Last week was the fourth annual Indie 500 Crossword Tournament in D.C. Congrats to the inside track champ Roger Barkan on his second Indie win and outside track champ Daryl Sng on his first. You can still order the tournament puzzles to solve at home here. They get my seal of approval. I couldn’t stay for the whole tournament but I did get to enjoy the pie that they ordered. Two of those mini pies fit perfectly in my car’s cup holders, which made everything in the universe perfect if only for one moment.

Solution to June 10, 2018 crossword, “Trade Publications”

Take five pairs of phrases with magazine titles and then swap the titles between adjacent Across entries to get wacky phrases:

  • 23A: [*Bugs while he’s in outer space?] is STAR BUNNY and 25A: [*Philandering flounder, say?] is PLAYBOY FISH, based on the phrases starfish and Playboy Bunny.
  • 45A: [*Hero who can travel back to the past?] is TIME GIRL and 48A: [*"Being attractive and charismatic is terrible"?] is GLAMOUR SUCKS, based on time sucks and glamour girl. Just a note: 48A was not intended as an editorial statement on my feelings about the magazine Glamour. I’m glad we cleared this up.
  • 69A: [*Extremely so-so?] is OK AS HELL and 72A: [*Angry love god?] is MAD CUPID, based on the dating website OKCupid and mad as hell.
  • 92A: [*Cash carried by some branch?] is MONEY ON A LIMB and 95A: [*Command to director Marshall to get lost?] is “OUT, PENNY,” based on the James Bond character Moneypenny and out on a limb.
  • 117A: [*Cooling one’s own body, in a way?] is SELF-FANNING and 121A: [*Hubris shown by “Kill Bill" assassin Driver?] is ELLE PRIDE, based on self pride and the actress Elle Fanning.

I remember it felt difficult to get a workable, symmetrical theme set even though there are many single-word magazine titles that can fit into common phrases. People, Fortune, and Nature were some of the bigger ones I left out; there was probably a universe where I would have used STAR COOKIE and FORTUNE MAN as adjacent ten-letter answers.

Other answers and clues:

  • 19A: [Theatrical awards for “Describe the Night" and “Underground Railroad Game"] is OBIES. “Describe the Night” won the Obie for Best New American Play just as I was writing this puzzle and though I’ve never seen it, “Underground Railroad Game” was co-written by Scott Sheppard, a classmate of mine at Haverford.
  • 37A: [Slangy portmanteau for one obsessed with Stephenie Meyer’s vampire novel series] is TWIHARD. A combination of “Twilight” and diehard.
  • 82A: [“Big Little Lies" author Moriarty] is LIANE Moriarty. Originally I was planning on a [Moriarty of fiction] clue, but my test-solvers advised against it since this wasn’t intended as an especially tricky puzzle.
  • 101A: [Victorious shout heard at Wrigley Field] is CUBS WIN. You didn’t think this Cubs fan would leave that out of the puzzle, did you?
  • 125A: [“Switchez" rapper] is EAZY E. I didn’t intend this, but the song title seemed appropriate for this puzzle.
  • 116A: [Instrument for which Mr. Lies in “Angels in America" said, “If the duck was a songbird it would sing like this"] is OBOE. Maybe a bit long-winded, but I thought it was interesting and it gets the point across.
  • 62D: [J.A. ___, former columnist and panelist on ESPN’s “Around the Horn"] is J.A. ADANDE. I’m hoping I crossed his name fairly in case he’s unfamiliar to you.

Heads-up about the next two puzzles: The June 17 puzzle will be slightly unusual (though not necessarily tougher than normal), and the June 24 puzzle will have a meta. You can conquer both.