In other personal news, I hit a milestone earlier this week: July 26th was exactly 10 years ago that I… my first puzzle acceptance. It was for a collection of puzzles called Twenty Under Thirty, published by American Values Club Crossword editor and friend of the show Ben Tausig. I still can’t believe it’s been so long since that first ‘yes’, but after receiving nothing but rejections for the previous three and a half years, I remember it being one of the greatest thrills of my young puzzle life. used to be.
It’s a zoo there! Or in there, to be exact. In this puzzle, seven famous people have “adopted” different animals by inserting them into their names, creating crazy phrases. Each theme answer has two clues, telling you first about animal adoption and then what the resulting strange sentence is.
- 23A: [Washington Post journalist adopting a serpent / Singer Dylan courts a hospital section full of nude people?]. BOB WOODWARD adopts a HOSE to make BOB WOOs NAKEDD WARD.
- 33A: [“The Tyger” poet adopting a farm bird / Declaration about being actress Lively while sick?]. WILLIAM BLAKE adopts a CHICKEN to make WhuhNL I’M BLAKE.
- 49A: [“Hello, Dolly!” actress adopting a large deer / Ruler of the Christmas song TV network?]. CAROL CHANNING takes a EACH to make CAROL CHANNELKING.
- 66A: [Blues legend adopting a big cat / Seas full of mischievous aliens?]. ETHEL WATERS adopts a LION to make ET HELLlION WATERS.
- 84A: [Former SNL actor adopting an amphibian / Headline about how politico Buttigieg plans on adopting an enthusiastic boy?]. PETE DAVIDSON adopts a TOAD to make PETE TO ADD AVID SON.
- 99A: [“A Beautiful World” painter adopting a large bird / Those who inspire a family matriarch named after one of the Stooges?]. GRANDMA MOSES approves an EMU to GRANDMA MOE MUSES.
- 115A: [“The Fugitive” co-star adopting a rodent / Command to designer Hilfiger to ogle cinematic archaeologist Indiana?]. TOMMY LEE JONES adopts a RAT to make TOMMY LEER BEE JONES.
I didn’t want to use a completely random set of animals, so there’s a note above the puzzle that reads: “The first letters of the adopted animals of this puzzle make up an appropriate seven-letter word.” The first letters of the animals (sNAKED, huhNL, ELK, lION, TOAD, EMU, RAT) games HIDEOUTwhere the celebrities probably adopted their new pets.
Adding letters or words to well-known sentences is a tried and true crossword, but I always forget how hard it is to find workable answers when adding the word forces you to re-parse the entire sentence into something completely different. For example, a pun like JACKRABBIT NICHOLSON is a pretty easy addition of RABBIT to JACK NICHOLSON, but it doesn’t change the meaning of the original sentence that much. The animals in this puzzle turn celebrity names into extremely bizarre phrases that you’ll probably never write out loud or say in conversation. But then, if my cat is an indication, animals are strange creatures that make our lives more joyful just by being around them.
Some other answers and pointers:
- 30A: [Home of the hawks] is NEST. A group of birds not adopted by a celebrity today.
- 39A: [Boars, bulls, etc.] is MEN. A few more stray animals.
- 46A: [Dalmatians at stations, perhaps] is FIRE DOGS. Wait, it really is a zoo here. So many animals that didn’t make up crazy sentences, but still ended up in the puzzle.
- 56A: [Big farm creatures] is BOVINE and next to it at 57A: [Small farm creature] is ANT. More creatures in the grid, big and small.
- 60A: [Steel appendage for Doctor Octopus] is TENTACLE. Okay, to be honest, this was an extra animal that I couldn’t even remember having included until now. I only thought of Doctor Octopus because I was a fan of Spider-Man when I was younger, not because I was trying to get another animal into the clues.
- 125A: [Grooms like a peacock] is PREENS. I think what this puzzle shows me is that I’m writing more animal-related clues than I realize.
- 4D: [Toyed with, like a kitten would] is PAWED. Well, I just mentioned my cat above, so why not throw a cat into the mix?
- 12D: [Eel in a sushi roll] is UNAGIA. This fish is placed safely out of the way of the octopus.
- 107D: [Hammerhead’s habitat] is OCEAN. This shark is lurking near the bottom, but may be hunting the eel or octopus.