crossword 8:43
puzzle -3:00 or so
mgwcc81hello there and welcome to the 81st episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Film Complex.” i found the crossword to be tougher than expected for a third-hardest puzzle of the month, but the meta easier. let’s look at the theme answers:

  • {Put together a movie’s soundtrack from several audiotapes?} is COMMIX MEMOREXES. oh man, i remember memorexes.
  • {Harvey or Bob Weinstein, to detractors?} would be a MIRAMAX LUMMOX. i don’t know who these gentlemen are, but i assume they’re executives at miramax studios.
  • {“The Time Machine” actress’s nickname, when she’d go ballistic on the set?} is rather a tortured clue for yvette “MAD MAX” MIMIEUX.
  • and to {Make Denzel Washington forget his lines, while filming a 1992 movie?} would be to FLUMMOX MALCOLM X.

what’s going on with the theme answers? well, they obviously all have lots of Ms and Xs. the instructions this week were simply: This week’s contest answer is three letters you’re going to start seeing at the movies soon. so the answer is just MMX, the three-letter roman numeral for 2010, which i guess we’ll all start seeing at the movies the first time we go see a movie made in 2010. for me, of course, that’ll probably be … i dunno, next christmas? anyway.

the theme is a little tighter than that. first of all, of course, each clue is related in some way to the film industry. secondly, each one is broken up into two halves, each half a viable standalone crossword answer containing M, M, and X in that order (though not necessarily consecutively). finally, the title itself contains another M, M, and X.

what took me so long to do this crossword? i got hung up in the middle/middle-right area, mostly because i had PLENTY where PLENUM {More than a quorum} belonged. i was pretty sure about BRAHMA so i couldn’t for the life of me figure out how _HT was {One of seven: abbr.}, making it harder to fit OBTUSE {Hard to understand} in there. partly, of course, it’s because i think of OBTUSE as meaning slow to understand (as a person), rather than difficult to understand (as a statement or idea), but it can mean either. (i suppose i primarily think of it as meaning “greater than 90°,” but that clearly wasn’t in play here.)

lake NYASA, now called malawi, was also slow in coming to me, and IN LYE {How pretzels are sometimes dipped} was definitely not happening. (lye, really? pretzels are so gross.) so i just could not get the end of that second theme answer. the corner with CHOAD, HAM, and “OH, YOU” wasn’t really happening for me either. never seen CHOAD before, although i have since seen it in a comment on BEQ’s site written by … matt gaffney. i had EGG for HAM {Croque Monsieur ingredient} for the longest time, and i was mildly concerned that the answer was going to be a french word. anyway, it did all eventually come together, but only after i had discerned the theme and guessed LUMMOX.

other bits:

  • one unfamiliar name: {“El Norte” director Gregory} NAVA. who? what? huh?
  • okay, two, although this one had a familiar answer: {___ Upshur (U.S. Secretary of State under John Tyler)} is ABEL. wow, i can’t say i’m up on my tyler cabinet.
  • all right, three: {CBS title role, 1967-75} is … MANNIX. neeeever heard of this either.
  • fine, i admit it: four!  (five is right out.) IRINA krush is the {awesomely-surnamed women’s chess star}.
  • this clue seemed familiar: {“___ and punchable” (ESPN: The Magazine’s description of “Jeopardy!” champ Ken Jennings} is SMARMY. it felt familiar because matt used it before, back in MGWCC #26. if you’re following along at home, that’s the one right before the first one i blogged for diary of a crossword fiend.
  • hideo NOMO is the {Pitcher who threw no-hitters in 1996 and 2001}. the former came at coors field while nomo was with the dodgers, a truly remarkable feat. he remains the only pitcher in history to have thrown a no-hitter at the most hitter-friendly park in major league history.
  • the {Great girder} is apple’s new IBEAM, which has been getting rave reviews in wired. i’m holding out for the iBeam 3G.
  • it’s not backwards month (despite the month going hard-to-easy in puzzle progression), but the CIVIC is clued as {Honda that goes back and forth?}. that seems like more of a cryptic clue than a regular crossword clue. of course, it used to be quite common to include some cryptic clues into regular crosswords. when exactly did this practice go out of fashion? i don’t miss it.

overall, the fill felt a little dull by matt’s standards, given that he wasn’t trying to jam in 13 theme entries or anything. i guess four long theme answers each containing two Xs (plus a ninth X in the fill) is a fairly significant constraint, but i do wish things like ACCR and -DROMES and MCD (which couldn’t be clued as a roman numeral, for meta reasons) had been excised.

that’s all for me this week. matt will be back with the easiest of the december puzzles, to be posted on christmas day. all of you who are traveling, do so safely and enjoy the holidays. merry christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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15 Responses to MGWCC #81

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    “i guess four long theme answers each containing two Xs (plus a ninth X in the fill) is a fairly significant constraint”

    That plus a 72-word grid. I was pretty stoked about the fill!

    I’m being thin-skinned and choadishly defensive, aren’t I?

  2. pat says:

    I picked MMX for a different reason, it’s multimedia speedups by Intel.(Google it)

  3. Alex says:

    I originally thought of EGG for the Croque Monsieur clue, but only the Croque Madame has an egg on it …


  4. joon says:

    wow, i didn’t even notice. that doesn’t look like a 72, does it? maybe it’s the 38 blocks, or just the fact that there are 3 words along every edge.

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    Joon — it really doesn’t look like a 72, you’re right. The 38 black squares help the illusion, and the five landlocked sections of the grid are chunky without really looking like it at first glance.

  6. Abby says:

    Harvey and Bob Weinstein are the children of Miriam (“Mira”) and Max Weinstein- and the founders of Miramax films. They now run The Weinstein Company. Hope they don’t need another company name because they’re fresh out. :-)

    (Actually, yes, I know they’re Dimension also.)

  7. Howard B says:

    And I initially had ‘IN LSD’ before IN LYE, in desperation. IN LYE?!? Yikes.
    I think the first answer conjures up some more vivid imagery, though.

  8. Meg says:

    Was I the only one to put in MAGNUM instead of MANNIX? Also had Y’ALL for the longest time instead of YES’M.

    I like the expression “OH YOU”. I don’t think I ever say it, but I like it.

    I know the puzzles are in reverse difficulty order this month, so this meta came pretty quickly. Is there a Santa puzzle coming? Donner (the reindeer, not the party)? Sheep?

  9. Joanna says:

    Woohoo, first meta I’ve gotten in a while!

    I gave up on the fill when I got the meta >.<

  10. Jeffrey (nee Crosscan) says:

    I got the meta on the clue, before I even printed the crossword.

  11. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Howard, you’re bringing the pretzels to the ACPT in February, right? Can’t wait!

    Meg, “OH, YOU” is 815 times better than AH ME and OH ME, which I have started using around the house to amuse myself and my husband.

    Abby, that’s not true. They have plenty more names to go through. They can totally go with Harvob, Barvey, HaWe BoWe, Nietsniew, or Xamarim.

  12. noraA says:

    I honestly thought I solved this on Friday; I saw all the X’s in the puzzle and was locked in to writing down xXx, as the third movie in that series is coming out relatively soon. But aside from featuring the predominant x’s of the puzzle, it lacked the twisted elegance I’ve come to expect from a Gaffney puzzle. And so I let it sit over the weekend, forgot about it on Monday, and just managed to submit the correct answer (MMX) about an hour before the entries were due. Glad I waited.

  13. Anne E says:

    Amy – LOL! Sign me up for some of Howard’s pretzels at ACPT. Maybe it’ll help!

  14. Howard B says:

    Sold! Beware of the mini-white chocolate chips…

  15. Ben Bass says:

    Filled in the whole grid but couldn’t see the MMX forest for the trees. I was all, “Is another one of those Vin Diesel (or whoever) XXX action movies coming out soon?”

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