There’s no theme today, so let’s dive into some answers and clues in this 132-word themeless puzzle.


Solution to April 14, 2019 crossword, "Themeless No. 10" (Evan Birnholz/The Washington Post)
  • 1A / 111A: [With 111 Across, <] is LESS / THAN. This may have been a gimme right at 1A, but I thought it was a funny coincidence that these two words ended up symmetrical with each other in the grid.
  • 23A: [Teenagers in love] is HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS. Strangely, I’ve usually seen this phrase in reference to adults who have been together since high school rather than the same people as teenagers, as in, “Mark married his high school sweetheart Jenny.” I thought specifying that distinction in the clue would make it too unwieldy.
  • 27A: [Approach to governance based on pragmatism rather than idealism] is REALPOLITIK. Leaving aside my own political opinion on this particular philosophy, I like the word itself. It comes from the German term for “practical politics.”
  • 30A: [Automated process for creating a batch of personalized letters] is MAIL MERGE. I’ve never learned how to do this, but then, I’ve rarely had a situation where it might be necessary.
  • 43A: [Aired on more than one channel] is SIMULCAST. I was surprised to learn that this term was first coined more than 70 years ago.
  • 51A: [What Edward Nygma poses to Batman] is RIDDLE. Edward Nygma is the alter ego of the Riddler. Here’s an excuse to link to a funny CollegeHumor video featuring the Riddler and Batman.
  • 57A: [Counterparts of control groups?] is MOBS. That’s why conducting clinical studies can be so difficult.
  • 58A: [2019 superhero film about Carol Danvers] is CAPTAIN MARVEL. I saw this last month and thought it was fun.
  • 62A: [Breed nicknamed the “American Gentleman”] is BOSTON TERRIER. Who’s a good American Gentleman? There’s a good American Gentleman!
  • 66A: [Auto label] is BUMPER STICKER. I lamented the fact that I had to drop what I felt was a better clue in [Political label, perhaps] because I didn’t want to duplicate the “political” from REALPOLITIK. There was surely a car model I could have used to create some similar wordplay, but oh well.
  • 78A: [Jeannette who was the first woman elected to Congress] is Jeannette RANKIN. She was first elected to the House a little more than a century ago.
  • 88A: [1964 NBA MVP Oscar] is Oscar ROBERTSON. One of the most mind-blowing facts about recent NBA history is that while Robertson was, for 55 seasons (1961-62 to 2016-17), the only player to average a triple-double for a season (averaging double digits in three statistical categories like points, rebounds, and assists), Russell Westbrook has now averaged a triple-double for the last three consecutive NBA seasons. I wouldn’t be shocked if he makes it four in a row.
  • 100A: [Avoid being a hypocrite] is PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH. Just one of those 21-letter phrases I’ve been inching to drop in a grid.
  • 1D: [“Notes on a Cowardly Lion” biographer John] is John LAHR. That’s Bert Lahr’s son.
  • 5D: [Daily Planet journalists’ source?] is D.C. COMICS. I don’t know if this clue fooled anyone into believing the Daily Planet is a real newspaper.
  • 12D: [Ones shown playing on the Hallmark Channel on Super Bowl Sunday] is KITTENS. I’ve watched the Kitten Bowl a few times, but mostly I enjoy live-tweeting about it and trash-talking the kitties and their football strategies. As a cat owner myself, I give myself license to do this.
  • 42D: [Pair of kings (except one of them)?] is EYES. That’s about the one-eyed king of diamonds in a deck of playing cards.
  • 44D: [Drill instructor?] is SHOP TEACHER. My favorite clue today. One of my favorite teachers in junior high was my shop teacher, Mr. Shilkus. I’m not much of a handyman, but he made woodcarving projects a ton of fun.
  • 60D: [He’s “tough on dirt and grime,” per an ad jingle] is MR. CLEAN. Procter & Gamble actually made an origin story for Mr. Clean that you can watch here.
  • 64D: [Mini machine?] is ENGINE. That clue’s about the Mini Cooper.
  • 80D: [“Hidden Figures” star Octavia] is Octavia SPENCER. I still haven’t seen this movie, but I saw her a few weeks ago in “The Shape of Water.”

Lastly, here’s your warning that next week’s puzzle is going to be more challenging than normal, but you can do it. I have faith.