MGWCC #144

 crossword 4:18 (paper)
puzzle 2 minutes, with google 


greetings, friends, and welcome to the 144th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “A Million Little Pieces.” this week, we’re asked to identify the classic topping missing from 17-across. Hint: it’s the shortest of this food’s five classic toppings. okay, so the first part is easy: 17-across is an EVERYTHING BAGEL, clued as {Delicious food item with one major drawback}. scattered throughout the grid (in not-quite-symmetrical entries) are various toppings: GARLIC, ONION, SESAME/SEEDS, and POPPY/SEEDS (with SEEDS pulling double-duty at 19a). just for kicks, matt’s included his own trenchant witticism in two more 15-letter entries:

  • {The drawback of 17-across…} IT’S SO MESSY TO EAT…
  • {…and therefore what they should logically call 17-across} is an EVERYWHERE BAGEL. i think i’m duty-bound to link here. also, after i sent in my answer, matt informed me that “no one has yet noticed that the black squares in the middle resemble a bunch of loose everything bagel toppings.” i honestly can’t tell if he’s joking or not.

okay, so what’s the missing ingredient? hell if i know! i’ve never had an everything bagel, or even a most-things bagel. i’m not really much of a bagel eater, to be honest. the only time i ever have bagels is at my in-laws’ house, and the way they like ’em is with bacon-crumbled cream cheese, lox, and capers. i was leaning towards sending in LOX as my answer, but it didn’t really sound like it went with the other toppings, so i just googled it and came up with salt. that’s the answer, salt. okay? salt.

one advantage of googling for the answer: i stumbled across this amusing link, a collection of tweets mocking the everything bagel for not actually containing, you know, everything. (like, say, lox, which is infinitely deliciouser than any of the actual toppings on an everything bagel.)

been a while since we did a fill roundup, hasn’t it?

  • {Pretty awful, like a movie or a hotel} is ONE-STAR. this meta was certainly uninteresting to me, but i’m going to give it more than ONE STAR, just because that’s how big i am.
  • {Best Picture of 2006, with “The”} is “The” DEPARTED. it’s one of the few movies i’ve seen in the past decade. and apparently it won best picture! i had no idea. good movie, though. much better than one star.
  • {Cuban currency} is a PESO, the kind he used to sign corey brewer to a 3-year, $7 million contract last week.
  • {“The Hug” photographer Goldin} NAN. what? who?
  • {Jacob’s 11th son} is JOSEPH. reuben was the eldest of the children of israel, with simeon and levi the next in line. naphtali and issachar and asher and dan, zebulun and gad took the total to nine. jacob! jacob and sons! benjamin and judah, which leaves only one. jacob! jacob and sons! JOSEPH, jacob’s favorite son. i guess the order in which they were born isn’t necessarily the same as the order in which they scan and/or rhyme. also, have you ever noticed how some of the twelve children of israel (aka jacob) are still very common judeo-christian boys’ names, and some of them are … less so? sure, you’ve got your zebulon pikes and your neftali felizes and even pablo nerudas, but where are the people named issachar or gad?
  • {It holds the door for you} clues JAMB. for me? oh, jamb, you shouldn’t have.
  • {The fifth taste, from the Japanese} is savory UMAMI. when i was a lad, i was taught that we had five senses and four tastes. ah, those were simpler days.
  • {Whenever you want it} is ON DEMAND, like netflix instant. good fill.
  • {Dark and introspective, like music} is EMO. does anybody else remember the days when matt would make fun of EMO every week? it seems like only yesteryear.

that’s all for me. see you guys next week.

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26 Responses to MGWCC #144

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    359 correct entries this week, two shy of the record.

    18 people sent in LOX — with more of them on board we woulda had it!

    PS — the quip isn’t it mine, it’s my girlfriend’s. She’s not a puzzle person but makes a lot of funnies. I was eating an ET bagel when she made this one — I counted the letters in EVERYTHING BAGEL and EVERYWHERE BAGEL and my theme antennae went nuts…

  2. Neville says:

    “no one has yet noticed that the black squares in the middle resemble a bunch of loose everything bagel toppings.”

    Whether this was meant facetiously or not, I nearly always prefer a grid that looks like this, because it’s easier to move from one section to the next. Plus, it helps the grid feel like one puzzle… even if the bagel leaves orts every!

    Why wasn’t ORT in this puzzle, Matt? ;)

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    Joon and Neville — I was completely serious about the million little pieces in the middle of the grid! If you squint, you can even see that some look like poppy seeds, some look like salt, etc.

    What is an ORT? I’m not familiar with that term.

  4. Noam D. Elkies says:

    “Gad” and “Naftali” aren’t that uncommon in Israel, I think — at any rate I know at least one of each (they usually go by Gady and Naly). Issachar, well, I’ve seen it, but it looks weird even in Hebrew, what with the silent second S (maybe the unique example in Hebrew of a silent letter outside AHOY). Even weirder for me to run across girls and women named Noam — that never happened when I was a kid there.

    But Pablo (Neruda), what’s so unusual about that? Both Pablo and the corresponding Paul are very widespread. I don’t get it.


    P.S. 50A:MYRA Breckenridge looks like a fond farewell to literary February.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    Okay, time for a bagel war. The only true bagels are from Montreal not New York, from St Viateur not Fairmount, and must be either sesame seed or poppy seed.

  6. joon says:

    noam, that was a little joke. pablo neruda’s birth name was neftali ricardo reyes basoalto. neruda was originally his pen name, although later in life he had his name legally changed (i think when he ran for political office in chile). anyway, neftali appears to be more common among latin american and, as you point out, israeli names than among anglo-saxon ones.

  7. Neville says:

    “even if the bagel leaves orts every[where]!” – I left out the where. I’m full of silliness today.

    Matt, ort is a crosswordese word for a crumb, or any other morsel or scrap of food left behind. I would never expect you to use such dreadful fill :)

  8. Scott says:

    I got the answer. But I also kept looking for other nuggets in the puzzle…like NACL somewhere. I did wonder if SOOTY characters could become SALTY characters (at least in the down direction.

  9. Alex says:

    I am 100% positive that Matt was joking when he said he’d never heard the word “ort.”

    Also, this puzzle reminds me of one of the greatest early-week New York Sun crosswords of all time (in my opinion).

  10. Howard B says:

    @Jeffrey: Think we’ll need a sample of genuine Montreal bagels in Brooklyn, for research and comparison purposes, of course.

    I still await the everything bagel with truly everything in the spice rack. Allspice, cumin, cinnamon-sugar, mace, asafoetida, dill, cayenne, bay leaves, etc. Hell, I want to see no exposed bagel, only 500+ herbs and spices covering a relatively small piece of boiled dough. Bring it on.

  11. Barbara says:

    … well, to add to my Jewish guilt, I am one of the aforementioned “lox” answerers who helped Matt miss the record number of correct answers. My brain knew that lox doesn’t fall into “A Million Little Pieces,” but up popped my image of Matt and Otis inside the bagel mit lox, and I had to go with it … and the word “lox” is so pleasingly short and balanced … sorry, Matt …

  12. Abby says:

    I noticed the little dots in the puzzle- guess I neglected to mention it. Would’ve looked more like a bagel, though, if the corners were cut off. (Or if the center part looked more separate than whatever four legged thing it’s sitting on.)

    I think I did mention, though, that at Einstein Bros an everything bagel also has caraway seeds. That’s not quite everything and a bag of chips, but it’s something more than everything.

    “And then the Buddhist asked us to make him one with everything…”

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Like Joon, I had to Google for the missing ingredient. I like a plain or egg bagel, or maybe one with cranberries or blueberries. I like a smooth exterior.

    Photographer NAN Goldin, Bobbsey Twin NAN, NAN the tomboy from “Little Men”—I’d rather have NAN the Indian bread over all of them!

  14. Matt Gaffney says:


    That’s a NAAN-starter.

  15. Howard B says:

    Maybe, but you gotta admit she’s building up some good korma there.
    I’ll stop now before I get to those Del(h)i puns.

  16. sandirhodes says:

    Tikka break already

  17. joon says:

    what kind of poori (e)xcuse for a punster are you?

  18. Alex says:

    Making these puns bearable is a dal order indeed.

  19. sandirhodes says:

    Is this mess of improvosation a gulab jamin (glob jammin’)?

  20. Ben Bass says:

    Be all ye at peace.

  21. Les W says:

    No Sandi, it’s a mass ‘a lies!

  22. Stewart Levine says:

    Matt can be one more submission closer to the record. I just went through my Spam filter and saw that my correct answer had bounced as somehow I tried to send it to the google group which does not accept e-mail.

  23. pannonica says:

    Am I too late for the punjabbing?

    Wait. Can I take a mulligantawny on that one?

  24. sandirhodes says:

    This has ghat to stop!!

  25. Spencer says:

    K, I stop it naow.

    When I read that there were 5 toppings, I confidently filled in CINCINNATICHILI, which comes in a “5-way” version (but, thinking about it now, I think the chili itself is one of the 5, so there aren’t 5 “toppings”. Of course, it quickly fell to the crossings, and the correct answer became apparent.

    I don’t like everything bagels, because the salt toughens the crust too much.

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