality show, SHARK TANK, entrepreneurs make presentations to a panel of investors in an attempt to get them to invest in their company. The show is a version of the Japanese show Dragons' Den.
  • BEAR CLAW (38D: Pastry often filled with almond paste) BEAR CLAW pastries are made with yeasted sweet dough, shaped in a semi-circle with slices along the curved edge. As the dough rises, the sections separate, giving the pastry a claw-like shape.
An APEX PREDATOR is an animal at the top of a food chain. APEX PREDATORS, such as LIONs, EAGLEs, SHARKs, and BEARs, do not have natural predators. I enjoyed this theme - it was fun to see the predators appear. I liked the choice of making the theme answers vertical so the APEX PREDATORS were on the top. I also notice that the puzzle includes some prey for these APEX PREDATORS in the form of DEER, a HARE, and an EEL. It was a nice touch to include the word THREATS in the puzzle, as these animals can certainly be a danger to animals below them in the food chain. The phrase APEX PREDATOR reminds me of the song of this name from the Broadway musical, Mean Girls, and this song has been my earworm since I read the title of the puzzle! This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Friday.


  1. Puzzles seem to be print OK now. The fix must have just happened.

    David (Tucson, AZ)


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