Mini Themeless

A Mini for Your Thoughts

Words:  12

Average Length:  5.50

I plugged 2 Down and 7 Across in to start and then tried with “incomplete success,” in President Carter’s words, to make each intersecting across/down pair as close as possible.  Come back Sunday for – drum roll, please – Themeless 50.

online | puz | pdf | solution


A Foolproof April

Flyover at Nats Park, Mar. 30, 2023 (see 58 Across)

Words:  76

Average Length:  5.00

Here’s a gently springy puzzle for early April, as well as a poem that I wrote after walking around the neighborhood.

online | puz | pdf | solution

Spring in My Feet

Einstein-haired forsythias wave

To daffodils who bow and brave

The bagpipe drone and wheeze of blowers

Lofting leaves among the flowers

Callow cherries blush with pride,

Their elders slumber on and bide

The time til arthritic limbs

Break out in pinkly glorious hymns

Zoysia steals more Zs before

It grudgingly comes green once more,

For now the onion grass stands guard

While squirrels scrabble ‘cross the yard

Weekday children walk to school

In shorts though temps be cold not cool,

Weekend farmers make their beds

With shredded hardwood, blacks and reds.

I’m glad my verse you did indulge;

My friends I thank you very mulch.

Mini Venn Mini

Venn Mini 8

Words: 11

Average Length: 4.55

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This is the last Venn Mini for a bit – they’re a bit of a pain to construct, to be honest.  Same rules as always:  each half of the clue is like a circle in a Venn Diagram; the answer falls in the intersection of the clues and is something they have in common – it could be a name, a place, the same word used in different context, or some other commonality.  Explanations follow the photo.

This has nothing to do with the puzzle, but I saw this little one while walking my dog yesterday and it posed very nicely

1A – You BASTE a turkey and a seam

6A – Shaq and the Great One both played CENTER, though in different sports.  (Seeing Shaq ice skate might be interesting!)

7A – HAVANA was a hit for Camilla Cabello, and the USS Maine sank in Havana harbor, igniting the Spanish-American War

8A – EDITS as a verb includes cuts; director’s cuts may be considered EDITS used as a noun.  I apologize for this one, which is the real weak link in the grid.

9A – Spike LEE; a shelter is on the LEE side

1D – BEAD is associated with drops of sweat and Mardi Gras

2D – One of the bones in your ear is the ANVIL, which is also used in a forge

3D – STATE of matter (liquid) and of the union

4D – Future is a TENSE, a cliffhanger is tense

5D – ERA – as an acronym for the Equal Rights Amendment, which was supported by NOW (the National Organization for Women), and for Earned Run Average, a key pitching stat

6D – CHE is the narrator of Evita, and Michael Che is known from SNL


Rock and Rolls

Sculpture, The Beatles Returning from America, taken in Liverpool June 2019 (see 38 and 65 Across)

Words:  74

Average Length:  5.05

Well here’s a surprise:  a puzzle combining music and food.  Whatever conclusions you might draw from my proclivity for this combination likely are correct.  (For another example, see Meals in Motown.)

online | puz | pdf | online

Mini Venn Mini

Venn Mini 6

Words: 10

Average Length: 4.80

See 6A (taken in Venice, July 2014)

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Spoilers/solving notes below:








1A:  A shepherd uses a STAFF and an employer hires a STAFF

6A:  An ear has a CANAL, and Erie is one

7A:  Lewis Carroll wrote about ALICE in Wonderland, and Jefferson Airplane’s song White Rabbit is based on Carroll’s book

8A:  Bags are TOTES and in “I Love You Man,” Paul Rudd’s character says “TOTES McGotes”

9A:  Mathematician John NASH was the subject of “A Beautiful Mind,” and Graham NASH was a founding member of The Hollies

1D:  Ella Fitzgerald was known for SCAT singing, and animal poop is called SCAT

2D:  An eagle has TALONs, and TALON is a major brand of zipper

3D:  ANITA Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, and ANITA is Maria’s friend in West Side Story

4D:  Clocks have FACES and Rod Stewart was in a band called FACES

5D:  In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock famously speaks of “the pound of FLESH, which I demand of [Antonio]”, and Matthew 26 contains the line “the spirit is willing but the FLESH is weak”


Din-din’s Ready

Speaking of noise … the roaring Godafoss waterfall, Iceland (July 2010)

Words:  70

Average Length:  5.11

Here’s a grid filled with sound and fury signifying nothing; you’ll have to decide if it’s a tale told by an idiot. 

online | puz | pdf | solution

Mini Venn Mini

Venn Mini 5

Words:  10

Average Length:  4.60

See clue for 3 Down (this is a raven (I believe), photographed near Stonehenge. Flocks of them were swooping around the stones, creating quite an eerie atmosphere.

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1A:  STEAM comes from a kettle and a steamroller is a piece of construction equipment

6A:  a HEDGE is a kind of bush and one can hedge a bet

7A:  Mike Trout is an ANGEL, as is an investor in a start-up

8A:  ROAST can mean good-natured kidding, and one roasts a turkey

9A:  ERR works as a prefix for both -and and -or

1D:  Kids learn to SHARE in kindergarten, and stocks are sold in shares

2D:  Coltrane played TENOR sax and Pavarotti was a tenor

3D:  EDGAR Allen Poe wrote “The Raven” and EDGAR Degas painted “The Dancing Class”

4D:  AGES follows both “Stone” and “Middle”

5D:  Ice will MELT, and a tuna melt is a (delicious!) sandwich

Mini Venn Mini

Venn Mini 4

Words:  10

Average Length:  4.60

This one may (or may not) play a bit tougher than previous VMs – I can never tell.  Spolers/explanation below the break.

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Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales (see 4 Across)

1A.  AMP – amplifier, ampere

4A.  CORDS – newborns have umbilical cords and cords (corduroy pants) have wales (ridges)

7A.  IDIOT – Village idiot; Dostoevsky wrote The Idiot

8A.  DEMME – Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins appeared together in Silence of the Lambs, Jonathan Demme’s most famous movie.

9A.  SLEEP – REM is a sleep stage; the famous Hamlet soliloquy contains the line “to sleep, perchance to dream”.  (The clue would work equally well for DREAM.)  I wanted to further the REM misdirection by having the second half of the clue be “Sidewinder”; the band had a medium-sized hit song called “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite,” but it’s 30 years old and I wasn’t sure how well-known it is.

1D.  ACIDS are used in etching, and “on acid” is slang for tripping on LSD

2D.  MODEL – a model poses on a runway, and an A380 is an airplane model from Airbus. Major misdirect on this one!

3D.  PRIME – beef and numbers both may be prime

5D.  DOME – Buckminster Fuller is known for designing a geodesic dome, and the Pantheon in Rome is one of the most famous domed buildings in the world

6D.  STEP – it’s a synonym for stair and, in music, a step is a whole tone (e.g., from C to D).


Mardi Grid

Words: 73

Average Length: 5.04

See 15 Across

Here’s a mouth-watering yet calorie-free puzzle honoring New Orleans cuisine, with a side of some delicious puns.  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

online | puz | pdf | solution

Mini Themeless Venn Mini

Venn Mini 3

Words:  10

Average Length:  4.40

online | puz | pdf | solution

Explanation/spoilers below the break

Bike (see 6 Across) on a rainy day in Amsterdam, Oct. 2019








1A:  SPARE is a score in bowling and an emergency tire

6A:  PEDALs are used to ride a bicycle and to stop a car

7A:  ATOMS have nuclei, and Thom Yorke/Flea’s band was Atoms for Peace

8A:  DEBS is short for debutantes and also the surname of Eugene V. Debs, a 5-time Socialist candidate for US President

9A:  ERE is contained in both Where and There

1D:  SPADE is a suit in a deck of cards and also a garden tool

2D:  PETER Cottontail was Flopsy and Mopsy’s brother; a famous Tsar was Peter the Great

3D:  ADOBE is a type of clay brick as well as the developer of Acrobat software

4D:  RAMS are pick-up trucks from Dodge and an NFL franchise in Los Angeles

5D:  ELS (elevated train) are operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), and Ernie Els is a noted member of the PGA Tour