8/25/11

MGWCC #169 -- Friday, August 26th, 2011 -- "Moving Day"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 169 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:

No more Mr. Nice Guy: just 140 solvers found RAIN DELAY as a "common kind of summer break" last week, barely a third of the 403 who got Week 2.

Three theme entries cryptically instructed solvers to THINK FIRST / WHEN YOU LOCATE / NINE PAUSES. Those pauses could have been a lot of things -- see e-mails below -- but they pointed at the nine clues in the grid with commas. Take the first letter of those nine clues (THINK FIRST, as it were) and you get, in order, our contest answer:

1-a {Respectful but friendly closing, sometimes} = BEST WISHES
23-a {Admits, as a visitor} = LETS IN
32-a {Iron, for one} = ORE
45-a {Norm Macdonald's old show, briefly} = SNL
52-a {Dumb as dirt, or smart as a whip} = SIMILE
30-d {Extreme point, as of an orbit} = APOGEE
33-d {Longtime magazine owner, for short} = HEF
39-d {Admits, as a crime} = OWNS UP TO
62-d {You've got mail," they'll tell you} = AOL


Ed Sills says:

I had a brain delay before this one clicked.

Peter Abide stumbled on a tricky cross:

hardest part was realizing there is no show called "Marry", which had me looking for 9 parses

Adam Rosenfield
sensed the presence of a meta:

What tipped me off to the meta in this puzzle was the clues for 26D
and 58A—I thought it was strange how there was no comma in 26D (and
it didn't look like a mistake since you'd have also have had to add
the "and" by mistake), and the fullstops in the quote in 58A jumped
out and made the link to the 'pauses' that were hinted at in 60A.
A little clue searching later, and it all fit together.


Nancy Hart hasn't seen much of our contest answer lately:

Keep it up with the baseball clues. Gives me a fighting chance. However, I'm from Texas -- would you remind me what a rain delay is?

Same reminder needed for Richard Kalustian:

Matt, this meta was definitely unfair to fans in cities with roofed or domed stadiums. We haven't had a rain delay in Seattle since the days of the Pilots. (Though there was that time when some tiles fell from the ceiling of the KingDome.)

I reluctantly let 47-down into the grid, but Eric LeVasseur says not to worry:

I have no problem with seeing ALPENA in a puzzle - but then again, I'm originally from Michigan, so I know of the city (though admittedly I've never been there). Being the largest town in a sparsely populated part of the state, they'd show it on the local news weather maps all the time.

And finally, Mark Navarrete found a (serendipitous) red herring:

Before I realized that it actually meant commas, I'd been thinking that "nine pauses" might be a sneaky way of saying "nine PA uses". There were exactly 9 instances of the bigram PA appearing in a word in the clues (PART 1/2/3 of directions, accomPAnied, PAternity, Toronto PAper, Tenant counterPArt, pitchfork PArts, and A PANEL anag.) Coincidence?

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 140 correct entries received, is Steve Jorgensen of Columbia, Mo. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Steve will also receive a one-year subscription to Liz Gorski's Crossword Nation. Next week's winner will receive the same.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is a common form of transportation.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer 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 (1,552 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

8/18/11

MGWCC #168 -- Friday, August 19th, 2011 -- "Summer Break"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 168 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:

I'm glad this isn't one of those months where everyone who gets all the metas wins a prize! After a record-busting 392 entrants got Week 1, a record-busting 403 solvers found the FLAMINGO as Week 2's contest answer hotel.

There was just one theme entry in the grid, DOUBLES DOWN at 17-d, clued as {Employs a blackjack tactic, or figures out this puzzle's theme}. That was meant literally, as eight symmetrically-placed squares in the grid became double letters on the down entry:

2-d OF(F)LINE
11-d IL(L) AT EASE
28-d A(A)RP
9-d MIA HAM(M)
43-d I (I)NSIST (That's "I insist!," an easy double to overlook)
38-d PEN(N)
35-d ROBIN EG(G)S
46-D ONE-RO(O)M

Read line by line those eight spell out FLAMINGO, the venerable Vegas landmark that's the oldest hotel on the Strip (it opened in 1946). Also note that those eight are the only double letters in the entire grid, which was this grid's real challenge to pull off. Double letters are insidiously easy to overlook; in fact, I had DOUBLED DOWN at 17-d for a long time until I was suddenly mortified to notice that DD straddling its words! Three panicky seconds later I realized I could change the first D to an S. Talk about lucky...

Dar(r)en Mitchel(l) writes:

Thanks, I realy enjoyed the puzle this wek.

Matt Matera
says:

I don't know if I have more than one leg to stand on here, but I think the answer is the Flamingo.

Mark Diehl got FLAMINGO:

...in which the even letters are consecutive letters...the four my grandkids like to slur into one

Justin Redd is:

Heading to Vegas this weekend for a bachelor party

Hmmm -- after solving this puzzle, I wonder which color he should bet on at the roulette table?

Jeremy Horwitz is headed there, too:

I bought plane tickets to Vegas yesterday. I would've been a bit spooked had MANDALAYBAY been the answer this week.

Laura Effinger-Dean found some un-PC humor:

I had MEN instead of HES at 54-across for a long time, and could not
fathom what was so scary about a MAC.


Michael Farabaugh didn't have to anagram:

Nice theme. I didn't think there was a hotel called "Main Golf" or "Fang Limo"

Chris McCoy found an alternate defintion for FLAMING "O":

Or what happens when you throw an OATY Cheerio into a BONFIRE.

Jeff Mizrahi suggests a way to monetize my site:

they should give you a cut if people say you referred them there.

Tim Noonan didn't fall for a plausible trap:

Got doubles down immediately and thought it would be New York New York.

Sheila O'Keefe likewise dodged some trouble:

Somehow I missed the N in my first pass collecting the missing doubles and spent a few minutes trying to anagram "FMLAGIO", which led me to try to convince the F and M to become a B and E, but obbline just wasn't a word (and yeah, I would have needed another L). Then I saw flamingo, if only I had an N. Sure enough, there it was in Penn.

As did Tony Antonakas:

At first glance I assumed it was a rebus puzzle with the clue for 26D leading to AARP, but soon hit on the DOUBLES DOWN theme. As the first letters I got were G, I, A, and M, I was sure the answer had to be The Mirage and the letters would be anagrammed. Good thing I waited to finish and got the remaining letters.

And finally, Dan Chall wonders:

Does the "double down" hint at feathers?

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 403 correct entries received, is Barbara Hartwell of Framingham, Mass. Barbara has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Golf Crosswords.

SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK AND NEXT:

Elizabeth Gorski is one of the very best constructors out there. You knew that -- but did you know that she has a new site called Crossword Nation? Each Tuesday Liz is publishing a new 15x15 available by subscription only (99 cents per month) for your PDA.

In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, winners this week and next will receive a one-year subscription to Crossword Nation (and a copy of Stand Alone to solve it on if they don't already own one).

But why wait to win? Go ahead and subscribe to Crossword Nation yourself.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a common kind of summer break.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer break 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 (1,548 members now!). To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here. [OK, Blogger isn't letting me do the normal hyperlinks in this paragraph, so please refer to links in last week's post for now]





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

8/12/11

MGWCC #167 -- Friday, August 12th, 2011 -- "Strip Search"


Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 167 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:

A new MGWCC record! 392 solvers found the CATCHER as last week's contest answer, far surpassing our previous high of 364. Instructions asked for one of the nine baseball positions, and the four theme entries pointed right at a masked man:

BENCH PRESS
CROUCHING TIGER
HOME ON THE RANGE
MITT ROMNEY



So we have (greatest catcher of all time, it's generally agreed) Johnny BENCH CROUCHING at HOME plate with his catcher's MITT, making our contest answer clear.

Bruce Sutphin had no trouble with the meta:

Thanks for a nice fat pitch down the center to start the month off.

Neil Bellovin knocked it out of the park as well:

Got Mitt Romney and knew right away. Now for a change I have more time this weekend.

Tyler Hinman writes:

I spent several seconds looking at 2D wondering who the hell "Business Bart" is.

Dave Sullivan wanted a different theme entry:

Being from Boston, I would have been more partial to FISK UNIVERSITY.

And finally, Mark Ballinger found a funny idea at 10-d:

I was hoping "chichi" would be involved as an interleague games meta clue.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 392 correct entries received, is Mandy Scott of Rockford, Mich. Mandy has selected as her prize an autographed copy of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Brain Games.

YOU SAID A BAD WORD!


The entry at 20-across raised a few eyebrows last week. I normally put a "vulgarity alert" in the blog post on the rare occasions when I use a blue word in the grid, and indeed simply forgot to do so this time.

My view on using cusswords in crosswords is the same as using them in general life: sparingly and only when truly necessary...or when it would be extremely funny. Otherwise you just come across as a 20-across.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer hotel 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 (1,547 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

8/4/11

MGWCC #166 -- Friday, August 5th, 2011 -- "Position Paper"


Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 166 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:

A Caribbean mystery: four vertical two-word theme entries last week, where the top words were of obvious French origin and the bottom words were maritime terms. What island do these clues point us to?


Those bottom words held a secret: their key feature was not their relation to the sea, but rather their derivation, which is much less obvious than their French counterparts': FREEBOOTER, SMUGGLER, YACHT and KEELHAULING all come from Dutch. Once that insight hits the rest is just a Google away: SAINT MARTIN / SINT MAARTEN is the only Caribbean island that's French up north and Dutch down south, making it our contest answer island.

Jonathan Olsen thought the meta was:

Tres goed!

Miss Kali asks:

I wonder how many 'Jamaican me crazy' jokes you're gonna get...

A little research paid off for Karen Horn:

I wouldn't have noticed the etymologies from the Dutch, except I looked up to confirm that the first parts were all French, and got curious about the others so I looked them up also.

While Clare Farris's meta research unearthed an amusing tropical redundancy:

There is a place in the Bahamas called Little Petit Island!

Peggy Johnson had the a-ha moment:

I spent two days mulling over the French answers, thinking it must be a French island. But that was not definitive. Which island? Then the aha moment hit when I googled the "English" words under the French. Voila! They were all of Dutch origin. By god, I think I've got it! Didn't I see the island of St. Martin as controlled by both the French and Dutch? And isn't the French portion north of the Dutch portion. There were the French words sitting atop the Dutch in the four long answers. I had wondered at the significance of the vertical long answers right from the beginning. Now that made sense. Boy, did I learn a lot about pirates of the Caribbean islands!

Ed Brody wasn't going to miss this one:

Saint Martin/Sint Maarten was our honeymoon destination umpty-ump years ago, so perhaps I had an unfair advantage.

Mark Taylor
had a big advantage, too:

OK, now that's hilarious. As you may remember I mailed in my incorrect answer last week FROM ST. MAARTEN. The cruise ship internet was impossibly slow - and 65 cents a minute - and didn't allow me to print, so I just guessed Hanging Gardens (Colossus was my 2nd mental choice, oh well).

And to confirm - yes the French part is still on top and the Dutch part still on the bottom.


Speaking of not being able to print out the puzzle, here's Ed Brody's solve of MGWCC #161:

I was visiting friends in coastal Maine where I could see the puzzle on my Droid, but had no other internet or printer access. So I had to go hunting for a piece of paper...



(click image to enlarge -- and that's a coffee filter!)


















This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 116 correct entries received, is Andy Arizpe of Austin, Tex. Andy has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

54 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all five of July's challenges (DELTA, MATCHBOX, TALK SHOW, THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES, SAINT MARTIN/SINT MAARTEN). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Jimmy Dale -- Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Meg Duvall -- St. Petersburg, Fla.

Laura Effinger-Dean -- Seattle, Wash.

C Fogarty -- West Windsor, N.J.

Nathan Fung -- Brighton, Mass.

John Lenning -- Irvine, Calif.

Christy Meisler -- Somerville, Mass.

Marcia Rose -- Mequon, Wisc.

Adam Rosenfield -- Cambridge, Mass.

Peter Washington -- Oakland, Calif.


Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 5-for-5 in July.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is one of the nine baseball positions. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer position 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 (1,545 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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