MGWCC #186 -- Friday, December 23rd, 2011 -- "English Lesson"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 186 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.


Somewhat oblique meta last week: solvers were asked to find an eight-letter world capital, and the puzzle's theme entries turned out to be:

22-a ARA PARSEGHIAN (everyone liked seeing his whole name for once)

What do these five have in common? They each point to a prominent two-word phrase whose initials are N.D.: The atrocious 1982 song HEARTLIGHT was sung by Neil Diamond; ARA PARSEGHIAN won two national titles at Notre Dame; BOW TO YOUR SENSEI is a line from "Napoleon Dynamite"; The book series GIRL DETECTIVE is the revamped Nancy Drew; and GRAND FORKS is the third-largest city in North Dakota. Searching for an eight-letter world capital with the initials N.D., 163 solvers came up with NEW DELHI, India's capital and last week's contest answer.

10 solvers submitted an alternate answer that I'm also accepting as correct: Chad's capital is N'DJAMENA, which is eight letters long. True, it doesn't consist of two words whose initials are ND, but the apostrophe muddies things a bit and the city does begin with the letters ND. I was aware of N'Djamena's existence as a possible spoiler here and planned to accept it before posting the puzzle; but really, what are the odds that there are two ND world capitals with eight letters in them?


Lee Sammons was the first to point out that the clue for 54-across is incorrect. The clue was {It's downriver from Winnipeg} but GRAND FORKS is actually upriver from Winnipeg. I had assumed that the Red River of the North, which makes up most of the border between Minnesota and North Dakota, flowed south like everything else in the region. But it turns out to be one of the not very many northerly-flowing rivers in North America, meandering into Manitoba before emptying into Lake Winnipeg.

Eric Suess writes:

As a Notre Dame grad, I appreciate the initials. Once years ago at a Mensa party I had a Notre Dame cap on. A gentleman came up to me and, trying to be witty, said "North Dakota?" to which I replied instantly "New Delhi" - that was the first time I'd noticed the similar initials.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 173 correct entries received, is George Dakis of Chicago, Ill. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, George will also receive a copy of Brendan Quigley's new 21x21 freestyle crossword. Winners for the next two will receive the same.


This could be revolutionary: a new crossword-solving Facebook application called PuzzleSocial. Enter solving contests, win awards, or challenge a friend head-to-head (which is awesome; you're both solving the same crossword on the same grid, and your entries are color-coded so you can see who's beating who where in the puzzle).

MGWCC will be appearing at PuzzleSocial each Friday starting today, and always an hour or two before I post it here (because PuzzleSocial is running them as a speed contest, the puzzle obviously can't appear anywhere else before then). This probably won't affect my posting times here at all; if anything I'll be posting here earlier than usual. More on PuzzleSocial in the coming weeks.

Note that nothing will be substantially different for you here at MGWCC if you're not on Facebook or don't participate in PuzzleSocial. Just keep on solving like normal! Also, please note that you need to click on the "A.V. Club" box at PuzzleSocial to access the MGWCC puzzles.


This week's contest answer is a well-known U.S. mayor, past or present. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer mayor 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 (1,619 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.

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


Cy Daedalus said...

As someone who does not use/enjoy/venerate Facebook, I really hope that you and BEQ and Blindauer and any others who are so eagerly embracing this new social puzzle thing don't change things too much in an attempt to make everyone crossword fans. All you have to do is peruse the comments of any crossword app in the Apple App Store to see many, many complaints along the lines of "puzzles are too hard." I like that your metas usually stump me after/on week three. I don't mind getting a 25-45 minute time on a hard BEQ or Saturday NYTs or Newman. And I really hope that none of you (Matt) go exclusive to Facebook as it sounds like Blindauer is doing with some puzzles. Anyway, I'm guessing a lot of the response will be people saying join Facebook, so I will end this by saying, not everyone has to like Facebook, and I do not.

Matt Gaffney said...


Thanks, I've put another line on the blog to address this. Nothing much will change here from PuzzleSocial. I'd urge you to try it out because it's cool, but those who don't want to play it or who aren't on Facebook will notice only minimal changes on MGWCC.

pannonica said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cy Daedalus said...

I appreciate the quick assurance Matt. Thanks a lot.

tabstop said...

And if you are on Facebook, you have to remember to go there before you go here (or else remember which box this puzzle hides in) :shameface:

Anonymous said...

notice the Facebook app provides the puzzle solution, should help getting the meta faster

lhj said...

Help please - what did the title to last week's puzzle mean? "Nine down is like five across"

Matt Gaffney said...

Anonymous -- true, but there were already programs to unlock the AL files anyway (and I can't stop anyone from using Google). But PuzzleSocial can't help you with the meta...

Matt Gaffney said...

lhj -- "Nine Down" is an N.D. phrase, and "Five Across" refers to the five theme entries.