crossword 8:22 (across lite)
puzzle 0:30 or so

hi, everybody, and welcome to week 99 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Out of Order.” this was a tough crossword, as befits a 4th week of the month, but i found the meta to be a breeze. here are the theme answers:

  • {Pants while working hard, maybe (A)} is a great clue for LEVI’S BLUE JEANS.
  • {Because it’s fun (B)} is JUST FOR KICKS. loved this answer.
  • {Mistake minimizing method (C)} clues DOUBLE DATA ENTRY, which doesn’t sound familiar to me, but i guess it’s a pretty self-explanatory term.
  • {Viking tactic, perhaps (D)} is a FIRST-DOWN RUN. if i had adrian peterson, i’d be handing off a lot on first down, too. i just wish he’d stop fumbling, although to be honest i was fairly happy with the outcome of the NFC championship game. the saints are america’s team, donchaknow. and is there anybody out there immune to a little brett favre schadenfreude?
  • {“Now, as a counterpoint…” (E)} is “HAVING SAID THAT…” another great answer.

the meta instructions: To solve this week’s contest put this puzzle’s five theme entries in their correct chronological order. the answers themselves have no obvious connection to any chronology, but notice that they’re all three words long. if you look at just the first initials of each word, what do you get? LBJ, JFK, DDE, FDR, and HST. three of those are recognizable by anybody as presidential monograms, and the other two (DDE, HST) are certainly familiar enough to crossword solvers. putting the presidents in their correct chronological order, we have FDR, HST, DDE, JFK, with LBJ bringing up the rear. so the correct meta answer is D-E-C-B-A.

as i said, it was a tough crossword all around. some stuff i didn’t know from the fill:

  • {Title sitcom role for Polly Holliday} is FLO, i guess from alice’s diner or mel’s or whatever that show was called. all i know is i’ve seen lots of clues for FLO, MEL, MEL’S, and ALICE that reference this show. or was it multiple shows? but i certainly don’t know the actress.
  • {Parker’s TV beau}, on the other hand, i can safely say is beyond my ken. NOTH? mike ____nagel, please explain this. it’s not from parker lewis can’t lose, because i actually watched that show and there’s no NOTH to be found.
  • {“Lockdown, USA” director Michael} SKOLNIK? never heard of him, or it.
  • {___ Michele of “Glee”} is LEA? will the TV clues never end?
  • {___ in the Pod (maternity clothing chain)} clues the weird partial A PEA. didn’t know it, but easy enough to guess.
  • “ANNO {1404” (historic computer game)}? how do i not know this? is it a historically significant game, or just a game about history? sounds like the latter.
  • {Late Estonian chess grandmaster Lembit ___ (hidden in A DOLL’S HOUSE)} is OLL. i’m not up on my estonian grandmasters, late or otherwise, but at least the clue makes it easy once you get a crossing letter.
  • {“Take Good Care of My Baby” singer} is somebody named VEE, i guess. who? what? there are non-trivia ways to clue LEA and VEE, you know. (probably not OLL or SKOLNIK.)
  • {On a stroll in Chicago, maybe} clues TODDLING, but i don’t know why. what does chicago have to do with it? or strolling? is that a reference to a stroller? because to me, TODDLING is walking unsteadily, like a 2-year old.

stuff i really liked:

  • {Finds another voice for} clues DUBS. nice misdirection here.
  • {“___ Need a Crane” (They Might Be Giants song)} is THEY’LL. yay, pop culture i actually knew!
  • to {Talk to lots of people} is to ORATE, if you’re talking to all of them at once. nice clue.
  • {Prodded to perjure} is SUBORNED. fancy word! see also {Common law doctrine} ESCHEAT. any ONE-Ls out there?
  • {Famous man of letters} is pat SAJAK, although he never actually touches those letters, does he? anyway, nice clue even though i’ve subsequently seen it in another puzzle, i think.
  • {Some linemen: abbr.} are DTS, like ndamukong suh. but i don’t think he’s in alcoholism withdrawal from not being picked #1 overall. good for the lions; bad for the rams. i predict that sam bradford will not be a success.
  • one {Way back?} is a UEY. i enjoyed this clue.
  • this one, too: to {Be patronizing, so to speak} is to SHOP, or patronize a retail store.
  • perhaps the cleverest clue was {Have a leg up, perhaps} for HOP. indeed, that’s how humans usually do it. frogs, bunnies, and kangaroos HOP on both feet, though.

that’s all from me. are you guys ready for the killer 5th puzzle next week?

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23 Responses to MGWCC #99

  1. Aaron says:

    I really feel bad knowing this, but NOTH is the name of the actor who played PARKER’s (as in Sarah Jessica) boyfriend in Sex in the City. A bit more timely now with the sequel coming out.

  2. Eric Maddy says:

    D’oh — didn’t get the meta.

    “Parker’s TV beau” — though I don’t watch, I believe it’s a reference to Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and The City, with Chris Noth playing opposite her as “Mr. Big”.

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    196 correct answers this week.

    Joon, re 38-down:

  4. Hugh says:


    Chicago is a toddling town where they do things they don’t do on Broadway.

  5. jimmy d says:

    The sitcom was called “Alice”… and the title character worked at Mel’s Diner with Flo & Vera. Once every episode, Flo would tell Mel, “Kiss my grits!!”… hilarity would ensue!

    Bobby Vee was a singer from the 60’s… before my time, but I’ve heard of him enough to recall the name

  6. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    30 seconds to get the meta! I did the puzzle as usual, struggling mightily. But I looked at the meta every way I could (except the right way) and got nowhere. Then at 9 o’clock this morning the light finally dawned, out of that mysterious churning of the subconscious, and I was able to send in the correct answer!

    The reason FLO is called a “title character” is that in 1980 – 1981 there was a spin-off of “Alice” titled “Flo.”

  7. joon says:

    thanks for the info on TODDLING, VEE, and NOTH.

    as for the meta, it’s just the first thing that jumped out at me when i looked at all five answers. while i was solving the crossword, i noticed that the meanings of the theme answers had nothing in common, so it had to be something involving the letters in them. it probably took five seconds to notice what was going on and 25 to put them in order, which was tricky only because there were so many letters floating around. “okay, FDR comes first, so that’s D…”

  8. Dan F says:

    At least “Glee” is a popular show – LEA Michele clues are likely to proliferate. (Tips: she plays “Rachel”, and starred on Broadway in “Spring Awakening”.) But I have no idea what “Lockdown, USA” is…

    1-for-4 this month! Gonna step it up in May.

  9. Alex says:

    I’m proud of you, Joon, for not mentioning that “They” is in the clue for “They’ll”.

    Dan – you have a chance to go 2-for-5 this month! A batting average like that will get you into Cooperstown.

  10. joecab says:

    Tougher fill this week, but I thought last week’s meta was tougher to arrive at.

  11. Evad says:

    Yeah, actually the fruit meta from a couple of weeks ago seems the hardest this month for me. The 10 of Diamonds and these presidents fell pretty quickly for me. Funny how 5 presidents in a row are referred to by all three initials, and then I can’t think of any others who we’ve commonly done that for outside of that period. (I know Obama’s middle name is Hussein, but we don’t call him BHO, do we?) Matt, got the details on that?

  12. ML says:

    Joon –

    Frank Sinatra sang ‘Chicago’ with a line about it being a toddling town…never quite got that lyric. Thanks, Hugh, for another slant on it.

  13. Matt Gaffney says:

    Not sure why that is, Evad. I guess the trend just died out in the 1960s, or maybe RMN doesn’t roll off the tongue like JFK or LBJ.

  14. Evad says:

    I suppose we have W and GHWB in recent memory…I suppose a one-word theme entry that began with the letter W wouldn’t be of much help….and finding a four-word phrase (of <= 15 letters) for GHWB would be tough!

  15. Eric Maddy says:

    at risk of being un-PC, how about GO HOME, WHITE BOY…..

  16. Abby says:

    Right- Matt, named government rulers FDR – Johnson. Extra credit, readers! Which real genius has words befitting? What joker could give what better brains have omitted?

  17. Howard B says:

    @Evad: Gaffney? He Will Be able to figure it out, somehow. Give him time.

  18. Evad says:

    @HB: Perhaps you’re Wright.

  19. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Howard!

    Onelook gives us this:

  20. kirsten says:


    Along with the Billy Sunday reference in the song, “toddling” must have to do with the rather unsteady gait of a town that resisted temperance and Prohibition.

  21. cybergoober says:

    Trivia: Bobby Vee got his big break in show business by being the emergency fill-in act at the show Buddy Holly couldn’t make it to in Minnesota, on account of being kind of splattered in a corn field.

  22. Thomas says:

    Is no one going to tell Abby how beautiful that was? That was beautiful.

  23. Jim A says:

    Awesome, Abby!

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