MGWCC #197 -- Friday, March 9th, 2012 -- "Star Search"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 197 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.


Well, look at that -- a record 514 entrants submitted CUCUMBER as their contest answer vegetable (fruit? see below) last week, obliterating the previous high of 460. Easy puzzle or the Puzzle Social Effect? Probably both.

Just about everyone noticed that the four theme entries began with a CvCv pattern, where the v's progressed alphabetically through the grid:


What vegetable completes the pattern? Why the humble CUCUMBER, of course, with its cuckoo-looking CUCU start -- or should that be "geococcyx-looking"?

Elaine Walizer thought the meta was:

Very cucute.

Bob Johnson says:

All that's missing is Cy the Cynic from Frank Stewart's bridge column.

Andy Arizpe stumbled briefly:

Nice and easy, although I did spend a few seconds trying to figure out who Coco M Poser was :)

Mike Sylvia
felt the effect of that brutal February:

I can tell I've been solving too many tougher puzzles of this kind lately - my first instinct after "CACAO BEANS" was to notice they were the same length, superimpose one on the other, and look what overlapped with the Cs. BA was a promising start!

...And then the rest of the crossword happened, and I said to myself, "Oh, right. Week 1."

Debbie Keller felt it as well:

After February's beet-down, this gal's "spin-aching" for some easier puzzles to turnip in March!!

And Mike Utkus noted the difference between Week 4 and Week 1:

Ahhhh .... I get my weekend back!!

I mentioned a while ago how you can toughen up an early-month meta. Nancy Hart did just that:

Answered this one without the instructions--as you said, easy.

You can try going instructionsless with Week 2, too -- it's tough but possible with only the title.

Walt Blue wryly notes an alternate answer:

Hey, Matt! There's also cucurbita, gourd in Latin. (You didn't specify a language for the vegetable.)

Susan Keefer
anticipated a meta-reaction:

you know 500 people are going to write and tell you that it's really a fruit, right?

And they did, Susan! But that technicality didn't throw anyone off -- and besides, according to (recent law school graduate) Maggie Wittlin, I'm on solid legal ground:

If you get any "that's not a vegetable!" complaints this week, please refer them to the esteemed Supreme Court case of Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304 (1893):

"Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. But in the common language of the people, whether sellers or consumers of provisions, all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert."

And finally, Brian Gubin asks if this puzzle was...

...Much easier than the last two weeks? Si, si.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 514 correct entries received, is Amy Paepke of Saint Louis Park, Minn. Amy has selected as her prize an autographed copy of 20-Minute On the Road Crossword Puzzles.


Joshua Kosman and Henri Picciotto, co-constructors of The Nation's venerable cryptic crossword, have a brand-new blog up at that magazine's website. They'll be discussing all things cruciverbal, with a special focus on their own work and on cryptics in general. A very welcome addition to the Crucisphere.


1) I won't be at the ACPT this year due to a prior commitment, but I am aiming for Lollapuzzoola 5 this summer.

2) Don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but I'm on Facebook now -- so if you're at least a semi-regular solver here, friend me.


This week's contest answer is a well-known movie of the 1980s.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer movie 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 (1,672 members now!) here.


In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, contest winners this week and next will receive an autographed copy of Ben Tausig's new book Crosswords from the Underground. These edgy puzzles are taken from Ben's excellent Ink Well feature, which syndicates to alternative newsweeklies throughout the country.

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

No comments: