MGWCC #171 -- Friday, September 9th, 2011 -- "Building Locks"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 171 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.


For the third time in five puzzles, a record number of correct entries poured into MGWCC international headquarters last week. 410 solvers had no trouble spotting the EAST COAST as our contest answer region, formed by anagramming the words in EAST and COAST (separately) into nonsense phrases:


Amy Reynaldo
had quite a view for it:

I was up in the CN Tower in Toronto when the quake hit! The tower moved. My first noticed quake!

Linda Graham
was unimpressed:

I've already submitted my answer, but I wanted to assure you that we Californians use an earthquake like you had in Virginia as a coffee stirrer.

But Clare Farris sticks up for our little quake:

I grew up in the Los Angeles area and experienced some good ones--notably Whittier and Northridge--but I've lived on the EAST COAST now for the past 15 years.

Californians had a good chuckle at people's reaction to the Mineral event, but let me tell you: it scared the *&%# out of me! We live in bricks here! Bricks are great protection against one thing: wolves. For earthquakes you're much better off sticking with straw or wood.

While Jonathon Brown writes from Mozambique:

Didn't quite feel the quake over here.

And Ben Henri is just glad to have time for crosswords again:

Anyone who gripes at teachers for "having the summers off" needs to live a summer in my shoes. Too busy to even do the Matt Gaffney puzzles until school RESUMES!

And finally, there was a quirk in the crossword I was wondering if anyone would notice. Chip Van Kirk came through:

If you had changed the A at the ARNIE and ALTON intersection to an E (resulting in very legitimate ERNIE and ELTON words), you would have had IRENE anagrammed in the center of the puzzle.

Extremely observant! I wrote this puzzle after Irene had first hit, and I was under the mistaken impression at that time than she was petering out and that no lives were going to be lost. I had ERNIE and ELTON in there, and had clued the former as {Gender-bent hurricane, after the quake?}.

When I found out that Irene had claimed quite a few lives, I thought it'd be in poor taste to use the hurricane in the grid. So I changed the E to an A to "make sure" no one would notice it, but then I thought, "I wonder if anyone will..." And they did!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 410 correct entries received, is Rachel Melman of San Francisco, Calif. (appropriate city, given the theme). In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Rachel will also receive an autographed copy of The Penguin Classics Crossword Puzzles, the lovely new book edited by Ben Tausig.


Jeffrey Harris is posting a new themed crossword every two weeks at his new web digs, Squaresville Puzzles. May a thousand independent crossword sites bloom!


This week's contest answer is the missing member of a familiar sextet. 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 (1,562 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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