November 24, 2022


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
CLOSE-MINDED (17A: Not receptive to new ideas)
NURSE MIDWIFE (48A: Childbirth specialist)
HOUSE MICE (63A: Prey of pet cats)

Theme synopsis: At the HEART of each theme answer, we find the word SEMI, a synonym for HALF.

Things I learned:
  • TOFU (20A: Taho ingredient) Tahô is a snack food that originated in the Philippines. It is made of fresh TOFU, brown sugar syrup, and sago pearls (similar to tapioca pearls).
  • REPS (23A: Curtsy lunge count) I had to read this clue several times before I figured out that a curtsy lunge is an exercise. (Obviously I haven't been to the gym lately!)
  • SHIN (6D: Magician Lim) SHIN Lim was trained as a pianist, but when he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, he taught himself magic. His specialty is close-up card magic, which he often performs set to music. **Spoiler Alert** In 2018, SHIN Lim won season 13 of America's Got Talent, and in 2019 he won the first season of America's Got Talent: The Champions.
  • WUSHU (28D: Martial art practiced by Hao Zhihua and Jet Li) WUSHU, also known as Kung fu, is  a full contact martial art. Hao Zhihua, also known as Patti Li, is a former WUSHU competitor, who now teaches WUSHU and t'ai chi in Oakland, California. She competed for 15 years as a member of the Beijing WUSHU Team, winning three National All-Around Champion titles. Actor and film producer Jet Li is a retired WUSHU champion, and also a former member of the Beijing WUSHU team. 
  • MIN (49D: "Red Azalea" author Anchee) Anchee MIN was born in Shanghai, China. She was nine years old when China's Cultural Revolution began. Red Azalea is Anchee MIN's first memoir. Published in 1994, the book tells the story of Anchee MIN's childhood, her time at a labor camp, her training at a film studio, and her emigration to the United States. Anchee MIN has also written a second memoir, The Cooked Seed, and six historical novels. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ORIOLES (25A: Bird attracted to oranges) The diet of ORIOLES includes fruit, nectar, berries, and arthropods. The birds are also attracted to the color orange (much as hummingbirds are attracted to the color red), which makes oranges doubly appealing.
  • HOUSE MICE (63A: Prey of pet cats) Fortunately, Willow has never had the opportunity to hunt for HOUSE MICE; her hunting exploits have been limited to flies, bugs, and SOCKS. However, when I first graduated from college, I rented a house that had an abundance of wildlife, including bats, racoons, and MICE. (I guess they were HOUSE MICE since they lived in my HOUSE, though they certainly weren't invited.) At that time I had a cat named Indy, and the first time he caught a mouse, he woke me up (it was approximately 1:00 a.m.) to show it to me. He then proceeded to play with it in my bedroom, and was quite upset when it stopped playing with him. This anecdote makes me realize this is the first time I have introduced Indy to you. My college roommate and I adopted him as a kitten. His full name was Independence Waldorf Rambo Kupitz Hayes Hoelscher (the origin of which is a story for another day...), but for obvious reasons, we called him Indy. After college, Indy went with me, as my roommate was actually allergic to cats. Indy lived to be almost 20 years old, and witnessed many changes in my life. He moved with me four times, and adjusted (albeit reluctantly...) to the addition of my husband to our family, and then two kids. He was a great cat, and I'm delighted to add him to the CATS of Sally's Take.
    (As a bonus, this photo includes both of my children as youngsters.)
  • SPAWN (27D: Produce offspring) It made me smile to see SPAWN intersect NURSE MIDWIFE.
  • SOCKS (54D: Tabi, for example) I have previously written about tabi, SOCKS with a divided section for the big toe. 
  • TORI (58D: Singer ___ Kelly) TORI Kelly's most recent album was released in 2020, and you might want to listen to it over the next month. It's called A TORI Kelly Christmas

    Geography review:

    • HAITI (15A: Country east of Jamaica) The Greater Antilles is a grouping of islands in the Caribbean Sea. The three largest islands of the Greater Antilles are Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica. Of those three islands, Cuba lies the farthest west, with Jamaica located south of Cuba, and Hispianola east of Jamaica. (Keep reading, I'm getting to HAITI!) The island of Hispaniola is divided into two countries, HAITI and the Dominican Republic. The capital of HAITI is Port-au-Prince.
    • SWEDES (27A: Stockholm residents) Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, and its largest city.
    • OSLO (2D: Capital of Norway) Moving west from Sweden, we find ourselves in Norway. The capital and largest city of Norway is OSLO.
    • NOTRE DAME (11D: University near South Bend) The University of NOTRE DAME du Lac is located in NOTRE DAME, Indiana, just north of the city of South Bend. In addition to the University of NOTRE DAME, NOTRE DAME, Indiana is home to Saint Mary's College and Holy Cross College.
    It took me a bit to see this theme, providing a nice "Aha!" moment. Thank you, Zhouqin, for this puzzle, that was a great way to start my Thursday. I hope your day includes something that brings you joy. I am truly grateful for all of you who read the blog and allow me to be a small part of your day.


    1. And we are thankful for you and this fantastic blog you write for us, Sally!


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