March 21, 2023

Title: WOLF!

Constructor: Erik Agard

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
HUFFPOST (20A: News site that shortened its name in 2017)
PUFF PIECES (34A: Stories that go easy on their subjects)
BLOW BY BLOW (52A: Very detailed account)

Theme synopsis: The first parts of the theme answers warn of a "WOLF!" that will HUFF and PUFF and BLOW your house down.

Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ALOO (14A: Potato, in Indian cooking) Ah, you see, reading Sally's Take on a regular basis will help you solve crosswords. One of the many services I provide is giving you occasional reminders that ALOO is a South Asian term for potato.
  • CHIA (15A: Seeds that can be used to make an egg substitute) CHIA seeds are the edible seeds of a plant in the mint family. CHIA seeds are hygroscopic, meaning they attract and hold water molecules. CHIA seeds can absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid, and the expanded seeds develop a gelatinous texture. A gel made from ground CHIA seeds can be used in place of eggs  when baking.
  • DAVIS (19A: "The Woman King" star Viola) The Woman King (2022), is a historical drama about the Agojie, an all-female army in the Kingdom of Dahomey (in today's Benin) in the 17th-19th centuries. Viola DAVIS stars as General Nanisca, leader of the Agojie.
  • HUFFPOST (20A: News site that shortened its name in 2017) The Huffington Post was founded in 2005 as a progressive news website to offer an alternative to existing conservative news sites. The news site, which was co-founded by Arianna Huffington, originally published work from reporters (who were paid) and bloggers (who were unpaid). The practice of publishing posts from unpaid bloggers ended in 2018. In 2017, the company rebranded, shortening its name to HUFFPOST.
  • DEER (23A: Garden eater with hooves) Considering we have a young cherry tree in our front yard that is surrounded by chicken wire to protect it from DEER, it took me much longer to figure out this answer than it should have.
  • DIODE (27A: The D in LED) LED stands for light-emitting DIODE.
  • PUFF PIECES (34A: Stories that go easy on their subjects) PUFF PIECES are a journalistic form of puffery, exaggerated praise often used for promotional purposes. Merriam-Webster says PUFF PIECES praise "someone or something too much." As I was reading up on PUFF PIECES, I was interested to find that a classic example of puffery is the style of writing used on restaurant menus. 
  • RAP (44A: Trina's music) At the 2022 BET Hip Hop Awards, RAP artist Trina received the "I Am Hip Hop" Award, recognizing her contributions to the music industry for over 20 years. Of the award, Trina said, "I believe when one woman wins, whether it's in front of the camera or behind the scenes, we all win. Let's keep winning!"
  • OWE (57A: Verb that sounds like a letter) and BEE (60A: Insect that sounds like a letter) This is a fun pair of clues whose answers are stacked in the lower right corner of the grid. I had "are" at first for the [Verb that sounds like a letter], which was corrected when EARLABE made no sense for 40-Down.
  • BATMAN (58A: Superhero summoned via searchlight) The Bat-Signal is the iconic searchlight used to summon BATMAN. The Bat-Signal was introduced in 1942 in Detective Comics #60. 
  • FORFEITURE (4D: Civil asset ___ (process by which the police can seize your stuff and sell it) Civil asset FORFEITURE refers to laws that allow police to seize assets (such as money and property) if it's believed to be connected to criminal activity. This can happen even if a person is not arrested or convicted of a crime. You can read more about civil asset FORFEITURE, and efforts to combat it, on the ACLU website. The inclusion of FORFEITURE as an answer in a puzzle titled WOLF! seems appropriate.
  • PARASITE (34D: Flea or tapeworm, or a Bong Joon-ho movie) A PARASITE is an organism living on or within another organism - like a flea or tapeworm. It's also the title of a 2019 movie that won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. I enjoyed this clue.

    Geography review:

    • HONG (18A: The H in HK) One of the most densely populated places in the world, HONG Kong is a city and special administrative region of China.
    • EDT (63A: Summer time zone in D.C.) Part or all of 23 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) are in the Eastern time zone. (That's nearly half of the U.S. population.) Since D.C. observes Daylight Saving Time, in the summer it is on Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).
    • ERITREA (12D: East African country with a red, green and blue flag) ERITREA is an African country located in Eastern Africa. It has an extensive coastline along the Red Sea, and its neighbors are Sudan, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. The capital of ERITREA is Asmara. ERITREA's flag consists of green, red, and blue triangles. A gold wreath and an upright olive branch appear on the red triangle. (Side note: The triangles of ERITREA's flag create an optical illusion, at least for me. Viewed from certain angles, the flag appears not to be rectangular.)
    WOLF! This is a fun theme. Once I filled in HUFFPOST, I guessed what was going on, and this helped me figure out the second and third theme answers. In addition to the theme, I enjoyed the intersecting hats: BERETS and BALLCAP. I also liked WHO'S WE? (6D: "You're talking like I'm actually on your side"). Thank you, Erik, for this puzzle that was a great way to start my Tuesday.