Title: FIRE SAFETY
Constructor: Jess Goldstein
Editor: Erik Agard
STOP MOTION (17A: Animation technique used for "Fantastic Mr. Fox")
DROP OFF THE MAP (36A: Become untraceable)
ROLL WITH IT (56A: Adapt to a situation)
Theme synopsis: The first words of the theme answers are a FIRE SAFETY reminder for what to do if your clothing is on fire: STOP, DROP, and ROLL.
Things I learned:
- LINDSAY (52A: Bluth sister on "Arrested Development") Arrested Development is a TV series that originally aired from 2003 to 2006. The show centers around a formerly wealthy family, the Bluths. The role of LINDSAY Bluth was played by Portia de Rossi. This is one of those bits of information I probably knew at one time, but couldn't call to mind without the help of crossing answers.
- ANNA (14D: Actress/playwright ___ Deavere Smith) ANNA Deavere Smith played the role of Dr. Nancy McNally, National Security Advisor, on the TV show The West Wing. She also played Gloria Akalitus, a hospital administrator, on the TV series Nurse Jackie. She won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show in 1993 and 1994 for Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, two documentary theatre plays that she wrote and starred in. In 2013, ANNA Deavere Smith received The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, an honor given annually to someone "who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind's enjoyment and understanding of life."
- TVMA (37D: Rating for "P-Valley") P-Valley is a TV series created by Katori Hall. The show follows employees working at The Pynk, a strip club in the fictional city of Chucalissa, Mississippi.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- STOP MOTION (17A: Animation technique used for "Fantastic Mr. Fox") The STOP MOTION technique manipulates objects in small increments, with photos taken of each change. When the photos are compiled as a series of frames, the objects appear to move. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a 2009 animated movie based on the 1970 children's novel of the same name by Roald Dahl.
- MAE (28A: Astronaut Jemison) MAE Jemison is an engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. She was a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavor, and was the first Black woman to travel into space. MAE Jemison founded The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence in honor of her mother. We are on an astronaut roll! On Tuesday we saw Anne McClain in the puzzle, Wednesday's puzzle included Ellen Ochoa, and today MAE Jemison.
- TREE (30A: Banyan or sequoia) Banyans are one of the 750 species of fig TREEs. Banyans are sometimes referred to as strangler figs because they grow from seeds that land on other trees. The banyan roots smother the host TREE and grow into pillars resembling a new TREE trunk. Banyans are the world's largest TREE in terms of the area covered. The largest banyan TREE, in Andhra Pradesh in India, covers 4.7 acres! Sequoia TREEs are the largest TREE on earth by volume. I've previously written about sequoias.
- WES (1D: "The Hills Have Eyes" director Craven) WES Craven directed the 1977 horror movie, The Hills Have Eyes about a family stranded in a Nevada desert. The family members are targeted by cannibals. Craven was co-producer of the 2006 remake of the movie with the same name. The remake was directed by Alexandre Aja.
- GOODYEAR (3D: Tire company with blimps) The first GOODYEAR blimp, named the Pilgrim, flew in 1925, and the company has been using blimps for advertising since that time. In 2014, the company began replacing its fleet of blimps, or non-rigid airships, with semi-rigid airships. Although the semi-rigid airships are not technically considered blimps, the company still refers to the aircraft as blimps.
- CHEF (25D: "Chopped" contestant) As I've mentioned before, the Food Network show, Chopped, is one of my favorite shows to binge watch when we are traveling (since we don't have TV at home). On the show, hosted by Ted Allen, CHEFs compete to create dishes incorporating "mystery ingredients." There's a time constraint and a panel of celebrity judges. CHEFs have been competing on Chopped since 2009.
- SHE'S (35D: "___ All That" (1999 comedy)) SHE'S All That is a 1999 movie about a high schooler named Zack Siler, who after being dumped by his girlfriend, makes a bet that he can turn any girl in the school into a prom queen in six weeks.
- CALI (43A: The Golden State, for short) CALI's nickname of "The Golden State" is a nod to the California gold rush that contributed to the state's growth in the 19th century. California became a state in 1850.
- LAOS (5D: Country that borders Thailand) In addition to bordering Thailand, the landlocked country of LAOS borders Myanmar, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The capital of LAOS is Veintiane.
- TROY (29D: City that "Trojan horse" is named for) TROY was an ancient city of Asia Minor, located in modern-day Turkey. The city was destroyed during the Trojan War, a war the Greeks won when a select force entered TROY hidden inside a wooden horse.
- SWISS (50D: From Geneva, e.g.) Geneva is the second-most populous city in Switzerland, behind Zurich.
Today was one of those rare times when I correctly guessed the theme of the puzzle from its title. The STOP, DROP, and ROLL teaching of FIRE SAFETY has been around long enough that I remember learning it in school, and that's been a few years ago now! I noticed in my searching that the teaching has been updated to include the good advice to "cover your face" before rolling. Here's a fun fact: The first STOP, DROP, and ROLL PSA aired in the 1970s, and featured Dick Van Dyke. This puzzle was a delightful presentation of FIRE SAFETY, with three enjoyable theme answers. There was a lot to like in this puzzle, and it was a delightful way to begin my Thursday.
A couple of crossword opportunities to let you know about.
First of all, Boswords, which has been hosting puzzle events each season will have their 2021 Summer Tournament on Sunday, July 25 from 1:00 to 6:00 pm, Eastern time. This is a virtual tournament organized by John Lieb and Andrew Kingsley. Boswords is always a lot of fun, with great puzzles and enjoyable interviews. Registration for the Boswords Summer Event opens today. I encourage you to check it out and join me for an afternoon of crosswords!
Secondly, another upcoming crossword tournament opportunity is Lollapuzzoola, which will be a virtual tournament on Saturday, August 21. I also recommend Lollapuzzoola - I participated last year and enjoyed it. The hosts for this year's Lollapuzzoola are Brian Cimmet, Brooke Husic (USA Today constructor and Sally's Take guest blogger), and Sid Sivakumar (Sally's Take guest blogger). Registration for Lollapuzzoola is also open now.
Both of these tournaments offer an option to simply purchase the puzzles, if you'd like to solve the puzzles and skip the festivities.