MGWCC #157

 crossword 3:24
puzzle 0:00, plus 1 minute to confirm 


greetings, friends, and welcome to the 157th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Be Counted.” can you believe it’s been 3 years? i can’t, even though i’ve been blogging them every week for the last 2.5 of those years. anyway, after an odd may, we had an easy-breezy puzzle this week to kick off june. we’re asked to identify a well-known musical group. how? well, there are no theme answers in the grid, but there are a lot of Bs. a lot of Bs. how many? well, i’m glad you asked, because the title strongly suggests that we count them. i counted to 52, which confirmed that we are indeed looking for the B-52s as a contest answer.

i might as well confess here that i actually owned the B-52s album cosmic thing on cassette when i was a kid. i thought it was pretty good then, but i don’t really think so any more. is it that it hasn’t held up, or that my taste in music has changed (improved? or just diminished?)? these questions are, perhaps, imponderable.

i gotta say, for a grid with 52 Bs, the fill is totally fine. sure, you’ve got entries like {Quatrain rhyme scheme} ABAB and {Addis ___ University} ABABA (side note: the “university” part of the clue isn’t doing much, is it?), but those are pretty normal. the long answers were pretty good: BOBBY BROWN, RUB A DUB DUB, BUBBLE BATH, and HUBBA BUBBA. okay, never heard of that one, but look at the cute clue: {Gum brand I shoplifted a pack of from People’s Drug Store in 1979 (age six, caught immediately)}. guess i’m not the only one making childhood confessions today. i remember stealing a refrigerator magnet from a grocery store as a child, but i can’t remember if i was caught. probably yes, right? otherwise i would surely have embarked upon a lifetime of kleptomania—that’s how formative experiences work, isn’t it?

hey, speaking of Bs and very large numbers, the bruins just beat the canucks 8-1 in game 3 of the stanley cup finals. yeah, that’s right—hockey content! you weren’t expecting that in one of my writeups, were you? well, this one’s just for you, al, and howard, and especially jeffrey.

odds & ends:

  • {“___ in Paradise” (David Brooks book)} is BOBOS. this is a totally weird answer, and i would never read a book like this, but i actually knew this, because i remember a friend of a friend talking about it like it was the greatest book ever at a gathering once in grad school, maybe 7 years ago. it’s about … bourgeois bohemians? i think that’s right.
  • {Deported Pakistani in a “Seinfeld” episode} is BABU. i think i’ve actually seen this episode, but i get it confused with the 30 rock episode where liz thinks her neighbor is a terrorist when in fact he’s just training for the amazing race.
  • {“Why did ___ banks? Because I enjoyed it.”–Willie Sutton} clues the ugly plural I ROB. maybe this will be the title of an autobiography some day? there’s plenty of people named rob, but so far, no rob has yet attained the status of tina, robot, claudius, corinthians, or ching. by the way, who’s willie sutton? a bank robber, i guess?
  • {Kiss and tell, for example} are VERBS. didn’t fool me.
  • {Non-palindromic Turkish title} is BEY. in fact, “non-palindromic” could have been prefixed to pretty much every clue in this grid, except for the ones for BUB, BRB, and ABBA.
  • {Second-largest of 206} is TIBIA. i kind of wanted this to be INDIA, even though 206 isn’t exactly the right number (although it’s hard to define exactly what the right number is).
  • {Released through pores} is DESORBED. did you know this word? i didn’t. absorbed and adsorbed and even disrobed, yes, but not desorbed.

that’s all for me. don’t forget to hit up the MGWCC tip jar if you haven’t already, and i’ll see you in the comment thread.

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21 Responses to MGWCC #157

  1. Jeffrey says:

    With all the A’s and B’s in the upper left, I nearly stopped solving and sent in ABBA. But you must always check the title. Oh, count the B’s. I counted 51, so sent in the B-51s. (Actually, I recounted. Love Shack, baby!)

  2. Tony says:

    I looked at the puzzle for a minute or so and then looked at the title before deciding to take it literally.

    I loved reading STYLISTS GO BALD across the puzzle. Sounds like an eidemic!

    @Jeffrey, I counted 51, 52, and 53 so I went with the average.

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    B-52’s — 291 entries
    ABBA — 32 entries

    Joon, I owned “Cosmic Thing” on cassette too, circa 1989. I had occasion to re-listen to the whole thing again recently and no, it doesn’t really hold up that well. “Topaz” and “Dry County” sound the best to my ear now (and “Roam”) but the rest is a little screechy. Since the music hasn’t changed we must conclude that it’s us.

    Thanks for the link, Joon! After four days we’re already higher than last year’s total for the whole week (we’re at $3,035 now from 118 tippers). So thanks to everyone who has chipped in!

  4. Blanche says:

    Count me among the minority who had never heard of the “well-known musical group.” No, I don’t live in a cave — I have simply spent my life in classical music. But all those “B’s” had to mean something, and it couldn’t have been the bomber.

  5. Scott says:

    Alternative title: “Bedecked”

    52=deck of cards.

  6. abide says:

    Wow, I can’t believe Matt got the Willie Sutton quote wrong! Everyone knows he robbed banks because “That’s where the money is”… Let me just pull up a confirming link….

    “Gaffney!” (shaking fist)

  7. pannonica says:

    abide: The last paragraph from your snopes link:

    “As to what actually motivated Sutton to hold up banks, as he said in Where the Money Was: ‘Why did I rob banks? Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time in my life. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one or two weeks later I’d be out looking for the next job. But to me the money was the chips, that’s all.'”

  8. Mike says:

    Joon, your taste in music has not diminished. Only chords can be diminished.

  9. abide says:

    pannonica: Thanks for clearing that up ;)

  10. pannonica says:

    abide: I also understand that he really liked Cats.

  11. Noam D. Elkies says:

    “Non-palindromic” is a cute way to exclude another longtime grid denizen that would otherwise fit, AGA.

    @Mike: Musical intervals can be diminished too. Indeed that’s how a diminished chord gets its name: from the diminished 5th (and sometimes 7th) between the root and another chord tone. I guess Blanche could have told you that too.

  12. Matt Gaffney says:

    Noam — I was thinking about putting a “non-palindromic” tag on the meta, too!

  13. Abby says:

    I ran a histogram on the letters in the grid to confirm the count, and I believe (sorry puzzle and numbers are at home) that there were 26 As in there too, which seemed like a lot. Made me wonder if the occurrence of As was higher than Es in words with B.

    Quick check against the words file on UNIX just now says no (34927 As vs. 38859 Es in 37467 B words of three letters or more), but that may not be a good indication. I just whipped it out as a shell one-liner because I was curious (and ’cause I can :-) ).

  14. pannonica says:

    What about As vs. Es in words with more than one B?

  15. sandirhodes says:

    Why does ‘Love Shack’ remind me of ‘The Safety Dance?’

  16. Howard B says:

    Thanks for the hockey, Joon.
    BOBO and BABU were the roughest spots on this puzzle. The swarm of Bs was impressive anyway.

  17. Noam D. Elkies says:

    @Matt: HaH :-)

    @Scott: My first guess based on 52 was the Cards. (An earlier Gaffney puzzle had some band calling itself The Doors.) But it turns out that the Cards are instead a sportz team that happens to belong with one of last month’s metas. And anyway it wouldn’t account for the choice of B rather than any other letter.

  18. Al says:

    You may think you’re old because you had a B-52 cassette, but I owned the original B-52 album on vinyl, so there! Also, thanks for the hockey shoutout, hopefully the Bruins can build on that momentum.

  19. Abby says:

    (Love that Onion article!)

    pannonica- good question. Closer. 2342 As versus 2358 Es in 2729 words. There are barely enough triple B words on that list (140) to ask, but it’s 84 As vs. 141 Es.

    Beyond that is: beblubber, beerbibber, bubbybush, flibbertigibbet, gibblegabble, gibblegabbler. Then nothing with more Bs that that (for single words).

  20. pannonica says:

    Abby– Thanks for doing the legwork and satisfying my curiosity! Am I correct in assuming the Unix word list doesn’t contain proper nouns? That might push the ratio even closer.

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