February 10, 2009


crossword 6:27
puzzle about 1 minute

greetings, earthlings! the 36th installment of matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest is the first in the new format matt is instituting for february, featuring increasing difficulty throughout the month. as this is the first puzzle of the month, it's a pretty easy one. the title is "Get Back Online," and the puzzle's riddle theme reads: WHAT GOOGLE/SERVICE REVERSES/TO FORM SOMETHING/MOST GOOGLE USERS/TRY TO AVOID? the answer is google maps, which reverses to form SPAM. all in all, this was a much tamer and more straightforward metapuzzle than last week's shitstorm-inducing wikisearch.

sundries from the fill:

  • great clue at 1a: [Guest ___ (performs an oxymoronic entertainment industry task)]. why, that's guest HOSTS, of course. i should bring in a guest host for my next party. maybe BEQ would do it.
  • ["2 funny"] is LOL. i almost LOLed when i saw the clue for ETA: ["CHI PS?I BETA PI ___!"], referencing the puzzle from two weeks ago in which the theme answers were phrases built of greek letters.
  • there were a couple of other amusing spoken clues: ["I'll do whatever I'm told"] clues BAA. i don't think i've ever used it in this context, but it's a funny idea. and ["That was very expensive!"] clues OUCH. i like that one.
  • [Hiss in a courtroom] is state department official ALGER hiss, who was accused of being a communist in the mccarthy era.
  • i loved the tricky clues [Gets dark outside] for TANS and [Drop on one's head] for TEAR.
  • totally unfamiliar: thom MCKEE, the [Contestant who won $312,700 on "Tic Tac Dough" in 1980, an American game show record at the time], and ORRIN [Thompson of the New York Giants]. who? i follow football pretty darn closely. i could name the entire giants starting offensive line (they had a pretty great year), but not this guy. apparently he's an offensive lineman who was cut by the packers in august and spent the whole season out of football, and was just signed a couple of weeks ago. he does have the virtue of not being ORRIN hatch, but—i call shenanigans. this dude is obscuuuure.
  • last week i teased matt for cluing EMO as [Depressing and self-absorbed]. this week, EMO is back, this time simply as [Sullen]. next week, presumably, EMO will be clued as [Incredibly annoying, in a way].

that's all for me this week. see you next time.