May 23, 2021


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
WHY GOD WHY (16A: Despairing plea for answers)
WHO'S ZOOMIN' WHO (34A: 1985 Aretha Franklin album)
WHAT'S WHAT (56A: The facts of a situation)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is a phrase with a repeated QUESTION word. The QUESTION appears at each END of the answer.

Things I learned:
  • IRENE (58A: Singer in Red Velvet) Red Velvet is a South Korean girl group composed of IRENE, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy, and Yeri. The group's music has been described as having a "Red" side - pop, hip-hop, and funk, and a "Velvet" side - R&B and ballads. IRENE and Seulgi released an EP titled Monster last year as a duo, Red Velvet - IRENE & Seulgi. In addition to singing, IRENE has done some acting, and in September, 2020 she became an ambassador for Prada.
  • NEWS (61A: Jeannette Reyes reports it) Jeannette Reyes is a NEWS anchor for Fox 5 DC. She appears on Good Day DC, and FOX 5 Morning
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CAT (32A: Pet that might pounce on a yarn ball) My CAT, Willow, approves
    of any puzzle containing CAT. I've learned that when I knit, I need to keep a scrap of knitting handy for distraction purposes. 
  • WHO'S ZOOMIN' WHO (34A: 1985 Aretha Franklin album) WHO'S ZOOMIN' WHO? was Aretha Franklin's thirtieth studio album, and the name of a single from the album. This album title could be the slogan for 2020, couldn't it?
  • TAOS (38A: ___ Pueblo) TAOS Pueblo is an ancient community located about a mile north of TAOS, New Mexico. The pueblo, which belongs to the Puebloan people, is a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO Heritage Site. 
  • APR (39A: National Siblings Day mo.) National Siblings Day is APR. 10, so you've missed it for this year. However, if you are in Europe, you might celebrate Brothers and Sisters Day on May 31. 
  • ATE (47A: Enjoyed some kung pao shrimp, say) Kung pao shrimp is a spicy stir-fry dish made with peanuts, vegetables, chili peppers, and, of course, shrimp. Kung pao shrimp and kung pao chicken are classic dishes in Sichuan cuisine.
  • ECHELON (49A: Upper ___ (high level) I knew this answer, but it took me a bit to figure out how to spell it correctly. (I tried to put an S in it.) ECHELON is a fancy word for tiers or levels.
  • HYENA (51A: Scavenger known for its laugh) Have you heard a HYENA laugh
  • BOWLER (1D: Athlete seeking strikes) Fun clue! I was completely misled trying to think about athletes who wanted to "go on strike" rather than ones who wanted to bowl strikes.
  • ABDUL (5D: "Straight Up" singer Paula) "Straight Up" is a from Paula Abdul's 1998 debut album, Forever Your Girl. Appropriate for today's theme, the song features a number of questions.
  • BREA (9D: La ___ Tar Pits) Hancock Park in Los Angeles, California was formed around the La BREA Tar Pits. For tens of thousands of years, natural asphalt has seeped up from the ground in this area. The tar preserved the bones of animals who were unlucky enough to get caught in the pits centuries ago. 
  • AZALEA (31D: Flower toxic to horses) The leaves and nectar of the AZALEA plant contain grayanotoxins. One to two pounds of AZALEA leaves can be fatal for a horse.
  • PENNE (42D: Pasta often served all'arrabbiata) PENNE all'arrabbiata is PENNE pasta with a spicy sauce of garlic, tomatoes, dried red chili peppers, and olive oil.
  • FIN (55D: Shark's appendage) and WET (56D: Fresh out of the pool, say) The proximity of these two answers made me think that you might be WET because you saw a shark's FIN and got out of the pool quickly!)
Geography review:
  • RIO (25A: Brazil's second-largest city, informally) RIO de Janeiro, Brazil is about half the size of Brazil's largest city, Sāo Paulo.
  • EAST (60A: ___ Asia) EAST Asia includes the countries of China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan.
  • THAI (53D: Phuket resident) Phuket is a southern province of THAIland. The province includes the island of Phuket, which is THAIland's largest island.
Appropriately, after solving today's puzzle I have some QUESTIONS: Are there HYENAs in the La BREA Tar Pits? (Apparently not.) Do horses try to eat AZALEAs? (Only when other plants are scarce.) I enjoyed this theme - some nice finds for theme answers. I began to wonder if there were phrases utilizing the other three QUESTION words - where, when, and how. The first thing to pop into my head was the phrase "Where, oh where" (are you tonight?) from the refrain of the song "You Were Gone" from the TV show Hee Haw. Well, once that song got stuck in my head, I couldn't think of anything else! What questions can you think of that fit this theme? The answers AT HOME and WHO'S ZOOMIN' WHO? pair nicely together, as do MORASS and the La BREA Tar Pits. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Sunday morning.