December 09, 2008


untimed, probably about 8-10 minutes

joon here, guest-blogging the matt gaffney weekly crossword contest puzzle for the fiend. this week's puzzle was called "around the world in 80 grid entries," and involved a "trip" that matt "took" around the world, in which he supposedly visited the lands of BRAZIL, ARGENTINA, PARAGUAY, AUSTRALIA, MADAGASCAR, NAMIBIA, BOTSWANA, and MOZAMBIQUE, which were all in the grid with the clue [One country on my trip]. the contest was to identify the two countries left out of the trip. how were we supposed to figure that out? well, the countries were all symmetrically placed in the grid, except for BRAZIL, which was opposite 44-down, ["Tropic of Capricorn" novelist Henry] MILLER. that was a hint that 44d was also a theme entry--and indeed, the tropic of capricorn passes through every country in the grid, and two more: CHILE and SOUTH AFRICA. now, "tropic of capricorn" isn't miller's best-known work, but it is the sequel to his best-known work, "tropic of cancer" (which was banned for being pornographic). and it would have been a lot tougher to squeeze in all those countries for "tropic of cancer," wouldn't it?

other stuff in the grid that made me GO GA-GA: [Partial owner of the New Jersey Nets] JAY-Z crossing [World-famous Austrian export] PEZ, napoleon [Dynamite player] christopher HEDER (oops--make that jon heder), ITCHY but not scratchy, and the clue [Spelling often used in California], actress TORI spelling. stuff i had no idea about: [Best Director winner of 1977] JOHN G. avildsen, [Iraqi prime minister] NOURI al-maliki, and [ABC newswoman Lynn] SHERR. overall, this wasn't one of the toughest MGWCCs (either the crossword or the puzzle), but neither was it one of the easiest.