MGWCC #165 -- Friday, July 29th, 2011 -- "Island Time"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 165 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.


OK, so maybe that should have been Week 5 instead of Week 4! Just 84 solvers found the COLOSSUS OF RHODES as last week's contest WotAW, and about 15 of those were 1-in-7 shots taken successfully without grokking the meta.

The difficulty came not from the complexity of the meta -- it can be described in a single sentence -- but from the unusual pattern solvers were asked to find. Normally meta-hunters look for either wordplay patterns in the theme entries or some commonality in meaning among them. This meta was different: the common thread among the theme entries was nothing they shared in wordplay or meaning, but simply that their last words were members of a well-known set of seven:

BLACK FRIDAY --> 7 days of the week
GREEN WITH ENVY --> 7 deadly sins
KIND OF BLUE --> 7 colors of the rainbow
WEST AFRICA --> 7 continents
DON'T BE BASHFUL --> 7 dwarfs
BLAME CANADA --> G7 countries

Contest instructions asked for one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but which to choose? Crafty metapuzzlers noticed that each of these six septet members is first alphabetically within its septet. Completing the pattern with a 7th septet member is the first WotAW alphabetically, the COLOSSUS OF RHODES.

I was slightly concerned about some of the sins having alternate names, since greed is sometimes labeled as "avarice" and wrath sometimes as "anger," either of which would have knocked envy off the top spot. I decided to use the list sanctioned by both Wikipedia and, more importanly, the classic 1995 movie "Se7en": gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, wrath, pride and lust. If it's good enough for Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey then it's good enough for MGWCC:

Also, it'd be a thousands-to-1 shot for the other five septet members to be first in their sets by coincidence, so it seemed mathematically clear that these placements had to be the meta key -- especially since envy is placed first alphabetically on many contemporary lists.

Jed Scott writes:

I especially liked the red herring of colors in the first three theme entries -- I had WEST ORANGE written in for a long time in the fourth entry!

Lively and lengthy comments section here.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 84 correct entries received, is Daniel W. of Kirkland, Wash. Daniel has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.


Refreshing your memory: MGWCC #163's meta was formed from the eight silent letters used in theme entries, which spelled out (in order) TALK SHOW.

Mark Manuel writes:

Do you ever have those moments where you feel just a little bit stupid? I figured out that each word had a silent letter and then highlighted them in the puzzle. I went to an on-line anagram solver and started typing t - a - l - k - s - h - o - w then looked at the screen to see what was returned to me.

Just laughed out loud...what can you do...


This week's contest answer is a Caribbean island.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer island 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 (1,546 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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