September 01, 2009


crossword 17:24 (paper)
puzzle 0:23

yikes, i haven't blogged this yet? okay, quick one, since it's late and i'm tired. (sorry.) the 65th episode of matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest, "Dancing With the Stars," was a very hard crossword, paired with a pretty easy meta. let's take a look at the theme anwsers:

  • [(#1) Robin's method for getting rid of insects?] is a WILLIAMS FLYTRAP. that "robin" is pretty misleading, no?
  • [(#2) Alcohol-fueled fights?] are BAR ATTACKS.
  • [(#3) State on the move?] is RISING FLORIDA.
  • [(#4) Person who hauls furniture from cloud to cloud?] is an ANGEL MOVER. one point deduction for duplicating "move" from another theme clue.
  • [(#5) Cheap way to test for fevers?] is a DIME THERMOMETER.

what do these things have in common? each of them consists of two words that can follow the name of a planet:

  • venus williams, venus flytrap. this was by far the easiest one to figure out, and pretty much gave away the theme.
  • mars bar, mars attacks!
  • jupiter rising, jupiter florida. i didn't know the first of these. i looked it up a few days ago, but have already forgotten. some sort of movie? nope, it's a band. hmm. i would have preferred mozart's jupiter symphony, i think. the second is home to the florida marlins' spring training facility, as well as their high-A FSL affiliate.
  • "earth angel," earth mover.
  • mercury dime, mercury thermometer.

as i said, some of these are unfamiliar, but luckily you only need to know one of the two to figure out which plan we're talking about. after that, all you had to do was put them in order. the order of planets is mercury, venus, earth, mars, jupiter, so the theme answers go 5, 1, 4, 2, 3. easiest 4th-week meta ever, i think. as for the title, i'm not sure what it's got to do with anything, since planets are not stars, nor can they really be considered to dance with them unless you're the hard-drinking ancient greek type.

quick hits from the fill:

  • my favorite clue was [Where customers pick numbers] for PIANO BAR. 50 points for the clue; minus one for duplicating BAR from a theme answer right above it.
  • i normally don't harp on duplications quite so much, but there are normally not so many of them. the one i minded least was MIS-, clued as [Prefix with dial], and BONER, clued as [Mistake]. the real problem was too many crappy short fills: MIS-, AGRI-, -OUS, -IST, ON A, EDM., VEL., ... that's a partial, two prefixes, two suffixes, and two unusual abbreviations. i'm not used to seeing that from matt unless he goes absolutely crazy with hidden stuff in the grid.
  • i had an error when i solved this on paper, where [___ sample] crosses [Role for Cybill]. the answers are DNA and MADDIE (from, apparently, "moonlighting," a show for grownups that was on when i was a kid). i had IN A and MAIDIE. i really couldn't come up with any letter that would make MA_DIE into anything that looked like a name, but i admit i didn't think too hard about consonants there.
  • matt asked me last week if [Wood often soaked in alcohol] was too tasteless as a clue for RON. my response: "is that a guy?" ronnie wood is the rolling stones' bassist, so yeah, it's a guy. it's even a guy i've seen in crosswords before, although not recently. i think rich norris clued RON as [Stone named Wood] last year, and that clue made no sense to me at all even when i had the answer.
  • vestiges of last week's puzzle: KAFKA, clued as ["Amerika" author], and MOPISH, clued as [Emo].

that's all for me this week. and month, i guess. see you next week for "the easy one."