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.


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.


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!


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.


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 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.


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.

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