MGWCC #210

crossword 4:39
meta 0:15 

hello, and welcome to episode 210 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Take a Number”. this week, matt asks us for the sum of seven relevant numbers. so what numbers is he talking about? it turns out that there are seven down answers in the grid that only make sense with their clue if you prefix them with the actual clue number. to wit:

  • 1 {Seriously in danger of running out of gas} seems to be MPTY, but it only makes sense when you reinterpret 1MPTY as (ON E)MPTY.
  • 4 {It’s found where Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet} is the (FOUR) CORNERS MONUMENT. puts me in the mind of this extremely clever meta from MGWCC #173.
  • 7 {Baseball break} is the (SEVEN)TH-INNING STRETCH.
  • 10 {Country great named for a state} is (TEN)NESSEE ERNIE FORD.
  • 12 {Like some facilitated programs} is (TWELVE)-STEP.
  • 50 {“Get Rich or Die Tryin'” rapper} is (50) CENT, or “fiddy”.
  • 57 {Carnegie Hall’s address: abbr.} is (57)TH ST. this was the only really inelegant one of the seven theme answers.

so all that’s left is to do the math: 1+4+7+10+12+50+57 = 141. overall i liked but did not love this puzzle. in part, that’s because i’ve seen this theme before. now, admittedly, that one had only three theme answers, not 7. but overall there was less “wow” here than i usually get from a MGWCC.

fill roundup:

  • {Middle Ages leap year} clues MCCC, and according to the current rules for leap years, it’s incorrect. years divisible by 100 but not 400 are not leap years. but i don’t know if this rule was around 700 years ago. either way, it’s not a great start to the puzzle to stick this answer at 1-across, although of course that NW corner is constrained by two theme answers.
  • {Should suboptimal circumstances arise} clues IF NEED BE. great fill.
  • {Cheese that’s made backwards?} EDAM. fun, whimsical clue for a familiar repeater.
  • {___ nonsense (what a goofy cow spouts)} UDDER. speaking of whimsy…
  • {Rebecca Black’s YouTube hit} FRIDAY. wait, you didn’t actually click on that link, did you? serves you right.
  • {“The ___ Cometh” (Eugene O’Neill play)} ICEMAN. love this play. a guy missed it on jeopardy a couple weeks ago. it was a $2000 daily double in play characters. the clue even included the word “awaiteth” but the guy didn’t know it.
  • {Title professor in a Nabokov book} is PNIN. am i the only one who’s read this? i went on a huge nabokov kick about a decade ago. this was one of his less memorable works.
  • {Dictator mentioned by John Lennon in “Revolution“} MAO. now we’re talking. i like how the beatles covered their own mediocre song (from deep in the back half of the white album) and made it the best track on past masters.
  • {Feature of Dwight Yoakam’s voice} TWANG. i only know monsieur yoakam from this infamous meta.
  • {Happy messenger’s shout} is GOOD NEWS.

and on that note, i’m signing off for the week. let’s hear from you in the comment box.

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26 Responses to MGWCC #210

  1. Scott says:

    Two correct in a row! Yay!

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    439 right answers this week, just 16 fewer than last week

  3. Eric LeVasseur says:

    1300 was a leap year according to the Julian Calendar. The Gregorian Calendar (which would have made that an ordinary year) was not adopted till 1582 or later (depending on the country).

  4. Pam says:

    I googled carnegie hall address and somehow came away with 7th street, so my correct answer was 91! aaargh

  5. Paul Coulter says:

    I’ve been timing the early month metas to see if I can come anywhere close to Joon. Got off to a bit of a slow start, thinking Matt might be going cryptic with MPTY, as in almost empty, instead of ON EMPTY. The other thing to slow me was my woefully deficient math skills, forcing me to repeatedly total the seven numbers. With the notable exceptions of Joon and a few others, I’d guess that’s not uncommon in our left-brained, word-loving universe. Don’t you hate those Roman numeral multiplication clues? I always go straight to the crossers, or I’d waste too much time coming up with the correct sum.

  6. Matt Gaffney says:

    Yes, 1300 was a leap year per the calendar in use at the time:

  7. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Yes, the EDAM clue is clever, but it’s been around since about the year 1300… And yes, I liked that MCCC was in fact a leap year though the present-day calendar would remove that Feb.29 . (But then I like Roman multiplication clues too – they determine a unique answer that I know how to figure out, unlike clues like “midcentury year”, to say nothing of clues such as “1991 hit “_____ Wgasa”.) Unfortunately I somehow didn’t see [ON E]MPTY and guessed that the “brief moment” was 60 SEC, as in a brief minute :-(

  8. Ellen Gadow says:

    Thought I had it, but I used 60 down entry (60 sec(onds). Answer 144.

  9. Bridget says:

    I missed the 12 steps and saw 60 sec BUT then I think I added wrong too. so much for that engineering degree working for me…

  10. ant says:

    The beauty of this puzzle is that all of the theme answers are symmetrical. Unfortunately, that simple elegance made it more of a Week 1 puzzle rather than a Week 2. It might have been more difficult had Matt not given us the fact that there were 7 numbers in all.
    Then again, there are 5 weeks this month, so who knows what’s in store for us…

  11. joon says:

    oops, it looks like i forgot to include a screen capture. oh well. anyway, yes, the theme answers are symmetrically placed—a nice touch. not left-to-right symmetric as you (i) might expect based on a down-oriented theme, but the usual mirror symmetry applies.

  12. Reid says:

    I also came up with 91. When I google Carnegie hall, it tells me the address is 881 7th avenue at 57th street. To me, that says 7th avenue. Are we right or not? I’m not sure how I’m supposed to know how to read that address as 57th.

  13. Matt Gaffney says:

    You don’t really need to know it — the numbers used are also the relevant clue numbers.

  14. joon says:

    pam and reid, you didn’t need to google anything to solve that clue. it’s 57-down, so it will have a 57 in it. also, the rest of the answer is TH ST, so we are talking about a street, not an avenue.

  15. Old Geezer says:

    Well, I was about to claim an alternate solution. Then Matt told us each number was the clue number. CRAP! (You see, when I saw MPTY, the obvious relevant number was, in fact, ‘e’ — so my solution was “~142.71828182845904523536028747135266249775724709369995 …”

    Are you telling me that ‘e’ WASN’T the clue number???

    Nice one, again, Matt.

  16. joon says:

    i can’t help thinking that i explicitly mentioned the thing about the clue number in my write-up. apparently i wasn’t clear enough.

  17. granbaer says:

    I almost added the 60 also until I re-read Matt’s intsructions stating there were 7 relevant numbers. Matt, did you throw that one in as a spoiler?

  18. Donna k says:

    I though rte 66
    Maybe rte 1. ….has steps but never saw 12 steps.
    I decided the 57th street address was 184 and. Used that as my 7th number
    Never keyed in on the clue number being
    The missing number…and I think I am so smart!!!

  19. rmac says:

    I thought about sending in CXLI just to be a smartass. Then I thought, “Hey! 141 is a homophonic palindrome (cf. 52A) for CXLI.” Then I thought, “Well, maybe not,” because I don’t really know how to pronounce CXLI.

    So does anybody know how to pronounce CXLI? For extra credit, pretend you are prancing about the forum in a toga.

    — Russ

  20. odderlet says:

    @rmac: other than “centum quadraginta unus”?


  21. Bob says:

    Ah-ha the clue numbers were also the missing numbers. That’s why the meta didn’t click for me. Nice one!

  22. James Schooler says:

    I too was confused by the last theme entry, but noticed that Carnegie Hall was 7th Ave. at 57th St., saw 57-down and “sound of hand slapping forehead”–a true V-8 (as in tomato+ juice) moment. I sent in 141 while admiring the elegance…

  23. rmac says:

    @Jeremy: The toga/forum crack notwithstanding, I guess I was thinking more about how people pronounce Roman numerals in English. When sombody sees “CXLI”, do they say “one hundred forty-one”, or “cee-ecks-ell-eye”, or something else, or just “Oh, crap! I hate Roman numerals.”?

    — Russ

  24. pannonica says:

    Yes, all Roman numerals are pronounced “GRR.”

  25. Dave Taube says:

    I got the answer, but didn’t realize that the numerical answers were the same as the clue numbers until Joon pointed it out. Clever puzzle, but probably a week one puzzle. I re-added my seven numbers several times before submitting my answer.

  26. Jason says:

    Did anyone else get caught by the date added in the title. I didn’t notice the 1 and 57 down clue add ins and then i saw the date in the title. And i thought to myself, hmmmm, non of the other puzzles have the date in the title. So i thought the 8 and 2012 was my final 2 numbers.

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