… 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).
Difficulty: Like a $600 question in the Shakespeare category
While the Professors’ Tournament gives her a two-week break, I thought I’d drop a tribute puzzle focusing on 21 Across, who is brilliant, accomplished, serene, and truly inspirational. May her reign continue!
While wandering the aisles in Safeway a few weeks ago – pretty much the extent of my travels for the past too many months – 10 Down occurred to me. By the time I checked out I had 25 Down. Two more theme answers (17 Across and 61 Across) and voila, the bones of a puzzle. In the fill, I was happy to work in one of my favorite musical groups (30 Across), favorite soft drinks (47 Down; it may be an acquired taste), and favorite noshes (48 Across). I’m also particularly pleased with the clue for 1 Down. The clue on 57 Down is a nod to Mike Graczyk, whose Pun of a Kind puzzles are always fresh and entertaining.
If you enjoy the puzzle please share it. Comments, reactions, and suggestions (within reason) welcomed!
Here’s a gentle, Thanksgiving-themed puzzle. Best wishes for a scrumptious, safe, and stress-resistant holiday. Enjoy!
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.
The difficulty range depends on whether certain mathematical/physical symbols are all Greek to you. Helpful hints/spoilers for the theme answers are below the photo. I hope you enjoy the puzzle. Next week (11/14) brings a challenging Themeless.
20A: The country in this answer is sort of Scandinavian, at least according to Wikipedia.
66A: Ok, the language isn’t Scandinavian, but the composer is, and I wanted 5 theme answers, so there.
13D: Sorry for the obscure answer. As an avid reader of Scottish crime fiction (especially Ian Rankin) and an equally avid consumer of Scotch whisky (especially Balvenie), the quote has been rattling around in my brain for a while.
53D: This is the end of Donne’s famous “No man is an island” poem.
G’day! I’ve been wanting to put 1/7 Across – a fantastic, not nearly well-known enough Australian band — in a grid for a long time and came up with a theme where they’re a natural. Enjoy the solve, share the grid. Next up will be a tough themeless.
(The title reflects the fact that Modest Mouse was a fourth theme answer in an earlier draft of the puzzle. I didn’t like a lot of my fill so I started over and found the puzzle worked better with only three theme answers (plus the revealer). My apologies to this very fine band.)
1/7A: Australia and Canada must lead the world in per-capita production of terrific music. Whenever I listen to this band I’m smiling and ready to dance. They are amazing musicians, adept in any genre, who write irrepressible songs about loving life and not taking yourself too seriously. Here is a link to their YouTube page. One day when the world is “normal” again, I will visit Australia and time my stay to catch one of their shows.
22/24/25A: Despite having surprisingly few #1s, this band has as strong and deep a catalog as any of their contemporaries.
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!
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.
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