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 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:


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.


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.


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.


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:



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!


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 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.

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