December 14, 2020


Constructor: Mark McClain

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
FANTASY HOCKEY (20A: Game in which goalies are drafted)
ROMANCE LANGUAGE (41A: Italian or Portuguese)
WESTERN OMELET (58A: Breakfast dish with ham and green peppers)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is a common literary or film GENRE.

Things I learned:
  • SAM (50D: Wilson aka the Falcon) Falcon is a Marvel Comics superhero. Falcon/SAM Wilson uses mechanical wings to fly and has a telepathic link with his bird, Redwing. Falcon was the first Black superhero in mainstream comic books.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ACME (14A: Agency that tracks Carmen San Diego) Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is the name of the 1985 Broderbund video game which led to an entire series of video games, an educational children's quiz show, and several animated TV series. Carmen Sandiego is the nemesis of the ACME Detective Agency. She is the head of ACME's rival organization, V.I.L.E. Carmen Sandiego and her fellow crooks stole things such as The Nile River Delta, The Statue of Liberty's Torch, or Ghandi's Glasses. A knowledge of geography and an appreciation of punny humor were needed to thwart Carmen's plans. This clue made me so happy! I have fond memories of playing the Carmen Sandiego video games with my kids (and, honestly, playing them before I had kids...) The theme song from the quiz show, sung by Rockapella, is now my earworm for the day. 
  • TACO (18A: Choco ___) Made by Good Humor-Breyers, a Choco TACO consists of a waffle cone-like shell filled with vanilla ice cream, fudge, peanuts, and a milk chocolate coating. The Choco TACO was invented in the 1980s, though it wasn't available nationwide until 1996.
  • ROMANCE LANGUAGE (41A: Italian or Portuguese) ROMANCE LANGUAGEs are the modern languages which evolved from Colloquial Latin (or Vulgar Latin). Spanish, French, and Romanian are also ROMANCE LANGUAGEs.
  • ANITA (44A: "Speaking Truth to Power" author Hill) ANITA Hill is a lawyer and professor who, in 1991, accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. In her 1998 book, Speaking Truth to Power, Hill discusses details of events before, during, and after the confirmation hearings. 
  • WESTERN OMELET (58A: Breakfast dish with ham and green peppers) When I read the clue, I wanted to fill in DENVER OMELET, but realized 1) it didn't fit, and 2) DENVER is not a GENRE. A WESTERN OMELET (also known as a Denver omelet or a Southwest omelet) is traditionally filled with ham, green peppers, and onions.
  • GRETA (63A: Climate advocate Thunberg) It's been just a year since GRETA Thunberg was Time's Person of the Year, the youngest person to be awarded that honor. (But what a year it has been...) GRETA's activism has helped raise awareness of the climate crisis. She has received numerous honors and awards for her work, including having a new species of spider named after her earlier this year. Thunberga greta is a newly discovered species of huntsman spider. As I've mentioned previously, I got to hear GRETA speak in person in October 2019. She's doing good and important work. Hopefully we're paying attention and are willing to work together to address the climate crisis.
  • TELL (72A: "___ Me Something Good" (Rufus and Chaka Khan hit)) This 1974 Rufus and Chaka Khan hit was written by Stevie Wonder.
  • OCEAN (2D: Debbie played by Sandra Bullock) That's in the movie, Ocean's 8
  • ACTS (5D: "Random ___ of Flyness") Random ACTS of Flyness is a late night HBO TV series created by Terence Nance. 
  • GRAM (34D: ___ flour) GRAM flour is made from ground GRAM chickpeas. 
  • NAMESAKE (42D: Eponym counterpart) A NAMESAKE refers to a person, geographic location, or entity that is named after another entity that had the name first. An eponym is the term used when an entity is named after a person (that is, the person had the name first). 
  • NOW (43D: Feminist org. founded in 1966) Since its founding, the National Organization of Women has grown to 550 chapters in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. 
  • METAL (56D: A Band Called Pain music genre) Abbreviated as ABCP, the METAL band was active from 2001 to 2010, and reunited in 2019 for a show in Oakland, California. A nice bonus GENRE answer.
  • NINE (61D: Seven of ___ (Jeri Ryan's "Star Trek: Voyager" role)) Seven of NINE is a former Borg drone who joins the Voyager crew. Her full Borg designation was Seven of NINE, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One.
  • GSA (63D: Org. for LGBTQ students and allies) GSA = Gay-Straight Alliance, or Gender-Sexuality Alliance.
Geography review:
  • ETNA (68A: Sicilian volcano) Mount ETNA is an active volcano on Sicily, an island in the Mediterranean Sea located south of the Italian peninsula.
  • UTAH (31A: Bryce Canyon's state) Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwest UTAH. In spite of its name, Bryce Canyon is not an actual canyon, but is a collection of natural amphitheaters. My husband and I are on a quest to visit as many national parks as we can (when we can safely travel again, of course). Bryce Canyon is one of a handful of national parks that I visited before we met. I look forward to visiting it again, with him this time.
I enjoyed this puzzle and its theme. There are many different literary and film GENRES. The ones highlighted here all felt familiar and recognizable. I liked seeing ACME (and Carmen Sandiego), GRETA Thunberg, and ANITA Hill highlighted. There will be no HECKLING from me AT ALL. This was a delightful way to begin my Monday.