January 27, 2024


Constructor: Matthew Stock

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Freestyle: This is a themeless puzzle. LIVIN' ON THE EDGE could be a nod to RAZOR-THIN (17A: Like a one-point lead). We also have a bonus in the word EDGY (26D: Avant-garde).

Things I learned:
  • AZZI (3D: UConn women's basketball player Fudd) AZZI Fudd is currently a junior at the University of Connecticut (UConn) and a guard on the school's women's basketball team. Sadly, AZZI Fudd is currently out for the remainder of the season, after experiencing an ACL tear last November.
  • NESS (57D: Super Smash Bros. teen) Super Smash Bros. is a series of fighting video games featuring characters from various Nintendo franchises. NESS is a character from the Nintendo game EarthBound.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • DODO (15A: Extinct flightless bird) The DODO was a flightless bird that lived on Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. DODOs have been extinct since the 1600s. Their extinction was a result of being hunted by sailors and invasive species, as well as destruction of habitat.
  • OTTER POPS (21A: Frozen desserts named for an animal) OTTER POPS are fruit-flavored liquid in a clear plastic tube, served frozen. OTTER POPS first appeared on the market in 1970. Each flavor of OTTER POP is associated with a different character, such as Sir Isaac Lime, Anita Fruit Punch, and Alexander the Grape.
  • REDS (66A: Cincinnati MLB players) The team now known as the Cincinnati REDS was founded in 1881 as the Cincinnati Red Stockings. In 1890, they changed their name to the Cincinnati REDS and joined Major League Baseball's (MLB) National League. For a few years in the 1950s, the REDS rebranded as the Cincinnati Redlegs. This was done to avoid the association that the word red had with Communism. The name never quite caught on, and in 1959, the name of the team reverted to the REDS. As a nod to the team's former name, one of the Cincinnati REDS mascots is named Mr. Redlegs. Rosie Red and Gapper are also mascots of the Cincinnati REDS.
  • PEPPA PIG (10D: Rebecca Rabbit's friend on kids' TV) PEPPA PIG is an animated TV series centering on an anthropomorphic piglet, her family, and her friends. One of PEPPA PIG's friends is Rebecca Rabbit.
  • PRINGLES (24D: Chips in a cylindrical can) In 1968, when PRINGLES were first invented by Procter & Gamble, they were marketed as "PRINGLES Newfangled Potato Chips." PRINGLES had to drop that marketing angle after other snack manufacturers protested that PRINGLES were not "real" potato chips since they were made from potato-based dough rather than sliced from potatoes like other potato chips. (PRINGLES have a potato content of 42%.) In 1975, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that PRINGLES could only use the word "chip" in describing their product within the phrase "potato chips made from dried potatoes." PRINGLES is currently holding a contest encouraging people to send in images of objects resembling the PRINGLES mascot. Here are the "Have you seen Mr. P?" details. 
  • AREA (27D: 57,600 feet, for an NFL field) This is a fun fact, and an interesting way to clue the word AREA. 
  • DOVE (31D: Bird that cries in a Prince song) This is a reference to Prince's 1984 song, "When DOVEs Cry." The song was Prince's first number one single, and is included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's List of "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll."
  • CRIBS (47D: MTV show featuring tours of celebrity homes) CRIBS is an MTV show that features tours of celebrity's private homes. I went to the show's website, and I must admit that most of the celebrity names there are unfamiliar to me. I am positive this says more about me than it does about their celebrity status.

    Geography review:

    • CDT (6D: Summer hrs. in STL) St. Louis (STL), Missouri is located on the eastern edge of the state, at the juncture of the Mississippi River and the Missouri River. Missouri is in the central time zone, so in the summer, St. Louis is on central daylight time (CDT).
    • HANOI (48D: Capital of Vietnam) HANOI is the capital of Vietnam, and the country's second-largest city, following Ho Chi Minh City. HANOI is located in northern Vietnam in the Red River Delta, where the Red River and the Thái Bình River meet.
    • ARBOR (49D: Ann ___, Michigan) Ann ARBOR, Michigan is located west of Detroit, and is home to the University of Michigan. 
    "LIVIN' ON THE EDGE" is the title of a 1993 song by the band Aerosmith. (Given Matthew Stock's recent string of High School Musical puzzles, I admit that I did check to make sure the song wasn't featured on the High School Musical soundtrack!) Also, here's a fun fact: Last month we saw a themed puzzle titled LIVING ON THE EDGE. There's a ton of lively answers in this Freestyle puzzle. In addition to the answers I've already highlighted, I also especially enjoyed DRUM LINES, NOODLE BAR, WONTON SOUP, LOOK AT ME, EGO SURF, and SNEEZE. Thank you, Matthew, for this fabulous puzzle.