MGWCC #136 -- Friday, January 7th, 2011 -- "Pet Project"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 136 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.


That's Mark Halpin's dog Riley in the picture above. Mark was one of 149 solvers who correctly identified the JACK RUSSELL TERRIER as last week's contest answer breed. Probably an easier meta for Mark than for others since, as you can see, he owns one.

Successful metapuzzlers noticed that the four theme entries each consisted of two words, the first of which was the surname of a famous Jack, and the second of which was the first name of a famous Russell:

17-a WHITE JANE (rock star Jack WHITE, actress JANE Russell)
11-d LONDON MARK (writer Jack LONDON, pianist/parodist MARK Russell)
29-d LORD PEE-WEE (actor Jack LORD, jazz musician PEE-WEE Russell)
62-a BLACK BILL (comic actor Jack BLACK, basketball legend BILL Russell)

Which makes Riley's breed last week's contest answer (with or without the TERRIER part).

This was an oblique meta which many solvers had to put aside for a while and ponder. Barbara Hartwell writes:

You won't believe how I got this. I was watching the Rose Bowl Parade and they had a float with dogs on surfboards and the commentator said her favorite was the Jack Russell Terrier, and it hit me!

Stephen Fineman's brain worked on it while he was otherwise preoccupied:

Let's hear it for doing something else and _not_ thinking about the puzzle! Solution popped into my head while I was driving home tonight.

As did Miss Kali's brain, though I prefer her method over Stephen's:

So I'm at work, in a bar. It's so slow (new years day) and my friend and I wanted to do a shot. My choice is jack daniels, my friend's name is jack.... a lingering weird feeling and 30 seconds later my light bulb went off!

The crossword itself was also tough. Joel Alderson took a (clever) misstep right off the bat:

I confidently wrote in bluegrass at 17 across for my first answer!

Finally, Noam Elkies notes a cluing inelegance:

not so nice to define 20A:SET as a "math group" because "group" is also a math term with a much more specific meaning.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 149 correct entries received, is Jolley Good of Asheville, N.C. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Jolley will also receive a one-year subscription to Peter Gordon's outstanding Fireball Crosswords. Winners over the coming three weeks will receive the same.


75 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all five of December's challenges (MERYL STREEP, WINGS, HOWE'S BAYOU, THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY and JACK RUSSELL). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Rich Dobkin -- Chatsworth, Calif.

Carolyn Emold -- Glendale, Wisc.

Mike Farabaugh -- Charlottesville, Va.

Clare Farris -- Brooklyn, N.Y.

Patrick Jordan -- Ponca City, Okla.

Jeffrey Krasnick -- Victoria, B.C.

Joon Pahk -- Cambridge, Mass.

Stan Park -- New York City, N.Y.

Jim Sherman -- Falls Church, Va.

Larry Wasser -- Louisville, Ky.

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


Last week was dogs, this week it's a cat! This week's contest answer is the name of my new cat, who I'm picking up this afternoon. It's four letters long and is also a familiar man's name. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer cat 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 (1,411 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.

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

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