MGWCC #236

crossword 5:11
meta about 5 minutes 

hello, and welcome to episode #236 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Slightly Out of Character”. this week, matt challenges us to name a famous book. this week’s puzzle has five goofy theme answers:

  • {Status update on your Apple’s temperature situation?} MAC HOTTER.
  • {Eliminate one’s golf rival once and for all?} KILL TEE WIZARD.
  • {Seek the advice of Torah experts?} WRITE RABBIS.
  • {“The Caine Mutiny” captain getting very close to the fire?} QUEEG ON HEARTH.
  • {Senator Rubio’s press secretary or chief of staff?} MARCO HIRE.

some of these lack surface sense (and articles), but i did eventually piece together, with help from the title, that you can change a letter in each word (i’ve circled the letters in the screencap above) to get five characters from alice’s adventures in wonderland (a.k.a. alice in wonderland; matt mentioned expressly that either one is okay):

  • KILL TEE WIZARD = BILL THE LIZARD, of whom i’d never heard.

(i hope nobody submitted the sequel, through the looking-glass, which has some but not all of these characters.) there you have it. i like the underlying wordplay idea of the theme—modify a character (i.e. letter) to modify a character (i.e. persona in a book). the puzzle played out a little tough for a week 1 meta, where it’s usually plain from first inspection what’s going on. but i did get there, and it didn’t take long, so there’s that. i tried doing something with the changed letters, but no, there’s nothing there.

the crossword itself played out as very tough for a week 1, or really any week. by my own solving time, it’s the toughest MGWCC crossword in 3 months. most of it was the areas where the nonsensical theme answers were stacked on each other, with crossings like {Pointer Sisters hit with the line “Baby, make your move”} DARE ME that i didn’t know.

i’m a little late getting this up, so i’m going to cut things off here. hope to hear from you in the comments!

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to MGWCC #236

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    451 correct entries this week.

  2. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    Could not submit “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” because the system would not accept an apostrophe, so it had to be “Alice in Wonderland.”

    • Paul Coulter says:

      Bob, I had the same problem with punctuation being refused. I noted in the comments box that the book’s full title is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, while the movie versions were called Alice in Wonderland.

      • Evad says:

        Hi folks, since I’m a player as well, Matt doesn’t warn me when the meta answer might have some special characters in it that the entry form doesn’t accommodate.

        I’ve updated the javascript to allow apostrophes going forward–you may have to clear your browser caches to get the new logic. Hope no one failed to submit an entry due to the error message!

        • Paul Coulter says:

          Thanks. It might be necessary to allow all punctuation, such as commas and dashes for future answers.

    • Neville says:

      I just left the apostrophe out :)

  3. Jason says:

    Spent way too much time trying to figure out if the changed letters themselves meant anything, even though I’d solved the meta quickly.

    • Christopher Jablonski says:

      Me too, though the fact that I knew it was a week one stopped me from wasting too much time on that. That’s right, I used a meta approach to the meta.

  4. Wayne says:

    I agree that the grid was tough for a week 1, but the meta was easy enough once one of the five theme answers fell. (For me it was WRITE RABBIS.)

    So people who were stumped could then complete the grid via back-derivation (for example: ‘ “MAC-something” which must be two letters away from “MAD HATTER”…I know!…”MAC HOTTER”…..’)

    It’s somehow more enjoyable to complete the grid with the meta already solved (as opposed to looming up ahead, waiting to crush your spirit and steal your weekend :-)

  5. bob says:

    Very elegant that each theme word had one letter changed. Queen of Hearts had three letters switched while the White Rabbit had only two.

  6. Janette says:

    I have to disagree with Joon on this one. I thought that the puzzle itself was the easiest in a long time. I got the meta with Mac Hotter. Though I was also not familar with Bill the Lizard and had to look up the book’s characters to determine which one was referenced by Kill Tee Wizard.

  7. jane lewis says:

    when alice is in the white rabbit’s house and grows large bill the lizard is the one sent for to bring a ladder to get her out – haven’t read alice in a while but i think bill gets pushed off the roof.

  8. Michael Rigney says:

    I was on my way to the right Alice reference relatively easily but then I read that the “Mad Hatter” was not an Alice character – the character was just the “Hatter.” So I looked for a while to see if the “Mad” could mean something else. If it hadn’t been early in the month, I would have tried harder. I finally just accepted the reference as the common way of referring to the character and pulled the trigger on my entry (without the ‘).

  9. ===Dan says:

    I submitted late, and don’t remember any trouble with the apostrophe. Yet I’m pretty sure I was going to enter the full title. Maybe the software was fixed by then?

    The only thing that stopped me from submitting days sooner was the search for meaning in either the changed letters or the letters they were changed to. Even though it’s week 1.

    • Evad says:

      @equalequalequalDan, you’re not imagining that–after I submitted my own response I realized that the form wouldn’t take apostrophes so I fixed it over the weekend.

  10. Looking at QUEEG ON HEARTH, all I could think of was Qui-Gon Jinn.

  11. pgw says:

    Joon, I also tried doing something with the changed letters. They were one letter away from anagramming to “rocking horse” – instead it was “wocking horse.” Sounds like a plausible AiW character …

Comments are closed.