5/25/12

MGWCC #208 -- Friday, May 25th, 2012 -- "Lost Island"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 208 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 WEEK BEFORE LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


OK, I'm back from my honeymoon and within about a week of getting caught up on work and life. So please bear with me -- I'm behind on sending prizes and answering e-mails, but will be back on track soon.

I forgot to pick a winner to MGWCC #206, so let's do it now: the winner of an autographed copy of Natan Last's new book Word, whose name was chosen at random from the 168 correct entries received, is James Hopkin of Orinda, Calif.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


"Oh, It's a Clue!" read the title of last week's puzzle, and indeed the five theme answers were actually clues leading to a linked group of alternate answers. They were:

HIGHLANDER = [SUV MADE BY TOYOTA]
BRAZIL = [LUSOPHONE NATION]
HOLA = [GRANADA GREETING]
BROCCOLI = [FOOD WITH FLORETS]
RICHARD GERE = [PRETTY WOMAN STAR]

Solvers noticed the clueyness of these five answers, and 90 of them found the common strain among the five: another Toyota SUV is the SEQUOIA, another Lusophone nation is MOZAMBIQUE, another Granada greeting is BUENOS DIAS, the other main food with florets is CAULIFLOWER, and the other main star of "Pretty Woman" was JULIA ROBERTS.

What do those five have in common? They're "supervocalics," or words/phrases that contain each of the five main vowels exactly one time. The only cabinet department with this same quality is EDUCATION, which was last week's contest answer. Note that the title is supervocalic itself.

LABOR was an interesting try submitted by 36 solvers. The logic is that Toyota also makes an SUV called the LANDCRUISER, ANGOLA is a Lusophone country, BUENOS DIAS is the same greeting in Spanish, OREOS may be said to have a design with florets on them, and the other star of "Pretty Woman" was of course Julia ROBERTS. Take those emboldened five letters above and you've got LABOR.

Two problems, though: that an Oreo's design features "florets" is highly debatable -- I can find a small handful of sites that refer to the cookie's design with that specific word, but it wouldn't make many people's list of "food with florets" so it'd be an unreasonable thing to expect a solver to find. And then choosing the R over the J is arbitrary in JULIA ROBERTS, since the clue references RICHARD GERE full name, not simply GERE. So no dice, but I'll admit that was pretty close (and completely unnoticed by me until people began submitting it).

Jonathon Brown sends this slice of irony from his Peace Corps post:

Oh no! I wasn't able to do the puzzle this week because I spent the
entire weekend overlanding in the back of pick-up trucks and other
vehicles one good bump from falling apart on my way to and from
Malawi. Of course the EDUCATION volunteer in MOZAMBIQUE would be
denied internet access this week due to travel!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 90 correct entries received, is Andrew Sackman of Tallahassee, Fla.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a famous one-named person.
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 (1,725 members now!) here.




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


5/18/12

MGWCC #207 -- Friday, May 18th, 2012 -- "Oh, It's a Clue!"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 207 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 writing to you from scenic Tybee Island, Georgia, where my new bride Kristin and I are spending our honeymoon (we were married last Thursday). I'm pressed for time here so doing a bare-bones post today: last week's contest answer was DARYL HANNAH, which was submitted by 168 entrants. Please read Joon Pahk's post at Crossword Fiend for an explanation of the meta. Also, I forgot to pick a winner this week so I'll do so next week.

Brian Cross explains his meta-journey:

HUH? AHA! YAY.

Dave White took an amusing wrong turn:

What a slog. My first problem was that I printed out at the same time both your puzzle and the Jonesin' puzzle you talked about on the website with the stacks of 15s. Then I did the Jonesin' puzzle and forgot I had printed out two, and so tried to solve your meta off the Jonesin' puzzle. Joon probably could've solved it somehow....I was taking the eight letters in each down column from the eight 15 letter answers, anagramming, etc.

And Anna Gundlach writes:

i stared at the scrap paper where i wrote out RADAR ABABA etc for a while complaining to myself that there were like NO clues as to who i was looking for then it jumped out at me! it's been ages since I've done one of your contests and this is a pretty apt puzzle for me to jump back in with.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is one of the 15 Cabinet departments of the U.S. government. 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 (1,724 members now!) here.




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




5/11/12

MGWCC #206 -- Friday, May 11th, 2012 -- "You CAN Go Back Again!"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 206 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:


496 solvers successfully gamed last week's meta. The theme entries were:

17-a [Not quite strong enough, as a putt] = JUST SHORT
23-a [The Aleutian Islands are there] = NORTH PACIFIC
29-a [No-risk proposition] = FREE CHANCE
40-a [Get rid of your gas guzzler, maybe] = GO ELECTRIC
45-a [Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, with "The"] = BALTIC STATES
56-a [Wave pool's location] = WATER PARK


What "well-known board game" do these point to? There are six theme entries and six chess pieces, so CHESS is obviously our contest answ -- oh, wait. Each of the twelve words in these six theme entries is the first word of a space on a certain game's board:

JUST Visiting
SHORT Line
NORTH Carolina Avenue
PACIFIC Avenue
FREE Parking
CHANCE
GO
ELECTRIC Company
BALTIC Avenue
STATES Avenue
WATER Works
PARK Place

Which makes MONOPOLY last week's contest answer.

Jason Juang quips:

I think this one is solvable without "Reading" the instructions.

Peter Gwinn writes:

Hope I got this right. I'm a little nervous because States and Pacific and North Carolina are secondary-color properties.


Amanda Yesnowitz points out:

Huh. I just realized that MONOPOLY is comprised of MONO and POLY. Whaddyaknow.

And finally, Giovanni Pagano says:

Hmm, that entry at 21-Across seems a bit familiar...maybe it's just me.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 496 correct entries received, is Andy Garman of Summit, N.J. Andy has selected as his prize an autographed copy of 20 Minute On-the-Road Crossword Puzzles.

STRETCH THOSE QUADS!

Mind-blowing freestyle from Matt Jones this week (click on May 10th). The puzzle was written in reaction to Tyler Hinman's recent piece where he (rightly) laments the quality of fill in most quad stacks. Definite Orca-bait for Themeless of the Year.


SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK:


In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, this week's contest winner will receive an autographed copy of Natan Last's new book "Word." Natan also wrote today's New York Times puzzle.


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a well-known actress.
E-mail her 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 (1,720 members now!) here.






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




5/4/12

MGWCC #205 -- Friday, May 4th, 2012 -- "On the Board"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 205 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 last of the month had been easier than expected, so I promised an extra-tough omega puzzle for April. Just 43 correct answers came in so "Mission Accomplished," though a few solvers did blitz through it quickly (such as Joon Pahk, for whom the meta took all of four minutes). It wasn't a particularly intricate meta, but it was well-hidden.

Solvers were asked to find a country in Africa, and were alerted to the existence of three possible answers. Curious! The five theme entries were:

18-a {What a party host doesn't want to hear} = I CAN'T MAKE IT
23-a {Publication since 1947} = DER SPIEGEL
38-a {1984 Grammy nominee for Album of the Year} = AN INNOCENT MAN
49-a {"Beverly Hills, 90210" actor} = IAN ZIERING
58-a {King mocking} = LESE MAJESTY

Now what? Sooner or later, successful metapuzzlers noticed that the first word of each of these five look like demonym endings. But which place names do -I, -DER, -AN, -IAN, and -LESE go with? Many solvers reported scouring African demonym lists, but the key was closer at hand: each of the first four theme entries crosses a place name that takes its first word as its demonym ending. So I CAN'T MAKE IT crosses OMAN, and "Oman" takes that I to make "Omani." Similarly:

DER SPIEGEL crosses MICHIGAN, which takes the DER to make "Michigander"
AN INNOCENT MAN crosses EL PASO, which takes the AN to make "El Pasoan"
IAN ZIERING crosses EGYPT, which takes the IAN to make "Egyptian"


LESE MAJESTY is the odd man out, crossing no place name that takes an -LESE. So we're looking for an African nation that adds those four letters to make its demonym, and our three choices -- and three meta answers -- are TOGO, which makes Togolese, and either of the two CONGO countries (Republic of the Congo or the Democratic Republic of the Congo), either of whose people are called Congolese.

The most popular incorrect answer was TANZANIA (17 guesses), due mainly to the suspicious number of letters it shares with IAN ZIERING. And note that SENEGAL is close but no cigar, since it only adds the -ESE.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 43 correct entries received, is Laura Dove of Longmeadow, Mass. Laura has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Spanish-English Crossword Puzzles.

ERRATUM:

Many solvers (Charles Montpetit was first, like last week) pointed out that "Robert De Niro's Waiting" at 42-a is a song by Bananarama, not Ani DiFranco as I had it.

MONTHLY PRIZES:


33 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of April's challenges (DAIRY QUEEN, APPALACHIAN TRAIL, SECONDARY COLORS, TOGO/CONGO). The following fifteen lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Andy Arizpe -- Austin, Tex.

Philip Chow -- Elmhurst, N.Y.

Joe Fendel -- Berkeley, Calif.

Neville Fogarty -- Lexington, Ky.

Nathan Fung -- Brighton, Mass.

Tyler Hinman -- San Francisco, Calif.

Janette Mosher -- Warroad, Minn.

Matthew Perez-Stable -- Fairview Park, O.

Eric Prestemon -- Woodside, Calif.

Brett Rose -- Chicago, Ill.

Dan Seidman -- Watertown, Mass.

Jason Shapiro -- New York City, N.Y.

Steve Tice -- Great Falls, Va.

Peter Washington -- Oakland, Calif.

Stephen Williams -- Holbrook, Mass.


The following five winners of a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set were chosen randomly from the group of solvers who answered PRIMARY COLORS to the Week 3 meta AND correctly solved the month's other three metas:

Ken Crowell -- Halifax, N.S.

J.F.

Bob Johnson -- Ambler, Penna.

John Lenning -- Irvine, Calif.

J.T. Williams -- Pasadena, Calif.



OO LA LA:

C'est un jeu de mots croisés bonne, N'est-ce pas?


MULLER MONTHLY MUSIC META GOES LIVE:

Pete Muller's new monthly music meta is up and running! Subscribe (for free) here and he'll send you the first puzzle (deadline is Monday, so hop to it). The puzzle took me 7 minutes and the meta took 2.


MAY GRYPTICS CONTEST:

You know what to do!


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a well-known board game.
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 (1,712 members now!) here.






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