crossword 3:30 (across lite)
puzzle about 5 minutes (with shameless wikipediaing)
mgwcc92greetings, and welcome to the 92nd episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Draw an Award.” this week’s oscar-themed puzzle had the following asterisked theme entries:

  • {She co-starred with Michael Douglas as he won an Oscar in “Wall Street”*} clues DARYL HANNAH. i only know her as the replicant in blade runner. wait, did i spoil it for you? sorry. i’m a jerk. also, rosebud was the sled.
  • {Best Supporting Actress nominee this Sunday for “Up in the Air”*} is ANNA KENDRICK. right, her. no idea who that is. i don’t even know what this movie is about, although i recognize the name of the movie because i did peter gordon (or should i say, ogden porter)’s oscar-themed fireball crossword.
  • {He hosted the Oscars 18 times*}? BOB HOPE. i know who this is.
  • {Oscar-winning role for Forest Whitaker*} was IDI AMIN in … whatever that movie was about kings of scotland. i know my ugandan dictators, but what does he have to do with scotland?
  • {Best Actor nominee this Sunday for “The Hurt Locker”*} JEREMY RENNER. no idea. although now that the oscars are over and apparently the hurt locker won everything (except for best actor), i at least have some inkling what this movie is about. though i still don’t get the title.
  • {Actress who played Eowyn in 2003’s Best Picture, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”*} is MIRANDA OTTO. okay, this is a pretty minor role. i mean, yeah, she did get to off that nazgul dude, but how could anybody actually know the name of this actress?

the puzzle instructions tell us that This week’s contest answer is a film that won the Best Picture Oscar. This film’s title would have made a good theme entry this week. so what’s going on with this theme? well, they’re all oscar-related people, although some of the connections are tenuous at best. daryl hannah actually won a razzie for worst supporting actress in wall street (although as sandra bullock proved last weekend, razzies and oscars are not mutually exclusive). MIRANDA OTTO, as i’ve pointed out, played only a bit part in the best picture of 2003. i can’t fault the inclusion of the two people nominated for 2010 oscars, even if i’ve never heard of either of them, because i know some people are into this whole oscars thing. i had no idea BOB HOPE hosted the oscars, let alone 18 times, but that seems like somebody legitimately connected to the oscars. and IDI AMIN has more of a connection to the oscars than he does to scotland.

so what’s the connection between the theme answers? they all contain a palindromic name: HANNAH, ANNA, BOB, IDI, RENNER, and OTTO. (the title, “Draw an Award,” does not contain any palindromic names but is itself a palindrome.) so we’re looking for a best picture winner that contains a palindromic name. since i could name about five best picture winners off the top of my head (seriously… i couldn’t even tell you what won best picture last year), i immediately looked it up on wikipedia. it didn’t take me long to find all about eve, which is a movie i’ve certainly heard of, although i have no clue what it’s about (although … i do know who it’s about, i think). well, anyway, there you have it. only two letters off from all about steve, which is a winner in a different sense (though it did not win worst picture, that honor having been bestowed upon transformers: revenge of the fallen).

movies in general, and the oscars in particular, are not really my thing. (on sunday night i watched two consecutive NBA games.) and there is pretty much no way i could have solved this meta without outside assistance. honestly, i didn’t even try. but i don’t begrudge the movie buffs a puzzle aimed at them (especially after so many sports metas last month), and i hope they liked it.

what about the crossword? most of it was dead easy, but i was shocked when i had to make a series of wild-ass guesses in the SE corner, and even more shocked when they turned out to be right. as i’ve already mentioned, i had no clue on JEREMY RENNER and MIRANDA OTTO. they were crossed by:

  • {“The Cover of the Rolling Stone” singer, 1972} is apparently DR. HOOK (and the medicine show), a pop-country rock band from new jersey. ohhh-kay.
  • {Online store site}, E__Y… that’s a gimme, right? well, no, not when it’s ETSY. wtf?

once i realized RENNER and OTTO were going to have to be palindromes, there was only one way to do it, but somehow i made the right guesses before i fulled grokked the theme.

speaking of which, here’s the 2-minute rundown of other stuff that caught my eye:

  • the {Robert Heinlein-coined word meaning “to understand deeply”} is GROK, from stranger in a strange land.
  • {___ Mae Washington-Williams, Strom Thurmond’s African-American daughter (hidden in DRESSIEST)} is a “whoa” kind of clue. the answer is ESSIE, which is straightforward enough given the hint. as it should be, since it crosses two theme answers at vowels and … yeah.
  • echoes of last week: {Novosibirsk no} is NYET, and {Like people from Mecca} clues SAUDI. but india is represented not by mumbai but by {The Taj Mahal’s city}, AGRA. and the {Capital 1,800 miles SW of Shanghai} is BANGKOK, in “siam”.
  • wait, no, mumbai is here, too: {Rama and Krishna, in Mumbai} are GODS, i guess. i thought they were both avatars of vishnu. you might call them both divine, but GODS plural seems like an exaggeration.
  • geography not from last week’s puzzle: fitb RHODE {___ Island}, {Ankara cash} is LIRA, {Wight or Man} is an ISLE, a {Damascene, e.g.} is a SYRIAN, and a PISAN is a {Certain Tuscan}. no, not that tuscan. the one next to him. yeah, her.
  • {___ Lopez (chess opening)} = RUY. gratuitous chess clue of the week? nah. how else are you gonna clue it?

okay, that’s all for me. peace out.

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17 Responses to MGWCC #92

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    You missed Moscow!

  2. Karen says:

    We need more famous ESSIEs. And there is a RUY mountain between Bulgaria and Serbia.

    For those who haven’t checked out ETSY, it’s an online store for people to sell their small batch arts and crafts, like if you wanted to sell a crossword bird sculpture.

    I shamelessly wikied this week too.

  3. joecab says:

    I fell into that same eBay trap. ETSY and SKYPE were great grid entries. I will not say that I didn’t notice until just now that the title was a palindrome; why embarrass myself?

    Also, go see All About Eve! It’s wunnaful.

  4. joon says:

    i definitely noted that moscow clue–looks like i left it out of the writeup. oops. groggy joon.

  5. MM says:

    I concur with joecab. “All About Eve” is one of the best. Bette Davis gets my vote for the best actor of all time. “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” Classic! And I’d take a movie theme over a sports theme any day.

  6. *David* says:

    I flew through the puzzle but also didn’t know what to do with the SE even with OTTO in place, I had ETOY instead. I tried not to Google my way to the answer but originally thought the entire title was going to be a palindrome and couldn’t think of any movies that fit the bill. Anyway appropriate puzzle for the week.

  7. John says:

    Didnt Get the meta. Was looking for actors plalndromic name , because the entries were ALL peoples NAMES. I call Foul!!!! All About Eve is a movie title not a persons name! Therefore it could not be a theme entry.

  8. joon says:

    john, the instructions explicitly stated that the meta answer was a movie title, not an actor.

  9. Meg says:

    I no longer feel any shame about Googling or Wikiing to complete Matt’s grid, or find the meta. I am increasing my knowledge of chess plays and players, and I’m sure that someday knowing about ETSY will come in handy.

    At least with this meta, I knew what I was looking for.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Etsy is a handy place to look if you want to buy something handcrafted online. There are a gazillions arts & crafts people represented, as well as a gazillion in the “arts & crap” category. Some of the most bizarre in the latter classification are on display at the well-named Regretsy.

    Super easy crossword by Gaffney standards, but not the easiest meta. Easy enough to sift through a Wikipedia page, sure, but the easiest metas are those with answers hiding in plain sight in the grid itself (e.g., Tyler Hinman) or bludgeonishly obvious (Michael Jackson). For this one, if you just had the puzzle and didn’t read Matt’s instructions on the blog, you’d be hard pressed to come up with the meta.

  11. Tony says:

    While I nearly went cross-eyed while searching for the movie Matt was referring to, it wasn’t hard to determine what to look for.


    I don’t agree with the foul call. The way I look at it was the theme entries led us to look for a movie with a person’s name in it that happened to be an anagram.

  12. John says:

    Joon, Yes, but the theme awnsers were all real peoples NAMES not movie titles, hence All About Eve does not fit the theme as a legitamate awnser! If Matt had a movie title as one of the awnsers, I concede the point, but he didnt! My only Bitch is That All About Eve is not a valid theme awnser.

  13. tabstop says:

    Why is the meta answer supposed to be a valid theme answer?

    EDIT: Okay, that’s what Matt’s directions said. Why did I think his directions were “this film’s title would have made a good title this week”? Apparently I’m just skipping words randomly now. Sorry.

  14. passa passa says:

    Finally, Finally…I’ve been looking for this information for a long time. Thanks

  15. abide says:

    “This week’s contest answer is a film that won the Best Picture Oscar. This film’s title would have made a good theme entry this week. ”

    I don’t see how that could be any more clear. I just thought of palindrome names and the only one left was EVE. There’s only one well known movie about Eve. I did need to confirm it won Best Picture.

  16. Mike says:

    Ok, but all the theme answers were FULL names, not just first or last. The movie that fit that (full name) was The Life of Emile Zola.

  17. joon says:

    “the theme answers are all full names” does not really qualify as a theme, i think even in USA today. plus, it has nothing to do with the title.

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