MGWCC #075 -- Friday, November 6, 2009 -- "Ain't No Way"

We prevailed at last against our final challenge, a monstrous (though somehow comical) green ogre. Yet our victory was a Pyrrhic one -- in the final tally, just 36 members of our cruciverbal band survived the month.

We rejoice in the ultimate success of our undertaking while mourning the loss of 291 brave brothers and sisters. We rest assured, however, in the knowledge that we shall fight at their side again, for the seers tell us this:

the whimsical gods have decreed that a similar challenge shall present itself to us in springtime of the coming year...and this challenge will surpass October's in testing the minds and strength of us all...


68 solvers located the five-letter Halloween costume hidden in last week's grid -- or, more precisely, in the grids of all five Hell Month puzzles.

Last week's four nine-letter theme entries were variations on the previous four Hell Month meta solutions: EDGAR A. POE, BLACK CATS, NOSFERATU, and ZAGNUT BAR. This nudged solvers towards the idea that the previous puzzles might be useful in solving the meta (solution at left).

A fifth theme entry across the middle of the grid was the big hint: UNLUCKY ALL MONTH. There's not much unluckier than the number 13, which prompted solvers to look back at the letter in the grid square marked "13" in each of Hell Month's five puzzles (such as the K in KINDS at 13-down last week).

These five 13-squares, read in chronological order, yieleded that lovable movie ogre (and popular Halloween costume) SHREK, who was last week's contest answer word.

The puzzle's title ("65 to Stay Alive") helped several of the math teachers among MGWCC solvers find the meta quickly, since they instantly noticed that 65 divided by Hell Month's five puzzles equals unlucky #13.

Last week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 68 correct entries submitted, is Emily O'Neill of Vancouver, B.C. Emily has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

And so Hell Month '09 draws to a close. Congratulations to the following 36 survivors, each of whom submitted the correct contest answer to each of October's five puzzles -- and each of whom will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Joel Alderson -- Andover, Kan.

Scott Atkinson -- Springfield, Mo.

Thomas Brendel -- Atlanta, Ga.

Jonathon Brown -- Louisville, Ky.

Marcie Bunnell -- Dover, Del.

Joe Cabrera -- Boston, Mass.

Mark Diehl -- San Jose, Calif.

Laura Dove -- Longmeadow, Mass.

Meg Duvall -- St. Petersburg, Fla.

Dan Feyer -- New York City, N.Y.

Elissa Grossman -- Santa Monica, Calif.

Jeffrey Harris -- Nashville, Tenn.

Barbara Hartwell -- Framingham, Mass.

Benjamin Henri -- Royal Oak, Mich.

Richard Kalustian -- Tacoma, Wash.

Eric LeVasseur -- Tustin, Calif.

Julian Lim -- Philadelphia, Penna.

Tyler McLemore -- Louisville, Ky.

Pete Mitchell -- Bow, N.H.

Tim Mitchell -- Snohomish, Wash.

Jonathan Olsen -- New York City, N.Y.

Joon Pahk -- Somerville, Mass.

Trip Payne -- Boca Raton, Fla.

Brendan Emmett Quigley -- Cambridge, Mass.

Al Sanders -- Fort Collins, Colo.

Jed Scott -- Rockford, Mich.

Justin Smith -- Germantown, Md.

Steve Smith -- Winchester, Mass.

Rebecca Soble -- Istanbul, Turkey

David Stein -- Silver Spring, Md.

Karen von Haam -- Mashpee, Mass.

Mike Weepie -- Cedar Rapids, Ia.

Scott Weiss -- Walkersville, Md.

David Wild -- Washington, D.C.

Stephen Williams -- Holbrook, Mass.

John L. Wilson -- Shoreview, Minn.

With eight winners from the Bay State, we might say the prizes I'm sending out will constitute a "Mass mailing."


Ready for more spooky autumn puzzles? Pick up the Nov. 15 issue (on sale now) of Wine Spectator magazine, where I have a seven-puzzle whodunit entitled "Murder by Malbec."

It's available online to subscribers only, but I'd suggest getting a hard copy of the magazine anyway -- the artwork is beautiful and the large size of the magazine makes playing winery detective even more fun. One of the coolest projects I've ever gotten to work on in my puzzle career.


There are three points you need for this week's MGWCC. This week's contest answer is the fourth point, the one you don't need. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. 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 (942 members now!) here.

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

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