MGWCC #188

crossword 3:19
puzzle -2:20 (approx) 

hello, and welcome to the 188th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Just Desserts”. this week, matt challenged us to figure out the meta with no special instructions other than the puzzle title. is it possible? answer: yes. the theme entries were:

  • {Judicial summons that makes you yawn?} is a BANAL SUBPOENA.
  • {Refused to let anyone listen to Kurt Cobain’s music?} means that you BANNED NIRVANA. hey, what ever happened to krist novoselic?
  • {Women’s part of the house in an Iraqi home?} is a BAGHDAD ZENANA. i did not know the word ZENANA and in fact misguessed a letter, the E crossing the {Sandals brand} TEVA, which i often misremember as TiVA. there was another perilous crossing here, too, if you didn’t know your african capitals: the Z was crossed by {African country whose capital is Lusaka} ZAMBIA, but of course the GAMBIA is also an african country (whose capital is… er… gimme a second… banjul? banjul. i often get that mixed up with bangui, the capital of the central african republic.).
  • {Itinerary listing after “Argentina ayer, Paraguay hoy”?} is “BOLIVIA MANANA”. cute clue! also nice that this south american tour crosses {South American capital} BRASILIA.

so what do these entries all have in common? a banana split, of course. each one “splits” the word BANANA at the beginning and end of the phrase: BANAl subpoeNA, BANned nirvANA, BAghdad zeNANA, and Bolivia mANANA. elegant that it’s split at four different places, which probably necessitated the obscure ZENANA. oh, and by the way, the instructions say that this week’s contest answer is a familiar dessert, but they were indeed unnecessary.

usage tangent: the idiomatic expression “just deserts” is often misspelled “just desserts” because of its pronunciation. (to be clear: the puzzle title this week is of course a deliberate pun, not a mistake.) in “just deserts”, deserts refers to worthiness for reward or punishment, along the lines of “deserve”. so it’s spelled like desert (as in sahara), but pronounced like dessert.

not much else to say about this easy-peasy first-week puzzle. the fill was quite clean for a 72-worder. i think my favorite clue was the whimsical {Crossword, Iceland or astrophysics} for NOUN. see you in the comments, and i’ll see many of you this weekend at the MIT mystery hunt. come up and introduce yourself if you know me but i don’t already know you.

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8 Responses to MGWCC #188

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    458 correct entries this week, destroying the old record of 412. The PuzzleSocial effect!

  2. Noam D. Elkies says:

    minus two minutes? Feh. It took me only minus two days. (Forgot about the NE corner till later.)

    “Teva” is from the Hebrew for “nature”, but that won’t help most solvers place the vowel, even if you can read Hebrew because the vowels are not usually printed :-) Here it is with the vowels: טֶבַע

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    Following Matt’s instructions, I didn’t look at the directions, but guessed the meta from his title! Banana Split seemed just the ticket for a Week 1 puzzle, and it worked a treat. I confess I did the puzzle as a check, but maybe I can still throw my name into Joon’s negative-solving-time contest. I liked the Spanish lesson in 47A’s clue, and also the way Matt progressively staged the pieces of banana. By the way, having missed the earlier years of MGWCC, I’ve been going through Matt’s archive. Doing the older puzzles has really helped me understand the devious workings of Matt’s mind.

  4. I did the same thing, I also misremembered TEVA as TiVA (having previously owned a TiVo DVR didn’t help).

    I wish I’d had the Spanish lesson before my trip to Costa Rica last month. I knew mañana, but knowing hoy would have been very useful to me.

    @Noam: I can read but speak Hebrew — I had to zoom my browser way way in to read the vowels there. From my default font size, I can hardly tell there’s a vowel under the ת at all.

    See you at Hunt! Joon, are you on Codex, the writing team?

  5. joon says:

    no, i’m on palindrome. i’m planning to be at the opening ceremonies, though. i look like this except worse-dressed.

  6. Seems like this puzzle fits the theory that the number of comments is inversely proportional to the number of correct answers received.

  7. Cyrano says:

    Forgive me if this already got mentioned on another thread, but apparently there was some high-level discussion of ILLIN’ from Saturday’s NYT puzzle…

  8. MM says:

    I’m sure no one will see this, but Krist Novoselic actually has quite an interesting post-Nirvana history: (this link takes you to the Wikipedia entry for Krist Novoselic).

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