Monday, October 01, 2007

Crossword Report: September '07

I did 19 crosswords in September, all from the New York Times, save for one from The Stranger. "Seattle's Only Newspaper" ran Clark Humphrey's X-Word for several years, and then after a few years of nothing, it recently began running puzzles written by other folks. Good to have 'em back.

Crosswords in Pop Culture:

M*A*S*H (January 11, 1977).
"All my life I've never been able to finish a Times crossword puzzle," whines Hawkeye. In the episode "38 Across," the bored surgeon is suddenly thrilled to discover a newspaper crossword, to which everyone in the camp contributes -- Father Mulcahy reads the clues aloud in the OR, and the doctors shout out the answers while performing surgery. However, nobody can come up with the puzzle's final five-letter word ("38 across: Yiddish bedbug"). Radar radios a doctor/crossword whiz on a nearby ship, saying that Hawkeye needs his help "real bad." Soon the worried doctor arrives with his commanding officer, thinking they're needed for a medical emergency. The CO bellows, "You dragged us all they way up here just to get the word vonce?" I'm not sure how "vonce" (vonts, vants, vontz?) is spelled, but "38 across" is clearly a reference to Korea's divisive 38th parallel. A deeper war/crossword metaphor could probably be read somewhere in there too.

Neat Stuff (circa 1980s).
The Junior strip above comes from an old Peter Bagge comic.

Sideways (2005).
In the film's opening sequence, Paul Giamatti quickly establishes his smart-but-flaky, multitasking, sad-sack character: we see him running painfully late while starting out on a road trip, making himself later still by stopping by a coffee shop to pick up the New York Times. He's then seen working the puzzle while speeding down the freeway, inking in his answers against the steering wheel.

The Simpsons (May 20, 2007).
In "24 Minutes," punk kid Dolph loiters outside the Kwik-E-Mart, defacing a newspaper and proudly declaring, "Now this crossword's nothing but swears!"

Crossword Report: January '07
Crossword Report: February '07
Crossword Report: March '07
Crossword Report: April '07
Crossword Report: May '07
Crossword Report: June '07
Crossword Report: July '07
Crossword Report: August '07
Total crosswords solved in September 2007: 19
Total crosswords solved in 2007: 458
On pace to solve in 2007: 688


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