December 16, 2008


crossword 5:34
puzzle not long, maybe another minute or so

this week's installation of the matt gaffney weekly crossword contest was perhaps the easiest one of the series for me, both in terms of solving the crossword and then solving the subsequent brainteaser. the puzzle was called "mystery mailman," and the five-part instructions in the grid spelled out: JOIN THREE / CANADIAN POSTAL / ABBREVIATIONS TO / FORM AN NFL STAR'S / FIRST NAME. well, there are thirteen canadian postal abbreviations, but only five have any vowels: AB (alberta), NU (nunavut), ON (ontario), PE (prince edward island), and YT (yukon territory). as it turns out, three of these five made up the theme answer: PE/YT/ON, as in indianapolis colts QB peyton manning. for any football fan, this is one of the first names that would come to mind, but you don't need to be a football fan to know peyton manning, because he stars in an absurd number of commercials for various products--credit cards, energy drinks, HD TVs, cell phones,, you name it.

fun stuff in the grid: former chess champion anatoly KARPOV, with a pretty insane clue: [Miles famously beat him in 1980 with 1. e4 a6!? 2. d4 b5!?]. that's a chess opening known as the st. george defence, and it's generally regarded as being an inferior opening for black. so it is pretty notable that tony miles used it to defeat a world champion like KARPOV. also enjoyable from the world of sports was ANDY roddick, clued as [Supposed rival of Roger] federer. yeah, back in 2004-5 it looked like they might be rivals, but roger destroyed him time after time for years and was basically unrivaled until rafa nadal showed up to fill the void. (i'll give matt ten points for the clue, and dock one for having ANDY samberg show up elsewhere as the clue for SNL.) i also enjoyed the clue for SAMOA: [Where the locals fooled Margaret Mead], the cultural anthropologist who wrote coming of age in SAMOA. finally, you gotta love QAT, the [Stimulant often seen in Scrabble games]. it's not quite as ubiquitous now that they've added QI to the fourth edition of the OSPD, but it's still damned useful. (what is QAT? it's an alkaloid-containing evergreen shrub chewed mostly by yemenis.)

[Maryland resort town] OCEAN CITY was a gimme for me, as we used to vacation there when i was a kid, but i don't know how well people from elsewhere around the country might know it. did it give anybody problems? (i remember it giving me problems--horseflies the size of golf balls. *shudder*)

stuff i didn't know: anna FARIS [who starred in the "Scary Movie" series] and ["Dear Abby" singer John] PRINE. seems like FARIS is a familiar name, but i didn't recognize her picture on imdb.