Pun Names

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Word Count:  72

Average Length:  5.19

Difficulty:  4/5

I had a great deal of fun – perhaps too much, you be the judge – cluing this one.  (Favorite non-theme clues:  13A, 41A, 4D (possibly rescuing the crosswordese fill), 22D.)

Gustav Vigeland, creator of fantastical sculptures, along with an avian admirer. See the notes on 32D.

Some notes:

51A:  The Lennon tracks, especially Watching the Wheels, which is one of my favorite songs from an ex-Beatle, but including Woman and (Just Like) Starting Over, are solid.  The others, eh, not so much IMO.

7D: Showing my age here, again.  M*A*S*H was a rare TV show that maintained its quality through all of its seasons and cast changes.

11D:  I wanted to clue this referring to the cracker company – try their Multigrains, which are phenomenal and at least as addictive as Stacy’s chips – but I wasn’t sure if they were just a local mid-Atlantic company.

32D:  It’s a fascinating city.  If you ever have the chance, visit the brilliant Vigeland Sculpture Park.

63D:  Way too obscure, I’m sorry, but as a recovering telecom lawyer, this was somewhere in my useless information database (which is quite large and is elbowing aside the stuff it would be helpful to remember).


May 2 Themeless

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Word count: 68

Average length: 5.65

Difficulty: 4/5 

I hope you enjoy this moderately difficult themeless. Please feel free to share it with fellow crossword lovers. If you have any questions/comments/complaints, you can submit a comment below or shoot me an email at

American Military Cemetery, Normandy (see 26 Down)

1A:  My first exposure to this beverage was a couple of years ago at a farmhouse after biking up a steep hill in the Black Forest.  Delicious!!! 

35A:  Perhaps a bit obscure, but it’s in the lyrics of a very catchy Steely Dan tune (Doctor Wu, on the Katy Lied album) that I’ve been listening to regularly since it came out way back in 1975.  The relevant verse:  You walked in/And my life began again/Just when I’d spent the last /I could borrow ….

26D:  If you have the chance to visit the D-Day beaches, grab it.  I’ve traveled a great deal and have never had such a moving, profound experience.


Going to the Mat

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This one’s a medium-difficulty themed puzzle inspired by my wife, who has become a true and adept devotee of the subject activity (not cow-washing, despite the picture below).

At the cow wash, Alapphuza, Kerala, India

39A:  Check out the band if you’re interested – they play a raucous mix of klezmer, punk, gypsy music, and even salsa, and they sing in English, Russian, and Spanish, often in the same song. 

43A:  Sorry for the obscure fill.  I struggled mightily to complete the mid-South, as you can probably tell; with the exception of 6D, that’s where most of the inferior fill is.  I tried to put IRON-ONS here but just couldn’t make it work.  Neither did IMPUGNS, or INTRONS (only slightly less obscure than what’s there), or ….

35D:  Across the vast majority of (polytheistic) human cultures, there’s a trickster god.  Coyote and Raven fill the role in various Native American cultures.  In the Hebrew Bible, Jacob often acts as the trickster, although he’s not divine and Judaism is monotheistic.


Country Smiles

puz | pdf | solution

Here’s a pretty easy puzzle that might elicit some serious groans, not from the effort required but from the “quality” of the puns in the theme answers. For an explanation of some of the cluing decisions and a dose of, ahem, bonus content – theme answers and clues that were in earlier versions of the grid but didn’t make the final cut for various reasons – see the write-up below the photo. [To those of you finding this site from Matt’s invaluable Daily Crossword Links, I’m painfully aware this is not a themeless puzzle; I messed up in naming a file and am now bearing the consequences. Mea culpa etc.]

The Stockholm waterfront (see 30 Across)


* * *

15A:     RETRO GAMER.  This is a thing, apparently; in fact, there’s an entire magazine devoted to people who love playing video games from the dim, dark past.

28A:  A NO.  The quote references one of Randy Jackson’s go-to phrases on American Idol.  Even if you’re not an Idol fan (I’m not – The Voice is way better, IMO), I think the phrase has made it into general circulation.

41A:  SWELTER.   I think “shvitz” is a fair clue: it’s entered the English lexicon in the same way as other Yiddish words like schmear and shmuck.

46A:  SUDAN LEVY.  Schitt’s Creek has become a big part of current-day culture, so I hope the clue doesn’t throw too many people off.  (Originally, I wanted this to be Sudan Rather, but I couldn’t make it work satisfactorily.)

63A:  RINO.  An acronym for Republican In Name Only. 

2D:  QATAR RUG.  This one probably shows my age – my test-solver (son Adam), who is roughly half my age, hadn’t heard of “cut a rug” as an idiom meaning “dance”. 

4D:  ASS.  Yes, the quote is accurate; it’s “a,” not “an”.

I had immense fun brainstorming possible theme answers (I’m easily amused).  Here are some that were in earlier versions of the grid but didn’t make the final cut for reasons of space, symmetry, or recalcitrant crossings.  Clues first, answers below:

  • Step sequence in Seoul?
  • Revolving fad in Apia?
  • Highlight of Showboat in Muscat?
  • Complaint at a Cairo bazaar?
  • How do you see the tallest buildings in Kiev?
  • I found a cool fossil buried near Nairobi – what should I do?

Bonus answers:


Fiji Spinner

Oman River

Egypt Me

Ghana Way

Ukraine Your Neck

Kenya Dig It


On the Road Again

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Here’s a themed puzzle from mid-2020. If you know classic rock reasonably well, it’s not too hard. If not, this one might be just a tad challenging.


Comfort Zone

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This one’s a themed puzzle with tougher-than-normal cluing. Enjoy!


Punny People

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Lots of folks have things named after them. A few (mostly physicists and philosophers) have things named after them (epunyms? (sorry)) that allow for a bit of humor. How much of a bit is for you to decide….

Only one specific note: 56D refers to a TV show from a while back that is a bit obscure but well worth checking out if you’ve never seen it.


Spy Where?

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This one’s a pretty easy themeless, perhaps equivalent to a Tuesday/Wednesday in the NYT puzzleverse.

5D:  While not really obscure, this is the least common answer in the grid, although according to Wikipedia he is considered “one of the best military commanders and strategists of all time.”

49D:  I wasn’t sure how commonly known this bird was, so the tail end of the clue tries to give a humorous hint.