A Nephew for Nick, Levi, and Shaina
"Midrash" by George Barany and Ellen Ross

GB writes: My assignment was to construct a puzzle welcoming to the world SAMUEL_ROSS_TOFIAS (37-Across), who was born on July 9, 2014. Over the subsequent days and weeks, the baby's grandma, Ellen Ross, sent me all sorts of photos, some of which are shared below. Ellen also gave me the detailed family tree (including nicknames), and I got busy counting letters and looking for symmetries. Note that I was unable to get the baby's two uncles and one aunt into the puzzle's grid, so I put their names in the puzzle's title instead. Among the Across entries, I was able to put the ladies in the East, the gentlemen in the West, the Ross family in the North, and the Tofias family in the South.

As luck would have it, we were able to complete the puzzle just in time for the 36th birthday of the baby's mother NATASHA (24-Across) on September 16, 2014. I would also like to point out that, except for 37-Across, all names in the puzzle are clued in ways that can be solved by crossword enthusiasts who do not know the Tofias or Ross families. The majority of the clues were drafted by Ellen [who did sneak in some information that would put certain family members at an advantage], and then tweaked by me.

It is never too early to play ball [however, someone needs to tell Sam (age 7 weeks) that the glove should go on his left hand]! Ellen met Sam for the first time during an early September visit to Boston, described further in this blogpost.
Sam, age 2 months (to the day), in his carseat. Photo taken by his mother. Mother NATASHA (24-Across), baby Sam, and father ZACHARY (50-Across). Photo taken by grandma Ellen, September 7, 2014. Zach and Natasha with Zach's boss, WILLIAM (26-Across) Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America. Photo taken December 18, 2011, at an office holiday party. Zach is currently Head of the Sustainable Communities Initiative of the Clinton Foundation.

Given the time constraints, we are not providing photos of Sam's paternal grandparents, DEBORAH (47-Across; she goes by Debbie) and BRUCE (60-Across) Tofias, Sam's paternal great grandfather ARNOLD (9-Down) Tofias, or Sam's maternal grandfather WILLIAM (26-Across; he goes by Bill) Ross.

ER adds: Thanks, George, for taking the time out of your busy schedule of making the world safe for better puzzles to contribute to this keepsake for Sam's baby book. I'm sure it will delight his entire family. (And hopefully, it wasn't too easy for Sam to solve.)

As I was crafting the clues, I knew that some would have terrific links. Here they are: SFPD (1-Across); GLEE (5-Across); ANDI (9-Across); KEIRA (13-Across); HAYDN (15-Across); ELLEN (17-Across); ISRAEL (21-Across); AORTA (23-Across); I_GOT (43-Across); NO_DEAL (45-Across); RENO (58-Across); FELLA (2-Down); EDELWEISS (7-Down); NOURI (10-Down); HORA (15-Down); EDSEL (30-Down); TAO (35-Down) ; LIDA (39-Down); NO_GOOD (44-Down); BINGE (49-Down).

Enjoy! And Mazel Tov to all on this very happy September 16.

GB sums up: The pleasure was mine, Ellen. The links you provided will have to do in lieu of a full-fledged "midrash," but in the meantime, I hope that our solvers will be inspired to continue exploring!


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