After a sojourn in Scandinavia last week, today’s straightforward themeless makes a few stops in Asia. I’ll use it as an excuse to showcase a couple of photos taken in the Indian state of Kerala, where 21 Across is an official language.
19A: When I decided to clue it this way, I was surprised to find out the percentage is so low.
59A: Pliny’s remedy may still be preferable to those used by two people I knew in college. One guy would get up early, go out and run 11 miles as hard as he could, throw up, and then (so he said), feel fine. The other guy believed in applying ice directly to a very sensitive body part, throwing up and then (so he said) he’d feel fine.
Kudos and, more importantly, thank-you’s to so many in the independent crossword constructor community for raising money to combat the Texas Legislature’s viciously regressive actions. In particular, check out “These Puzzles Fund Abortion” on Rachel Fabi’s and C. Rimkus’s Just Gridding blog, https://justgridding.blogspot.com/p/these-puzzles-fund-abortion.html.
It’s ironic that Republicans routinely accuse Democrats of promoting a Nanny State that destroys individual freedom. After all, it’s Republicans who just deprived women of the fundamental freedom to control their own bodies. It’s Republicans who, across the South, have effectively deprived millions of non-Whites of their fundamental freedom to vote. It’s Republicans who want to deprive our children of the freedom to learn about our great nation’s tragic history and instead feed them pablum that ignores the ongoing legacy of slavery. And it’s Republicans who, despite their rhetoric about protecting unborn children, deprive all of our children and grandchildren of the freedom to live in a world whose climate is not in a death spiral.
I don’t like abortion. No one does. No one wants to need an abortion. But instead of looking for ways to minimize the need for abortions, Republicans in the Texas Legislature and Texas Governor Abbott essentially have outlawed abortion, knowingly – perhaps actionably? — endangering the lives of countless women.
What should be done? As a man, I’m not going to say I know what’s best for women’s health. I do think, though, that if politicians joined the 21st century and required (1) universal, mandatory sex education and (2) universal, free, no-questions-asked access to birth control, the number of abortions would plummet. Yes, some (certainly not most) religious people’s noses might be put out of joint. But we’d all be better off.
I almost forgot: please enjoy the puzzle and please share it if you do. And please feel free to disagree with me, as long as you do so in a reasoned, respectful manner.
The main seed for this puzzle was 58A, which occurred to me while I was out for a stifling morning walk. I think there were several subconscious seeds as well: I’ve been daydreaming about once again traveling – we just had to cancel a trip to Portugal in October – and it turns out a handful of entries are places I’ve been and loved. Not surprisingly, the solving notes below (with bonus photos) are something of a travelogue. I hope you enjoy the puzzle. Please share it if you do.
21A: Here’s another hint – the Book of Kells is in Dublin. As far as I know I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in me, but I’ve never felt so at home while away from home. What a wonderful island, and what wonderful people!
18D: As Nigel Tufnel might have said about the sights and sounds of this city, “they go to 11.” (This Is Spinal Tap). It’s as vibrant and fascinating a place as I’ve ever been.
25D: The Cliffs of Moher were the exterior for the cave scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
How about a juicy, not too difficult themeless with references to con artists, schismatics, the best music documentary I’ve ever seen, and a classic novel of anti-colonialism? You won’t find that just anywhere, you know. Enjoy and share!
Two bits of housekeeping before my usual rambling notes:
First, a big thank you to my son Adam and to Josh Audibert for helping me through an annoying technical issue. Plug time: Adam’s iPhone and iPad app Albums – album focused player is a powerful, flexible, and engaging music player, available on the App Store at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/albums-album-focused-player/id1469948986. Josh publishes fun, creative daily minis on his Odd Bear Puzzles site, oddbearpuzzles.com. Solve them if you’re not already doing so!
Second, in an effort (vain in one sense but hopefully not in another) to drive more traffic to this site, I’ve ordered hats with my site’s logo on it (picture below). If you’d like one —ABSOLUTELY FREE — before they hit the runway in Paris, email me at JeffsPuzzles@gmail.com with your address.
25A: I hope the 33/45 reference isn’t lost on too many solvers. In a world where CDs are as outdated as calculators, the vinyls of my youth (almost all of which I still have, thank you very much, as well as a turntable to play them on) are just so many abaci.
27A: This song charted well in the UK but got little air play in the US, apparently because it references cross-dressing.
38A: The major monotheistic religions mostly share the same admirable ethical precepts. But historically, and still today, many adherents of these religions have ignored their faith’s teachings and clashed violently over what, to the outside observer (e.g., anyone practicing a different religion) is doctrinal hair-splitting with little ethical import. This answer is but one example. Pedantic lecture over (until the next one).
Here’s a challenging themeless built around three grid-spanners: a terrific book from the great Haruki Murakami, a classic line from a very funny baseball movie, and a fervent wish about our nation’s capital. Enjoy and share!
10A: Walter is one of my favorite authors. His characters – labor organizers, reformed criminals, active criminals, movie stars, poets – come alive, and he writes with deep feeling and sharp wit.
45A: I’m not sure how many people remember him – he’s still alive and kicking at 94 – but Sahl is credited as the first modern stand-up comic, and his political satire inspired Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and many others.
60A: I refuse to clue this by reference to my local baseball team so soon after they traded so many stars (especially to the Dodgers!).
4D: Another favorite author of mine, Murakami’s novels brim over with music, magic, and close attention to his characters’ internal lives.
10D: Here’s a link to the clip, which follows the memorable line “He’s a juvenile delinquent in the off-season, in his Major League debut.” The quote is around the 54 second mark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_wc9JvTXGc.
As the mat says, Welcome! This one’s a moderately challenging themeless, so put your thinking caps on and remember, it’s nice to share …
34A: I apologize for failing to find a less gloomy quote for this answer.
3D: This is the heart of Miami’s Cuban community
9D: The furor triggered by the Encyclopedie, which was the first largely secular encyclopedia, makes for an entertaining story. An Enlightenment tour-de-force, the Encyclopedie was banned by the Catholic Church and blamed/credited for the French Revolution. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclop%C3%A9die
The seed for this one, not surprisingly, was 5D, which I first thought of when constructing my two Set List puzzles a month or so ago. Joni Mitchell has remained one of my all-time favorites since the early 70s, and her fourth album is phenomenal, justifiably considered #3 on Rolling Stone’s most recent list of the 500 Greatest Rock Albums of All Time. My views on Taylor Swift have pulled a “uey,” to use some bad crossword fill. I used to dismiss her as just another bland pop star, but now that I’ve given her a chance, I think she’s an exceptionally talented songwriter and performer. Her first acoustic album from 2020, “folklore,” is really nice.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the puzzle. Please share generously!
After last week’s excursion into immoderate inanity, here’s a straightforward themeless. Please share with gusto and flair; please comment if you’re so inclined.
17A: I believe this is a universal phenomenon; I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit we have three of these in our kitchen.
24A: The proud home of Lagavulin, which crafts wonderful whiskies. I love their 16 year old offering (see photo above); that and the Balvenie Double Wood (non-peaty) are my go-to Scotches.
50A: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away” – one of my favorite Neil Young lines, though not as good as “This much madness is too much sorrow,” which could have been the theme song for the administration of he-who-shall-not-be named (45).
8D: Notable example: the turtle from Kentucky
53D: This was a new one on me, but apparently, it’s a disparaging term aimed at the less physically gifted (such as yours truly). I checked its currency with my younger son, who is a baseball player and has heard it before. It’s “in the language,” just not one I speak. By the way, it stands for Non-Athletic Regular Person.
55D: Suboptimal fill, to be sure. I thought that there was a current famous person with this surname (not Matthew of The Americans fame, who spells it Rhys), but other than a bevy of Welsh rugby and football (soccer) players, I was wrong.