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Themeless

Themeless 39

Gondolas with Isola San Giorgio Maggiore in the background (see clue for 55 Across, “It’s seen in Italy”)

Words:  70

Average Length:  5.46

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.

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Themeless

Themeless 38

Aligned house windows, Machu Picchu (see shameless plug, below)

Words:  74

Average Length:  5.00

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. 

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Themeless

Themeless 37

The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (see 29 Across)

Words:  68

Average Length:  5.50

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.

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Themed

Themeless 36

Inside the Pantheon, Rome (see 15 Across)

Words:  72

Average Length:  5.33

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.

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Themeless

Themeless 35

Words:  66

Average Length:  5.82

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.)

Theater of Dionysus, Athens

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.

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Themeless

Themeless 34

Words:  72

Average Length:  5.28

Difficulty:  You’d better believe it

A welcome sight after a long hike in Brecon Beacon National Park (Wales). See 13 Across.

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.

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Categories
Midi Themeless

Themeless 33

Words:  46 (12×12 grid)

Average Length:  5.30

Difficulty:  Somewhere north of medium

Fabulous indoor market, Barcelona (see 7 Across)

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.

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Categories
Themeless

Themeless 32

Words:  70

Average Length:  5.40

Difficulty:  Not for the faint of heart

See the clue for 1A ….

The seeds for this puzzle were 8D and 28D; my other favorite entry/clue combo is 45D, especially paired with 44A.  I hope you enjoy it; please pass it on.

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Categories
Themeless

Themeless 31

Words:  70     

Average Length:  5.51

Difficulty:  Straightforwardly challenging

Pettah fruit and vegetable market, Colombo, Sri Lanka (see comments on 44D below)

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?!

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Categories
Themeless

Themeless 29

Words:  70

Average Length:  5.37

Difficulty:  Not quite as difficult (by a small margin) as scaling these cliffs would be

Esha Ness, Lerwick, Shetland Islands (see 15 Down). Note the lack of puffins.

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. 

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