MGWCC #123

crossword 4:16 (paper)
puzzle 0:30 (but i had to check the list)

mgwcc123 greetings and welcome to the 123rd episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “This Is the Big One.” ha month continues this october, as once again we are asked to identify a famous 20th-century american comedian who would have made an excellent theme entry in this puzzle. what’s the theme, then?

  • {Summary of the fine print?} is a MINUTIAE OUTLINE.
  • {Hawaiian wine lover?} is a MAUI OENOPHILE.
  • {Seance held in scuba gear?} is UNDERSEA OUIJA.
  • {Person who designed a Toyota SUV?} is a SEQUOIA ENGINEER.

these made-up phrases all feature the five vowels consecutively (but out of order), split across a word break. that part was fairly straightforward. but i knew i didn’t know the comic, so i checked the list and eventually scrolled down to find louie anderson. never heard of him, but okay. i also don’t understand the title, but maybe i would if i knew anything about anderson. i just watched 5 minutes of his standup act on youtube, and i can’t say i’m any more enlightened. is it because anderson is big?

i thought the crossword was pretty easy. quick hits:

  • bonus theme material: {Vowel for Vasilios} is ETA. not part of the theme, thankfully.
  • bonus ha month material: “TOO {funny”} and {“Hilarity} ENSUES.”
  • {They haven’t been treated well}? OPEN SORES. ha! i mean, gross. wait, no, i did mean ha!.
  • {Jim’s portrayer, in a 1991 movie} is VAL, presumably kilmer. what movie is this? who’s jim? the only VAL roles i know are nick rivers, iceman, bruce wayne, and simon templar.
  • {Not taboo to discuss} is SPEAKABLE, a word much more familiar in its negated form.
  • {A follower of philosophy?} is PRIORI, as in “a priori.” this one got me. well played, gaffney.
  • {Golf star Vijay Singh, for example} is a FIJIAN. i couldn’t name another one.

that’s all for me. somebody please explain the title. and see you next week.

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13 Responses to MGWCC #123

  1. Karen says:

    I can’t explain the title (I don’t find him that funny either), but Val Kilmer played Jim Morrison in a movie in 1991 called The Doors. I preferred Gwyneth Paltrow in a 1998 movie called Sliding Doors.

    I also like that the different word breaks have different numbers of vowels on either side.

  2. peechy says:

    A Google of “the big one” has a reference to multi-racecar crash, something like what happens with different vowel mixes?

  3. Matt K says:

    The title may be an oblique reference to Anderson’s girth, but it’s most definitely a callback to last week’s solution. On Redd Foxx’s 70s sitcom Sanford and Son, when his character wasn’t getting his way, he would fake a heart attack (“This is the big one!”) and most famously, calling out to his deceased wife, “I’m coming, Elizabeth!” You really should try to catch some old reruns somewhere. For a sitcom that used all of the standard sitcom cliches, it was still pretty funny.

  4. Gavin says:

    Louie is a really big fellow (assuming he’s not in training with Drew Carey – I haven’t seen Louie in a while, but Drew is looking almost slim). Part of his early standup act was about getting kicked out of a Chinese restaurant’s all-you-can-eat buffet. He quoted the manager’s broken English: “You go NOW. You be heah FOUAH HOUAH!” [Translation: You must leave NOW. You have been here for FOUR HOURS!]

  5. Neville says:

    I agree with Matt K – I thought it was a throwback to Redd Foxx. Maybe a double meaning with Anderson’s weight.

    I remember Anderson as the former host of Family Feud – post Ray Combs, pre Richard Karn. He was the worst – both at hosting the show and at being funny – I’m surprised he made the list. I’m not the only one who feels this way, it appears:

    “My gap is my trademark – without my gap, I am just an annoying game show host” – Louie Anderson on himself

  6. Patrick says:

    I believe the title has a double reference. One of them is to Anderson’s girth, which was the subject of many of his jokes. The other is to last week’s answer of REDD FOXX because, on the sitcom “Sanford and Son,” Redd often feigned a heart attack (usually to gain sympathy from Demond Wilson’s character) as he proclaimed, “This is the big one!”

    Louie Anderson achieved a fair amount of success in the 1990s. He was the first host of the syndication-only version of “Family Feud,” and his childhood was the basis of a Saturday morning cartoon called “Life With Louie,” which won two Emmys during its three-year run.

  7. otis says:

    did everyone see NYTimes had a meta today! Some very current pop culture clues to, almost felt like an G-rated AV club. Metas are the icing on the crossword cake that makes me check in every Friday afternoon with MG. I just took the title to literally mean he was the biggest comedian on the list- wait, was Chris Farley on it?

  8. HH says:

    Gavin, that wasn’t Louie — that was John Pinette.

  9. Gavin says:

    @HH Really? WOW. Thanks.

  10. Jim says:

    My only problem was Matt’s instructions “this week’s contest answer is one of the most famous American comedians of the 20th century”. Now had he said on the “biggest” American comedians… it would have made sense.

  11. Abby says:

    I’ll agree with the comments on the title, but also add that Redd Foxx actually did die of a heart attack on the set of another sitcom. Well, collapsed there and died at the hospital, but after faking it so many times, I do wonder if he got laughs when he really went. I hope so, I guess.

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I confess I have made the same Anderson/Pinette mix-up. Anderson is more famous and probably gets half the credit in people’s minds for Pinette’s bit.

    I filled in less than a quarter of the grid before I made sure Louie Anderson was on Matt’s list and sent in my solution. My fastest solve ever, with the exception of the posthumous Michael Jackson meta.

  13. sandirhodes says:

    Saw John Pinette just this summer. Outrageous. Best joke? Said he was working on his anti-bucket list. Stuff he was NEVER going to do before he died.

    He said he couldn’t tell us what he called it, but it rhymed with bucket …

    :) :)

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