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Themeless

Themeless 21

Words:  68

Average Length:  5.53

Difficulty:  5 out of 5

Pettah fruit and vegetable market, Colombo, Sri Lanka (see 14D)

This one’s pretty tough, particularly the 1A/6&7D combination.  If you’ve never had 1A, you owe it to yourself to try some, preferably washed down with a Medalla.  I first ran across 7D while learning to play Rhapsody in Blue way back in high school.   There’s a nasty 7D that I never quite got.

puz | pdf | solution

If you finish the puzzle, reward yourself with a 1 Down, 16 Down, or 45 Across.  If you don’t finish it, console yourself with the same. 

Please share this puzzle throughout the metaverse, link to this site, and otherwise give me some free publicity.  Next up (11/21) will be a medium-difficulty, Thanksgiving-themed puzzle.  Thanks, and enjoy!

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Themeless

Themeless 20

Words:  70

Average Length:  5.57

Difficulty:  5

The Beatles made out of pumpkins and gourds, Hartheim, Germany. No reason.

After last week’s frivolity, here is a straightforward themeless with nary a neologism.  The seed was 3 Down, which I’d never heard of before an unfortunate collision between my foot and the corner of a night table.  Please enjoy and share.  Next up (10/31) will be a suitably sweet puzzle for All Hallow’s Eve.

puz | pdf | solution

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Themeless

Themeless 19

Word Count:  70

Average Length:  5.40

Difficulty:  4 out of 5

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. 

Impressionist take on a woman washing clothes, Alapphuza
Street scene, Cochin

puz | pdf | solution

Just one other comment:  Our first dog was a [24 Down]-an Terrier named Harry, who was adorable, athletic, stubborn, soulful, and frustratingly aloof.  RIP Harry.  Here’s a picture. 

Harry

Til next week, enjoy, share, and be well.  Coming up next will be a themed puzzle where artists of the canvas and the recording studio collide.

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Themeless

Themeless 18

Ready for a decently difficult themeless?  Head to the Tabard inn (see 19A), hoist a pint, solve, enjoy, share. 

Entrance to a certain Cathedral of relevance to 19 Across

Words:  68

Average Length:  5.71

Difficulty:  5 out of 5

puz | pdf | solution

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.

63A:  Here’s a link to the clip:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n9BSLKmyTo

34D:  Such a funny scene; here’s the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JukoIJA8MTc.

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Themeless

Themeless 17 (a/k/a Texas Two-Stepped In It Big Time)

Words:  68

Average Length:  5.71

Difficulty:  3.5 out of 5

See 10 Down

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.

puz | pdf | solution

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. 

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Themeless

Themeless 16

The Gateway to India Arch (see 18 Down)

puz | pdf | solution

Words:  72

Average Length:  5.25

Difficulty:  4 out of 5

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.

The Little Cathedral, Glendalough, Ireland

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.

The Cliffs of Moher, which should look familiar to Harry Potter fans

25D:  The Cliffs of Moher were the exterior for the cave scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Themeless

Themeless 15

puz | pdf | solution

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!

View from the back of the Summer Palace (St. Petersburg) (see 16 and 19 Across)

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).

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Themeless

August 1 Themeless

puz | pdf | solution

Word Count:  70

Average Length:  5.57

Difficulty:  5 out of 5

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!

Cologne (Koln) Cathedral at dusk (see 56 Across)

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

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Themeless

July 21 Themeless

puz | pdf | solution

Word Count:  72

Average Length:  5.36

Difficulty:  4 out of 5

Our new mat!

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

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Themeless

July 8 Themeless

puz | pdf | solution

The highest-ranking angel, our dog Mia (see the clue for 1 Across)

Word Count:  70

Average Length:  5.40

Difficulty:  5 out of 5

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!