January 13, 2009


crossword 5:03
puzzle 0:01 (approximate)

the 32nd installment of matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest is called "edverbial phrases," and its theme involves anagramming the full names of famous people named ed into wacky verb phrases:

  • [Seven-time Emmy winner makes himself liked?] is ED ASNER ENDEARS.
  • [Former "The People's Court" judge failed at the last minute?] means ED KOCH CHOKED. i don't think i remember ED KOCH, but as soon as i figured out the theme, this one went in pretty quick with few crossings.
  • ["My Cup Runneth Over" singer did stitchery?] clues ED AMES SEAMED.
  • ["The Brothers McMullen" director doesn't pull his weight?] means that ED BURNS BURDENS. i really don't know who ed burns is, but this was pretty easy, too.

overall, this was one of the easier themes to work out, and the puzzle was easier still. the contest instructions state that The first four letters of one of this puzzle's theme entries also appears as its own entry somewhere in the grid. This four-letter grid entry is this week's contest answer word. well, EDAS, EDKO, and EDBU would be pretty bad crossword entries (although i'm sure i've seen EDAS clued as [LeShan and namesakes] or something equally awkward), but EDAM is a perfectly good crossword entry, and it's the answer. there it is lurking in the grid at 24d, clued as [Food that's an anagram of a drink in this crossword]. whole lotta cross-referencing going on there... what's the drink? why, MEAD, of course, which actually crosses EDAM at the M.

other stuff of note:

  • KOREAN! it's the [Language whose alphabet is called Hangul]. let me tell you, i love hangul. even though i know almost no korean, i can read and correctly pronounce any korean text. it's the best writing system, like, ever. i guess that's what you get when the king commissions all of his top scholars to create the most intelligent way of writing a language that has already existed for thousands of years. turns out, they did a good job.
  • [Colleague of Cupid] isn't a roman god; instead, it's our reindeer friend DASHER. there was a similar reindeer misdirection in last week's saturday stumper, no?
  • [Caves] clues the delightful long fill word ACQUIESCES. occupying the symmetric position in the grid is GO ASK ALICE, the controversial [1971 book whose name was taken from a Jefferson Airplane lyric].
  • other long fill: ODD MAN OUT, which is a great answer, and THE DAKOTA, the [Site of a noted 1980 murder]. that would be the murder of john lennon, a resident of that apartment building, by mark david chapman. apparently yoko still lives there. i did not know that.
  • there were two answers i had never heard of: the [Organic foods company] HAIN, and the [Ancient language of the Italian peninsula] OSCAN. i don't usually get stumped on ancient stuff. luckily, though, the crosses for both were all very gettable.
  • [Highly adorable] clues A DOLL. how do people feel about clues like this? i know it passes the substitution test, but the clue and answer are definitely different parts of speech. i have the same reservations every time i see [Doing] as a clue for UP TO.