November 6, 2021


Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
CHAPSTICK (3D: Lip balm brand)
FELLOWSHIPS (9D: Paid post-grad positions)
GUY LOMBARDO (25D: Bandleader known as "Mr. New Year's Eve")
DUDE RANCH (38D: Western resort)

Theme synopsis: The beginning of each theme answer features a synonym for MAN: CHAP, FELLOW, GUY, DUDE. Since the theme answers are vertical, these words are FALLing in the puzzle.

Things I learned:
  • WAG (33A: Move like a happy pig's tail) I did not know that pigs WAG their tails when they're happy. Other signs of swine happiness include panting, grunting, wallowing, and barking. 
  • APES (61D: Animals studied by Tetsuro Matsuzawa) Tetsuro Matsuzawa is a primatologist known for his research on chimpanzees. (Chimpanzees are APES.) He was previously the director of Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • LEAD PENCIL (17A: Writing tool that, despite its name, actually contains graphite) Interestingly, LEAD PENCILs have never contained LEAD. In the 1500s, a large deposit of graphite was discovered in England. At the time, the substance was thought to be a form of lead, so it was named "plumbago," Latin for "LEAD ore." Graphite is soft, and to be useful for writing and drawing, the sticks had to be encased in another substance for stability, such as string, sheepskin, or eventually, wood. Most LEAD PENCILS made today are made using a mixture of clay and graphite powder.
  • FAT (28A: ___ Tuesday (Mardi Gras)) Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Christian observance of Lent, the period of time leading up to Easter. Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday or FAT Tuesday, is the day prior to Ash Wednesday. "Mardi Gras" is French for "FAT Tuesday." Although Mardi Gras is technically one day, many cities, such as New Orleans, Louisiana, have multi-day Mardi Gras festivals. The name of FAT Tuesday arose from the practice of indulging in rich, fatty foods on Tuesday, before beginning Lent, a season often observed by fasting.
  • EDIE (48A: Windsor in a winning same-sex marriage case) EDIE Windsor was the plaintiff in the 2013 Supreme Court case, United States v. Windsor. I wrote about this case earlier this year. 
  • ADVERBS (53A: Now and then, grammatically) There is absolutely, positively a Schoolhouse Rock song about ADVERBS
  • OGRE (65A: Creature hidden backwards in "Mother Goose") This was a fun hidden word clue. Beware of the OGRE hiding in your Mother Goose rhyme.
  • SHE (5D: "___ Wolf" (Shakira album)) SHE Wolf, released in 2009, was Shakira's eighth studio album. The lead single from the album was also titled "SHE Wolf." Nice to see some female representation in this puzzle!
  • GUY LOMBARDO (25D: Bandleader known as "Mr. New Year's Eve") GUY LOMBARDO and his orchestra performed at the Roosevelt Hotel on New Year's Eve from 1929 to 1959. The New Year's Eve performances moved to the Waldorf Astoria in 1960, where they were performed until 1976. The orchestra's New Year's Eve performances were broadcast by radio, and later on TV. GUY LOMBARDO died in 1977 at the age of 75.
  • SEA (43D: What blue Catan hexes represent) It's been a few months since we've seen a reference to the board game, Settlers of Catan, or in this case, the expansion SEAfarers of Catan. SEAfarers is my favorite version of the game; it allows you to build ships and sail across the SEA (the blue hexes).

    Geography review:
    • OMAN (63A: Country that borders Yemen) Once you had the beginning O filled in from the crossing answer of SOON, you could confidently fill in OMAN, as we learned just the other day that OMAN is the only country that starts with O.
    • DIEGO (71A: San ___, California) This answer reminded me of the most recent puzzle from Crucinova, whose grid is shaped like the state of California. Crucinova publishes puzzles that don't follow traditional crossword rules. The puzzles are quirky and fun, and Crucinova has a free trial subscription option. Check it out for more puzzle fun.
    • ERIE (39D: Southernmost of the Great Lakes) The Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve near Huron, Ohio is located at the southernmost point of Lake ERIE - the southernmost of the Great Lakes.
    It's been almost seven months since we've seen a Lynn Lempel puzzle, and I was delighted to see her byline today. Today's title perfectly tipped me off about what to expect, and I was not disappointed. This is a great set of theme answers. When I first looked at the grid, I wondered if MAN would be falling down that nice diagonal slide formed by the black squares in the middle of the grid. In addition to those mentioned already, NOTABLE answers today include REPUGNANCE (not my reaction to this puzzle!), LIKE SO, and HEAVE. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Saturday.