Initial Offerings

New York Times, Oct. 4

Wow, Quentin Tarantino and Nia Vardalos — full names, and in the same puzzle, no less! You gotta be impressed.

The title of “Initial Offerings” didn’t make it hard to figure out that the initials of famous people would play a role in the theme answers. But I have to say the variety of celebrities in this grid is pretty cool.

The catch here is that the famous initials, when said aloud, give you a homonym that’s part of the answer. Thus an “Article written by an early American patriot?” (23 Across) is a SAMUEL ADAMS ESSAY, with the initals S.A. giving you the audible “ESSAY.” A “Dental problem for a boxing promoter?” is DON KING DECAY (39 Across); a “Tent used by a Latin musician?” is a TITO PUENTE TEPEE (88 Across); a “Television award given to a Surrealist?” is a MAX ERNST EMMY (94 Across); and a “Rodent named for a 20th-novelist is a KURT VONNEGUT CAVY (115 Across), though I have to admit being unfamiliar with that animal. Which is probably for the best.

But, as I said, the most remarkable to me were QUENTIN TARANTINO CUTIE (66 Across, “Adorable child of an edge filmmaker?”) and NIA VARDALOS ENVY (47 Across, “Desire to be more like an actress of Greek descent?” Getting Quentin Tarantino to fit in a grid is just head-shakingly awesome (I hope he’s impressed!); as for Nia Vardalos, she only ever got her first name in puzzles through clues like, “___ Vardalos, of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.'” (And that was only because no one has any idea who Nia Peeples is anymore — remember “Fame” and “North Shore”? Me neither. I had to look them up on IMDB.)

One more celeb that made it in to the grid, but not as part of the theme: PEPE LE PEW (16 Down, “Looney Toons lothario”). The last time I watched Pepe was probably also around the same time I last used the phrase NO DUH! (28 Down, “‘Ob-vi-ous-ly!'”)

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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