The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Evan Birnholz’s July 1 Post Magazine crossword, “Inseparable”

If you’re planning to be in the Boston area at the end of July check out the second annual Boswords Tournament at the Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury on Sunday, July 29. I know the folks running it. They get my seal of approval. They even have a pairs division if you’d rather not fly solo at a puzzle tourney. If you can’t make it, it’s easy enough to pre-order the puzzles for solving at home for just $5.

Today’s puzzle features five wacky answers that appear to be gibberish in the grid but make sense once you understand the revealer at 120A: [Inseparable … like five pairs of phrases in this puzzle, literally], which is JOINED AT THE HIP. Each theme answer contains a pair of phrases which overlap at the letters H-I-P:

  • 23A: [“Get off the boat, you flower child!"?] is “ABANDON SHIP, HIPPIE!” It looks like ABANDON SHIPPIE in the grid, but you can see it if you separate out the two HIPs.
  • 36A: [Those whose freestyle raps and break-dancing moves are inspired by a cookie tidbit?] is CHOCOLATE CHIP HIP-HOPPERS.
  • 61A: [Revere river beasts?] is WORSHIP HIPPOPOTAMUSES.
  • 72A: [Super-cool version of a 1986 hit by Huey Lewis and the News?] is ULTRA-HIPHIP TO BE SQUARE.’
  • 99A: [Order to an ancient Greek physician to become strict?] is “CRACK THE WHIP, HIPPOCRATES.”

One reason why there are so few theme answers relative to other puzzles of mine is that the ones in this puzzle are all quite long; on my end, it’s not always easy dealing with 18- and 20-letter entries. A more important reason is that I had hoped to avoid repeating words that use the same definitions of -HIP, -CHIP or -WHIP as much as possible. You’ll note I couldn’t even do that entirely since ULTRA-HIP ‘HIP TO BE SQUARE’ basically contains the same meaning of “hip” twice. There are hundreds of words that end with the suffix -SHIP, but I thought it would be inelegant to use one of them once I settled on WORSHIP HIPPOPOTAMUSES since “worship” contains the root of that suffix. There were probably some better theme answers that I left on the table, like maybe DEALERSHIP HIPPOGRIFFS, if Harry Potter is your thing.

Other answers and clues:

  • 59A: [Bullmatian or schnoodle, e.g.] is a MUTT. Bulldog + Dalmatian for the first and Schnauzer + Poodle for the second.
  • NOUN at 81A and SIDE at 92A are both clued as [Soup or salad, e.g.]. I’m a sucker for example-type clues whenever NOUN or VERB come up since they lend themselves well to common phrases, and these paired well.
  • 86A: [Ursine creature that does not hibernate] is PANDA BEAR. That caught me by surprise.
  • 32D: [Thrashes about] is FLAILS. Originally I was going to clue this in reference to the spiked medieval weapon … but then I read this blog post from the public historian Paul B. Sturtevant which makes a strong case that the weapon we imagine to be a flail never actually existed. That caught me by surprise, too.
  • Another near-clue echo: 38D: [One much praised by Muhammad] is ALLAH and 49D: [Much-praised Muhammad] is ALI. I did wonder for a while if ALI could have been clued exactly the same as ALLAH since, technically, Muhammad Ali was much praised by Muhammad Ali.
  • 50D: [Developer of the “Resident Evil" video game franchise] is CAPCOM. It also developed the “Street Fighter” games.
  • 66D: [People on Safari?] is USERS. I’m a Chrome guy, myself, but I think it’s about time we brought back Netscape Navigator.

See you next week!