June 23, 2009


crossword 6:22
puzzle 0:28

greetings, fellow solvers. the 55th episode of matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest, "The Milky Way," featured a friday-esque crossword with a not-too-tough meta. the puzzle instructs us that This week's contest answer is a type of drink with two words and a total of eleven letters in its name. let's look at the theme answers, which somewhat resemble a recipe for this mystery drink:

  • 17a: [Crybaby--and the ingredients of the drink] is a TATTLE-TALE.
  • 25a: [Like the answer to 43-across] is SOMEWHAT CRYPTIC.
  • 43a: [What you must do to the ingredients in 17-across to identify the drink] is SHAKE VIGOROUSLY.
  • 57a: [Where you'd buy the drink] is a COFFEE SHOP.

so if we take the "ingredients" and "shake them vigorously" according to the "somewhat cryptic" instructions, that means we'll take the letters of TATTLE-TALE and anagram them. (those of you who solve cryptic crosswords will surely recognize "shake" as an anagram keyword.) the only catch is that TATTLE-TALE is 10 letters, and the drink is 11 letters, according to the instructions. also, you can't spell much with those letters, with only A, E, L, and T repeated. but you can spell LATTE (a drink you can certainly get at a coffee shop). that's the first thing i noticed. the second thing i noticed is that if you take those letters out, you get ... LATTE again. how about that? indeed, a "somewhat cryptic" interpretation is that you can "shake" TATTLE-TALE to arrive at a double latte, which is the answer to the contest.

what about the fill?

  • [One of a pair in cyberspace] is the SOFT C in both the first and ninth positions of the word "cyberspace." tricky, tricky!
  • [Paul, Leo, or Benedict]? those are NAMEs. (groan.) did you put POPE here? me too, but i knew it was too obvious to be right.
  • OMAR Torrijos is apparently the [Panamanian leader assassinated by the CIA in 1981]. never heard of him.
  • [Chunk of China] isn't the GOBI desert. it's merely TOFU, and to be honest, i don't even think of it as chinese. but i guess it is, at least in origin.
  • [Watson-Crick base pair location] is RNA. really? i had no idea they studied RNA. i was quite surprised when this turned out not to be DNA.
  • [Drew on TV] isn't a verb; it's comedian drew CAREY. five points for the clever clue, but minus one for duplicating the TV from TV STARS.
  • i was trying to figure out how the heck to get some form of the UEFA EUROPEAN FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP to fit into eight letters for [Spain won it in 2008]. nope, it's the DAVIS CUP of tennis. i knew that, actually. even though rafael nadal didn't play, spain got good performances from fernando verdasco and feliciano lopez to win the title.
  • [Businessman Henry Ross ___] would have been much easier if it had been [H. Ross ___], wouldn't it? yeah, it's just PEROT. odd how including the full first name obscured the answer for a while. CLEVERLY [How the sly operate] done, matt.
  • last week i had to guess the vowel on MALA/MALO. this time matt specified the gender: [Chica ___ (bad girl)]. it's MALA. of course, this time the vowel was pretty easy to get from the cross, unlike last week when it was part of some almost-famous japanese name.
  • chess clue of the week: [Chess's "boa constrictor] is anatoly KARPOV, known for squeezing the life out of his opponents.
  • totally unfamiliar abbreviation: FTTP, clued as [Broadband letters]. i know HTTP, i know FTP... this isn't either one of those. is this it? really?
  • i'm not sure why [Fail to overlook] is my favorite clue, but it did amuse me.

that's all for this week. tune in next time for the killer 4th-of-the-month puzzle.