6/29/12

MGWCC #213 -- Friday, June 29th, 2012 -- "Special Occasion"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 213 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:

Each of last week's six theme entries sported a peculiar tag on its clue:

17-a [Skedaddled (bid on it)] = TOOK A POWDER
25-a [Interviewer born to North Carolina tobacco farmers (look it up, or just bid on it)] = CHARLIE ROSE
31-a [Doesn't make the best decision on a used car (bid on it)] = GETS A LEMON
43-a [2001 Tom Cruise movie (look it up)] = VANILLA SKY
49-a [Split water (look it up)] = ADRIATIC SEA (that's this Split)
59-a [Will Ferrell role (look it up, or just bid on it)] = RON BURGUNDY

The first key to the meta is noticing that the last word of each theme entry suggests a color:

POWDER blue is a color, ROSEs are red, LEMON yellow is a color, same with SKY blue and SEA green, and BURGUNDY is a red wine and a reddish color. But what to do with those hues?

Surely the odd "look it up" and "bid on it" tags have something to do with the meta, so let's check there. If you'd looked something up or bid on something 30 years ago you'd have found an encyclopedia or an auction house...but these days everyone goes to Google and eBay, the title's "Shady Businesses" in the sense that their logos use different colors to spell their company names.


Now it's easy: take the right color letter from the right company and spell out our famous ship. So for the first letter we'll take a blue (from "powder blue") letter from eBay ("bid on it") and that's a B. Similarly:

E (both companies have a red E, hence both "look it up" and "bid on it" in the clue)
A (the yellow A from eBay)
G (either of the blue G's in Google)
L (the green L in Google)
E (again, either company's red E)

Making our contest crossword answer Charles Darwin's famous ship, the HMS BEAGLE, found by 104 entrants.

Maggie Wittlin quips:

I was going to send in Beagle as my default if I didn't get it, anyway. Given the dearth of famous six-letter ships, it would have been a "natural selection."

David Plotkin asks:

Would you accept the MetLife blimp as an alternate answer? I don't know if airships count.

Former Google employee Tyler Hinman writes:

Given my employment history, failure to get this one would be pretty embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as almost missing the one that had my freaking name in it, but still.

Terry O'Toole says:

I was doing this puzzle yesterday with some co-workers at lunchtime. My friend Matt had committed to memory the Google logo's color scheme, thinking it might come in handy someday. You got to love nerds!

And finally, C Fogarty found another route to the meta:

Beagle can be spelled going backwards up the grid:

B(URGUNDY)
ADRIATICS)E(A)
(V)A(NILLASKY)
G(ETSALEMON)
(CHAR)L(IEROSE)
(TOOKAPOWD)E(R)

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 143 correct entries received, is Ross Beresford of Kingsley, Penna. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Ross will also receive a copy of Brendan Quigley's new 21x21 freestyle crossword. Next week we return to regular book prizes.

Note that Brendan's tip jar closes this Monday, not to reopen for another six months, so consider chipping in here. A tip of $10 or more gets you a copy of the above-mentioned 21x21 freestyle.

ERRATUM:

Chuck Cooper points out that my clue for 4-d is wrong:

BTW: Elko county is the second largest in Nevada. Nye county is largest.

BAND OF BRODAS:

I meant to post this last week, but Peter Broda is holding a month-of-metas contest at his site "The Cross Nerd."

I solved week 1 and dug it a lot, though I'm finding week 2 a mite challenging! Note that Peter's puzzles are R-rated, so be forewarned; but they're clever and fun, and if Brendan Quigley's puzzles aren't too risque then you'll be OK with Peter's as well.

TOURNAMENT THIS WEEKEND IN NAPA:

It's not just a valley found in crosswords! Crossword champ Dan Feyer is organizing a one-day puzzlefest tomorrow (tournament, screening of "Wordplay," panel discussion) in Napa, California. So if you're free and in the area tomorrow (Sat., June 30th) then drop on by!


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is an event.
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 (1,802 members now!) here.




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

6/22/12

MGWCC #212 -- Friday, June 22nd, 2012 -- "Shady Businesses"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 212 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:

Simple but subtle: last week's meta answer was the PINKIE finger (or PINKY, or LITTLE, or DIGITUS MINIMUS), since the last words of the four theme entries suggested the other four fingers:

WITHOUT A HITCH (hitchhikers use their thumbs)
GAME POINT (you point with your index finger)
LARRY BIRD ("the bird" being a nickname for the indelicate gesture performed by extending only the middle finger)
TO BEAT THE BAND (since a wedding band goes on the ring finger)

Which left only the PINKIE unrepresented. Simple once you see it, but tricky to see in the first place (though the title was a big hint).

Howard Barkin quips:

Let's see how many solvers this meta nails.


Christopher Jablonski found a lot in the grid:

Did you know? HEARING can be made off the HE in TOBEATTHEBAND if you play real loose with turns and diagonals. Not that it tripped me up or anything.

Neal Carey thinks that:

40% of the meta was a snap!






Speaking of which, Norm Chafetz:

As an alum of Southern Illinois 5-Down was a snap!




Re 55-d, Michael Rasminsky informs me:

No idea what the solution to the meta is - but Ben's Deli, one of my favourite late night haunts, is sadly no more. After a protracted strike by the employees it closed for good in 2006. The sign Restaurant Deli Bens Restaurant Deli remained for a while on the building which was finally demolished. Artefacts from the Art Deco interior are now preserved in a Montreal museum. The lack of an apostrophe in Ben's was probably a concession to the Quebec language laws which take a dim view of Anglo signage.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 143 correct entries received, is Bob Willoughby of Spring Green, Wisc. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Bob will also receive a copy of Brendan Quigley's new 21x21 freestyle crossword. Next week's winner will receive the same.

ERRATUM:

Several solvers pointed out that my clue for BRUT at 60-a [Sweet, as sparkling wine] is incorrect. BRUT is the opposite of that; very dry and not sweet at all.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is a famous ship. 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 (1,780 members now!) here.







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

6/15/12

MGWCC #211 -- Friday, June 15th, 2012 -- "Gimme Five!"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 211 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:

141 was last week's contest answer, but a lot more people than that (443) figured it out: all you had to do was add the seven relevant numbers in the grid, though there were a couple of unintentional traps that tripped up some very good solvers.

Seven down answers only made sense when you included their clue numbers as part of the answer itself:

1-d [Seriously in danger of running out of gas] = (ON E)MPTY (very tricky, due to one of those unintended traps; see below)
4-d [It's found where Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet] = (FOUR) CORNERS MONUMENT
7-d [Baseball break] = (SEVEN)TH INNING STRETCH (cool entry, since that baseball tradition could also be described as a "thinning stretch")
10-d [Country great named for a state] = (TEN)NESSEE ERNIE FORD
12-d [Like some facilitated programs] = (TWELVE)-STEP
50-d ["Get Rich or Die Tryin'" rapper] = (FIFTY) CENT
57-d [Carnegie Hall's address: abbr.] = (FIFTY-SEVEN)TH ST.

Add those seven up and you've got the answer: 141.

So trap #1 was at 1-down, which caused 7 solvers to submit 142.71828...The logic was that the irrational number "e" ("Euler's number") would fit nicely there, turning the entry MPTY into "empty." The problem is that the clue number is simply 1-d, not 2.71828-d, which would make that inconsistent with the other theme entries. Still, EMPTY seems to fit so well and (ON E)MPTY is tricky to parse in your head, so this caused a handful of excellent meta-solvers to stumble.

The other nasty trap was at 60-d, where [Brief moment?] clued SEC, and "60 SEC" might be argued to answer that clue reasonably. It's a wild coincidence I'll concede, and if the clue had been [Brief minute?] I'd have to think about accepting 200. But there are two problems with it: first, a "moment" is a nebulous term, not defined as 60 seconds like a minute is; and second, submitting 200 leaves 1-d unaddressed, since MPTY isn't a valid entry on its own.

Still, seven solvers submitted 200 as their answer based on this logic, and they have my sympathy! That was an easy place to slip up.


Peter Gwinn writes:

That puzzle was really sum thing.

Dave Sullivan
says:

[2]uld be a shame to miss this one, being a math major...

Elementary school teacher Kelly Langan asks:

Who knew I'd need to do math on summer vacation?


Sean Trowbridge notes:

Hopefully translates to “one for one” (for this week anyway...)

Nice! Wish I'd noticed that; I would've made this Week 1's puzzle so the number had special significance.

And finally, Alexander Miller wonders:

141 is my P.O. Box number. How did you do that?

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 455 correct entries received, is Jeremy Conner of Los Angeles, Calif. Jeremy has selected as his prize an autographed copy of While-You-Wait 20 Minute Crosswords.

TIP JAR ROUNDUP:

320 tippers tossed $9,084.39 into the MGWCC Tip Jar last week, an increase of more than 50% over last year. Thanks to all sixteen score of you -- Year 5 will see some exciting changes at MGWCC, so stay tuned!

JUNE GRYPTICS CONTEST:

You know what to do!


SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK AND NEXT:

In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, weekly prizewinners this week and next will receive a copy of Brendan Quigley's new 21x21 freestyle crossword. But don't wait to win it -- get it here for a minimum tip of $10!


THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's puzzle contest answer is the missing member of a certain set.
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 (1,730 members now!) here.





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

6/8/12

MGWCC #210 -- Friday, June 8th, 2012 -- "Take a Number"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 210 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 MGWCC TIP JAR CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT:

UPDATE, 6/9/12, 12:04 AM -- the tip jar is now closed until June 2013. Thanks to everyone who chipped in! I'll have final numbers next Friday.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


All you had to do for last week's meta was JUST ANSWER / MY QUESTION. But what was the question? 455 solvers figured it out: the grid's only 15-letter entry noted that FILL IN THE BLANKS are (usually) easy crossword answers, and the five fill-in-the-blank style clues spelled it out:

13-a ["___ John Galt?"] = WHO IS
16-a ["Mind ___ manners!"] = YOUR
27-a ["My ___ Year" (1982 Peter O'Toole movie)] = FAVORITE
50-d ["My Big Fat ___ Wedding"] = GREEK
52-d [Household ___ (ancient Roman spirit] = DEITY

So if the question was "Who is your favorite Greek deity," which gods and goddesses did solvers choose? Here are the winners:

Athena — 89 (the big winner, much more about her below)
Dionysus — 47 (lol, great choice for 2nd...but if he'd won I'd be a little disturbed)
Zeus — 42 (big jerk, why would anyone vote for him?)
Hermes — 36 (the trickster -- see joon's writeup here)
Apollo -- 33 (twin brother)
Artemis — 27 (twin sister)
Poseidon — 26 ("Because tridents are cool," wrote one entrant)
Aphrodite -- 25 ("because her name anagrams to 'atrophied,'" wrote another)
Hephaestus -- 15 ("for the rest of us," wrote yet another, referencing this)

And then a smattering of Demeter, Terpsichore, Pan, Hestia, and many others.

Richard Kalustian
quips:

I guess I'll go with Athena, although now that I think about it, the Olympians were mostly petty, vengeful, and dangerous. I hope your contest has somewhat milder consequences than the time Paris was asked to choose a favorite.

Josh Shellman submitted Apollo, with the following explanation:

Because it seems festive to go with a U.S. Olympian named after one of the Twelve Olympians.

Les Wagner
picked a non-Olympian:

After wracking my brain with your metas week after week, it's just got to be:
Epimetheus - Titan of afterthought and the father of excuses.


Peter Gordon writes:

Any crossword writer who doesn't say Ares is an ingrate.


Nine solvers chose that crossword standby Ares; in that same vein, five chose Eros and four picked Eris.

Jason Juang chose the winner:

Artemis may be goddess of the hunt, but Athena is goddess of the Mystery Hunt.


Mark Navarrete picked the winner, and sent along this fascinating e-mail:

Greek myth was, and still is, and will always be, my first love. It was the gateway that led to my early habit of wishing to know origins and connections, that developed into interest in etymology, genealogy and other lore, and has grown into a love for language and history and other lifelong passions, including puzzling.

Athena had impressed me from the very start for being the wise one among the pantheon. From skill in domestic matters to military strategy to justice, the myths tell that Athena's wisdom enabled her to always be prudent and on the right side. Unsurprisingly, she was a helper to mortals, mentoring many a hero. I can imagine why the Athenians named their city in her honor. And as a big fan of the Harry Potter books, I also appreciate the just naming of Minerva McGonagall after her, as well as the special role of owls. My girlfriend and I share a collection of owl stuff, including a tie with tiny owls that she gifted me. My GF and I met in college, at the Ateneo de Manila ("Athenaeum of Manila") University...if I ever have a daughter, I'd like to name her Athena Sophia.


And finally, fitting twin submissions. First Phoebe McBee, who submitted Phoebus Apollo:

Who is my favorite Greek deity? Has to be my namesake.


And then Christopher Shaw submitted the second twin, Artemis:

I chose the god of young girls and childbirth in honor of the birth of
my daughter on March 30... this is also the reason I haven't posted a
solution in two months!


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 455 correct entries received, is Scott Clay of East Fallowfield, Penna. Scott has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

TIP JAR CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT:

What an incredible week! 289 tippers have left $8,183.87 in the MGWCC Tip Jar so far, far surpassing last year's total (which was about $5,800).

A big thanks to those who've already tipped; if you'd care to join them, chip in via PayPal below, or e-mail me if you'd prefer to send a check. Note that you *don't* need a PayPal account to donate via PayPal; you can send a tip with a credit card by clicking the "donate" button below (e-mail me if you're having trouble making that option work).

UPDATE, 6/9/12, 12:04 AM -- the tip jar is now closed until June 2013. Thanks to all who chipped in! I'll have final numbers on Friday.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is the sum of seven relevant numbers.
NOTE: please send the SUM of the numbers, not the numbers themselves. 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 (1,732 members now!) here.





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


6/1/12

MGWCC #209 -- Friday, June 1st, 2012 -- "Olympic Game"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 209 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 MGWCC TIP JAR IS OPEN, THIS WEEK ONLY:

Tip jar open! Friday at midnight it closes again, not to re-open until June of 2013. Click the "donate" button to tip, or scroll down for more info.








LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

We were looking for a famous one-named person last week, so who could it be -- Madonna or Michelangelo? Pele or Prince? Socrates or Sting? Let's take a look.

There was just one obvious theme answer, and they don't get more obvious than 39-across: FIND SEVEN B-WORDS was the answer, clued simply as [How to solve the meta]. There were just three words starting with B in the puzzle grid, so that doesn't work. But exactly seven clues began with a B, so let's take a look at those:

1-a "Bali ___" = HAI
17-a Blarney Stone conferral = GIFT OF GAB
28-a Bruschetta ingredient = TOMATO
49-a Brahmin's city = BOSTON
64-a Baghdad area = GREEN ZONE
12-d Bibi's party = LIKUD
52-a Baha'i tenet = UNITY

What to do with those seven B-words? Hyperskilled metasolvers noticed that each of the seven refers to a specific country, and those countries share a common link:

Bali is an island in Indonesia
Blarney is the gift of gab in Ireland
Bruschetta is an Italian dish
Brahmins are from India
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq
Bibi is the nickname of Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel
Bahai was founded in Iran


Seven I countries? That can't be a coincidence. In fact, the only missing I-country in the world is Iceland, so is there a famous one-named person from Iceland beginning with B? Why, yes -- the mysterious singer BJÖRK, the most famous Icelander of them all and the Scrabbliest of the one-named crowd -- and last week's contest answer. With or without umlaut naturally acceptable, although you must admit it looks cooler with.

Miss Kali writes, while submitting BJÖRK:

Considering I'm likely your only one-named contestant, I really hope I nailed this one.


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 74 correct entries received, is Jared Banta of Los Angeles, Calif. Jared has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

MONTHLY PRIZES:

30 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all four of May's challenges (MONOPOLY, DARYL HANNAH, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, BJÖRK). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Laura Effinger-Dean -- Seattle, Wash.

Nathan Fung -- Brighton, Mass.

Mark Halpin -- Cold Spring, Ky.

Jeremiahs Johnson -- Lafayette, Calif.

Dan Katz -- Providence, R.I.

Paul Melamud -- Milford, N.J.

Mark Navarrete -- Quezon City, Philippines

Daniel Simoncini -- Northampton, Mass.

Ken Stern -- Brooklyn. N.Y.

Sean Trowbridge -- Redmond, Wash.



Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 4-for-4 in May (it wasn't easy to do).


THE MGWCC TIP JAR IS OPEN:

My website turns four years old this week -- congratulations, Matt! At this time each year I open the tip jar for eight magical days, after which the lid goes back on for another four seasons.

Chip in via PayPal below, or e-mail me if you'd prefer to send a check. Note that you *don't* need a PayPal account to donate via PayPal; you can send a tip with a credit card by clicking the "donate" button below (e-mail me if you're having trouble making that option work).






THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest answer is to be determined by you.
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 (1,729 members now!) here.




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