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Commentary: “1000 Dollar Puzzle”

Hints and commentary on tricky clues and the puzzle's theme and comments from the constructor

<h6>Ashley Chung / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Ashley Chung / The Daily Princetonian

Play this week’s crossword here.

Owen Travis ’24 returns as our constructor with a clever theme and a tougher fill to begin the semester proper. And there’s a crowd in this puzzle — from speed skaters to ORATORs to actors to fur traders, this puzzle is a party I’d want to go to (after quarantine, of course).

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Read on below for help with clues and the theme, thoughts from Travis, and the answer key.

Tricky Clues

4A: John Jacob ASTOR, the first American multi-millionaire businessman, smuggled opium into China and invested in New York real estate. His net worth was around $20 million, which would be more than $600 million today.

41A: Of all the POTIONs in the Harry Potter franchise, Travis chose the most nefarious for the uninitiated. Polyjuice Potion allows you to change your appearance and camouflage yourself as another person.

42A: John Keats wrote many odes, so a Keatsian work is ODIC. The mind goes immediately to the end of Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn”: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

43A: The first time I solved this puzzle, I thought Travis had made a typo. I had forgotten about APOLO Ohno, American speed-skating star of the 2002, 2006, and 2010 Olympics.

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51A: This answer — POETRY SLAM — warrants a shout-out to Songline Slam Poetry, Princeton’s very own slam poetry crew.

62A: With the snowstorm this past weekend on campus, we all probably wished we packed an extra PARKA.

6D: For funny and timely content about all manner of things around campus, check out The Daily Princetonian’s Tik TOK.

32D: What a fun clue and answer from Travis — or we could call it a hunky-dory clue and a PEACHY KEEN answer.

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37D: I think of Emily Dickinson’s poem 314: “HOPE is the thing with feathers / that perches in the soul / and sings the tune without the words / and never stops at all.”

44D: I’m not exactly hip with everything the kids are up to these days (are they still playing Fortnite?) but I hear that T-POSING is the new planking.

Today’s Theme

If you find yourself on some bleachers in the second largest city in Michigan, quietly reciting dramatic lines, you’re on the right track to working out this theme.

56-Across is the revealer in this puzzle: all four theme answers have a GRAND FINALE. If you put “grand” before the last word of 18-Across, 23-Across, 36-Across, and 52-Across, you’ll create another common phrase. For example, 18-Across is TAKES A STAND — so this GRAND FINALE is GRANDSTAND. Another: 36-Across, SHOOTS THE RAPIDS, makes GRAND RAPIDS, the city in western Michigan. The rest are left to the solver.

Constructor Notes

I think some people tend to look down on this theme type: a group of phrases that all end in a certain way and a revealer that provides justification. Perhaps this is because similar themes are not too hard to imagine — even just scanning over this puzzle, my mind latched onto the phrase “closing number” in one of the clues. This might suggest FANTASTIC FOUR, OCEAN’S ELEVEN, and other phrases that have a number at the end (a “closing number”).

As a separate note, [“Is the Pope Catholic?”] has to be my favorite clue in this puzzle. While YES is obviously the correct response, the clue and answer should be thought of as synonyms — the phrase is a snarky way to respond “yes” to somebody:

“Are your classes hard?”

*rolls one’s eyes*

“Is the Pope Catholic?”

Need more help? See below for the answer key.

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