I saw 16 Down on SNL last month and was blown away by her talent. Of course, I’ve heard her on the radio many times, but seeing her live underscored how amazing she is. Then it occurred to me that a seemingly inordinate number of musicians/compositions have “Zs” in their names, ranging from pop to rock to opera to jazz to conductors, and that there ought to be a grid acknowledging that observation. Et voila!
Tag: Medium Difficulty
What “Pro-Life” Should Mean …
Average Length: 5.16
Difficulty: I tried to make this easier than usual. That effort may have met with “incomplete success,” as President Carter once said.
A crossword puzzle is an ineffective means of getting a message across, but I’m a Democrat, so I come by that naturally. Here’s the point:
- The Democrats need to coopt and repurpose “pro-life” to make clear that YOU CAN’T BE “PRO-LIFE” WHILE SABOTAGING THE HEALTH AND WELFARE OF THE LIVING
For years, Republicans have used the “pro-life” label to oppose abortion, with mounting success at the state and federal levels. Yet the Republicans’ conception of life is that it begins at fertilization and apparently ends at birth. As rabidly as the Rs yell that abortion is murder, they reflexively oppose laws that would curb gun violence, promote breathable air and drinkable water, guarantee affordable health care, housing, and education, ensure security from hunger, etc., etc., etc.
The Democrats must pound this message home: You can’t be “pro-life” while sabotaging the health and welfare of the living. Put that on billboards, TV ads, t-shirts, whatever … just get the point across!
Solve online | puz | pdf | solution
Mostly Musical Mini 6
Average Length: 5.5
Difficulty: A gentle May breeze with one or two gusts
The seed for this one was 13 Across – to me, one of the greatest songs ever written. It’s a Leonard Cohen classic, and it was covered (gorgeously of course) by Judy Collins. You can listen to his version here, and hers here.
Check back on Sunday for a special Mothers’ Day Puzzle.
Average Length: 5.57
Difficulty: Even though I’m posting this on 5/1, there’s no need to shout “Mayday”
1 Across was the seed, and it’s an interesting story: Prince Esterhazy, Haydn’s patron, brought the composer and his orchestra to his summer palace and stayed longer than the musicians expected. Being separated from their families back in Eisenstadt, where the Prince’s main palace was located, the musicians asked Haydn to seek the Prince’s permission to return. Rather than confront the Prince directly, Haydn composed this symphony; at the end, after all the other musicians had snuffed out their candles and left the stage, only Haydn and the concertmaster remained. The Prince got the message; the next day the court returned to Eisenstadt. The Wikipedia article is here.
Don’t Wine, They’re Only Puns
Words: 96 (17×17, a generous pour)
Average Length: 5.06
Difficulty: Quite drinkable, though it may leave a punny aftertaste
If, as Robert Louis Stevenson said, “wine is bottled poetry,” get ready for a big ol’ bucketful of doggerel. Enjoy it in moderation or even to excess – just enjoy it!
Musical Midi: Naima That Tune
Words: 34 (8×14)
Average Length: 4.94
Difficulty: If you know a bit about jazz, it’s like soloing on All Blues. If not, it’s like soloing on the tune spelled out by the circled letters.
I played in a jazz trio for years, and even though I mostly listen to rock these days, I still put on a jazz classic every so often. Last week I listened to the album that’s the subject of this puzzle for the first time in ages. I’d forgotten how amazing and revolutionary it is.
I’d also forgotten how difficult the title track on the album is to play, let alone blow a coherent solo over. I managed that feat once in my life: one year in college, the great Mary Lou Williams was an artist-in-residence. After our jazz band rehearsals, she’d hang around and play piano while some of us would take a crack at improving our improvisation. (I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t realize at the time what a precious and rare opportunity this was.)
One night, she had us play and solo over the song in question. I don’t remember how she did it, but she managed to get me out of my head (where I was frantically trying to anticipate the chord changes) and into the flow of the music. It hasn’t happened again.
Mostly Musical Mini 4
Average Length: 5
Difficulty: Moderato ma non troppo
1 Down is way up on my favorite bands list and Robbie Robertson is a great songwriter, but after 50 years I still can’t tell you what The Weight means. 2 Down is the first Police song I ever heard and I still enjoy it, notwithstanding the lame couplet noted in the clue. In 6 Down, I added the reference to Fantasia because I have clear memories of seeing the movie, being a little scared by the Sorcerer’s Apprentice section, but loving the sound of the instrument in the answer.
Middle Age(s) Humor
Average Length: 4.89
Difficulty: Easier than being a serf, for sure
My puzzle blog just turned one year old! Over the past 12 months I’ve posted 71 puzzles: 28 themeless, 34 themed, 3 “set list” puzzles, 3 “mostly musical minis,” 2 “goofy themeless,” and 1 Amy Schneider tribute midi. People from 40 countries have downloaded puzzles. Most importantly, I’ve had a blast constructing, and I hope you’ve enjoyed solving.
Today’s puzzle, miraculously, has no terrible musical puns. Instead, it has terrible historical puns. I’m that flexible!
Pieces of April
Average Length: 4.84
Difficulty: Way easier than doing your taxes
Here’s a gentle April-themed puzzle. It’s named after a gorgeous song written by Dave Loggins and performed by Three Dog Night, which you can listen to here.
11 Across: I’ve been to the Blarney Stone and, in pre-COVID days, kissed it. It was an unpleasant experience, what with the rain and the need to lie on your back on hard, wet stone, scoot backwards so you’re dangling many feet above the ground (they’ve since installed guard rails) and then crunch up to reach the B.S.
39 Down: I was thrilled to be able to fit her into the grid – this is perhaps my all-time favorite GEICO commercial, out of so many great ones.
Musicians’ Side Hustles
Words: 74 (17×13)
Average Length: 4.95
Difficulty: Somewhere between yacht rock and pop punk
Surely, you thought (hoped), Jeff has run out of musical puns. Um, no. This one bears some thematic resemblance to Rock of Aging (available here), but is less focused on decrepitude and more on just plain brand extension. Enjoy, share, and come back next Sunday!