Hello, puzzle people.
Friday we had a guest offering from BEQ Headquarters, constructed by Tom Pepper. In today’s fractured political climate, we have a tour de force of a crossword that reaches across the aisle, across time periods, across the entire alphabet, and (hopefully) across all the things we like about crosswords in general.
So, anyway, the theme.
17A: Issue for 35-Across in the 40-Down – CIVIL RIGHTS.
– What?!? That’s an unusual cross-reference to start, with an interesting answer. I’m intrigued.
40D: See 17-Across – SIXTIES.
– A 60’s civil rights theme? OK, I’m up for that.
11D: Follower of 35-Across and 60-Across – JOHNSON.
– Now we’re getting somewhere.
60A: See 11-Down – US PRESIDENT.
– Well, this should make 35-Across pretty clear now…
35A: A face of change in America?
– Based on the previous answers, this should be a lock as KENNEDY. Let’s check the crossings.
35D: Vegas attraction – KENO.
24D: Over, overseas – FINE. Not my first guess at all, but OK. From the Italian.
29D: Word before ear or horn – TIN.
30D: Puts money in the account, say – BANKS.
36D: Keats contraction – EER.
37D: Solutions usually handled with rubber gloves – DYES. Hmm, also not my first guess here.
26D: It recognizes excellence in athletics – ESPY. Fair enough.
So, the crossings all work. Wait, those didn’t match all of the answers you found? Hmmm. Let’s skip through the rest of the puzzle to the last clue.
62D: Number of solutions to the answer at 35-Across – TWO. A-ha! Knew there was something going on here….
Let’s see those alternate answers, Vanna!
35D: KENO / LENO. Jay Leno is now performing a regular show in Las Vegas. I didn’t know either.
24D: FINE / FINI. I knew something was going on here!
29D: TIN. No alternate answer. Hopefully this wasn’t the first Down answer you found here.
30D: BANKS / BACKS. As in, “financially backs a project”.
36D: EER / OER. Darn those ambiguous poetic contractions!
37D: DYES / LYES. See my response to FINI.
26D: ESPY / ESPN. Darn those nonspecific clues!
So, two correct answers. LINCOLN and KENNEDY (with an N in common). One Republican, one Democrat. Both esteemed for revolutionizing CIVIL RIGHTS in the SIXTIES, in different centuries. Each followed by a President Johnson, Andrew and Lyndon respectively.
Both avid crossword fans. I may have made that last part up just a little bit.
Now while this is not the first puzzle to feature alternate answers sharing the grid, and also not the first of these with a political theme (thank you, Clinton and Bob Dole), the concurrence of the presidential names, successors, and issues connected in this way made for a fascinating solve. The other fill is lively with QUIBBLE, BOX TOPS, GEEZERS, and a cameo appearance by Ralph Waldo EMERSON.
I give this puzzle 50 stars.
Now, back to our regular blogging crew. Thanks, and enjoy the weekend!