MGWCC #116

crossword 6:40 (paper)
puzzle 3 days

mgwcc116greetings, and welcome to the 116th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Missing Lynx.” this week, we are told that One of the ten famous animals listed in this week’s three long theme entries is missing its mate. Which one is it? well, who are these ten?

  • {One-letter Woody Allen title role of 1998} is Z, from the movie antz. surprisingly, i actually saw this movie, although i did not remember the name. i’m not 100% sure about “title role.” i guess he is an ant. does that make me a title character of turgenev’s fathers and sons?
  • {Boris’s bane} is BULLWINKLE j. moose.
  • the {Jellystone Park resident} is YOGI bear.
  • {Her aunt is Ena} clues BAMBI, who is of course, male. (matt seems to have posted a correction.) do you ever step back and think about how weird it is that crossword aficionados are much more familiar with ENA (who does not even appear in the wikipedia page for the movie, although she is mentioned in the page for the novel) than they are with BAMBI himself? this is only the second time i can recall seeing BAMBI in a crossword (sorry anne), but ENA shows up all the time.
  • the {Cloned Scot in 1996 headlines} is DOLLY the sheep, cloned by ian wilmut.
  • {Stage name at SeaWorld} clues the famous orca SHAMU.
  • {Jim Davis draws him}? ODIE, although it could also be GARFIELD or NERMAL or JON ARBUCKLE.
  • {Hanna-Barbera creation} is an even vaguer clue for TOM the cat, of tom and jerry cartoons.
  • {Sarafina’s daughter, in a Disney movie} is NALA, the lioness friend of simba in the lion king. i did not know that. isn’t sarafina a bottled water brand?
  • finally, the {Vocal palomino} is MR. ED.

it took me several passes to crack this meta. at first i started thinking about actual mates of these (real and fictional) animals. nala’s mate is simba, of course. i didn’t know about the others, although i was able to look up bambi’s mate (faline) and Z’s (princess bala). extending the definition of “mate” to include buddies, i thought of boo-boo (yogi), jerry (tom), rocky (bullwinkle), garfield (odie), … and that’s it. i don’t know if dolly mated. (the answer appears to be yes, with an unnamed welsh mountain ram.) at any rate, this line of inquiry didn’t really go anywhere.

eventually i noticed that none of the clues mentioned the species of the animal in question, which i thought was probably a sign that the species were important to the answer somehow. so: ant, moose, bear, deer (fawn?), sheep, orca (whale?), dog, cat, lion (-ess?), horse. but as hard as i looked, i could find no evidence of these in the grid or the clues. the only animals found in the grid are EAGLES, the {“Lyin’ Eyes” singers} at 19d. the middle section contains FILLE crossing FILLS and ALLY, which kind of suggests a FILLY if you squint at it. i thought that might have something to do with mr. ed, but it didn’t really go anywhere, and i doubted the meta was going to be anything as vague as “there are some letters kind of near each other in the grid.”

i was sure, though, that there would be nine extra theme answers in the grid. it’s a 78-word grid with some awkward entries (WAUL, XOO, BEPLI—which turned out to be an error on my part), with only three overt 15-letter theme answers, and even those three had quite a bit of freedom to be rearranged because the order doesn’t really matter. if you remember MGWCC #97, “friday fruit,” there was a similar structure there. but try as i might, i could not find anything else in the grid.

so i put it down and came back to it several days later, after a (very) busy weekend. i was prepared to give it one last go, and then send it TOM if i couldn’t figure it out, because of the title: a lynx is a kind of cat, like TOM. (it’s also a web browser, but none of the other animals are browsers, because firefox didn’t make the cut.) of course, “missing lynx” also sounds like “missing links,” which reminded me of the classic MGWCC #38 easter egg-hunt. and then … it hit me.

i noticed that the clue for ANNES, {Queen ___ County, Md.}, contained “queen,” which is (kinda) related to antz, because princess bala (Z’s “mate”) is a queen. ish. i guess she’s not really the queen of the colony, but she’s a queen in waiting. that went nowhere, but at least it gave me the idea to look at some more clues. so i took another gander at the EAGLES with their “Lyin’ Eyes,” and hmm, lyin’ sounds like lion. could we be onto something here? (yes.)

  • {Her aunt is Ena} (BAMBI) sounds like an ant, for Z. well, to some people, anyway. i say “ahnt.” this one was curious because BAMBI was pulling double-duty as a theme answer.
  • {What “mousse” means in French} (FOAM) struck me as a weird clue when i read it, but i get it now: a moose, for BULLWINKLE.
  • {Bare bones} (BASIC) struck me as a weird clue, too, because i think it should be {Bare-bones} or even {Barebones} to clue an adjective. {Bare bones} looks like it’s a noun, or maybe even a verb phrase, meaning cut away all the flesh or something. (sorry.) anyway, it’s got the bear for YOGI.
  • {“Dear me!”} (OH NO) has BAMBI’s deer.
  • {___ lam} (ON THE) has a lamb, for DOLLY. i wasn’t thrilled with this one, because dolly is a sheep, not a lamb. i mean, she was a lamb once, but that’s just what young sheep are called, but BAMBI (better known for being young) got a “deer”-soundalike, not a “fawn.” plus, dolly was notable not because she was the only lamb cloned (there were actually 277), but because she was the only one who survived to be an adult sheep. anyway, i regard this as a rather minor flaw in an otherwise ingenious meta.
  • {Let out a wail, perhaps} (MOURN) has a whale for SHAMU.
  • {“The Greatest American ___” (1980s show starring William Katt)} is a long way to go to clue HERO, but it gives us the cat for TOM. i might have preferred suffragist carrie chapman CATT (did you know that this week marks the 90th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the US? you would if you’d been reading liz gorski’s wonderful blog), but i concede that it would be harder to work, say, CARRIE or SUFFRAGE into the grid than HERO.
  • {“Lyin’ Eyes” singers} (EAGLES) gives us a lion, for NALA.
  • {Feature of a hoarse person’s voice} (RASP) conceals a horse, MR. ED.

well, that’s everybody except for ODIE, as there’s no “dog”-soundalike in the clue list. what would it be? DAWG is too similar. i guess DAG hammarskjöld would do in a pinch (the vowel is pretty close, anyway). so ODIE is the contest answer.

i think it helped me to have the printed page so that i could see all the clues on this one. solving in across lite is fine when the meta is in the grid, but when you need the clues, sometimes paper is just the thing, because a suggestive or oddly-written clue can jump off the page at me in a way that it doesn’t seem to jump off the screen.

just a few notes from the fill:

  • {“The King of Torts”} is not, in fact, BEPLI. it’s BELLI. i don’t know who this is, but i admit that BELLI sounds more like a name than BEPLI. the crossing letter i got wrong was PICS, {Some IDs}. it’s supposed to be LICS (licenses). yuck. i could have guessed better, but i think matt and i share the blame for this one.
  • {___ Ray of the “Thriller” video}, OLA, made me laugh. if you don’t know why, it’s because you haven’t read gridlock. and why not? it’s a good read.
  • speaking of which, my favorite fill answer was WHY NOT?
  • favorite clue: the curious {French plural that reverses to the singular of its English translation}, ÉTATS, which reverses to STATE. nifty find there.

that’s all from me. i thought this was a really tough one, but i guess i have nobody to blame but myself, as i quite literally asked for it last week. how did it treat you?

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32 Responses to MGWCC #116

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks for the post, Joon. 94 correct answers this week.

    I wasn’t too thrilled to have to use lamb instead of sheep, but I liked it better because DOLLY was famous as a lamb.

  2. SHAW says:

    ANTZ = ANT Z = an ant named Z, hence, title character.

    I just moved from EST to CST so I was again stymied when I realized it was 11:10am already and I had missed sending in an answer… but since I had absolutely no idea, it would have been a complete guess anyway :)

  3. Jim A says:

    I thought of Gridlock when I saw the Ola Ray clue, too, but the meta eluded me this time out. Congratulations to the 94 who cracked it.

  4. Doug P. says:

    LAM/lamb was the last one I found. I was looking for EWE/you/yew. Fun meta, Matt!

  5. jimmy d says:

    Wow, I really enjoyed this meta… how does Matt do this week after week? Brilliant!

    I loved Bullwinkle growing up, so I scoured the grid and clues for “Rocky” and immediately noticed the “mousse” in the clues… even hearing it in Natasha’s voice! Then I saw “Lyin'” and “Dear me”… and that was that! Still alive in August!

  6. Jeffrey says:

    Hey, I’ve made the final 94 for once! Rare for me, I got this toughie within an hour. It was Bullwinkle mousse that did it.

    Shamu is more of an orca than a whale to me. I saw a pod of orcas last week on the ferry from Seattle.

  7. *David* says:

    I found the meta theme pretty quickly. It was my first thought once I saw an even amount of animals in the grid that it would be connected to the clues and not an odd animal out. It did take a while to eliminate each animal with whale(wail) being the last one. I sent in Dog as the answer not Odie, I don’t know if I got credit, I don’t read instructions well I suppose.

  8. Karen says:

    I followed much the same path as joon in solving this one…I found out that Shamu had a mate named Namu, but they soon split up; Bamboo Harvester (aka Mr Ed) was a gelding and didn’t have a mate (I was thinking maybe Wilbur) (then I read about teaching Mr Ed to ‘talk’ by putting a string across his lip, but by the second season he’d just move his lips whenever the people around him stopped talking). Then I noticed cater[waul] and dear and hoarse, and had my aha moment.
    That #38 meta looked insane!

  9. Evad says:

    Loved this meta!! Interesting to hear which animals didn’t make the cut…did the HARE (“hair”) in The Tortoise and The Hare have a name? (Too bad BUGS is a wascawy wabbit.)

  10. Pam says:

    I didn’t get within a hundred yards of this meta. Very cool though. But I dread this Friday.

  11. Matt Gaffney says:

    Evad —

    I couldn’t find a decent HARE that was unmistakably a hare instead of a rabbit (except the March Hare, who I couldn’t use because he has HARE in his name).

  12. Neville says:

    I think mousse and hoarse were the two that helped me out the most on this one. One of my favorite metas ever – took me a while, but I still got it! :) Been a while since I read Gridlock, so I’ll have to relook that up (I knew there was a reason a knew the name in that context – guess Gridlock’s the reason why!)

  13. Matt Gaffney says:

    *David* —

    Seven entrants submitted DOG instead of ODIE. I wish I could count them as correct since it appears that most or all of them cracked the meta idea, but the instructions were explicit so I’m afraid I can’t.

  14. SethG says:

    Gary Gnu or Bee Larry King have the same problem as the March Hare. Could have gone with Kong or Nemo. Now, if only there were a famous fictional quail…

  15. Tony says:


    BELLI is Melvin Belli, famous for personal injury cases and for portraying the villain Gorgan in “And The Children Shall Lead,” episode 4 of the third and final season of the original “Star Trek” series.

    Totally bombed on the meta. I could have had a year and probably still wouldn’t have gotten it.

  16. Abby says:

    I banged my head against this for a while, mostly because most of the names also have some other meaning that could lead to another word (for instance Z goes with ATO, though the clue for that kind of blows it being clever). I’d found a few of these but figured I was working too hard.

    So I asked myself if MRED had a mate, what could it be? That’s not a word (though it is an abbreviation). And then I saw RASP, which means “hoarse” and then saw the title and the clue for RASP…. Oh!

    I always have trouble when they’re in the clues, but I’ve learned to print them out and stare at the whole page. Got it this time, so I’m still alive.

  17. Karen says:

    When I read Joon’s write-up, I thought “Bepli” sounded familiar. Sure enough I had that also. Staring at it again, I realized what it should have been. Weird mistake, but I’m in good company on it! I loved this meta, had to come back to it after a few days, but finally figured it out.

  18. rebecca says:

    Oh! I just noticed I should have sent ODIE rather than DOG! But you’re right Matt, the instructions were very clear. Anyway, I still had the *aha* moment, which is the best part :-)

  19. abide says:

    Instructions said : “Please put the contest answer animal in the subject line of your e-mail.” (emphasis on animal)

    That’s the main reason I put DOG instead of ODIE. Sure you wouldn’t reconsider this one, Romeo?

  20. Jeffrey says:

    The complete instructions read:

    One of the ten famous animals listed in this week’s three long theme entries is missing its mate. Which one is it? E-mail it to me at by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer animal in the subject line of your e-mail.

    DOG is not “listed in this week’s three long theme entries”. ODIE is.

  21. abide says:

    I wasn’t asking you Jeffrey :)

    The body of my email said “Odie has no homophone” ( which was also technically incorrect! )

    I still think the instructions could be read either way, since the meta needed to be solved by finding the “animal” in the clues.

  22. Anne E says:

    Gee thanks Joon for that lovely Bambi reminder… not that I needed one, because I am never, ever going to forget 1A in that finals puzzle, and it doesn’t matter in what context I see the word now, I cringe. Ironically enough I’d seen BAMBI in a tournament puzzle before last year’s ACPT… the first Chicago tournament, where I for some unfathomable reason spelled it BAMBE. Next year’s ACPT constructors are standing by to take y’all’s bribes to include that word…

    Just for that Joon, I’ll let you know that I got this week’s meta in about 15 minutes. Neener neener. :-)

  23. joon says:

    anne, after the embarrassing beating i took onstage at LP3, believe me, you have my sympathies… although 1-across wasn’t the problem. :) anyway, blame matt for the reminder, not me!

    shaw, i thought about that (and matt tried to argue it that way to me), but i don’t buy it. the movie is clearly called antz (one syllable), not ant Z. i admit that there may be significance to the fact that it’s not ants, though.

    karen (vh): indeed, #38 was pretty insane. i think that’s the furthest “outside the box” that matt has gone for a meta, although #43 was close.

    karen 2: oddly, BELLI appeared in another crossword today. i got it quickly this time. :)

    peter: you didn’t ask me either, but i agree with jeffrey and matt. ODIE is an animal, and more importantly, he’s one of the ten famous animals listed in this puzzle’s three long theme entries. DOG isn’t.

  24. Matt Gaffney says:

    Joon —

    I didn’t see the movie, but the pluralization “Antz” in the title must be a reference to the name of the main character, no? He is an ant named Z…what other explanation could there be for calling it “Antz” instead of “Ants”? Is there an explanation for it in the movie?

  25. joon says:

    er, no, i don’t think so. is there an explanation for gorillaz? Z is just cooler than S, and if you’re allowed to just make stuff up, you might as well go for the cooler letter.

  26. SethG says:

    In French it was called _Fourmiz_. GTranslate tells me fourmi is French for ant, and ants would be les fourmis. I have a friend named Zeth, but he’s not an ant and doesn’t speak French, either.

  27. *David* says:

    Antz is titled such as a play on the fact that the main character’s name is Z. I’m a big fan of Damon Albarn and as far as I know there are no band members in Gorillaz with the name Z.

  28. Matt Gaffney says:

    “I have a friend named Zeth”

    Tell him to become famous so we can use his name in crosswords.

  29. Pete says:

    9 of the 10 animal names appear in the puzzle connected by horizontal, vertical, and diagonal touching, although the letters are not in order.
    SHEEP does not, so I submitted DOLLY

    I submit this is an acceptable alternate answer (though not nearly as elegant as the intended one)

  30. Ben says:

    You got me with this one, Matt. Congrats to all who figured it out.

    (shakes fist) Gaffney!

  31. David Hirschhorn says:

    Z – ANT (letters are in 8th vertical row)
    Bullwinkle – MOOSE (all letters in 10th horizontal row – not in order)
    Yogi – BEAR (2nd vertical row)
    Bambi – STAG (6th H row)
    Dolly – SHEEP (4th V row)
    Shamu – WHALE (12th V row)
    Odie – BEAGLE (11th V row)
    Tom – ???
    Nala – LION (14th H row)
    MrEd – STEED (5th V row)

    And the missing lynx is TOM.


  32. John says:

    Random sound alike words in random clues, This has to be the most convoluted Meta of all time! Although I guessed the correct answer, I arrived at it by a totally different route. Spelled the mates from all of the theme answers letters.

    Mr Ed-horse-mare

    Thew only two that are not possible are COW and BITCH because there’s no C. Tossed a coin and ODIE won! YEAH!!

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