9/14/12

Friday, September 14th, 2012 -- MGWCC has moved!

Dear Solver,

As of 9/14/2012, MGWCC has moved permanently to:

www.xwordcontest.com


I'm leaving the old site up here indefinitely for the sake of reference and nostalgia, but won't be posting here any longer. See you at the new place!

--Matt

9/8/12

MGWCC #223 -- Saturday, September 8th, 2012 -- "Digital Audio"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 223 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'S RESULTS:

Apologies for the day's delay on this post; energy-sapping illness of some kind meant I couldn't even stay awake to write this week's post yesterday morning. I've slept most of it off now, though, so here we go.

Ambitious theme idea last week, though sort of a big mess in execution. Solvers were asked to name a 10-letter word beginning with C that describes this puzzle's meta, and the theme entries were:

17-a ["There's one on that snowbank, in front of that Titanic-sinking-sized ___ of ice floating in the water."] = SOLID BERG.

41-a ["There's one in the blades of grass being eaten by ___." = GRAZING CATTLE.

66-a ["There's one right out in the open -- utterly ___!" = SHAMELESS.

So what's the trick? Successful metapuzzlers noticed that there were three animals camouflaging themselves in these three theme entries. A total of fourteen squares therein worked with a different entry on their downs, revealing the presence of a POLAR BEAR camouflaged by the ice bank, a PRAYING MANTIS in the blades of grass, and a CHAMELEON right out in the open. The fourteen double duty clues were:

Concealing the POLAR BEAR:

1-d [Slowpoke in a race, often] = LOSER, but also LOPER
4-d [First name often seen in crosswords] = IDI, but also IDA
5-d [Apple's interior bits] = CODE (as in an Apple computer), but also CORE
7-d [Prominent govt. initials since the 1930s] = FDR, but also FDA
8-d [Airport terminal sights] = BAGS, but also BARS

Concealing the PRAYING MANTIS:

41-d [Unsmiling] = GRIM, but also PRIM
33-d [Word on many CD covers] = JAZZ, but also JAY-Z
35-d [People know yours if you're a celebrity] = FACE, but also FAME
39-d [It's hard for an overweight person to lose it] = ITCH, but also INCH
29-d [Where farm animals may wind up] = DELL, but also DELI (everyone's favorite 'chameleon' square)
30-d [Part of one's coterie] = AMIE, but also AMIS

Concealing the CHAMELEON:

59-d [Frequent challenge for Nastase] = ACHE, but also Arthur ASHE
50-d [Kid's word to describe a breakfast cereal, perhaps] = FROSTY, but also FROOTY
57-d [What bankers carry around in their hands, in the cartoons] = CASES, but also CANES

So what was the "10-letter word beginning with C that describes this puzzle's theme"? Animals hiding in similar-colored backgrounds can only be CAMOUFLAGE, found by 157 solvers.

"Can only be"? Well, despite my placement of two extra stipulations in the contest instructions (10-letter word, starting with C), solvers found two other answers I have to consider: 23 sent in CHAMELEONS, while 4 submitted CHANGELING.

Let me take the second one first: I can't accept CHANGELING, defined at dictionary.com as "a child believed to have been exchanged by fairies for the parents' true child." It has the word "change" in it, but doesn't describe the theme.

CHAMELEONS is trickier: the POLAR BEAR and PRAYING MANTIS aren't really like chameleons in that they don't change their colors based on surroundings, but there's enough wiggle room there that I'm going to accept the 23 CHAMELEON answers for the monthly prizes, but not for the weekly prize. Even the panel was divided on this question; lengthy and spirited debate on the subject here.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 157 correct entries received, is Alex Kolker of East Moline, Ill.

TWO E-MAILS FROM LAST WEEK:

Meant to publish these two last week but blanked on it. First, Craig Harman had another interesting piece of Neil Diamond trivia:

[Member of the 1960 NCAA men's championship fencing team Diamond]


I did not know that!

And second, Bob Klahn caught an amusing quirk:

I also noticed that Q is the only letter missing from your grid. As in quinquennial!

ERIK AGARD'S NEW SITE:

The Crucisphere continues to explode: the most recent detonation is Erik Agard's brand-new site, Glutton for Pun, where he'll be posting a new puzzle every Wednesday. Bookmarked on my browser.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

58 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all five of August's challenges (OCEAN, A/C/K/R, WASH HONDA, any DIAMOND clue, CAMOUFLAGE or CHAMELEONS). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Abby Braunsdorf -- Lafayette, Ind.

John Cassidy -- Staten Island, N.Y.

Jason Chan -- West Mifflin, Penna.

Joe DeVincentis -- Salem, Mass.

Andrew Feist -- Newport News, Va.

Alex Kolker -- East Moline, Ill.

Jeff Louie -- Cambridge, Mass.

Anne Recht -- Pewaukee, Wisc.

Jim Sempsrott -- Raleigh, N.C.

Jason Shapiro -- New York City, N.Y.


Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 5-for-5 in August.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a rental-car company.
Send your answer to crosswordcontest@gmail.com by WEDNESDAY at noon ET. Please put your answer in the subject line of your email.

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 (1,852 members now!) here.

SPECIAL PRIZES ALL THIS MONTH:

In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, weekly winners all this month will receive an autographed copy of Peter Gordon's new book Sizzlingly Hot Fireball Crosswords, which contains 45 of Peter's best freestyle puzzles from his Fireball series.




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

9/7/12

MGWCC #223 -- POSTPONED UNTIL SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2 PM ET

Folks -- for various uninteresting reasons this week's post will go up tomorrow at 2 PM Eastern time instead of today. Apologies for the delay, and I'll naturally add an extra day onto the deadline this week.

If you'd like to see the solution to last week's meta before tomorrow's post, please read Joon Pahk's writeup here:

http://www.crosswordfiend.com/blog/2012/09/05/mgwcc-222/

Until tomorrow,

Matt

8/31/12

MGWCC #222 -- Friday, August 31st, 2012 -- "Creature Feature"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 222 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'S RESULTS:

140 solvers grokked last week's meta. I'll let Brett Rose explain:

Just so you know that I fully figured it out...it's the traditional
anniversary presents in each of the numbered clues (all across except
where noted):
5 - Wood
10 - Crystal
15 - Tin (down)
20 - China
25 - Silver
30 - Pearl
35 - Jade (down)
40 - Ruby
45 - Sapphire (down)
50 - Gold
55 - Emerald
60 - Diamond

Somehow this stayed hidden to me for like 4 days...now it's like one
of those things I can't unsee....


Bob Kin asks:

Why does my wife think every anniversary is our 60th?

Jimmy Dale writes:

65A: I need a Blue (Bombay) Sapphire on the rocks after spending all weekend on this one!!!

[Singer Diamond] and the like were of course the most common entries, and perfectly fine. But some solvers got creative, a selection of which follows:

Brent Holman:

[____ Armstrong Elementary (Diamond Bar, CA distinguished school winner)]

Philip Chow:

[60. On "How I Met Your Mother" Barney (portrayed by ____ Patrick Harris) buys a diamond suit with his Christmas bonus money]


Ross Beresford:

[____ Thrasher (singer-songwriter who co-wrote Diamond Rio's 1996 single "That's What I Get for Lovin' You")]

Giovanni Pagano:

[Diamond whose name is composed of two state abbreviations]


David Plotkin:

[Diamond heard at a Boston diamond]


Jason Shapiro:

[Governor Abercrombie you might find on Diamond Head]

Abby Braunsdorf went for a cryptic crossword clue:

[Musician Diamond (one I'll cover)]

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 140 correct entries received, is Regina Cassidy of Staten Island, N.Y.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's meta a 10-letter word beginning with C that describes this puzzle's theme. Submit answer to crosswordcontest@gmail.com by WEDNESDAY at noon ET. Please put your clue in the subject line of your email.

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 (1,847 members now!) here.





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


8/24/12

MGWCC #221 -- Friday, August 24th, 2012 -- "At the Present Time"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 221 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'S RESULTS:

"Compound Interest" read the title of last week's MGWCC, and chemical compounds were the things to be interested in. Each of the four theme entries contained the common name for a chemical compound, and the compound's formula was hidden in the theme entry itself. They were:

17-a [Good use for laughing gas in a dentist's office?] = END ANNOYING PAIN (laughing gas = nitrous oxide, N20)

25-a [Good use for a disinfectant out on the lake?] = CLEAN FISHHOOKS (hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant, H2O2)

43-a [Good use for fool's gold in geology class?] = PROFESSOR'S JOKE (iron pyrite, FeS2)

57-a [Good use for salt while dining in New England?] = SEASON A CLAMBAKE (sodium chloride, NaCl)

Contest instructions asked for two entries that constitute "a good use for water in the driveway," and everyone knows that water is H20. So we need two entries that contain HHO and would put water to good use in a driveway, and there they are at
64-a and 14-a: WAS(H HO)NDA, found by 206 solvers.

Two notes on the puzzle:

1) To lead meta-guessers astray I put CAR in the grid at 23-a, and it worked like a charm: 94 solvers submitted CAR WASH or WASH CAR as their answer (insert "evil grin" emoticon here).

2) The clue to 25-a is slightly inconsistent with the other three, since "disinfectant" is a generic term, hydrogen peroxide being but one of several compounds that fall under its umbrella, while "laughing gas," "fool's gold," "salt" and "water" each reference one specific compound. While writing the puzzle I was under the impression that "liquid bleach" was a term used specifically for hydrogen peroxide, but while test-solving the guru pointed out to me that there are a few compounds that go by that name, so I had to punt with a generic term. Definitely a small blot, though HHOO is right there in the answer so most solvers figured out where I was going.

Christopher Jablonski says:

This contest submission was scrawled into the dirt on the window of a 1988 Civic.

Dan Sadoff writes:

it's about time 3 years of chemistry paid off.


Bob Johnson wasn't going to miss this one, either:

I'm a chemist so this was right up my alley. Interesting that dry ice, solid carbon dioxide, is often used to keep things COOl.

And neither was Nancy Pilla:

The Cl at the beginning of cleanfisHHOOks was a nice touch, although not the entire compound. Maybe "disinfect a pantry?" for cleaNACLOset? Anyway, great meta for this former chemist!

Chemist/biomedical engineer Victor Barocas suggests an alternate theme entry:

Shame that you couldn't get "Ahhhhh, chocolate" in there. I hear it's good with alcohol.

(OK, not quite in the same order as the others -- but all the atoms for C2H6O are there!)

And finally, Amy Hamilton laments:

My fourth grade teacher wrote on my report card that I tend to rush through things and fail to check my work, thus causing careless errors. Forty-four years later, her advice remains unfollowed as evidenced by this week's submission. My former profession is as a molecular biologist and I KNEW I was looking for H2O, yet I submitted HydroHonda anyway...

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 206 correct entries received, is Eric LeVasseur of Seal Beach, Calif. Eric has selected as his prize an autographed copy of While You Wait 20-Minute Crosswords.

NEVILLE WORSHIPING:

8:43 for me on today's Fogarty, a fine freestyle. Took me 8:43, and 36-a is a great seed entry.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

To solve this week's meta, write a clue for 60-across that completes the theme.
Submit answer to crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put your clue in the subject line of your email.

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 (1,847 members now!) here.




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

8/17/12

MGWCC #220 -- Friday, August 17th, 2012 -- "Compound Interest"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 220 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'S RESULTS:


Many crosswords require you to put letters inside circles, but last week's MGWCC switched that formula around, requiring solvers to put circles around four letters. The letters in question are the A, C, K and R that began the four theme entries; when circled, these letters stand for the first word of the theme entries:

20-a ANARCHY IN THE U.K.
25-a COPYRIGHT LAWS
42-a KOSHER KITCHEN
47-a REGISTERED MAIL

Which makes ACKR (any order was accepted as correct) our meta answer.

John L. Wilson writes:

Is having to RACK your brain worse than wracking it?

Probably, but you know what's even worse than that? About an hour after posting I realized I could have made the meta an erstwhile model of automobile, messed with the order of theme entries and had K-CAR be the answer, with the four circles you add as its four wheels. D'oh!

ANARCHY IN THE U/K?

226 solvers submitted ACKR as their answer, but 25 sent in ACUR instead. The logic is that a circled U is more common than a circled K to indicate that a food is kosher, and there are plenty of U's in the grid to circle (though not one in the answer KOSHER KITCHEN).

At first I thought this was a close call and intended to kick it up to the panel, but an argument from Crossword Fiend commenter CY Hollander persuaded me that they need not be summoned:

only K should be accepted: the theme is “answers whose first letter, when circled, can take the place of the entire first word”. Changing this to “random letters in the puzzle which, when circled, can take the place of the first word of some other answer” makes for a much, much looser theme.

Also note that the contest instructions read: This week's contest answer is the four letters in the grid that you must circle to highlight the puzzle's theme. So the question is not whether the circled U is more common than the circled K to represent kosher (it is), but which one highlights the theme, which only K does. So still sort of a klose kall, but only the K is truly kosher in this meta.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 226 correct entries received, is Erin Milligan-Milburn of Bala Cynwyd, Penna. Erin has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

GRYPTICS CONTEST:

You know the drill!

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's puzzle contest answer is the two grid entries that, when combined, form a good use for water in the driveway. E-mail them to me (the entries themselves, not their clue numbers) 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 (1,844 members now!) here.




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

8/10/12

MGWCC #219 -- Friday, August 10th, 2012 -- "Circular Reasoning"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 219 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'S RESULTS:

Feels good to be back! 401 solvers found OCEAN as the relevant geographical term in last week's puzzle. The five theme entries were:

18-a [Cold wind] = ARCTIC BLAST
23-a [Where you'll find Baltic Avenue, St. James Place and Boardwalk] = ATLANTIC CITY
37-a ["The Love Boat" boat] = PACIFIC PRINCESS
50-a [Shortfall cause, as it were?] = INDIAN SUMMER
58-a [1970 Neil Young song in response to which Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote "Sweet Home Alabama"] = SOUTHERN MAN

The first word of each theme entry are the world's five OCEANs, making that our contest answer. Variations were also accepted (OCEANS, WORLD OCEAN, OCEANFRONT, etc).

Cindy Follick writes:

There was no Southern Ocean when I was in school...

Me neither, but it's gained recognition for some reason. Read all about it here; my favorite line is: "Geographers disagree on the Southern Ocean's northern boundary or even its existence..."

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 401 correct entries received, is Myron M. Meyer of Sioux Falls, S.D.

LOLLAPUZZOOLA LAST WEEKEND, PITTSBURGH TOMORROW:


I had a blast at Lollapuzzoola 5 last Saturday in Manhattan! You can buy all six puzzles from the tournament (including one I wrote) here, but only until this Sunday.

And though I won't be at the 3rd Annual Pittsburgh Crossword Tournament tomorrow, I did write a meta-crossword for it -- so drop by if you're in the area!

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the four letters in the grid that you must circle to highlight the puzzle's theme. E-mail these four letters to me (just the letters themselves; I don't need their location in the grid) 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 (1,835 members now!) here.




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

8/3/12

MGWCC #218 -- Friday, August 3rd, 2012 -- "World Series"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 218 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'S RESULTS:

Subtle meta from Erik Agard to wind up Guest Constructor Month: five long answers that look like theme entries, but aren't (evil); unhelpful title, since it doesn't make sense until you've gotten the meta anyway; and six chameleon squares concealing themselves with only the easiest-to-miss hints to suggest their presence.

The six chameleons were:

[JFK posting] = ETD/ETA, crossing [They may be chilling] = COLDS/COLAS
[Drone on, perhaps] = ORATE/GRATE, crossing [Easily shattered thing] EGO/EGG
[State of disorder]= MUSS/MESS, crossing [Icon of Wall Street] = BULL/BELL
[Barnes & Noble purchases] = BOOKS/NOOKS, crossing [Apple’s head?] = CRAB/CRAN
[Husband, e.g.] = MALE/MATE, crossing [Roast, often] = MEAL/MEAT.
[Platte River tribe] = OTOE/OTOS, crossing [Psychics’ supposed sights] AURAE/AURAS.

Line those chameleons up side-by side and you spell this week's contest answer, DOUBLE AGENTS, which those six squares certainly are.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 62 correct entries received, is Justin Weinbaum of Minneapolis, Minn. Justin has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

42 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of July's challenges (LEAD FOOT, HORSESHOES/H-O-R-S-E, CHARLES or AUGUST FEY, DOUBLE AGENTS). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Abby Braunsdorf -- Lafayette, Ind.

Jeremy Conner -- Los Angeles, Calif.

Sean Effinger-Dean -- Chicago, Ill.

Noam Elkies -- Cambridge, Mass.

Sam Ezersky -- Fairfax, Va.

Joe Fendel -- Berkeley, Calif.

Peter Gordon -- Great Neck, N.Y.

Robert Kern -- Carlstadt, N.J.

Doug Peterson -- Pasadena, Calif.

Scott Weiss -- Walkersville, Md.



Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 4-for-4 in July.

GUEST CONSTRUCTOR MONTH IS OVER, BUT WILL RETURN:

Solvers dug Guest Constructor Month a lot, so let's make it a July tradition. Big thanks to Messrs. Pahk, Muller, Blindauer and Agard for making the 1st Annual Guest Constructor Month what it was, which was varied and very fun. We'll do it again next year for certain.

LOLLAPUZZOOLA 5 IS TOMORROW:

Perhaps I'll see you there!

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is a geographical term.
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 (1,830 members now!) here.




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

7/27/12

MGWCC #217 -- Friday, July 27th, 2012 -- GUEST CONSTRUCTOR MONTH PUZZLE #4 -- "The Operative Words Being..." by Erik Agard

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 217 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.

GUEST CONSTRUCTOR MONTH -- THE FINAL PUZZLE:

Oh, so you were expecting some big-name constructor for Week 4? Well, don't be surprised if this week's (18-year-old) constructor becomes a big name soon enough. More below.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Everybody liked Patrick Blindauer's meta last week: he asked solvers to answer a trivia question, and left them with three jibberish-looking 15-letter downs clued as simply [Reel #1], [Reel #2] and [Reel #3]:

FCN
ENE
OHT
AIF
IHH
WIO
THH
TML
BFM
TEH
ATE
ORA
HTS
ASE
ETR

Well, that doesn't look like much. But the title "One-Armed Bandit" and the reel references nudged solvers towards spinning these reels like a slot machine. Use a little trial and error to line them up like this...

WHA
TIS
THE
BIR
THN
AME
OFT
HEF
ATH
ERO
FTH
ESL
OTM
ACH
INE

...and reading across we've got our trivia question: What is the birth name of the father of the slot machine? A quick Google reveals the answer to be one AUGUST FEY, a Bavarian who came to the U.S. in 1885 at age 23, and later invented the one-armed bandit out in San Francisco. More importantly, he's last week's contest answer.

170 solvers submitted AUGUST FEY as their answer, while 68 sent in CHARLES FEY, the name he took upon moving to America. I'm counting these entries as correct; although the question specifically asks for Fey's birth name, many sites don't mention that he was born "August," and Patrick only used "birth name" in the question to arrive at 45 letters exactly, not to set a trivia trap.

So there might be some understandable grumbling at the laxity of this decision (as with last week's), but let's view Guest Constructor Month as more exhibition than competition. Don't worry, we'll tighten things up around here in August (a.k.a Charles).

Jon Delfin says:

Not just a crossword, but an arts and crafts project!


Which was true -- just check out the makeshift slot machine Kayli and Tony Rife created (click image to enlarge):


Dan Feyer submitted CHARLES FEY, and added:

But I'm Feyer than he is!

And Joe Fendel points out:

Nice touch that the hidden message starts at the Wynn!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 238 correct entries received, is Ben Jones of Stamford, Conn.

THE NEVILLE YOU KNOW:

Today's Fogarty took me 9:08. Beat that!


THIS WEEK'S GUEST CONSTRUCTOR:



What was true of Week 2's constructor is also true of Week 4's: without Erik Agard, Guest Constructor Month wouldn't have happened. Late last year he started showing me metas he'd been writing, and I liked them so much that I decided to run one here.

Erik attended the ACPT for the first time this year and finished in 17th place overall (!), earning himself a spot in the B finals (where the above picture was taken). He's also just recently started his own crossword site called Anoa Place (and I dig that artwork!).

Week 4 awaits; en garde for Agard...


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is a two-word phrase. 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 (1,824 members now!) here.




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



7/20/12

MGWCC #216 -- Friday, July 20th, 2012 -- GUEST CONSTRUCTOR MONTH PUZZLE #3 -- "One-Armed Bandit" by Patrick Blindauer

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 216 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.

GUEST CONSTRUCTOR MONTH ROLLS ON:


This week's guest constructor is the Tim Burton of crosswords -- relentlessly creative, always interesting, and full of ideas I'm not sure anyone else could have come up with. I certainly wasn't going to let Guest Constructor Month pass without seeing what he had to say; more below.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


201 solvers found HORSESHOES as the answer to Pete Muller's meta last week. They'd noticed that the first word of each of the six (!) theme entries could precede "horse" to form a familiar phrase, while the second word of each preceded "shoes" to form the same:

17-a. RACE SADDLE (racehorse, saddle shoes)
23-a. HIGH PLATFORM (high horse, platform shoes)
31-a. WILD OVER (wild horse, overshoes)
45-a. WAR COURT (warhorse, court shoes)
52-a. TROJAN TENNIS (Trojan horse, tennis shoes)
63-a. WORK SAFETY (workhorse, safety shoes)

A straightforward and uncontroversial meta, perfect for week 2 and my month off, right? Except not: 80 solvers sent in the basketball variant H-O-R-S-E as their answer. It's certainly a well-known game (I played it 100s of times during childhood), but is it good enough an answer to count as correct?

After consulting with some wise people I've decided to fall back on a Solomon-like tactic we've used before for very-close-but-maybe-not-quite alternative answers: those who submitted H-O-R-S-E this week were not eligible for the weekly prize, but will remain eligible for the monthly prizes.

The general feeling is that, while HORSESHOES is the better answer, H-O-R-S-E satisfies all the requirements of the meta (is a well-known game, comes from each theme entry, doesn't leave the title unexplained) well enough that it was reasonable to stop looking after you found it, which is what seemed to happen in most of these 80 cases.

These borderline decisions usually ruffle some feathers, but one last thing to consider: close only counts in two cases, and horseshoes is one of them.

Jim Curran says:

Looks like this Muller guy is a real ringer...

And Bob Klahn adds:

I saw this one right away, as should be the case this time of the month. Didn't even have to mull 'er over.

Quit sending me these lousy puns, OK? I mean, for Pete's sake...

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 201 correct entries received, is Carol S. Glasser of Mahopac Falls, N.Y. Carol has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

SPEAK OF THE NEVILLE:

The Crucisphere is exploding these days, is it not? It feels like we're witnessing something novel and exciting being born every month or two.

The latest exciting addition debuted this morning: Neville Fogarty has a new blog up at http://nevillefogarty.wordpress.com/. He'll be posting a new puzzle there every Friday, the first of which, entitled "First Things First...and Second," took me 7:18 in Across Lite.

I'm stingy with bookmarks but I'm bookmarking this. Go Neville!

THIS WEEK'S GUEST CONSTRUCTOR:


Speaking of the exploding Crucisphere, this week's guest constructor is one of its very brightest stars. Patrick Blindauer has been posting monthly puzzles at his site since 2010, the best of which are transcendent: try April 2011's puzzle ("Campfire Meeting") here to see what I mean (scroll down a bit; archive of puzzles is on the right-hand side).

For me personally, Patrick has the highest "I really wish I'd thought of that theme" quotient of any constructor. His Fireball puzzle from January 26th of this year, "Little White Lie," is the crossword I've most had this sentiment towards in recent memory (Can't link since it's subscription only, but the writeup -- with spoilers, take note -- is here).

Now, let's see what he does with a meta. Good luck...you might need it!

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the answer to a trivia question. 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 (1,818 members now!) here.




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


7/13/12

MGWCC #215 -- Friday, July 13th, 2012 -- GUEST CONSTRUCTOR MONTH, PUZZLE #2 -- "Got Game?" by Pete Muller

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 215 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.

GUEST CONSTRUCTOR MONTH CONTINUES:

Week 2's puzzle is by the guy who was the impetus for Guest Constructor Month. How meta is that? More below.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


Joon Pahk led off Guest Constructor Month with a bang last week. He asked solvers to find a pair of symmetric entries that would have made a good fifth theme answer, the four given themers being:

20-a [He played John Connor in "Terminator 2"] = EDWARD FURLONG
34-a [Collection of young swingers?] = LITTLE LEAGUE
41-a [Inspector Lestrade's employer, in Sherlock Holmes books] = SCOTLAND YARD
56-a [Emperor Zurg's archenemy, in film] = BUZZ LIGHTYEAR

FURLONG, LEAGUE, YARD and LIGHTYEAR are all units of distance, which means we're looking for symmetrically-placed grid entries that form a two-word phrase wherein the second word is a unit of distance.

And there it is at 16- and 64-across: LEAD FOOT, which was submitted by 467 entrants.

Don Lloyd
writes:

I fathomed it.

Leo Stein submitted LEAD FOOT:

Or "Pb ft" as I like to call it.


And Adam Rosenfield notes:

If 28A had been PAR instead of TRE, it could have combined with 48A to make PARSEC (about 3.26 light-years), but that would only make it half a theme entry.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 467 correct entries received, is Kevin Bloom of Tallahassee, Fla. Kevin has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

TRAFFIC PATTERN:


Forgot to mention this last week, but June 2012 was the highest traffic month in MGWCC history. w00t w00t!!

JULY GRYPTICS CONTEST IS UP:


You know what to do!


LOLLAPUZZOOLA 5:

I wrote a puzzle for Lollapuzzoola 5, and will be attending to watch solvers suffer through it. It'll be Saturday, August 4th in New York City. Details here; see you there!

THIS WEEK'S GUEST CONSTRUCTOR:


Without Pete Muller, Guest Constructor Month wouldn't have happened: late last year he showed me a series of meta-crosswords he'd just written, which were so enjoyable that I decided we should publish one here.

He didn't wait for July to roll around, though: in May he launched his Muller Monthly Music Meta, a music-themed meta-crossword published the first week of each month. It's already become very popular, which isn't surprising since it combines two of Pete's passions, as does this.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a well-known game.
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 (1,816 members now!) here.




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


7/6/12

MGWCC #214 -- Friday, July 6th, 2012 -- GUEST CONSTRUCTOR MONTH, PUZZLE #1 -- "Distance Learning" by Joon Pahk

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 214 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.

GUEST CONSTRUCTOR MONTH:

This month MGWCC showcases metas by four guest constructors. And who better to start with than the guy who's been blogging the puzzle for the past four years? More below.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Painfully flawed meta last week: I asked solvers to find an event, my intended answer being THE OLYMPIC GAMES. Nudged by the grid's only theme answer (PRESENT THE RINGS), 194 solvers noticed that the only five O's in the puzzle were situated like the five rings on the Olympic flag, and that each crossed at two relevantly-colored words:

OCEAN + FLOE = blue
OIL + EBONY = black
ORANG + ROSE = red
ODIE + LEMON = yellow
OKRA + HOLLY = green


Put those clues together and your meta answer is THE OLYMPIC GAMES. I accepted anything with "Olympic(s)" in it as correct (Olympics, Olympic Games, Olympic Torch, Special Olympics, etc.).

So why was this meta flawed? Let me count the ways:

1) At 29-d, the clue [American gold medalist at the 1996 Olympics] for Kerri STRUG unnecessarily and confusingly contains the word "Olympics." The presence of this clue convinced a certain number of solvers that the answer could not simply be OLYMPICS, because then the meta answer would have been in a clue. Gross oversight on my part.

2) This was a Week 5 puzzle, so solvers were naturally expecting a very tough meta. Instructions asked for an "event," which is a word that certainly describes the Olympic Games themselves; unfortunately, it's also the exact word used for the sporting competitions held at the Olympics (shot put, javelin, etc.), so many solvers who'd found the rings wasted a lot of time looking for a specific Olympic event in the grid that simply wasn't there. This kind of thing should never happen, and I apologize to solvers who spent lots of time down this garden path -- you didn't overthink the meta, I underthought it.

3) A couple of the colored entries were slightly off: ice FLOE is more white than blue, though it tends to be blue-tinted. And while an ORANG certainly has a reddish hue to it, they're not the reddest things in the world. The other eight entries are uncontroversial, and these two didn't steer anyone completely off-course, but I was still surprised at how difficult it was to 1) come up with something blue in the letter pattern ??O? (note that POOL doesn't work since there can only be the five Olympic O's in the grid) and 2) to find something red that starts with O. Although now that I look at the above-linked images of ice floe and orangs I don't feel quite as bad about this point.

4) The meta was just too easy for a Week 5. I knew this going in, but liked the colored rings idea enough to take a Week 5 Toughness credibility hit (I couldn't run it late in July because of Guest Constructor Month; that's right, I'm blaming the Guest Constructors! Just kidding...). What I hadn't realized was that it wouldn't just be a credibility hit; in conjunction with 2) above, the expectation of a killer meta would also send some solvers off on a wild goose chase, which, again, should never happen in this way.

OK, not the end of the world, so let's move onward and upward...but this meta's flaws will still rankle for a while, since they ruined a nice concept!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 194 correct entries received, is Rindy Cruise of Edgewater, N.J. Rindy has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

36 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all five of June's challenges (any Greek god/goddess, 141, PINKIE, BEAGLE, OLYMPICS). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Neil Bellovin -- Port Jefferson, N.Y.

Tyler Hinman -- San Francisco, Calif.

Jeremy Horwitz -- San Francisco, Calif.

Julian Lim -- Singapore, Singapore

Jeff Louie -- Cambridge, Mass.

Ned Robert -- Los Gatos, Calif.

Dan Seidman -- Watertown, Mass.

David Stein -- Silver Spring, Md.

Scott Weiss -- Walkersville, Md.

Steve Williams -- Holbrook, Mass.


Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 5-for-5 in June.


MULLER MONTHLY MUSIC META #3:


The third edition of Pete Muller's Monthly Music Meta is up here. Highly recommended and already very popular; note that the deadline to enter is this Sunday, so get to it if you're gonna.

THIS WEEK'S GUEST CONSTRUCTOR:



Joon Pahk hardly needs an introduction here, but let's do it anyway: he's been blogging MGWCC on Crossword Fiend since 2008, and his weekly write-ups have become an integral part of the puzzle itself. Joon's also well-known for his exciting run on "Jeopardy!" last year, and runs a fun daily game called "Guess My Word" here.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a pair of symmetric entries that would form a good 5th theme answer. 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 (1,814 members now!) here.




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

6/29/12

MGWCC #213 -- Friday, June 29th, 2012 -- "Special Occasion"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 213 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'S RESULTS:

Each of last week's six theme entries sported a peculiar tag on its clue:

17-a [Skedaddled (bid on it)] = TOOK A POWDER
25-a [Interviewer born to North Carolina tobacco farmers (look it up, or just bid on it)] = CHARLIE ROSE
31-a [Doesn't make the best decision on a used car (bid on it)] = GETS A LEMON
43-a [2001 Tom Cruise movie (look it up)] = VANILLA SKY
49-a [Split water (look it up)] = ADRIATIC SEA (that's this Split)
59-a [Will Ferrell role (look it up, or just bid on it)] = RON BURGUNDY

The first key to the meta is noticing that the last word of each theme entry suggests a color:

POWDER blue is a color, ROSEs are red, LEMON yellow is a color, same with SKY blue and SEA green, and BURGUNDY is a red wine and a reddish color. But what to do with those hues?

Surely the odd "look it up" and "bid on it" tags have something to do with the meta, so let's check there. If you'd looked something up or bid on something 30 years ago you'd have found an encyclopedia or an auction house...but these days everyone goes to Google and eBay, the title's "Shady Businesses" in the sense that their logos use different colors to spell their company names.


Now it's easy: take the right color letter from the right company and spell out our famous ship. So for the first letter we'll take a blue (from "powder blue") letter from eBay ("bid on it") and that's a B. Similarly:

E (both companies have a red E, hence both "look it up" and "bid on it" in the clue)
A (the yellow A from eBay)
G (either of the blue G's in Google)
L (the green L in Google)
E (again, either company's red E)

Making our contest crossword answer Charles Darwin's famous ship, the HMS BEAGLE, found by 104 entrants.

Maggie Wittlin quips:

I was going to send in Beagle as my default if I didn't get it, anyway. Given the dearth of famous six-letter ships, it would have been a "natural selection."

David Plotkin asks:

Would you accept the MetLife blimp as an alternate answer? I don't know if airships count.

Former Google employee Tyler Hinman writes:

Given my employment history, failure to get this one would be pretty embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as almost missing the one that had my freaking name in it, but still.

Terry O'Toole says:

I was doing this puzzle yesterday with some co-workers at lunchtime. My friend Matt had committed to memory the Google logo's color scheme, thinking it might come in handy someday. You got to love nerds!

And finally, C Fogarty found another route to the meta:

Beagle can be spelled going backwards up the grid:

B(URGUNDY)
ADRIATICS)E(A)
(V)A(NILLASKY)
G(ETSALEMON)
(CHAR)L(IEROSE)
(TOOKAPOWD)E(R)

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 143 correct entries received, is Ross Beresford of Kingsley, Penna. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Ross will also receive a copy of Brendan Quigley's new 21x21 freestyle crossword. Next week we return to regular book prizes.

Note that Brendan's tip jar closes this Monday, not to reopen for another six months, so consider chipping in here. A tip of $10 or more gets you a copy of the above-mentioned 21x21 freestyle.

ERRATUM:

Chuck Cooper points out that my clue for 4-d is wrong:

BTW: Elko county is the second largest in Nevada. Nye county is largest.

BAND OF BRODAS:

I meant to post this last week, but Peter Broda is holding a month-of-metas contest at his site "The Cross Nerd."

I solved week 1 and dug it a lot, though I'm finding week 2 a mite challenging! Note that Peter's puzzles are R-rated, so be forewarned; but they're clever and fun, and if Brendan Quigley's puzzles aren't too risque then you'll be OK with Peter's as well.

TOURNAMENT THIS WEEKEND IN NAPA:

It's not just a valley found in crosswords! Crossword champ Dan Feyer is organizing a one-day puzzlefest tomorrow (tournament, screening of "Wordplay," panel discussion) in Napa, California. So if you're free and in the area tomorrow (Sat., June 30th) then drop on by!


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is an event.
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 (1,802 members now!) here.




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

6/22/12

MGWCC #212 -- Friday, June 22nd, 2012 -- "Shady Businesses"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 212 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'S RESULTS:

Simple but subtle: last week's meta answer was the PINKIE finger (or PINKY, or LITTLE, or DIGITUS MINIMUS), since the last words of the four theme entries suggested the other four fingers:

WITHOUT A HITCH (hitchhikers use their thumbs)
GAME POINT (you point with your index finger)
LARRY BIRD ("the bird" being a nickname for the indelicate gesture performed by extending only the middle finger)
TO BEAT THE BAND (since a wedding band goes on the ring finger)

Which left only the PINKIE unrepresented. Simple once you see it, but tricky to see in the first place (though the title was a big hint).

Howard Barkin quips:

Let's see how many solvers this meta nails.


Christopher Jablonski found a lot in the grid:

Did you know? HEARING can be made off the HE in TOBEATTHEBAND if you play real loose with turns and diagonals. Not that it tripped me up or anything.

Neal Carey thinks that:

40% of the meta was a snap!






Speaking of which, Norm Chafetz:

As an alum of Southern Illinois 5-Down was a snap!




Re 55-d, Michael Rasminsky informs me:

No idea what the solution to the meta is - but Ben's Deli, one of my favourite late night haunts, is sadly no more. After a protracted strike by the employees it closed for good in 2006. The sign Restaurant Deli Bens Restaurant Deli remained for a while on the building which was finally demolished. Artefacts from the Art Deco interior are now preserved in a Montreal museum. The lack of an apostrophe in Ben's was probably a concession to the Quebec language laws which take a dim view of Anglo signage.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 143 correct entries received, is Bob Willoughby of Spring Green, Wisc. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Bob will also receive a copy of Brendan Quigley's new 21x21 freestyle crossword. Next week's winner will receive the same.

ERRATUM:

Several solvers pointed out that my clue for BRUT at 60-a [Sweet, as sparkling wine] is incorrect. BRUT is the opposite of that; very dry and not sweet at all.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a famous ship. 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 (1,780 members now!) here.







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

6/15/12

MGWCC #211 -- Friday, June 15th, 2012 -- "Gimme Five!"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 211 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'S RESULTS:

141 was last week's contest answer, but a lot more people than that (443) figured it out: all you had to do was add the seven relevant numbers in the grid, though there were a couple of unintentional traps that tripped up some very good solvers.

Seven down answers only made sense when you included their clue numbers as part of the answer itself:

1-d [Seriously in danger of running out of gas] = (ON E)MPTY (very tricky, due to one of those unintended traps; see below)
4-d [It's found where Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet] = (FOUR) CORNERS MONUMENT
7-d [Baseball break] = (SEVEN)TH INNING STRETCH (cool entry, since that baseball tradition could also be described as a "thinning stretch")
10-d [Country great named for a state] = (TEN)NESSEE ERNIE FORD
12-d [Like some facilitated programs] = (TWELVE)-STEP
50-d ["Get Rich or Die Tryin'" rapper] = (FIFTY) CENT
57-d [Carnegie Hall's address: abbr.] = (FIFTY-SEVEN)TH ST.

Add those seven up and you've got the answer: 141.

So trap #1 was at 1-down, which caused 7 solvers to submit 142.71828...The logic was that the irrational number "e" ("Euler's number") would fit nicely there, turning the entry MPTY into "empty." The problem is that the clue number is simply 1-d, not 2.71828-d, which would make that inconsistent with the other theme entries. Still, EMPTY seems to fit so well and (ON E)MPTY is tricky to parse in your head, so this caused a handful of excellent meta-solvers to stumble.

The other nasty trap was at 60-d, where [Brief moment?] clued SEC, and "60 SEC" might be argued to answer that clue reasonably. It's a wild coincidence I'll concede, and if the clue had been [Brief minute?] I'd have to think about accepting 200. But there are two problems with it: first, a "moment" is a nebulous term, not defined as 60 seconds like a minute is; and second, submitting 200 leaves 1-d unaddressed, since MPTY isn't a valid entry on its own.

Still, seven solvers submitted 200 as their answer based on this logic, and they have my sympathy! That was an easy place to slip up.


Peter Gwinn writes:

That puzzle was really sum thing.

Dave Sullivan
says:

[2]uld be a shame to miss this one, being a math major...

Elementary school teacher Kelly Langan asks:

Who knew I'd need to do math on summer vacation?


Sean Trowbridge notes:

Hopefully translates to “one for one” (for this week anyway...)

Nice! Wish I'd noticed that; I would've made this Week 1's puzzle so the number had special significance.

And finally, Alexander Miller wonders:

141 is my P.O. Box number. How did you do that?

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 455 correct entries received, is Jeremy Conner of Los Angeles, Calif. Jeremy has selected as his prize an autographed copy of While-You-Wait 20 Minute Crosswords.

TIP JAR ROUNDUP:

320 tippers tossed $9,084.39 into the MGWCC Tip Jar last week, an increase of more than 50% over last year. Thanks to all sixteen score of you -- Year 5 will see some exciting changes at MGWCC, so stay tuned!

JUNE GRYPTICS CONTEST:

You know what to do!


SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK AND NEXT:

In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, weekly prizewinners this week and next will receive a copy of Brendan Quigley's new 21x21 freestyle crossword. But don't wait to win it -- get it here for a minimum tip of $10!


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's puzzle contest answer is the missing member of a certain set.
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 (1,730 members now!) here.





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

6/8/12

MGWCC #210 -- Friday, June 8th, 2012 -- "Take a Number"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 210 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.

THE MGWCC TIP JAR CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT:

UPDATE, 6/9/12, 12:04 AM -- the tip jar is now closed until June 2013. Thanks to everyone who chipped in! I'll have final numbers next Friday.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


All you had to do for last week's meta was JUST ANSWER / MY QUESTION. But what was the question? 455 solvers figured it out: the grid's only 15-letter entry noted that FILL IN THE BLANKS are (usually) easy crossword answers, and the five fill-in-the-blank style clues spelled it out:

13-a ["___ John Galt?"] = WHO IS
16-a ["Mind ___ manners!"] = YOUR
27-a ["My ___ Year" (1982 Peter O'Toole movie)] = FAVORITE
50-d ["My Big Fat ___ Wedding"] = GREEK
52-d [Household ___ (ancient Roman spirit] = DEITY

So if the question was "Who is your favorite Greek deity," which gods and goddesses did solvers choose? Here are the winners:

Athena — 89 (the big winner, much more about her below)
Dionysus — 47 (lol, great choice for 2nd...but if he'd won I'd be a little disturbed)
Zeus — 42 (big jerk, why would anyone vote for him?)
Hermes — 36 (the trickster -- see joon's writeup here)
Apollo -- 33 (twin brother)
Artemis — 27 (twin sister)
Poseidon — 26 ("Because tridents are cool," wrote one entrant)
Aphrodite -- 25 ("because her name anagrams to 'atrophied,'" wrote another)
Hephaestus -- 15 ("for the rest of us," wrote yet another, referencing this)

And then a smattering of Demeter, Terpsichore, Pan, Hestia, and many others.

Richard Kalustian
quips:

I guess I'll go with Athena, although now that I think about it, the Olympians were mostly petty, vengeful, and dangerous. I hope your contest has somewhat milder consequences than the time Paris was asked to choose a favorite.

Josh Shellman submitted Apollo, with the following explanation:

Because it seems festive to go with a U.S. Olympian named after one of the Twelve Olympians.

Les Wagner
picked a non-Olympian:

After wracking my brain with your metas week after week, it's just got to be:
Epimetheus - Titan of afterthought and the father of excuses.


Peter Gordon writes:

Any crossword writer who doesn't say Ares is an ingrate.


Nine solvers chose that crossword standby Ares; in that same vein, five chose Eros and four picked Eris.

Jason Juang chose the winner:

Artemis may be goddess of the hunt, but Athena is goddess of the Mystery Hunt.


Mark Navarrete picked the winner, and sent along this fascinating e-mail:

Greek myth was, and still is, and will always be, my first love. It was the gateway that led to my early habit of wishing to know origins and connections, that developed into interest in etymology, genealogy and other lore, and has grown into a love for language and history and other lifelong passions, including puzzling.

Athena had impressed me from the very start for being the wise one among the pantheon. From skill in domestic matters to military strategy to justice, the myths tell that Athena's wisdom enabled her to always be prudent and on the right side. Unsurprisingly, she was a helper to mortals, mentoring many a hero. I can imagine why the Athenians named their city in her honor. And as a big fan of the Harry Potter books, I also appreciate the just naming of Minerva McGonagall after her, as well as the special role of owls. My girlfriend and I share a collection of owl stuff, including a tie with tiny owls that she gifted me. My GF and I met in college, at the Ateneo de Manila ("Athenaeum of Manila") University...if I ever have a daughter, I'd like to name her Athena Sophia.


And finally, fitting twin submissions. First Phoebe McBee, who submitted Phoebus Apollo:

Who is my favorite Greek deity? Has to be my namesake.


And then Christopher Shaw submitted the second twin, Artemis:

I chose the god of young girls and childbirth in honor of the birth of
my daughter on March 30... this is also the reason I haven't posted a
solution in two months!


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 455 correct entries received, is Scott Clay of East Fallowfield, Penna. Scott has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

TIP JAR CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT:

What an incredible week! 289 tippers have left $8,183.87 in the MGWCC Tip Jar so far, far surpassing last year's total (which was about $5,800).

A big thanks to those who've already tipped; if you'd care to join them, chip in via PayPal below, or e-mail me if you'd prefer to send a check. Note that you *don't* need a PayPal account to donate via PayPal; you can send a tip with a credit card by clicking the "donate" button below (e-mail me if you're having trouble making that option work).

UPDATE, 6/9/12, 12:04 AM -- the tip jar is now closed until June 2013. Thanks to all who chipped in! I'll have final numbers on Friday.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the sum of seven relevant numbers.
NOTE: please send the SUM of the numbers, not the numbers themselves. 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 (1,732 members now!) here.





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


6/1/12

MGWCC #209 -- Friday, June 1st, 2012 -- "Olympic Game"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 209 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.

THE MGWCC TIP JAR IS OPEN, THIS WEEK ONLY:

Tip jar open! Friday at midnight it closes again, not to re-open until June of 2013. Click the "donate" button to tip, or scroll down for more info.








LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

We were looking for a famous one-named person last week, so who could it be -- Madonna or Michelangelo? Pele or Prince? Socrates or Sting? Let's take a look.

There was just one obvious theme answer, and they don't get more obvious than 39-across: FIND SEVEN B-WORDS was the answer, clued simply as [How to solve the meta]. There were just three words starting with B in the puzzle grid, so that doesn't work. But exactly seven clues began with a B, so let's take a look at those:

1-a "Bali ___" = HAI
17-a Blarney Stone conferral = GIFT OF GAB
28-a Bruschetta ingredient = TOMATO
49-a Brahmin's city = BOSTON
64-a Baghdad area = GREEN ZONE
12-d Bibi's party = LIKUD
52-a Baha'i tenet = UNITY

What to do with those seven B-words? Hyperskilled metasolvers noticed that each of the seven refers to a specific country, and those countries share a common link:

Bali is an island in Indonesia
Blarney is the gift of gab in Ireland
Bruschetta is an Italian dish
Brahmins are from India
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq
Bibi is the nickname of Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel
Bahai was founded in Iran


Seven I countries? That can't be a coincidence. In fact, the only missing I-country in the world is Iceland, so is there a famous one-named person from Iceland beginning with B? Why, yes -- the mysterious singer BJÖRK, the most famous Icelander of them all and the Scrabbliest of the one-named crowd -- and last week's contest answer. With or without umlaut naturally acceptable, although you must admit it looks cooler with.

Miss Kali writes, while submitting BJÖRK:

Considering I'm likely your only one-named contestant, I really hope I nailed this one.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 74 correct entries received, is Jared Banta of Los Angeles, Calif. Jared has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

30 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of May's challenges (MONOPOLY, DARYL HANNAH, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, BJÖRK). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Laura Effinger-Dean -- Seattle, Wash.

Nathan Fung -- Brighton, Mass.

Mark Halpin -- Cold Spring, Ky.

Jeremiahs Johnson -- Lafayette, Calif.

Dan Katz -- Providence, R.I.

Paul Melamud -- Milford, N.J.

Mark Navarrete -- Quezon City, Philippines

Daniel Simoncini -- Northampton, Mass.

Ken Stern -- Brooklyn. N.Y.

Sean Trowbridge -- Redmond, Wash.



Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 4-for-4 in May (it wasn't easy to do).


THE MGWCC TIP JAR IS OPEN:

My website turns four years old this week -- congratulations, Matt! At this time each year I open the tip jar for eight magical days, after which the lid goes back on for another four seasons.

Chip in via PayPal below, or e-mail me if you'd prefer to send a check. Note that you *don't* need a PayPal account to donate via PayPal; you can send a tip with a credit card by clicking the "donate" button below (e-mail me if you're having trouble making that option work).






THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is to be determined by you.
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 (1,729 members now!) here.




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

5/25/12

MGWCC #208 -- Friday, May 25th, 2012 -- "Lost Island"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 208 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.

THE WEEK BEFORE LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


OK, I'm back from my honeymoon and within about a week of getting caught up on work and life. So please bear with me -- I'm behind on sending prizes and answering e-mails, but will be back on track soon.

I forgot to pick a winner to MGWCC #206, so let's do it now: the winner of an autographed copy of Natan Last's new book Word, whose name was chosen at random from the 168 correct entries received, is James Hopkin of Orinda, Calif.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


"Oh, It's a Clue!" read the title of last week's puzzle, and indeed the five theme answers were actually clues leading to a linked group of alternate answers. They were:

HIGHLANDER = [SUV MADE BY TOYOTA]
BRAZIL = [LUSOPHONE NATION]
HOLA = [GRANADA GREETING]
BROCCOLI = [FOOD WITH FLORETS]
RICHARD GERE = [PRETTY WOMAN STAR]

Solvers noticed the clueyness of these five answers, and 90 of them found the common strain among the five: another Toyota SUV is the SEQUOIA, another Lusophone nation is MOZAMBIQUE, another Granada greeting is BUENOS DIAS, the other main food with florets is CAULIFLOWER, and the other main star of "Pretty Woman" was JULIA ROBERTS.

What do those five have in common? They're "supervocalics," or words/phrases that contain each of the five main vowels exactly one time. The only cabinet department with this same quality is EDUCATION, which was last week's contest answer. Note that the title is supervocalic itself.

LABOR was an interesting try submitted by 36 solvers. The logic is that Toyota also makes an SUV called the LANDCRUISER, ANGOLA is a Lusophone country, BUENOS DIAS is the same greeting in Spanish, OREOS may be said to have a design with florets on them, and the other star of "Pretty Woman" was of course Julia ROBERTS. Take those emboldened five letters above and you've got LABOR.

Two problems, though: that an Oreo's design features "florets" is highly debatable -- I can find a small handful of sites that refer to the cookie's design with that specific word, but it wouldn't make many people's list of "food with florets" so it'd be an unreasonable thing to expect a solver to find. And then choosing the R over the J is arbitrary in JULIA ROBERTS, since the clue references RICHARD GERE full name, not simply GERE. So no dice, but I'll admit that was pretty close (and completely unnoticed by me until people began submitting it).

Jonathon Brown sends this slice of irony from his Peace Corps post:

Oh no! I wasn't able to do the puzzle this week because I spent the
entire weekend overlanding in the back of pick-up trucks and other
vehicles one good bump from falling apart on my way to and from
Malawi. Of course the EDUCATION volunteer in MOZAMBIQUE would be
denied internet access this week due to travel!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 90 correct entries received, is Andrew Sackman of Tallahassee, Fla.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a famous one-named person.
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 (1,725 members now!) here.




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