12/30/11

MGWCC #187 -- Friday, December 30th, 2011 -- "The Edge of Darkness"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 187 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:

What famous U.S. mayor did last week's puzzle point to? Let's take a gander at the theme entries:

17a {How many human civilisations have gained power} = SLAVE LABOR
23a {Person who covers many thousands of kilometres} = WORLD TRAVELER
36a {Defence against root canal pain} = LOCAL ANESTHETIC
46a {It helped fulfil a JFK dream} = APOLLO PROGRAM
58a {"You've been marvellous!"} = THANKS A TON
190 successful metapuzzlers noticed that each of these five theme clues contained a word spelt like Brits do: civilisations, kilometres, Defence, fulfil and marvellous. Surely that couldn't be a coincidence! But what next?

Aha -- each of the theme entries also ends in a word that the British spell differently than Americans. A Londoner would spell our five theme entries:

SLAVE LABOUR
WORLD TRAVELLER
LOCAL ANAESTHETIC
APOLLO PROGRAMME
THANKS A TONNE

The added letters have been emboldened above, and anagram to Chicago mayor Rahm EMANUEL, who was last week's contest answer.

Mark Manuel can't believe he missed the meta:

Combine my last name with the fact that I was in London right before Christmas and you have one embarrassed contestant. Colour me red.

The recently-relocated Eric LeVasseur writes:

For Boxing Day I spent much of the day emptying boxes (the cardboard kind). Relaxing now by filling boxes (the crossword kind).

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 190 correct entries received, is Reid Koss of Seattle, Wash. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Reid will also receive a copy of Brendan Quigley's new 21x21 freestyle crossword. Winner next week will receive the same.

ACROSS LITE FOR iPAD:

Want to solve crosswords on your iPad? Litsoft has just launched a new app that lets you do so. Check it out here:

http://itunes.apple.com/app/across-lite-crosswords/id480513184

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the last name of a famous athlete. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer athlete 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 (1,621 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

12/23/11

MGWCC #186 -- Friday, December 23rd, 2011 -- "English Lesson"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 186 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:

Somewhat oblique meta last week: solvers were asked to find an eight-letter world capital, and the puzzle's theme entries turned out to be:

17-a HEARTLIGHT
22-a ARA PARSEGHIAN (everyone liked seeing his whole name for once)
36-a BOW TO YOUR SENSEI
47-a GIRL DETECTIVE
54-a GRAND FORKS

What do these five have in common? They each point to a prominent two-word phrase whose initials are N.D.: The atrocious 1982 song HEARTLIGHT was sung by Neil Diamond; ARA PARSEGHIAN won two national titles at Notre Dame; BOW TO YOUR SENSEI is a line from "Napoleon Dynamite"; The book series GIRL DETECTIVE is the revamped Nancy Drew; and GRAND FORKS is the third-largest city in North Dakota. Searching for an eight-letter world capital with the initials N.D., 163 solvers came up with NEW DELHI, India's capital and last week's contest answer.

10 solvers submitted an alternate answer that I'm also accepting as correct: Chad's capital is N'DJAMENA, which is eight letters long. True, it doesn't consist of two words whose initials are ND, but the apostrophe muddies things a bit and the city does begin with the letters ND. I was aware of N'Djamena's existence as a possible spoiler here and planned to accept it before posting the puzzle; but really, what are the odds that there are two ND world capitals with eight letters in them?

ERRATUM:

Lee Sammons was the first to point out that the clue for 54-across is incorrect. The clue was {It's downriver from Winnipeg} but GRAND FORKS is actually upriver from Winnipeg. I had assumed that the Red River of the North, which makes up most of the border between Minnesota and North Dakota, flowed south like everything else in the region. But it turns out to be one of the not very many northerly-flowing rivers in North America, meandering into Manitoba before emptying into Lake Winnipeg.

Eric Suess writes:

As a Notre Dame grad, I appreciate the initials. Once years ago at a Mensa party I had a Notre Dame cap on. A gentleman came up to me and, trying to be witty, said "North Dakota?" to which I replied instantly "New Delhi" - that was the first time I'd noticed the similar initials.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 173 correct entries received, is George Dakis of Chicago, Ill. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, George will also receive a copy of Brendan Quigley's new 21x21 freestyle crossword. Winners for the next two will receive the same.

PUZZLESOCIAL:

This could be revolutionary: a new crossword-solving Facebook application called PuzzleSocial. Enter solving contests, win awards, or challenge a friend head-to-head (which is awesome; you're both solving the same crossword on the same grid, and your entries are color-coded so you can see who's beating who where in the puzzle).

MGWCC will be appearing at PuzzleSocial each Friday starting today, and always an hour or two before I post it here (because PuzzleSocial is running them as a speed contest, the puzzle obviously can't appear anywhere else before then). This probably won't affect my posting times here at all; if anything I'll be posting here earlier than usual. More on PuzzleSocial in the coming weeks.

Note that nothing will be substantially different for you here at MGWCC if you're not on Facebook or don't participate in PuzzleSocial. Just keep on solving like normal! Also, please note that you need to click on the "A.V. Club" box at PuzzleSocial to access the MGWCC puzzles.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a well-known U.S. mayor, past or present. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer mayor 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 (1,619 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

12/14/11

MGWCC #185 -- Friday, December 16th, 2011 -- "Nine Down Is Like Five Across"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 185 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:


Happy belated birthday to DICK VAN DYKE, who turned 86 on Tuesday. The venerable comedic actor also served as last week's contest answer, as discovered by 345 solvers.


Contest instructions asked for an actor you might watch on 33-down, which turned out to be DVD. The other theme entries were:

17-a {Chanteuse you can listen to on a CD player} = CELINE DION
23-a {1992 thriller too violent to get a PG rating} = PATRIOT GAMES
39-a {TV show where Whoopi tells it like it is} = THE VIEW
52-a {Classic rock band often heard on FM radio} = FLEETWOOD MAC
63-a {Two-time Booker Prize winner whose novels you can read on Kindle for PC} = PETER CAREY

See the trick? The abbreviation in each clue also serves as the initials of the answer. That means we're looking for a well-known comic actor with the initials DVD. Not Danny DeVito, who's DDV (and whose last name is one word), but the aforementioned DICK VAN DYKE.

Matthew Perez-Stable writes:

funny that i solve this after watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with my younger sister this weekend.

Laura Effinger-Dean
speculates:

Perhaps someday I will appear on an LED television!





Peter Gwinn
sends along the photo (click on it to enlarge) at right, with the following explanation:

I wanted to outdo Jeff Schwartz from last week.

I actually got the meta from the clue to 17A, which I figured out just looking at it.
Had to complete 33-down, though, because I couldn't think of any comedians with the initials DVR.





And Chip Prince met the man himself:

While I was in L.A. with the stage version of "Mary Poppins" almost two years ago, Dick Van Dyke appeared on stage in a one-night-only cameo walk-on as a superannuated banker, a role he had played in the movie but is finally actually old enough for. He can still do physical comedy even in his 80s... the audience ate it up!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 345 correct entries received, is Joel Berghoff of San Rafael, Calif. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Joel will also receive a copy of Patrick Blindauer's Musical Puzzlefest, which went out to subscribers yesterday (I've got all day tomorrow set aside to solve it myself). Next week we return to regular book prizes have yet another series of special prizes! See below.

GRYPTICS CONTEST:

Les Foeldessy is running a Gryptics contest over at his website. Solve the (tough) Gryptic and you might win a copy of his new book Next-Generation Crosswords!


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is an eight-letter world capital. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer capital 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 (1,618 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.

SPECIAL PRIZES FOR THE REST OF DECEMBER:


In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, weekly winners for Dec. 16th, 23rd and 30th will receive a copy of Brendan Emmett Quigley's new freestyle 21x21. Now there's a pleasant way to spend half an hour!





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

12/8/11

MGWCC #184 -- Friday, December 9th, 2011 -- "You've Got to Stand for Something"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 184 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:


Well, that was easy! 409 solvers -- 1 shy of the MGWCC record -- found QUITO as our contest answer capital last week. They got there by speaking the first word of each theme entry aloud:

CUE VIOLINS (Q)
YOU SAID IT (U)
EYE OF THE TIGER (I)
TEA LEAVES (T)
OH NO, MR BILL! (O)

Put 'em all together and you've got that capital city high in the Andes Mountains.

I laughed when I saw Eric Maddy's entry:

— — · — · · — · · — — — —

MGWCC's one Swedish solver, Gunnar Bergvall, missed SWEDEN in last week's tough meta. While submitting QUITO this week, he writes:

It seems to be easier for me to spot a Latin American capital than my own home country...

Jeff Schwartz didn't need much of the puzzle to suss out the meta:

I love the beginning of the month. I saw the "cue" and just knew:























Finally, Leigh Newman had no trouble getting the meta since she and her husband were in Quito just a couple of weeks ago. Here they are on the equator, right outside the city:























This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 409 correct entries received, is Simon McAndrews of New York City, N.Y. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Simon will also receive a copy of Patrick Blindauer's forthcoming Musical Puzzlefest, which drops on Dec. 15th. Next week's winner will receive the same.

MATT GAFFNEY'S DAILY CROSSWORD (MGDC):


For the past couple of months I've been writing a daily 11x13 puzzle. They're free, they go live at 6 AM ET Mondays thru Fridays, have mini-themes, get tougher as the week goes on, and will continue until we've done 10,000 of them (we're on #0058 now).

Here are a couple of the recent ones I like best:

http://mattgaffneydaily.blogspot.com/2011/12/mgdc-0055-tuesday-dec-6-2011.html

http://mattgaffneydaily.blogspot.com/2011/12/mgdc-0056-wednesday-dec-7-2011.html

UPDATE, 12/9, 1:40 PM ET:

Dan Feyer writes:

If I want a little warmup in the morning before solving the rest of the day's offerings, I'll zip through a week of MGDCs (average time, about 60 seconds each).

Wow -- beat that!

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a famous actor/comedian you might watch on 33-down. 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 either solve on the applet below or download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,611 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

12/1/11

MGWCC #183 -- Friday, December 2nd, 2011 -- "See the Trick?"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 183 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:

Which mysterious Eurasian nation did last week's theme entries conceal? Here they are:

17-a fiji dollar ... S
21-a tic-tac-toe .-- W
34-a average joe . E
42-a scots-irish -.. D
52-a juxtapose . E
61-a slack-jawed -. N

No, I'm not channeling e.e. cummings, k.d. lang -- or even joon pahk. I typed this in all-lowercase because the entry at 13-down informed us that this puzzle's theme entries are case-sensitive, indicating something funny going on in that realm.

Indeed, taking the nine dots that appear over i's and j's in the theme entries and then adding the four hyphens as dashes, you get the Morse code for SWEDEN, as illustrated above.

Not a bad meta, if I do say so myself...but with one cringeworthy flaw that semi-ruined my Thanksgiving weekend when a solver pointed it out (let no one say that I don't take MGWCC seriously enough).

The flaw comes at the entries average joe and scots-irish, where the J in joe and the first i in irish would normally be capitalized. Many solvers interpreted the "CASE-sensitive" hint at 13-down to indicate that the six theme entries should be written with letters capitalized where they normally would be in print, meaning those two would read "average Joe" and "Scots-Irish." Needless to say, this throws off the Morse code message a bit.

This isn't a complete meta-killer, since "case-sensitive" could also reasonably be interpreted to mean that all letters should be in lowercase (such as when typing in a Captcha code word). But it's still unnecessarily ugly, and if I'd noticed this other interpretation I certainly would have precluded it by choosing entries which contain only indisputably uncapitalized i's and j's.

Another reason this blot didn't kill the meta: capping the J in average joe leaves that entry with neither dot nor dash, meaning it has no reason for existing. It would also leave the solver with SWNEN, which suggests SWEDEN and would be an easy backsolve.

Still, I'm rather annoyed with myself for overlooking this, as you can probably tell...so let's move on.

Joshua Kosman points out a striking coincidence:

OK, I get that I and J are dots, that's the easy part — but where are the dashes? Backsolving from SWEDEN, which seems to be the only plausible candidate, suggests that C's are dashes. I don't understand why, but I'm content with my answer.

If it's sheer coincidence that C=dash and I/J=dot yields a country on the Eurasian landmass, then you can consider my mind officially blown.


OK, that's probably in the "Top 10 Odd Things in a MGWCC" for the 3.5 years we've been doing this. The four C's (in tic-tac-toe, scots-irish and slack-jawed) can replace the hyphens as Morse code dashes, and the message doesn't change. Also critical here is that none of the other three theme entries contains a C.

What are the odds? Must be tens of thousands to one, but there it is.

Mark Taylor (and 22 others) had a good reason for submitting TURKEY:

Because I just ate some.


You've heard of an answer-specific trap in crosswords, like {Capital of Georgia} when the answer's TBILISI but the evil constructor wants you to put in ATLANTA.

This was an answer-specific meta trap, where I wanted to siphon off as many lucky guessers as I could into the TURKEY aisle (there are only a handful of six-letter countries in Europe, and the "Eurasian" hint and the holiday both point towards Asia Minor).

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 24 correct entries received, is J.T. Williams of Pasadena, Calif. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, J.T. will also receive a copy of my new book 20 Minute On-the-Road Crossword Puzzles. Next week we return to normal book prizes we switch to new special prizes! See below.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

19 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of November's challenges (CARNEGIE MELLON, PASTEUR, D'OH!, SWEDEN). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Peter Abide -- Biloxi, Miss.

Andy Arizpe -- Austin, Tex.

Joseph DeVincentis -- Salem, Mass.

Richard Kalustian -- Tacoma, Wash.

Joshua Kosman -- San Francisco, Calif.

Joon Pahk -- Somerville, Mass.

Miss Kali -- Brooklyn, N.Y.

Peter Washington -- Oakland, Calif.

David Wild -- Washington, D.C.

J.T. Williams -- Pasadena, Calif.


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

SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK AND NEXT:

In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, weekly winners this week and next will receive a copy of Patrick Blindauer's new Musical Puzzlefest. Patrick is one of the very best constructors around and this is his 3rd annual puzzle suite. He'll e-mail it out to subscribers on Dec. 15th, and I've set aside that weekend to solve it myself.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a world capital. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer capital 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 (1,610 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

11/23/11

MGWCC #182 -- Friday, November 25th, 2011 -- "Nation Divination" -- alternate title -- "Country Code" -- SEE UPDATE BELOW

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 182 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.

UPDATE, 11/25, 9:20 PM ET: This week's meta might be a little tough, so I'm giving the puzzle an alternate title (a more revealing one): "Country Code". Hope that helps! And no, I won't make a habit of this...

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Five politicians, one three-letter exclamation. They were:

16-a JOHN GLENN (D-OH)
10-d LARRY CRAIG (R-ID)
29-d ORRIN HATCH (R-UT)
63-a MIKE BEEBE (D-AR)
33a/44a EVAN BAYH (D-IN) (whose clue was starred for clarity)

Prompted by the puzzle's title, solvers noted the party affiliation and home state abbreviation of each (see above), as often appear on TV screens and newspaper articles featuring the wise members of our political class.



Four of these five letter combinations appear as entries in the grid: RID at 22-a, RUT at 43-d, DAR at 38-a, and DIN at 1-a. The only one missing is D'OH!, making that famous Homer Simpson utterance our contest answer (apostrophe and exclamation point appreciated but not required).







Peter Gwinn writes:

I had noticed this too -- I used to shout "D'oh!" every time I saw Dennis Kucinich on TV.

Mike McCormick says:

Not an exclamation you like to associate with an astronaut....


(And that's not John Glenn on the right but Buzz Aldrin, who lent his voice to that "Simpsons" episode)






Deirdre Zarrillo had no trouble with 39-across:

Probably the only time my name will ever show up in a crossword!


A number of solvers mentioned thinking DEIRDRE must have some role in the meta, with its central location and plethora of D's and R's (and even an I). It wasn't an intentional red herring, though -- that's just the word that fit.

Joon Pahk points out:

if i'm not mistaken, this is the second time that DOH has been the answer to the MGWCC.

http://crosswordcontest.blogspot.com/2008/06/mgwcc002-friday-june-13th-2008-it.html


that time, it was the answer because it was in the grid; this time, it's the answer because it isn't.

And, after submitting his answer:

in retrospect it would have been cleverer of me to send in my answer this week by replying to the same email (with the same subject line) from june '08.

Finally, the great HH points out in comments at Crossword Fiend that:

a list of politicians would be better suited for 4-letter exclamations.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 180 correct entries received, is Jeff Louie of Cambridge, Mass. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Jeff will also receive a copy of my new book 20 Minute While-You-Wait Crossword Puzzles. Next week's winner will receive either the same or its companion book, 20 Minute On-the-Road Crossword Puzzles.

SQUARESVILLE AGAIN, THIS TIME WITH META:


Jeffrey Harris's puzzle this fortnight has a meta! I had no trouble figuring it out -- will you?

http://www.janglerspuzzles.com/?p=86

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a country on the Eurasian landmass.
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. UPDATE, 11/25, 9:20 PM ET: This week's meta might be a little tough, so I'm giving the puzzle an alternate title (a more revealing one): "Country Code". Hope that helps! And no, I won't make a habit of this...


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 (1,610 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

11/18/11

MGWCC #181 -- Friday, Nov. 18th, 2011 -- "Where's the Party?"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 181 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:

341 solvers found Louis PASTEUR as our contest answer scientist last week. The puzzle's theme featured four phrases, each of which began with a chemical element:























20-a [Numismatist's purchases (1,4)] are PLATINUM COINS
27-a [Little Boy was one (6)] is URANIUM BOMB
43-a [Plastic surgeon's tool (5,7)] is an ERBIUM LASER
49-a [With 54-down, 1944 Cary Grant comedy (2,3)] is ARSENIC AND OLD / LACE

Take the chemical symbols of these four elements (Pt, U, Er, As), pop them into the parenthetical numbers in the clues, and you get Monsieur PASTEUR, n'est-ce pas? Naturellement.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 341 correct entries received, is Bill McCoy of Iowa City, Ia. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Bill will also receive a copy of my new book 20 Minute On-the-Road Crossword Puzzles. Weekly winners throughout November will receive either the same or its companion book 20 Minute While-You-Wait Crossword Puzzles.

SQUARESVILLE:

Nice 19x19 by Jeffrey Harris at his site, where he posts a new puzzle each fortnight. This one took me 12:18, which I bet you can't beat.

http://www.janglerspuzzles.com/?p=82

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a familiar three-letter exclamation. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer exclamation 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 (1,604 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

11/10/11

MGWCC #180 -- Friday, Nov. 11th, 2011 -- "Science Digest"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 180 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:

348 solvers found CARNEGIE MELLON as last week's contest answer school (and indeed, you can't spell CARNEGIE MELLON without C-O-L-L-E-G-E). The puzzle's theme featured four fictional schools:



17-a {College known for its school of performing arts?} = GRIFFITH KAUFMAN
24-a {College known for its school of political science?} = JACKSON JOHNSON
43-a {College known for its school of journalism?} = SULLIVAN ROONEY
57-a {College known for its music school?} = LLOYD WEBBER GIBB

What would all these fictional universities have in common? They're named for two people named ANDREW or ANDY: actor Andy Griffith / comedian Andy Kaufman; presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson; journalists Andrew Sullivan and (recently departed) Andy Rooney; and musical greats Andrew Lloyd Webber and Andy Gibb.

So we're looking for a college in the Top 50 list of US News & World Report, and we find it at #23, named for tycoon Andrew Carnegie and banker Andrew Mellon (both of whom also went by "Andy" among friends, incidentally).

Milo Beckman explains:

I did a bit of Googling, andrew the conclusion from there.



Andrew Sullivan
writes:

I like the theme, and especially the answer at 43-across, though I'm
not that person.



Mark Taylor says:

I got a math degree from CMU and on the diploma it says my degree is in MATHEMTAICS. Yes, they spelled math wrong. Great school otherwise!

(click image at right to enlarge)









This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 348 correct entries received, is Bill Spindler of Palmyra, Va. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Bill will also receive a copy of my new book 20 Minute On-the-Road Crossword Puzzles. Weekly winners throughout November will receive either the same or its companion book 20 Minute While-You-Wait Crossword Puzzles.

ERRATUM:


13 solvers (Rick T. was first) pointed out that "And She Was" (referenced at 23-down) is not a Grateful Dead song but rather a Talking Heads song. And It Was.


11/11/11:

I didn't write a special puzzle for 11/11/11, but someone else did and I like it very much.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is a famous scientist. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer scientist 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 (1,595 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

11/3/11

MGWCC #179 -- Friday, Nov. 4th, 2011 -- "College Knowledge"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 179 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.

THE TRIBE (JUST BARELY) SURVIVES:

Just 13 solvers puzzled out the extremely difficult (unfairly so, some claimed -- more below) final challenge in H40, "A Time to Cull." This left us with only seven surviving tribal members for the month, whose names are listed below.

Solvers were given a morbid scenario where the mushroom-eating shaman was supposedly leading the tribe to new hunting grounds. There were no overt hints in the grid, so where to search?

Many solvers noticed a bunch of numbers in the clues (18 in total) and that many of those clues seemed either random or forced. At 47-across, for instance, we had {82 and 87, for octogenarians} cluing AGES. Why those two ages? And at 35-across GIGI was clued as {Winner in '58}. That was indeed the year that film won Best Picture, but why wasn't the full year used in the clue? Several other clues with numbers were similarly stilted, sending red flags up in solvers' minds.

But what to do with those numbers? That was the tough part, especially since there were no hints in the grid about it. Via several subtle nudges plus trial and error, successful tribal members realized that those 18 numbers in the clues refer to words in the contest story posted on Friday. So the "1,2,3,4" in 1-across referred to the words 1-4 in that story, which were THE WISE SHAMAN LEADS. The next two numbers in the clues are at 16-across, where 202 and 212 point to the 202nd and 212th words in the story, which are YOUR and TRIBE.

In full, the 18 numbers in the clues spell out the following message:

THE WISE SHAMAN LEADS YOUR TRIBE TO STARVATION WITH HIS MUSHROOM VISIONS. CRUSH HIS SKULL WITH A ROCK.

Here is the full list of clue numbers and their corresponding words:

1-a {"1,2,3,4 (Sumpin' New)" singer} = THE WISE SHAMAN LEADS
16-a {202 or 212} = YOUR TRIBE
29-a {"227" actress} = TO
35-a {Winner for '58} = STARVATION
47-a {82 and 87, for octogenarians} = WITH HIS
48-a {"101 Dalmatians" voice} = MUSHROOM
54-a {First of 26} = VISIONS
4-d {52} = CRUSH
10-d ('55 Chevy, e.g.} = HIS
25-d {blink-182, e.g.} = SKULL
34-d (144 things} = WITH
54-d (Got 100 on} = A
60-d ("99" group} = ROCK

Was this meta unfairly difficult or at least insufficiently hinted at? Long and heated discussion about that here, but solvers' main complaints with the puzzle and meta were:

1) The weirdness of the numbers in clues may have been obvious, but there were no instructions about what to do with those numbers. Solvers were forced to use trial and error, which some viewed as inelegant. COUNTERARGUMENT: although there were no explicit (or even implicit) instructions there were some subtle hints, which several of the 13 who solved the meta mentioned using: the extremely stilted language of the story, for example, or the numbers themselves (see counterargument to #3).

2) You didn't really even have to solve the puzzle to get the meta, since the meta was hidden in the clues and story only. COUNTERARGUMENT: there was no way to know that before solving the puzzle and meta, so who cares? Besides, there's no rule that the meta must include the grid, though it will 98+% of the time.

3) There were a huge number of things you could do with those numbers, so I should have included a hint. COUNTERARGUMENT: there weren't that many things, and some were ruled out. For example, the numbers couldn't be pointing at squares in the grid, since 227 is the highest number and there are only 225 squares in the grid.

Many more arguments for and against the puzzle and meta at the Crossword Fiend link above. In special months I aim for between 25 and 40 winners; the number of winners of the four special months so far in MGWCC history are 36 (Oct. 2009), 36 (May 2010), 50 (February 2011) and now 7 for October 2011.

So obviously that's low. I'd have preferred a higher number (I estimated 50 people would get MGWCC #179) but that's the way it shook out; perhaps a small hint in the title would have nudged more solvers towards the trick.

I'm torn on whether the meta was "unfair" -- that's about the worst adjective you can apply to a meta in my view, since it implies that solver-constructor trust has been violated. Solvers invest their time and energy into tough metas under the belief that the meta is reasonably gettable.

Since 13 solvers did get this one I don't think it can be argued that it wasn't reasonably gettable (especially since this was not a meta where one could successfully guess from a limited number of possibilities; all 13 fully grokked it). Still, it's a thin line to tread between a challenging meta and an unfair one, and I do regret that some solvers feel I stepped over the line with this one. It's just the second time in 178 metas that I can recall solvers throwing the word "unfair" around, and I certainly got the message.

Are the special prizes this month (details below) penance for overshooting a bit on this last meta? Only the Wise Shaman knows for sure. But thanks for playing the Hunt for Food October -- the tribe did survive, in some form. Perhaps we shall hear from them again in the future.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 13 correct entries received, is Neville Fogarty of Lexington, Ky. Neville has selected as his prize an autographed copy of TV Crosswords.

REMNANTS OF A TRIBE:

The following seven solvers survived the Hunt for Food October:

Ross Beresford -- Kingsley, Penna.

Todd Etter -- Alexandria, Va.

Jeffrey Harris -- Norwalk, Conn.

Robert Hartford -- Stow, Mass.

Brent Holman -- San Francisco, Calif.

David Sullivan -- Swampscott, Mass.

John L. Wilson -- Shoreview, Minn.

Congratulations to our seven surviving members. The Wise Shaman sends greetings from the Great Beyond.

CLAWSWORD PUZZLE:

Jill Palmer writes:

We're in day 3 of a power outage from the freak October snowstorm. My kitten enjoyed my only hard copy of the puzzle, making it really hard to work on it, let alone by candlelight.























SPECIAL PRIZES FOR THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS:


Over the month of November I'll be awarding two weekly book prizes instead of the regular one. In addition to MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, weekly winners during this period will win a copy of either of my two new books, 20 Minute On-the-Road Crosswords or 20 Minute While-You-Wait Crosswords.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is one of the 50 top universities in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. If you're not familiar with this list, find it here. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer college 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 (1,590 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

10/27/11

MGWCC #178 -- Friday, Oct. 28th, 2011 -- THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER, PUZZLE #4 -- "A Time to Cull"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 178 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.

MUSHROOMS FOR EVERYONE:

The Great Deity brought the spirits of the dead back to life: from a tribe of 211, 275(?!?!) enjoyed non-toxic mushrooms last week (more metaphysical details on this seeming impossibility below). The Eaters-of-Apple-and-Okra tribe now count 171 surviving members entering the final week of our hunt.

8-down instructed tribal members to LOOK FOR DOUBLE M'S to locate the seven mushroom patches, and indeed there were seven MM's in the grid (see solution at right). But which of these three were poisonous?

Any reader of fairy tales knows that you don't eat a toadstool. Merriam-Webster backs this wisdom (emphasis added):

Definition of TOADSTOOL
: a fungus having an umbrella-shaped pileus : mushroom; especially : a poisonous or inedible one as distinguished from an edible mushroom

With this knowledge it's easy to pick out the three MM's with a TOAD sitting atop them (they're toad-stools, get it?): eMMys in the upper-right, aMMo in the center and aMMan in the lower-left were the three poisonous patches, which enabled successful Wise Shaman-chosen tasters to eat only from the four non-toxic patches.

I was quite liberal in accepting any answer that indicated the correct areas of the grid. Even simple entries like "Under the toadstools" were counted as correct, as were the handful of entries that didn't fully grok the toadstool concept, but did find TOADs sitting on the three relevant mushrooms and submitted their locations.

Rich Dobkin asks:

So what's the morel of the story?

Mark Manuel
writes about himself:

It would be a bad day if a guy with the initials MM missed this meta.


And Alan Neely says:

This Wise Shaman seems like a pretty fungi to me.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 275 correct entries received, is Chuck Cooper of Shalimar, Fla. Chuck has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Brain Games.

THE FINAL HUNT:

The Wise Shaman leads us from the mushroom patch. Many were saved from starvation, and many spirits of departed brothers and sisters returned as if visions of the future guided them from beyond the physical world.

Only 171 members of our tribe remain; can the Wise Shaman lead us from winter’s crush? Now only his skill avoids starvation for our tribe; only with a successful hunt of big game will we find enough meat to avoid starvation during the winter; only with luck, we’ll survive; only his words get us there.

The Shaman places (while sitting on a rock) a mushroom in his mouth to confer with the Great Deity. The tribe surveys the unfamiliar landscape; instead of lush savannah for hunting, our surroundings look bleak, despite the Wise Shaman’s reassurances. We see little but scrub brush, small trees and the occasional rock, with dangerous cliffs off in the distance. In a daze of madness the Wise Shaman wanders off alone towards a small, distant hill.

In a few hours the Wise Shaman returns, walking slowly and holding the eyeless, eerie skull of a large animal. He has recently convened with the Great Deity, it is plain to all members of your people. His head gyrates back and forth as the tribe looks on in hopeful wonder.

“We must continue forward,” the Wise Shaman finally announces to members of the tribe. “The Great Deity says that we must forsake our traditional, bountiful hunting grounds. Though the land here appears lifeless, I am promised by the Deity that great herds of game lie just one more day’s travel through this barren land.”

The tribe appears hopeful but fearful as they move forward across the dusty undergrowth. Hours of travel pass without spotting a single animal, but still you dream of bountiful herds of big game. Perhaps they will appear on the horizon at any moment, if the Great Deity speaks the truth.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the big game you must hunt to save your tribe AND the precise method you use to kill your quarry. E-mail them to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer game and method in the subject line of your e-mail.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You may still enter the contest even if you've missed one or more of the first three weeks of H40! You won't be eligible for the monthly prizes, of course, but you can still win the weekly prize.

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 (1,587 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

10/21/11

MGWCC #177 -- Friday, Oct. 21st, 2011 -- THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER, PUZZLE #3 -- "Poisonous Mushrooms"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 177 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.

THE SECOND HUNT:


218 solvers found a calorie-filled patch of OKRA last week, which means 211 members of our tribe have survived to forage further.

Instructions asked for a four-letter vegetable, and successful gatherers noticed a four-letter vegetable hiding in each of the five theme entries:

17-a TOOK A LEFT --> KALE
26-a SLEEK LOOK --> LEEK
36-a MUNGO PARK --> MUNG
52-a SENORITAS --> NORI
60-a SLEEP EASY --> PEAS

The first letters of these five almost form an alphabetical sequence: K, L, M, N, P. As suggested by the title, we're looking for a sequence from K to P, and all that's missing is an O. The only four-letter vegetable starting with O is that famous gumbo ingredient, OKRA, making it our contest answer.

Peace Corps volunteer Jonathon Brown writes that our answer is:

Something that i coOK RArely here in Mozambique even though it's
available.


Cole Kendall asks:

Couldn't fit BOOKRACKS into your grid?


Similarly, Laura Effinger-Dean suggests:

COSMO KRAMER?

Len Elliott
says:

...hope I didn't miss a "beet."

While Milo Beckman exclaims:

I found a TOMATO!



















And finally, Dan Chall was mystified by the meta, but sent in this memorable line:

PEAS/NORI/MUNG/KALE/LEEK anagrams to "Gamekeeper kills a noun," so that suggests the answer is a verb.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 218 correct entries received, is Ben Henri of Royal Oak, Mich. Ben has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Golf Crosswords.

THE HUNT CONTINUES:



To neighboring groups, our tribe is known as "eaters-of-apple-and-okra," but this week we must expand our search. Evening comes more swiftly now, and our fields of apple and okra are depleted to nothing. We search desperately for new sources of nourishment as we travel towards the hunting grounds for next week's big game hunt. If we make it there alive, there is hope for finding enough meat to survive the winter. But we are all weak and hungry, desperate for anything edible.

The Wise Shaman has led us to a field containing seven patches of mushrooms. Before we can begin eating he raps our hands with his staff and warns us of the danger of poison. Devouring a single mushroom cap (from his pocket, you notice), he convulses in spasms as his eyes turn wild -- and we realize he is communicating with the Great Deity.

When his moments of divine madness pass, he informs us that though this bountiful field contains seven patches of mushrooms, three of these patches are poisonous. We need all the nourishment the four edible patches contain, so we must discover which three are lethal to our tongues and which are not.

With a final, frightening wave of his staff, the Wise Shaman points directly at YOU and declares, "This must be our taster -- go forth and eat one mushroom from four patches. We pray that you choose wisely." And with that, he collapses into exhaustion -- as the other 210 surviving eaters-of-apple-and-okra turn their hopeful, desperate gazes towards you.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the location of the three poisonous mushroom patches (I accidentally called them "fields" in 8-down; same thing, though). A simple description of each of the three locations is sufficient. E-mail them to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer locations in the subject line of your e-mail (or as much of the description as you can fit into the subject line -- might be tough to get it all in there this week).

IMPORTANT NOTE: You may still enter the contest even if you've missed one of the first two weeks! You won't be eligible for the monthly prizes, of course, but you can still win the weekly prize.

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 (1,584 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.






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

10/13/11

MGWCC #176 -- Friday, Oct. 14th, 2011 -- THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER, PUZZLE #2 -- "KP Duty"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 176 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.

THE FIRST HUNT:

A little tricky for Week 1, but nature must winnow the pack on her own cruel timetable. 351 hunter-gatherers found an APPLE as our fruit of the month, suggested by the first words of the five theme entries:


I KNEW THAT (or "i KNEW THAT," to mimic the company's lowercase i)
MAC 'N' CHEESE (the famous Mac computers)
SAFARI SHIRT (Safari is Apple's web browser)
STEVE YOUNG (referencing either of Apple's two co-founders, Steve Wozniak or...)
JOB'S TEARS (referencing Apple's recently-deceased CEO, Steve Jobs)




He was indeed young and there were tears. Ask Dana Hahn, who writes:

iSad.

While Leo Stein mentions that:

This crossword puzzle was solved on a Mac.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 351 correct entries received, is William Bernhardt of Midwest City, Okla. William has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Brain Games.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

Our Hunt continues with a tribe of 351! This week's contest answer is a four-letter vegetable. IMPORTANT NOTE: We're using the everyday, expansive definition of "vegetable" this week, so don't think too technically along that front. If you think something might be reasonably considered a vegetable, it is one for our purposes. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer vegetable 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 (1,578 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

10/6/11

MGWCC# 175 -- Friday, Oct. 7th, 2011 -- THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER, PUZZLE #1 -- "Fruitful Endeavors"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 175 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:



Last week was a 5th Friday, and the meta was brutal: just 103 solvers found the correct contest answer song, which was OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA.

Six theme entries ran through the grid, identifiable not just from their lengths but also from their curious enumerations:

17-a {Symbol of peace (5,6)} = DOVES FLYING
25-a {One of the ten largest cities in the U.S. (3,7)} SAN ANTONIO
30-a {Visiting briefly (8,2)} = STOPPING BY
42-a {Occult "game equipment" (5,5)} = TAROT CARDS
48-a {Cause of a sprinter's leg pain (6,4)} = MUSCLE TEAR
57-a {"Harlem Nights"} actor, 1989 (5,6)} = EDDIE MURPHY

The obvious question was: why the enumerations? The non-obvious answer: each of these six clues has an alternate answer that also fits the given enumerations. Another famous (5,6) symbol of peace, for example, is an OLIVE BRANCH. Here are all six:

17-a OLIVE BRANCH
25-a LOS ANGELES
30-a DROPPING IN
42-a OUIJA BOARD
48-a LACTIC ACID
57-a DANNY AIELLO

The initials of these six alternate answers, emboldened above, spell out our contest answer song, whose Wikipedia page is quite fascinating.

Joel Rosenberg writes:

HELP!...I cant solve the meta

The rarely-stumped Jeffrey Krasnick submitted the great Beatles tune I'M A LOSER, with the explanation:

I know it is wrong, but it is accurate.

John L. Wilson got the meta, but appended:

Fallback was "We Can't Work It Out."


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 103 correct entries received, is Eric Suess of Pocatello, Ida. Eric has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

COOL FIND IN MGWCC #173:

I forgot to mention this last week, but 11 solvers spotted an interesting find in the UTAH meta. I'll let Cory Oldweiler explain:

Interesting to see the solution to last week. I sent IOWA because if you take the RIGHT CORNER of each of the intersections, it spells IOWA.

Isn't that a coincidence? I didn't accept IOWA as a correct alt-answer for several reasons: 1) that theme entry is just RIGHT CORNER, but it'd need to specify UPPER RIGHT CORNER to be accurate, since it could just as well be the lower-right corner; 2) that answer doesn't explain the other three theme entries; and 3) the W in IOWA is taken from the entry IOWAN, which takes some of the shine off it. Still, a cool little Easter Egg.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

38 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all five of September's challenges (EAST COAST, PULLEY, ROME, UTAH and OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Jeff Davidson -- Mountain View, Calif.

Todd Etter -- Alexandria, Va.

Cheryl Faba -- Detroit, Mich.

Brandon Hensley -- Princeton, N.J.

Brent Holman -- San Francisco, Calif.

Paul Melamud -- Milford, N.J.

Joon Pahk -- Somerville, Mass.

Ned Robert -- Los Gatos, Calif.

Eric Suess -- Pocatello, Ida.

Sean Trowbridge -- Redmond, Wash.


Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 5-for-5 in September. It wasn't an easy thing to do.

JOON ON "JEOPARDY!":

You know the guy who blogs this puzzle every week on Crossword Fiend? Well, he's found a better-paying gig: Joon Pahk has won $129,400 on "Jeopardy!" over the past four nights, and he's still the reigning champ as I type this. So watch him tonight, or check out the YouTube videos of past shows here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xLZZ3eggA0

THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER:



Summer is but a memory, and the days grow shorter and colder. To you and me that means football and J. Crew sweaters, but think of our ancestors -- I'm talking about our ancient ancestors, the parts of us that have been around for 10,000 years. Before we got hip to farming and animal husbandry, the main concern this time of year would have been food.

This October, our ragtag, pencil-wielding tribe of several hundred will relive that endless, ancient process of hunting and gathering. Each week you'll be tasked with finding food, and, nature being as cruel as she is amoral, missing one week's bounty will spell your demise.

Good luck, my fellow tribal members. May our sustenance not be so well-hidden, and may our skill at locating it be great. The stomach groans already; let the hunt commence!

THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER RULES:

1) We shall refer to this month in shorthand as "H40." A pun on water, which is also kind of important.

2) Every tribal member who finds food (i.e. answers the meta correctly) for each of H40's four puzzles will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set. The stationery sets are not edible.

3) You may use any references to help you (Google, Webster's, etc.) in your quest. You may NOT confer with, give hints to, or receive help from any other participant in the Hunt! The tribal leaders do not take kindly to awful cheaters, so remain within the behavioral bounds set by our primitive society!


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is a fruit. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer fruit 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 (1,576 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

9/29/11

MGWCC #174 -- Friday, Sept. 30th, 2011 -- "Mean Mr. Meta"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 174 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 toughie last week, though you wouldn't know it from the scoreboard: 221 solvers found UTAH as our contest answer. That's a large number for Week 4 of a five-puzzle month, but perhaps half of that number hadn't fully understood the meta gimmick.

You had to put one letter in UTAH in each of four symmetrical corners to complete four words there, including the theme entries (see solution at left). For example, in the SE, a U on the corner completes CROSS CO(U)SIN, AND I Q(U)OTE, Q(U)ADS and A(U)SSI. Similarly:

In the NE, the corner T completes AT A JUNC(T)ION, QUI(T)O, C(T)RL, and TOR(T)OLA.

In the NW, the corner A completes T-FR(A)ME MOTOR, COM(A)NCHES, IOW(A)N and STR(A)W.

In the SW, the corner H completes RIG(H)T CORNER, ALO(H)A OE, BA(H)T and O(H) GOD.

Put those four corners together and you've got one of the four corners states, UTAH. Further hinting at the gimmick, each theme entry contained a synonym for "intersection" (cross, junction, T, corner).

Dan Seidman writes:

Would have been cool if Zion was in the bottom left. And if nothing was in the top right.

With a similar notion, Joel Horn:

Would have been cool if you made the meta clues L-shaped, like the state.


And sorta like this:

http://www.patrickblindauer.com/play.html

Finally, Rick Bibby corrects one of my theme clues:

A "T-frame motor" is not shaped like a T. 'T Frame' is simply a standard frame size of an electric motor.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 221 correct entries received, is Leon Glass of Montreal, Que. Leon has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

CROSSWORD CLUING CONTEST:

This is interesting: you can win cool prizes not by solving a crossword, but by cluing one single word more cleverly than anyone else. Find out the word (and the rules) here:

http://www.crosswordnation.com/fall-gala-crossword-giveaway

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a well-known Beatles song. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer song 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 (1,574 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

9/21/11

MGWCC #173 -- Friday, September 23rd, 2011 -- "State Lines"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 173 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:

OK, that was a lot tougher than I'd intended! After 410 and then 376 correct answers arrived for weeks 1 and 2, just 93 solvers found ROME as last week's contest answer capital, which means I severely underestimated the difficulty of this meta. That's a number I'd aim for on the fourth or fifth week of a month, not the third.

Solvers were asked to find "a European capital I've never laid eyes on." That and the title hinted at eyesight, and the puzzle's one obvious theme entry hinted at lack of eyesight: {Unfair puzzle square} at 36-across led to BLIND CROSSING, that horrible situation where the band you've never heard of and an Icelandic river cross in your crossword grid, leaving you guessing at the letter.

With BRAILLE at 12-down, some suspicious-looking clumps of black squares, and three entries clued identically as {Dot follower}, many solvers reported spending a long time looking for a Braille message hidden in the grid. That was an evil (and mostly unintentional) red herring, as the meta's secret lay in the literal "blind crossings" of eight famous blind people:

In the NE, Louis BRAILLE and Greek poet HOMER crossed at the R;
In the NW, John MILTON and Stevie WONDER crossed at the O;
In the SW, jazzman Art TATUM and Biblical figure SAMSON crossed at the M;
And in the SE, Ray CHARLES and Helen KELLER crossed at the E.

Put those four blind crossings together and you get ROME, which I do hope to lay eyes on someday.

Like so many solvers this week, John L. Wilson had to take a random stab (his was VATICAN CITY):

After ruling out Lisbon, that left only ~45 others to consider...

Debbie Keller did, too (her stab was REYKJAVIK):

ARRGGHH! I just can't see it! I was so excited to find my last name in the puzzle! I even raised a guide dog (puppy) last year for Leader Dogs for the Blind here in Rochester Hills. So you'd think I could solve this meta! But my answer is a total shot in the dark...

While Jeff Davidson almost sent in a city in Utah before coming to his senses:

I was all ready to submit "OREM" because I knew it was a place *somewhere* before I decided to check to make sure it was in Europe. Whoops. Then I figured you must have made that mistake, too. Then I figured I should check a list of capitals somewhere, starting with O... nothing. What about R?

Oh... duh.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 93 correct entries received, is Todd Etter of Alexandria, Va. Todd has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

PRINTING ISSUES:

Several solvers have reported printing difficulties with the new .pdf printable format. If you're one of them, note that you can also print directly from the Across Lite file; either join the Google Group to get it by e-mail each Friday, or just click "Download Crossword for Across Lite" under the AL applet on the blog.

MATT GAFFNEY'S DAILY CROSSWORD:

I've just started a new daily crossword feature which I've creatively labeled "Matt Gaffney's Daily Crossword" (MGDC). Wednesday was puzzle #0001, and there'll be a new one up at 6 AM each weekday from now until the end of time.

MGDC puzzles are 11x13 in size, lightly themed, and on the easy side; a Monday MGDC will be significantly less difficult than a Monday New York Times puzzle, while a Friday MGDC will be about as tough as a Tuesday Times. No contest or meta, either, so if you have friends who like crosswords but find MGWCC a little rough, send them on over to MGDC.

The site's still bare-bones but I'll spruce it up over the coming week. Here it is:

http://mattgaffneydaily.blogspot.com/


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a U.S. state.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer state 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 (1,570 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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