I recently heard someone say 1 Across and thought: (1) You rarely hear 1A 1A. (2) 1A could be a decent seed for a themeless, especially because I’d just listened to Buffalo Springfield (seminal ‘60s band) and 1A is the first word of the title of one of their signature songs. The other four words of the title are scattered through the puzzle, as are the names of the song’s composer/lead singer and one of his bandmates. So maybe it’s not really a themeless, but whatever it is, I hope you enjoy solving it!
I enjoy cluing well-known people’s names with obscure facts, as in the clue for 21 Down.
Spaceballs (see 53 Across) is one of my favorite all-time comedies, Mel Brooks at his irreverently silly finest. Prince Valium, Princess Vespa, 53 Across, Lone Starr, Barf, Dark Helmet, and of course, “just plain Yogurt.”
CORRECTION: THE CLUE FOR 68 ACROSS SHOULD READ “THREE MAKE AN O”, NOT A T.
The three seeds for this grid were 20, 36, and 57 Across. I started with 20 Across and then 36 Across immediately popped into mind. I had to find a third entry to complement 20 Across and continue the mini-theme, and a couple of minutes’ thought produced 57 Across.
By the way, if you ever get a chance to visit 36 Across, it’s a charming place to spend a few days. I was there last summer after a week hiking in Wales – you can read about it and see additional photos on my PuffinlessTravel blog here and here.
The seed for this grid was 15 Across, which is a fact I learned, appropriately enough, while playing trivia on a joint US-Canadian team (creatively called “USCAN”) on a recent trip. (Our team won the ship’s progressive trivia tournament!). For the whole story of the connection between 15 Across and Pooh, see this Wikipedia link.
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).
I wasn’t threatened too grievously after posting Venn Mini 1 last week, so here we go again! Think of each half of each clue as a circle in a Venn diagram; the answer will fit in the intersection between the two circles. It could be a common component, a word used in both “circles” but with different meanings, a name associated with both “circles,” or some other common ground.
1A: MOSS is a kind of bryophyte; Kate Moss is a supermodel
5A: COPPER is an essential element of both brass and bronze
7A: O’LEARY was the owner of the cow that started the great Chicago fire, and “Mr. Wonderful” on Shark Tank is Kevin O’Leary
8A: DERIVE is a term used both in calculus and in etymology
9A: SANE – besides meaning “sensible,” Aladdin Sane was one of David Bowie’s alter egos
1D: MOLES are enemy agents who’ve burrowed into a spy organization as well as rodents that burrow in gardens
2D: OPERA – The Marx Brothers are known for A Night at the Opera and Kurt Weill is noted for his music for The Threepenny Opera (esp. “Mack the Knife”)
3D: SPAIN – Toledo is a city in Spain and Columbus’s expeditions were funded by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain
4D: SERVE – people serve in tennis and in the military
5D: COD – Cash on Delivery or a kind of fish
6D: RYE – Salinger wrote The Catcher in the Rye, and rye is a type of whiskey
The seed for this puzzle was 17 Across, which I had just finished listening to for roughly the 40,000th time when I realized it was 15 letters long. I saw Chick Corea in concert two (possibly three) times – once in California in the early 80 (brilliant), once in DC in the early 2000s (fantastic), and possibly in NYC (I remember seeing Flora Purim and he may have been playing with her, but it was in the mid 70s and I just don’t remember, for reasons having everything to do with age and nothing whatsoever to do with any recreational activities.)
When I constructed this puzzle in late November, 29 Across was “it fits and it’s not awful” kind of fill. With David Crosby’s passing, though, it gives me a chance to mention him in a clue and express gratitude for the thousands of hours I spent listening to him in The Byrds, in 29 Across, in 29 Across plus Y, and on his own. He had a pure voice and a gift for heartfelt melodies and lyrics. RIP, D.C. “I sing in silent harmony/We shall be free.” (David Crosby, Guinnevere)