12/31/10

MGWCC #135 -- Friday, December 31st, 2010 -- "This Doggone Crossword!"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 135 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

306 solvers identified "The Little Drummer Boy" as last week's contest Christmas carol, noticing its distinctive chorus line at the beginning of the puzzle's five theme entries:

17-a PAIR OF NINES
24-a RUMOR MILL
33-a PUMPKIN BUTTER
47-a PUMMELING
54-a PUMICE STONE

Mark O'Kain writes:

I would have been very upset to not finish this puzzle ... since I'm a drummer!

Many solvers -- actually, very many solvers -- mentioned that "The Little Drummer Boy" is far from their favorite Christmas carol. Several mentioned its earwormish qualities, including Marty Howard:

If I can't get rid of this in my head, I'm gonna get you!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 306 correct entries received, is Elaine Walizer of Conway, Ark. Elaine has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

NON EST ERRATUM, SED MALUM EST:

Peter Washington notes an inelegance:

The clue for 30-D is a little inartful since the P in the answer stands for play.

Whoops! Swing and a miss.


SPECIAL PRIZES OVER THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS:

Weekly winners of MGWCC over the next month will receive both a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set plus a year-long subscription to Peter Gordon's outstanding Fireball Crosswords.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


No New Year's puzzle -- I couldn't think of any words containing the sequence MMXI -- but pet lovers will like it anyway. This week's contest answer is a breed of dog. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer breed in the subject line of your e-mail. [UPDATE, 12/31, 1:50 PM ET: Todd Dashoff points out that the clue to 45-down should read {Was a promoter (for)}.]

To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. To solve using Across Lite either solve on the applet below or download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,408 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





Solve well, Happy New Year!, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.

12/24/10

MGWCC #134 -- Friday, Dec. 24th, 2010 -- "A Chorus Line"



Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 134 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

How's by you? Probably pretty good if you're eating Cajun food at the restaurant pictured above, since it gets four stars on Yelp. It also served as this week's contest answer.

299 solvers ate up the five real-life restaurant names in the grid:

3-d -- WHAT THE PHO
21-d -- AESOP'S TABLES
7-d -- BREWED AWAKENING
9-d -- THE BEST WURST
32-d -- FRYING NEMO

Instructions told them to form a 10-letter Midwest Cajun restaurant's name from two grid entries, so searching for puns they went. BAYOU at 23-across seemed like a good start, being both a Cajun restaurant and a strong candidate for wordplay hijinks. HOWES at 69-a finished the job, and HOWE'S BAYOU was indeed our restaurant of the week.

Ben Henri
is close to the meta:

I live about 2 minutes from that place! I've never been, but I think I'll have to go now.

Jim Sempsrott is 3-for-3 in December and writes:

I'm still in the running, by gumbo!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 299 correct entries received, is Seth Canetti of Larchmont, N.Y. Seth has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

ANATOMY OF A SOLVE:

You already know that Joon Pahk posts a detailed critique of MGWCC each Tuesday at Crossword Fiend. Now Eric Prestemon joins in with a weekly log of his own solve (my favorite comments this week are at 0:22 and 28:46):

http://solvingpuzzles.tumblr.com/post/2433930111/mgwcc-133-edible-complex

ARIES PUZZLES:


If you're a fan of Rows Garden puzzles, check out Andrew Ries's new site, where he's posting one new Rows Garden per week:

http://ariespuzzles.com/

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the name of a Christmas carol. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Wednesday (note extra day!) at noon ET. Please put the contest answer carol 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 either solve on the applet below or download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,402 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.




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

12/17/10

MGWCC #133 -- Friday, Dec. 17th, 2010 -- "Edible Complex"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 133 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


Toughish meta for Week 2 -- simple in retrospect, but a little tricky to notice in the first place. Solvers were tasked with finding the name of a well-known five-letter sitcom. The theme entries were:

17-a HOCKEY TEAM
25 & 27-a POLITICAL SPECTRUM
44a JUMBO JET
49a TOUCAN SAM
58a WHITE HOUSE

Which are all things with WINGS, of course, which makes that 1990's show our contest answer sitcom.

Andrew Rosenberg explains why the meta was a bit tricky:

Man, I was looking for some sort of anagram or letter play for daaaays.

John Farmer chronicles his solve:

I had to get this one backwards, thinking of 5-letter sitcoms then looking for a connection. Maude didn't seem to work. Hazel seemed unlikely. I was running out of names.

To which Mark Taylor adds:

Alice and Maude missed the flight.

To which Jake Lavenberg adds:

I always fly Coach.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 217 correct entries received, is Phoebe McBee of New York City, N.Y. Phoebe has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

BETTER TITLE FOR MGWCC #131:

Todd Dashoff
one-ups my title for the silent-letter actresses theme in MGWCC #131. I used "Crossword Scene: Take One," but Todd suggests:

“Quiet on the Set!”

MGWCC NYT Q&A:

Jim Horne interviewed me at the New York Times' Wordplay blog last week:

http://wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/10/slacker/

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the name of a 10-letter Cajun restaurant located somewhere in the Midwest. You can form its name by joining two entries in this grid. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer restaurant 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 either solve on the applet below or download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,400 members now!) here.




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

12/10/10

MGWCC #132 -- Friday, Dec. 10th, 2010 -- "Side Project"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 132 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Solvers confronted six misspelled actresses in last week's theme entries. Upon closer inspection they realized that each actress's name was missing one letter, like so:

16-a ANNABELLA sCIORRA
23-a MARGOt KIDDER
30-a HELEN MIRrEN
40-a DIANNe WIEST
48-a ROSEANNe BARR
56-a MICHELLE pFEIFFER

Those six missing letters, in lowercase and emboldened above, spell out the missing thespian: Meryl STREEP, who was last week's contest answer.

Ben Bass writes:

Clearly you weren't going for Bernadette PETERS.

No, but it was a clever try submitted by three entrants.

It's true that PETERS' surname anagrams to STREEP, but I decided I couldn't accept it as an alt-answer in the end: Meryl is far better known than Bernadette, and her name is spelled out by the missing letters in order, without anagramming. These two factors make STREEP too superior an answer over PETERS to accept the latter as correct.

Joe Fendel
quips:

Nice to begin the holiday season so Meryl-y!

Regarding the puckish {Cole ___ shoes} and {___ Haan shoes} clues in the past two puzzles, Neville Fogarty writes:

I've been wearing Cole Haan shoes BOTH times I've entered the respective entry these two weeks.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 339 correct entries received, is Katy D. of Fall River Mills, Calif.

TWO NEW WAYS TO SOLVE MGWCC:


Beginning today you can solve MGWCC in Across Lite right here at the site, with nothing to download. Here's this week's puzzle:



You can also muster a group and solve it over at Team Crossword, who will be running MGWCC each Friday beginning today:

http://www.teamcrossword.com/

As I write this, the top time at TCW is 3:52 for this puzzle, achieved by a team of five players. Note: this rule will likely change in January, but for now, several contestants can solve MGWCC as a team at TCW and still submit individual answers to the contest.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is the name of a well-known five-letter sitcom. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer sitcom 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 either solve on the applet above or download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,384 members now!) here.



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

12/3/10

MGWCC #131 -- Friday, December 3rd, 2010 -- "Crossword Scene: Take One"


Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 131 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

MULTIPLES OF FIVE, read 38-across in last week's tough month-ender, clued as {13 to examine}. Which continent did that lead to? SOUTH AMERICA, whose thirteen capitals were represented by their first three letters at each multiple of five in the grid. For instance: BOGota, Colombia concealed itself as BOGart at 30-across, while CARacas, Venezuela hid in CAReer at 45-across.

The full list:

5-a CAYuga = CAYenne, French Guiana
10-a QUIk = QUIto, Ecuador
15-a LIMo = LIMa, Peru
20-a AS Usual = ASUncion, Paraguay
25-a BRAwn = BRAsilia, Brazil
30-a BOGart = BOGota, Colombia
35-a BUEll = BUEnos Aires, Argentina
40-a PARnells = PARamaribo, Suriname
45-a CAReer = CARacas, Venezuela
50-a SANa'a = SANtiago, Chile (one capital concealing another!)
55-a MONa = MONtevideo, Uruguay
60-a GEOl = Georgetown, Guyana
65-a LAPp = LA Paz, Bolivia

Solvers most frequently mentioned BUEll, BOGart and QUIk as their keys to unlocking the meta, and many people mentioned the upper right-hand corner as being especially rough. Tyler Hinman even tweeted its brutality:

# Big off-day for me. Struggled on that Masyu, made dumb mistakes in the CHE, and found the upper right of the MGWCC utterly unsolvable. 4:17 PM Nov 26th via web

Figured out the Gaffney meta. I still don't feel good about myself for not getting the upper right. 4:26 PM Nov 26th via web

http://twitter.com/thatpuzzleguy


Tough month of puzzles all around -- Jan Bruce writes:

Hardest month of metas since I started playing.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 104 correct entries received, is Kirsten Weiblen of Yellow Spring, W. Va.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

Be proud if you're one of them, as just 34 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of November's challenges (ARABIC, TOFU, IBM SNAPPLES and SOUTH AMERICA). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Bill Cascadden -- High River, Alta.

Jason Chan -- Urbana, Ill.

Greggo Johnson -- Pittsburgh, Penna.

Wayne Jones -- Worcester, N.Y.

Don Lycette -- The Woodlands, Tex.

Steve M. -- Highland, Ill.

Pete Rimkus -- Ashford, Conn.

Marcia Rose -- Delray Beach, Fla.

Jeffrey Schwartz -- New York City, N.Y.

Leo Stein -- Cambridge, Mass.


Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 4-for-4 in November.

IBM SNAPPLES OR EITHER BORER?

I forgot to mention this last week, but Joan Aufderhar writes re Week 129:

Am I the only person who got the wrong answer by pairing "Either" and "Borer" last week for the 11-letter phrase that created 'rivals' EITHER/OR???

Was that an intentional trick on your part? Sigh.........I thought it was a great answer, alas.


Three solvers submitted EITHER/BORER (at 49-down and 35-across) as their answer for Week 129, and it was indeed an excellent try...that I still felt unable to accept as correct, though just by a hair. It does runs 11 letters, as contest instructions stipulate, and it does conceal two somewhat opposite words (EITHER and OR) in a similar manner to the other four theme entries.

In the end, though, I felt that EITHER and OR aren't really "enemies" or "rivals" the way the other four matchups are. Another litmus test I use for cases like this: if 10 solvers had found both EITHER/BORER and IBM/SNAPPLES, would any of them have chosen the former over the latter? I don't believe so in this case.

So not quite right, but still very close -- and not an intentional trick, Joan! Scout's honor.

TEAM CROSSWORD:

Has anyone here tried the new Microsoft/Facebook feature called Team Crossword yet? It's revolutionary: solve a puzzle remotely with up to six other team members, whose answers are all color-coded so you know who did the heavy lifting. Currently running the Universal Crossword but there'll be more to that mix soon -- I'll write more about it next week.

Imagine what kind of times a Delfin-Hinman-Payne-Feyer team would post...that'd be quite a sight!

http://www.teamcrossword.com/

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the name of a well-known actress.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer actress 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 (1,378 members now!) here.



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

11/26/10

MGWCC #130 -- Friday, Nov. 26th, 2010 -- "Linkin' Continental"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 130 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Five true enemies -- well, five true rivals at least -- revealed themselves to 166 solvers in last week's grid. That group noticed that the second word of the puzzle's theme phrases concealed an enemy/rival of the first word. Our cobra-mongoose pairings were:

17-a KGB MUSICIAN
29-a HARVARD VEGEMITE
48-a FRAZIER LOYALIST
64-a VHS TIBETANS

Where was the fifth? At 19-across and 38-down, namely IBM SNAPPLES, where the second word reveals the ancient though waning IBM-APPLE rivalry. I naturally also accepted as correct the two entries that read SNAPPLES IBM, since no particular order was indicated.

[Mini-puzzle: one theme answer I couldn't fit was the 15-letter {What Greeks put in their coffee?}. Answer at the bottom of today's post.]

Lots of sneaky in last week's puzzle: it was gratifying to hear how many people fell into the NUT (20-a) and ENAMEL (22-a) traps, which were intentional. But I was also kicking myself for not even noticing the WAPNER trap at 1-d, especially since it fits so well with NUT.

While submitting his correct answer, Andrew Ries adds:

Cuz I didn’t find CONAN NEEDLENOSE anywhere in the grid

Laura Dove took an intriguing path:

I'd just about given up. I was sure it had to do with (15A) ANAkin (65D)SKYwalker and (60D)OBIt(62A)WAN but there was no making that work. Then I looked at (54A)IPO and thought of iPod and was searching the grid for an entry that started with D and included ZUNE. That's when I noticed APPLE. Devilish!

Meanwhile, Scott Weiss caught a break that led him right to the meta:

I got it quickly mainly because your cluing was very hard. I had lots of holes in the grid until the bottom theme entry which looked basically like VHS--BETA--. So it was pretty clear to me early what was happening.

Justin Redd found another solution, valid except for one point:

This one is too many letters, but could fit as well:

ATARI WIRINESS


I hadn't noticed the ATARI-NES connection, but I had speculated that there might be other reasonable answers lurking in the grid besides IBM SNAPPLES. Ergo I threw in the "beta-blocking" stipulation that the answer must be exactly eleven letters long -- fortunately, it worked!

And finally: regarding 1-down, Jim Sherman wrote:

I was so distraught over the news of Ed Koch's death that I couldn't concentrate on the meta this week!

When I first read this e-mail I assumed that the ex-mayor of New York had passed away since last Friday's publication. Then I re-read the clue to 1-down and figured it out. Hint: Koch is alive and well.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 166 correct entries received, is Steve M. of Highland, Ill. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Steve will also receive an autographed copy of my book Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is one of the seven continents.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer continent 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 (1,374 members now!) here.



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

Mini-puzzle answer: ATHENS ASPARTAME

11/19/10

MGWCC #129 -- Friday, Nov. 19th, 2010 -- "Our True Enemy Has Yet to Reveal Himself"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 129 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Another toughish meta: just 148 solvers found the missing TOFU in last week's grid, very low for a Week 2 puzzle. They'd noticed that the six theme entries consisted of three-word phrases with two-letter second words. Keeping those two-letter words intact but adding the first initial of words 1 and 3 led to the relevant four-letter words. Sounds complicated when I write it out like that, but here they are:

17-a HANG IN THERE --> hint
21-a TERMS OF USE --> tofu
33-a COME ON EILEEN --> cone
42-a TRICK OR TREAT --> tort
53-a LENDS AN EAR --> lane
61-a ALL MY LOVING --> amyl

Five of those four-letter words can be found in the fill. The missing one is TOFU, which made it our four-letter contest answer food.

Jeff Louie pays me a qualified compliment:

You are masterful, at times.

One entrant this week shed some light on a cruciverbal mystery for me. I'd received three e-mails from solvers during the week who, while submitting TOFU, suggested it should have been located at 15-across in place of UTAH:

Is it special tofu from Utah?

In fact, UTAH should be TOFU!

It would be even neater if putting TOFU in for UTAH made
checks that were words.

I figured there had to be some logic to this since three solvers had independently mentioned it, but the light bulb didn't go off until John Reid wrote in explaining:

TOFU should be at 15A in the grid to keep the symmetry of all the theme answers.

Aha! It may seem hard to believe at first, but that near-symmetrical pattern of those five four-letter words was not only unintentional but went completely unnoticed by me until John pointed it out. Maybe it's less hard to believe, though, when you consider how natural the placements of the LANE/HINT and AMYL/CONE pairs are; when you're trying to sneak five four-letter words into a grid with six theme entries in it, it's intuitive to stash them in those relatively unburdened corner areas.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 148 correct entries received, is Steve Smith of Winchester, Mass. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Steve will also receive a copy of Patrick Blindauer's new Puzzlefest.

WEEK 123 WORDPLAY:

I meant to publish this in October, but better late than never: remember the LOUIE ANDERSON puzzle, where theme entries contained all five vowels in consecutive spaces? Charles Montpetit sends in this clever amuse-bouche:

What two crosswordese triads would do this theme one better AND are synonyms of each other?

There are two valid solutions, both given at the end of today's post.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is an eleven-letter phrase comprised of two fill entries in this grid. When combined they make an excellent fifth theme entry. E-mail these two grid entries to me (the actual entries in the grid, not their clue numbers) 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 (1,366 members now!) here.



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

WEEK 123 WORDPLAY ANSWER: the words are OUI and YEA (or AYE), which comprise all five main vowels plus Y -- and which are synonyms of each other (no one said they had to be in the same language!)

11/12/10

MGWCC #128 -- Friday, Nov. 12th, 2010 -- "The Abridged Version"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 128 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


Simple, right? The eight nouns comprising last week's theme are derived from ARABIC, which made that language our contest answer. Yet just 236 solvers submitted a correct entry, a rather low total for the month's first puzzle, so maybe not so simple.

Those answers were:

ALGEBRA MAGAZINE
GHOUL ADMIRAL
CIPHER ELIXIR
SHERBET ASSASSIN

Paul David Wadler writes:

Thanks for the puzzle; it made a great sofa safari on a Friday afternoon.

While Marie desJardins says:

This week's puzzle was of high caliber. As I solved, though, the answers seemed garbled, and I had zero idea as to the solution. I was at the nadir of my solving, crimson with frustration, when suddenly kismet shone upon me, and I hazarded a guess that perhaps the language of origin was the answer. Quickly I soared to the zenith of success, recognizing the Arabic origin of "algebra" and verifying the origin of the other words.

Checkmate!


Why ARABIC? It turns out that almost every other language possesses a quality rendering it unsuitable for this meta: too few words contributed to English (most languages), or far too many (Latin, Greek, French, et al.), or the language itself is so distinctive looking and the origin of its loan words so recognizable that the meta would be blindingly obvious (a grid filled with theme entries like RIGATONI AGITATO or SAMURAI SUSHI wouldn't stump anyone).

That Arabic is written in a non-Roman alphabet also helped, its loan words having been transliterated into unrecognizability in most cases.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 236 correct entries received, is Nancy Domm of Tallahassee, Fla.. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Nancy will also receive a copy of Patrick Blindauer's new Puzzlefest.

THE NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD...CONTEST:

Congratulations to Mike Nothnagel on writing the first New York Times Crossword Contest. It's over now, but I sure wish I'd thought of that meta! Read about it here:

http://wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/contest-results/#more-48121

ERRATUM:

Seven solvers pointed out that at 31-across last week, you don't LOSE A day traveling eastward over the International Date Line, you gain one. Hope I didn't mess up anyone's travel plans there.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a four-letter food that should be in this crossword grid, but isn't. E-mail this food 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 (1,361 members now!) here.



SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK:

One last time: in addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, next week's winner will receive a copy of Patrick Blindauer's new Puzzlefest. I look forward to solving it this weekend myself!

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

11/5/10

MGWCC #127 -- Friday, Nov. 5th, 2010 -- "Language Barrier"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 127 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Who crashed your Halloween party last week, and how did you get rid of him? DRACULA, of course, whom you expunged with a STAKE THROUGH THE HEART -- a bit of an overreaction on your part, perhaps. A simple "would you please leave?" might have sufficed, after all. Or some garlic.


113 successful solvers began with the instructions at 7-down and 47-down, TURN TM / INTO LU. The only other TM sequence in the grid is ATM CARD at 25-down; making the suggested change leads to ALUCARD, which reverses upwardly (see hint at 1-across!) to reveal the identity of our unwanted guest (solution at left, once again showcasing my unreal Paint skills).

Now, how to get rid of him? 27-down was THE MIST, clued as {2007 Stephen King movie -- or what you must remove to rid yourself of the sinister creature}. Removing the MI from MISTAKE at 29-down leaves you with an anti-vampire STAKE, while taking the S and T from the ends of THE ARTS (43-across) reveals Dracula's HEART, the target for your party host wrath.

I accepted any answer that had DRACULA, STAKE and HEART in it, no matter the syntax chosen ("DRACULA/STAKE/HEART," "Drive a stake thru Dracula's heart," etc.). 29 solvers submitted answers that included only DRACULA and STAKE, without mentioning the vampire's HEART. These I was unable to count as correct since the HEART part was such an integral part of the meta.

Eight solvers surprised me by finding the STAKE and the HEART, but identifying ALUCARD as the unwanted vampire. I was unfamiliar with this particular bloodsucker, but enjoyed this typical Wikipedia sentence: "Due to his human mother, Lisa, Alucard is a dhampir, a half-human, half-vampire." (Also check out the bottom of the page for another Wiki classic: "See also: list of fictional dhampirs.")

Since he's not a full vampire, though, I didn't count seven of those eight ALUCARD entries as correct (one of those eight did mention DRACULA in his e-mail, so I counted that one).

Joel McElvain
asks:

Was it intentional that your clue mentioned "sinister" and the answer came on the left side?

I won't say!

The last few minutes before Tuesday noon often bring a flurry of wild guesses, especially on a difficult puzzle. At 11:59 AM this past Tuesday, Seth Grossinger uncorked this classic stab:

The gorilla. With a howitzer.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 113 correct entries received, is Bernie Cosell of Pearisburg, Va. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Bernie will also receive a copy of Patrick Blindauer's new Puzzlefest.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

80 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all five of October's puzzles (REDD FOXX, LOUIE ANDERSON, ABABA, GUILLOTINE, and DRACULA/STAKE THROUGH THE HEART). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Louis Ah -- Cupertino, Calif.

Anne Erdmann -- Champaign, Ill.

Jay Giess -- Rochester, N.Y.

Joe Gori -- Oxford, Conn.

Lee Knutson -- Irvine, Calif.

Michael Marcus -- New Haven, Conn.

Erica Pannen

Tim Platt -- South Berwick, Me.

Pete Rimkus -- Ashford, Conn.

David Rosenberg -- Sherman Oaks, Calif.


Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 5-for-5 in October.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the name of a language.
E-mail this language 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 (1,351 members now!) here.




SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK:


Let's do it again: in addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, next week's winner will receive a copy of Patrick Blindauer's new Puzzlefest.

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

10/29/10

MGWCC #126 -- Friday, October 29th, 2010 -- "Halloween Party"



Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 126 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Off with their heads! Ten clues in last week's puzzle were missing their initial letters (more clearly so in some cases than others). Guided by the parenthetical numbers following those clues, 235 solvers noticed that those missing letters spell out GUILLOTINE, which was last week's macabre contest answer. They were:

(1) {GLoved singer who passed away last year} = MICHAEL JACKSON
(2) {U.S.A. part} = AMER
(3) {iPhone downloads} = APPS
(4) {LEarn a trade} = APPRENTICE
(5) {LOne wolf} = HERMIT
(6) {OPossums pretend to be this} = DEAD
(7) {TUrban location} = HEAD
(8) {IMan's man} = DAVID BOWIE
(9) {NArrow route} = PATH
(10) {EGo tripping} = HIGH ON YOURSELF

Jim Kaye guillotined three clues of his own:

(b) Rig's milieu = SHIP
(o) Range animal in Asia = TIGER
(o) Berlin specialty = MUSIC


And the BOO is for Halloween, not my opinion on the puzzles!!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 235 correct entries received, is Jenny Meyer of Cambridge, Mass. Jenny has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

SPELLET:

Entertaining new iPhone/iPad application from Patrick Berry, Patrick Merrell and (Patrick's brother) Douglas Merrell: Spellet, where you shoot pellets out of cannons to form words.

The app costs 99 cents (and runs on the iPod Touch as well). Check it out here:

http://threebarrels.net/

GOOGLE GROUPS ISSUES:

Irritatingly, Google Groups is still not letting me upload new files this week. So if you for some reason can't use the .puz file I send in the weekly Google Group e-mail, please let me know and I'll resend.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:



It was an extravagant Halloween Party -- you rented the Red Herring Mansion out on the deserted island, ignoring the mainland villagers' claims that it was haunted. Your dozens of guests came dressed in an array of costumes and disguises -- a princess, a pirate, devils and goblins and gladiators and such. A grand time was had by all.

At the break of dawn your guests (finally!) took the morning ferry back to the mainland, leaving you alone on the island for the day. You woke up around noon to a violent thunderstorm -- so violent that you find, to your slight panic, that the mansion's phone is out. Just the weather, you tell yourself. Surely.

It worsens outside. Thunder and lightning crash around the island and you begin to feel a presence somewhere in the house -- a sinister presence. Perhaps a guest sleeping off one too many in a distant room? No, it feels much less harmless than that. Something -- someone -- who was not invited to the party is here in the mansion with you. And somehow you innately understand that they intend you harm...

Yes, there is somebody close by -- a sinister creature -- and you realize that you must rid yourself of it...before it rids itself of you...


This week's contest answer is 1) the identity of your uninvited attendee and 2) the method you used to rid yourself of it. E-mail both of these 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 (1,345 members now!) here.

SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK:


In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, next week's winner will receive a copy of Patrick Blindauer's new Puzzlefest. I enjoyed last year's Puzzlefest suite greatly and I'm setting aside an afternoon (or two) to solve this year's as well. A copy costs $9.99; read more about it or buy yours here.



Solve well, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive. [UPDATE, 10/29, 2:55 PM ET: Erica Pannen points out tense issues in the clue for 49-across: it should read {Fighting (it out)}, not {Fought (it out)}.]

10/22/10

MGWCC #125 -- Friday, October 22nd, 2010 -- "You're Cut Off"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 125 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Pattern Recognition Month continues here at MGWCC, and solvers continue to experience little trouble spotting those patterns. 328 entrants correctly submitted ABABA at 5-across as their contest answer last week, noticing that the puzzle's six theme entries begin with that letter pattern:

NON-ONEROUS
I DID IT AGAIN
PUPU PLATTER
POP OPEN
MAMA MIA
COCO CHANEL

Big miss on my part: three solvers (Tim Tebbe was first) pointed out NO-NONSENSE, a far superior theme entry to my NON-ONEROUS (and the same number of letters, critically). I was so focused on NON-ON... words that I didn't even take into consideration the unusual NO-NON... beginning of NO-NONSENSE. Excellent find -- I certainly would have used it had I seen it, and I'm kicking myself for missing it.

While submitting his correct answer ABABA, Andrew Ries writes:

Addis all, my friend.

Aaron Riccio is 3-for-3 so far this month:

Though the dodo died, I'm not yet extinct for October.

While Eric LeVasseur wrote a poem using the relevant rhyme scheme:

If you had wanted solvers to explain
The rhyme scheme that you'd ultimately see
By taking all the letters you obtain
From spelling out the meta, they would be
responding with "SICILIAN QUINTAIN".


I didn't know it had a name, but he's right:

http://www.thepoetsgarret.com/2007Challenge/oneten.html


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 328 correct entries received, is Ben Guderian of Boulder, Colo. Ben will receive as his prize an autographed copy of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Brain Games.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is something you might see at a macabrely-decorated Halloween party. 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 (1,341 members now!) here.



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

10/14/10

MGWCC #124 -- Friday, October 15th, 2010 -- "Pattern Test"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 124 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.



LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


Is it "Ha Month" or "Pattern Recognition Month"? For the second week in a row, 300+ solvers spotted the common thread among theme entries to arrive at the name of a famous comedian. This week is was LOUIE ANDERSON, whose name contains the five main vowels in consecutive (though non-alphabetic) order. This odd quality he shares with the four theme entries:

MINUTIAE OUTLINE
MAUI OENOPHILE
UNDERSEA OUIJA
SEQUOIA ENGINEER

Mike Buckley says:

My cat just miaoued.


Referencing an e-mail published in last week's post, Amy Reynaldo writes:

I'm doing a Delfin: 59 seconds of solving, plus a few seconds to click the link. While the page was loading I thought of Louie Anderson, so I checked to see that he was on your list.




















And finally, Steve Blumenthal notes an amusing coincidence:

Did you know that "The Louie Show" was set in Duluth?

Amusing since "The Louie Show" was Anderson's short-lived 1996 sitcom, and DULUTH is 10-down.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 302 correct entries received, is Neil Gibson of Arlington, Va. Neil has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.


MY FACEBOOK PAGE:


It's still bare-bones, though that will change in coming weeks. Join up here:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Matt-Gaffneys-Weekly-Crossword-Contest/146357902074099


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is the entry in the grid that illustrates the theme gimmick. E-mail this entry (the actual entry in the grid, not its clue number) 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 (1,339 members now!) here.



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

10/7/10

MGWCC #123 -- Friday, October 8th, 2010 -- "This Is the Big One"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 123 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.



LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

A record 361 entries pegged REDD FOXX as the comedian of the week. They'd noticed that all four theme entries (starred for clarity, since there was fill longer than theme) consisted of two-word phrases wherein each word ended in a double letter:

DASHIELL HAMMETT
BOSS HOGG
FREE JAZZ
DANDRUFF SHAMPOO

Aided, if necessary, by Comedy Central's "100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time" list I provided, successful solvers found the man whose name fits that pattern: REDD FOXX, whose double D and X made him last week's contest answer.

Some solvers questioned the need for linking to the Comedy Central list. I linked not because I thought anyone would be unfamiliar with REDD FOXX, though several younger solvers were, or had only heard of him through crosswords. Rather my real motive was that a couple hours before publishing I realized that someone might submit WILL FERRELL (or several other comics, such as Bill Engvall or Todd Glass).

Ferrell's names do both end in double letters, which could reasonably be argued to fit all contest requirements. REDD FOXX is a more elegant solution, since his DD and XX do not repeat any of the eight double letters already used (LL, TT, EE, ZZ, SS, GG, FF and OO). But one might still reasonably claim that WILL FERRELL meets the threshold of acceptability, so I linked to that Comedy Central list on which he is absent.

John Reid
thinks the byline should have read:

“Double Time” by Matt Gaff


And Scott Weiss says:

I guess I'm not a well-known comedian, huh? There goes my chance to be a MGWCC crossword answer.

Joe Fendel quips:

I was trying to think of some American comedians named "Jeff", but then realized none of them are Foxx-worthy.

And finally, Jon Delfin didn't need much of the puzzle to deduce the contest answer (click image to enlarge):

I reserve the right to submit a different answer once I fill in more
of the grid....












This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 361 correct entries received, is Brendan Sullivan of Pittsburgh, Penna. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Brendan will also receive a copy of Peter Gordon's new book Sunset Crosswords.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

A companion puzzle to last week's: once again, this week's contest answer is one of the most famous American comedians of the 20th century, who would have made an excellent theme entry in this puzzle. (If you're not up on your comedians, this week's contest answer is on this list). E-mail this comedian 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 (1,335 members now!) here.



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

9/30/10

MGWCC #122 -- Friday, October 1st, 2010 -- "Double Time"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 122 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

An impressive 279 solvers found contest answer word TANG (or TAXING) last week. I'd been expecting fewer that half of that number, but solvers weren't fooled and set a new last-of-the-month MGWCC record.

Seven clues in the grid made little sense with their given clues. Only when a certain Roman numeral was inserted did they match up correctly:

2-d {Geometry spokes} yielded the illogical RAD, but with the addition of the Roman numeral II it became the correct RADII. Similarly:

4-d {Not deceased} = ALE +IV = ALIVE
16-d {Football player such as Fran Tarkenton or Randy Moss} = EKING +XVI = EX-VIKING (the favorite theme entry of almost every solver who expressed an opinion)
20-d {"Put a Tiger in Your Tank" company} = EON +XX = EXXON
56-a {Working, as a crossword puzzle} = SONG +LVI = SOLVING
58-d {Very difficult, like dealing with the IRS?} = TANG + XI = TAXING
59-a {Fancy word meaning "overly wordy"} = PRO +LIX = PROLIX

Which of these seven was "located in the wrong place in the grid," as contest instructions stipulated? In six of these seven cases the inserted Roman numeral matches the word's clue number, such as XX inserted at 20-down. But TANG takes a Roman 11 to make TAXING, not its clue number (58). That makes TANG/TAXING last week's contest answer.

Geoff Mitelman
writes:

Because Talviiing doesn't seem like it's a word!

Was the meta too easy? Rocky Schwarz thinks so:

Not as taxing as last week's puzzle!

Too easy for a month ender, though solvers experienced a nice aha moment. Lorraine Barg writes:

While staring (and staring) at EON and wondering what to do with the missing XX, my eyes fell on the 20, and I got that awesome rush of adrenaline that accompanies sudden realization.

While Noam Elkies speculates:

I expect solvers will find this one DE[VI]LISH.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 279 correct entries received, is Nancy Fay of Garden City, N.Y. Nancy has selected as her prize an autographed copy of TV Crosswords.

MONTHLY PRIZES:


52 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of September's puzzles (MONGOLIA, JOKER, PRIUS and TANG/TAXING). The following ten lucky winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Jan Bruce -- Bristol, Tenn.

Steve Gunter -- Raleigh, N.C.

George & Katie Hill -- Grand Junction, Colo.

Thomas Hunter -- Ridley Park, Penna.

Patrick Leech -- Corvallis, Ore.

John Mangrich -- Orange, Calif.

Amy Reynaldo -- Chicago, Ill.

Matt Sandler -- Philadelphia, Penna.

Brent Warren -- Statesville, N.C.

Spencer Thomas -- Ann Arbor, Mich.


Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 4-for-4 in September.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is one of the most famous American comedians of the 20th century, who would have made an excellent theme entry in this puzzle. (If you're not up on your comedians, this week's contest answer is on this list). E-mail this comedian 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 (1,331 members now!) here.



SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK:


In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, this week's winner will receive a copy of Peter Gordon's new book Sunset Crosswords.

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

9/24/10

MGWCC #121 -- Friday, September 24th, 2010 -- "Innumeracy"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 121 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.




LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

So my new car is a PRIUS, which elicited both cheers and jeers from the 84 solvers who figured it out. Cheers for its environmental sensibilities, jeers for the alleged snootiness of PRIUS owners (made famous on shows like "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "South Park").

Hey, I'm just in it for the gas mileage and because it feels like something the Jetsons would ride around in, so let's move on to the meta...

...which was hidden rather sneakily right in the six theme clues, all of which began with the letters P-R-I-U-S in whatever order:

17-a {U.S. prison on a bay}

21-a {Purist's activity}

32-a {IRS punishments} (the most oddly-worded of the six, which many solvers mentioned as their gateway to the meta)

40-a {Spurious reasoning}

52-a {Uprising}

60-a {Rips up}

Richard Chauviere found something interesting in the grid:

The first letters of down answers 4 through 9 spell recall. I've got no other prospects. Recall covers a multitude of models.

While Michael Marcus one-upped my palindromic title:

A Toyota? Sir, a Yaris!

(Yeah, I have no idea. This is a total guess.)


Louis Ah liked the puzzle:

Sip rum-based drink after solving, it made me want to.

Similarly, Justin Smith writes:

I pursued the answer until it finally surrendered...

And finally: David Howorth, frustrated by the meta, chose the stalker route:

I decided to try to cheat, but the God of Crosswords is a just god and I came up empty. Maybe if I'd tried harder.

The Virginia DMV does not have searchable registration info online. I don't expect any state does.

I tried to find your address in Staunton, hoping I could peek at your house via Google street view and maybe get an idea from the house of what your car preferences would be, maybe even get a look at your previous car. No luck there, either.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 84 correct entries received, is Jeff Gellner of Westerville, O. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Jeff will also receive of a copy of Les Foeldessy's entertaining new book Gryptics.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

One of this week's seven theme answers is located in the wrong place in the grid. Which one is it? E-mail this theme answer to me (the actual entry in the grid, not its clue number) 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 (1,327 members now!) here.



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

9/16/10

MGWCC #120 -- Friday, September 17th, 2010 -- "A Toyota"


Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 120 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Your initial reaction to last week's puzzle might have been to wonder where the initials were. Five famous always-use-their-middle-initial people comprised the theme, but all were missing their trademark letters. They were:

MICHAEL J. FOX
EDWARD R. MURROW
DAVID O. SELZNICK
ALFRED E. NEUMAN
PHILIP K. DICK

Guided by the parenthetical numbers following each clue, 316 solvers had no problem arranging the missing initials into JOKER, which was last week's contest answer.

Jim Graham wonders:

I have no middle initial. Does that mean I am not eligible?

While Jan O'Sullivan relates this amusing story, which took me a moment to grok:

After seeing that the number of squares for MICHAEL J FOX was one short, and taking into account the title, I confidently entered MICHAE U FOX. This harkened back to my days in Jr High band when last-name-only, handwritten-in-felt-tip sticker for the clarinetist next to me, FLICKER, had an unfortunate conjoining of letters.

That trick didn't work for the other entries, though.

Or the other clarinetists, presumably.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 316 correct entries received, is Stuart Alper of Plainview, N.Y. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Stuart will also receive of a copy of Les Foeldessy's entertaining new book Gryptics.

HINMAN 2.0:

Tyler Hinman's blog has a clean new design. And guess what new type of puzzle he likes?

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the model of Toyota I bought last week.
E-mail this model to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer car 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 (1,325 members now!) here.



SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK:

Since everyone's digging the new Gryptics book, let's do it again: next week's winner will receive an autographed copy of it, along with a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set.

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

9/9/10

MGWCC #119 -- Friday, September 10th, 2010 -- "Stuck in the Middle With U"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 119 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.




LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

It was national pun week at MGWCC -- but which nation was punned upon? MONGOLIA, of course, which 303 solvers found from the following four groaners:

{Lack of desire to join this country's empire?}=NO HORDE FEELINGS
{Serious herder insult in this country?}=YOU DON'T KNOW YAK
{Talk back to one's parents, in this country's desert region?}=ACT AS A GOBI TEEN
{This country's national house, about to be struck by lightning?}=YURT IN FOR A SHOCK

HORDE (see here), YAK, GOBI and YURT (see photo above) could only point to one place: wild and landlocked MONGOLIA.

Again, many solvers got into the spirit of the theme in their e-mails. Mark Halpin writes:

I think you pulled that one off with a certain ulan; bator even than last week's.

Erik Agard, evidently finding the puzzle too easy, says:

You really need to steppe your game up.

And Jim Sempsrott writes that he's...

Just doing the best I Khan.

Due to the extremely low quality of these puns, Mark, Erik and Jim are hereby banned from MGWCC for one thousand years. Genghis would approve.

Some non-pun puzzle notes:

Dave Howard found something interesting the grid:

I notice that 22A - IMO and 45A - LOGAN anagram to MONGOLIA!?
I don't know WHY that is so, but you've conditioned me to look for any
extra confirmation outside of the obvious theme entries...


Easter egg or sheer coincidence? I'll never tell.

And finally, Jonathan Porat notes the timeliness of the theme:

Appropriate meta considering all the barbecuing done this weekend.

He means this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolian_barbecue

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 303 correct entries received, is Drew Applefield of Carrboro, N.C. Drew has selected as his prize an autographed copy of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Kaidoku.

AMUSEMENT PAHK:

Joon Pahk has a very simple and very amusing dictionary game up here.

New words loaded daily, and note the coolest feature: after you've figured out Joon's mystery word of the day, you can track the words other players guessed to get there as well.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is a word meaning "unknown factor."
E-mail this word to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer word 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 (1,321 members now!) here.

SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK:

In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, this week's winner will receive an autographed copy of Gryptics, the debut book from Toronto puzzle writer Les Foeldessy. I'd never heard of Les or Gryptics before last week, but I zipped through my copy in about an hour -- they're kinda addictive. Check out samples at his site.



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

9/3/10

MGWCC #118 -- Friday, September 3rd, 2010 -- "Outer Space"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 118 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

W or T? That was the question successful metapuzzlers asked themselves last week. They'd noticed that five squares in the grid could take either a W or a T to satisfy both the across and down clues. These ten ambiguous entries were:

8-A {Made a decision (to)} led to either VOwED or VOtED.
10-D {From which point} = wHENCEFORTH or tHENCEFORTH
16-A {Set aside} = ALLOw FOR or ALLOt FOR
17-D {Like an old shirt's fabric} = wORN or tORN
22-A {They move big things around} = TOwERS or TOtERS
24-D {Approximate location} = wHEREABOUTS or tHEREABOUTS
37-A {Enveloped entirely} = wRAPPED or tRAPPED
37-D {Enclosed space at one end of the human life cycle} = wOMB or tOMB (favorite theme entry pair/clue of almost all solvers who expressed an opinion)
57-A {Dominate, in a way} = wALK OVER or tALK OVER
53-D {Ground rule double, e.g.} = SwAT or StAT

Contest instructions asked for "the grid entry that spells out the trick," which led 147 solvers to contest answer WORT at 63-across. Parsed correctly, that spells out the relevant question for this theme -- W or T? Solution at left, with the numeral 3 in the W/T spaces (how do you put two letters in an Across Lite file again? I used to know, but forgot).

Many solvers got into the spirit of the thing. Jared Dashoff asks:

Wherein lies the rub? Therein.


While Tim Tebbe writes:

Hunched over my laptop, I worked on your crossword #irelessly.

And Stephen Fineman opines:

Your use of black squares this week was quite _asteful.

Finally, Garrett Hildebrand sends in this account of his solve with MGWCC veterans Mike Iglesias and John Lenning:

I was sitting at lunch with John and Mike and we were
separately working the grid when this conversation happened:


John - "What would this be on 22A for 'They move big things
around'... I have TO_ERS?"

Mike - "It is TOTERS"

John - "That's kind of lame."

Me - "Not toters, but TOWERS, I think.

John - "Ah, I like that better"

Mike - "Not me. I like TOTERS"

Me - "Yeah, okay, but don't you think that WHEREABOUTS
makes more sense?"

Mike - "No, I like THEREABOUTS better."

Me - "Well, I think that is a W, but if it makes you
happy, just keep your T. It won't really matter
anyway unless these words are somehow involved in
the meta.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 147 correct entries received, is Mike Lewis of Cedar Falls, Ia.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

47 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of August's puzzles (MARTINI, JETBLUE, ODIE, and WORT). The following ten lucky winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Jared Banta -- Superior, Colo.

Russ Cooper -- Phoenix, Ariz.

Rich Dobkin -- Chatsworth, Calif.

Peter Gordon -- Great Neck, N.Y.

Craig Harman -- Alexandria, Va.

John & Lisa LaFianza -- Glen Rock, N.J.

James Layland -- Blue Springs, Mo.

Pete Rimkus -- Ashford, Conn.

Nancy Taubenslag -- Yonkers, N.Y.

Chris Williams -- Cambridge, Mass.

Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 4-for-4 in August.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is the name of a country.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer country 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 (1,312 members now!) here.



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