February 5, 2023


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
FLAXSEED OIL (17A: Vegan source of omega-3 fatty acids)
FORKED TAIL (24A: Feature of a barn swallow)
FORCES OF EVIL (51A: What superheroes fight against)
FERTILE SOIL (61A: Feature of a river delta or floodplain)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is WRAPPED in the word FOIL.

Things I learned:
  • GWEN (6A: Spider-Verse character Stacy) GWEN Stacy is a Marvel Comics character. She was a love interest of Peter Parker's while they were undergraduates at Empire State University. GWEN Stacy's father, NYPD Captain George Stacy, and GWEN died in (two different) Spider-Man battles. (Battles with the FORCES OF EVIL.) In a Spider-Verse alternate universe, GWEN Stacy is the one bitten by a radioactive spider, and becomes a superhero known as Ghost Spider/Spider-Woman. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), GWEN Stacy has been played by Bryce Dallas Howard and Emma Stone, and voiced by Hailee Steinfeld.
  • RBI (63D: Jocelyn Alo stat) Jocelyn Alo is a professional softball player for the Women's Professional Fastpitch (WPF) team, Oklahoma City Spark. In college she played softball for the Oklahoma Sooners. Jocelyn Alo is Oklahoma's all-time leader in home runs and RBIs, and the NCAA Division I career leader in home runs.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • FLAXSEED OIL (17A: Vegan source of omega-3 fatty acids) FLAXSEED OIL, also known as linseed OIL, is a source of the omega-3 fatty acid, 𝛼-Linolenic acid. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential because mammals cannot synthesize them, and therefore, they must obtain them from their diet.
  • FORKED TAIL (24A: Feature of a barn swallow) The steely-blue barn swallow, with its characteristic FORKED TAIL, is the most widespread species of swallow in the world.
  • RAI (30A: Aishwarya ___ Bachchan) Aishwarya RAI Bachchan is one of the most popular celebrities in India. Her film appearances include Bride and Prejudice, The Last Legion, and The Mistress of Spices. Aishwarya RAI Bachchan was Miss World 1994.
  • EMT (43A: Professional with a BLS certification) BLS here stands for basic life support. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are trained to provide BLS to patients with life-threatening illnesses or injuries until full medical care is available.
  • IMAMS (46A: They stand on minbars to deliver sermons) Minbars are raised platforms in mosques. As the clue informs us, IMAMS stand on minbars to deliver sermons.
  • LILI (56A: "Look Both Ways" actress Reinhart) Look Both Ways is a 2022 movie in which LILI Reinhart plays college student, Natalie Bennett. The movie presents two alternate realities of Natalie's life, one in which a pregnancy test is positive, and one in which the test is negative. LILI Reinhart also plays the role of Betty Cooper in the TV series Riverdale
  • LAILA (69A: Boxer and cookbook author Ali) LAILA Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali, retired from an eight-year undefeated professional boxing career in 2007. In 2018, LAILA Ali released her first cookbook, Food for Life.
  • HOLI (11D: Spring festival celebrated on a full moon day) HOLI, also known as the "festival of spring," is a Hindu festival celebrating the end of winter and the arrival of spring. The date of HOLI varies with the lunar calendar; this year HOLI will be celebrated on March 8.
  • FETA (24D: Cheese in spanakopita) Spanakopita is a spinach pie of GREEK origin. A filling - traditionally spinach, eggs, FETA cheese, and onions - is layered in phyllo pastry.
  • OVAL (50D: Sakura leaf shape) The sakura, also known as cherry blossom or Japanese cherry, has OVAL leaves. Some sakura varieties have edible leaves and blossoms
  • IOTA (57D: ___ Phi Theta) IOTA Phi Theta is a historically Black fraternity founded in 1963 at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Geography review:

    • ELK (19A: Animal on Idaho's state seal) The ELK on Idaho's state seal represents the state's wildlife. The seal also contains symbols of other Idaho resources: mines, forests, and farmland. I have previously written about Emma Edward Green, who designed the Idaho state seal.
    • ATHENS (27A: Capital city home to the Acropolis Museum) and GREEK (6D: Language in 27-Across) ATHENS is the capital and largest city of Greece, and GREEK is spoken there. The Acropolis Museum (as the name suggests) focuses on the archaeological site of the Acropolis of ATHENS. The acropolis is located on a rocky outcrop above ATHENS. The site contains the remains of an ancient citadel, and includes several buildings of historical significance, including the Parthenon. 
    • MOTTO (35D: "Hope," for Rhode Island) Rhode Island is the smallest U.S. state by area. The capital of Rhode Island is Providence, and the state's MOTTO, as the clue informs us, is "Hope."
    • HAITI (36D: Caribbean country where griot is eaten) Griot is a dish that originated from HAITI. It consists of citrus-marinated pork shoulder that is braised and then fried. Griot is considered by some to be the national dish of HAITI.
    Four FOIL-WRAPPED theme answers today, and sadly, not a single FOIL-WRAPPED chocolate in the bunch. Talk about FORCES OF EVIL! I kid, of course - plenty to enjoy in this CHEERFUL puzzle, such as the fun phrases SO SOON, I'M ALL SET and SMELLS A RAT. Thank you, Zhouqin, for this puzzle that was a great way to start my Sunday.