MGWCC #070 -- HELL MONTH PUZZLE #1 -- Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 -- "Black-Hearted"


The days grow shorter, the temperature lowers, the evening skies assume a foreboding air -- this is nature's way at this point in the cycle.

They start showing horror movies on TV, someone makes you go to a corn maze, and Hell Month begins at MGWCC, five freaky Fridays of creepy-crawly cruciverbalism -- this is humanity's way at this point in the cycle.

If you dare to know more, seek details below. Many will enter Hell Month...but few will ultimately survive.


No theme or meta in last week's puzzle, just a pre-Hell Month palate-cleansing themeless before I make you wish I'd never been born. But there was a contest: who could come up with the best replacement for the dull and negative term "themeless crossword," hopefully stressing lively vocabulary over themelessness?

I'll divide these into three categories: 1) FUNNY BUT NO: entries that are cute or clever but not gonna replace "themeless crossword"; 2) VERY NICE: entries that were serious contenders for the prize; and 3) YOU WIN: our winning entry.


Thematically Challenged
Seinfeld (i.e., a crossword about nothing)
Walden (after Byron Walden)
Naked crossword
THE ME-LESS crossword ("less ego involved in theme entries")
Solely lexis (I think this is a pun on "solar plexus" but not sure)


Showcase crosswords


"Freestyle crosswords."

Simple, gets the idea across, sounds like you're out tearing up a ski slope instead of hunched over a laptop -- and the new term "freestyle crossword" has entered the American lexicon.

Only 35 Google hits for the phrase. Thought I had found a puzzle book author who'd anticipated our neologism, but it turns out that what one Robert Osborne is calling "freestyle crosswords" is what we call "skeletal crosswords":


So, who sent in that winning entry? 11 people did. How will I decide which one wins the prize? All 11 will get a pen and pencil, while one I'll pick at random will win the weekly book prize. I'll post their names and cities next week.


38 people sent in correct contest answers to all four of September's puzzles. The following lucky 10 were selected at random from that group and win MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad sets. Spooky!

Don Albright -- West Chester, Penna.

John Aldape -- Boise, Ida.

Kevin Black -- Claremont, Calif.

Marcie Bunnell -- Dover, Del.

Jim Dale -- Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Mark Diehl -- San Jose, Calif.

John Farmer -- Woodland Hills, Calif.

Gavin Glenn Harris -- Alexandria, Va.

Gerry Tansey -- Florissant, Mo.

Lyle Wiedeman -- Lake Forest, Calif.

Congratulations to all winners.


It's HM go time! First, the two big ground rules:

1) All entrants who submit correct contest entries to each of Hell Month's five crosswords will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set.

2) No references of any kind (books, websites, etc.) or assistance in any way from any other person is allowed during Hell Month at MGWCC! 11 months out of the year you can Google whatever you have to and still remain eligible for prizes. Some of you, spies tell me, even give each other hints.

NOT THIS MONTH! No hints, no help, not a word, not a single letter, not a single nudge or raised eyebrow. If a fellow contestant asks you for help, the only proper response is:

"I'm sorry [awful cheater's name here], but it's Hell Month. You know it's wrong, and I won't do it."


You may find this week's puzzle calm and placid and simple...much like the opening 15 minutes of a horror movie are calm and placid and simple. Hell Month contest answer #1 is the name of a well-known author. Send it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Wednesday, October 7th at 12 noon ET (extending this first week's deadline by one day so I can publicize Hell Month a little longer). Please put the contest answer 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 download the free software here, then join the Google Group (868 members now!) here.


One randomly-chosen winner next week will receive, instead of a book by me, a copy of Patrick Blindauer's upcoming holiday suite of puzzles. (Five bucks for 12 puzzles by one of the best cruciverbalists around -- I'm kicking in this afternoon, you think about it too!)

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


jau said...

Matt, could you resolve a question for me? If we enter an answer, should we send the solved puzzle as well as the answer to the question?


Matt Gaffney said...


No, you only need to send in the contest answer word/phrase each week. Check out the FAQ on the left sidebar for more information.