Country Smiles

puz | pdf | solution

Here’s a pretty easy puzzle that might elicit some serious groans, not from the effort required but from the “quality” of the puns in the theme answers. For an explanation of some of the cluing decisions and a dose of, ahem, bonus content – theme answers and clues that were in earlier versions of the grid but didn’t make the final cut for various reasons – see the write-up below the photo. [To those of you finding this site from Matt’s invaluable Daily Crossword Links, I’m painfully aware this is not a themeless puzzle; I messed up in naming a file and am now bearing the consequences. Mea culpa etc.]

The Stockholm waterfront (see 30 Across)


* * *

15A:     RETRO GAMER.  This is a thing, apparently; in fact, there’s an entire magazine devoted to people who love playing video games from the dim, dark past.

28A:  A NO.  The quote references one of Randy Jackson’s go-to phrases on American Idol.  Even if you’re not an Idol fan (I’m not – The Voice is way better, IMO), I think the phrase has made it into general circulation.

41A:  SWELTER.   I think “shvitz” is a fair clue: it’s entered the English lexicon in the same way as other Yiddish words like schmear and shmuck.

46A:  SUDAN LEVY.  Schitt’s Creek has become a big part of current-day culture, so I hope the clue doesn’t throw too many people off.  (Originally, I wanted this to be Sudan Rather, but I couldn’t make it work satisfactorily.)

63A:  RINO.  An acronym for Republican In Name Only. 

2D:  QATAR RUG.  This one probably shows my age – my test-solver (son Adam), who is roughly half my age, hadn’t heard of “cut a rug” as an idiom meaning “dance”. 

4D:  ASS.  Yes, the quote is accurate; it’s “a,” not “an”.

I had immense fun brainstorming possible theme answers (I’m easily amused).  Here are some that were in earlier versions of the grid but didn’t make the final cut for reasons of space, symmetry, or recalcitrant crossings.  Clues first, answers below:

  • Step sequence in Seoul?
  • Revolving fad in Apia?
  • Highlight of Showboat in Muscat?
  • Complaint at a Cairo bazaar?
  • How do you see the tallest buildings in Kiev?
  • I found a cool fossil buried near Nairobi – what should I do?

Bonus answers:


Fiji Spinner

Oman River

Egypt Me

Ghana Way

Ukraine Your Neck

Kenya Dig It

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