MGWCC #144 -- Friday, March 4th, 2011 -- "A Million Little Pieces"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 144 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.


I briefly considered naming last week's puzzle "Torture Devices," since the meta was tough and literary devices took center stage.

Indeed just 82 solvers puzzled out the correct answer, the literary term TMESIS, of which the puzzle's title is an example (apologies for the semi-vulgarity in the title, but such constructions are by far the most common uses of TMESIS in English!).

Successful metapuzzlers noticed that the six theme clues/answers each referenced a literary device:

16-a HATERS GONNA HATE -- tautology
19-a LIFE IS A HIGHWAY -- metaphor
28-a MANY YEARS LATER -- ellipsis
39-a THAT'S JUST GREAT -- sarcasm
51-a DIED THE NEXT DAY -- irony
57-a COOL AS A CUCUMBER -- simile

The first letters of these six literary devices, emboldened above, spell out our contest answer.

I expected most solvers who got this to break through on metaphor, sarcasm, irony and simile and then backsolve the last two. That's pretty much the route people described.

Something completely unexpected was the number of solvers who pegged the probable contest answer as TMESIS right off the bat from the title, and who backsolved from that advanced point! In fact, I thought I was in some trouble after receiving 15 correct answers in the first couple of hours with accompanying e-mail chiding me for giving too much away with the title. I thought I might be sending out 100+ stationery sets! Fortunately for me things settled down a bit.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 82 correct entries received, is Tom Viscelli of Kabul, Afghanistan. Tom has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.


50 solvers went 4-for-4 in Literary February, stumped not by Michael CRICHTON, RABBIT ANGSTROM, UNCLE VANYA nor even by the evil TMESIS. Each will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set. They are:

Don Albright -- West Chester, Penna.

Jared Banta -- Superior, Colo.

Lorraine Barg -- Fairfield, Conn.

Ross Beresford -- Kingsley, Penna.

Alex Boisvert -- Los Angeles, Calif.

Ed Brody -- Cambridge, Mass.

Foggy Brume -- Phoenix, Ariz.

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

Roy Denham -- Grand Junction, Colo.

Noam Elkies -- Cambridge, Mass.

John Farmer -- Woodland Hills, Calif.

Andrew Feist -- Newport News, Va.

Neville Fogarty -- Brooklyn, N.Y.

Nathan Fung -- Brighton, Mass.

Peter Gordon -- Great Neck, N.Y.

Peter Gwinn -- Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mark Halpin -- Cold Spring, Ky.

Charles Hamlett -- Apex, N.C.

Peter Hammond -- Silver Spring, Md.

Jeffrey Harris -- Norwalk, Conn.

Robert Hartford -- Stow, Mass.

Tyler Hinman -- San Francisco, Calif.

Bob Klahn -- Wilmington, Del.

John Lenning -- Irvine, Calif.

Jeff Louie -- Cambridge, Mass.

Timothy Mitchell -- Snohomish, Wash.

Mike Nothnagel -- Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

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

Joon Pahk -- Somerville, Mass.

Jill Palmer -- Leverett, Mass.

Eric Prestemon -- Sunnyvale, Calif.

Marcia Rose -- Delray Beach, Fla.

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

Jed Scott -- Rockford, Mich.

Dan Seidman -- Watertown, Mass.

Jim Sherman -- Falls Church, Va.

Dave Shukan -- San Marino, Calif.

Jim Silvestro -- Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.

Matt Soule -- Duluth, Minn.

David Stein -- Silver Spring, Md.

Dave Sullivan -- Boston, Mass.

Gerry Tansey -- Florissant, Mo.

Mark Taylor -- Seattle, Wash.

Mike Weepie -- Cedar Rapids, Ia.

Kirsten Weiblen -- Yellow Spring, W. Va.

Bill Weinstein -- Belmont, Mass.

Scott Weiss -- Walkersville, Md.

Sue White -- Manhattan Beach, Calif.

David Wild -- Washington, D.C.

John L. Wilson -- Shoreview, Minn.

Congratulations to our winners, and thanks to everyone for playing Literary February! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.


Regarding 48-across, Peter Gordon writes:

There is no Yahtzee category called ONES. It's called ACES.

Aha -- true, that's the official term on the scoresheet. However, no one playing the game says "I still need aces" or "How many aces do you need to get the bonus?" You normally say "ones."

So is this an error? I'm going to weasel out by saying 1) it's not an error but 2) next time I'll add a "casually" tag to the clue. Q.E.D. (quod erratum demonstrandum...)

Robert Hartford writes re 31-down:

Rau became president of Germany in 1999, not 1994.

No weaseling here, that's just an error. Entschuldigung!


No need to wait until Friday for crossword and metapuzzle answers -- each Tuesday at noon ET, right as the contest deadline passes, Joon Pahk publishes an entertaining write-up of the puzzle over at Diary of a Crossword Fiend. You can also vent rage regarding/give qualified praise to/deplore the existence of/point out quibbles with/or just plain marvel at that week's MGWCC with other solvers in the comments section. Check it out!


This week's contest answer is the classic topping missing from 17-across. Hint: it's the shortest of this food's five classic toppings. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer title 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 (1,462 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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