MGWCC #200 -- Friday, March 30th, 2012 -- "Game of the Century"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 200 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.


We're at #200 already, eh? That was quick. MGWCC will terminate with puzzle #1000 on Friday, August 6th, 2027, which means that if these 19 years were a five-Friday month we'd be done with the first meta as of today. Still early!

A big, sincere thanks from me to you, my fellow word nerds, for participating in the contest and making it the cornerstone of my crossword life; if you keep doing what you're doing, I'll keep doing what I'm doing. And a special mention of thanks to Joon Pahk for blogging the puzzle with extreme competence every week at Crossword Fiend.

So, let's do 800 more. Whaddya say?


OK, let's be honest: last week's meta won't make any "Best of MGWCC" books. In fact, solvers gave it the second-lowest Crossword Fiend rating (3.00) of any MGWCC since the ratings system was instituted! Only the infamous "magic mushrooms" meta from last October scored lower (2.79).

Solvers faulted the puzzle on two points: first, it was deemed too easy for a Week 4 (out of 5) meta, a belief supported by the 321 correct entries submitted, very high for a Week 4 out of 5 (I'd been aiming for more like 175). Second, many solvers found the connections between the parenthetical TV shows and the referenced celebrities to be inconsistent and somewhat confusing.

First, let's look at the meta answer. I'll let one of the Brady kid namesakes,
Peter Washington, explain the theme:

PETER Pan; CINDY Crawford; MARCIA Clark; JAN Hooks; BOBBY Brown; GREG Norman.

In other words, one of the six "Brady Bunch" kids can be placed before each theme answer to form the name of a celebrity suggested by the parenthetical TV show. In full:

PAN AM GAMES = Peter Pan, suggested by "Boy Meets World"
CRAWFORD RULE = Cindy Crawford, suggested by "America's Next Top Model"
CLARK BARS = Marcia Clark, suggested by "L.A. Law"
HOOKS UP TO = Jan Hooks, suggested by "Saturday Night Live"
BROWN MUSTARD = Bobby Brown, suggested by "Solid Gold"
NORMAN LEAR = Greg Norman, suggested by "Anything on the Golf Channel"

Which, of course, makes THE BRADY BUNCH last week's contest answer.

I was intending simply that the shows would hint at the relevant celebrity in some way, whether concretely (e.g., Jan Hooks was a cast member on "Saturday Night Live") or more conceptually (e.g., Marcia Clark is a lawyer in Los Angeles) in order to heighten the click of the aha moment. Unfortunately, the presence of those shows had the opposite effect on many solvers, who scratched their heads and Googled whether Bobby Brown had ever been on "Solid Gold" or Cindy Crawford had ever been on "America's Next Top Model" (no and no, as far as I know).[UPDATE, 3/30, 2:30 PM ET: Marcia Rose informs me that Bobby Brown did appear on "Solid Gold" as a member of New Edition back in the 80s.]

I toyed with not including the TV shows at all, which would obviously have made the meta much more difficult. In the end I thought excluding them would make the meta prohibitively and unsatisfyingly difficult for some, since not all of the names (e.g. Jan Hooks) are exactly household.

Cindy Follick says:

I always found Cindy so annoying that I block out the fact that I share her name.

Jan O'Sullivan writes:

Yay! I think I got it! Of course it helps to be a Jan!

Marcia Rose reveals:

Before passwords and hackers became so sophisticated, I used to use "MarciaMarciaMarcia" as my password.

Robert (closest we had to a Bobby) Hutchinson writes:

I feel a little guilty for submitting this answer while I'm still
struggling with the upper right corner of the grid. But only a little.

You shouldn't feel guilty, Robert, but you know who should? The 2 or 3 MGWCC solvers named Greg, none of whom sent in the right answer. If one of you Gregs had come thru we woulda had a full set! As it is, the girls beat the boys 3-2.

Ed Brody recalls:

I used to get teased in junior high with "The Brody Bunch" jokes. And don't mention Mr. Ed.

Colin Brown, currently living in Holland, sends this:

I started this puzzle on the train back from Hamburg so I quite enjoyed 68-across.

Paul Stynsberg runs my kind of tournament:

For a guy who plays backgammon every day, I really appreciated CRAWFORD RULE. Every December we have a Christmas tournament in which, of course, the Crawford Rule is in effect. And then the winner is presented with the coveted Crawford Cup:

And finally, John Stant writes:

Matt, my wife and I did the puzzle on our honeymoon. That is how geeky we are.

Congratulations, John! You're my kind of geeks.


If you had to guess, who would you say the one solver was who noticed that I had both ARE and WHO ARE YOU in MGWCC #199?

Unsurprising answer here.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 321 correct entries received, is Becky Baer of Palo Alto, Calif. Becky has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Literary Crosswords.


This week's contest answer is the answer to the question "Who's on first?". 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 (1,683 members now!) here.

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

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