Monday, January 14, 2019

Aries Cryptic #8, and Crosswordese Movies

Hello again for Cryptic #8! I started this puzzle with 14-D, as I had that clue on ice for a little bit. It's not uncommon that I come across a good cluing angle for an entry, only to lose the entry in a grid change down the line. The upshot is that these can be seeded in subsequent puzzles, as was the case here. Hope you enjoy!

Aries Cryptic #8 - PUZ

Aries Cryptic #8 - PDF

Aries Cryptic #8 - SOLUTION

Intro to Cryptics - PDF

On a somewhat related note, I'm a big movie watcher, and I especially enjoy watching batches of movies with some overarching theme connecting them. This started in the summer of 2017, when I began a binge of movies released in the year 1981. I've literally lost count of how many '81s I've seen to date (I kept a journal for the first sixty or so), but it's close to a hundred at this point. I did 31 horror movies in 31 days this past October (OK, it took me 32 days, but don't tell anyone). I'm slowly making my way through all twenty or so films scored by Tangerine Dream. More recently I've taken to smaller spurts - I watched all eleven films directed by Hal Ashby, which, inspired by The Last Detail, spun off into a run of the film works of novelist/screenwriter Darryl Ponicsan.

I bring this up because I'm planning on doing a crossword-related movie spurt in the near future, and could use some help formulating the screening list. Roughly the theme of this spurt is "Movies more relevant in 2019 in crossword puzzles than as movies." This can also extend to actors/directors/film characters whose present-day crossword fame far outstrips their movie fame. Here's what I've got so far:

1. Ulee's Gold (1997)
2. D.C. Cab (1983)
3. Eleni (1985)
4. Dr. T. and the Women (2000)
5. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
6. Lili (1953) - Gigi passing the "relevance test" by its being a Best Picture winner, IMO

Then there are the crosswordese actors to consider. In these cases, some of the movies pass the relevance test, but its usage in the crossword is most often connected with a not-very-relevant-in-2019 person. For instance, I would argue A Shot in the Dark (1964) is film-relevant as the first sequel to The Pink Panther, and is the first film in the series where Inspector Clouseau is the main character (he was a side character in the first film, fun fact). The film certainly isn't Wizard of Oz-relevant, but far more relevant than, say, D.C. Cab. However, less relevant in 2019 is the film's co-star ELKE Sommer, whose first name nonetheless is the only reason we see A Shot in the Dark referenced in crosswords nowadays. Similarly, here are some other examples:

1. The Thin Man (1934) - ASTA the dog
2. La Bamba (1987) - ESAI Morales
3. Say Anything... (1989) - IONE Skye
4. Chocolat (2000) - Lena OLIN
5. Butterfly (1982) - PIA Zadora
6. The Verdict (1982) - Milo O'SHEA

Thankfully I've already seen Butterfly, which is stunningly wretched. And I'll go to bat anyday for The Thin Man and vouch for its relevance, but let's be honest - no movie-related crosswordese list is complete without throwing a bone to ASTA.

If you have any good ideas for movies to include, I'd love to hear them! I feel like there's some obvious ones I'm missing. I realize there's a lot of debate to be had regarding relevancy and which movies to pick among actors, etc., but that's part of the fun of coming up with the list! Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Happy solving!



  1. Gotta have some Pola Negri on there. I actually really love her film The Wildcat, which is an underrated Lubitsch picture.

  2. Yes! Also came up with Zasu Pitts and Theda Bara while brainstorming the list. "Silent Film Crosswordese" could be a spurt in its own right.

  3. Maybe D.O.A., the 1988 version. The 1949 original is a true classic.

    If you want to extended this to directors, I'd add Nicolas ROEG.

  4. I did consider ELIA Kazan, probably the king of movie director-crosswordese. I think he's significant enough of a director to merit current-day relevance. ROEG less so, but I think he occupies a certain arthouse niche, plus he has crossover appeal due to his Bowie collaborations.

    As a side note, I recently watched Roeg's "Bad Timing," (1980) which is a movie you can't quickly unwatch, if you know what I mean. I'll just say that you'll never look at Art Garfunkel the same way after seeing that film.

  5. How about "7 Faces Dr. LAO" (1964)? I saw part of it on TV when I was a kid, and it's super trippy.