9/29/11

MGWCC #174 -- Friday, Sept. 30th, 2011 -- "Mean Mr. Meta"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 174 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:

Another toughie last week, though you wouldn't know it from the scoreboard: 221 solvers found UTAH as our contest answer. That's a large number for Week 4 of a five-puzzle month, but perhaps half of that number hadn't fully understood the meta gimmick.

You had to put one letter in UTAH in each of four symmetrical corners to complete four words there, including the theme entries (see solution at left). For example, in the SE, a U on the corner completes CROSS CO(U)SIN, AND I Q(U)OTE, Q(U)ADS and A(U)SSI. Similarly:

In the NE, the corner T completes AT A JUNC(T)ION, QUI(T)O, C(T)RL, and TOR(T)OLA.

In the NW, the corner A completes T-FR(A)ME MOTOR, COM(A)NCHES, IOW(A)N and STR(A)W.

In the SW, the corner H completes RIG(H)T CORNER, ALO(H)A OE, BA(H)T and O(H) GOD.

Put those four corners together and you've got one of the four corners states, UTAH. Further hinting at the gimmick, each theme entry contained a synonym for "intersection" (cross, junction, T, corner).

Dan Seidman writes:

Would have been cool if Zion was in the bottom left. And if nothing was in the top right.

With a similar notion, Joel Horn:

Would have been cool if you made the meta clues L-shaped, like the state.


And sorta like this:

http://www.patrickblindauer.com/play.html

Finally, Rick Bibby corrects one of my theme clues:

A "T-frame motor" is not shaped like a T. 'T Frame' is simply a standard frame size of an electric motor.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 221 correct entries received, is Leon Glass of Montreal, Que. Leon has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

CROSSWORD CLUING CONTEST:

This is interesting: you can win cool prizes not by solving a crossword, but by cluing one single word more cleverly than anyone else. Find out the word (and the rules) here:

http://www.crosswordnation.com/fall-gala-crossword-giveaway

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a well-known Beatles 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 (1,574 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

9/21/11

MGWCC #173 -- Friday, September 23rd, 2011 -- "State Lines"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 173 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:

OK, that was a lot tougher than I'd intended! After 410 and then 376 correct answers arrived for weeks 1 and 2, just 93 solvers found ROME as last week's contest answer capital, which means I severely underestimated the difficulty of this meta. That's a number I'd aim for on the fourth or fifth week of a month, not the third.

Solvers were asked to find "a European capital I've never laid eyes on." That and the title hinted at eyesight, and the puzzle's one obvious theme entry hinted at lack of eyesight: {Unfair puzzle square} at 36-across led to BLIND CROSSING, that horrible situation where the band you've never heard of and an Icelandic river cross in your crossword grid, leaving you guessing at the letter.

With BRAILLE at 12-down, some suspicious-looking clumps of black squares, and three entries clued identically as {Dot follower}, many solvers reported spending a long time looking for a Braille message hidden in the grid. That was an evil (and mostly unintentional) red herring, as the meta's secret lay in the literal "blind crossings" of eight famous blind people:

In the NE, Louis BRAILLE and Greek poet HOMER crossed at the R;
In the NW, John MILTON and Stevie WONDER crossed at the O;
In the SW, jazzman Art TATUM and Biblical figure SAMSON crossed at the M;
And in the SE, Ray CHARLES and Helen KELLER crossed at the E.

Put those four blind crossings together and you get ROME, which I do hope to lay eyes on someday.

Like so many solvers this week, John L. Wilson had to take a random stab (his was VATICAN CITY):

After ruling out Lisbon, that left only ~45 others to consider...

Debbie Keller did, too (her stab was REYKJAVIK):

ARRGGHH! I just can't see it! I was so excited to find my last name in the puzzle! I even raised a guide dog (puppy) last year for Leader Dogs for the Blind here in Rochester Hills. So you'd think I could solve this meta! But my answer is a total shot in the dark...

While Jeff Davidson almost sent in a city in Utah before coming to his senses:

I was all ready to submit "OREM" because I knew it was a place *somewhere* before I decided to check to make sure it was in Europe. Whoops. Then I figured you must have made that mistake, too. Then I figured I should check a list of capitals somewhere, starting with O... nothing. What about R?

Oh... duh.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 93 correct entries received, is Todd Etter of Alexandria, Va. Todd has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

PRINTING ISSUES:

Several solvers have reported printing difficulties with the new .pdf printable format. If you're one of them, note that you can also print directly from the Across Lite file; either join the Google Group to get it by e-mail each Friday, or just click "Download Crossword for Across Lite" under the AL applet on the blog.

MATT GAFFNEY'S DAILY CROSSWORD:

I've just started a new daily crossword feature which I've creatively labeled "Matt Gaffney's Daily Crossword" (MGDC). Wednesday was puzzle #0001, and there'll be a new one up at 6 AM each weekday from now until the end of time.

MGDC puzzles are 11x13 in size, lightly themed, and on the easy side; a Monday MGDC will be significantly less difficult than a Monday New York Times puzzle, while a Friday MGDC will be about as tough as a Tuesday Times. No contest or meta, either, so if you have friends who like crosswords but find MGWCC a little rough, send them on over to MGDC.

The site's still bare-bones but I'll spruce it up over the coming week. Here it is:

http://mattgaffneydaily.blogspot.com/


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a U.S. state.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer state 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 (1,570 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

9/15/11

MGWCC #172 -- Friday, September 16th, 2011 -- "The Vision Thing"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 172 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:

Which of the 6 SIMPLE MACHINES was missing from last week's puzzle? 376 solvers figured that meta-mystery out last week. Let's take a look at the theme entries:


17-a PUSH OVER THE EDGE
22-a NATHAN LANE
34-a BRING TO HEEL
42-a HAVE YOU EVER
50-a MOTLEY CREW

See the pattern? The last word of each theme entry is one of the simple machines with its head lopped off: (W)EDGE, inclined (P)LANE, (W)HEEL and axle, (L)EVER, and (S)CREW. The only one missing is the PULLEY, making that our contest answer machine.

Zack Stiefler says:

Hanks or he reat uzzle his eek.

Joel Horn points out something you can do with the leftovers:

Shortest word with the letters you omitted (WPWLS) is snowplow, which
is a combination wedge/inclined plane.


Tyler Hinman
thinks I could've snuck the sixth one in, too:

Oh, come on. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulley

Charles Montpetit appreciated the geographical exactitude:

Since I only knew one of these South Yorkshire villages, I had no idea that it was part of a "familiar sextet." But I have to marvel at the way you once again managed to approximate their respective locations in the grid. Kudos!



[Note: this is a complete joke! Please don't go looking for any of these (except Ulley) in an atlas.]











And Mary Lou Perry writes:

So nice to see that 6 in the lower left - Henry Hook-esque, which, to me, is high praise!

To me, too! I'll take it.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 376 correct entries received, is Jeff Merriman of Columbia, S.C. Jeff has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a European capital I've never laid eyes on. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer capital 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 (1,571 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

9/9/11

MGWCC #171 -- Friday, September 9th, 2011 -- "Building Locks"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 171 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:


For the third time in five puzzles, a record number of correct entries poured into MGWCC international headquarters last week. 410 solvers had no trouble spotting the EAST COAST as our contest answer region, formed by anagramming the words in EAST and COAST (separately) into nonsense phrases:


SATE TOSCA
SEAT TACOS
EATS ASCOT
TASE COATS

Amy Reynaldo
had quite a view for it:

I was up in the CN Tower in Toronto when the quake hit! The tower moved. My first noticed quake!

Linda Graham
was unimpressed:

I've already submitted my answer, but I wanted to assure you that we Californians use an earthquake like you had in Virginia as a coffee stirrer.

But Clare Farris sticks up for our little quake:

I grew up in the Los Angeles area and experienced some good ones--notably Whittier and Northridge--but I've lived on the EAST COAST now for the past 15 years.

Californians had a good chuckle at people's reaction to the Mineral event, but let me tell you: it scared the *&%# out of me! We live in bricks here! Bricks are great protection against one thing: wolves. For earthquakes you're much better off sticking with straw or wood.

While Jonathon Brown writes from Mozambique:

Didn't quite feel the quake over here.


And Ben Henri is just glad to have time for crosswords again:

Anyone who gripes at teachers for "having the summers off" needs to live a summer in my shoes. Too busy to even do the Matt Gaffney puzzles until school RESUMES!


And finally, there was a quirk in the crossword I was wondering if anyone would notice. Chip Van Kirk came through:

If you had changed the A at the ARNIE and ALTON intersection to an E (resulting in very legitimate ERNIE and ELTON words), you would have had IRENE anagrammed in the center of the puzzle.

Extremely observant! I wrote this puzzle after Irene had first hit, and I was under the mistaken impression at that time than she was petering out and that no lives were going to be lost. I had ERNIE and ELTON in there, and had clued the former as {Gender-bent hurricane, after the quake?}.

When I found out that Irene had claimed quite a few lives, I thought it'd be in poor taste to use the hurricane in the grid. So I changed the E to an A to "make sure" no one would notice it, but then I thought, "I wonder if anyone will..." And they did!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 410 correct entries received, is Rachel Melman of San Francisco, Calif. (appropriate city, given the theme). In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Rachel will also receive an autographed copy of The Penguin Classics Crossword Puzzles, the lovely new book edited by Ben Tausig.

FORTNIGHTLY SQUARESVILLE:

Jeffrey Harris is posting a new themed crossword every two weeks at his new web digs, Squaresville Puzzles. May a thousand independent crossword sites bloom!

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is the missing member of a familiar sextet. 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 (1,562 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

9/1/11

MGWCC #170 -- Friday, September 2, 2011 -- "Quaker States"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 170 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:


104 solvers found an ESCALATOR running northeasterly through last week's grid along the central black squares.

Those solvers noticed that putting the letters in ESCALATOR on those nine squares still allowed valid answers for the 18 acrosses on either side. Starting from the bottom of the escalator, for example, {Part of a matador's getup} at 45-a works for either CAP or CAPE.

Similarly:

42-a {What's heard in church on Sunday} = AMEN or AMENS
39-a {Ending for mono or ego} = MANIA or MANIAC
33-a {Woman's name from the Hebrew for "God is gracious"} = JOANN or JOANNA
31-a {Part of a wooden door} = PANE or PANEL
29-a {Section of a tax form} = LINE or LINE A
26-a {Cut finely} = FILE or FILET
23-a {Blue material} = PORN or PORNO
19-a {One of the Beatles, e.g.} = STAR or STARR

And on the other side of the escalator:

46-a {Common medium of communication} = MAIL or E-MAIL
43-a {Pulverize} = MASH or SMASH
40-a {Standard iPhone feature} = LOCK or CLOCK
35-a {Came up} ROSE or AROSE
32-a {Character in an Ogden Nash poem} = LAMA or LLAMA
30-a {Like some of Schoenberg's music} = TONAL or ATONAL
27-a {"___ your problem..."} = HERE'S or THERE'S
24-a {It's great in Greece} = MEGA or OMEGA
21-a {A figure 8 may be made in it} = INK or RINK

All of which makes the humble ESCALATOR our contest answer.

Great minds think alike: first, Jon Delfin:

What, you couldn't make it work with the pairs of Downs, too? Slacker! ;-)


And now Jeffrey Harris:

What, you couldn't get the downs to work too? Slacker ;-P

(And no, those two didn't confer on their e-mails!)

Neville Fogarty
turned his Mom C Fogarty on to MGWCC this summer, and she didn't waste any time: not only did C get all the metas right in July, but she was also picked for a monthly prize. Neville was impressed, and C got the first three metas in August, too -- but he figured last week's killer would finally stump her:

Very nice! We'll see if mom gets this one!

Here's what happened, as C writes:

Neville was shocked when I told him the answer was escalator. He asked me how I got it. I just looked at the grid - it looks like an escalator. Then he told me how he did it with the "missing" letters. Oh well. At least I got it!

Eric Prestemon had an epic solve, which you can read about here:

http://solvingpuzzles.tumblr.com/post/9656334149/mgwcc-169-moving-day

And finally, Russ Cooper plots the ups and downs of his journey to meta nirvana:

This one gave my self esteem a wild ride right into the ground:

1. Noticed the pattern of black squares right away, and
thought, "stairs or escalator." Felt pretty smart.

2. Counted the black squares in the middle diagonal, and
noted strong correlation with the number of letters in
"escalator." Felt really smart.

3. Worked the puzzle on paper, but had to Google to verify
Eddie Money and spelling of Abu Dhabi. Felt sort of
stupid.

4. Looked around the middle diagonal for something useful, but
failed. Felt stupid.

5. Decided to type the puzzle solution into Across Lite
because I couldn't think of anything else to do. Still
felt stupid.

6. Noticed the Ringo thing while typing. Aha! Felt really
smart.

7. Worked out the remaining missing letters. Still felt
really smart.

8. Wrote them down, in order: ROTALACSE. Couldn't anagram
that in my head. Felt sort of stupid.



9. Broke out my anagram software and watched it spit out
"escalator." Felt really stupid.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 104 correct entries received, is Owen Dolan of Brooklyn, N.Y. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Owen will receive a 1-year subscription to Liz Gorski's exciting new project, Crossword Nation.

MONTHLY PRIZES:


66 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of August's challenges (CATCHER, FLAMINGO, RAIN DELAY, ESCALATOR). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Russ Cooper -- Phoenix, Ariz.

Benjamin Hall -- Chicago, Ill.

John Lenning -- Irvine, Calif.

Mike Lewis -- Cedar Falls, Ia.

Eric Maddy -- Huntington Beach, Calif.

Pete Muller

Jill Palmer -- Leverett, Mass.

Michael Utkus -- Bala Cynwyd, Penna.

Mike Weepie -- Cedar Rapids, Ia.

Scott Weiss -- Walkersville, Md.


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


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is a region of the United States. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by WEDNESDAY at noon ET (note extra day for the holiday weekend). Please put the contest answer region 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 (1,557 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.

SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK:


In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, next week's winner will receive a copy of The Penguin Classics Crossword Puzzles, the lovely new book edited by Ben Tausig (who will autograph the prize). This book features literary-themed crosswords by dozens of familiar constructors, including one by yours truly.





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