MGWCC #131

crossword 4:48 (paper)
puzzle 0:12

mgwcc131greetings, everyone, and welcome to the 131st episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Crossword Scene: Take One.” this week, MGWCC goes hollywood, as we are asked to find the name of a well-known actress. the six theme answers are all the names of actresses, some of them well-known, with a letter missing (hence “take one”). in every case, it’s a silent letter that doesn’t affect the pronunciation. to wit:

  • {“Jungle Fever” actress} is ANNABELLA (s)CIORRA, with her S missing. i don’t know anything about this person other than her name and profession. and i think i must have learned those from crosswords. according to the crossword databases (and probably imdb, though i didn’t check), she was in “the sopranos.” i have this nagging sense that i learned her name from a previous MGWCC, but i can’t pinpoint it.
  • {Lois Lane portrayer} is MARGO(t) KIDDER, without her T. i needed most of the crosses here before this name manifested itself. i couldn’t think past teri hatcher. there was also somebody in the recent(ish) superman returns movie that i actually saw (surprisingly), but she must have been rather forgettable, because… poof.
  • {She played Elizabeth II in “The Queen”} is HELEN MI(r)REN. finally one i knew.
  • {Winner of two Oscars for Woody Allen films} is DIANN(e) WIEST. i had some trouble with this on friday, but then i was all over it when it showed up again in merl reagle’s sunday puzzle.
  • {Eponymous Emmy winner} is ROSEANN(e) BARR, who … won an emmy named for herself? wait, that’s not right. i guess all the other theme clues include a role or movie/show for the actress, but in barr’s case, both are named after herself (with the terminal E, of course).
  • {“The Fabulous Baker Boys” actress} is MICHELLE (p)FEIFFER. i don’t know this movie.

well, the meta isn’t too tough, is it? just take the letters in order to get streep, who’s pretty much the well-known actress of all well-known actresses.

the crossword, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as easy as some first-week offerings. i thought it was great, but there were definitely some knotty parts. the theme, for one thing, was tricky—there was no indication how (or even that) the names had to be shortened to fit into the grid. then there was the fill:

  • {“Dangerous Liaisons” and “High Fidelity” director Stephen} FREARS? never heard of this guy. and i don’t think i would have been able to guess any of the letters if given the other five.
  • {Dead and Irish} is an awesome clue for SEAS.
  • {___ This Way (Chicago Chinese restaurant)} is WOK. matt’s used this clue before, except it was in austin last time. maybe it’s a chain? i’m a sucker for punny restaurant names, actually. the best one has to be pho shizzle.
  • {It’s worked on during a vacation} is a good clue for TAN. if you’re a model and you go on vacation to work on your tan, does that make it a busman’s holiday?
  • {Of the tongue} is LINGUAL. i inferred this once i had LI-, but i don’t think i’ve ever seen this word before.
  • {2007 and 2009 Pro Bowl tackle ___ Dockett} is DARNELL of the arizona cardinals. i’m a big NFL fan, so i know this guy. but he’s hardly a household name.
  • {Where K-I-S-S-I-N-G takes place} is IN A TREE, even though that doesn’t sound very comfortable. there’s a fairly bawdy scene IN A TREE in nabokov’s ada, or ardor, which is almost in the grid ({Many prosecutors, for short} ADAS).
  • {“Curb Your Enthusiasm” lead role, casually} is LAR(ry). i haven’t seen anybody other than matt use this clue, but it’s infinitely preferable to {Celtic sea god}, isn’t it? i mean, i’m a big mythology buff, but celtic sea gods are largely beyond my ken.
  • speaking of mythology: {Zeus had him bound to a burning wheel} is IXION. IXION! first of all, he has an awesome name. second, that’s my favorite punishment from greek mythology, way cooler than tantalus or sisyphus (although the sisyphus story has inspired some pretty good philosophy). i can’t even remember what ixion did. i think maybe he tried to seduce hera. that zeus—what a hypocrite. i definitely wouldn’t let him date my daughter.
  • {Current “Saturday Night Live” cast member Thompson} is KENAN. i am not sure how i knew this. i’m not even particularly sure that i knew this, but did fill it in. was i thinking of kenan & kel, or keenan ivory wayans? what is kenan & kel, anyway?
  • {Worked like ___ (slaved over)} is MAD ON, one of the awkwarder partials i’ve seen.
  • {He lost to Sampras in the 1997 Wimbledon final and the 1993 U.S. Open final} clues cedric PIOLINE, who noses out DARNELL dockett for the title of least famous athlete in this grid. stylish, left-handed frenchman, if i recall. how’s my memory? well, wikipedia says he wasn’t lefty. (no word on stylish.)

okay, that’s all for me. see you next week.

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20 Responses to MGWCC #131

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    I think Cedric Pioline was more scrappy than stylish.

    I knew I had used WOK ‘n’ Roll before, but didn’t realize I’d already done WOK This Way. We also had EAT A PITA once.

  2. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    I was struck, but not misguided, by the fact that every theme surname (Oops! Except Dianne Wiest!), and most of the given names, contained at least one double letter.

    And BTW, LAR is a Roman household god, while LER (as all worshippers of Ooxteplernon know) is the Celtic sea god.

  3. joon says:

    whoops, you’re right bob. thanks for catching that. either way, LAR kind of sucks as crossword fill (though LARES is quite a bit better).

  4. Neville says:

    Puzzle was pretty hard for week one, but meta was just right.

    ‘Kenan & Kel’ was a sitcom on Nickelodeon in the late 90s – perhaps the best of them. And that is the right Kenan… compare his success to Melissa Joan Hart – I think she wins.

    IXION FTW – we need more awesome Greek myth names in crosswords IMO.

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    Proof they sometimes called him LAR on the show (warning — vulgar language):

    (at 0:13)

  6. Doug G. says:

    Oops. I anagrammed the silent letters to get Bernadette PETERS, who admittedly is somewhat less famous than Meryl Streep, if funnier.

  7. Spencer says:

    Well, if I knew actress’s names, I would have noticed the missing letters. As it was, I said to myself “Humph. Actresses. Humph.” and gave up. Not a very go-ish attitude, I guess.

  8. Barbara says:

    After discovering the missing letters, I had my “aha” moment … but then thought Matt might have made it too easy by having the letters line up in order … PETERS? PRESET? … but then I had my “whew” moment knowing I had gotten the Meta. Thank goodness he didn’t make the theme Greek mythology with Iphicles and his son, Iolaus.

  9. Jeffrey says:

    As usual the joon/Jeffrey Venn Diagram will have nearly empty intersecting areas.

    I knew all the actresses, saw the Fabulous Baker Boys, and can name Kate Bosworth as the less than memorable Lois Lane in Superman Returns.

    On the other side, nix on IXION.

    We intersect on 12 seconds to solve.

  10. Eric Maddy says:

    Along the lines of “Pho Shizzle”, and more authentic to the actual pronunciation of the soup:

  11. pannonica says:

    Would that LAR were the (nonexistent) singular of (the non-plural) LARS.

  12. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    @pannonica – Not sure I follow you. Cassell’s Latin-English Dictionary lists Lar or Lars (non-plural) as an Etruscan praenomen, and Lar as the tutelary deity (though usually seen as the plural Lares), while Merriam Webster’s Collegiate lists Lar (apparently existent, with the plural Lares) as the English word for the same deity.

    Or were you simply referring to the Scandinavian name Lars, and I was too thick to get the joke?!?

  13. pannonica says:

    “Or were you simply referring to the Scandinavian name Lars, and I was too thick to get the joke?!?” —Bob Kerfuffle

    Yes, it was that, but I think it’s more a reflection of my ignorance than any obtuseness on your part.

  14. john farmer says:

    the six theme answers are all the names of actresses, some of them well-known, with a letter missing (hence “take one”). in every case, it’s a silent letter that doesn’t affect the pronunciation.

    I don’t think that’s true for Annabella Sciorra. She says it “Shee-OR-a.” I wouldn’t call the S silent…unless I’m missing something about names from Italian.

    Not sure if I’d call the R in Mirren silent either.

  15. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Pannonica, we need a verb. “I Lar, you Lar, he/she/it Lars.”

  16. pannonica says:

    Amy, am now thinking of Live, Love, Larf & Loaf, (by French, Frith, Kaiser, Thompson) which I may have to go listen to…

        “Lar she blows!”             (?)

  17. sandirhodes says:

    Well, STREEP was easy enough, and had it not been a first-week puzzle, I might have thought it a liitle TOO easy.

    That said, perhaps PETERS should count as correct …?


  18. Matt Gaffney says:

    4 or 5 people submitted PETERS; it’s clever but I can’t count it as correct.

    As a 1) more famous actress 2) spelled out by the six theme entries, without anagramming, STREEP is too clearly the superior answer.

  19. Abby says:

    For once, I knew most of the names (theme and otherwise) right off. Then it was a matter of working the checks to see which letter was dropped. I was initially angling for someone with one name like Cher or Charro, but after I got a few, I saw it was an easier name. Good, ’cause I was running out of one-word names. :-)

    Jeff and Richard Lewis both call Larry “Lar” most of the time when conversing with him. At least that’s how I remember it-haven’t watched it since the latest new HBO episode.

  20. Stewart Levine says:

    Along the lines of Eric Maddy’s post. It’s also in my town of Houston, TX.

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