MGWCC #111

crossword 5:56
puzzle 0:15
mgwcc111hello, everyone, and welcome to the 111th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Zulu Nation.” in this week’s puzzle, we are tasked with finding a relevant eight-letter adjective. okay, then. what are the theme answers?

  • {Mix of reverberations at the Taj Mahal?} is an INDIA ECHO TANGO. uh, maybe. i’m not quite sure which part of the clue gets at TANGO. maybe “mix”?
  • {Sheen’s nickname for being a great Thanksgiving turkey carver?} is CHARLIE NOVEMBER. as nicknames go, he’s a notch below reggie jackson but definitely ahead of dave winfield. (RIP, steinbrenner.)
  • {Where nominees’ fathers stay during the Academy Awards?} is the OSCAR PAPA HOTEL. when i was still missing the last five letters of this answer, i really wanted it to be PAPARAZZI, despite that having nothing to do with anything.

so what’s going on here? the theme answers are not puns on some base phrase; instead, they’re zanily strung-together words from the NATO phonetic alphabet. you know, alpha bravo charlie delta etc. well, except that E isn’t etc, it’s ECHO. and in fact, it’s hardly a random sampling: the eight words in the theme answers are the codes for the letters I, E, T, C, N, O, P, and H, which are in fact the letters in phonetic. so that’s the eight-letter adjective we’re looking for. as for the title, i’m not sure what “nation” is doing, but zulu is the phonetic Z, and in fact ZULU is often clued as such in crosswords. (i know i’ve done it, and, much more recently, so has mike nothnagel.)

the crossword was pretty knotty. i guess we’re into the third week of july, so that’s only to be expected. roundup:

  • right off the bat, {Time to remember} is a great, evil clue for WAKE. usually this is one of the many ways to clue the most common answer in crosswords, ERA. but this turns the clue on its head: it’s not a time that should be remembered, it’s an occasion to remember someone. elsewhere, {Period} is EPOCH, which is also occasionally clued as {Time to remember}.
  • {Don who was a wide receiver in six Super Bowls} is bills great BEEBE, who featured prominently in one of the greatest and least meaningful plays in super bowl history. i don’t know enough about him to tell you what team he played for in the other two super bowls, though.
  • {Confederate money maker} is KING COTTON. i tell you, i spent some time thinking this was going to be some kind of mint in richmond.
  • {1997 NL Rookie of the Year} scott ROLEN was, improbably, an all-star again this year. you know, he’s had a great career. there are guys worse than him in the hall of fame.
  • {He defeated Alekhine in 1935 to become World Chess Champion} is max EUWE, one of the least-remembered champions, at least by me. he’s ahead of only … what’s that guy’s name? smyslov, right.
  • {Nelson Mandela’s native language} is XHOSA, which is a wonderful name for an awesome language. i’m no linguist, but click consonants are the best.
  • {Word form with “leaks” or “travel”} is, apparently, WIKI. somebody fill me in.
  • odd crossing: {Military and political rival of Obote}, idi AMIN, crosses {“Let’s do it”}, I’M IN. “i’m in, amin. deal the cards.”
  • {Part} is a frustratingly vague clue for SAY GOOD-BYE. luckily, the phrase emerged with a few crossings.
  • {Isn’t quick on the uptake} clues LEARNS SLOW. this doesn’t feel remotely like a crossworthy expression to me. i’m not even sure it’s grammatical. this doesn’t feel like one of the cases where you can use SLOW as an adverb.
  • {Attractive older man, in slang} is a SILVER FOX, apparently. not really familiar with this expression, and i have to confess it seems like it should be a marvel comics character, a web browser, or both.
  • {Words before “Gently” and “Amadeus,” in #1 song titles of 1974 and 1986} is the six-letter partial ROCK ME, but you know what? i loved this answer, maybe because the falco song is so great in a campy 80s way… although not as great as stop the planet of the apes, i want to get off!.
  • consider these three clues: {First word of a Schwarzenegger catchphrase} HASTA, {Hemingway title word} WHOM, and {Part of a Texas city’s name} PASO. don’t they seem like they should go together somehow?

and on that note, i’ll sign off for the week. hasta whom paso, baby.

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9 Responses to MGWCC #111

  1. jimmy d says:

    Great puzzle, Matt… I enjoyed it thoroughly, even though I hate anagramming!!

    Don Beebe was on the Packers in the mid-90’s for their back-to-back Bowls…. and Wikileaks and Wikitravel are websites ala Wikipedia

  2. Tony says:

    I really enjoyed the puzzle and the meta.

    For me, ZULU will always be the Zulu people first and world time second.

    Also, thanks to my father, I always associate SILVER FOX with 1950s-1960s singer Charlie Rich.

    I wouldn’t necessarily call Don BEEBE’s play “meaningless” just because the score was already lopsided. Leon Lett was acting like a horses you-know-what and deserved to have the ball knocked out of his hand. Running up the score is bad enough, but showboating while doing it is just bush league.

  3. otis says:

    Wikipedia has various offshoots (like wookieepedia in NYT recently), one is wikitravels and wikileaks which allows people to kind of tattle on government/business wrongdoings, like a bunch of cyber deepthroats.

  4. joecab says:

    Maybe Matt was hoping all of zee nation would get to try his puzzle. Hyuk hyuk hyuk.

  5. John Farmer says:

    Wikileaks has nothing to do with Wikipedia, but there is a page there about them. They’re a whistleblower organization and made some news a few months ago for posting a video of an army attack on unarmed civilians in Iraq.

    I liked Matt’s theme and had just done a somewhat different variation of a somewhat similar idea, here.

  6. pannonica says:

    Joon: Marvel’s Silver Fox. Perhaps your subconscious was striving to break the waves. Tony: I, too, thought of Charlie Rich, so nicknamed because his hair turned color prematurely. His latter-day recording, Pictures and Paintings, is excellent.

    Apparently, another Marvel character, Silver Sable, once apprehended a jewel thief called the Black Fox. Okay, that was enough.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    About 300 correct entries — I’m not fooling anyone so far in July.

    I never get sick of watching that Beebe / Lett play.

  8. joon says:

    thanks for the info, everybody. pannonica, i’m astonished that silver fox actually is a marvel character. i was totally making that up. but it appears that silver fox is a woman, not an attractive older man.

    the beebe/lett play is just amazing. the commentary is great, too:

    stockton: “and look at lett. if they call it a no-touchdown, he’s going to dig a whole and crawl out of this place from there.”
    color guy (dierdorf?): “he’s gonna need a big hole.”

    tony, i called it meaningless because buffalo got crushed anyway, so it didn’t affect the outcome of the game in the least. but it’s still a great play, one of the most memorable plays in NFL history. and it was arguably supplanted as the single greatest play in super bowl history only a few years ago (the tyree helmet catch, and then the harrison INT-TD which i think is now #1).

  9. Tony says:

    Joon, understood.

    The Harrison TD was something to watch indeed. My favorite Super Bowl moment was from Super Bowl XXXV when Jermaine Lewis capped an amazing SB feat when he essentially put the final nail in the coffin with his TD kickoff return to answer Ron Dixon’s TD return. Add Duane Starks’ 49 YD Pick 6 and that all adds up to three scores in 36 seconds. I guess it wouldn’t be a favorite of mine if I wasn’t a Ravens fan, though. Too bad I’m also an Orioles fan, although last night’s game ended well.

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