MGWCC #184

crossword 3:42
puzzle 0:05 

hello, everyone, and welcome to the 184th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “You’ve Got to Stand for Something”. this week, matt asks us to identify a famous actor/comedian you might watch on 33-down. what are the theme answers?

  • {Chanteuse you can listen to on a CD player} is CELINE DION.
  • {1992 thriller too violent to get a PG rating} is PATRIOT GAMES.
  • {TV show where Whoopi tells it like it is} is THE VIEW.
  • {Classic rock band often heard on FM radio} is FLEETWOOD MAC.
  • {Two-time Booker Prize winner whose novels you can read on Kindle for PC} is PETER CAREY.
  • and of course, 33-down itself is {Relevant medium on which to view our meta answer} DVD.

a very elegant theme here: each of the theme clues contains an abbreviation, and the answer fits the same abbreviation. for the meta answer, we’re looking for an actor/comedian with the initials DVD, so dick van dyke is our man.

i love the theme, but PETER CAREY is the weak theme entry, as there’s nothing intrinsically PC-related about being a novelist. by contrast, singer/CD, movie/PG, TV show/TV, and musical group/FM are tighter connections. (also, i couldn’t remember peter carey’s name, but i’ve heard of both oscar and lucinda and the true history of the kelly gang, so this one’s my fault. only carey and j.m. coetzee have won the booker more than once, so he’s totally legit.)

the PETER CAREY clue is not much better than {Wizarding protagonist who you might read about on your HP computer} (11). i think a nicer choice for PC might have been PRINTER CABLE or POWER CORD, but those don’t work out length-wise. perhaps somebody else can come up with a good alternate? doesn’t have to be PC, of course. {Broncos running back who scored the winning TD in Super Bowl XXXII} (12) has an interesting extra element, as he was aptly nicknamed “TD”. but the other theme answers are all somewhat media-related, so it would be more elegant to have another one. {1970s sitcom that isn’t available in HD} (9) is perhaps the best i can do. {Game show hostess who probably doesn’t drive a VW} (10)? {Quarterback who’s often on at 1 PM} (13)? pretty weak, i know. if there were a convenient way to search famous things/names by initials, that would help, but i don’t know of one.

well, it’s late at night, so i think i’ll skip the fill round up. what did you guys think of this one?

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37 Responses to MGWCC #184

  1. Scott says:

    What did we think of it? I, for one, liked it alot.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    The meta’s pattern was instantly apparent, but I imagine many solvers muttered curses at Matt as they searched for a D-surnamed actor/comedian with the first two initials D.V. I fell into this trap for about an hour, discovering that Danny DeVito’s middle name is Michael, and Dom DeLuise doesn’t have one. Then I tried less well-known comics for a time until I remembered the old Dick Van Dyke show. Ah, MTM sure looked good in those days. Or did others think of Dick Van Dyke immediately?
    Speaking of classics, here’s one I’ve always liked that Philistine revived in today’s Guardian: Perhaps one with horn. This one’s easy, so I won ‘t provide an answer, but I will tell you it’s a very good example of an & lit. clue.

  3. Noam D. Elkies says:

    @Joon: Wikipedia has alphabetized lists of names of famous people in various fields, including various showbizzzz categories.

    @P.Coulter: What’s the enumeration for that &lit clue?

  4. Scott says:

    @Paul – I thought of Dick Van Dyke immediately – but probably because I am 55.

  5. Abby says:

    I thought of the answer right off, but searched the IMDb name list for alternatives out of curiosity. Nothing good there, though there are both D V Ds and D VDs, if you know what I mean. None of them really rang any bells.

    (They don’t promote it anymore, but you can still get the IMDb lists in the “interfaces” section. The command line software doesn’t really work anymore, but they’re text, so you can use grep or whatever. Well, you can if your regular expression fu is worthy.)

  6. Themutman says:

    I think Danny DeVito should play All the letters are there in CAPS. You could argue Dick is really Richard ….

    Surprising tough meta for me week 2. Holidays must be clogging my brain. Nice work Matt!!

  7. Abby says:

    Oh, and it’s the answer’s birthday today too, of course.

  8. Matt Gaffney says:

    343 correct answers this week. And yes Abby, DVD does turn 86 today!

  9. Paul Coulter says:

    @Noam: sorry, I forgot to enumerate it with a (5)
    @Scott: I’m in your age cohort, but it still eluded me until I did the “what else can I try?” routine, then went through Von and Van and Ver names. I wonder if the younger solvers had trouble with this?

    By the way, I thought Matt did an excellent job here for a tricky little week two meta.

  10. Dan Seidman says:

    I came up with Dick Van Dyke pretty quickly. (I’m 46.) I only own a handful of DVDs, and one of them is Mary Poppins, so maybe that helped.

  11. HH says:

    Would it have been more interesting if Dick Van Dyke had starred in “Death Valley Days”?

  12. Karen says:

    I sent in Danny De Vito. I didn’t even realize my dyslexia until I came here today.

  13. pannonica says:

    DVD can also stand for Depp vom Dienst, a German phrase meaning “idiot of service” or “dummy on duty.”

  14. Jeffrey says:

    He may be 86 but he is still performing.

    Dick Van Dyke

  15. mitchs says:

    So I’m the only stupidhead that sent in David Letterman?

  16. Matthew G. says:

    Count me among those who sent in Danny DeVito. I knew it was wrong because the letters were out of order, but I just never came up with Dick Van Dyke.

  17. Jared says:

    For the younger generation, STDs have been reclassified as infections since most can be cured and thus I put STI. Then I stared at IVD for a while, thinking what could “I” be in front of video disc.

    Finally, upon realizing my mistake and replacing the I with a D, I went right for Dick van Dyke, my age not hindering me at all. I actually pictured him falling over a sofa rather than dancing with penguins, although the latter is probably more in tune with my generation.

  18. MountainManZach says:

    Couldn’t shake Jean-Claude Van Damme. You’d think that would have helped me, but I never landed on it.

  19. Evad says:

    Am 51; this one was a POC.

  20. Dick Van Dyke did not come to me right away (Danny DeVito did), but after grepping some of my word lists, I found him without too much trouble.

  21. Andy says:

    I’m 27; Dick Van Dyke came to me immediately.

    It may be a confounding factor that I grew up in an area with a lot of Dutch people, so seeing V as a “middle” initial steers me towards Van. I also have seen a lot of Diagnosis Murder.

  22. sandirhodes says:

    I saw the PG in the clue, but didn’t see the hints in the other ones! I thought Dom DeLuise might count, because the V is use in the TV across.

    But I sent in Dick Van Dyke!

  23. rmac says:

    Age 60, got Dick Van Dyke right away. But that’s not the problem. What I can’t figure out is how “admin” clues “mod” at 6-down. Will somebody please put me out of my misery?

    — Russ

  24. Laura says:

    “Mod” can be short for “moderator.”

  25. Neville says:

    I’m 23; Dick Van Dyke came to me immediately.

  26. pgw says:

    36; Dick Van Dyke was obvious to me.

    I thought this was a cool meta that could have been *really* cool if it’d been run later in the month, with less of a road map to the answer. As it was there wasn’t a lot to figure out – either you knew Dick Van Dyke, or found him on the internet, or could not come up with it. No matter what, simply solving the crossword part of the puzzle and noticing the initials (which for me jumped out, though I suppose mileage may vary) meant you knew exactly what was going on in the meta.

  27. Matthew G. says:

    Yep. Knew exactly what was going on — just couldn’t make my brain summon up the right individual. I obviously know who Dick Van Dyke is, but it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had any occasion to think about him.

  28. rmac says:

    Thanks, Linda. So we’re saying that “moderate” (when used as a verb) has a similar meaning to “administrate.” Seems like a stretch to me, but I don’t get out much.

    — Russ

  29. Matt Gaffney says:

    Russ — they’re message board terms, where mod(erator) and (admin)istrator are used interchangeably. Also used on other kinds of websites — gaming, discussion, anything that requires monitoring of users’ activity.

  30. pannonica says:

    For me, “D-V-D” sounds very similar to “Dick Van Dyke.” Each word of his name is one syllable, just like sounding out the letters, which start with the same phonemes.

  31. pgw says:

    Joon – for an alternate answer, how about “Musician who shared the stage with MC Hammer at the 1991 American Music Awards?” Or “Cop-show star whose single ‘Heartbeat’ was spun by many a DJ in 1986?” Straying from strictly media-related answers, “Record-holder for BBs in a single season” is also pretty good.

  32. Jason says:

    I wonder how hard it would have been for him to get started as an actor in these modern times.

  33. Matt Gaffney says:

    I wanted to not use another musician, since we already had CELINE DION and FLEETWOOD MAC. We also had a movie (PATRIOT GAMES), a TV show (THE VIEW) and an actor (DICK VAN DYKE), so my two thoughts on the last theme entry were, in keeping with the entertainment vibe, either a book or a sports figure.

    Evidently many sports figures would work using RB, WR, TD, HR, etc., but I wanted to keep the media theme running as well, so I settled on Kindle for PC, which is perhaps a bit less clean than the others but fine.

    The one sports idea I thought would work was someone with the initials SI and clue it towards Sports Illustrated, but a) I couldn’t find a good sports person with those initials and b) I didn’t wind up looking that hard because I wasn’t fully convinced the magazine goes by “SI” much anymore. It’s certainly much less commonly heard than CD, PG, etc.

  34. rmac says:

    Thanks, Matt. I’ll crawl back into my cave now! (c:

  35. Jason says:

    Has Steve Irwin ever been interviewed in Sports Illustrated?

  36. HH says:

    Coincidence that SI is best known for its SI (Swimsuit Issue)?

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