8/29/08

MGWCC #013 -- Friday, August 29, 2008 -- "Stroker Ace"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 13 of my crossword 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:

Last week's results were covered in the previous post -- scroll down to "Special Report" and read some fine poetry.

Since we have a little extra space this week, let me use it to thank all of you for solving MGWCC during the first three months of what I hope will be a very long run. I've been publishing crosswords for 22 years and this site is the most fun I've had in my entire career, most of that fun due to my interactions with all of you.

I'd also like to especially thank those solvers who've helped promote the site on blogs, by e-mailing it to friends and family, and otherwise generally spreading the word. The number of hits and visitors I'm getting here has increased every week, often substantially between weeks, and that's in large part to the efforts of many of you. For me, this site is a labor of love and I'd like as many people as possible to enjoy it, so please feel free to keep letting others know about its existence.

Nice guy face off; evil guy face back on -- let's get to this week's contest crossword!

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a two-word phrase with seven letters in its first word and six letters in its second. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. To solve using Across Lite, join the Google Group here:

http://groups.google.com/group/mgwcc




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

8/26/08

SPECIAL REPORT -- The Ron Rosenbaum Limerick Competition Results Are In!

Welcome to this MGWCC SPECIAL REPORT -- the results of the Ron Rosenbaum Limerick Competition are in!

To recap: lacking anything better to do, a writer named Ron Rosenbaum decided to publish an unintentionally hilarious three-page screed against people who enjoy solving crossword puzzles last week in Slate. You can read the piece here, or just look over these highlights:

Need I suggest that those who spend time doing crossword puzzles...—uselessly filling empty boxes (a metaphor for some emptiness in their lives?)—could be doing something else that involves words and letters? It's called reading.

But somehow crossword types think that their addiction to this sad form of mental self-abuse somehow makes them "literary." Sorry: Doing puzzles reflects not an elevated literary sensibility but a degraded letter-ary sensibility, one that demonstrates an inability to find pleasure in reading. Otherwise, why choose the wan, sterile satisfactions of crosswords over the far more robust full-blooded pleasures of books?

What are some of the other defenses of the puzzle people? "It trains the mind." No, sorry; it only trains the mind to think in a tragically limited and reductive fill-in-the boxes way. I'd say that instead it drains the mind. Drains it of creativity and imagination while fostering rat-in-a-maze skills.

Isn't it a tragedy, then, a criminal shame, that all their amazing brainpower gets wasted on word games? If they're as smart as they think they are and there were some way to channel their alleged brainpower to something other than word games, we could cure cancer in a month!

And those selections of Ron's stellar prose are all chosen from merely the first page of the piece. It gets better from there, especially when he starts making fun of people in his local Starbucks, located near a hospital, who have recently lost or are in fear of losing a loved one. Ron labels this establishment, where he spies on crossword solvers, the "Starbucks of Tears."



In short: Ron needs a good, hard, verbal punch to the kidneys, so last week I gave it to him on this site. Last week's puzzle (solution at left) was all about Mr. Rosenbaum (in fact, his name was the answer to 22-across). 1-across, for example, was KEA, which was clued as {Mauna ___}, in tribute to Ron's dazzlingly uninformed mockery of a man in the "Starbucks of Tears" who hadn't yet filled in the answer to a three-letter entry thus clued ("this guy's brow was furrowed with concern over such challenging clues as '18 Across: Mauna _ _ _.' Whew, tough one, dude."). Ron assumed the answer had to be LOA and mocked the man for supposedly not knowing it, yet it was Ron who didn't realize that that clue famously has two well-known answers.

Asshat and dipshit; quite a combination!

Other entries in the grid laid out this week's MGWCC: write a limerick mocking Ron Rosenbaum and his easily-mocked article. I received 31 limericks, and they're hilarious. Yo, Ron: if you were going to pick a battle of words with a group of people, crossword folk was not your best option.

And now, the winners! There were so many nice shots here that I decided to, in honor of the recently-ended Olympic Games, choose gold, silver, and bronze medalists rather than limiting it to one winner. Each of the medalists will receive a roll of toilet paper on the first sheet of which I have forged Ron Rosenbaum's signature (I am really doing this). The gold medalist will also receive the usual MGWCC prize (autographed copy of any book I've written -- try not to get these two prizes confused).

Our Bronze Medalist is Hugh Murphy of Wilmington, Del., who wrote:

There once was an Eli Phi Bete
Whose mind was so splendidly great
Ron could sure find the answer
For conquering all cancer
So how come he's scribbling for Slate?


The Silver Medal goes to Patrick Jordan of Ponca City, Okla., whose limerick inspired this week's prize:

Our pastime Ron thought he was harmin',
Yet his ignorance is truly alarmin'.
His article's sloppy,
But I'm keeping a copy
To use when I run out of Charmin.


And the Gold Medal, for daring to delve into the dark realm of human psychology, goes to Tyler Hinman of San Francisco, Calif.:

Puzzling women and men will
Despise what comes out of Ron's pen. Still,
What he tries to sell us
Tells me that he's jealous
And sore re the length of his pencil.


These results should not affect the medal count from Beijing, but I'm betting we won't see many more anti-cruciverb articles from Mr. Rosenbaum anytime soon.

Next puzzle goes up Friday afternoon as usual. Have fun and be careful out there, fellow cruciverbalists!

8/22/08

MGWCC #012 -- Friday, August 22, 2008 -- "Another Nine-Letter Word for a Stupid Waste of Time"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 12 of my crossword 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:


37 solvers bravely tackled the crossword variant called "kaidoku" last week. The contest answer word, comprised of six letters whose numbers were given in the contest instructions, was CIPHER.

A milestone's been reached this week: our first non-American winner of MGWCC. We're international, baby! That winner is Simon Brault of Ottawa, Ont., whose name was randomly chosen from those 37 correct entries. Simon has selected as his prize an autographed copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crossword Puzzles & Word Games (which he clarifies is for his wife, not for him -- the second time, intriguingly, that a MGWCC winner has chosen this book and given it to their spouse).




Last week's kaidoku contained a nasty trap, which about half of all solvers appear to have fallen into: the letter patterns of the words at 1-across and 1-down were 3-9-16-16-2 and 3-9-16-16-2-16-16. That down entry was pure wordbait, a highly unusual complex of letters -- the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th letters are the same -- which many solvers quickly theorized might be POSSESS. They tested their theory with 1-across, whose five letters are identical to the first five letters of 1-down, and saw that POSSE works there, too, which meant both words almost certainly had to be correct. Right?

Wrong -- and the trap sprang shut! PIZZAZZ and PIZZA work too, it turns out. And just look at all them Z's.

Like Genghis Khan did, I revel in the screams of my victims -- so let's survey their lamentations:

Howard Barkin writes:

I won't kid you on this one - this puzzle beat the living kaidoku out of me. Spent an hour at the beach this weekend at it, a little bit of my lunch break today, and another hour on and off while paying the bills and watching the Olympics tonight stubbornly writing and erasing. Finally, a satisfying breakthrough. Lesson learned - never be too certain of an answer (Just because POSSESS/POSSE fits a nice encryption doesn't mean it's the only solution - At least the P was right).

Amy Reynaldo says:

You know, I suppose, that POSSE/POSSESS looks much more plausible in that corner. And that the average person's list of likely doubled letters excludes WW and KK. Sneaky bastard!

While Tyler Hinman asks:

So am I the only [humorous expletive deleted] who wouldn't let go of POSSESS/POSSE?

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

Before solving this week's crossword, make sure you've read this recent piece from Slate Magazine, which appeared on the front page under the headline "A Nine-Letter Word for a Stupid Waste of Time":

http://www.slate.com/id/2198171/

There is no contest answer word this week. Instead, this week's contest winner will be the entrant who composes the best 59-across about 22-across. Send your entry to me at crosswordcontest@gmail by Tuesday at noon ET. Tone and content are up to you -- but I suggest you take your lead from 22-across's own example. Multiple entries both permitted and encouraged.

To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. To solve using Across Lite, join the Google Group here:

http://groups.google.com/group/mgwcc



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

8/15/08

MGWCC #011 -- Friday, August 15th, 2008 -- "Watashi-wa Kaidokusha"


Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 11 of my crossword 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:


45 solvers correctly took five Olympic events from the formerly used Wade-Giles transliteration of China's capital city (Peking) to the modern Pinyin version (Beijing). This meant changing a "P" sound to a "B" or a "K" sound to a "J," so "field hockey" became FIELD HAJI, "triple jump" became TRIBBLE JUMP, "pole vault" became BOWL VAULT, "water polo" became WATER BOLO, and "basketball" became the rather fishy BASS JET BALL.

[UPDATE, 8/17 -- Jon Delfin writes to remind me that it might be nice to mention what last week's contest answer word was. D'oh! The contest instructions asked for the only grid entry that contained all four consonants relevant to the theme, which were, as explained above, P, B, K, and J. The only grid entry containing all four of those was PUB JOKE at 1-down, which was last week's contest answer.]

Last week's lucky winner, chosen randomly from the 45 correct entries received, is Jan O'-- just kidding. The winner is Jeffrey Harris of Nashville, Tenn. Jeffrey has opted to receive a copy of Golf Crosswords as his prize.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest is a crossword variant. Hey, get back here!

The variant is called "kaidoku," which is a word I made up (well, not quite; see here for entertaining backstory). You may also know these as "alphacodes" or "coded crosswords" and they work like this: each letter of the alphabet is represented by a number in this grid. Use letter frequency, pattern recognition, and whatever other codebreaking tools you can conjure up to fill the grid with uncapitalized, non-hyphenated (!) dictionary words. You won't find anything like LONG-LOST or STOCKHOLM in here, but note that you might find something like AFGHAN or JOEY, since those words have uncapitalized dictionary meanings in addition to their use as proper nouns.

I wrote a book of these in 2006 (test-solved by some kid whose name I forget). Thus far, not a single winner of MGWCC has chosen this mighty tome as their prize. I won't force next week's winner to choose the Kaidoku book, but...come on, do me a solid!

Anyway, this week's contest answer is a six-letter word comprised of the letters represented by 3, 9, 11, 18 ,19, and 24 in this week's Kaidoku. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET to win your prize!

To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. No Across Lite this week b/c it doesn't support this format.



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

8/8/08

MGWCC #010 -- Friday, August 8, 2008 -- "No Peking!"


Ni hao ma, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week Ten of my crossword 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:

34 solvers turned the tables on the apostrophe with MGWCC #009, "The Replacements." The puzzle's theme entries consisted of five songs/albums with an apostrophe in their titles -- Dean Martin's "WHAM! BAM! THANK YOU MA'AM"; Ace of Base's "DON'T TURN AROUND"; Supertramp's "IT'S RAINING AGAIN"; The Who's "LOVE REIGN O'ER ME"; and Bobby Vinton's "EV'RY DAY OF MY LIFE." Replacing the five letters elbowed out by the apostrophes yields D, O, I, V, and E, which anagram to VIDEO, which was last week's contest answer word.

I caught flak from quite a few solvers (including my sister, who's a musician) for describing VIDEO as a "musical term." For example, Jim Sempsrott wrote:

Every long musical answer in the puzzle contains a contraction. If the letters are written down for what the apostrophe replaces, you get DOIVE, which can be anagrammed into VOIDE - the French word for empty and also a musical group from Sweden. (You can also spell VIDEO, OVIDE, and E-VOID, but I really don't know where you were heading with this).

In retrospect, I should have used a phrasing more like "a term often heard in the music world." The wording I used made it sound like the contest answer word was a technical term (such as lento). Sorry for the confusion this caused; one thing I strive for in these puzzles is that when the solver figures out the correct answer word, they're 100% sure it's correct. Imprecise phrasing like this didn't help here.

Since I desire to live in a just universe, I counted as correct any entry that mentioned the word VIDEO in the solving process, like Jim's e-mail above. Also: optimally I'd have preferred a grid where the five de-apostrophized entries spelled VIDEO in order, without anagramming, but the 14-letter song LOVE REIGN O'ER ME made that more or less undoable.

So who won last week's contest? Some time ago, a previous lucky winner asked me if there was a rule against winning MGWCC two weeks in a row. I told him there is no such rule, and this week it happened: this week's contest winner is also last week's contest winner, Jan O'Sullivan of Killingworth, Conn. Last week Jan defied 13-to-1 odds to win, and this week she gets another crossword book for defying 33-to-1 odds. Jan has chosen as her prize an autographed copy of Golf Crosswords. She will also be available to manage your stock portfolio, choose lottery numbers, and serve in an advisory role on trips to Vegas or Atlantic City.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest crossword revolves around four consonants. This week's contest answer is the only grid entry that contains all four of those consonants. Email it to me (the actual entry in the grid, not the clue number) at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET.

To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. To solve using Across Lite, join the Google Group here:

http://groups.google.com/group/mgwcc



Enjoy the Games, solve well, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.

8/1/08

MGWCC #009 -- Friday, August 1, 2008 -- "The Replacements" -- POSTPONED [UPDATED, 8/2: "The Replacements" Is Now Up!]

Dear Fellow Cruciverbalist,

Due to a minor family emergency, I'll be posting today's crossword, MGWCC #009, Saturday afternoon instead of today. I'll extend the crossword deadline this week to Wednesday at noon to allow for the normal amount of solving time.

The minor family emergency is: my brother Sean, his wife Mandy, and their two-year-old son Patrick are moving to their new house today. Originally I wasn't needed to help with the move, but then earlier this week Sean cleverly fell through the floor of their attic while retrieving some boxes. Diagnosis: one broken arm, one brother unable to participate in his own move, and the other brother called in for assistance, which meant all day yesterday and today.

Full, normal write-up of last week's results coming tomorrow along with the puzzle.

Covered in sweat and begging your indulgence for the delay,

Matt

UPDATED, 8/2:


Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! My brother and his family are now moved in, and MGWCC #009, "The Replacements," is now up. Life rolls on!



LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


The numbers from MGWCC #008 were brutal, so sit down for this: a record-low 14 solvers (it was a toughie, I admit it!) correctly returned last week's crossword answer letter, which was UPSILON.

Why UPSILON? It was the only Greek letter that could not be found concealed in the clues, as hinted at by the answers to 1-across (GO GREEK) and 1-down (GET A CLUE). As with MGWCC #006, this puzzle's grid was pangrammatic, so solvers had to look elsewhere for the "missing" letter mentioned in the instructions.

EPSILON, for example, was hidden in the clue to 41-down, {Pepsi longs to destroy them}, the answer to which was COCA-COLA. SIGMA concealed itself in 67-down, ZEN {Philosophy Robert Pirsig matched up with motorcycles}, while GAMMA lurked within 64-across, {Amalgam material}, the answer to which was MERCURY. The only Greek letter nowhere to be found was UPSILON -- a.k.a. Y, hence the puzzle's title, "Y Not."

Last week's winner, whose name was chosen randomly from the 14 correct entries, is Jan O'Sullivan of Killingworth, Conn. Jan has selected an autographed copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crossword Puzzles & Word Games as her prize.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer word is a five-letter musical term. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Wednesday (N.B., you have an extra day due to my delay in posting) at noon ET. I'm on the road again so will post the printable version when I get home Sunday night; for now please use the Across Lite version sent via the Google Group.

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

[UPDATED, 8/2, 9:40 PM ET: Amy Reynaldo comes thru with a JPEG! Awesome. Click it and hit "print" on your browser to solve.]