Categories
Themed

Book a Vacation

Words:  76

Average Length:  5.03

Difficulty:  Like summer reading (not the school variety)

Barafundle Bay, Wales

Here’s a gentle grid to usher in August, prime time for lazing in the sun with a book, listening to the waves lap against the shore, and looking up an hour later to realize you haven’t read a page but instead fell asleep and are now approaching lobsterhood.  Stay sunscreened, my friends!

If you like my puzzles, it’d be great if you would “subscribe” to my site. You’ll be informed whenever I drop a new puzzle, and I’ll possibly show up a little higher in search results.  Win Win.

Last self-promotion: If you like to travel please check out (and follow if you like) my newly resurrected travel blog, Puffinless Travel, here.  I’ve recently added write-ups of a trip to Antarctica in Feb. 2022 and a hiking trip in Wales in July 2022.

online | puz | pdf | solution

Categories
Themed

Desmond-Induced Deflation

Words:  70

Average Length:  5.20

Difficulty:  Like swinging convincingly in 5/4 time

This has nothing to do with the puzzle – it’s me toasting the Welsh Men’s Choir with a well-earned beer after hiking in Brecon Beacon National Park, Wales.

On my best days playing alto sax, my tone was a pale imitation of Paul Desmond’s crystal, liquid, heavenly sound.  Desmond was a marvel – a soloist whose intelligence and grace made his lines seem inevitable, and a composer of one of the very greatest jazz classics (see 60 Across), track three on the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s hugely influential Time Out album (one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time).  If you know the tune, the puzzle should be medium difficulty; if you don’t, it’ll be tougher.  Check out this live performance.  Desmond’s sinuous solo builds tension and release over a hypnotic, two-chord drone (Eb minor-Bb minor).  Brubeck follows with a brief, mysterious piano solo far removed from his usual crashing chords.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the puzzle – and I really hope you enjoy the tune and give Desmond and the Dave Brubeck Quartet a listen.

online | puz | pdf | solution

Categories
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

Categories
Themed

June Know?

Words:  76

Average Length:  4.87

Difficulty:  Gently moderate

Our much-missed 47 Across, Mickey, along with your humble constructor

Ah, June in DC:  The gnats are swarming, the Nats are in last place, and natch, I’ve got a June-themed puzzle for you.  Please enjoy and share!

online | puz | pdf | solution

Categories
Midi Themed

Listen to Z Music

Delos, since I had no pictures of the mythical 10 Across

I saw 16 Down on SNL last month and was blown away by her talent.  Of course, I’ve heard her on the radio many times, but seeing her live underscored how amazing she is.  Then it occurred to me that a seemingly inordinate number of musicians/compositions have “Zs” in their names, ranging from pop to rock to opera to jazz to conductors, and that there ought to be a grid acknowledging that observation.  Et voila! 

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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
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
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

Categories
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

Categories
Themed

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