‘A’ Trip Around The World

New York Times crossword July 15 / Constructed by Randolph Ross

How serendipitous that today’s puzzle focuses on geography. I’m posting this from cross-country — in my true hometown of Los Angeles — where as a kid growing up in the ’80s, I never knew that I LOVE L.A. was, um, insincere (“Satirical Randy Newman song,” 33 Down). Doesn’t everyone love this city? Certainly HEF does (“Mag mogul with a mansion,” 39 Across).

Actually I don’t love L.A., which is why I haven’t lived here since 1988. Constructor Randolph Ross offers a few other places to live in today’s theme, which features more than 20 locations around the world that start and begin with “A.” The trick is that they are strung together so that some “A”s are shared — the final letter in one word doubles as the start of the next. I’ve bolded and underlined those “A”s below.

The geography lesson starts with 22 Across (“Four stops on ‘A’ trip around the world”): AFRICASIARGENTINARUBA. The voyage continues with ATLANTALMOATANDORRA, then AMERICARIZONALBANIA, then ALGERIALABAMARCADIA, then ALBERTALAMEDASTORIA, then ALTOONARMENIARALSEA, and finally ANTARCTICALASKANTIGUA.

I’ve been to a few of those places — one more if you count Little Armenia, a section of L.A. I drove through today on my way home from brunch in Los Feliz. But truth be told, I’d never heard of ALMOATA — much less been there — so I looked it up. Turns out Rex Parker’s guest blogger had never heard of it either, and he did some sleuthing and deduced that the correct entry is ALMA ATA. That seems cheap in my book, considering it’s a city in Kazakhstan now called Almaty. (OK, I’ve never heard of Almaty either.) Still, someone should send Borat to pay a visit to Will Shortz for that one.

Apple A Day Dept.: I’d also never heard of the WINESAP apple variety (“McIntosh alternatives,” 35 Across). Here’s some info.

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: I’m missing my adopted hometown a lot, so 68 Across made me smile: “11-time N.B.A. All-Star Iverson” is Allen, a former longtime 76er. I’ll also add OATES to this entry (“John who is half of a popular singing duo,” 34 Across), as in Hall & Oates, who met at Temple University in Philly.

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