Average Length: 4.87
Difficulty: Gently moderate
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!
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!
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:
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!
Average Length: 5.00
Difficulty: A beach read, but on a somewhat windy day
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.)
NEW!!! Solve on line here
Words: 96 (17×17, a generous pour)
Average Length: 5.06
Difficulty: Quite drinkable, though it may leave a punny aftertaste
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!
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.
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.
Average Length: 4.89
Difficulty: Easier than being a serf, for sure
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!
Average Length: 4.84
Difficulty: Way easier than doing your taxes
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.
Words: 74 (17×13)
Average Length: 4.95
Difficulty: Somewhere between yacht rock and pop punk
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!
Difficulty: “All difficulties are easy when they are known” (W. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure)
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.