9/26/08

MGWCC #017 -- Friday, September 26, 2008 -- "Show Me a Sign"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 17 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:


77 solvers figured out the investment banker slang term TAKE A HAIRCUT, which was last week's contest answer (found at 40-across; solution grid at left). To get there, they removed the first sound in the second word of each member of the quintet until recently known as the "Big Five" American investment banks: Merrill Lynch became MERRILL INCH, Goldman Sachs became GOLDMAN AX, Lehman Brothers became LEHMAN OTHERS, Bear Stearns became BEAR TURNS, and Morgan Stanley became MORGAN TANLY (the runt of the litter here, but #2 out of the five in real life -- for now). As investment bankers are taking a haircut these days, so did these five theme entries.

Our winner, whose name was chosen randomly from among the 77 correct entries, is Jason Feng of Richmond, B.C. (it's good we're getting all the Canadian winners out of the way now because once the US dollar collapses to zero I won't be able to afford out-of-country postage on the books anyway). Jason has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Brain Games.

THREE THINGS:

***Quite a few solvers (including an ACPT champ) couldn't get the ZENANA/ZAPPED (29-a/29-d) crossing in last week's puzzle and thought it was borderline unfair. Duly noted -- I thought ZENANA was a little better known than it really is, and should have given an easier clue at 29-across.

***Justin Smith has a new puzzle website up, so give it a look:

http://justinspuzzles.com/

***And finally, Brendan Quigley's new website isn't up yet, but he has a great pic you gotta see on the placeholder site. If central casting got a request for a crossword constructor, I don't think this is what they'd come up with:

http://brendanemmettquigley.com/



THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's puzzle looks like it only has four theme entries (17-a, 31-a, 37-a, and 58-a). But the crossword elves here at MGWCC work non-stop, 24/7/365 to bring you that extra cruciverbal edge -- which means there's a fifth theme entry hidden somewhere in the grid, which is this week's contest answer word. E-mail that fifth theme entry to me (the actual grid entry, not its clue number) at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer phrase 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, join the Google Group here:

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





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

9/19/08

MGWCC #016 -- Friday, September 19th, 2008 -- "Bankers Away"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 16 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:

"WASILLA'S ALL I SAW," declared a palindrome in last week's MGWCC, but 74 solvers saw a lot more than that. Namely, they found three other fully-reversible phrases relating to Alaska Governor Palin: HARASS SARAH, PEEVE VEEP, and TRACK CART. As the contest instructions required, these solvers hyphenated the fifth theme entry to reveal the puzzle's gimmick: PALIN-DROMES, which was last week's contest answer word (found at 62-across). Solution grid at left.

Several solvers e-mailed to ask how this rather nifty theme came about, none more entertainingly than Peter Gordon:

So you come up with the PALINDROME idea, and how far
along are you before you hit on WASILLASALLISAW? Do you
immediately drop to your knees and thank the gods of
crosswords for delivering a perfect 15-letter entry?


That would be the normal procedure, but the story of what really happened is even more bizarre. I often fall asleep thinking of crossword themes, hoping my subsconscious will find something good by morning. It's only worked very rarely -- perhaps once or twice in my life I've dreamt a full theme, but at least it puts me to sleep.

I went to bed thinking vaguely of newsworthy theme ideas, and woke up in the middle of the night with the phrase "Wasilla's all I saw" fully formed in my brain. I lay awake for a few minutes wondering if there were more of that type, and eventually came across "Harass Sarah," after which I realized I might have something here and got up to work out the rest of the idea.

I couldn't find anything with 11 letters to balance HARASS SARAH in the grid, but figured I could just punt with PALINDROMES, which would make, I thought, a decent enough contest answer word. Only after placing it in the grid did I notice -- hey, PALIN is the first five letters of PALINDROMES! Whaddya know?

Hope that doesn't take some of the shine off the theme. Is it still clever if you find it by dumb luck?

This week's winner, whose name was chosen randomly from the 74 correct entries, is Ed Brody of Cambridge, Mass. Ed has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

FROM THE MAILBAG:

Mike Sylvia sends along this clever alternate theme entry for last week's puzzle:

Website for all those recent-nominee's-running-mate-crazy Douala natives?

Note: the answer has 11 letters and I'll publish it next week (e-mail me if it's really driving you nuts and you can't wait that long).

Anne Erdmann recently took a trip to Central Asia and writes:

I just changed 10 time zones in the last 30 hours so I have no clue. Missed all the Palin-hoopla being out of the country so not even sure this is the answer :-). Looking forward to catching up on the last few weeks of contest xwords even if I can’t enter. (Tried to get to them at one internet cafe in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but no go.) Saw the ALAI Mountains but not the ARAL Sea.

And finally, this story: Houstonian MGWCC solver Stewart Levine, upon seeing 3-down in last week's puzzle, mentioned that he was hunkering down in anticipation of Hurricane Ike with a case of 3-down (CORONA). I assumed he was joking (about the beer, not the hurricane).

A few days later I sent him an e-mail to see how he'd held up, but didn't hear back for a while. I was starting to get mildly worried when this showed up:

Matt.

I survived Hurricane Ike but I still have no power and I managed to get a tank of gasoline today. I'm running out of Corona Beer. Funny thing, I lost power Friday night in the middle of doing the NYT Saturday Puzzle. I borrowed a neighbor's DSL (she has a generator) to get this out. I hope power comes on for your next puzzle. Did I win the last one?

Stew


This photo was attached, showing that Stewart not only survived Ike, but indeed did so with a case of 3-down. Now you know how to weather a Gulf of Mexico storm in style! And I'm definitely sending him a book for his troubles.


















THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

Real simple this week: the 12-letter entry at 40-across is this week's contest answer phrase. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer phrase 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, join the Google Group here:

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




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

9/12/08

MGWCC #015 -- Friday, September 12, 2008 -- "Return to Alaska"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 15 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:

Hey, we broke 60! That's how many solvers realized that last week's six theme entries -- MULTIPLIERS, BARROOM BRAWL, KENNESAW, MANDRILL, SHEVARDNADZE, and LILLEHAMMER -- all had something in common. What is it? They all end in the names of TOOLS, which was last week's contest answer word (located at 68-across; see solution at left).

Several solvers asked if SHEVARDNADZE had ever been used in a crossword before. I don't know, but Bob Klahn would -- if you're reading this, Bob, tell us! [UPDATE, 9/12, 4:50 PM ET -- Bob Klahn writes: "Matt, none of the 32,500-plus published puzzles in my puzzlebase contained the entry SHEVARDNADZE ... until now." Thanks!]

Last week's winner, whose name was chosen randomly from the 60 -- count 'em, 60! -- correct entries, is Jayne Boisvert of Latham, N.Y. Jayne has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


One of this week's theme entries could really use a hyphen to get this puzzle's gimmick across. That theme entry, properly hyphenated, is this week's contest answer word. E-mail it to me (the actual entry in the grid, not the clue number) at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer word 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, join the Google Group here:

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




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

9/5/08

MGWCC #014 -- Friday, September 5th, 2008 -- "Finally Getting the Job Done"


Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 14 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:

A MGWCC record 56 solvers decoded last week's riddle, hidden among the five longest entries in the grid: WHAT FAMOUS / ATHLETE RECENTLY / ACQUIRED FOUR NEW / AU PAIRS YET HASN'T / GOT ANY KIDS?. Heads were scratched, but eventually everyone (literally -- I received zero incorrect answers) came up with pool hero MICHAEL PHELPS, which was last week's contest answer word. AU = gold, and PAIRS = sets of two, so Phelps's eight gold medals in Beijing might be labeled by a suitably cryptic mind as "four au pairs."

Last week's winner, whose name was randomly chosen from among the 56 correct entries, is Doug Peterson of Pasadena, Calif. Doug has selected as his prize an autographed copy of my book TV Crosswords. Which leads me to a rant/story.

If you click through the above link, you'll see that my TV Crosswords book has a mediocre Amazon rating of 2 1/2 stars out of five. This rating is based on two reviewers, one of whom gave the book four stars and the other of whom awarded it the lowest rating of one star.

That one-star review, entitled "Very Disappointed," begins with the sentence "This book is to (sic) hard for me." I clicked through to the other two books that reader had reviewed, both of which received the maximum five stars from her. One of them was the autobiography of Tori Spelling, which the reviewer described thusly: "Could not put the book down. This is the first book I actually made time to read in 10 years."

Rant officially over -- so let's move on to this week's contest crossword.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the entry in the puzzle grid that explains this week's theme. E-mail it to me (the actual entry in the grid, not the clue number) at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer word 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, join the Google Group here:

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



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