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 Saturday Themeless by Freddie Cheng


Today Freddie Cheng joins our Saturday themeless parade and, as you will see in his comments, it may be a while  until we see another one. This was a real workout for me following my usual Saturday pattern of establishing a base camp and working from there. Nicely done, Freddie!

Hi Gary!

I’m originally from the UK, with a background in electrical engineering with a PhD in telecoms. Have been working in finance in NYC, where I have lived for the last few decades. 

This is only my second published themeless, and my first attempt at a 66-worder. I guess I still have a lot to learn, since I must admit I found the whole construction process to be a real slog!

It's been about two years since I first started this puzzle, so with fresh eyes, I can see that 16A is going to be tough going for most people. Probably a necessary evil at the time though, to enable those nice verticals in that NE corner. I believe the puzzle was seeded with the 7D grid-spanner, as I remember playing around with SCREENED IN PATIO also, to try to get to a flashy enough SE corner.

I see that about half the clues were changed/improved. Luckily my personal favorite [for 35D] made it through intact.

Although I do have another 66-worder slated for publication in a NY Times Saturday, it’ll will probably be a very long time before I’ll attempt another one of these!




1. 153-year-old group that became unisex nationally in 1995: ELKS - A group of ELKS at G
ouverneur Elks Lodge No. 2035 in Gouverneur, NY in 2019

5. Core muscles: ABS and 1. Score some political points for: ENDORSE - Katy Perry baring her ABS and ENDORSING Hillary in 2016

8. Get some air: INHALE.

14. Assuring word on a cleaning product label: NON-TOXIC 

16. Fuel-carrying ship: COALER - Tanker sailed on by as the fuel on that cargo ship wasn't liquid. Freddie said he thought this might be tough.

17. "The Sound of Music" song opener: DOE A DEER - Am I the only one who put THE HILLS for "The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music" which is the first line of the song that actually opens the movie?

18. Stronger-than-steel material: KEVLAR - I think of bullet-proof vests when I hear KEVLAR

19. Like protozoans: ONE CELLED.

21. Prefix with motor: SERVO - New to me. Here a SERVOMOTOR from a hobby shop moves the airplane with feedback from the handheld controller.

22. "Casablanca" café: RICKS - "Of all the gin joints in all the world..."

23. Sushi bar fare: EEL.

25. Cruise stop: PIER - PORT crossing 
13. Slips: ERRORS ERRATA looked right

26. Salt sources: SEAS - We watched our neighbors house for a few days and she brought us a gift of chocolates topped with SEA salt. Interesting!

27. Quirks: MANNERISMS 

30. Second sight, say, briefly: ESP 

31. Perfectly executed: DONE TO A TEE Origin

32. "All peachy!": JUST DANDY.

 33. Targets of some blocking software: ADULT SITES.

35. Adobe file format: PDF - Our agent in Branson, MO sent us this PDF for our "escape from Covid captivity"!

38. Dangerous things to be behind: ENEMY LINES - Thousands of allied paratroopers were dropped behind ENEMY LINES as part of the D-Day invasion. They knew if the invasion failed there would be no rescue

39. Jazzman Saunders: MERL - I'm much more familiar with MERL(E) Haggard

40. Instruction unit: STEP - Gotta love Ikea's visual directions 

41. "Sure!": YEP.

42. Salt's companion: MATEY - I'm thinking Spitzboov and our other sailors at our site would have rarely used this word

43. Drink with a 2021 Peeps variety: PEPSI.

45. 2019 pop biopic: ROCKET MAN - Considered having this Elton John song played at my funeral but...

48. Cowering: IN FEAR.

50. As it happens: REAL TIME - The internet is full of REAL TIME video

51. Cause to lose it: ENRAGE.

52. Like a clean shave: CLOSE CUT - No electric beats my Trac II and Barbasol

53. Seat of Ohio's Montgomery County: DAYTON - Home of our good friend and constructor Mary Lou Guizzo

54. Growth chart nos.: HTS.

55. Sales crew members: REPS.


2. Canadian coins: LOONIES

A LOON is on the reverse and 
the Queen is on the Obverse

3. Shinbone neighbor: KNEECAP - Shinbone was also the town where this movie bad guy died.
4. IHOP servings: STACKS.

5. Jump on the ice: AXEL - A triple

6. "The Sinner" Golden Globe winner Jessica: BIEL.

7. Insect-resistant home feature: SCREENED-IN-PORCH - Freddie's seed entry. 

8. "Gross!": ICK.

9. Vetoes: NOES - Not NAES

10. Feel sorry for, with "on": HAVE PITY.

11. Apt slogan on merchandise featuring MLB slugger Aaron Judge: ALL RISE - "Here come da Judge"

12. "I need solitude": LEAVE ME 

15. Works with rhyming props?: ODES - Here "props" means respect or credit due to a person or thing. Here are the last lines of perhaps rock and roll's most famous ODE (cue the violins at the end) which I'm sure you know. Listen here.

20. Having teeth: DENTATE having teeth or pointed conical projections. You're welcome.

24. African currency whose singular form is part of its country's name: LEONES - $1 = 10,230 SLL. This bill would be worth about a nickel. 

27. Pretty much: MOSTLY.

28. Less likely to chillax: ANTSIER - Chillax is a portmanteau of "CHILL out" and "reLAX." Okay, I'll admit my shame at putting TYPE AER first!😟

29. Roentgen cousins: RADS - Radiation units. Google if you must

31. Noted starter?: DULY 

32. Foldable auto convenience: JUMP SEAT - My Dodge pickup had these but grandkids could not use them after they turned 8.

33. Aerial: ANTENNA - When I was heavy into CB radio, the Thunder Stick was the best you could get

34. Cook with batter, usually: DEEP FRY.

35. Loved cheese lovers?: PET MICE - MICE are "cheese lovers" and if they are a PET, I suppose they are loved

36. Visualize: DREAM UP.

37. Bug stoppers: FLY NETS - $46 to get one for Dobbin

38. Glimpsed: ESPIED.

39. Have some impact: MATTER 

42. Two of the Spice Girls: MELS Here ya go

44. Shakespearean standard-bearer: IAGO.

46. Gael, for one: CELT - Hard "C"

47. Foe of CONTROL on "Get Smart": KAOS.

49. "The Last Jedi" villain: REN - I'm sure he was but in what movie did Kevin Bacon play rebel REN McCormack. *Answer below

*Kevin played REN in Footloose.