New York Times, Dec. 26
Here in Philly, we say “Yo!” to get someone’s attention (or so the stereotype goes). This puzzle by constructor Darin McDaniel translates a more formal attention-getter — “Hey, Mister!” — into another slangy term: MAN. Specifically, the word MAN is inserted into common phrases to create funny new ones.
To wit: I NEED MY SPACEMAN (“Loving comment from an astronaut’s wife?” 23 Across); BATMAN’S IN THE BELFRY (“The Dark Knight rooms with Quasimodo?” 37 Across); OPEN DOORMAN POLICY (“Hotel’s ask-your-greeter-anything approach?” 47 Across); CARTMAN BEFORE THE HORSE (“‘South Park’ character leading a walk around a paddock?” 66 Across); TAKE A “RAINMAN” CHECK (“What Dustin Hoffman gets to do often, thanks to royalties?” 80 Across); JACKMAN OF ALL TRADES (“Actor Hugh involved in every swap shop deal?” 92 Across); and GOODMAN AS NEWMAN (“Actor John playing Wayne Knight’s role on ‘Seinfeld’?” 111 Across).
Hate to say it but, overall, this wasn’t a terribly big or challenging grid; perhaps Will Shortz was going easy on those of us in a post-Christmas, pre-blizzard haze.
But there were some clues of note:
Who Knew It Had A Name? Dept.: Remember the crazy aliens in that cantina scene in “Star Wars”? Turns out the cantina’s town has a name: MOS Eisley (7 Down). Nickname: “Armpit of the Galaxy.”
Great Minds Think Alike Dept.: “Ann or Andy” is a RAG DOLL (86 Down), as in Raggedy Ann or Andy. Funny thing, but Merl Reagle’s puzzle today in the Philadelphia Inquirer (and other papers across the country) makes reference to that answer in his editor’s note: “In this puzzle, instead of gifts being inside boxes, boxes are inside the gifts. In other words, each gift ‘straddles’ a single black square, like so: RAG♦DOLL. Can you find all eight hidden presents? Answers next week.”
More Philly-Area Trivia Dept.: One word — BlobFest. It’s true. “The BLOB” (“Steve McQueen’s first major movie, with ‘The’,” 90 Across) was filmed in nearby Phoenixville. The cult classic horror/sci-fi movie celebrated its 50th anniversary two years ago and my AP colleague Ted Anthony wrote a great story after attending the annual BlobFest weekend, which is hosted by the Colonial Theatre (from which patrons run screaming in “The Blob”). Visitors even got a map of local shooting locations.
Never Heard Of Them Dept.: Apparently the “Difference in days between the lunar and solar year” is EPACT (56 Across), which I only figured out through crossing letters (and then looked up to confirm). Same goes for UKASE, which turns out to be a “Decree” (102 Down).
Guilty As Charged Dept.: I first heard the term MENS REA (“Literally, ‘guilty mind’,” 43 Down) in the Reese Witherspoon comedy “Legally Blonde.”
Name That Tune Dept.: I am mortified to admit that I mentally sang Barry Manilow lyrics to figure out the name of RICO (“‘He wore a diamond’ in ‘Copacabana,’” 44 Across). Lola, of course, was the showgirl. How much of my brain has been wasted remembering that song?