MGWCC #151

 crossword 6:54
puzzle about 20 minutes 


welcome to the 151st episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Size Matters.” short write-up this week, because i’m sick: this week we’re trying to identify a major American corporation. the longest answers in the grid:

  • {Every second} is AT ALL TIMES.
  • {The belle of the ball makes it} is a GRAND ENTRANCE.
  • {“Don’t take any of this seriously”} is “I’M JUST VENTING.”
  • {Seashore business} is a BOAT RENTAL.

as you can see from the bold letters (circled in the grid), each one contains a pretentious name for a drink size at starbucks. they are arranged in order from smallest to largest. why is the smallest drink called TALL? why is the one that doesn’t intrinsically connote any particular size* (VENTI) larger than the two that connote largeness (TALL and GRANDE)? these are among life’s unanswerable questions.

the new one in the mix is TRENTA, the 31-oz size for iced drinks only, currently available in some states but not others. i had never heard of it until peter gordon used it in last week’s fireball. at least TRENTA is italian for 30, although there still seems to be a mismatch between the name and the size.

(*: amy points out that VENTI is fritalian for 20, and indeed a hot venti-size cup holds 20 oz. so maybe life’s questions aren’t as unanswerable as i thought.)

best thing in the fill: IT’S SO BAD, clued as {Three-word review associated with Nintendo’s Power Glove}. the actual marketing slogan used by nintendo was “now you’re playing with power,” but this clip from the wizard is about a million times more apropos. it really is so bad.

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30 Responses to MGWCC #151

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Feel better, Joon. 218 correct entries this week.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    I was out of town over the weekend so had to race to complete this morning and hope that the answer came to me. It helped that I was in Seattle.

  3. sandirhodes says:

    Kinda sucks if you don’t drink coffee, and have never been to Starbucks, or a Dunkin Donuts even!

  4. zifmia says:

    My extensive Google research for this meta shows that there actually is a smaller size than “tall”. Apparently even though it is no longer listed on their menus, you can still order a “short” if you know to ask for it.

    I found this meta pretty easy even as a non-coffee drinker who has never been to Starbucks, simply because “Venti” shows up in so many crossword puzzles.

  5. Neville says:

    Not a coffee drinker here – been to Starbucks maybe 5 times – but this meta was nice and easy for me, too. I think the title helped, but it just goes to show how pervasive Starbucks has been.

  6. Howard B says:

    Although I find their normal coffee to be at about a taste level and consistency of, say, burnt shoe polish, this puzzle and meta were a much smoother solve than their standard java.

    – The Short size has indeed been a ‘semi-hidden’ part of their menu for some time (Often the cups are hidden in plain sight, sometimes not). It was the size I used to order back when it was a novelty in my area, as it seemed to pack about the same caffeinated punch as a larger-sized cup elsewhere. Wasn’t on the menu then either, heard about it by asking the employee if they had anything smaller.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    I wavered over including a SHORT entry. In the end I decided that there were several “non-official” sizes like short, including doppio and a couple of others, so I decided to just stick with the main four.

  8. Howard B says:

    Agree on the standard size themeness consistency. Even with the last size which isn’t offered in my neck of the woods, there’s a distinct division between the standard “listed” sizes and any others.

    With this new product information, I now wonder if there’s also an insider super size for only their most chemically-dependent loyal customers (Jitterati? Trenta-Wreck?).

  9. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    Food for thought – or Drink for thought? – Eight comments to this point, but subtract two from Matt equals six from solvers, of whom three declare themselves to be non-coffee-drinkers. Add myself, a confirmed non-coffee-er, and we have a majority. Significance?

  10. Matt Gaffney says:

    Include me, Bob! I’ve had maybe three cups of coffee in my entire life.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    Not a big coffee drinker, and I prefer Tim Hortons to Starbucks.

  12. Matthew G. says:

    As I told Matt in e-mailing in my answer, I usually order the SHORT size at Starbucks. I kind of like the fact that it’s as excluded from this grid as it is from their published menu.

    According to several published reports, the capacity of the new TRENTA cup is bigger than that of the human stomach.

    I switched from coffee to green tea in January, and it is one of the single best decisions I have ever made. Concentration and sleep way up, jitters and peevishness way down.

  13. pannonica says:

    “A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.” —Paul Erdos

    I love coffee (black, always black), but it makes me sleepy. My theory is my body skips the buzz and goes straight to the crash.

    *I remember years ago coming across a wonderful black-coffee quote that I’m 95% certain was from Marcel Duchamp, but I can’t seem to find it. Not even the glorious internet can substantiate this memory.

  14. Abby says:

    Yeah, not a coffee drinker either. If you dump enough chocolate and whipped cream in it, I’ll take it, but it’s easier to just leave the coffee part out. :-)

  15. Karen says:

    No coffee for me either, too bitter. But I’ll drink their chai or cider. Not worth a special trip. I’m glad Peter Gordon’s puzzle mentioned the Trenta this past week, to put it into my consciousness. Any ways the VENTI could have been split over two words, instead of self contained? I come up with OVEN TIMER which is too short.

  16. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    @Karen – How about, “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”, which would be seVENTImessix?

  17. Abby says:


  18. Stevo says:

    How many Jews refer to sundown tonight = LEAVENTIME

    Not in the language, but topical!

  19. Les W says:

    I love coffee, but as far as I’m concerned, this puzzle was all about cars:

    trim, oil, steam,
    Olds, Enclave, Edsel (down right side)

    vent -|
    dent -| — From the theme answers
    rent -|

    aches and pains,
    All add up to HERTZ for me!

    ..and for other companies:
    GellMand (GM). (Is GM making Jitney’s now?)
    Plus an odd GE(GrandEntrance) and BOAtrental and kinda ATT (atalltimes).

  20. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Howard, I believe the term you’re looking for is Trentasaurus Wrecks.

    Not only don’t I drink coffee, but I paid no mind to the puzzle’s title and had zero idea what the meta was. Now, I know all about the Starbucks drink sizes, but I just wasn’t seeing them. The STEAM above VENTING misdrew my eye.

  21. Jan (danjan) says:

    I didn’t see the theme, either, probably because my beverage of choice is Dunkin’ Donuts. I can’t drink Starbucks; it’s too bitter.

  22. joon says:

    i don’t like coffee either. it’s gross. but i do drink it every day.

  23. I’m not a regular coffee drinker, but I’ll have some maybe once every couple of months so I’m somewhat familiar with Starbucks’ sizes.

    @Karen: Some (not all that great) possibilities I found are EVENTIDE (2008 Magic: The Gathering expansion set), GIVENTIME (It’ll get done ___), SEVENTIMES (_ Lucky (2004 film)). There’s much better stuff though that’s one word: INVENTION, PREVENTION, CONVENTION, CONTRAVENTION, etc., plus lots of variations by adding -AL or changing the ending to -ING.

  24. Pam says:

    Not even close. Never been in a Starbucks. Don’t drink coffee. Missed it by a country mile.
    Grand Entrance = GE
    boATrenTal & ATallTimes = ATandT
    Gell-Mann = GM which I voted for on the basis of Monte Carlo and Olds

  25. MM says:

    Not even close for me, either. I interpreted the title in terms of “too big to fail,” so I kept seeing things like GE and AIG.

    Oh, and I cannot imagine being a non-coffee drinker.

  26. otisannette says:

    I feel I need to speak up for the coffee culture. I know it is a vice and an addiction or at the very least an acquired taste. I have joked that nothing liquid goes in my body without caffeine or alcohol in it so I guess I am just waiting for Starbucks to get their liquor license. For whatever that does to my brain I got the meta with only two theme answers filled in this week.

  27. cybergoober says:

    FWIW, for years I fixed myself about a qt of Americano every day in my thermos. (~8 oz of espresso, filled up with water). Can’t get any caffeine buzz from coffee no matter how I try, tho.
    Espresso straight is a great way to enjoy super-sweet pastries, so that’s what I get from my Dunkin.
    Starbucks doesn’t know me, tho, because they are not where I am. (must be Mars, right?)
    4-for-4 for April now. I’m nervous about #152.

  28. Robin says:

    I also have to speak up in defense of both coffee and Starbucks. I love both. I go to Starbucks every day for a cappucino or latte and drink lots of french press coffee at home and work. Decaf, though, or I’d be even jumpier than I am now. And finally all my visits to Starbucks paid off because I also got the meta with only 2 answers.

  29. Ben Bass says:

    Since I share many people’s disdain for Starbucks’ linguistic pretensions, I’m perversely proud that despite a passing familiarity with Sbux lingo, I couldn’t see the meta right in front of my face.

  30. Cole says:

    I am a serious coffee drinker to the point of roasting my own beans at home; but while out and about I often get a “medium medium” (size and darkness of roast) at a local non Sbux establishment. And going regularly to Italy I have occasion to drink a lot of espresso. The idea that Americans use the word venti for a coffee is amusing to some of my Italian friends in more than one way.

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