September 22, 2009


crossword 11:13 (paper)
puzzle 2:50

hey. no bitching and moaning from me this week, as this was my favorite matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest in ages. the crossword, "Copy That," was tough but fair, and the meta was, i thought, outstanding. let's have a look at the theme answers:

  • [Poems written while sailing across the Pacific?] are KON-TIKI RONDEAUX. bonus points for the cool X-ey french plural of RONDEAU.
  • [Worms found in a star cluster?] are PLEIADES FLUKES.
  • [Military genius covered in recent wounds?] is SCABBY HANNIBAL. eww. and if this reminds you of hannibal lecter, then double-eww (which is spelled ... W?).
  • [Politically radical reference books?] are JACOBIN THESAURI. this one's also got the unusual plural, but no X. well, it's still fun.

what on earth is going on with this theme? well, as you can see from the screencap above, each half of each theme answer conceals the name of a twin: TIKI and RONDE barber of the NFL, LEIA and LUKE of star wars, ABBY and ANN landers of advice columns, and JACOB and ESAU of the bible. pretty cool, eh? the contest instructions tell us that This week's crossword looks like it only has four theme entries, but there's a fifth one lurking somewhere. This week's contest answer is the two grid entries which, when taken together, would make an excellent fifth theme entry. what other famous sets of twins are there? barbara and jenna bush are not in the grid. neither are josé and ozzie canseco, mary kate and ashley olsen, fred and george weasley, romulus and remus, castor and pollux, or helen and clytemnestra. melanie oudin and whatever her sister's name is... not in the puzzle (or famous enough to be the answer). but ah! the famous conjoined (or, un-PC-ly, "siamese") twins CHANG and ENG are lurking in two separate answers:

  • 12d is CHANGE, clued as [Successful campaign watchword of 1980, 1992, 2000, and 2008].
  • 66a is BENGALS, clued as [12-7 losers last Sunday]. and if you haven't seen the play on which they lost in ridiculously improbable fashion, you owe it to yourself to check it out. sucks to be a bengals fan, doesn't it?

there you have it: CHANGE BENGALS.

by the way, in case you don't know the story behind ABBY and ANN: both names are pseudonyms. pauline esther friedman phillips founded the "dear abby" column, and esther pauline friedman lederer wrote a competing advice column under the name "ann landers" (although she was not the first to use that name) from 1955 until her death in 2002. i'm just glad the crossword didn't have PAULINE and EPPIE.

quick hits from the fill:

  • new clue for INN: [___-Out Burger (fast food chain)]. this is a west coast chain, and it's called In-n-Out. i bet a lot of people didn't know this, but i also bet that i could go for a double-double, animal style, right about now.
  • favorite fill word: NEKKID, clued as [Bare down south]. i guess so, although i never really thought of it as being southern, just informal.
  • i'm not really sure why [Scores on the ice] are SIXES. is that just because figure skating judges give out 6s?
  • AKAMAI is clued as [Tech company whose founder died in the 9/11 attacks]. i did not know that. but i did know that one of my best friends worked for akamai from 2000 to '02.
  • there were a pair (non-twin) of golfers in the grid, only one of whom is famous: se ri PAK, the [2007 World Golf Hall of Fame inductee]. it's an odd clue; did you know they induct players still in the middle of their careers? bob TWAY, the [1986 PGA championship winner], is not nearly as famous.
  • [Tim Johnson's body]? why, that would be the united states SENATE. his left arm is the finance committee, and joe biden is his head.
  • HIJAB is a word i can never remember. it's clued as [Fez cover], but it doesn't go on top of a hat. it's the veil worn by muslim women in places like fez, morocco.
  • clue i don't get: [Field part part] for RAE. i'm guessing sally field played somebody named something RAE, but i could be talking out of my ass.
  • i did not know: [Ramat ___ (Israeli city)] is GAN.
  • fill i was not enthusiastic about: FREE AT, clued as [Available from], and "IT'S FAR," clued as ["I wouldn't want to walk there"].
  • best clue in the puzzle: [Go out for dinner] for FORAGE. i gotta say, i would not be of much use in a hunter-gatherer community.