This one started with the clue/answer pair at 18 Across. 23 Down went in shortly thereafter, and it’s one of my favorite clue/answer pairs in any of my puzzles, if you’ll excuse the self-pat on the back.
51 Down’s clue (“Altamira or Lascaux, e.g.”) references something on my bucket list that I’ll never be able to fulfill. I’m fascinated by anthropology and archeology, and the ancient art in these locations could illustrate the dictionary definition of “evocative.” Alas, they’re closed to the public, so I’ll have to content myself with listening to the second track on The Royal Scam (link here), where Steely Dan captures a bit of the magic.
Shameless plug time: if you’re at all interested in travel, check out my PuffinlessTravel blog. I’ve added several write-ups and dozens of photos from my just-completed trip to Machu Picchu, Cusco, Quito, and the Galapagos.
This grid began with the entries at 20, 37, and 50 Across, which sort of go together despite the “themeless” label.
The seed for this was 33/36 Across, which (complete with the clue), randomly popped up while I was doing something important like shaving or playing electronic Yahtzee. Then I slapped down 1 Across and decided I had to work in 14 Across as a complement. (We’re big into pickles in our family. And deli mustard.) Enjoy, and “have some eat,” as my grandma used to say.
Yet another music recommendation for y’all (actually a double): The clue for 28 Down mentions Drive-By Truckers, an excellent band and one-time home of the phenomenally talented Jason Isbell. His album “Southeastern” is way up on my most-played list; it’s filled with emotionally raw, evocative, brave, rocking, instantly memorable songs. You’re welcome, again.
Difficulty: Whose words these are I think you know/My themeless puzzles challenge though/There is no need for you to fear/You always can to Google go! (With apologies to Robert Frost.)
I’ve been on a poetry-reading kick for several months; inevitably, that newfound interest is seeping into my grids, which accounts for the grid-spanners at 18 and 51 Across. Both are lines from well-known poems that are powerful and devastating, in very different ways.
I encountered 12 Across in a very good book my son and I read as part of our 2-person book group: “The Future Starts Here: Adventures in the Twenty-First Century,” by John Higgs. Higgs is a thought-provoking, entertaining British writer who seems to know brilliant, creative, cool people in all areas of human endeavor. (The book we’re currently reading, which I also strongly recommend, is a remarkable family history by Ingrid Rojas Contreras entitled “The Man Who Could Move Clouds.”)
There are certainly simpler ways to clue 16 Across, but I wanted to use a lyric from all-time favorite Joni Mitchell, who recently made an inspirational return to the Newport Folk Festival. No apologies for the groaner of a clue for 26 Across; I figured I’d work the poetry angle into a pun to draw attention away from the fact that the answer is arrant crosswordese. Finally, as noted in the clues, after I finished the grid I somehow ended up with five entries clues relating to Greek mythology. I’ll sign off by saying, in the name of Apollo (god of the sun, music, and poetry), please enjoy the puzzle and come back Wednesday for Mostly Musical Mini 18.
This one started with the 14D/24A pair because, word nerd that I am, I like how two such similar-looking words can mean basically the exact opposite thing. Another seed was 51A, which I hadn’t heard of before reading Brad Leithauser’s fantastic book subtitled “The Architecture of Poetry.” (I can’t give you the title because it contains one of the words in the answer.) Other than that, I ramped up the cluing difficulty on this one, so beware! If you like the puzzle, please share it. Come back Wednesday for another Mostly Musical Mini.
I had lots of fun constructing this one; I hope you have as much solving it. The seeds were 1 and 7 Across, which I’d been saving while looking for a happy home. 24 Down and 30 Down had been chilling in my word/clue list for a while as well. 1 Down is a terrific song from my youth (e.g., a moldy oldie). You can listen to it here.
I’m back from my foray into preaching/political strategizing and hoping to entertain you with a middle-of-the-road themeless. (Pick a lane, dammit!)
44D: Just before the pandemic hit, I was in Sri Lanka taking an architectural tour of Colombo. As we walked up one street between a phenomenal indoor market and some beautifully restored buildings, the guide mentioned that Duran Duran had filmed the video for “Hungry Like the Wolf” on that very street. Who’d’ve thought?!
Difficulty: Not quite as difficult (by a small margin) as scaling these cliffs would be
16 Across was the “seed,” appropriately enough, though it’s a concept that baffles me, as a lifelong suburbanite. 28 Across: I had the opportunity to fly Emirates Business Class from DC to Dubai a few years ago and then fly it back from Singapore. It was probably the most luxurious travel experience I’ve ever had. 15 Down: In 2010 my brother and I visited the Shetland Islands, rented a car, and drove off to see (among other things) the puffins, which are all over the place – except, that is, for all the places we looked for them. Shortly after that trip I started a blog (long dormant) called Puffinless Travel. I’ve been to every continent except Australia since 2010 and still haven’t seen any puffins.