Connecticut Transfer
"Midrash" by George Barany

This puzzle honors my cyberfriend John Verel on the occasion of his 66th birthday. The puzzle's fill and clues include several "winks" that will probably mean more to John than to other potential solvers. Check out John's biosketch to see how many of them you can suss out on your own. Two of the entries were inspired by reading a Facebook post in which John referred to his granddaughter ELIZA (52-Across) and her developmental milestone of calling him "PopPop" (see 6-Across). Some other pieces of the puzzle are nods to John's love of opera, which even extend to having performed in the chorus of several productions by Vincent La Selva's New York Grand Opera.

I had quite a bit of fun researching the clue for ROUTE_SIXTYSIX (29-Across). Here is a sampling of how various artists covered the song [click on their names and the song will come up]: Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones, and The Manhattan Transfer. The latter version also inspired the puzzle's title, since John hails from the Nutmeg State, and now resides in the Big Apple. A fortuitous finding during this puzzle's construction was PHOTO FINISHES (6-Down), which was relevant due to the ongoing 2014 Winter Olympics. Additionally, the much-celebrated recent 100th anniversary of the first CROSSWORD (15-Across) puzzle was celebrated herein.

And I wonder how many of you noticed that, despite its small size (13x13), the puzzle is a pangram?  This general issue is discussed at some length, not only in the link to the left, but also in the "midrash" to a different tribute puzzle.

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