Monday, April 30, 2007

Wednesday New York Sun Puzzle

SPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further until you've done today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle. New York Sun puzzles are every bit as good as the more well-known New York Times, and they're indisputably better in one way -- they're free. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

"Galoshes" by Raymond Hamel. One of the things I really like about the Sun puzzles is that they give each and every one of them a name. The NY Times only deems their Sunday puzzle worthy of a title. The thing about these titles is that they tell you something about the theme -- or would if you could figure out what the title means before you've completely finished the puzzle. Either way it adds yet another dimension of solving enjoyment.

Are you ready? Let's get started. Stop me when you've figured out the theme.

21A: Waterfowl hunters purchase (DUCKSTAMP)
25A: Uses an air pressure gauge, perhaps (CHECKSTIRES)
44A: Companion of giblets, sometimes (CHICKENNECKS)
52A: "Dumb Dora was so dumb. . ." show (MATCHGAME)

You know they are the theme entries, but what the heck do they have in common? Chickens and ducks are both birds, but what about necks and stamps and tires and game shows? If you're one of those solvers who completes a puzzle in order from northwest to southeast rather than skipping around to clues that you know, you might not get the theme until you fill in the very last across entry 67A: Word that can precede both words (in each themed entry) (RUBBER) (That's almost how it happened for me, I did get 67 A before I got 44A, because I misread the clue as I'm apt to do if I go too fast and I was searching for a sometimes companion of "goblets" not "giblets.")

Cool puzzle, huh? Rubber duck, rubber stamp, rubber check, rubber tires, rubber chicken, rubberneck, rubber match, rubber game. That's a lot of themed entries and combining them into other unrelated (and misleading) phrases like that is sheer genius. And the title might should have been a tipoff sooner to me. I remember in high school I was in the play "Our Town" and there was a scene where the young hero goes to visit his girlfriend and his mother tells him it's raining and "Don't forget your rubbers." Well, high schoolers being high schoolers none of the actors could ever get through that scene without cracking up, and "rubbers" was changed to "galoshes."

Now that I think about it, "rubber game" and "rubber match" are almost exactly the same thing, but because Raymond Hamel was able to conjure up fond memories in me of turning on the "Star-Studded Big Money Match Game '75" when I got home from school and giggling along with C-list celebrities over talk of boobies and making whoopee, I'm going to let it slide. (By the way, many of the double entendre-containing questions on Match Game were penned by Mad Magazine's Dick DeBartolo.)

Other entries of interest:

1A: Members of the Black Knights (CADETS) the sports teams at the United States Military Academy (West Point) are known as the Black Knights, and have been for many years, although a black knight was only chosen as the mascot in 2000. Prior to that their mascot was a mule. Why a mule? Well, before the 1899 Army-Navy football game neither team had a mascot. Then Navy showed up with a mascot -- though not much of one, it was a mangy old goat, but Army didn't want to be shown up so they borrowed a mule off a passing ice truck and he was so popular he stuck around as the mascot for the entire 20th century.

1D: With 21-Down, violent overthrow of a government (COUP) I actually have a bit of a quibble with this one. Although coup d'etat literally means a sudden blow to a state, not all of them are violent.

15A: Lady ____ Hillcrest (character in "The Mystery of Irma Vep) (ENID) Usually clued as the city in Oklahoma.

51A: Birch of "Ghost World" (THORA) One of those rare instances when the movie was better than the book. And the character that Thora Birch plays was named Enid, so 15A could have been clued that way too.

64A: Activity at a chopping center? (KARATE) Corny, yeah, but it made me chuckle.

12D: Werewolves have hairy ones (PALMS) This doesn't narrow it down much, werewolves have hairy everythings. The threat of hair growing out of your palms was how parents in the old days used to try to scare their kids into not practicing self-abuse. (Although if you did have hairy palms you'd probably never see it, because that particular vice was also said to make you go blind.)

13D: Country straddling two continents (EGYPT) Turkey is another country that this is true of.

Oh, and check out 25, 32, 33 and 40 Across all right there together in the (mostly) center portion of the puzzle. If you don't CHECK your TIRES you could have a MISHAP (Fender bender, say) with a POTHOLE (It's hard on struts) and have to call for a tow from AAA (Battery label).

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a crossword puzzle today

SPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further until you've done today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun for free here.

The May Day puzzle is by Joy M. Andrews and is called Artoo. But don't worry, it's not one of those dreaded "playground retort" puzzles where in addition to "are too" you have "are not" "are so" "did not" "did so" "am not" "are so" and "I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you."

Instead Artoo refers to the way you have to add the letters AR onto the end of several common phrases to get the theme entries.

To wit:

20A: Rite place to sing Christmas songs (CAROLALTAR) I loved this one, even though I could not have picked Carol Alt out of a line-up of super-models. The fact that they clued it as the "rite" place rather than "right" (which would have worked just as well) makes it seem doubly elegant. I appreciate the extra wordplay.

58A: Jenny Craig or Robert Atkins? (DIETPILLAR) I don't know about Jenny Craig, but Dr. Atkins and his bacon and butter diet have lost favor lately. There were rumors that he was overweight when he died a couple of years ago, and I know there's some kind of scandal with his estate, but I'm not sure what it was about. I saw it in the Wall Street Journal as I was looking for their Friday crossword puzzle. (By the way, if you haven't already, check out the WSJ's great weekly puzzle in the Friday paper. It definitely has the Green Genius Seal of Approval.)

10D: Give Genghis Khan a knuckle sandwich (POPTARTAR) Poor Genghis Khan, he established the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous empire in world history, but when people hear tartar today they either think of white sauce for your fish or brown stuff on your teeth.

33D: Piano bar tip for Joplin tune? (RAGDOLLAR) That's Scott Joplin, not Janis. He was famous for playing ragtime music.

That's four theme entries, two long across ones and two down, and that would have made for a very enjoyable puzzle, but great constructors always look for ways to give more, and Joy Andrews gives us another entry as lagniappe right in the center of the puzzle. 41A: Sample collector in a G.P.'s office? (DRJAR) As I mentioned before, I always appreciate extra wordplay, and if it were up to me Ms. Andrews would get a gold star for throwing in this riff on Dr. J.

Other entries of note:

24A: Mythological racer who picked up three golden apples ATALANTA. Atalanta is one of the one most interesting characters from Greek mythology. When she was a baby her father left her
in the woods to die because he wanted a son not a daughter. A kindly bear nursed her and a group of hunters raised her. And she grew up to be one of the greatest hunters in Helas, which pissed off the patriarchy plenty. Her first love Meleager was killed trying to protect her after she slew the monstrous Calydonian boar. Eventually she had a reconciliation with her father, and he wanted her to get married but she wasn't interested, because she was still carrying a torch for Meleager. She told Dad she would marry anybody who could beat her in a footrace (she was faster than anybody but the god Hermes so she knew this was a sucker deal) and that any guy who lost in a race with her would be killed. Hard as it is to believe, a lot of guys went for this deal and they were all slaughtered after Atalanta left them in the dust. Then along comes a guy named Hippomenes, who was crazy in love with Atalanta, but smart enough to realize he was never going to be able to beat her in a race, not a fair race anyway. So he went to Athena who helped him cheat. She gave him three golden apples to drop during the race to distract Atalanta. It worked, but it most likely worked because Atalanta kinda liked Hippomenes anyway and let him win.
Unfortunately the story does not end happily. Zeus turned these two lovebirds into lions after they had sex in one of his sacred temples. Being turned into a lion doesn't sound like too bad a punishment compared to what a lot of other people got back then -- especially for doing it in church! -- but at that time it was believed that lions could not have sex with each other, only with leopards, so Zeus figured the worst thing he could do to them was ensure they couldn't have sex with each other ever again. (Luckily for Atalanta and Hippomenes, Zeus did not get the National Geographic Channel.)

43A: El Al's hub (BENGURION) crossing 41D: They have shins on only one side (DREIDELS) Israel's first prime minister meets the traditional Chanukah toy. It looks like we have a Jewish subtheme. (By the way, the Dreidel has a different Hebrew letter on each side. Shin is a Hebrew letter that looks sort of like a W with delusions of grandeur.)

6D: Receding Asian sea (ARAL) One of these days, I'm going to learn the difference between Aral and Ural. But not today.

5D: Chevrolet pony car introduced in the '60s (CAMARO). Just because I hadn't heard the term "pony car" for a long time.

55A: Gracie Mansion predecessor of Ed, Dave, Rudy and Mike (ABE) The New York Times and the New York Sun can both (not surprisingly) be a little Empire-state-centric. I have been known to look up a NY politician on Google, and I don't even consider that cheating because I figure if I lived in NY I'd know the pols there like I know the ones here in SC. But I didn't have to look anything up here. I remember Abe Beame. And hey, if I remember correctly, he was the first Jewish governor of New York, so that ties in with out subtheme too. Cool.

27D: Movement that's French for "bent" (PLIE) Plié pops up all the time but I didn't know its literal translation. Now I just have to make it mine by using it in a sentence.

30D: Golgotha inscription (INRI) Interesting how easily this religous acronym can become the business memo starter INRE

That's all I have time for. The fender on my car is slightly plié and I need to go straighten it out.

See you tomorrow.

Mr. Excitement heads off to his next gig

Anybody who remembers the glory days of the "Tonight Show" when Carson was king probably remembers Tommy Newsom. He was the saxophone player in the Tonight Show Band and he would lead the band and banter with Carson on the nights that regular bandleader Doc Severinsen was off. Carson used to kid him about his low-key personality and nondescript clothing. "Mr. Excitement," Johnny dubbed him -- although in fairness to Mr. Newsom, just about anybody would look drab compared to the flamboyant Severinsen
Tommy Newsom passed away on Saturday at the age of 78.

A coupla cool links

This coming Friday’s (May 4th) New York Sun crossword puzzle is by Francis Heaney and I’ll tell you right now it’s a tough nut to crack (a poser, as they like to say in crosswords) but really an elegant and unique piece of work (a oner, if you will). Anyway, I’ll have more to say about that on Friday, but in the meantime here is a link to Mr. Heaney’s blog, specifically yesterday’s entry wherein he categorizes all the different types of annoying pedestrians preventing you from getting to your destination.

Also, there are several sites that will e-mail you a word of the day. I’ve tried ‘em all and is the best. This week’s theme is words about words, and the word of the day is haplography (hap-LOG-ruh-fee) noun Accidental omission of a letter or letter group that should be repeated in writing, for example, "mispell" for "misspell". What a cool word, I can't wait to use it in conversation.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Don't be mean to Mata on Monday

Today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle is "Half Anagrams" by Kelsey Blakley. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun for free here.

The anagrams are:


24: Display setting for an electronic toy (DEMO MODE) I just bought a new cell phone after keeping the old one way too long. (What can I say, I get attached to inanimate objects) The old one had a couple of crappy games on it, like "Snake" and "Blockbuster" that I don't think I ever played except maybe the day I bought the phone and the time I was trapped at the boringest movie ever made ("Chain"). The new one has some great games on it, like Sudoku, which is probably one of the best games for a cell phone ever -- but it's only a demo, you can only play for like a minute, so unless you're one hell of a Sudokuer, you're not going to finish unless you fork over some more cash to buy the full version of the game. That's progress, I guess, things get better, but you have to pay more for them.

25: Come back (REAPPEAR)

51A: One on the same side (TEAMMATE)

53A: What a minor hasn't yet achieved (LEGALAGE)

64A: Farrier, at times (HORSESHOER) Years ago, I was a caretaker at a Palamino ranch out in Colorado, and my dog used to love it when the farrier came to take care of the horses' feet, cuz he used to love to eat the parts of the hooves that the farrier cut off. He liked this better than a good soup bone and a hell of a lot better than Alpo.

I'm not sure why it's called "half" anagrams. I guess because the first half of the word or phrase is spelled with the same letters as the second half, which is cool on "demo mode" and even on the one-word anagrams like "teammate" and "horseshoer", but it's kinda clumsy on "legal age", which doesn't break down into two equal halves like the other themed entries.

That minor quibble aside, this was an enjoyable Monday puzzle. You can tell it's a Monday because the themed entries are all normal words or phrases, clued in a straightforward way. If it was later in the week, instead of "reappear" we might get "Bosc copycat" as a clue leading to "pear aper" or (instead of teammate) "blah beef" for "tame meat." And keeping the "legal age"'s lopsidedness, we could instead do "distaff national symbol" for "eagle gal".

By the way, as I was looking for some of those interesting connections where two related (but not themed) entries cross, like Rex Parker is so good on unearthing, I found (see highlighted area on the puzzle) the words "auto" and "pain" side-by-side, albeit on a word-search-type diagonal line. It might be interesting if they crossed the word "Yugo" or "breakdown" but as it is, I guess it's just one of those things.

Other entries of interest:

63A: Emilio's "Repo Man" role (OTTO) fits the half-anagram theme, and 20A: Per normal procedures (ASUSUAL) almost does, if not for that L poking his nose into it.

14A: Jam ingredient? (AUTO) Oddly enough, this time the word "auto" is across, not diagonal.

5D: Heir intake? (ESTATE)
6D: Sheet metal (FOIL)
7D: Roomy place (INN)
Nothing to write home about maybe, but it was cool to see three question-marked clues in a row on a Monday.

19A: WW1 espionage name (HARI) Mata Hari will live forever in crosswords, but if all you know about her is that she was a spy, well then, everything you know is wrong. She was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (and if she'd kept that name she'd probably never have shown up in a single crossword puzzle ever) in Leeuwarden, Holland. She invented the whole Mata Hari (Malayan for Sun) persona, claimed to be from the mysterious land of Java, raised by temple priests, et cetera. None of it was true, of course, and neither were any of the espionage charges pressed against her. Her prosecutor, André Mornet, stated without apology in an interview forty years later: “There wasn't enough evidence to whip a cat.” And a German general concluded: “Innumerable tall tales were concocted about the German secret service … like the one about the unfortunate Mata Hari, who, in reality, did absolutely nothing for the German espionage effort.” (From the book "An Underground Education" by Richard Zacks; read the entire article here.) She just happened to be in the wrong place at the time when France needed a scapegoat. She was executed by firing squad -- she refused the blindfold -- in 1917. I understand she's always going to be around, and I'm fine with that, but can we please stop besmirching the poor woman's reputation? She was a fascinating woman and she had morals that shocked the French who are notoriously lenient in that department, but she wasn't a spy.

Hey, I think I may have discovered my crossword crusade. I'm going to rehabilitate her reputation. So till tomorrow's puzzle, remember "Don't be mean to Mata."


One of my favorite webcomics is Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum's "Unshelved" which is about the wacky goings-on at a county library -- no, really! I guess I like it because librarian is my dream job and because the strip is consistently funny. Check out today's episode "The Seven Stages of Falling in Love With an Author" and then sign up to get this great comic free in your e-mail inbox every day.

Normal is a town in Illinois

My youngest son is in the 7th grade, and he has been home-schooled for the last five and a half years, but next year he will be going back to public school. This is his choice and we're fine with it, of course. But I was kinda surprised when I asked him why he wanted to go to public school and he said because it was more "normal." I guess that took me aback because normal is not a quality prized in our household, where we value individuality. We've tried to instill in the kids the knowledge that they can be whatever they want to be, and if normal is what you want to be that's fine, but it seems to be setting your sights just a tad low.
Then as we were discussing this at the dinner table the other night, my son started scooping some of his favorite parts out of his soup and placing it on his chicken sandwich.
That's not normal. I was so proud.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

What is wrong with Miss Rayburn?

One of my favorite websites is Shorpy: The 100-Year-Old Photo Blog. They have these amazing pictures from a century of photography -- Okies heading West, beauty contest winners circa 1922, family photos hidden by holocaust victims. Something new and interesting every day. And then there's this one, where we find out just what was in one of those notes Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver brought home from his teacher.

Friday, April 27, 2007

April is the cruelest month and Friday the meanest day

The Friday New York Sun puzzle is "Weekend Warrior" by Byron Walden. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun for free here. (Admittedly, today's puzzle is more fun if you're a masochist.)

Whoa, I'm sorry, you're going to have to give me a minute here.

This puzzle has got me reeling. I think Byron Walden just may turn out to be my arch-nemesis. But of course crossword nemeses are different, aren't they? I doubt Spider-Man secretly admires the Green Goblin or that Sherlock Holmes has a soft spot for Professor Moriarity, but I am in so in awe of the Sadistic Walden, I want to buy him an extreme beer -- right after I have one, this puzzle was a workout.

On my first trip through the Acrosses and Downs, all I got was 24D: Big ___ (nickname of ballplayer David Ortiz) PAPI (which is a gimme for even a casual baseball fan) and 31D: He interviewed Miles Davis in the first Playboy interview ALEX HALEY. I only knew this because the first CD-ROM I ever bought (Hey, remember CD-ROMs?) was of the complete Playboy interviews and I actually read most of them. Playboy's reputation for great interviews is well-deserved.

Ten minutes later I didn't have much more. I wanted 1A: See stars, perhaps so bad I could taste it. I mentally went straight to stars of the show-biz variety, avoiding the astronomical and side-stepping the rake in the face. I had "Go to a movie" then "Go see a show" and a couple more I've forgotten. At one point I thought 10D: Compact cleaners might be "Vacuums" and I almost put in "Watch bad TV".

Well, what can I say? 14A: Place for a car race known as the icekhana FROZENLAKE was no help. I actually had every letter filled in on 16A: Front end? LOWERCASET before I figured out what was going on there. I blanked on 18A: New Balance rival (ASICS) all I could think was Avia.

Moving to another area, (doing a RELO as real estate people allegedly say) didn't help much. 43A: Highly potent potable (EXTREMEBEER)eluded me for a long time. All I had was the X and I couldn't shake the mental image of the cartoon hillbilly moonshine jug with all the X's on it. Even after I got the "beer" I was still thinking extra something beer, not extreme.

Extreme beer, by the way, is not necessarily more potent, although it often is. According to Beer Advocate magazine, extreme beer is "a movement to showcase the craft and how complex and versatile beer can actually be." It can also refer to
- Beers made with no hops but plenty of heather and lavender.
- Beers aged in Jack Daniels oak barrels.
- Traditional beer styles, but with double, triple or more hops or malt.
- Beers brewed with chocolate, peanut butter or espresso beans.
- Strong Porters brewed with Chinese candied ginger.
- Ales brewed with oysters or seaweed.
- Sharp tasting beers inoculated with various wild bacteria and yeast strains.

Hmmm, chocolate and espresso beans maybe, oysters, seaweed and wild bacteria I'm not so sure about. (And is there a thing as tame bacteria?)

Here are some more examples of Byron Walden's amazing ability to mislead.

34A: Like someone being anaesthetised, perhaps (INHOSPITAL) Notice how he uses the British spelling of "anesthetized" to lead to a British colloquialism.

11D: It helps keep a Persian's home from smelling bad (CATLITTER)

13D: Bud light? Yeah, I see the question mark, but he's already got me thinking about beer. FLOWERLET was the last word I filled in on this puzzle.

4D: Language that gave us the word "Polka" Unless you're a world-class etymologist you're thinking "Polish" not CZECH

And how about SLAW and HASH side by side, both clued as "Chopped chow"? That's pretty impressive.

This guy, even his three-letter entries, which is how I usually try to get a foot in a hard puzzle's door, are tough -- fair but tough. To wit:

37A: Banks, for example. (CUB) I love baseball, but I'm thinking savings and loans, I'm thinking Jane and Michael banks from "Mary Poppins" I'm thinking levees, I'm thinking billiards shots, everywhere but Ernie.

15D: It can make a scene (Mob) You don't even want to know what I was thinking here.

53D: Like keeners (SAD) I wasn't thinking anything here other than "What the hell's a keener?" It turns out I do know what keen (and by extension keener) means, but the few times I've heard it it's always in its gerund form "keening."

25A: Réunion, e.g. (ILE) the only reason I knew this one is because I'm somewhat of an amateur expert on dodo birds (well, hell, somebody had to do it) and the dodo's closest cousins were the Réunion Solitaire and the Rodriguez Solitaire, both named after the islands they inhabited.

I also knew 35A: Woman drawn by Hal Foster (ALETA) because I've spent my life reading comics and Foster's Prince Valiant is a true classic. Even so, it took me a bit to call her her name up because their son Arn shows up in crosswords much more often than Mom.

All right, it's Friday, so we've got the weekend to rest up before Monday's puzzle. I'll probably still be here marveling at this one.

62: Peer-to-peer networking? (EYECONTACT) Man, this guy is good! In an evil way, of course.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Halloween will never be the same.

Bobby "Boris" Pickett died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He has been branded a one-hit wonder, and I guess that's fair. "Monster Mash" was his only real hit, (though a Christmas follow-up "Monster's Holiday" did reach the Top 40.) But if you're only going to have one hit, it's good when that hit keeps rising from the grave -- and I don't mean just to be played over and over as the most-popular Halloween song ever. "Monster Mash" actually hit the Billboard charts on three different occasions, first in October 1962, then in August 1970 and once more in May 1973. And it may come back to haunt us again, who knows? (By the way, that's a then-unknown Leon Russell playing piano for the Crypt Kickers)

Pickett was not bitter that his show-biz career never reached monstrous proportions. He said he never got tired of "Monster Mash." "When I hear it, I hear a cash register ringing."

He even liked to joke around at concerts -- he kept performing up until last November when his leukemia got so bad he couldn't continue -- "Now, I am going to do a medley of my hit."

The "Guy Lombardo of Halloween" Pickett was 69 years old.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How do you say "Thursday" in Greek?

The Thursday New York Sun puzzle is "A Tale of Jimmy The Greek" by Anthony J. Salvia. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun for free here.

The real Jimmy the Greek was a gambler and bookie in Las Vegas, who somehow parlayed that into a career as a sportscaster on CBS. He was controversial from the get-go and was eventually fired for making some racially insensitive (not to mention stupid) remarks on Martin Luther King's birthday! I know this is a Greek themed puzzle with gambling seasoning, but I don't think this guy deserves to be the star of a New York Sun crossword puzzle. And I don't think he should have his picture up here either, so I'm hanging the Greek flag instead.

Anyway, here's how the tale goes:

17A: Jimmy the Greek was feeling blue because, he said IOTABUNDLE.

25A: So Jimmy went to Vegas, hoping to win it all back in a GAMMASTUDPOKER

42A: As luck would have it, Jimmy was DELTAFULLHOUSE

57A: Suddenly, for Jimmy things never LOOKEDBETA

Until an ace fell out of his KAPPA and he had to go on the LAMBDA NU RHOchelle.

(Okay, I made that last one up, as if you couldn't tell.)

If you know anything about the Greek alphabet (and if you've been doing crosswords for any length of time you should) you probably didn't have any trouble with this one. I actually finished it in a lot less time than it took me to do the Wednesday puzzle and that almost never happens.

Which is not to say that I didn't blank on some clues. I did, and the one I blanked on the longest was this one:

3D: Gulch Biter TOTO The word gulch made me think of Western landscapes, the word "biter" (since I was already thinking Western) made me think of "oater" -- maybe a "biter" is an "oater" that's not very good. Stupid, I know, but it took me a while and a couple of T's to think of Elmira Gulch, the old biddy who dognaps Dorothy Gale's Cairn terrier in one of the greatest movies ever made "The Wizard of Oz."

Elmira Gulch was played by Margaret Hamilton, who also played the Wicked Witch of the West. And even though she’s only in the movie for 12 minutes she’s scared the heck out of several generations of kids. But somehow nothing much happened for her after that, she went back to playing character parts and never got big again until she played Cora the innkeeper on a series of Maxwell House Coffee commercials. You can read more about Margaret Hamilton, see her guest star in The Addams Family and other shows, watch outtakes from TV appearances (The "Gunsmoke" one was so funny it made me choke on the smoked almond I happened to be snacking on) and even watch some bloopers from The Wizard of Oz here.

I'm a big fan of Dr. Seuss and it's nice to see one of his lesser-known creations make a cameo"61A: The Big ____" (Dr. Seuss short story) BRAG

I also9 liked 36D: Egbert Souse portrayer in "The Bank Dick" WCFIELDS. Fields became famous for portraying irascible characters with Dickensian names like Larson E. Whipsnade and Mahatma Kane Jeeves.

One quibble: 21A: Leader of the "Centerfold" band JGEILS. Yeah, I know the band is named after him, but Peter Wolf is generally considered to be the leader of the J Geils Band.

Supposedly Sun crossword editor Peter Gordon has vowed to never use the same clue twice, so it's interesting to see how his constructors clue words that pop up all the time, like EMU, here clued as Fast food source? (39A) . I've seen a lot of emus -- in crosswords anyway -- but I didn't know people ate them. How could you eat something with a face like this?