10/31/08

MGWCC #022 -- Friday, October 31, 2008 -- "All Caps"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 22 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:


I received a record 111 entries to last week's puzzle, though only 65 of them contained the correct contest answer phrase, NOBLE GASES. The two components of this phrase were found at 47-down and 1-across, and described the five theme entries in the puzzle: ROBIN DUKE, COUNT CHOCULA, SACHA BARON COHEN, MY NAME IS EARL, and the late great TED KNIGHT. Each of these is a funny person/character/TV show -- in other words, a "gas" -- and each contains a rank of nobility.

Two other popular answers were NOBLE PACK (22 entries) and NOBLE ILK (18 entries). Although I did once in the past allow a second answer to be counted correct (see Week 7), I didn't feel it was quite justified here. Though PACK and ILK do describe a group, they didn't capture the fun/funny aspect of GASES and the five theme entries, and neither NOBLE ILK nor NOBLE PACK is a recognizable phrase as NOBLE GASES is.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen randomly from among the 65 correct entries, is Marcia Sander of Port Washington, N.Y. Marcia will receive as her prize a subscription to Peter Gordon's post-Sun crossword service.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer phrase is a band who has sold tens of millions of albums, and who would've made an appropriate sixth theme entry in this puzzle if I'd been able to squeeze them in. Hint: they're listed on this wikipedia page. E-mail this band's name 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.

10/24/08

MGWCC #021 -- Friday, October 24, 2008 -- "[To Be Determined]"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 21 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:


What do web journalist MATT DRUDGE, actresses CHRISTINA APPLEGATE and FRANCES LANGFORD, and entrepreneur MIKE ILITCH have in common? They're all people who've never been in Cliff Clavin's kitchen, true; but they're also four people whose initials double as the postal abbreviation of the state in which they were born (MD, CA, FL, MI -- see solution grid at left).

I found this theme while flipping through the almanac, where I noticed that Christina Applegate was born in CA. My theme antennae (vestigial organs on most mammals, but we crossword writers put them to good use) started going nuts and I began looking for what I expected would be many more famous examples.

Surprisingly there were very few -- in addition to the four I used in the grid and the fifth who served as contest answer phrase, the only others I found were country singer Marty Stuart, NPR "All Things Considered" host Michele Norris, and Confederate generals Albert Rust and George Anderson. If anyone has more I'd be interested in hearing about it (FYI, I already scoured this extremely helpful page in my research for the theme: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:People_by_state_in_the_United_States)

A bitter pill with this theme was that the great Stephen Colbert, though raised in South Carolina, was born elsewhere. Highly aggravating...why don't people plan ahead?

The contest instructions asked for a fifth celebrity, "one of the most famous musicians of the 20th century" who shares this quirk of birth and name. 78 solvers found him -- LOUIS ARMSTRONG, who not only embodied but also was born in New Orleans, LA. The bottom shelf of entries in the grid -- POPS, SATCH, and NOLA -- also pushed solvers in this direction.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen randomly from among the 78 correct entries received, is Steve Rubinstein of Edison, N.J. Steve has chosen as his prize an autographed copy of Movie Crosswords.

(I forgot to award the contest winner a subscription to Peter Gordon's puzzle service instead of a book, as promised last week, so we'll do it this week instead. If you win this week and I ask you to pick a book, remind me that a book ain't the prize this time!)


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


Two one-word grid entries in this week's crossword combine to make a perfect title for this week's crossword. This week's contest answer phrase is those two grid entries (a.k.a. this week's puzzle title). E-mail them 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.

10/17/08

MGWCC #020 -- Friday, October 17, 2008 -- "Please State Your Name"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 20 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:


I must have done something wrong, because 95 cruciverbalists sent me an e-mail saying I should STUFF IT last week. Tough crowd!

Wait, no -- they weren't insulting me, they were sending in last week's contest answer phrase, which was just that two-word insult. These solvers arrived there by first finding the four bailout-didn't-help-the-market rhymes I used as theme entries: BANKING TANKING, NIKKEI DECAY, NASDAQ BACKTRACK, and BOEING GOING.

The final entry was my sentiment to a member of the one-party kleptocracy that rules us (for now) who pushed hard for the bailout, (Warren) BUFFETT -- STUFF IT! Judging from the "amen" e-mails I got (about 15) to the "bite your tongue" e-mails I received (2 or 3), you folks didn't like the bailout much.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen randomly from among the 95 correct entries received, is Deirdre Zarrillo of Albany, N.Y. Deirdre has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

THREE THINGS:

1) Eric LeVasseur sends along a clever alternate theme entry to last week's stock market puzzle:

All I can say is that I hope we've seen the bottom. The last thing I want to see tomorrow is my...

401(k) MORE LOW MONDAY


2) I can't find the e-mail (if you sent it, re-send it so I can print your name here [UPDATE, 10/18, 11:45 AM -- the e-mail was from Anna Gundlach--fittingly, someone with a palindromic name]), but a solver wrote to remind me that I never ran the answer to Mike Sylvia's alternate theme entry to Week 15's Sarah-Palindrome puzzle. To refresh your memory, it was:

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

The answer is "McCainiac.cm," .cm being the country domain code for Douala's nation of Cameroon. Very nice.

3) Reminder that you can subscribe to Peter Gordon's post-Sun crossword here. This week's prize will not be a book of mine, but rather a subscription to Peter's puzzle service.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

The four people who serve as theme entries in this week's puzzle all have something unusual in common, an attribute shared by fewer than 10 famous people by my count. This week's contest answer phrase is one of the most famous musicians of the 20th century, and the most famous celebrity I was able to find who shares this attribute. E-mail this celebrity's name 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.

10/10/08

MGWCC #019 -- Friday, Oct. 10, 2008 -- "Bailout: Fail, Rout"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 19 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:

You people must really like last week's contest answer word, PETER GORDON, because a record 91 entrants correctly found his name not very well-hidden in the clues at 48-across and 9-across. I was going for one of those "hidden in plain sight" deals, hoping solvers would focus on the grid entries and not the clues themselves. Instead I got zero incorrect answers against 91 correct ones, and one e-mail that said something like "I did a double-take for a minute before noticing the {Peter ___} and {___ Gordon} clues" against about two dozen that said "Whaddya mean, 'hidden'?"

But no biggie, because the puzzle was primarily meant as a paean to Peter's historic and heroic 6 1/2-year run at the New York Sun, which folded last week. While at the Sun, Peter revolutionized the job of crossword editor -- in maximizing use of computer databases in grid doctoring, involving the constructor in the revision process (far) more than any other editor I'm aware of, and in pushing puzzle writers' fees higher (those of both his and other newspapers). This takes an enormous amount of time, effort, and skill, so hats off and bravo to Roger/Ogden/Peter.

Any news I get on continuation of the Sun crossword I'll pass along on this site. [UPDATE, 10/10, 5:00 PM ET: Amy Reynaldo writes to gently remind me (the subject line of her e-mail was "What, are you living under a rock?") that I didn't mention that the Sun newspaper may be no more, but the crossword itself will remain for at least a few months: "Peter's continuing with at least the puzzles he had in the pipeline, which will take him about 5 1/2 months out. Starting next week, the puzzles will be available only to paying subscribers (about $12). They're hosted at Cruciverb.com. By Februaryish, if he's got 2,000 subscribers, he'll get new puzzles and keep 'em coming."]

(Not that it fooled anyone, but for the record: the puzzle's theme was revealed at 63-across, I'LL FOLLOW THE SUN; the five starred theme entries consisted of a compound word or two-word phrase, each of the two components of which can follow "Sun" to make a new word or phrase: sunbird, sunbath, Sun Devil, sun worshipper, sun dial, sundown, sunroof, sunbeam, sunup, and sunstroke).

This week's winner, whose name was chosen randomly from among the 91 correct entries, is Robert Loy of North Charleston, S.C. Robert has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

ONE THING:

Angela Halsted
sends along this timely political puzzle she recently co-authored, so give it your eyeballs:

http://rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com/2008/10/rex-parker-free-puzzles-1-dont-blink.html


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer phrase is the two-word insult that ends the entry at 61-across. [UPDATE, 5:40 PM ET: Amy Reynaldo (again) writes to mention that I should clarify: the contest answer phrase is simply the last two words in the entry at 61-across, not some other two words you have to provide.] 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...or politicians intending to thee thieve.

10/3/08

MGWCC #018 -- Friday, Oct. 3, 2008 -- "Shine On (You Crazy Diamond)"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 18 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:


75 solvers showed me a sign last week, realizing that the puzzle's four main theme entries -- HYBRID VIGOR, HERBS AND SPICES, BLAIR UNDERWOOD, and RAISE HORSES -- each contained a word that anagrams into a sign of the zodiac (VIGOR/Virgo, SPICES/Pisces, BLAIR/Libra, and RAISE/Aries). The instructions asked them to find the fifth grid entry that followed the theme, which led those 75 entrants to locate the correct contest answer -- OLE MISS at 12-down, whose first word anagrams to Leo.

Note also that the attention of the country just happened to be focused on OLE MISS last Friday, the date of this puzzle's publication, as it hosted the first presidential debate (patting self on back, extremely satisfied with own cleverness).

Our winner, whose name was chosen randomly from among the 75 correct entries, is Lee Knutson of Irvine, Calif. Lee has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer phrase is the name of a noted cruciverbalist relevant to this puzzle's theme (and whose name is also concealed in two of this puzzle's across clues). 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.