MGWCC #161

crossword 4:11
puzzle -2:30 

greetings, fellow solvers! welcome to the 161st episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Greece Is The Word”. after a brutal month of june, matt eases up on us with a simple task: identify a letter in the Greek alphabet. there are three obvious theme entries:

  • {St. Louis hockey players make the sun rise against its will?} clues BLUES FORCE DAWN.
  • {American and United slightly injure Mr. Charles?} clues AIRLINES WING RAY.
  • {Sorority in a 1990’s “SNL” skit, and what the words in 16-across and 60-across need to form phrases} is the three-square triple rebus answer DELTA DELTA DELTA. and indeed, the other two theme answers consist of three words that can follow “delta” in a phrase.

that central rebus answer crosses the {Famous feature of the Nile} RIVER [DELTA], {Fictitious fraternity} [DELTA] HOUSE, and most interestingly, {Plastic Panzer, e.g.} MO[DEL TA]NK. nifty. and in case it’s not yet abundantly clear, the answer to this week’s contest is delta.

this is the third time (that i can remember) that matt has gone to the greek alphabet for a MGWCC, including the crazy-hard meta #8 and the somewhat easier #34. this one’s gotta be the easiest, though, even if it was a rebus (only the third MGWCC rebus, too, i think).

the crossword itself wasn’t quite so easy. in particular, i had to guess at one crossing: {Ethan of “My Name Is Earl”} SUPL_E crossing {Muslim holiday} _ID. i know i’d seen that muslim holiday before (but only in a previous MGWCC) and i thought it was E, but SUPLEE doesn’t look like a name. but it’s right. i guess.

odds & ends:

  • {“Mourning Becomes ___” (O’Neill play)} ELECTRA. actually a cycle of three plays, based on aeschylus’s oresteia, but set during the american civil war. i think this is the only major o’neill work that i haven’t read.
  • {Zealous states} are ARDORS. not a plural you’d see in the wild.
  • {Interest, in bookie-speak} is VIG, short for vigorish. i learned this for scrabble, but then i later came across it while reading poker books. it’s also used to describe the house take from each pot if you play poker at a casino.
  • {“The Wrath of ___” (noted 2010 crossword book)} KLAHN. this is an awesome book. if you like hard crosswords and haven’t got this book, do it!
  • {“Everything turned out fine”} clues “I’M OK NOW”, which i like as a fresh answer. and the clue is just right.
  • {1985 pop hit for a-ha} is TAKE ON ME. i’ve seen this used to clue AHA, but never the song name itself in the grid. nice one.
  • {Paris museum, to Parisians} clues LE LOUVRE. i guess this is right? the official name is musée du louvre, so “louvre” must be masculine.
  • {Bird that went extinct because it didn’t fear humans} clues the DODO. my understanding is that are actually zillions of avians and megafauna that have gone extinct because they didn’t fear humans, particularly species that evolved on islands/continents that didn’t have humans until the last 10,000 years or so.
  • {Winter: Sp.} is INVIERNO. whew, that is a long foreign word that’s not exactly a cognate (except for other romance language words for winter, like the french “hîver”). i had to piece this together—next time you see this word in a crossword, it’ll likely be in a clue for ENERO.

that’s all from me. how’d you all like this one?

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10 Responses to MGWCC #161

  1. joon says:

    whoa, i just now noticed that the grid isn’t symmetric, because BLUES FORCE DAWN is 14 letters and AIRLINES WING RAY is 15 letters. was i the only one who missed that?

  2. Paul says:

    Thanks for the ego boost, Matt. Like me, I’m sure most felt dumb as cows chewing their α-lfa after last month. I’d β million most of us got this one right. If you’ve tricked us somehow, I’ll have to run crying to my γ Florrie and my Gampa Ep. He’d say you’ve δ raw hand to your loyal solvers. Well, ε for now.

  3. Russ says:

    “was i the only one who missed that?”


  4. abide says:

    “was i the only one who missed that?”


  5. Noam D. Elkies says:

    I noticed the grid asymmetry too. It must have been hard to come up with good δ phrases if Matt had to resort to “δ ray”, which I’d only seen once before – in the NYTimes crossword, after which a physicist on the Rex Parker blog confessed that it was new to him too! Still, a neat rebus, and I don’t mind the asymmetric grid (indeed I think grid symmetry is rather overrated to begin with).

  6. Neville says:

    “Take on Me” = The Quintessential 80s Song. Perhaps the greatest music video of all time, too.

    Nice to see an easy puzzle every once in a while.

  7. Norm says:

    I was actually suspicious of that asymmetry and looked through the Greek alphabet to make sure the black squares in that corner weren’t pointing to a different letter.

  8. Barbara says:

    I high-“Phi”ed myself and gave a Psi of relief. But – Omega-d … this is merely the first one of the month. I’m a-Beta-ing you I go downhill from here.

  9. The asymmetric grid was the very first thing I noticed (the big block of black squares in the top-left really stood out). I was expecting the answer to have something to do with taking the “opposite” of whatever 64D was, or maybe something like the 66A from 2010/07/15, but nope, it was just something else entirely.

  10. sandirhodes says:

    Matt doesn’t do anything in his puzzles without reason … will be glad to hear the real kicker!

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