Categories
Themeless

Themeless 31

Words:  70     

Average Length:  5.51

Difficulty:  Straightforwardly challenging

Pettah fruit and vegetable market, Colombo, Sri Lanka (see comments on 44D below)

I’m back from my foray into preaching/political strategizing and hoping to entertain you with a middle-of-the-road themeless.  (Pick a lane, dammit!) 

44D:  Just before the pandemic hit, I was in Sri Lanka taking an architectural tour of Colombo.  As we walked up one street between a phenomenal indoor market and some beautifully restored buildings, the guide mentioned that Duran Duran had filmed the video for “Hungry Like the Wolf” on that very street.  Who’d’ve thought?!

online | puz | pdf | solution

Categories
Themed

What “Pro-Life” Should Mean …

Words: 74

Average Length:  5.16

Difficulty:  I tried to make this easier than usual.  That effort may have met with “incomplete success,” as President Carter once said.

A crossword puzzle is an ineffective means of getting a message across, but I’m a Democrat, so I come by that naturally. Here’s the point:

  • The Democrats need to coopt and repurpose “pro-life” to make clear that YOU CAN’T BE “PRO-LIFE” WHILE SABOTAGING THE HEALTH AND WELFARE OF THE LIVING   

For years, Republicans have used the “pro-life” label to oppose abortion, with mounting success at the state and federal levels.  Yet the Republicans’ conception of life is that it begins at fertilization and apparently ends at birth.  As rabidly as the Rs yell that abortion is murder, they reflexively oppose laws that would curb gun violence, promote breathable air and drinkable water, guarantee affordable health care, housing, and education, ensure security from hunger, etc., etc., etc.

The Democrats must pound this message home:  You can’t be “pro-life” while sabotaging the health and welfare of the living.  Put that on billboards, TV ads, t-shirts, whatever … just get the point across!

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Categories
Mostly Musical Mini

Mostly Musical Mini 8

Words:  18

Average Length:  5.00

Difficulty:  Legato

This week’s Mostly Musical Mini brings Ellington, Winehouse, a (very) little rap, a multi-talented Bajan billionaire, and more.  Please solve and enjoy!

Solve online | puz | pdf | solution

Categories
Themed

Gregor Samosa Was Banned by the Health Department

Words:  72

Average Length:  5.00

Difficulty:  A beach read, but on a somewhat windy day

Beach (Cape Cod). Add book. Read.

I’m fascinated by the weekly “By the Book” column in the New York Times.  If you don’t know it, every week a guest author responds to several questions about favorites, preferences, organization of their book collections, etc.  One of the questions is something like “If you could invite any 3 authors, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would they be and why?”

Why stop at 3, I thought, and why not make a puzzle about it?  Even better, why not have the theme entries be the most appropriate dishes for each author to bring?  (The party morphed into a potluck.)

puz | pdf | solution

NEW!!! Solve on line here

Categories
Mostly Musical Mini

Mostly Musical Mini 7

Words:  16

Average Length:  5.13

Difficulty:  Chopsticks-level

Aerosmith, Steely Dan, and Ricky Martin, all packed inside a 7×7 grid.  Enjoy!

puz | pdf | solution

Categories
Holiday

Happy Mothers’ Day!

Words: 78

Average Length: 4.78

Difficulty:  Gentle, kind, empathetic, funny, generous, open-minded, fun-loving … Oh, wait, that was my Mom.  This puzzle shares some of those characteristics.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all you mothers out there!  I hope your day (and life) is filled with love, joy, and appreciation.

Mom in Jutenheimen National Park, Norway, June 2017

I constructed this puzzle in February.  In March, one week shy of her 88th birthday, my Mom passed away.  She lived a wonderful life, traveling all over the world, dancing at the slightest provocation (including with a tribal elder in Ghana as part of a ritual ceremony), giving generously of her time, spirit, and resources, and appreciating the dignity and value of everyone she met.  I miss her terribly, but my grief is made bearable by joyous memories of trips, holidays, stupid jokes, her fantastic arroz con pollo (back in my meat-eating days), and a lifetime of wise and heartfelt support. 

Thanks to my Mom and Dad, I think I was born interested in crosswords. Much of my childhood is a blur, but I vividly recall my parents passing the NYT Sunday puzzle back and forth, praising/questioning/correcting one another’s entries, and occasionally emitting a satisfied or chagrined “oh”.  Solving the Sunday NYT remained a weekly habit for my Mom and Dad until my father died six years ago. Mom continued to solve puzzles, in both English and Spanish, until she passed. 

Mom, wherever you are, 41 Across, a thousand thousand times, and Happy Mothers’ Day!  I hope there are puzzles galore for you to enjoy!

puz | pdf | solution

Categories
Mostly Musical Mini

Mostly Musical Mini 6

Words:  16

Average Length:  5.5

Difficulty:  A gentle May breeze with one or two gusts

The seed for this one was 13 Across – to me, one of the greatest songs ever written.  It’s a Leonard Cohen classic, and it was covered (gorgeously of course) by Judy Collins.  You can listen to his version here, and hers here.

Check back on Sunday for a special Mothers’ Day Puzzle.

puz | pdf | solution

Categories
Themeless

Themeless 30

Words:  70

Average Length:  5.57

Difficulty:  Even though I’m posting this on 5/1, there’s no need to shout “Mayday”

“___ hundred flowers blossom” (Clue for 22 Across) (photo taken at the phenomenal Akureyri Botanical Gardens in Akureyri, Iceland)

1 Across was the seed, and it’s an interesting story:  Prince Esterhazy, Haydn’s patron, brought the composer and his orchestra to his summer palace and stayed longer than the musicians expected.  Being separated from their families back in Eisenstadt, where the Prince’s main palace was located, the musicians asked Haydn to seek the Prince’s permission to return.  Rather than confront the Prince directly, Haydn composed this symphony; at the end, after all the other musicians had snuffed out their candles and left the stage, only Haydn and the concertmaster remained.  The Prince got the message; the next day the court returned to Eisenstadt.  The Wikipedia article is here.

puz | pdf | solution

Categories
Mostly Musical Mini

Mostly Musical Mini 5

Words:  18

Average Length:  5

Difficulty:  Like Chick Corea’s Children’s Song #1

Don’t know the reference?  It’s a deceptively simple, hypnotic tune with an intriguing melody line and some tricky rhythms.  You can listen to it here.

After last week’s tribute to Coltrane’s Giant Steps, this grid leans classical.  Nothing is too obscure, however, except maybe 1 Across, which is why it has such a tortured clue.

puz | pdf | solution

Categories
Themed

Don’t Wine, They’re Only Puns

Words:  96 (17×17, a generous pour)

Average Length:  5.06

Difficulty:  Quite drinkable, though it may leave a punny aftertaste

Turns out I can enjoy wine even without doing very well in identifying different types

If, as Robert Louis Stevenson said, “wine is bottled poetry,” get ready for a big ol’ bucketful of doggerel.  Enjoy it in moderation or even to excess – just enjoy it!

puz | pdf | solution