Andrea Carla Michaels

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Andrea Carla Michaels
Born
Andrea Carla Eisenberg

1959 (age 64–65)
Other names
  • "ACME"
  • "Pizza Lady"
Alma materHarvard University
Occupations
  • Comedian
  • writer
  • crossword constructor
  • naming consultant
Known forThe New York Times crossword puzzles (2000–present)
Websiteandrea-carlamichaels.squarespace.com

Andrea Carla Michaels (née Eisenberg; born 1959) is an American crossword puzzle constructor and corporate naming consultant. She was a comedian and television writer after graduating from Harvard University in 1980 and has played competitive chess and Scrabble and appeared on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. More than 80 crosswords by her have been published in The New York Times since 2000. In San Francisco, she has become known as the "Pizza Lady" for her efforts to feed homeless people in her community.

Early life and education[edit]

Michaels grew up in a Jewish family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the youngest of three daughters of Carol (née Kossin) and M. Michael Eisenberg, a surgeon at the University of Minnesota.[1][2][3] She liked solving jigsaw puzzles, playing board games, and helping her father with the Sunday New York Times crossword as a child.[4] She learned chess at age five and played competitively from ages 11 to 15, winning five straight Minnesota women's championships and three national junior titles.[2][5][6]

After skipping a grade and a half, Michaels graduated from Northrop Collegiate School in Minneapolis (later the Blake School) in 1976.[5][7] She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in psychology at age 20 in 1980.[8]

Career[edit]

In the 1980s, Michaels began working in comedy, performing in clubs, writing humor articles for periodicals, and appearing in TV comedy specials.[8][9][10] She adopted the stage surname "Michaels", adapted from her father's name.[11] She moved to Los Angeles and worked in television as a trivia writer for game shows such as Wordplay and The Challengers, a chaperone on The Dating Game, and a writer for the sitcom Designing Women.[1][12] She also competed on game shows such as Jeopardy! in 1988 (where she came second to the then-record single-day prize winner) and Wheel of Fortune in 1991 (where she won a motorhome).[1][11][12] She joined a Scrabble club and became a nationally ranked tournament player and instructor.[1][11]

Michaels moved to San Francisco in 1984.[8] After having previously freelanced as a namer for other firms, she founded a company, Acme Naming, that invents names for companies and products.[8][11] In 2012, she wrote an essay about childlessness for Henriette Mantel's collection No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood (2013).[13]

Michaels's puzzle-writing career began in the 1980s with word games and trivia for Games magazine and crosswords for TV Guide.[4] Her first New York Times crossword was published on June 12, 2000, featuring an earthquake theme and "jagged" grid design.[4][14] She co-constructed one puzzle with college friend Neil deGrasse Tyson in 2017.[15][16] As of November 2023, she has had 85 crosswords published in the Times, including 54 collaborations and 61 published on Mondays (the easiest puzzle of the week to solve but not necessarily create),[17] earning the nickname the "Queen of Mondays" (along with Lynn Lempel).[18][19]

On Christmas Eve 2015, Michaels began serving the homeless community in her neighborhood in San Francisco by handing out pizza and occasionally other donated items, becoming known as the "Pizza Lady".[8] She asked Nobhill Pizza & Shawarma in Nob Hill to set aside leftover slices instead of composting them, and then reheat them for her to give away on Polk Street, where she distributed around twenty slices daily.[8][20][21] After the pizzeria began only making pizzas to order during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, she handed out food from Golden Veggie Market with "faux sell-by dates" as well as donated clothing.[22] As of 2023, she has continued to deliver leftover pizza from Nobhill Pizza, and she started a website in her effort to identify and return stolen luggage discarded in the area.[23][24] On October 17, 2023, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors presented a certificate of honor in recognition of her service as Pizza Lady, her efforts to return stolen items, and her work in support of rent control.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Pine, Dan (February 7, 2003). "Yiddish for Scrabble: Wordsmith in S.F. spells it out". J. The Jewish News of Northern California. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "She Loves the Game". The Hanford Sentinel. May 14, 1976. p. 7. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 17, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Carol (Kossin) Cleveland". Star Tribune (obituary). November 12, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Amlen, Deb (September 17, 2018). "60 Seconds With Andrea Carla Michaels". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Girl, 12, Makes Mark in Man's World of Chess". Arcadia Tribune. November 9, 1972. p. 23. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 17, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ Ellerin, Bruce E. (November 2, 1977). "Sophomore Places First In Women's Chess Open". The Harvard Crimson. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  7. ^ "Bear Pause: Andrea Carla Eisenberg Michaels '76". The Blake School. February 8, 2016. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Fagan, Kevin (August 19, 2018). "Pizza Lady helps Polk Street area's homeless hang on with food, compassion". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on August 20, 2018.
  9. ^ "Nightclub comedy show Oct. 23 at Cal State". The Californian. October 16, 1986. p. B7. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 17, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Silver, Betsy (April 18, 1983). "Harvard Comedians Garner T.V. Slot". The Harvard Crimson. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  11. ^ a b c d Frankel, Alex (2004). Wordcraft: The Art of Turning Little Words into Big Business. Random House. Archived from the original on January 28, 2011.
  12. ^ a b Verongos, Helen T. (April 18, 2021). "Main Line From the Heart". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  13. ^ Seligman, Katherine (May 10, 2013). "'No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood'". SFGate. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  14. ^ Pine, Dan (August 25, 2006). "My word!". J. The Jewish News of Northern California. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  15. ^ Gallucci, Nicole (March 20, 2017). "Neil deGrasse Tyson helped create a cosmically punny NYT crossword puzzle". Mashable. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  16. ^ Amlen, Deb (March 19, 2017). "Quite a Distance Off". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  17. ^ "Andrea Carla Michaels page". XWord Info. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  18. ^ Amlen, Deb (February 7, 2021). "'Scenter' of the Face". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  19. ^ Amlen, Deb (July 11, 2018). "Easily". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  20. ^ Falstreau, Nathan (May 24, 2018). "Pie to 17,000 places: 'Pizza Lady' offers neighbors food, support". Hoodline. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  21. ^ Guerrero, Juan Carlos (July 5, 2018). "San Francisco woman on mission to deliver free pizza to homeless people". KGO-TV. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  22. ^ Weingarten, Woody (October 5, 2020). "San Franciscan feeds homeless while fighting eviction herself". Local News Matters. Bay City News Foundation. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  23. ^ Swan, Rachel (August 3, 2023). "This San Francisco woman has a house full of stolen stuff. She's on a mission to find the owners". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on August 3, 2023.
  24. ^ Kafton, Christien (August 3, 2023). "San Francisco woman working to reunite stolen luggage with rightful owners". KTVU. Archived from the original on November 17, 2023. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  25. ^ "BOS Board of Supervisors – Regular Meeting" (video). City and County of San Francisco. October 17, 2023. Event occurs at 36:39. Archived from the original on November 22, 2023. Retrieved November 30, 2023.

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