12/31/10

MGWCC #135 -- Friday, December 31st, 2010 -- "This Doggone Crossword!"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 135 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.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

306 solvers identified "The Little Drummer Boy" as last week's contest Christmas carol, noticing its distinctive chorus line at the beginning of the puzzle's five theme entries:

17-a PAIR OF NINES
24-a RUMOR MILL
33-a PUMPKIN BUTTER
47-a PUMMELING
54-a PUMICE STONE

Mark O'Kain writes:

I would have been very upset to not finish this puzzle ... since I'm a drummer!

Many solvers -- actually, very many solvers -- mentioned that "The Little Drummer Boy" is far from their favorite Christmas carol. Several mentioned its earwormish qualities, including Marty Howard:

If I can't get rid of this in my head, I'm gonna get you!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 306 correct entries received, is Elaine Walizer of Conway, Ark. Elaine has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

NON EST ERRATUM, SED MALUM EST:

Peter Washington notes an inelegance:

The clue for 30-D is a little inartful since the P in the answer stands for play.

Whoops! Swing and a miss.


SPECIAL PRIZES OVER THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS:

Weekly winners of MGWCC over the next month will receive both a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set plus a year-long subscription to Peter Gordon's outstanding Fireball Crosswords.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


No New Year's puzzle -- I couldn't think of any words containing the sequence MMXI -- but pet lovers will like it anyway. This week's contest answer is a breed of dog. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer breed in the subject line of your e-mail. [UPDATE, 12/31, 1:50 PM ET: Todd Dashoff points out that the clue to 45-down should read {Was a promoter (for)}.]

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 (1,408 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





Solve well, Happy New Year!, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.

12/24/10

MGWCC #134 -- Friday, Dec. 24th, 2010 -- "A Chorus Line"



Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 134 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.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

How's by you? Probably pretty good if you're eating Cajun food at the restaurant pictured above, since it gets four stars on Yelp. It also served as this week's contest answer.

299 solvers ate up the five real-life restaurant names in the grid:

3-d -- WHAT THE PHO
21-d -- AESOP'S TABLES
7-d -- BREWED AWAKENING
9-d -- THE BEST WURST
32-d -- FRYING NEMO

Instructions told them to form a 10-letter Midwest Cajun restaurant's name from two grid entries, so searching for puns they went. BAYOU at 23-across seemed like a good start, being both a Cajun restaurant and a strong candidate for wordplay hijinks. HOWES at 69-a finished the job, and HOWE'S BAYOU was indeed our restaurant of the week.

Ben Henri
is close to the meta:

I live about 2 minutes from that place! I've never been, but I think I'll have to go now.

Jim Sempsrott is 3-for-3 in December and writes:

I'm still in the running, by gumbo!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 299 correct entries received, is Seth Canetti of Larchmont, N.Y. Seth has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

ANATOMY OF A SOLVE:

You already know that Joon Pahk posts a detailed critique of MGWCC each Tuesday at Crossword Fiend. Now Eric Prestemon joins in with a weekly log of his own solve (my favorite comments this week are at 0:22 and 28:46):

http://solvingpuzzles.tumblr.com/post/2433930111/mgwcc-133-edible-complex

ARIES PUZZLES:


If you're a fan of Rows Garden puzzles, check out Andrew Ries's new site, where he's posting one new Rows Garden per week:

http://ariespuzzles.com/

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the name of a Christmas carol. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Wednesday (note extra day!) at noon ET. Please put the contest answer carol 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 (1,402 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.




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

12/17/10

MGWCC #133 -- Friday, Dec. 17th, 2010 -- "Edible Complex"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 133 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.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


Toughish meta for Week 2 -- simple in retrospect, but a little tricky to notice in the first place. Solvers were tasked with finding the name of a well-known five-letter sitcom. The theme entries were:

17-a HOCKEY TEAM
25 & 27-a POLITICAL SPECTRUM
44a JUMBO JET
49a TOUCAN SAM
58a WHITE HOUSE

Which are all things with WINGS, of course, which makes that 1990's show our contest answer sitcom.

Andrew Rosenberg explains why the meta was a bit tricky:

Man, I was looking for some sort of anagram or letter play for daaaays.

John Farmer chronicles his solve:

I had to get this one backwards, thinking of 5-letter sitcoms then looking for a connection. Maude didn't seem to work. Hazel seemed unlikely. I was running out of names.

To which Mark Taylor adds:

Alice and Maude missed the flight.

To which Jake Lavenberg adds:

I always fly Coach.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 217 correct entries received, is Phoebe McBee of New York City, N.Y. Phoebe has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

BETTER TITLE FOR MGWCC #131:

Todd Dashoff
one-ups my title for the silent-letter actresses theme in MGWCC #131. I used "Crossword Scene: Take One," but Todd suggests:

“Quiet on the Set!”

MGWCC NYT Q&A:

Jim Horne interviewed me at the New York Times' Wordplay blog last week:

http://wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/10/slacker/

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the name of a 10-letter Cajun restaurant located somewhere in the Midwest. You can form its name by joining two entries in this grid. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer restaurant 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 (1,400 members now!) here.




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

12/10/10

MGWCC #132 -- Friday, Dec. 10th, 2010 -- "Side Project"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 132 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.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

Solvers confronted six misspelled actresses in last week's theme entries. Upon closer inspection they realized that each actress's name was missing one letter, like so:

16-a ANNABELLA sCIORRA
23-a MARGOt KIDDER
30-a HELEN MIRrEN
40-a DIANNe WIEST
48-a ROSEANNe BARR
56-a MICHELLE pFEIFFER

Those six missing letters, in lowercase and emboldened above, spell out the missing thespian: Meryl STREEP, who was last week's contest answer.

Ben Bass writes:

Clearly you weren't going for Bernadette PETERS.

No, but it was a clever try submitted by three entrants.

It's true that PETERS' surname anagrams to STREEP, but I decided I couldn't accept it as an alt-answer in the end: Meryl is far better known than Bernadette, and her name is spelled out by the missing letters in order, without anagramming. These two factors make STREEP too superior an answer over PETERS to accept the latter as correct.

Joe Fendel
quips:

Nice to begin the holiday season so Meryl-y!

Regarding the puckish {Cole ___ shoes} and {___ Haan shoes} clues in the past two puzzles, Neville Fogarty writes:

I've been wearing Cole Haan shoes BOTH times I've entered the respective entry these two weeks.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 339 correct entries received, is Katy D. of Fall River Mills, Calif.

TWO NEW WAYS TO SOLVE MGWCC:


Beginning today you can solve MGWCC in Across Lite right here at the site, with nothing to download. Here's this week's puzzle:



You can also muster a group and solve it over at Team Crossword, who will be running MGWCC each Friday beginning today:

http://www.teamcrossword.com/

As I write this, the top time at TCW is 3:52 for this puzzle, achieved by a team of five players. Note: this rule will likely change in January, but for now, several contestants can solve MGWCC as a team at TCW and still submit individual answers to the contest.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is the name of a well-known five-letter sitcom. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer sitcom 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 above or download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,384 members now!) here.



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

12/3/10

MGWCC #131 -- Friday, December 3rd, 2010 -- "Crossword Scene: Take One"


Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 131 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.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

MULTIPLES OF FIVE, read 38-across in last week's tough month-ender, clued as {13 to examine}. Which continent did that lead to? SOUTH AMERICA, whose thirteen capitals were represented by their first three letters at each multiple of five in the grid. For instance: BOGota, Colombia concealed itself as BOGart at 30-across, while CARacas, Venezuela hid in CAReer at 45-across.

The full list:

5-a CAYuga = CAYenne, French Guiana
10-a QUIk = QUIto, Ecuador
15-a LIMo = LIMa, Peru
20-a AS Usual = ASUncion, Paraguay
25-a BRAwn = BRAsilia, Brazil
30-a BOGart = BOGota, Colombia
35-a BUEll = BUEnos Aires, Argentina
40-a PARnells = PARamaribo, Suriname
45-a CAReer = CARacas, Venezuela
50-a SANa'a = SANtiago, Chile (one capital concealing another!)
55-a MONa = MONtevideo, Uruguay
60-a GEOl = Georgetown, Guyana
65-a LAPp = LA Paz, Bolivia

Solvers most frequently mentioned BUEll, BOGart and QUIk as their keys to unlocking the meta, and many people mentioned the upper right-hand corner as being especially rough. Tyler Hinman even tweeted its brutality:

# Big off-day for me. Struggled on that Masyu, made dumb mistakes in the CHE, and found the upper right of the MGWCC utterly unsolvable. 4:17 PM Nov 26th via web

Figured out the Gaffney meta. I still don't feel good about myself for not getting the upper right. 4:26 PM Nov 26th via web

http://twitter.com/thatpuzzleguy


Tough month of puzzles all around -- Jan Bruce writes:

Hardest month of metas since I started playing.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 104 correct entries received, is Kirsten Weiblen of Yellow Spring, W. Va.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

Be proud if you're one of them, as just 34 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of November's challenges (ARABIC, TOFU, IBM SNAPPLES and SOUTH AMERICA). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Bill Cascadden -- High River, Alta.

Jason Chan -- Urbana, Ill.

Greggo Johnson -- Pittsburgh, Penna.

Wayne Jones -- Worcester, N.Y.

Don Lycette -- The Woodlands, Tex.

Steve M. -- Highland, Ill.

Pete Rimkus -- Ashford, Conn.

Marcia Rose -- Delray Beach, Fla.

Jeffrey Schwartz -- New York City, N.Y.

Leo Stein -- Cambridge, Mass.


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

IBM SNAPPLES OR EITHER BORER?

I forgot to mention this last week, but Joan Aufderhar writes re Week 129:

Am I the only person who got the wrong answer by pairing "Either" and "Borer" last week for the 11-letter phrase that created 'rivals' EITHER/OR???

Was that an intentional trick on your part? Sigh.........I thought it was a great answer, alas.


Three solvers submitted EITHER/BORER (at 49-down and 35-across) as their answer for Week 129, and it was indeed an excellent try...that I still felt unable to accept as correct, though just by a hair. It does runs 11 letters, as contest instructions stipulate, and it does conceal two somewhat opposite words (EITHER and OR) in a similar manner to the other four theme entries.

In the end, though, I felt that EITHER and OR aren't really "enemies" or "rivals" the way the other four matchups are. Another litmus test I use for cases like this: if 10 solvers had found both EITHER/BORER and IBM/SNAPPLES, would any of them have chosen the former over the latter? I don't believe so in this case.

So not quite right, but still very close -- and not an intentional trick, Joan! Scout's honor.

TEAM CROSSWORD:

Has anyone here tried the new Microsoft/Facebook feature called Team Crossword yet? It's revolutionary: solve a puzzle remotely with up to six other team members, whose answers are all color-coded so you know who did the heavy lifting. Currently running the Universal Crossword but there'll be more to that mix soon -- I'll write more about it next week.

Imagine what kind of times a Delfin-Hinman-Payne-Feyer team would post...that'd be quite a sight!

http://www.teamcrossword.com/

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the name of a well-known actress.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer actress 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 download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,378 members now!) here.



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