10/27/11

MGWCC #178 -- Friday, Oct. 28th, 2011 -- THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER, PUZZLE #4 -- "A Time to Cull"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 178 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.

MUSHROOMS FOR EVERYONE:

The Great Deity brought the spirits of the dead back to life: from a tribe of 211, 275(?!?!) enjoyed non-toxic mushrooms last week (more metaphysical details on this seeming impossibility below). The Eaters-of-Apple-and-Okra tribe now count 171 surviving members entering the final week of our hunt.

8-down instructed tribal members to LOOK FOR DOUBLE M'S to locate the seven mushroom patches, and indeed there were seven MM's in the grid (see solution at right). But which of these three were poisonous?

Any reader of fairy tales knows that you don't eat a toadstool. Merriam-Webster backs this wisdom (emphasis added):

Definition of TOADSTOOL
: a fungus having an umbrella-shaped pileus : mushroom; especially : a poisonous or inedible one as distinguished from an edible mushroom

With this knowledge it's easy to pick out the three MM's with a TOAD sitting atop them (they're toad-stools, get it?): eMMys in the upper-right, aMMo in the center and aMMan in the lower-left were the three poisonous patches, which enabled successful Wise Shaman-chosen tasters to eat only from the four non-toxic patches.

I was quite liberal in accepting any answer that indicated the correct areas of the grid. Even simple entries like "Under the toadstools" were counted as correct, as were the handful of entries that didn't fully grok the toadstool concept, but did find TOADs sitting on the three relevant mushrooms and submitted their locations.

Rich Dobkin asks:

So what's the morel of the story?

Mark Manuel
writes about himself:

It would be a bad day if a guy with the initials MM missed this meta.


And Alan Neely says:

This Wise Shaman seems like a pretty fungi to me.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 275 correct entries received, is Chuck Cooper of Shalimar, Fla. Chuck has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Brain Games.

THE FINAL HUNT:

The Wise Shaman leads us from the mushroom patch. Many were saved from starvation, and many spirits of departed brothers and sisters returned as if visions of the future guided them from beyond the physical world.

Only 171 members of our tribe remain; can the Wise Shaman lead us from winter’s crush? Now only his skill avoids starvation for our tribe; only with a successful hunt of big game will we find enough meat to avoid starvation during the winter; only with luck, we’ll survive; only his words get us there.

The Shaman places (while sitting on a rock) a mushroom in his mouth to confer with the Great Deity. The tribe surveys the unfamiliar landscape; instead of lush savannah for hunting, our surroundings look bleak, despite the Wise Shaman’s reassurances. We see little but scrub brush, small trees and the occasional rock, with dangerous cliffs off in the distance. In a daze of madness the Wise Shaman wanders off alone towards a small, distant hill.

In a few hours the Wise Shaman returns, walking slowly and holding the eyeless, eerie skull of a large animal. He has recently convened with the Great Deity, it is plain to all members of your people. His head gyrates back and forth as the tribe looks on in hopeful wonder.

“We must continue forward,” the Wise Shaman finally announces to members of the tribe. “The Great Deity says that we must forsake our traditional, bountiful hunting grounds. Though the land here appears lifeless, I am promised by the Deity that great herds of game lie just one more day’s travel through this barren land.”

The tribe appears hopeful but fearful as they move forward across the dusty undergrowth. Hours of travel pass without spotting a single animal, but still you dream of bountiful herds of big game. Perhaps they will appear on the horizon at any moment, if the Great Deity speaks the truth.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the big game you must hunt to save your tribe AND the precise method you use to kill your quarry. E-mail them to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer game and method in the subject line of your e-mail.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You may still enter the contest even if you've missed one or more of the first three weeks of H40! You won't be eligible for the monthly prizes, of course, but you can still win the weekly prize.

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 (1,587 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

10/21/11

MGWCC #177 -- Friday, Oct. 21st, 2011 -- THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER, PUZZLE #3 -- "Poisonous Mushrooms"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 177 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.

THE SECOND HUNT:


218 solvers found a calorie-filled patch of OKRA last week, which means 211 members of our tribe have survived to forage further.

Instructions asked for a four-letter vegetable, and successful gatherers noticed a four-letter vegetable hiding in each of the five theme entries:

17-a TOOK A LEFT --> KALE
26-a SLEEK LOOK --> LEEK
36-a MUNGO PARK --> MUNG
52-a SENORITAS --> NORI
60-a SLEEP EASY --> PEAS

The first letters of these five almost form an alphabetical sequence: K, L, M, N, P. As suggested by the title, we're looking for a sequence from K to P, and all that's missing is an O. The only four-letter vegetable starting with O is that famous gumbo ingredient, OKRA, making it our contest answer.

Peace Corps volunteer Jonathon Brown writes that our answer is:

Something that i coOK RArely here in Mozambique even though it's
available.


Cole Kendall asks:

Couldn't fit BOOKRACKS into your grid?


Similarly, Laura Effinger-Dean suggests:

COSMO KRAMER?

Len Elliott
says:

...hope I didn't miss a "beet."

While Milo Beckman exclaims:

I found a TOMATO!



















And finally, Dan Chall was mystified by the meta, but sent in this memorable line:

PEAS/NORI/MUNG/KALE/LEEK anagrams to "Gamekeeper kills a noun," so that suggests the answer is a verb.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 218 correct entries received, is Ben Henri of Royal Oak, Mich. Ben has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Golf Crosswords.

THE HUNT CONTINUES:



To neighboring groups, our tribe is known as "eaters-of-apple-and-okra," but this week we must expand our search. Evening comes more swiftly now, and our fields of apple and okra are depleted to nothing. We search desperately for new sources of nourishment as we travel towards the hunting grounds for next week's big game hunt. If we make it there alive, there is hope for finding enough meat to survive the winter. But we are all weak and hungry, desperate for anything edible.

The Wise Shaman has led us to a field containing seven patches of mushrooms. Before we can begin eating he raps our hands with his staff and warns us of the danger of poison. Devouring a single mushroom cap (from his pocket, you notice), he convulses in spasms as his eyes turn wild -- and we realize he is communicating with the Great Deity.

When his moments of divine madness pass, he informs us that though this bountiful field contains seven patches of mushrooms, three of these patches are poisonous. We need all the nourishment the four edible patches contain, so we must discover which three are lethal to our tongues and which are not.

With a final, frightening wave of his staff, the Wise Shaman points directly at YOU and declares, "This must be our taster -- go forth and eat one mushroom from four patches. We pray that you choose wisely." And with that, he collapses into exhaustion -- as the other 210 surviving eaters-of-apple-and-okra turn their hopeful, desperate gazes towards you.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the location of the three poisonous mushroom patches (I accidentally called them "fields" in 8-down; same thing, though). A simple description of each of the three locations is sufficient. E-mail them to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer locations in the subject line of your e-mail (or as much of the description as you can fit into the subject line -- might be tough to get it all in there this week).

IMPORTANT NOTE: You may still enter the contest even if you've missed one of the first two weeks! You won't be eligible for the monthly prizes, of course, but you can still win the weekly prize.

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 (1,584 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.






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

10/13/11

MGWCC #176 -- Friday, Oct. 14th, 2011 -- THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER, PUZZLE #2 -- "KP Duty"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 176 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.

THE FIRST HUNT:

A little tricky for Week 1, but nature must winnow the pack on her own cruel timetable. 351 hunter-gatherers found an APPLE as our fruit of the month, suggested by the first words of the five theme entries:


I KNEW THAT (or "i KNEW THAT," to mimic the company's lowercase i)
MAC 'N' CHEESE (the famous Mac computers)
SAFARI SHIRT (Safari is Apple's web browser)
STEVE YOUNG (referencing either of Apple's two co-founders, Steve Wozniak or...)
JOB'S TEARS (referencing Apple's recently-deceased CEO, Steve Jobs)




He was indeed young and there were tears. Ask Dana Hahn, who writes:

iSad.

While Leo Stein mentions that:

This crossword puzzle was solved on a Mac.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 351 correct entries received, is William Bernhardt of Midwest City, Okla. William has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Brain Games.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

Our Hunt continues with a tribe of 351! This week's contest answer is a four-letter vegetable. IMPORTANT NOTE: We're using the everyday, expansive definition of "vegetable" this week, so don't think too technically along that front. If you think something might be reasonably considered a vegetable, it is one for our purposes. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer vegetable 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 (1,578 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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

10/6/11

MGWCC# 175 -- Friday, Oct. 7th, 2011 -- THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER, PUZZLE #1 -- "Fruitful Endeavors"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 175 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:



Last week was a 5th Friday, and the meta was brutal: just 103 solvers found the correct contest answer song, which was OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA.

Six theme entries ran through the grid, identifiable not just from their lengths but also from their curious enumerations:

17-a {Symbol of peace (5,6)} = DOVES FLYING
25-a {One of the ten largest cities in the U.S. (3,7)} SAN ANTONIO
30-a {Visiting briefly (8,2)} = STOPPING BY
42-a {Occult "game equipment" (5,5)} = TAROT CARDS
48-a {Cause of a sprinter's leg pain (6,4)} = MUSCLE TEAR
57-a {"Harlem Nights"} actor, 1989 (5,6)} = EDDIE MURPHY

The obvious question was: why the enumerations? The non-obvious answer: each of these six clues has an alternate answer that also fits the given enumerations. Another famous (5,6) symbol of peace, for example, is an OLIVE BRANCH. Here are all six:

17-a OLIVE BRANCH
25-a LOS ANGELES
30-a DROPPING IN
42-a OUIJA BOARD
48-a LACTIC ACID
57-a DANNY AIELLO

The initials of these six alternate answers, emboldened above, spell out our contest answer song, whose Wikipedia page is quite fascinating.

Joel Rosenberg writes:

HELP!...I cant solve the meta

The rarely-stumped Jeffrey Krasnick submitted the great Beatles tune I'M A LOSER, with the explanation:

I know it is wrong, but it is accurate.

John L. Wilson got the meta, but appended:

Fallback was "We Can't Work It Out."


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 103 correct entries received, is Eric Suess of Pocatello, Ida. Eric has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.

COOL FIND IN MGWCC #173:

I forgot to mention this last week, but 11 solvers spotted an interesting find in the UTAH meta. I'll let Cory Oldweiler explain:

Interesting to see the solution to last week. I sent IOWA because if you take the RIGHT CORNER of each of the intersections, it spells IOWA.

Isn't that a coincidence? I didn't accept IOWA as a correct alt-answer for several reasons: 1) that theme entry is just RIGHT CORNER, but it'd need to specify UPPER RIGHT CORNER to be accurate, since it could just as well be the lower-right corner; 2) that answer doesn't explain the other three theme entries; and 3) the W in IOWA is taken from the entry IOWAN, which takes some of the shine off it. Still, a cool little Easter Egg.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

38 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all five of September's challenges (EAST COAST, PULLEY, ROME, UTAH and OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Jeff Davidson -- Mountain View, Calif.

Todd Etter -- Alexandria, Va.

Cheryl Faba -- Detroit, Mich.

Brandon Hensley -- Princeton, N.J.

Brent Holman -- San Francisco, Calif.

Paul Melamud -- Milford, N.J.

Joon Pahk -- Somerville, Mass.

Ned Robert -- Los Gatos, Calif.

Eric Suess -- Pocatello, Ida.

Sean Trowbridge -- Redmond, Wash.


Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 5-for-5 in September. It wasn't an easy thing to do.

JOON ON "JEOPARDY!":

You know the guy who blogs this puzzle every week on Crossword Fiend? Well, he's found a better-paying gig: Joon Pahk has won $129,400 on "Jeopardy!" over the past four nights, and he's still the reigning champ as I type this. So watch him tonight, or check out the YouTube videos of past shows here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xLZZ3eggA0

THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER:



Summer is but a memory, and the days grow shorter and colder. To you and me that means football and J. Crew sweaters, but think of our ancestors -- I'm talking about our ancient ancestors, the parts of us that have been around for 10,000 years. Before we got hip to farming and animal husbandry, the main concern this time of year would have been food.

This October, our ragtag, pencil-wielding tribe of several hundred will relive that endless, ancient process of hunting and gathering. Each week you'll be tasked with finding food, and, nature being as cruel as she is amoral, missing one week's bounty will spell your demise.

Good luck, my fellow tribal members. May our sustenance not be so well-hidden, and may our skill at locating it be great. The stomach groans already; let the hunt commence!

THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER RULES:

1) We shall refer to this month in shorthand as "H40." A pun on water, which is also kind of important.

2) Every tribal member who finds food (i.e. answers the meta correctly) for each of H40's four puzzles will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set. The stationery sets are not edible.

3) You may use any references to help you (Google, Webster's, etc.) in your quest. You may NOT confer with, give hints to, or receive help from any other participant in the Hunt! The tribal leaders do not take kindly to awful cheaters, so remain within the behavioral bounds set by our primitive society!


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is a fruit. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer fruit 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 (1,576 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.





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