Circle of Life (1-30-2011)

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.

2 Responses to “Circle of Life (1-30-2011)”

  1. So, what, is Houston Texas’ missing left kidney???

  2. Christopher Says:


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