Archive for January, 2011

Circle of Life (1-30-2011)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 30, 2011 by ericandabbie

THE BEST BESTEST OMG FRICKIN’ BEST PUZZLE EVER!  Seriously.  Kevin G. Der and Jessica A. Hui, no joke, y’all are Gods!  We’re not even going to mention that your names are funny.  Won’t even bring it up (Der) because this puzzle is that brilliant.  For those of you who didn’t do the puzzle, check this out…

The puzzle is 23×23 (normal puzzle is 21×21).  Going around the puzzle is a rebus (which is when you fit an entire word into a single square).  The words that fit in the squares are the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.  (For example, 45D: “Like a Mountie” (ON HORSE BACK) and 57A: “Bit of a muscle car’s muscle” (HORSEPOWER).)  The animals go in order of the Zodiac (OMG!!!!).  Meanwhile, crossing in the middle of the puzzle are 41D: “Collection of animals featured in this puzzle (CHINESE ZODIAC) and 71A: “What the 41-Down has” (TWELVE YEAR CYCLE).  These two clues intersect in the EXACT center of the puzzle!!  Seriously, we creamed our pants.

The puzzle is incredibly difficult (even Rex called it “challenging”), but we pushed through and finished with only two mistakes.  Still not perfect, but one of our best efforts ever.  We’re like fucking whats-his-face… Armando Galarraga from the Tigers (the almost perfect-game from last year…)


  • 42A: “Cage in Hollywood” (NICOLAS).  We’re glad he’s at least getting work in the NY Times.
  • 19D: “Finnish transport?” (RAFT).  Eric was pushing for RAFT the whole time based on the fact that he thought 31A: “Became annoyed” would be GOT SOME.  (Yeah, obviously it doesn’t make sense, but Eric’s going through a dry spell… so…) Abbie and John (welcome back, bud) were pushing for GOES APE, so didn’t like RAFT.  Anyhow, long story short, 31A is GOT SORE (presumably from getting some), and 19D is in fact RAFT.  Which, “Finnish transport?”… WTF!?  Thanks to Rex we now understand the clue is referring to Huck FINN’s transport!!  Effing brilliant!
  • 100A: “Person who likes the blues?” (DEMOCRAT).  First off, the “rat” part of the clue is one of the theme answers.  Second off, the blue states are where the democrats win.  Again, the genius of the clueing is nigh magical.
  • 1A: “Rum, vodka, and orange juice drink” (BRASS MONKEY).  Another theme answer.  Eric’s mostly pumped because it sounds really good.  Abbie’s a little upset that it wasn’t clued via the Beastie Boys.  And John annoyed us by playing the damn song on his iPhone.  Good to have you with us, John!
  • 92D: “One of the tribes of Israel” (ASHER).  J-E-W-S.  JEWS! JEWS! JEWS!
  • 74D: “High-tech officer in film” (ROBOCOP).  Part-man.  Part-machine.  All cop.
  • 102D: “Noted Ronald” Abbie went for McDonald, John went for Regan.  Answer: MCDONALD.  Abbie:1, John:0.
  • 109D: “Blitzer, eg.” Eric was really excited about a Super-Bowl related answer (Polamalu!?).  Actual answer: NEWS MAN.  Way to be, Gray-Beard.
  • 136A: “Strip in a darkroom” (GET SOME).  No.  Just kidding.  The answer is NEGATIVES.  Just more fab clueing.
  • 138D: “Something about nothing?” (ADO).  Abbie beasting out on the Bard again!
  • 125A: “King Arthur’s family name” (PENDRAGON).  First of all, best last name ever!  Secondly, it crosses with CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON.  Seriously!  Y’all worked THAT into the puzzle.  Un-fucking-believe-fucking-able.
  • The cobra clues.  There were three clues listed as “Cobra product”.  The answers were VENOM, SNAKE SKIN, and TOXINS.  TOXINS was particularly baller as it crossed with 131A: “With craft” (FOXILY).  The OX was a theme asnwer for these clues.
  • 44D: “Fat underwater creature” (SEA PIG).  We don’t know what this is, but the highlight of today’s puzzle was Abbie (totally seriously) asking, “Forty-four down.  What do you think a fat underwear creature is?”  Seriously woman, wear your glasses.
  • 52A: “Famous fiddler” (NERO).  John thought it was TEVYE (he’s so silly), but NERO is a brilliant answer.  Just amazing.  (And, as always, Hey-Oh to our Roman Fetishists!  Always glad to see you!)
  • 110A: “Den __, Nederland” (HAAG).  That’s for you Oma!
  • 14D: “Portable red or white holder” (WINE FLASK)  We don’t know what a WINE FLASK is, but we want one.  And we want to have a BRASS MONKEY in it.

Will Shortz’s Mistakes

  • 49A: “So-called “Heart of Texas” (WACO).  According to who!?  Well, as Davy Crockett famously said, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Waco”  Stupid clue.  Can’t wait for next week’s clue “Rectum of Texas” (HARLINGEN).

Seriously… you all have no idea how long it took us to format this thing.  If you liked this post, you better be fucking grateful.  Peace.

Letter Openers (01-23-2011)

Posted in Least Bitchy on January 23, 2011 by ericandabbie

You may notice a theme about today’s blog.  (HERE WE GO)  If you don’t know why the Steelers are making such a prominent appearance in this puzzle, then you don’t know Abbie.  (Presumably, you’re here because you have a Roman fetish.  Chock-a-block.)

This puzzle… super lame… super easy to figure out the theme (even Rex got it!).  Basically, it’s phrases that start with a letter (eg. “H-Bomb” or “O-Ring”).  Not much creativity, not much excitement, not much beeer-and-skittles.


  • 52A: “Typogrpahy Symbol” (M DASH).  OMG!!  Will Shortz reads our blog!!  We were more excited about this clue than we were about the Steelers winning.  (Note: That is entirely false.  If Abbie gave birth right now, her son’s name would be “Troy Polamalu”).
  • 6D: “Bar mitzvah party” (RABBI).  At first Eric was trying to think of a Jewish way of saying fiesta.  Turns out Will Shortz was looking for a member of the party who would be on the bimah during the ceremony.  Clever!  YAY JEWS!
  • 42D: “Group with the 2000 #1 hit “It’s Gonna Be Me” (N’SYNC).  Not their best #1 hit (in Eric and Abbie’s expert opinion), but a #1 hit none-the-less.  It just makes us rethink the age old question: NSYNC or BSB?  (There is a divided opinion among these bloggers.)
  • Us.  Because we quote Shakespeare from memory.  There were two Shakespearean quotes in today’s puzzle.  One from The Twelfth Night which Eric knew.  And the other one from Romeo and Juliet which Abbie didn’t know; but she crafted her own line and ended up with a verse of such grace and beauty that we wrote it in as if it was the original word of the Bard himself… and it was!!!  (Abbie would like to note that it took Eric about 10 minutes to craft that one sentence.  Obviously not the Bard.)
  • 32A: “Nanki-___ of “The Mikado” (POO).  Hehe.


  • 15D: “Flatten, in a way” (MAT DOWN).  We had “mow down”.  The problem with our answer is that it’s technically wrong.  The benefit of it is that it’s actually an expression that people say, unlike “mat down”.  WTF is that?  (Eric wrote that sentence while Abbie was watching Big Ben do a post-game interview.  She then read it and replied, “Yup.”)  That clue was responsible for 8 of our 15 mistakes.  Damn you, Will Shortz!
  • 92D: “Obama nickname” (NO DRAMA).  We thought the clue was asking for an actual nickname.  Apparently it was just looking for words that rhyme.  Like Abbie’s new nickname “GRAB ME”.  (Abbie was distracted by Big Ben again.  This time her response was: “Or Eric’s new nickname: [pause] Dick.”)
  • The fact that we have more highlights than mistakes.
  • We are fixing that.
  • Problem solved.

Just blah.  Not a good puzzle.  We didn’t do a good job.  Sorry we’re late.  Nothing good about today EXCEPT THE FUCKIN’ STEELERS!!!  (Abbie just patted my shoulder and said, very soothingly, “Next year.  Redskins… next year…”)  Abbie, quote, I’m a good friend, end quote.  FML.

A River Puns Through It (01-16-2011)

Posted in Bitchy on January 16, 2011 by ericandabbie

Eric and Abbie here.  It’s 2:30 on Sunday afternoon and we’ve already received 42‼ visits to the site.  Well, the masses must be fed, so here we go.  As a reminder, this site does not contain actual answers (except sometimes), but we can recommend Rex Parker Does the NY Times for those of you just looking for answers.  For those of you looking for a good time though, we have way more beer-and-skittles.  So let’s get started on this week’s less than chock-a-block puzzle.

The theme is super easy to understand, but requires obscure knowledge about Asian rivers that only a puzzle creator named Joon Pahk would expect you to know.  This is the NY Times, not the Shanghai paper, fool.  We had eleven mistakes.  Damnit.

  • There is no doubt that this puzzle contained the best clue in the history of crosswording.  86D: “School whose motto is Latin for ‘Never tickle a sleeping dragon’” (HOGWARTS).  Obviously Eric knew this without a second’s hesitation, and also quoted the Latin from memory for Abbie (who then got a little huffy because the NY Times mistranslated the motto.  “I mean, c’mon, titillandus is clearly not an imperative.  And draco isn’t accusative.  Obvi.  The motto is actually: A sleeping dragon is never to be tickled.”  WE.  ARE.  COOL.)  It’s days like today when we earn our blog name.

  • 22A: “Basketmaking material” (OSIER)  So, this is not a highlight because of the answer (WTF is OSIER), but because Abbie got to show Eric the coolest building in the world.
  • 97A: “Can of Cornwall?” (LOO)  Brilliant.  Quite brilliant.
  • 34D: “Lickspittle” (TOADY) We don’t get it, but we’re adding to the list of words that have been replaced by a crossword puzzle.  We’re not sure exactly the context in which we’ll use “lickspittle”, but definitely file it away for a future blog.

Will Shortz’s Mistakes

(Consider yourself lucky that one of your mistakes was listed as a highlight.  You won’t be so fortunate next time.

  • 14A: “Chocolate Substitute” (CAROB)  Correction.  There is no substitute for chocolate.
  • 30A: “Devour with ‘up’ or ‘down’” (SNARF).  Etymology (from Wiktionary): a blend of either “snort” and “scarf”, or “sneeze” and “barf” eg. “It was so funny, I snarfed my milk onto my keyboard.”  Now that we know where it comes from, we’re suddenly okay with this answer.
  • 56A: “Not give __” (A RAP).  Missing a “c”, Will?
  • 58A: “Pained expression?” (YOWIE) Eric’s okay with this, actually, but he would greatly prefer Abbie’s version of the clue.  When she saw this, she was like, “Oh.  I get it!  It’s an expression coined by Thomas Paine!  Common Sense!?”  (Quote, I’m just too intellectual for you, Will Shortz, un-quote.)
  • 100A: “Aggressive posturin’ on an English river?” (THAMES FIGHTIN’ WORDS).  This is one of the theme answers.  Notice the pun on a river name.  Maybe Mr. (or Ms… what is “Joon”) Pahk didn’t do last week’s puzzle, but our loyal readers will recognize that the phrase “Them’s fightin’ words” was used as an answer to last Sunday’s theme.



  • 126A: “Channel crosser Gertrude” (EDERLE).  There is nothing wrong with this answer.  We just want to show you how hot Gertie is.  Also, Eric said the answer was wrong because ‘r’ and ‘l’ can’t go together.  Abbie’s response: “I mean, her first name is Gertrude…”
  • 41D: “Wow!” (YIPE).  First, it’s either YIPEE, or YIPES.  Who is excited, but only enough for one singular YIPE?  Shouldn’t there be at least two!?  Otherwise, no need for the exclamation mark after Wow.  A better clue: “Mild and surprisingly tame excitement”
  • 72D: “-“ (DASH)  So, this is not wrong.  That is (probably) a dash, though it could of course be a hyphen.  Our problem is only that it’s not specific enough.  It’s small, so it looks like an “en dash”, but it could be a “figure dash”.  It looks bigger than some of the hyphens used in the puzzle, but without a scale provided it’s hard to tell whether it’s exactly half the width of an em dash, as it generally accepted in typography.  Also, worth noting that the “Chicago Manual of Style” recommends an “en dash” when one of the adjectives is two words (as in a “New York-London flight”, but a hyphen between two single words as in a Chicago-Houston flight”).  Just file that away folks.
  • 88D: “Rock, in modern lingo” (WEAR).  This clue is backwards.  What we say (we are modern lingo experts, Ph.D.) is that you “rock” something, meaning you’re wearing it.  Therefore, “to wear,” in modern lingo, is “to rock.”  Not vice versa.  Will Shortz is a weenie.  Truth.

Eric: “Should we tell them that we’ll be a little late next week, and to hold their horses?”
Abbie: “I don’t think anyone cares.  Well, except for the 42 (note: it’s now 45) people who have checked so far today.”
Eric: “Good point.”


The Long and Short of It (01-09-2011)

Posted in Bitchy on January 9, 2011 by ericandabbie

Eric and Abbie here.  Reunited and it feels so good.  Back in Black, by which we mean Houston.  After a horrible start to the year last week, we redeemed ourselves.  Only two missing letters.  (Should have been one but Eric didn’t trust Abbie’s knowledge of obscure SNL actors (PISCOPO was the answer).  To be fair, Abbie didn’t really trust herself either.)

This week’s theme was cool, but so poorly executed as to be just sucky.  The theme was to take a phrase with an “i” sound in it, and switch the long/short vowel to the other type.  For example, 23A: “Manic desire to make sweaters when the weekend starts?” is to take “Saturday Night Fever” and turn it into SATURDAY KNIT FEVER.  Cool?  But then you get 16D: “Cronkite when at the top of the ratings”, for which you use “Walter Mitty” (a classic character that you have undoubtedly written theses about from the 1930s) and change it to WALTER MIGHTY.  Stuuupid.  And, the worst one: 48A: “Parts of many cheerleading uniforms?” (SLIGHT SKIRTS).  Which should be “slit skirts”, but why are the girls wearing “slight skirts?”  Is it because they’re short?  Plus, it’s not like anyone knows what the hell “slit skirts” are anyways (besides, like, you know, skirts with slits.  But it’s not a proper phrase.)  But, we apologize for premature bitching.  (This normally doesn’t happen to us, we swear.  Give us another chance.)



  • 17D: “The radius extends from it” Center?  Middle?  No.  The answer is ELBOW.  Get it?  The bone “radius”.  (Abbie: That was an excellent clue.  I enjoyed it.)
  • 32A: “Contents of the Visine Gazette?” (EYE WHITENESS NEWS).  See?  The theme could be clever.  Too bad you suck, Patrick Berry.
  • 64A: “Clean-up crews goal?” (ZIPPO LITTER)
  • 94A: “Company whose motto is ‘Our pilots are moderately intelligent?’” (BRIGHTISH AIRWAYS).  C’mon.  That’s cute.  It would have been really funny if the answer was CANADIAN AIRWAYS, but you can’t have everything, I guess.
  • 108D: “Beer and skittles” (FUN).  We are replacing the word “fun” with the phrase “beer and skittles” from now on.  Seriously, we’re going to do this, and it’ll be like an ongoing inside joke with our most hardcore readers.  It’s going to  be super BEER AND SKITTLES, guys!

Everything else sucked.  Nothing else strikes us as cute in any way, which is remarkable in its own right because we’re pretty easily amused.



  • Publishing this puzzle.  The theme was not well done.  Like, I get that writing a good puzzle is hard, but this is the NY Times, y’all.  Send this shit to USA Today.  Golly.
  • 81A: “Punchophobic?” (AFRAID OF HITS).  Cute clue.  What a terrible answer.
  • 22A: “Exclusive” (ALL).  As in, “this club is super-exclusive, we can ALL get in!”  WTF, Will Shortz?  Today’s not opposite day.  TEAR.  A.  BULL. 
  • 59A: “Chock-a-block” (SOLID).  Is it like gas, liquid, and chock-a-block?  Or like, “The Steelers play chock-a-block defense?”  Or like, “Dude.  That ollie was totally chock-a-block.”  Eric and Abbie will now also be using “chock-a-block” instead of solid.  That’s two substitutions, for those of you keeping score at home.
  • 28A: “Uncharitable” (MEAN).  A little harsh, huh?  We can’t all give millions to charity during a recession.  You don’t support the SPCA?  Douchebag.


  • 32D: “Root of Diplomacy” (ELIHU).  We only got this from the crosses.  We spent like 30 minutes arguing about it.  And then as soon as we read Rex, John goes, “Oh yeah!  Elihu Root.  Teddy Roosevelt’s Secretary of State!”  Fuck you, John.  The idea is to get it right before we know the answer.  Seriously, we kept saying “Elihu Root” and you kept being like “I don’t know… maybe it’s… I donno…”  Goddamit.  Not beer and skittles.  Fun Fact: Elihu Root’s mom’s maiden name was “Buttrick”.

We were just discussing whether there was anything else, and Abbie goes, “Oh.  Wait.  We need to talk PAP.  So…

  • 37A: “Empty Words” (PAP).  It’s the Afrikaans’s word for “empty”.  Also, it’s from the obscure-issimus Latin word “pappare” meaning “to eat” (why that is empty, search us).  If we had gotten that, we would have gotten 100% on the puzzle.  Again, we remain in search of our first perfect puzzle.  It will be so sweet, so epic, so beer and skittles.