March 10, 2009


crossword 4:51
puzzle -4:51

what up, dawgs. welcome to the 40th puzzle in matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest. this week's puzzle, "And Still Champion," is an homage to a recent crossword contest champion. (no, not me, sadly.) the two "theme" answers in the 70-word grid are:

  • [Plausible shout at this year's ACPT final] is "THAT'S FIVE IN A ROW!" i wasn't there; did anybody actually shout this?
  • [What this week's contest answer phrase had to do last Sunday -- and what you must do in this puzzle to discover his identity] clues BEHEAD THE TOP TWO.

i'm not sure exactly what this means vis-à-vis last sunday, but in the crossword, the "top two" are the STYLER or [Hair tool] at 1a, and THINMAN or [Classic 1934 Dashiell Hammett mystery, with "The"] at 7a. what do you get when you behead them? why, TYLER HINMAN, that's what.

as this is the first contest of the month, it's intended to be easy, but this was beyond easy. the crossword itself is not all that easy; it's a 70-word grid, with some tricky stuff. 4:51 is about how long a typical thursday NYT takes me. but the metapuzzle was so easy i literally solved it before opening the crossword, just based on the title and the contest instructions: This week's contest answer phrase is two words and a total of eleven letters long. on the heels of tyler's remarkable five-peat at the ACPT, i figured he had to be the answer.

sundries from the fill:

  • TEE IT UP is clued as [Play yourself some golf]. it's a nice colloquial expression. my first thought was HIT THE LINKS, but it wouldn't fit.
  • HONEY DO? never heard of it, but it made some sense as the answer to [Cutesy list a wife gives her handyman husband]. it's legit according to urban dictionary, for what that's worth.
  • two very odd past tense forms cross at the final T (surprise!): [Walt Whitman's "To Those Who"] FAILT and [Listened to, to some New Yorkers], which is "HOIT" (brooklynese for "heard"). more dialect is used to clue DAT, or ["That," to some].
  • [Paul Blart's job, in a recent comedy] is MALL COP. great answer, even though the movie looked unbelievably stupid to me.
  • [Monk, Pepper, Shell, and Garfunkel] is a motley way to clue ARTS, isn't it? art monk and art shell are former NFL stars (and in shell's case, an NFL head coach). art garfunkel is, of course, a singer (and i guess "actor"). i don't know art pepper.
  • the upper left corner has a couple of geographical clues: ST. THOMAS, [One of the U.S. Virgin Islands], and TEHERANI, [From Iran's capital, old-style]. these were the first two entries i put in the grid.
  • speaking of which, [Upper-left crossword entries] are ONE-DOWNS. this is an iffy plural, but i like its meta-ness. it would have been pretty hilarious to clue it as [1-down et al.], no? i guess that breaks all the rules.
  • there's a matched set of slightly-tricky TV-related clues: [Show on TV] is the verb to AIR. and [TV parts] are not roles, but rather parts of a television set, or SCREENS.
  • 6-letter partial alert: [Words before "road" or "pet"] clues ADOPT A. did this bug you? i didn't mind, although it took me a little while to work it out. i'm more used to seeing "ADOPT A highway" than "ADOPT A road."
  • only totally unfamiliar answer: [Containing neither meat nor dairy, to Jews] is PAREVE. is judo PAREVE? (okay, i'll stop.)

until next week!