The Long and Short of It (01-09-2011)

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.

3 Responses to “The Long and Short of It (01-09-2011)”

  1. Christopher Says:

    “obscureissimus”: can’t go wrong with a Latin joke. :-)

  2. I just love you guys. So beerandskittlesy. (unlike another blog we may or may not read…)

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