November 20, 2021


Constructor: Patrick Blindauer

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
JESSICA TANDY (22A: She played Ninny Threadgoode in "Fried Green Tomatoes")
PAC-ATTACK (33A: Rhyming Tetris-like game in which blocks and ghosts are cleared)
DO GOODERS (39A: Naive philanthropists)
NINTENDO GAME (46A: Animal Crossing or Metroid, e.g.)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer has (RETAINs) either the word CAT or DOG, spanning the two words of the answer.

Things I learned:
  • MUDD (1A: Jeans brand with an earthy-sounding name) MUDD Jeans has been selling jeans to girls and young women since 1995 when they introduced their flare jeans. The brand has since expanded its offerings to include other clothing items. I was not familiar with the MUDD brand (having been past the age of their target audience when they began!), and was therefore thankful for the "earthy-sounding name" clue.
  • ORALE (21A: Mexican Spanish word before "va" or "pues") ÓRALE is a Mexican Spanish interjection used as an exclamation of approval or encouragement. "ÓRALE pues" roughly translates to "Okay then!" I had less success finding a translation for "ÓRALE va."
  • PAC-ATTACK (33A: Rhyming Tetris-like game in which blocks and ghosts are cleared) PAC ATTACK was released in 1993. It is also known as PAC-Panic. The clue describes the premise of the game well. Again, I was thankful for the "rhyming" hint, as I wasn't familiar with this game.
  • ERICA (37A: Comics artist Henderson) ERICA Henderson illustrated the first 37 issues of the Marvel Comics series, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. She has also worked on the comic Jughead
  • ERIC (63A: Ankh: Gods of Egypt designer Lang) ERIC Lang is a freelance game designer. He has designed an impressive number of games. In the game Ankh: Gods of Egypt, you play as a god of ancient Egypt. I checked out the game's official website, and was impressed by the intricately designed game pieces. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • GENOA (15A: Salami type) GENOA salami takes its name from GENOA, Italy, where it is believed to have originated. The pork (and sometimes veal) sausage is seasoned with garlic, salt, peppercorns, and wine.
  • NUNS (17A: Many "Sister Act" characters) Sister Act is a 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg as a lounge singer placed in a convent with NUNS as part of a witness protection program. Sister Act is a movie I can always count on to make me laugh. There has been a sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993), and a third Sister Act movie is in the works. 
  • JESSICA TANDY (22A: She played Ninny Threadgoode in "Fried Green Tomatoes") Fried Green Tomatoes was a 1991 movie based on Fannie Flagg's 1987 book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. JESSICA TANDY played the role of Ninny Threadgoode, a woman in a nursing home who reminisces about her life.
  • ANN (45A: Journalist Curry) ANN Curry is a journalist and photojournalist that has worked for NBC, and founded her own media company. In 2018, she co-hosted and co-produced a documentary series that aired on PBS, We'll Meet Again with ANN Curry.
  • NINTENDO GAME (46A: Animal Crossing or Metroid, e.g.) Animal Crossing is a series of NINTENDO GAMEs in which the player assumes the role of a character who interacts with anthropomorphic animals. We've seen multiple references to Animal Crossing previously. In the NINTENDO GAME, Metroid, the player controls bounty hunter, Samus Aran, and protects the galaxy from Space Pirates. Samus made a previous puzzle appearance as well. 
  • SICKO (53A: "___ MODE" (Travis Scott hit) "SICKO MODE" is a 2018 song by rapper Travis Scott that features vocals from Drake. The song is from Travis Scott's third studio album, Astroworld. Sadly, even people not previously familiar with Travis Scott, now know his name from the tragic events that occurred at his Astroworld show in Houston, Texas this month and resulted in the death of ten people. Because of the long production time leading up to crossword publication, I'm sure this puzzle was in the works long before that event happened.
  • THAI (59A: Tom yum cuisine) Tom yum is a hot and sour soup in THAI cuisine. 
  • MARY J. (1D: Grammy winner Blige) MARY J. Blige has won nine Grammy Awards, including Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 2007 for "Be Without You." I remembered MARY, but was drawing a blank on her middle initial, so was grateful for JESSICA TANDY.
  • TODD (30D: Sweeney ___ (title Sondheim character)) Sweeney TODD: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a Stephen Sondheim musical based on a 1973 play of the same name by Christopher Bond. This answer made me laugh because I love musicals, and the only one I've seen that I don't ever want to see again is Sweeney TODD. I have friends who like the musical a lot, and I can see the appeal of the dark comedy, but it's just not for me. (Interestingly, Sweeney TODD does have a common theme element with the ending of Fried Green Tomatoes...)
  • ETHEL (48D: Tony Award winner Merman) ETHEL Merman appeared in many Broadway shows during her distinguished career. Irving Berlin's song, "There's No Business Like Show Business," was considered her signature song. She won a Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award in 1951 for Call Me Madam, and was awarded a Special Tony Award in 1972. 
  • SIMS (53D: The ___ (game with virtual people)) The SIMS is one of the best-selling video game series of all time. In the games, users create virtual people and control their environment. 

    Geography review:
    • ASIA (13A: Most populous continent) Sixty percent of the Earth's population calls ASIA home. 
    • ARUBA (6D: Island north of Venezuela) ARUBA is in the Caribbean Sea. Its capital is Oranjestad. This is the third puzzle appearance for ARUBA in the past three weeks.
    The title of this puzzle is fabulous, playing on the idiom "raining CATS AND DOGS." You know Willow
    enjoyed this puzzle, though she is more a fan of the top half of the puzzle than the lower half. The grid arrangement here is unusual, in that all four theme answers are found (RETAINED perhaps?) in the middle section of the puzzle. In addition to the theme answers, I enjoyed OINKING (this answer actually made me laugh out loud), DECRYPT, PANICS, and MOTIF. I also liked the clue for SEEDS (42A: Plants-to-be). There's a lot of game content here, with the NINTENDO GAMES, Animal Crossing and Metroid, PAC ATTACK, The SIMS, and the board game Ankh: Gods of Egypt. This puzzle was an enjoyable game with which to begin my Saturday.