Play this week’s crossword here.
Happy last day of midterms, everyone! Contributing constructor Cole Vandenberg makes his ‘Prince’ crosswords debut with a theme unlike any we’ve ever published before. If you’re a fan of Thursday-level puzzles in The New York Times, you’ll be familiar with the sort of trickery going on today.
Read on below for help with tricky clues, thoughts from Vandenberg, and the answer key.
6A and 61D: The repeated clue is an oft-overused crossword gimmick, in my opinion. Here, however, it works quite well; [Spot for a massage] is a great way to get at both SCALP and SPA.
16A: Crossword regulars will know this one in a heartbeat. The answer is Brian ENO, a man far more relevant in crossword puzzles than in real life. I apologize to any hardcore Brian Eno fans: if you exist, angry emails can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
20A: Ah yes, Carnegie Mellon University. What’s that? It’s spelled MELLON?
47A and 32D: It was Admiral ACKBAR who said “It’s a trap!” and you might find an EWOK on the forest moon of Endor. As an editor, I do my best to let constructors include words like these that might relate to their interests. This, of course, is because “my allegiance is to the Republic — to democracy!”
2D and 9D: LAY and LIE are the two commonly mixed-up words. Personally, I still haven’t figured out when each one is correct.
5D: Some suggestive clueing with [Make love?], but the answer is just ENDEAR.
8D: This clue might seem confusing: “Make ice nice? What does that even mean?” The answer is related to the spellings of the words, not their definitions. To turn “ice” into “nice,” one must ADD N.
13D: Here, “address” refers not to a street address nor to an oral address. Instead, it’s an internet address that might end in DOT NET.
26D: Uncle IROH is such a great entry, given how popular the Nickelodeon series has become. Surprisingly, the famed Dragon of the West has yet to appear in The New York Times crossword.
44D: Everyone knows that New Year’s Day is Jan. 1, but it might be unclear how to turn that into a six-letter answer. The solution is to think of the numerical date, ONE/ONE.
Something unusual is going on with today’s theme answers. 18-Across seems like it should be cause AND EFFECT, but the word “cause” is missing! Similarly, at 35-Across, the answer seems to end abruptly after REBEL WITHOUT A. It turns out that “cause” is missing from all four theme answers!
At the bottom of the puzzle, Vandenberg reveals the game: these entries all have a LOST CAUSE. It’s a clever bit of wordplay and a perfect way to describe what’s going on. The title of the puzzle, “No Reason,” gets at the same thing. I appreciate that Vandenberg chose two phrases where “cause” belongs at the beginning and two where it belongs at the end — it maintains balance. I also enjoyed the bonuses in ZOOM BOMBS and BUCKLED UP, plus all the great mid-length fill. Congrats to Vandenberg on a great debut!
I have to thank Head Puzzles Editors Gabe Robare and Owen Travis for a) making the crossword section possible and b) helping newbies like myself learn to create and contribute. I am very excited to be making my debut in The Daily Princetonian!
I learned this week that constructing a crossword is a puzzle in itself. I liked the challenge of finding punny clues to words like ENDEAR, and I was happy to go a little meta with FILL IN. Wordplay is always great, so I had to try a themed puzzle. It was not a very hopeful theme, I'm afraid, but I had fun putting it together, and I hope you all have fun solving it. May it bring you entertainment on what should be a particularly happy Friday.
Enjoy the post-midterms release!
Need more help? See below for the answer key.