4/29/11

MGWCC #152 -- Friday, April 29th, 2011 -- "Drinking Game"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 152 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:

218 Double Skim Caramel Macchiato Latte fans found STARBUCKS as last week's contest answer. They noticed that the four main sizes of that company's fine coffee beverages concealed themselves in the theme entries:

AT ALL TIMES
GRAND ENTRANCE
I'M JUST VENTING
BOAT RENTAL

Tricky for a hidden-word meta, since the only English one of the four is the unremarkable TALL, and the eye doesn't tend to scan for foreign words.

Matthew Grieco writes:

Boy did I get this one in a roundabout way at the last minute! I was stumped, and decided to start anagramming the theme entries for lack of a better idea. One anagram of AT ALL TIMES is A LATTE SLIM. That got me thinking of Starbucks, and then, bam, the clue in the title "Size Matters" hit me, and a quick scan of the grid revealed TALL, GRANDE, VENTI and TRENTA.

I'd wondered if anyone would happen to do this puzzle while in a Starbucks. Jerry Rosman came through:

I solved this while sitting in a Starbucks at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas killing time while my wife gambled.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 218 correct entries received, is Herb Kaplan of Woodland Hills, Calif. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Herb will also receive an autographed copy of Patrick Jordan's new book Crafty Crosswords. Next week we return to regular book prizes.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is an alcoholic drink with thirteen letters in its name. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer drink 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 (1,486 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

4/22/11

MGWCC #151 -- Friday, April 22nd, 2011 -- "Size Matters"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 151 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:

Form followed function in last week's crossword: five letters of the alphabet served not only their standard function as letters, but also took the form of their own shape in the grid: T, O, X, I and C, each letter comprised of itself, snaked clockwise around the grid (see solution at right). This led 274 solvers to correctly peg the contest answer as Britney Spears' 2004 hit TOXIC.







Laura Dove thought the puzzle was:

v     v   eeeee   rrrr   y   y            ccc   ooo     ooo    l
v v e r r y y c o o o o l
v v eeeee rrrr y c o o o o l
v e r r y ccc ooo ooo llllll
eeeee r r y



(OK, I'm not sure this shows up properly formatted on all browsers, but Laura spelled out VERY COOL in the manner of the puzzle theme.)

I didn't pick this song title as the keyword because I especially like it or am especially interested in Britney (I swear!). Rather the choice of keyword was extremely limited: you can only get a good, clear shape for about 10 letters in a 3x3 box maximum, and a few of those can't fit into a grid. For instance, you can make a nice H with seven H's, but then you've got to come up with three entries that have three consecutive H's in them apiece.

At the end of the winnowing process the best letters available were C, D, I, L, O, T and X. I certainly wanted to use the X and five letters seemed like the maximum number of these to fit in a 15x15 grid, especially since I expected the X-section to be tricky.

Which it was, but the T turned out to be the real trouble spot. To my surprise the only triple-T entries I could come up with were SCOTT TUROW and MATT TURK, both of whom I used, plus a couple of other less-famous Matt T.'s (Taibbi, e.g.) and SCOTT T.'s (Thompson, e.g.). I also found British band MOTT THE HOOPLE, who are famous enough to use for sure, but at 13 letters prohibitively awkward to fit in the grid.

None of the few uncapitalized English words that end in -tt (butt, mitt, putt, watt) yielded a decent three-T phrase, but Joon Pahk at Crossword Fiend did find PITT THE ELDER and PITT THE YOUNGER.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 274 correct entries received, is David Howorth of Oxford, Miss. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, David will also receive an autographed copy of Patrick Jordan's new book Crafty Crosswords.

HARD LUCK CONTEST WINNER:

Just eight entries in the Hard Luck Contest, and the winner hands-down on points is Joel Berghoff of San Rafael, Calif. Joel writes that he's been eligible for about 75 weekly prizes and 12 monthly prizes but has yet to win anything at all. Quite tragic:

I'm generally a lucky person, which makes this even
more frustrating. I won an NCAA bracket contest last
year (believe me, it was luck) and I've won at least
100 call-in radio contests in my life.

There's my sob story. Waah waah.


For his pain, Joel will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set.

Here's another sad tale from M.M.:

If it weren't for bad luck I would have no luck at all. Statistics? People with my streak of luck don't believe in statistics, we believe what Homer Simpson said about them "Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that." What I have is a relationship with the first correct answer I ever provided in your contest "Aesop" as I am the proverbial tortoise. Your A List of solvers don't know the pain of another 3 for 4 month or worse the 4 for 5 months. You see, my bad luck means that I have no shot to win a weekly contest. I lose to people who are simply known as P.G. from some random city or worse from whereabouts unknown. So I plod along each and every month hoping to be one of the few who qualify for that coveted pen and pencil...Statistics? Don't need 'em, save them for other folks. My luck knows no odds.

M.M. is our second-place winner, for which he will receive -- not a damn thing! When it rains, it pours.

BOSTON CROSSWORD TOURNAMENT IS TOMORROW:


The Third Annual Boston Crossword Tournament is tomorrow! That's Saturday, April 23rd from 1-5 PM at the Harvard University Science Center. Check it out if you're in the area, details here:

http://www.bostoncrosswordtournament.org/



THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is a major American corporation.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest corporation 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 (1,479 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here. [UPDATE, 4/22, 1:50 PM ET: Joshua Kosman points out that the clue for 23-across is incorrect. It should read {Carlo preceder}.]

JORDAN TWOPEAT:


Once again: in addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, next week's winner will receive an autographed copy of Patrick Jordan's new book Crafty Crosswords.





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

4/13/11

MGWCC #150 -- Friday, April 15th, 2011 -- "Form Follows Function"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 150 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:

Bom dia! 310 solucionadores descobriram que era a palavra PORTUGAL na semana passada a resposta de concurso. They noticed that the eight letters in that country's name were the only letters used in the entire puzzle grid.

Which made, as you might imagine, for some less-than-stellar fill: Lake POOPO, composer TORU Takemitsu, BMW co-founder Franz Josef POPP, and the palindromic Bolivian city of ORURO (which lies almost directly on Lake POOPO, in case you didn't know!).

Silver lining: picking up on the meta helped solvers unravel the tough fill, since there were only eight letters any given square could be! Besides, one person's mystery entry is another's grid highlight, as classical music author/aficionado Joshua Kosman illustrates:

And of course I love the inclusion of Takemitsu!

Hitting all four theme entries, Len Elliott reminisces:

Ah, Portugal...my wife and I went on a Rick Steves tour of Spain and Portugal in 2009. Our vacation from our vacation was a day on the beach at Cabo Sao de Vicente. We enjoyed the Fado Museum in Lisbon, the tour (and tasting) at the Sandeman Winery in Porto, and sardines and other fish at restaurants in Coimbra.

Matthew Perez-Stable asks:

think you might run into nosferatu there?

And finally, Jon Delfin cleverly pretended to miss the meta by wishing me:

Good luck on the LPGA TOUR.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 310 correct entries received, is Wayne Jones of Worcester, N.Y. Wayne has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

HARD LUCK CONTEST:

It's that time again! Have your faithful and diligent efforts at MGWCC gone heretofore unrewarded? Have you been eligible for weekly and monthly prizes more times than you can count, yet never had your name picked from the hat? Then now is your time for redemption -- and prizes!

Send me your hard luck story of MGWCC prizelessness at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by noon ET on Tuesday. A paragraph or two will suffice -- outline your tale of woe, supplemented with facts and figures ("I've been eligible to win the monthly prize 17 times...") and we'll see if this isn't your lucky week. Don't be shy about using words like "heartbreaking," "crushed," and "crestfallen." These can only help your cause!

The solver with the hardest luck story will win a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set. The solver with the second-hardest luck story will receive nothing and feel even worse than they did before the hard luck contest started!

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the title of a 2000s pop song. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer song 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 (1,478 members now!) here.

SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK AND NEXT:

In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, weekly prize winners this week and next will receive an autographed copy of Patrick Jordan's new book Crafty Crosswords. My copy is still en route but I'm very much looking forward to this one!







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

4/8/11

MGWCC #149 -- Friday, April 8th, 2011 -- "Eight Is Enough"



Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 149 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:

"Mind your P's and Q's," the saying goes. But in last week's puzzle, solvers needed to mind their O's (including the apostrophe and s!).



Three boxes in the grid took an O'S instead of a single letter, and in each of the three cases the O'S was used in a different way:

As a classic apostrophe:

17-a TW(O'S) COMPANY
3-d WH(O'S) IN

In a surname:

38-a GILBERT (O'S)ULLIVAN
26-d JIM (O'S)HEA

As a possessive:

58-a CARLIT(O'S) WAY
46-d GEN(O'S)

Which Major League baseball team does this theme point to? The AL East-leading (!) Baltimore Orioles, nicknamed the O's, which 344 solvers submitted. "Baltimore Orioles," "Orioles" or simply "The O's" were all naturally accepted as correct.



Four solvers sent in a clever alternate answer which I'm also counting as correct. Peter Gwinn was first, so I'll let him explain:

RED SOX / BOSOX

That's what I get from putting OS in one BOX.


Isn't that nice? True, this answer ignores the three apostrophes, but the cryptic crossword logic of B(OS)OX is so elegant that I'm accepting these four entries as correct.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 348 correct entries received, is Monica Krausse of El Paso, Tex. Monica has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

ANATOMY OF A THEME:


Last week's theme had a recent and intriguing provenance. At the ACPT last month, solver Jan O'Sullivan asked me to sign her copy of my book Gridlock. I always sign this book on the title page, which features a crossword grid I can fill appropriately.

There was no 9- or 10-letter space for Jan's surname, however, so I was forced to fit the O, apostrophe and S all in one square, rebus-style. Immediately my theme antennae began going crazy, and with baseball season around the corner I knew we had a first-of-April theme.

Jan was kind enough to scan the page, and here it is (click to enlarge):







Proof that theme inspiration can strike anywhere, anytime!











THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the country in which I'll be vacationing for a week this summer. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer country 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 (1,477 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

4/1/11

MGWCC #148 -- Friday, April 1st, 2011 -- "Opening Day"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 148 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:

March's first three metas were on the easy side, with 364, 302 and 288 solvers figuring them out. Last week's finale was anything but easy, as just 47 entrants submitted the correct six-letter surname, which was NEWTON.

The puzzle's four theme entries read:

17a GO HOLLYWOOD
11d BE CREATIVE
30d IN ADDITION
58a AD CAMPAIGNS

Two-word phrases beginning with two-letter words? Seems suspicious. Grid with a lot of names in it? Also suspicious. But how does it all tie together?

Each of those two-letter words is in fact the initials of a famous person referenced by the second word in the phrase. So actor GARY OLDMAN is a Hollywood G.O. -- and both his first and last names are found in the grid (at 13-d and 10-d).

Similarly we find music pioneer BRIAN ENO at 40-a and 61-a, while three-term U.S. senator ALFONSE D'AMATO hides in plain sight at 25-d and 45-d.

But what of the fourth entry, IN ADDITION? We see ISAAC crossing it at 38-across...but there's no suitable surname hidden in the grid. Who could an "Isaac N." known for addition be? None other than the great mathematician (among other things) Isaac NEWTON, making his surname our contest answer.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 47 correct entries received, is Bob Klahn of Wilmington, Del. Bob has selected as his prize an autographed copy of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Brain Games.

ERRATUM:

Tim Platt points out that my clue for 4-down is wrong: THO can be either a conjunction or an adverb, but it's not a preposition. Whoops -- I bet everyone put ERE in there.


MONTHLY PRIZES:


42 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of March's challenges (SALT, PASTA, JOHN McNEILL, NEWTON ). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Jared Banta -- Superior, Colo.

Howard Barkin -- Hillsborough, N.J.

Abby Braunsdorf -- Lafayette, Ind.

Jason Chan -- Urbana, Ill.

Roy Denham -- Capon Bridge, W. Va.

Julian Lim -- Singapore, Singapore

Annette Otis -- Alexandria, Va.

Ned Robert -- Los Gatos, Calif.

Jane and Armand Van Nimmen -- Vienna, Austria

Kirsten Weiblen -- Yellow Spring, W. Va.

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

BLINDAUER BRAIN DUEL:

Check out this highly original new crossword from Patrick Blindauer. It features an extremely clever theme concept I wish I'd thought of myself. Took me 10:02 to solve -- beat that!

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a Major League Baseball team. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer team 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 (1,476 members now!) here.





Solve well, don't get fooled, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.