crossword 6:19
puzzle 0:33
mgwcc89hey there, and welcome to the 89th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest. this week’s contest, “The Crossword Olympics,” consisted of three puns attempting to connect the olympics to crossword solving:

  • {Aiming to win first at the Crossword Olympics?} is GOING FOR THE GRID. i guess
  • {Take second place, at the Crossword Olympics?} is SETTLE FOR / THE SOLVER.
  • and {Fight for third place at the Crossword Olympics?} is BRAINS MEDAL GAME.

let’s get this out of the way: i don’t really like this theme. okay, there are words related to crosswords that are somewhat similar to gold, silver, and bronze (except gold/grid isn’t all that similar). but these phrases basically have no surface sense. if you want to take first place at the crossword olympics, you’re going for gold, not grid. (unless the crossword olympics give out grid, solver, and brains medals.) so the clues are really referring to the base phrases rather than the answers in the grid. not a fan of that. but that’s all i’ll say about the theme. it’s pretty much a matter of personal preference, but i really don’t like pun themes unless there is cluable surface sense.

so what’s the meta answer? the instructions this week tell us that One grid entry this week doubles as the surname of an Olympian who has won all three. This athlete’s surname is this week’s contest answer. who might that be? i admit that my first thought was crossword solver trip payne, who has won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place at the ACPT, which is the closest thing there is to an actual crossword olympics. but PAYNE wasn’t in the grid, and neither was ellen RIPSTEIN, jon DELFIN, or douglas HOYLMAN. (i don’t think there’s anybody else.) anyway, it turned out to be about the actual olympics. well, okay: the winter olympics, which is close enough for some people. 14-across is {“Did I really just do that?”}, or OH NO! but it’s also the surname of apolo anton OHNO, american short-track speed-skater and six-time (as of this writing) olympic medalist. i’ve disliked ohno fairly vehemently since his first gold medal, the 1500 m from salt lake city, but i admit to some degree of korean bias on this matter. anyway, this is as good a place as any to link the onion guide to team USA, which i found to be a pretty funny read.

okay, what else?

  • more olympic content: {Swords for London 2012} are ÉPÉES. okay, i don’t think this was intended as extra theme material; it’s just one of those words that sneaks its way into the fill on a regular basis.
  • {It borders Afghanistan, on a Risk board} is a nice clue for the repeater URAL. man, i haven’t played risk for ages.
  • {Handles cremains} for INURNS… hmm. is “cremains” really a word? i can certainly guess what it means, but i’ve never seen it before.
  • {Kind of ounce} is probably not my favorite TROY clue ever, but i have a soft spot for TROY, my wife’s maiden name.
  • EAT ON is clued {Use, as plates}, but that’s a fairly arbitrary verb+preposition phrase. why not shirley or mark EATON?
  • {Browser “food”}? COOKIES, natch. yummy cookies.
  • {Where Al Yankovic bought “Pez dispensers and a toaster”} is on EBAY, of course.
  • {“Encyclopedia Brown” creator Donald J.} SOBOL… oh man, this takes me back to my nerdy youth.

not too much else to say this week. peace out, and i’ll see many of you this weekend.

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4 Responses to MGWCC #89

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Joon —

    De gustibus etc. on any specific pun, of course, and I share your dislike of puns with no surface sense, but I do disagree with your contention that these fall into that category.

    GOING FOR THE GRID = a solver trying win first place by eagerly diving into a “crossword olympics” puzzle

    SETTLE FOR THE SOLVER = easier to parse its surface sense with a comma after the first word — the crossword olympian wanted the gold but has to be content with second — the least good of the three entries, if I had to pick, but I liked it anyway

    BRAINS MEDAL GAME — as in the real olympics, a fight between the two potential third-place winners for the bronze, though it’s BRAINS in the crossword olympics.

    I was pretty stoked about this theme, since I thought it was interesting that there are three specific phrases in English, each mentioning a different Olympic medal — and each illustrating a different specific situation in competition. And then their letters all worked out nicely, and they each had a crossword pun hidden inside.

    Anyway, have fun in Brooklyn. Sorry I won’t be there.

  2. Karen says:

    We can’t say the Korean speedskaters were illegally working as a team now, can we?

    I thought it was a bit difficult grid for this early in the month (no problems with cremains, but INURNS?) but I liked the theme.

  3. Rich Chauviere says:

    If you think the Ohno medal reeks of home town favoritism, there are very many more people located in the country in which you chose to live that think the Roy Jones decision was a greater travesty.

  4. joon says:

    not that this has anything to do with ohno, but the roy jones decision was probably the worst sporting decision i have ever seen in my life. i was as dumbfounded as everybody else, and a little bit ashamed even though i obviously had nothing to do with it personally. and circumstantially, it is true that korean officials and bureaucrats are notoriously venal. so there may well have been something shady going on.

    oddly, i felt no such shame when shady refereeing enabled korea to knock italy out of the 2002 world cup. maybe it had to do with being 23 years old instead of 9. but i think it’s more to do with the fact that i’d have been rooting against italy even if they weren’t playing korea. i felt markedly worse about shady refereeing enabling korea to knock spain out in the next match.

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