MGWCC #175

crossword 4:24
puzzle 0:15 

hi there, friends, and welcome to the 175th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Fruitful Endeavors”. this puzzle marks the beginning of THE HUNT FOR FOOD OCTOBER, a month-long thematic challenge at MGWCC. this week, we’re looking for a fruit. with no explicit theme answers, we’re supposed to look at the longest answers in the grid, viz:

  • {“Oh, duh!”} clues “I KNEW THAT!”.
  • {Kid’s favorite pasta dish, often} is MAC ‘N’ CHEESE.
  • {Casual top} is a SAFARI SHIRT.
  • {Quarterback who was NFL MVP in 1992 and 1994} is BYU’s own STEVE YOUNG.
  • {Plant used in Asian cooking} is JOB’S TEARS.

no surprise here—the first words of these answers are I MAC SAFARI STEVE JOBS, so the fruit we’re looking for is an apple. i don’t know whether matt had the theme month planned out before jobs’s death was announced, or if he pulled a kevin der and cranked it out on short notice. i’m guessing the latter, since i know matt likes to procrastinate.

there are also two longish downs, NEXT EXIT (which looks like it could be thematic; i don’t remember what NEXT is but it was a theme answer in kevin’s puzzle too), and SAME HERE (which doesn’t).

this was a tough crossword for a week 1. maybe it’s because of the theme month?

  • right off the bat at 1a, we have bob SHRUM, the {Political consultant … who’s famously never advised a winning presidential candidate}. never heard of him, and that totally looks like a made-up name, like mr snrub from that episode of the simpsons.
  • {“Baby ___” (Tina Fey/Amy Poehler movie)} MAMA. did this come up in jeopardy recently? i can’t remember. no, apparently not—it was bossypants. carry on, then.
  • {Specialty} FORTE. matt specialty is playing football right now in the background. he just got absolutely crunched by ndamukong suh on a 4th-and-1.
  • {“God ___ you please, Mrs. Robinson”} BLESS. or mr rosewater.
  • {___ appeal (“Seinfeld” catchphrase)} SHIKSA. i’m not a seinfeld expert, but isn’t this elided?
  • {Common shrub} AZALEA. you mean shrum. or maybe snrub.
  • {Where Persians compete} is a CAT SHOW. they have these? seems like dogs would be a minimum requirement, and maybe ponies if you’re really serious.

okay, that’s all for me. your thoughts?

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17 Responses to MGWCC #175

  1. Scott says:

    One for one. Hope I can keep the streak alive!

  2. Pam says:

    Me too. But I am so much more impressed by Joon’s Jeopardy performances. I love how he keeps pulling Cliff Claven bet-it-all moves and gets it RIGHT!! Keep it up Joon!

  3. Tony says:

    One for one as well. As for SHIKSA Appeal, it just doesn’t roll off the tongue like Sponge Worthy

  4. Paul Coulter says:

    I thought this a fine requiem, made all the more admirable if Matt composed it overnight. As it happens, I had a nice note from Matt last month after my comments favoring somewhat harder metas for Weeks 1 & 2. He recommended not looking at the directions, a technique he says was suggested by another participant. This seemed a very good idea, particularly since my granddaughter likes to play along. This way, I could race her, with the handicap of not knowing the meta’s category. It didn’t happen to make much difference this time, since the title gave the thing away, but it’s still a nice trick for those who want more of a challenge. This isn’t to suggest that Matt should stop giving title hints – I’m all in favor when he opts to help us on the harder puzzles. BRAVO, JOON!!!

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    351 correct entries this week. Slightly low for a week 1, but with only four puzzles in a themed month I had to start a little tough.

  6. Elaine says:

    Not ‘techie’ enough to pick up on the SAFARI part–really, I’m hopeless at the meta-puzzles, but I really like Matt’s crosswords, so i keep doing them. Someone as nearsighted as I am was going to stumble into a tar pit or fall prey to a saber-toothed tiger anyway.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    PS — note that STEVE covers both of Apple’s co-founders (Jobs and Wozniak)

  8. James Schooler says:

    Nice tribute, Matt. GOOOOOOJ00000000000000000000000000000000N!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Don Lloyd says:

    I took 11d as a bonus hint. After he was fired from Apple, Steve Jobs developed the NeXT computer (which Tim Berners-Lee used to develop HTML). When Apple bought NeXT in 1996, Jobs was brought back into the company.

  10. Charles Montpetit says:

    Re SHIKSA: the actual Seinfeld phrase is SHIKS appeal, not SHIKSA appeal. Makes more sense, too, since the pun with “sex appeal” only works in the first instance. True, other people have since used the latter, but if you go to the source ( at 2:22), you will definitely hear George Costanza use a single A in there, in spite of the clip title which, ironically, spells it out the wrong way. And if you keep watching, you’ll also see Elaine look for an APPLE at 3:15!

  11. mitchs says:

    17A reminded me of the classic Martin Short character on SNL, being interviewed by Harry Shearer as Mike Wallace.

    “I know that! It’s so funny that you think I wouldn’t know that!”

    (Looks to camera)

    “It’s him, right?”

  12. dunnderhead says:

    I’m with Elaine. And I loved the puzzle, Matt and close with:


  13. Barbara says:

    Loved the puzzle! Blanked on it for awhile after the fill … but, the wonderful “Jobs” gave me the Aha! moment …

    And, Joon, I watch Jeopardy with adjoonitation, pride, and much admiration … Buzz on!

  14. Meg says:

    Joon: I’ve been telling my co-workers that I know somebody on Jeopardy! Well, not exactly, but close enough! “Some Like It Hot”…”Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” Easily confused! Seriously, I’m having a blast watching you speed-click. Congratulations!

  15. rmac says:

    @Paul: I think the ideal puzzle is one that’s just easy enough to solve, but no easier. This level of difficulty of course varies with each individual, so I think Matt’s idea of making the puzzles progressively harder through each month really does make sense for the wide audience that he’s probably trying to attract. Can’t have all the puzzles so difficult that nobody could solve them, or so easy that Joon would get bored.

    BTW, another way to increase the difficulty of any crossword puzzle is to solve it using only the across (or only the down) clues. I do this all the time to make the Monday/Tuesday LAT and NYT puzzles a little more challenging and therefore a little more fun.

    — Russ

  16. Ed says:

    Regarding Meg’s comment, I’m constantly surprised at the some of Jeopardy answers (questions) I know that the contestants, like Joon, didn’t. The problem is there are too few of those and too many of the other kind (they know and I don’t). :-) Keep it up Joon!

  17. Aaron says:


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