May 12, 2021


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
NICE GOING (15A: "Good job!")
PRICE GOUGER (27A: One who overcharges customers)
THREE GORGES (47A: Scenic area along the Yangtze River)
LIFE GOALS (62A: Bucket list items)

Theme synopsis: The letters E-G-O, spelling EGO (meaning "the SELF"), are the CENTER letters of each theme answer.

Things I learned:
  • HOSTS (17A: Scottie Beam and Sylvia Obell, for "Okay, Now Listen") Scottie Beam is, in her own words, "a media personality, content creator, music enthusiast, and also a wing connoisseur." Sylvia Obell describes herself as "an entertainment journalist, lover of Beyoncé, and a pop culture savant!" Together, the two friends are HOSTS of the Netflix podcast Okay, Now Listen, a bi-weekly dose of what's on their minds, what they're binging, and what's blowing up their timelines. Okay, Now Listen is part of Netflix's Strong Black Lead programming, which I wrote about October 3, 2020.
  • LIU (42A: Chinese supermodel Wen) In 2009, LIU Wen was the first Chinese model to be a part of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. She has modeled for many brands, including Estée Lauder, Calvin Klein, and Oscar de la Rente and has been featured on the cover of Vogue
  • THREE GORGES (47A: Scenic area along the Yangtze River) The THREE GORGES are the Qutang, Wu, and Xiling GORGES along the Yangtze River in China. The THREE GORGES Dam was constructed on the Yangtze River in this area beginning in 1994. Since 2012, the dam has been the world's largest power station.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SPAM (12A: Classic budae-jjigae meat) Budae-jjigae, or "army base stew," is made with ham, sausage, SPAM, baked beans, kimchi, and gochujang. I first learned about budae-jjigae from a Zhouqin Burnikel puzzle last year. It was also mentioned in another Zhouqin Burnikel puzzle earlier this year. Each time budae-jjigae has appeared in a clue, it has been used to clue a different word - that's fun.
  • SRY (32A: "My b," in a text) We just saw SRY (sry = sorry) in the puzzle two days ago. "My b" = "my bad."
  • WALLEYE (57A: Minnesota's state fish) The eyes of a WALLEYE point outward, as if they were looking at the walls, which is how the fish got its common name. The WALLEYE became the official state fish of Minnesota in 1965, and is found throughout the lakes and rivers of the state. According to Wikipedia, there is only one state that has not designated a state fish. Constructors, here's a new cluing angle for Ohio.
  • I SAY (71A: "___ a Little Prayer") "I SAY a Little Prayer" was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick in 1967. Aretha Franklin released a version of the song in 1968. A reggae-style version of the song was released in 1997 by Diana King. 
  • POI (5D: First food for some babies) POI, a staple food in Polynesian diets, is made by mashing cooked starchy vegetables such as breadfruit, taro, or plantain. 
  • GNU (40D: Bearded antelope) The GNU, also called the wildebeest, is the largest species of antelope. GNUs are native to southern and eastern Africa. GNU herds in East Africa migrate every year, following the rains, and covering a distance of 500 to 1,000 miles.
  • ELBA (60A: "Concrete Cowboy" star Idris) Concrete Cowboy is a 2020 movie based on the Greg Neri novel, Ghetto Cowboy. Though the story is fictional, it was inspired by the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, a non-profit organization in Philadelphia devoted to inner-city horsemanship. Idris ELBA plays the role of Harp, the father of 15-year-old Cole, played by Caleb McLaughlin. 
Geography review:
  • YEN (41D: Currency in Karuizawa) Karuizawa is a town in Nagano, Japan. 
I noticed that this puzzle is EGOcentric... While EGOcentrism can be annoying, it is enjoyable in this instance. NICE GOING, puzzle - you have a solid set of theme answers. LIFE GOALS is my favorite theme answer. I don't keep a formal bucket list, but my informal LIFE GOALS are to see the aurora borealis someday, and to visit as many National Parks as I can. This puzzle was a nice way to begin my Wednesday.


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