February 17, 2009


crossword 8:12
puzzle about 3 minutes

live from colombo, we bring you the 37th installment of matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest! this week's challenge, "Three for Dinner," asks us to identify three related palindromes, each of which consists of two words and nine letters. let's see what we can glean from the theme answers in the crossword:

  • [Palindrome #1], we are told, is ASSAULT A STOOLIE. my first thought: something rat, which i guess means tar___rat. but nothing worked.
  • [Palindrome #2]: STEVE'S CHESS PLOY. i know chess, so i was thinking about a fork here, but this isn't that easy a "clue." plus, it could be various other things (like a flashy queen SAC).
  • [Palindrome #3] is probably the most straightforward: SOUP EATER'S ERROR. what could this be? gotta be something involving a spoon, right? (SLURP doesn't have promising palindrome possibilities.) well, it doesn't end in spoon, so it must be spoon oops. that works.

getting the third one, and having the fork idea for the second one, made it pretty quick to puzzle out the remaining answers. fork only has so many 9-letter palindrome possibilities; it didn't take long to arrive at kroft fork, but i don't really know anything about steve kroft. after that, palindrome #1 really had to be something about a knife, to fit the theme of the puzzle (and the title). so knife fink it is. a good workout (including a tough crossword), but arriving at these three answers was pretty much inevitable given the hints in the puzzle instructions.

stuff i didn't know:

  • [Machu Picchu material] is ASHLAR. i feel like i've heard this word before, but i don't really know what it means.
  • [Actress Feldshuh] is TOVAH. i'm almost certain i've seen this in a crossword before... and i'm just as almost certain it was in a previous MGWCC. but yeah, no idea who this is.
  • [Abstract sculptor Richard] SERRA... nope, no idea. likewise [Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist Joel] PETT. i have to admit that editorial cartoons leave me mystified at best, and genuinely irate at worst.
  • the SBA is the [Govt. branch whose seal features a factory superimposed on a map of the United States]. i'm too lazy even to look up what SBA stands for. that's what readers are for, right?

other stuff:

  • i loved the crossing in the fill between the WU-TANG clan and norse thunder god THOR, the namesake of thursday. (sun, moon, tyr, odin/wodin, thor, frey, saturn. and yes, i did accidentally type oden, because i'm typing this while watching the NBA all-star weekend rookie-sophomore challenge and youth jam.)
  • the [Subject of an annual Peter Gordon crossword] is the OSCARS, under his anagrammatic pseudonym roger depont. in the extremely unlikely event that i ever become a major crossword editor, i guess i'll submit my own puzzles under the name john kapo. or maybe jan p. hook, with a nod to orange.
  • my second-favorite band is in this grid: GREEN DAY, the ["American Idiot" band]. love that album.
  • fun clues: "IT'S YOU!" is a [Dramatic line in mysteries]. [They can increase your net income] is PAYPAL, if you're an ebay seller and your income comes from the net. [Like, totally wrong, man] is UNCOOL. [Tribal dance?] is WATUSI. i know that the WATUSI is some kind of '60s dance because it was in a NYT themeless last year. not sure what's tribal about it.
  • lastly, [Crossword finish] is ESE. that's very meta, somehow.

see you next week.