Holiday Themed

Why Don’t July Around and Solve This?

Words:  74

Average Length:  5.11

Difficulty:  More moderate than the temperature outside, that’s for sure

Street art – East Side Gallery, Berlin (see 19 Across)

July 4 was a big deal to some of our Founding Fathers, just not in the way you think.  Solve and find out what I mean. 

I’m taking a short break from posting while I spend a few days hiking in Wales and then exploring the Isle of Man. I’ll have a new puzzle up on July 13. Stay cool!

online | puz | pdf | solution


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

Holiday Themed

Cupid Is as Cupid Does

Words:  79 (16×15 grid)

Average Length:  4.96

Difficulty:  Like a fine romance – mostly easy with a few bumps along the way

Me and my valentine, Amsterdam (2019)

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ll let Ella Fitzgerald (1 Across) take it from here with her fantastic version of “My Funny Valentine,” available here.

puz | pdf | solution

Holiday Themed

My New Year’s Wish for You

Words:  78

Average Length:  4.74

Difficulty:  In inverse proportion to 2021 …

Here’s to you!

… that is, assuming your 2021 was as challenging as most people’s.  This grid shouldn’t put up too much of a battle:  I didn’t want to make it difficult to uncover my New Year’s wish for y’all.  So solve the puzzle, share it, enjoy your New Year’s celebration if that’s your thing, and come back next week (Jan. 2!) for the inaugural puzzle of 2022 (a “Set List” puzzle where you have to figure out the song titles in a concert of musicians who might not ordinarily play together). 

puz | pdf | solution

Holiday Themed

I’ll Never Be Your Feast of Burden

Words:  76

Average Length:  4.82

Difficulty:  2.5 out of 5

puz | pdf | solution

Here’s a gentle, Thanksgiving-themed puzzle.  Best wishes for a scrumptious, safe, and stress-resistant holiday.  Enjoy!

From the Nov. 20 Washington Post. I saw the final band in Junior High School. They played in the cafeteria. This has nothing to do with the puzzle, unless your Thanksgiving dinner turns dramatic.

Two solving notes: (1) the song at 9/25 Down is from the 1969 movie of the same name.  The movie has aged poorly, but I still love the song – all 18 minutes of it.

(2) In researching a clue for 61 Across – I ended up going with the obvious – I came across some fascinating background:  In 1939, Federated Department Stores (61A’s parent) prevailed on FDR to move Thanksgiving up a week so there’d be more time after the holiday for Christmas shopping.  The Republicans objected (shocking!), and for a couple of years there was basically a Democratic Thanksgiving and a Republican Thanksgiving.   In 1941 Congress passed a law fixing Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November. 

Holiday Themed

Sweet Puzzle, Dude

Words:  76

Average Length:  4.92

Difficulty:  2 out of 5

Analog clock (see 57 Down), Heidelberg Castle

…  is what I hope you’ll say after solving this puzzle.  If you have any extra Reese’s peanut butter cups, send them my way. 

puz | pdf | solution

Holiday Themed

Limning Labor Day

Word Count:  76

Average Length:  5.03

Difficulty:  2/5

Here’s a gentle puzzle celebrating labor organizers and the power of unions, as told in songs, a movie, a book, and a Broadway show.  (Fear not, next up will be a challenging themeless, followed by a music-related puzzle featuring a great Australian band that too few people in the US know.) Enjoy and share!

puz | pdf | solution

The 47D, as seen from the ruins of the home of Cleopatra and Deskoridis on the island of Delos

15A:  I had to give Bruce first mention in the theme fill. He’s written several other songs that more directly address workers and unions, but those either are not as well known as the answer or not grid-construction friendly.

39A This is the latest of so many wonderful books from Jess Walter.

51A:  The most famous version of this song was recorded by Paul Robeson.  Here’s a link to a version sung by Springsteen in concert:

6D:  Backman is another of my favorite authors.  He’s gentle, humane, humorous, and quietly inspirational.

Entire SE corner:  Oy.   I’d had a hard time filling the SE but finally achieved something I was reasonably happy with, only to realize – after sending it to my son to test-solve – that I’d placed the theme answer (currently 68A) asymmetrically (at 64A).  Fortunately, when I ripped out the whole corner and started over, it proved easier to fill as properly configured, although 56D and 61A aren’t ideal.  I re-clued the corner and was about to send it back to my son when something told me to make sure my clue for 56D was correct.  It wasn’t.  I’d clued it by reference to the homonymous coffee company (I really like their Major Dickason’s Blend).  The coffee company, however, is spelled differently.  Hence the plural name, which I try to avoid