February 1, 2023


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LEAN PROTEIN (16A: Tofu or chicken breast, for example)
NEAL STEPHENSON (32A: "Cryptonomicon" author)
LENA HORNE (62A: Singer who starred in "Stormy Weather")

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is an anagram (or CHANGE) of the word LANE.

Things I learned:
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • TINA (20A: "Proud Mary" singer Turner) "Proud Mary" was written by John Fogerty, and first recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1968. TINA Turner has recorded several versions of "Proud Mary," which is one of her signature songs. The first version was with Ike Turner, and was released in 1971. TINA Turner's 2003 version of "Proud Mary" is in the Grammy Hall of Fame. She has performed duets of "Proud Mary" with BeyoncĂ© and Cher.
  • PANSY (37A: Flower with an upturned "face") The PANSY is a hybrid plant cultivated for gardens. The flowers have a "blotch" on the petals, which is referred to as the "face." Pansies are edible flowers (as long as they haven't been sprayed with chemicals). The first time I was served a dish with a PANSY garnish was years ago on a trip to the San Juan Islands.
  • STALE (60A: Like yesterday's xiaolongbao) A type of Chinese steamed bun, xiaolongbao take their name from the traditional bamboo steaming basket (xiaolong) in which they are prepared.
  • LENA HORNE (62A: Singer who starred in "Stormy Weather") Stormy Weather is a 1943 musical film. It was notable at the time for being one of the few musical films with a Black cast. LENA HORNE (1917-2010) played the role of Selina Rogers in the movie, and sang the title song, "Stormy Weather."
  • PEEVE (2D: "Pet" annoyance) Willow walked into my office just as I was typing this, saying
    Willow making her presence known
    "Meow!" I take this to mean that Willow's pet PEEVE is being ignored. It is difficult to ignore her when she is perched on my shoulder.
  • PITA BREAD (6D: Shawarma wrapper) and ATE (7D: Enjoyed some shawarma) Shawarma is a dish in Middle Eastern cuisine consisting of thinly sliced meat stacked in a cone-like shape and roasted on a spit. It is often served in a PITA BREAD, sandwich-style.
  • JEW (45D: Sukkot celebrant) Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, is a weeklong Jewish holiday. 
  • KTOWN (52D: Neighborhood with KBBQ spots) KTOWN is a term used to refer to a Korean neighborhood in a metropolitan city outside of the Korean peninsula. These neighborhoods are a good place to enjoy some Korean barbecue (KBBQ).

    Geography review:

    • ESE (28A: Suffix for "Benin") Benin is a West African country that borders Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Niger, and has coastline on the Gulf of Guinea. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, and its largest city is Cotonou. 
    • WACO (38A: Baylor University's city) WACO, Texas is located along the Brazos River, approximately halfway between the cities of Dallas and Austin. WACO is the home of Baylor University, as well as McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College.
    • ANN (46A: ___ Arbor, Michigan) ANN Arbor, Michigan, which is located west of Detroit, is home to the University of Michigan. The city was founded in 1824 by John Allen and Elisha Walker Rumsey. Both men were married to women named ANN, so they decided to name the city after their wives. The "Arbor" part of the name is a reference to the stands of bur oak trees in the area.
    • SLC (60D: Capital that's home to the Utah Jazz, for short) The NBA's Utah Jazz play their home games in Salt Lake City (SLC), the capital of Utah.
    A fun anagram theme today; I caught on as soon as I filled in the answer LEAN PROTEIN. In addition to the theme, I enjoyed the answers ENTOURAGE, NAILBITER, and OPTIMISTIC. Thank you, Zhouqin, for this puzzle that was a great way to start my Wednesday.