MGWCC #209

crossword 4:09
meta about 2 minutes 

hello, solvers! welcome to episode 209 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Olympic Game”. this week, matt provides us with unusually open-ended instructions: This week’s contest answer is to be determined by you. well, that sounds intriguing. what are the theme answers? there aren’t any clues singled out explicitly as theme answers, but the 15 stretching across the grid’s center is {Easy crossword clues, often} FILL-IN-THE-BLANKS, and we have a matched set of 10s that are clued together: {No-fooling-around demand} is “JUST ANSWER/MY QUESTION”. okay then… wait, what was the question?

ah, here it is: with a hint from FILL-IN-THE-BLANKS, we take a look at all the clues in the puzzle which are, in fact, fill-in-the-blank clues. in order by clue number:

  • 13a {“___ John Galt?”} WHO IS. this is a question from ayn rand’s atlas shrugged.
  • 16a {“Mind ___ manners!”} YOUR.
  • 27a {“My ___ Year” (1982 Peter O’Toole movie)} FAVORITE. heard of it, but don’t know anything about it. was it one of his 8 best actor nominations?
  • 50d {“My Big Fat ___ Wedding”} GREEK, a movie both written by and starring 54a, NIA vardalos.
  • 52d {Household ___ (ancient Roman spirit)} DEITY. you know, your basic lares and penates.

putting it together, we’re looking at WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE GREEK DEITY? and since matt demands that we JUST ANSWER [HIS] QUESTION, well, hmm. i spent most of my 2 minutes deliberating here—since i love mythology, i was tempted to smarmily submit someone really obscure, but in the end, i decided that i should be honest. but even there, i was a little conflicted, since i’ve always been a big fan of both hermes and athena. in the end, hermes won out. he was pretty much the coolest dude on the planet starting at age 0 days. i’m sure athena will get some love, though, right? let us know who you chose in the comments.

although it was a very easy meta, look how elegant it is: the three long answers steer us towards the blanks, and then the five FITBs are ordered correctly (even if you take them acrosses first, then downs). and none of them violates the normal rule against 6-letter (or longer) partials. the cool mythology theme tops it all off. i loved this meta.

the crossword itself was harder than i expected for a first week. the hairiest crossing was undoubtedly {Casual agreements} YAS crossing {“Also, don’t forget…”} “I’D ADD”, neither of which i think i’ve encountered before in a puzzle (and ID_DD made very little sense to me until i had it all filled in).

odds & ends:

  • {I, in Iraklion} IOTA. more greek content.
  • {“I don’t think so!”} “NICE TRY!” is a great entry.
  • {Country singer Church} ERIC? never heard of him.
  • {Bacharach’s ex} SAGER. don’t know who this is. i assume bacharach is burt bacharach, but beyond knowing that there is a celebrity with that name, i don’t actually know who that is either. some old singer, maybe?
  • {The Jets’ lead singer, in an Elton John hit} BENNIE. speaking of old pop music, we have this.
  • {No-bounce shots, in tennis} VOLLEYS. you won’t see a great many of them in the french open, currently ongoing, due to the baseline-oriented nature of the game on the red clay. i’m really looking forward to this weekend—if the seeds hold up (and they seem to always hold up; speaking of greek mythology, check out this awesome piece from january comparing djokovic, nadal, and federer to epic heroes), we could see djokovic-federer and nadal-murray in the semis. yes, please.

last note before i stop: i’m sure you’re already aware that matt’s tip jar is open this week, as it is just once a year. (hooray for four years of MGWCC, btw!) i won’t make you do anything (not that i really could, obviously, since i’m just a guy over here in my little internet), but if you enjoy matt’s puzzles anywhere near as much as i do and you’ve got any money to spare, you could do a lot worse than sending a few bucks his way. it’s a tough way to make a living but i’m incredibly grateful he has chosen to do it.

all right, that’s all for me. let’s hear from you in the comment box.

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34 Responses to MGWCC #209

  1. Scott says:


  2. Charles Montpetit says:

    To finish the question, it’s true that GREEK DEITY is the only pair that’s clued with a fill-in-the-blank format. Still, other duets of entries which could have yielded an Olympian name were: BRINY CEO (Poseidon), STERN HERO (Apollo, what with his penchant for inflicting plagues), or NUMB IDOL (Demeter, Hera or Persephone, each of them raped by Zeus). There might also be CANED SISSY, but I’ll leave such analyses of the androgynous, masochistic Dionysus to Carl Jung (

  3. Johnny says:


  4. Hermes Gaffney says:

    Thanks as ever for the nice write-up, Joon. 451 right answers this week, the top vote-getters being:

    Athena — 87 (obviously going to win, they even named the capital of Greece after her)
    Dionysus — 46 (lol)
    Zeus — 42 (he’s a jackass, why would anyone vote for him?)
    Hermes — 36
    Artemis — 27
    Poseidon — 26

    No one submitted Yanni or Nana Mouskouri! I was hoping.

  5. Paul Coulter says:

    35D (assuming a demigod counts as a deity)

    By the way, I just checked out this month’s Muller Music Meta – it’s also in the 2-3 minute range, but the puzzle is well-executed.

  6. Karen says:

    Athena for me, the nerd of the bunch. (I would say Hephaestus is geeky, and Hestia is dorky.)

  7. abide says:

    Hermes but gave serious thought to Irene Papas.

  8. Jeff G. says:

    Poseidon. Congrats on 4 years Matt. Great meta as always!

  9. Phoebe says:

    Phoebus Apollo for me…

  10. rmac says:

    Aphrodite … because her name anagrams to “atrophied”. You can’t say that about too many other deities, Greek or otherwise.

  11. Howard B says:

    I chose Hermes for his all-around underappreciated versatility. (and not at all because he anagrams to ‘shmeer’ despite my fondness for bagels, rmac.)

  12. joon says:

    anybody go with priapus?

  13. Matt Gaffney says:

    Joon: nobody did.

  14. Scott says:

    Great one Joon. There are about a million puns that can be made now.

  15. Jeffrey says:

    Heracles/Hercules with Zeus as backup in case anyone quibbles about half-mortal status.

  16. Charles Montpetit says:

    I am shocked, *shocked* that Demeter did not even make the top six! She’s Zeus’s sister! She’s the Earth mother! As the goddess of harvest, she feeds us all! Come on, people, doesn’t that count for a little more than a warring hussy or some lyre inventor?

  17. mitchs says:

    I thought (but not too much, obviously) that the question was What would Jesus do? So I wrote in “Make a larger donation”.

  18. Matt says:

    I submitted Zeus, but thought of submitting Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox, who was referred to as the Greek God of Walks in Moneyball (the book).

  19. Norm says:

    Was tempted to send in Dionysus but worried that it might explain my inability to get the meta past week two … or one ….

  20. Myron M. says:

    I picked Ares, although I can’t remember why anymore. Should have picked Artemis, that’s my cat’s name.

  21. granbaer says:

    I really wanted to submit Demeter, but went with Athena. Actually Gaia is my favorite deity, but I don’t think she rates in the Olympian first draft of deities.

  22. Jeffrey says:

    Nobody has helped joon: Burt Bacharach is a great composer and he was once married to lyricist Carole Bayer Sager.

    Have you heard any of these songs:

    What’s New Pussycat? Close to You. Walk on By ( and tons of other Dionne Warwick hits). Arthur’s Theme. That’s What Friends Are For. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.

  23. Pamela says:

    Athena here as well!

  24. Jed says:

    I went with Terpsichore…as a choral musician, who else could I pick but my very own muse? I thought of Yanni an hour later but the joke wasn’t worth having to call Yanni my favorite Greek God.

    Happy Four Years, Matt!

  25. Pamela says:

    Do muses count as deities? She mused.

  26. Gabhain says:

    @Charles LEAVE DIONYSUS ALONE! [sobbing, mascara running]

    @joon – apparently Hermes went with Priapus:

  27. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Gabhain made me laugh twice.

  28. Old Geezer says:

    Knowing Matt is a chess fan, I opted for Caissa, with about two paragraphs of justification. Turns out she may never have ‘existed’ back in the days, but I think my ramble proved I grokked the meta.

    Doesn’t much matter, because I seldom have time to do all of the puzzles in a month, and when I do, I’ve only gotten all the metas once.

    But DANG its fun!

  29. Les Wagner says:

    The choice was no contest for me. It had to be Ἐπιμηθεύς:

    Epimetheus – Titan of afterthought and the father of excuses.
    For all those late guesses or “shoulda gotten ’ems” puzzle after puzzle.

  30. Les Wagner says:

    Any wrong answers Matt?

    Someone could have answered other than a Greek god, like Quetzalcoatl.

  31. Janette says:

    I had to go with Demeter. I’ve been working in my gardens for weeks getting them full flowering glory. A little help from the godess of agriculture certainly can’t hurt.

  32. jefe says:

    Went with Apollo, because I can’t remember which names are Greek and which are Roman.*


  33. Jeff says:

    I chose Athena, but then heard the story of how Medusa got that way and I liked her a bit less.

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