A cute theme today of "combining" two animals in an everyday phrase. SWIMMINGTRUNKS, for example, could be what you get when you cross FISH and ELEPHANTS. And LIGHTNINGSPEED might be gotten by joining a CHEETAH with FIREFLIES. Cute. I thought EXTRADRUMSTICKS (cross of SQUID and CHICKENS) was hilariously absurd, but my favorite part of the whole theme might have been the clue for RHINOCEROS (What's known for its poker face?). That's hilarious. To me.
Speaking of good clues, "Take in the newspaper" was an excellent Non-QMC for OPED. And on the other side, I thought "Touchingly?" (BYFEEL) and "Flighty?" (AVIAN) were amusing QMCs. And "'Cheese' products?" for SMILES wasn't bad either.
GOBI (Geographical locale whose name means "waterless place") was interesting, and as if EELS weren't already weird enough, now I have to think about them having "two sets of jaws and teeth." What?!?
On the whole, I liked the theme and I thought the cluing was strong. I did think, however, that maybe we should start a new periodic feature called "Most surprising/outrageous fill." Today, I would give that title to ADZING (Shaping wood using a curved blade). That's not a word you hear much. HAWSES (Spots on ships for anchor cables) gets honorable mention.
Frannie returns tomorrow, and I'll see you in a few weeks. Stay safe, stay sane, and happy puzzling.