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!

Solve online | puz | pdf | solution


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


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

Midi Themed

Musical Midi: Naima That Tune

Words:  34 (8×14)

Average Length:  4.94

Difficulty:  If you know a bit about jazz, it’s like soloing on All Blues.  If not, it’s like soloing on the tune spelled out by the circled letters.

A further hint to the album in question. This is a famous spot in Northern Ireland

I played in a jazz trio for years, and even though I mostly listen to rock these days, I still put on a jazz classic every so often.  Last week I listened to the album that’s the subject of this puzzle for the first time in ages.  I’d forgotten how amazing and revolutionary it is.

I’d also forgotten how difficult the title track on the album is to play, let alone blow a coherent solo over.  I managed that feat once in my life:  one year in college, the great Mary Lou Williams was an artist-in-residence.  After our jazz band rehearsals, she’d hang around and play piano while some of us would take a crack at improving our improvisation.  (I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t realize at the time what a precious and rare opportunity this was.)

One night, she had us play and solo over the song in question.  I don’t remember how she did it, but she managed to get me out of my head (where I was frantically trying to anticipate the chord changes) and into the flow of the music.  It hasn’t happened again.

puz | pdf | solution


Middle Age(s) Humor

Words:  74

Average Length:  4.89

Difficulty:  Easier than being a serf, for sure

Vaguely medieval-looking scene along the Rhine in Germany

My puzzle blog just turned one year old!  Over the past 12 months I’ve posted 71 puzzles:  28 themeless, 34 themed, 3 “set list” puzzles, 3 “mostly musical minis,” 2 “goofy themeless,” and 1 Amy Schneider tribute midi.  People from 40 countries have downloaded puzzles.  Most importantly, I’ve had a blast constructing, and I hope you’ve enjoyed solving.

Today’s puzzle, miraculously, has no terrible musical puns.  Instead, it has terrible historical puns.  I’m that flexible!

puz | pdf | solution


Pieces of April

Words:  76

Average Length:  4.84

Difficulty:  Way easier than doing your taxes

Happy (hoppy?) Spring!

Here’s a gentle April-themed puzzle.  It’s named after a gorgeous song written by Dave Loggins and performed by Three Dog Night, which you can listen to here.

11 Across:  I’ve been to the Blarney Stone and, in pre-COVID days, kissed it.  It was an unpleasant experience, what with the rain and the need to lie on your back on hard, wet stone, scoot backwards so you’re dangling many feet above the ground (they’ve since installed guard rails) and then crunch up to reach the B.S. 

39 Down:  I was thrilled to be able to fit her into the grid – this is perhaps my all-time favorite GEICO commercial, out of so many great ones.

puz | pdf | solution


Musicians’ Side Hustles

Words:  74 (17×13)

Average Length:  4.95

Difficulty:  Somewhere between yacht rock and pop punk

Another Antarctica picture: crabeater seal with our non-yacht ship in the background

Surely, you thought (hoped), Jeff has run out of musical puns.  Um, no. This one bears some thematic resemblance to Rock of Aging (available here), but is less focused on decrepitude and more on just plain brand extension. Enjoy, share, and come back next Sunday!

puz | pdf | solution


Beware! The Ides March

Words:  78

Average:  4.78

Difficulty:  “All difficulties are easy when they are known”  (W. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure)

A bunch of 40 Across, out the window of a plane en route from Malta to Gatwick

Yesterday was 62 and sunny; now it’s 26 and snowing.  Such is mid-March in the DC area.  Mid-March on JeffsPuzzles features a climate-independent, Ides-themed puzzle, so lend me your ears, or at least your pencils/pens/phones/laptops/whatever, and let the Ides march.

puz | pdf | solution


The Low Road

Words:  73

Average Length:  4.88

Difficulty:  Not quite treacherous enough for the Ninth Circle

Sund, Norway, July 2017. Not Charon’s boat and not the Styx, but bleak nonetheless.

Somehow a underworld-themed puzzle seems particularly apt these days.

puz | pdf | solution


A Profusion of Penguins

Words: 78

Average Length: 4.79

Difficulty: For those with naturally gray/silver/white/nonexistent hair, like sliding down a snowy hill. For those without such badges of maturity, like trying to escape a leopard seal.

Adelie Penguin, Pleneau Island, Antarctica

Having just returned from Antarctica, I am compelled to post a penguin-related puzzle. This one definitely and unapologetically skews (Skuas?) old, but I come by that naturally. Antarctica was spectacular, at least until I and around 30 other passengers and crew on our expedition ship tested positive for COVID and spent a week quarantined in remotest Tierra Del Fuego. I’m happy to say I’m now home and healthy.

puz | pdf | solution

Apologies for the technical glitch with last Sunday’s puzzle (“Cupid Is As Cupid Does”) – there was only the most tenuous Internet service in the Drake Passage, and apparently the Dropbox links didn’t copy, which is why I reposted it from dry land on Tuesday.