April 14, 2009


crossword 5:52
puzzle -2:30 or so

hello friends! i'm back to blog episode #45 of matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest, "The Birds And ..." the theme of the puzzle is quite similar to a peter gordon puzzle from three months ago called Hitchcock Double Features: pairs of hitchcock film titles combined to form wacky phrases. impressively, there are five 15-letter theme answers:

  • a [Gem that's not bored?] is a SPELLBOUND TOPAZ.
  • [Dizziness felt by those who abandon ship?] is LIFEBOAT VERTIGO.
  • [When everyone's frantically accusing everyone else?] is a SUSPICION FRENZY. i haven't heard of either of these films.
  • [The undermining Ms. De Mornay?] is SABOTEUR REBECCA. i knew SABOTAGE was a hitchcock film from the previous puzzle, but apparently SABOTEUR is also. was it a sequel? i have no idea.
  • [Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer?] is a NOTORIOUS PSYCHO.

what about the metapuzzle? the contest instructions tell us that This week's contest answer word is a four-letter entry in this crossword grid's fill. well, there's a conspicuous four-letter fill word which is also a hitchcock title: ROPE. and that's the answer.

updated to add: i totally missed the clue for ROPE on my first pass: [Plum choice, perhaps]. doesn't make much sense at first, but if you think "professor plum, in the study, with the ROPE," it all comes together. (thanks wobbith!) great clue. as an added bonus, this sense of ROPE is pretty close to the sense in which ROPE is being used by hitchcock in the movie title.

with 79 (!!) theme squares, matt doesn't exactly have a ton of flexibility to work in gorgeous long fill, but there was still the usual smattering of interesting words and clues:

  • the [1988 They Might Be Giants song about a woman with a palindromic first name and a vowelless, two-letter surname] is ANA NG. for no particular reason, this song was stuck in my head last week. then amy linked the video on monday (after this post was originally written). amusingly, this is only one of three fill words that start with A and end with NG: AMONG and ANG cross in the SE.
  • in other '80s music-related fill, the ["Thriller" hit] PYT, or pretty young thing, shows up. i don't think i've ever seen this before.
  • PEPSI is clued as ["Is ___ okay?" (question frequently asked by wait staff)]. answer: no, it is most definitely not okay. speaking of soft drinks, matt confesses that CAPRI sun is the [drink brand I shoplifted a 10-pack of circa 1982]. what's the statute of limitations on shoplifting? officer, i got your man right here. i even know his cell phone number.
  • speaking of which, 70-across reminds us of those wacky hijinks from two weeks ago: [Enter MGWCC #43] is TEXT.
  • a very teutonic crossing: ELBE, the [River of Saxony], crosses U-BOAT, whose [first letter stands for "untersee"]. nice interesting clue there.
  • since i'm currently watching baseball, i should comment on the baseball crossing: [1933 World Series hero] mel OTT and cubs legend/broadcaster ron SANTO. except that SANTO isn't clued as ron, but as a [Word in the name of a Caribbean capital], SANTO domingo. oh well, still looks cool crossing OTT.
  • i can't let AESIR go by without a nod. norse mythology! live it, love it.
  • favorite clue: [Act that brings down the house] is ARSON. i've seen a lot of tricky ARSON clues in my day (although not as many as some, since my day is still pretty short), but this one is the best.

that's all, folks. see you next week.