March 04, 2009


crossword 6:23
puzzle 0:20 or so

matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest: episode 39, "On Your Marks, Get Set, Begin," was a treat. looking for a four-letter answer word, we had the following theme entries to puzzle over:

  • [Siamese lovers] are CAT PEOPLE. i wanted CAT FANCIERS, which didn't fit, but CAT PEOPLE is also a nice colloquial expression. definitely more so than, say, THAI BEAUX, although that really looks like it could be a theme answer in a martial arts crossword, perhaps along with TAKE ONE DOE, and, uh, ... JEW DOUGH? i better stop before i offend everybody in the room.
  • the [Aussie who won Wimbledon in 1987] is PAT CASH. i was all over this one. there do seem to be a lot of tennis clues in the MGWCC, don't there? i certainly don't mind. there's another aussie tennis clue in the fill: [Melbourne's Rod Laver] ARENA, venue of the australian open.
  • CAPTAIN EO is the [1986 Francis Ford Coppola movie starring Michael Jackson]. never heard of it.
  • the PACT OF STEEL! it's the [Hitler/Mussolini agreement of 1939]. i'm one of the people who doesn't mind seeing an unpleasant historical reference in my crossword, especially one with a cool name.
  • to [Behave] means to ACT PROPERLY. this one seemed a slight stretch as far as "in the languageness"; it felt more like a clue than an answer to me.

one other hint from the puzzle: [How some of you will arrive at the contest answer word] is, apparently, AMTRAK. huh? oh... you mean literally arrive? because AMTRAK wasn't helping me crack the metapuzzle. but as you've already worked out by now, the contest answer word is ACPT, or the american crossword puzzle tournament, which took place this past weekend. (or actually, which is taking place right now, as i type this on saturday at noon.) each of the theme answers begins with a permutation of those four letters: CAT People, PAT Cash, CAPTain eo, PACT of steel, and ACT Properly.


  • a [Caribiner's little cousin] is a SAFETY PIN. i didn't know the word "caribiner." neither did google. did you mean: carabiner? i'm guessing yes... though i didn't know that word, either.
  • the other long non-theme answer was SLOGANEER, which celebrates its graduation from clues to fill. congratulations, SLOGANEER!
  • [A couple of joints, just for kicks] was an entertaining little clue for KNEES. what, you didn't think... no! shame on you!
  • there were some cool things from both pop culture and high culture. LL COOL J is the ["Going Back to Cali" singer], and LUCAN is the [Poet befriended by Nero]. OMAR is neither epps nor sharif this week; it's shortstop great OMAR vizquel.
  • finally, there's MASONS, clued as [Washington, Franklin, and both Roosevelts, for example]. i didn't realize they were all into stonework.
  • much geography, some of it familiar and some unfamiliar. [European country with four official languages] isn't switzerland; it's SPAIN. spanish, ... basque? catalan? okay, i'm fresh out. wikipedia has some conflicting information on this one. the gulf of AQABA is also present, along with the SULU SEA [for whom a "Star Trek" character was named]. totally unfamiliar was BAHIA [Honda (one of the Florida Keys, whose name means "deep bay"]. i wanted the answer to be somehow related to PISTON honda of "mike tyson's punch-out!!," but it was not to be.

see you next week.