MGWCC #153

 crossword 7:57
puzzle -6 minutes 


greetings and welcome to episode #153 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “New York’s Finest.” this week, matt asks us to identify the name of a well-known crossword constructor, and goes 21×21 on the grid. he’s done so once before, to honor merl reagle by using the artist’s own preferred medium for an homage. and indeed, he’s done the same thing this week, to honor 69-across: {Beloved crossword constructor retiring after 30+ years at New York Magazine} MAURA JACOBSON. seven other long answers have MAURA’s first name jumbled in consecutive circled letters:

  • {Bergen County city known for its shopping} is PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY. i have been there. “new jersey” + “shopping” reminds me inevitably of one song: the valley of malls by fountains of wayne.
  • {Last leader of the Incas} is TUPAC AMARU. if you are only going to remember one inca name, it should be atahualpa, the emperor captured and killed by pizarro and his men in 1532. if you can spare a brain cell for two names, though, tupac amaru would be the second. he was atahualpa’s nephew (i think?) and the last to claim the title of inca emperor in the years of disarray following 1532.
  • {Blue hue} is AQUAMARINE.
  • {Comedy Central airs them} FUTURAMA EPISODES. i don’t watch TV, but if i were to watch one TV show, it would be this one. (if i were going to watch two, the second would be tupac amaru.)
  • {Marvel Comics character, with “The”} is the MASKED MARAUDER. unfamiliar to me.
  • {What 69-Across’s fans are, now that she’s retiring} is TRAUMATIZED. this elegantly crosses JACOBSON at the A.
  • {Japanese with a sword} is a SAMURAI WARRIOR.

i guess i’m a relative newcomer to the crossword scene, so i don’t have nostalgic memories of maura’s puzzles. i’m pretty sure i’ve only ever done four: ACPT puzzle #6 in 2009 (by mail), 2010, and 2011, and the 9/16/09 NYT during “half-century puzzlemakers’ week.” of those, i’d have to say that the 2010 ACPT puzzle was my favorite, as it had a fun theme with an academic bent, very much up my alley. but surely others here who have been doing her puzzles for much longer have more interesting stories of her work to share?

the fill and clues were fairly easy, which i’m given to understand is a hallmark of maura’s puzzles. the only one that really jumped out at me was OUD, the {Musical instrument of Arab nations}. i think i have seen this word on a scrabble word list, but not in a crossword. there were a few tough-ish proper names: NEGRA modelo beer, and lawyer melvin BELLI crossing hawaii senator daniel INOUYE at the I. luckily i remembered BELLI from his last appearance in a MGWCC (week 116), because i’m not sure i would have been able to scrape up INOUYE’s first letter, even though he’s the president pro tem of the senate.

since i don’t have much to say about maura, i’ll leave the talking to you all. see you in the comments!

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18 Responses to MGWCC #153

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    339 correct entries this week. Only two wrong answers: one CATHY ALLIS and one JOON PAHK!

  2. Robin says:

    I thought there had to be a trick and it was just too simple to send in Maura Jacobsen. Oh well.

  3. Russ says:

    The meta on this one seemed a little too easy to me, even for the first week o’ the month. I actually spent some time trying to figure out if I’d missed something.

    — Russ

  4. Eric LeVasseur says:

    I was able to send in the correct answer based on the title and the size of the puzzle alone, without looking at the clues. I expect I’m not the only one to do so.

  5. miss kali says:

    A customer of mine plays the oud, very very cool instrument!

  6. Matthew G. says:

    Like Robin, I didn’t send in an entry because I thought a whole answer in the grid, directly clued, did not qualify as a “meta,” and I couldn’t find any other answer. Oh well.

    I grew up in Bergen County, New Jersey, and the words “mall” and “Paramus” remain inseparable in my head.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    Well there’s no penalty for guessing wrong, so why not send in the obvious…?

  8. Howard B says:

    Matthew: Was originally Bergen County here as well. Knew Paramus all too well, and was pretty suprised to see it fit in a non-mall related theme.

  9. joon says:

    CATHY ALLIS makes a little bit of sense, i guess, although i think that’s reading a fair bit too much into the meta. (for those who hadn’t heard, cathy is taking over for maura at new york magazine.) it’s week 1 of the month, after all, so the obvious thing is probably right. i have no idea how JOON PAHK makes any sense to anybody, but i’m honored to be a wrong answer.

  10. Matthew G. says:


    Because I was afraid of looking stupid, and therefore made myself look even stupider! Makes sense, right? ;)

  11. jllaf says:

    I still reside right next door to Paramus, also known as the “Gateway to Glen Rock”.

  12. Norm says:

    I shared everyone’s suspicions about the meta being too obvious, but …. So I wrote Matt, “Unless there’s an NYPD officer out there who constructs puzzles on the
    side or you’re even more devious than I think you are, I don’t see how
    the answer can be anything else. You’re just trying to set a record
    for most correct answers in her honor, right?”

  13. Noam D. Elkies says:

    64A:OUD is also the source of our “lute” (via “al-oud”). I see that the Arabic word “oud” just means “wood” (as we speak of “woodwinds”), though it’s not etymologically related.

  14. I was the one CATHY ALLIS. Maybe it’s my MIT Mystery Hunt genes kicking around, but I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that the answer would be that simple. Cathy was the best alternative I could come up with, and I figured it was better to send in something than nothing.

    I’m sorry Matt, but that just isn’t a metapuzzle by any means.

  15. *David* says:

    I have come to the conclusion that the majority of my enjoyment out of doing these puzzle/metas is listening afterwards to others explaining how they got a different answer. I figure the Joon entry was a joke by a subversive mind.

  16. Alex says:

    I will be submitting JOON PAHK regardless of the meta for the rest of the month.

    (No, it wasn’t me this time)

  17. Erik says:

    I don’t think Matt was trying to stump anyone this week, just celebrate a crossword legend.

  18. Matt Gaffney says:

    Right, Erik!

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