MGWCC #170 -- Friday, September 2, 2011 -- "Quaker States"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 170 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.


104 solvers found an ESCALATOR running northeasterly through last week's grid along the central black squares.

Those solvers noticed that putting the letters in ESCALATOR on those nine squares still allowed valid answers for the 18 acrosses on either side. Starting from the bottom of the escalator, for example, {Part of a matador's getup} at 45-a works for either CAP or CAPE.


42-a {What's heard in church on Sunday} = AMEN or AMENS
39-a {Ending for mono or ego} = MANIA or MANIAC
33-a {Woman's name from the Hebrew for "God is gracious"} = JOANN or JOANNA
31-a {Part of a wooden door} = PANE or PANEL
29-a {Section of a tax form} = LINE or LINE A
26-a {Cut finely} = FILE or FILET
23-a {Blue material} = PORN or PORNO
19-a {One of the Beatles, e.g.} = STAR or STARR

And on the other side of the escalator:

46-a {Common medium of communication} = MAIL or E-MAIL
43-a {Pulverize} = MASH or SMASH
40-a {Standard iPhone feature} = LOCK or CLOCK
35-a {Came up} ROSE or AROSE
32-a {Character in an Ogden Nash poem} = LAMA or LLAMA
30-a {Like some of Schoenberg's music} = TONAL or ATONAL
27-a {"___ your problem..."} = HERE'S or THERE'S
24-a {It's great in Greece} = MEGA or OMEGA
21-a {A figure 8 may be made in it} = INK or RINK

All of which makes the humble ESCALATOR our contest answer.

Great minds think alike: first, Jon Delfin:

What, you couldn't make it work with the pairs of Downs, too? Slacker! ;-)

And now Jeffrey Harris:

What, you couldn't get the downs to work too? Slacker ;-P

(And no, those two didn't confer on their e-mails!)

Neville Fogarty
turned his Mom C Fogarty on to MGWCC this summer, and she didn't waste any time: not only did C get all the metas right in July, but she was also picked for a monthly prize. Neville was impressed, and C got the first three metas in August, too -- but he figured last week's killer would finally stump her:

Very nice! We'll see if mom gets this one!

Here's what happened, as C writes:

Neville was shocked when I told him the answer was escalator. He asked me how I got it. I just looked at the grid - it looks like an escalator. Then he told me how he did it with the "missing" letters. Oh well. At least I got it!

Eric Prestemon had an epic solve, which you can read about here:


And finally, Russ Cooper plots the ups and downs of his journey to meta nirvana:

This one gave my self esteem a wild ride right into the ground:

1. Noticed the pattern of black squares right away, and
thought, "stairs or escalator." Felt pretty smart.

2. Counted the black squares in the middle diagonal, and
noted strong correlation with the number of letters in
"escalator." Felt really smart.

3. Worked the puzzle on paper, but had to Google to verify
Eddie Money and spelling of Abu Dhabi. Felt sort of

4. Looked around the middle diagonal for something useful, but
failed. Felt stupid.

5. Decided to type the puzzle solution into Across Lite
because I couldn't think of anything else to do. Still
felt stupid.

6. Noticed the Ringo thing while typing. Aha! Felt really

7. Worked out the remaining missing letters. Still felt
really smart.

8. Wrote them down, in order: ROTALACSE. Couldn't anagram
that in my head. Felt sort of stupid.

9. Broke out my anagram software and watched it spit out
"escalator." Felt really stupid.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 104 correct entries received, is Owen Dolan of Brooklyn, N.Y. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Owen will receive a 1-year subscription to Liz Gorski's exciting new project, Crossword Nation.


66 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of August's challenges (CATCHER, FLAMINGO, RAIN DELAY, ESCALATOR). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Russ Cooper -- Phoenix, Ariz.

Benjamin Hall -- Chicago, Ill.

John Lenning -- Irvine, Calif.

Mike Lewis -- Cedar Falls, Ia.

Eric Maddy -- Huntington Beach, Calif.

Pete Muller

Jill Palmer -- Leverett, Mass.

Michael Utkus -- Bala Cynwyd, Penna.

Mike Weepie -- Cedar Rapids, Ia.

Scott Weiss -- Walkersville, Md.

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


This week's contest answer is a region of the United States. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by WEDNESDAY at noon ET (note extra day for the holiday weekend). Please put the contest answer region 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 (1,557 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.


In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, next week's winner will receive a copy of The Penguin Classics Crossword Puzzles, the lovely new book edited by Ben Tausig (who will autograph the prize). This book features literary-themed crosswords by dozens of familiar constructors, including one by yours truly.

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

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