Three cheers for fellow crossword constructor and friend-of-the-show Neville Fogarty for his recent appearance on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” No spoilers from me about how he did, but you can watch his initial appearance here. Neville’s also been involved with the Indie 500 Crossword Tournament from the beginning, so it was a thrill to watch him on TV.

The Indie 500 just announced that it has scheduled the fifth annual tournament for Saturday, June 1, 2019 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Registration is not yet open but I’ll let you know when it is.

Solution to January 13, 2019 crossword, "Play Time" (Evan Birnholz)

Nine familiar two-word phrases have been redefined as musical instruments, played by someone associated with the first word:

  • 22A: [Musical instrument played by a buddy of Fred Flintstone?] is BARNEY FIFE. The clue doesn’t specify the name of the person playing the instrument, so I’m just going to assume the person playing this is Don Knotts.
  • 24A: [ . . . a Congressperson?] is HOUSE ORGAN. If that phrase is new to you, a house organ is an in-house periodical published by a company and read by its employees.
  • 38A: [ . . . a camera operator?] is TAPE RECORDER.
  • 47A: [ . . . a computer user?] is QWERTY KEYBOARD.
  • 68A: [ . . . a fan of “My Little Pony”?] is UNICORN HORN. If the person playing the unicorn horn were a man, he’d probably be known as a Brony.
  • 88A: [ . . . a toaster?] is CHAMPAGNE FLUTE. That is, somebody toasting at a wedding, and not an electrical appliance. That’d be just silly.
  • 96A: [ . . . a suitor?] is LOVE TRIANGLE.
  • 117A: [ . . . a scuba specialist?] is DIVING BELL.
  • 120A: [ . . . a member of the American Kennel Club?] is DOG WHISTLE.

Some others I left out: DRYER DRUMS, DAILY BUGLE (the newspaper in the Marvel Universe, “Spider-Man” most prominently), EAR TRUMPET, SECOND FIDDLE, and BRIAN PICCOLO (a former Chicago Bears running back profiled in the movie “Brian’s Song”).

Some other answers and clues:

  • I didn’t plan to have three Greek letters in the puzzle, but 10A: [Second Greek letter] (BETA) and 12D: [19th Greek letter] (TAU) and 72D: [24th Greek letter] (OMEGA) were all convenient.
  • 34A: [City that’s the center of industriousness?] is RIO, literally hiding in the middle of the word “industriousness.” 
  • 56A: [Two-word principle for expanding on a scene in improv comedy] is YES, AND. One of the fundamental tenets of improv is that you never, ever deny something that your acting partner gives you. If they say you’re the president, you start acting like the president. If they say that you’re in a dungeon ready to battle an evil sorcerer, you don’t then turn around and say, “No, we’re in an amusement park!” Denial is the death of improvised scenes; saying “yes, and” continues them.
  • 61A: [Work in progress?] is CAREER. I guess this isn’t always true, if it’s a former career, but I still kind of like this clue.
  • 105A: [Word in the opening of the Gettysburg Address] is AGO. I was going to be more specific about where AGO appears in the first sentence, but apparently there’s a real disagreement about whether it’s the fifth word or the sixth. It depends if you spell “Fourscore” as one word or as the two-word “Four score.” 
  • 123A: [Last word of Berlioz’s “Requiem”] is AMEN. This is one of my favorite choral pieces ever. You can listen to the whole thing here.
  • 129A: [Band’s performance] is SET. I wonder what songs the band in this puzzle would play. Something with a lot of percussion, keyboards, and flute. Maybe it’s a Jethro Tull tribute band?
  • 44D: [Piece piece?] is LYRIC. As in, a segment of a musical piece.
  • 51D: [Texas politico O’Rourke] is BETO O’Rourke. It’s hard to say right now if he’s just a flash in the pan or will amount to higher political office, but his name was very convenient for me in this spot.
  • 66D: [“Show me your cards”] is I CALL and 86A: [“You win this round”] is I LOSE. I thought it was amusing that these two crossed one another.
  • 83A: [Gave someone an A, say?] is SANG. My favorite clue today.

See you next week!