We're Not In Kansas
"Midrash" by George Barany (August 2013)

On the afternoon of Sunday, August 11, 2013, I headed to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to begin an epic journey to Australia that included seminars at chemistry departments at the Universities of Queensland, Melbourne, and Sydney, much bonhomie, innumerable photo-ops, and ... oh BTW ... a wedding. Upon landing and going through customs, I had to answer a series of questions including "Do you have any criminal conviction/s?" This gave me the opportunity to use in a real-life situation a quip I had been saving for nearly half a century, ever since I first heard it from a Borscht Belt comedian, "I was not aware that was still a criterion for admittance to this continent." I will spare you the detailed travelogue as well as descriptions of a more personal nature, but just state that my wife [who had left 5 days before me, so as to sample the Great Barrier Reef and a rain forest near Cairns; click here, here, here, here and here for additional pictures of her adventures with the younger generation, all taken before we all convened in Melbourne] and I returned, exhausted, on the evening of Tuesday, August 27—barely in time for me to participate at the tail-end of welcome week activities and start to prepare for fall semester teaching.

By the time we arrived in Sydney, it had occurred to me that a crossword puzzle with pictorial clues might be a fun way to allow family, friends, and colleagues back home to share vicariously in some of our adventures. I whipped together this puzzle, but ah, the (Tasmanian) devil is in the details—I had sleep-deprivedly misspelled one of the main theme answers as was kindly pointed out by some of my beta testers. But, no cassowarries [sic] [see also here], it was back to the drawing board, and we hope that you like the final revised product despite its imperfections [please see the puzzle's main page for acknowledgments to the photography and beta testing].

A few more notes: Click here to read about the largest GREAT_WHITE_SHARK (38-Across) ever captured, off the coast of Australia [note, the shark used to illustrate the puzzle's main page was photographed off the Great Barrier Reef]; click here to learn about the "PENGUIN (53-Across) parade" [we witnessed this, but were not allowed to take our own photos]; click here to marvel at the reproductive strategies of the ECHIDNA (26-Across). Not worked into the puzzle, the ANZAC war memorial—now there's a word that ought to be used in a 21st century puzzle. Photos of us feeding, petting, and/or observing various MARSUPIALs (35-Down) and other fauna were taken here, which despite its name, seems to be open only during daylight hours. I can also report a perfunctory familiarization with Australian rules football [even attended a "footy" match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground]—it seems that a number of the teams are named after any number of the native birds and animals, and a number of the team songs appear to be appropriated from more familiar American melodies. The theme photo on our main page shows the iconic Sydney Opera House [also tempted to go with this photo of the Harbour Bridge at sunset] and the title of the puzzle references a well-known line spoken by the Judy Garland character in "The Wizard of Oz" [note that the Land DOWN_UNDER (3-Down) is often called "Oz"].

If you want to tell others about this particular page, refer them to http://tinyurl.com/kansasmidrash

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