Mahnken is a chemistry teacher at Amherst Regional High School. Several of his crosswords have appeared in The New York Times. In this puzzle, something unusual is going on in two corners.

Your Challenge

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Send a scan or photo of your completed puzzle to or mail this page to Amherst Magazine, Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002. From the correct entries, we'll randomly select one winner to receive an Amherst T-shirt.

A crossword puzzle
Across Down
1 Scrooge’s cry 1 Synonym for shrub that has most of its letters
4 What a singer in the Zumbyes might have, slangily 2 Home of all 100 of the top 100 tallest mountains in the world
9 “Smoke on the Water” band 3 Repetitive greeting
14 Employ 4 Fire
15 Heart part 5 Howard Johnson and Econo Lodge, e.g.
16 Words of comfort 6 Black-and-white predator
17 Nickname for a President of Amherst College? 7 Mom-and-pop grps.?
19 Item in a mall cop’s holster 8 Any ionic compound (not just NaCl)
20 Cry before “Who goes there?” 9 Copies, quaintly
21 _______ of Eden 10 One step up from a “happy birthday” text
22 Long journeys 11 Simplicity
23 Racetrack shape 12 Like very early schooling, for short
25 Silently express agreement 13 Acts yellow-bellied, like the mascot hiding in the corner
26 Make a decision 18 “Ta-da!”
28 “Uno, ___ tres” 24 Golf Hall-of-Famer Isao ________
29 Many a tree on the Main Quad 25 Faux-pas
32 Arab potentate 26 Girl, in Guatemala
33 Reclined 27 Bugs’ antagonist
35 Frozen 2 reindeer 28 Cuts into bits
36 Benighted rival to the west...whose infamous mascot has snuck into this puzzle! 29 Has one too many at Antonio’s, say
39 The NCAA's Bruins 30 Shield of Greek myth
40 Syllables of sly laughter 31 Something taken at a football game?
41 Like a lonely moonlit night 32 Taken a dip at Puer’s Pond, say
42 And Warhol subject 34 Fire proof?
43 Lawyers' association 35 Catch some extra Zs
44 Does 91 down I-91, say 37 Who said, “From hell’s heart, I stab at thee”
46 The ______ Amherst restaurant that closed after 50 years 38 Levi’s alternative
47 Nickname for a Boston hockey legend 43 ____ Burner chemistry lab equipment
48 ______baller 45 Eat listlessly
51 Children's author Carle 46 Financial schemer from Boston
54 Roadside dangers during the Iraq War 48 Home of the Kremlin
57 Dining hall sights 49 “Not now, not ______”
58 Eccentric poet of Amherst 50 Who asked, “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?”
60 “______ the means of production” (Marxist tenet) 51 Dutch cheese variety
61 Squad including Mr. T 52 Moreno of West Side Story
62 Words sealed with a kiss 53 Takes out, mobster-style
63 Name of a Prince song, album and film 55 Birdbrain
64 The U.S.S. Constitution has three of them 56 Welcome weather on the night before a 'nal exam
65 Drag along 59 Communications on Skype, for short

Last Quarter’s Winners

By Ilan Stavans, the Lewis Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture

Amherst isn’t a verb, but if it were, this would be the perfect opportunity to use it: Almost all of the entries to my “invent a new word” contest (Winter 2020) are stellar examples of the act and art of amhersting, the capacity to look at the world anew, displaying endless curiosity while using one’s intellect in resourceful ways.

Feeling blëch, out of love and full of striends? Convinced that our times are a sign of democritude, in which everything looks like scrud? I have a solution for you: invent a verbno (from the Latin verbum novum). In fact, create words left and right. You might meamble and even find out you’re a worryizer. But don’t panic: reality is always about words, as much about how we shape them as about how they shape us.

Seriously, the three winners of my contest are: innerstand (from Elliott Isenberg ’66) interrobrag (from Gordon Bourjaily ’11) and nagivator (from Doris and Alan Blum ’69).

Why do we say understand to describe the perception of intent? Why not innerstand, since knowledge happens inside us, not under us?

In this moment of intense polarization, ideological as well as emotional, people don’t just ask questions but interrobrag about who they are.

And nagivator c’est moi. As Alison, my wife, who is an excellent driver, will rightfully attest, every time I’m in the co-pilot seat (as I was, serendipitously, when she and I discussed each of these two dozen contest submissions), I’m a nuisance, using language to suggest how often she should brake, how wide her left turns are and other annoyances. Yes, the word nagivator, upon arrival, fittingly described an action the two of us know too well yet regularly take too many words to summarize.

In his illustrious A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), my hero Samuel Johnson defined lexicographer as “a harmless drudge.” He might have been right but, wow, isn’t it fun to look at words upside down and inside out, especially when they are newly born?

Isenberg, Bourjaily and the Blums will receive Amherst T-shirts.

Blëch. A feeling of being morose, down in the dumps, uninspired. An atmosphere of lachrymosity, gloom, disquietude. (Stanley Ross ’77)

Striend. A person who was once a friend, but over time, has become a stranger. (Bonnie Franz ’88)

Democritude. The quality or state of decline and failure of democratic institutions and states due to the gradual loss of an educated, informed and engaged citizenry and the concurrent rise of political extremism, ethnic nationalism and anti-elite populism, and abetted by the corrupting influence of big money in politics and by the rise of misinformation and disinformation spread by unregulated social media. (Alex Meerovich ’87)

Scrud. A mix of snow and ice, topped with dirt, that forms on roadsides as winter turns to spring. (Marie Christine Russell)

Verbno. A new word. A word that is necessary but nonexistent. Derived from the Latin verbum novum, meaning new word. An example of a verbno is inchstone. If a milestone is a significant event in one’s life, an inchstone is an insignificant one. (Bob Leeder ’61)

Meamble. A combination of meander and amble. Used to describe walking at a slow pace to nowhere in particular. (Lou Silverman ’81)

Worryizer. One who invents topics or instances of which to be concerned. (Russell Ryan ’71)

Innerstand. To understand intuitively rather than with the mind or ego; not to comprehend from “under,” but to comprehend from “within.” (Elliott Isenberg ’66)

Interrobrag. A question asked with the ulterior motive of impressing others. The act of asking such a question. To ask a question with the ulterior motive of impressing others. (Gordon Bourjaily ’11)

Nagivator. The person in the passenger seat, usually a significant other in an enduring relationship—or an extremely brief one. See also nagivate: To stress an enduring relationship to the breaking point from the passenger seat. (Doris and Alan Blum ’69)