June 29, 2021


Constructor: Mark McClain

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
HEAD FOR THE HILLS (16A: Cut and run)
GROUND COVER (24A: Low-growing plants)
WORD OF MOUTH (42A: The grapevine, so to speak)
CAST IRON SKILLET (53A: Heavy-duty piece of cookware)

Theme synopsis: The FRONT word of each theme answer can be paired with the word FORE, giving us FOREHEAD, FOREGROUND, FOREWORD, and FORECAST.

Things I learned:
  • ANNE (34A: Astronaut McClain) Lieutenant Colonel ANNE McClain (U.S. Army) is an engineer and a NASA astronaut. McClain was a Flight Engineer on the International Space Station from December 2018 to June 2019. I wonder if she is related to the constructor of our puzzle?
  • HOMER (39D: ___ D. Poe (Home Depot mascot)) HOMER D. Poe has been the Home Depot mascot since 1981 when he first appeared in comic-book style ads for the company. According to his creator, Gwyn Raker, he was designed to be "a funny guy next door who wasn't intimidating." HOMER has a wife named Daisy and a dog named Carl. I'm not sure I was even aware Home Depot had a mascot. I appreciate his punny name.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • HISS (9A: Sound from a territorial cat) and HAIRY (9D: Like pants after a cat sits on your lap, perhaps) The crossing of these two answers amused me. My cat can certainly get territorial about sitting on my lap, and that HAIRY descriptor is no joke. I often wonder, with the amount of cat fur left on our furniture and clothes, how Willow has any fur left.
  • SCAT (3D: Jazz singing style popularized by Louis Armstrong) SCAT singing is vocal improvisation using nonsense syllables. Louis Armstrong was among the first to record SCAT singing, on the 1926 song, "Heebie Jeebies."
  • COLORS (27D: "Fold in the Cheese" and "Bebe Blue," in the "Schitt's Creek" pencil set) Other COLORS in this pencil set inspired by the TV show are "Hide Your Diamonds, Hide Your Exes" and "Herb Ertlinger's Fruit Wine."
  • AM NOT (34D: "I ___ My Hair" (India.Arie song)) India.Arie's 2005 song, "I AM NOT My Hair" won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Song. The last verse of the song was written after India.Arie watched Melissa Etheridge's performance at the 2005 Grammy Awards ceremony, where Etheridge appeared bald as a result of chemotherapy treatment
  • CMA (53D: Org. that named Kacey Musgraves the 2019 Female Vocalist of the Year) The Country Music Association (CMA) was founded in Nashville, Tennessee in 1957. The CMA Awards have been presented annually since 1967. Loretta Lynn was the first winner of the Female Vocalist of the Year Award.
Geography review:
  • EURO (58A: Currency in Malta) Malta is an island country in Southern Europe in the Mediterranean Sea. The capital of Malta is Valletta.
  • HURON (22D: Great Lake named for the Wyandot people) Lake HURON is the second largest of the Great Lakes by surface area, behind Lake Superior. Nice to see a Great Lake other than Lake Erie for a change!
  • GHANA (24D: Country that's home to West Africa's tallest waterfall) Wli waterfalls measures about  469 feet (143 meters) from its upper falls to the plunge pool, making it the tallest waterfall in West Africa. 
No need to HEAD FOR THE HILLS, as we have a delightful puzzle today. A nice set of four, FORE-related theme answers. Smooth fill all around, making solving this puzzle an enjoyable start to my Tuesday.


  1. this is another one of those "Amanda edited the puzzle but i accidentally wound up on the byline" days... apologies & kudos to her on the great editing!

  2. As to your question about whether Anne McClain is a relative of mine, the answer is probably, yes. You see, our family legend is that the McClains, aka MacLean, McClaine, McLean, McLane, etc., are believed to all be descended from an ancient Highlander known as Gilean (gil-ANE), who is believed to be the founder of Clan MacLean which is based on the Isle of Mull. Mac of course is Gaelic for "son" so MacGilean (say it quickly) morphed into MacLean and spelling variations proliferated over the centuries.

    1. Interesting - thanks for the additional information!


Post a Comment