MGWCC #016 -- Friday, September 19th, 2008 -- "Bankers Away"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 16 of my crossword contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


"WASILLA'S ALL I SAW," declared a palindrome in last week's MGWCC, but 74 solvers saw a lot more than that. Namely, they found three other fully-reversible phrases relating to Alaska Governor Palin: HARASS SARAH, PEEVE VEEP, and TRACK CART. As the contest instructions required, these solvers hyphenated the fifth theme entry to reveal the puzzle's gimmick: PALIN-DROMES, which was last week's contest answer word (found at 62-across). Solution grid at left.

Several solvers e-mailed to ask how this rather nifty theme came about, none more entertainingly than Peter Gordon:

So you come up with the PALINDROME idea, and how far
along are you before you hit on WASILLASALLISAW? Do you
immediately drop to your knees and thank the gods of
crosswords for delivering a perfect 15-letter entry?

That would be the normal procedure, but the story of what really happened is even more bizarre. I often fall asleep thinking of crossword themes, hoping my subsconscious will find something good by morning. It's only worked very rarely -- perhaps once or twice in my life I've dreamt a full theme, but at least it puts me to sleep.

I went to bed thinking vaguely of newsworthy theme ideas, and woke up in the middle of the night with the phrase "Wasilla's all I saw" fully formed in my brain. I lay awake for a few minutes wondering if there were more of that type, and eventually came across "Harass Sarah," after which I realized I might have something here and got up to work out the rest of the idea.

I couldn't find anything with 11 letters to balance HARASS SARAH in the grid, but figured I could just punt with PALINDROMES, which would make, I thought, a decent enough contest answer word. Only after placing it in the grid did I notice -- hey, PALIN is the first five letters of PALINDROMES! Whaddya know?

Hope that doesn't take some of the shine off the theme. Is it still clever if you find it by dumb luck?

This week's winner, whose name was chosen randomly from the 74 correct entries, is Ed Brody of Cambridge, Mass. Ed has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.


Mike Sylvia sends along this clever alternate theme entry for last week's puzzle:

Website for all those recent-nominee's-running-mate-crazy Douala natives?

Note: the answer has 11 letters and I'll publish it next week (e-mail me if it's really driving you nuts and you can't wait that long).

Anne Erdmann recently took a trip to Central Asia and writes:

I just changed 10 time zones in the last 30 hours so I have no clue. Missed all the Palin-hoopla being out of the country so not even sure this is the answer :-). Looking forward to catching up on the last few weeks of contest xwords even if I can’t enter. (Tried to get to them at one internet cafe in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but no go.) Saw the ALAI Mountains but not the ARAL Sea.

And finally, this story: Houstonian MGWCC solver Stewart Levine, upon seeing 3-down in last week's puzzle, mentioned that he was hunkering down in anticipation of Hurricane Ike with a case of 3-down (CORONA). I assumed he was joking (about the beer, not the hurricane).

A few days later I sent him an e-mail to see how he'd held up, but didn't hear back for a while. I was starting to get mildly worried when this showed up:


I survived Hurricane Ike but I still have no power and I managed to get a tank of gasoline today. I'm running out of Corona Beer. Funny thing, I lost power Friday night in the middle of doing the NYT Saturday Puzzle. I borrowed a neighbor's DSL (she has a generator) to get this out. I hope power comes on for your next puzzle. Did I win the last one?


This photo was attached, showing that Stewart not only survived Ike, but indeed did so with a case of 3-down. Now you know how to weather a Gulf of Mexico storm in style! And I'm definitely sending him a book for his troubles.


Real simple this week: the 12-letter entry at 40-across is this week's contest answer phrase. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer phrase in the subject line of your e-mail.

To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. To solve using Across Lite, join the Google Group here:


Solve well, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.