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“ ’76, ’87, ’85”: Crossword Commentary

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

Lauren Fromkin / The Daily Princetonian 

We at the Puzzles team believe that Princeton’s two-day spring break was far too small, so we went ahead and took the whole week off last week. We’re back this Tuesday with another new constructor of the puzzle — Ava Milberg gives us an excellent theme for Women’s History Month that’ll have you singing three cheers for Old Nassau. Keep reading for hints on tricky clues, comments on the theme, and thoughts from the constructor.

Tricky Clues


13A: I’m looking forward to when Ivy League sports start back up and I can take my place in stands as a BOOER against the Bulldogs and Crimson.

25A: This clue isn’t talking about the part of a course you’re working on right now — it’s an actual unit of current: AMP.

39A: I’m a big fan of DUA Lipa and her album “Future Nostalgia,” which, as Milberg notes in her clue, won Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammys a few weeks ago. Check out this bass cover of “Don’t Start Now” off that album — one of my favorites.

50A: In emails, someone may write OOO as an abbreviation for Out of Office, meaning that they are on vacation.

63A: I’ve just had to read KANT in the Humanities sequence, and — let me tell you — I wish reading about the categorical imperative was half as fun as solving a crossword clue about it.

3D: The end of many trips, especially ones that start at Point A, is POINT B.


15D: YAMAHA makes organs, pianos, furniture, harmonicas, motorcycles, drums, records, and semiconductors, among other things. I wish I was that versatile.

41D: This is an example of the way crossword clues can play with parts of speech: [Drive through the center of campus?] doesn’t refer to the verb “drive” but the noun “Drive,” as in ELM Drive. This is also an example of a clue trick called a veiled capital — the first word of a crossword clue is always capitalized, which can be used to hide the capital “D” in “Drive.”

49D, 53D: I always love fun juxtapositions with clues, and placing Sen. Lisa Murkowski of ALASKA next to ODELL Beckham Jr. is one of the most entertaining juxtapositions I’ve seen in a while. I wonder if Ms. Murkowski is a Browns fan.

56D: “Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes … five hundred twenty-five thousand crosswords so dear …” This theatre kid at heart loves RENT.

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Today’s Theme

What do SONIA SOTOMAYOR, BROOKE SHIELDS, and MICHELLE OBAMA have in common? They’re all female PRINCETON GRADS. The title of the puzzle makes a reference to each of their graduation years.

I really like Milberg’s theme here. Some themes like this boil down to nothing more than a trivia game. But the variation in the answers along with the Princeton-specific revealer make this theme fun and fresh.

Constructor Notes

This puzzle simply would not have been possible without the help of Puzzles Editors Gabe Robare and Owen Travis. Without their patience and great help in teaching me the ropes as I constructed my first crossword, I am not sure that there would have been a Tuesday puzzle. As an avid solver of The New York Times’ puzzles, I really enjoyed learning about making a puzzle and look forward to creating more in the future with such a great team! I hope you enjoy this puzzle and the last week of Women’s History Month!

Still need more help? See below for the answer key:

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this crossword incorrectly clued RANI as [Indian princess]. The ‘Prince’ regrets this error.