MGWCC #237

crossword 3:42
meta 1:37 

hello, and welcome to episode #237 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Make It an Even Dozen”. this week, matt challenges us to devise a 15-letter crossword entry whose clue is [Musical genre developed at a Big East school?]. sounds goofy, but okay. what are the theme answers?

  • {How Priam’s soldiers avoiding drowning?} clues TROJAN LIFEBOATS. this could have gone a different way, but i’m glad it didn’t.
  • {Bar that serves It’s Your Special Day Lager and Words Can’t Say How Much I Love You Stout?} is the HALLMARK TAPROOM.
  • {Shrimper OK with a lousy haul?} is an UNDISMAYED CAJUN.
  • {Putting a little extra bourbon in your drink at a Kentucky Derby party?} is JULEP AUGMENTING.
  • {Specialist in healing rowdy kids’ injuries?} is a HORSEPLAY DOCTOR.

each theme answer is a made-up phrase consisting of two words; that much is clear. i’m not sure why, exactly, but the theme jumped out at me immediately: each word of the theme answers contains, in order, the three-letter abbreviation for the months of the year (circled in the screenshot above). but there are only five theme answers in the grid, and 10 words gets us up to october. so to “make it an even dozen”, we need to include NOV and DEC. VILLANOVA is clearly the big east school in question (and, unlike pretty much every other school in the conference, they haven’t been talking about leaving the big east next year), and so we need a 6-letter musical genre containing DEC. i went with villanova zydeco and i think (but am not positive) that it’s the only one.

at any rate, fun puzzle. it reminds me a bit of this NYT tuesday from 2010, in which twelve (shortish) theme answers started with those twelve trigrams in order.

now, it’s late and i haven’t much time to blog, so i’ll sign off here. hope to hear from you in the comments!

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32 Responses to MGWCC #237

  1. Lynne Higgins says:

    Once again, as I slap my forehead with the heel of my hand, and toss the hard copy of the puzzle into the trash….oh, never mind! I did think that Louisville Blues was a good answer, though.

  2. Mutman says:

    With Villanova in my neighborhood, I’d be embarrassed if I missed this one!

    Happy Holidays to all — I’m sure we’ll be extended to Wednesday next week.

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    Joon – Zydeco was indeed the only one. I checked the Wikipedia list of musical genres, and I’d guess that Matt did, too.
    It would have been interesting if he’d asked us to make up our own Theme entries. Here’s mine: “Writer’s Block?” …. NOVEL INDECISION Please feel free to post your own.
    Cy’s clever entry last week – A Life on Worder-land – inspired me to post this update on the standings: Dormouse landed in the Dog House, Duck fell out of Luck, Lory wound up Lorn, but Alice is still Alive.
    I do the Times puzzles six weeks late and just came across Eric A’s gem with Obama/Biden/Romney/Ryan that ran on Election Day. Major props to our young friend.

  4. genefaba says:

    If you look in wikipedia under Musical styles you find the style Decima, which is what I entered.
    I didn’t know it but I don’t know zydeco either.

    • CY Hollander says:

      If you click on that entry, you find that “a décima refers to a ten-line stanza of poetry, and the song form generally consists of forty-four lines (an introductory four-verse stanza followed by four ten-line stanzas)”. In other words, décima can describe the lyrical structure of a song, but not its music. That’s why I went with “zydeco” for the “musical genre”.

      I wouldn’t have known ‘décima’ or ‘zydeco’ without Wikipedia either, nor ‘Villanova’, for that matter.

      • Matthew G. says:

        I knew the word “zydeco” primarily from the Paul Simon song “That Was Your Mother,” off his Graceland album:

        Well, I’m standing on the corner of Lafayette
        State of Louisiana
        Wondering where a city boy could go
        To get a little conversation
        Drink a little red wine
        Catch a little bit of those Cajun girls
        Dancing to zydeco

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    377 right answers this week, eight of whom submitted VILLANOVA DECIMA instead of VILLANOVA ZYDECO.

  6. Never heard of zydeco, I had to once again grep my word list for 6-letter words with DEC in them to find it. Nothing else I found was a musical genre, though decima came close, as others have mentioned.

  7. Bernie Cosell says:

    I’m clearly out of my league with these metas — for Joon, the month abbreviations jumped out immdiately. For me, two days of pondering the theme entries lead to no such insights… sigh…

    • joon says:

      one thing that helped with this one is that the title got me thinking of things that come in sets of 12. after that it wasn’t a great leap to notice that there were five theme answers of two words each, and it sounded from the instructions like matt wanted us to come up with a sixth theme answer, so there was a natural correspondence between one word and one element of the dozen.

      • Spencer says:

        Yes, it was the “12” that gave me the insight. Once I saw JAN and FEB, the rest was confirmation (and help from Wikipedia, as others have mentioned.)

  8. Wayne says:

    Perfect week two, IMO: solving the meta requires two leaps (one leap of intuition, and one leap to the Google machine); both within reach, but neither a gimme.

    I’ll file my objection with the Curmudgeon Department about “décima” being accepted. The accent mark alone should disqualify it. And you really have to stretch the definition of “musical genre” for it to include décima. In keeping with the season, I say “Bah, humbug!”

  9. Mutman says:

    OK Paul, I’ll play:

    “How can the women not love me?”, for example. CASSANOVA DECREE

    • Paul Coulter says:

      Very Good!
      Groundbreaking color scheme? INNOVATIVE DECOR

      • joon says:

        this is curious: i think you’d have a hard time writing a clue for INNOVATIVE DECOR that wouldn’t also apply to NOVEL DECORATION.

        (mutman, fwiw, CASANOVA has eight letters and only one S.)

        {Get a makeover for your motorbike attachment?} RENOVATE SIDECAR

        • Mutman says:

          Good point Joon — we’ll have to put a cheater square in to make it fit :)

          How about “Packs of playing cards with four colors?” INNOVATIVE DECKS

          (which I’ve used and like, btw)

  10. Anjali says:

    So … it didn’t have be to a legitimate genre? I spent too too many hours looking for an actual genre. Bossa Nova Zydeco the best fake genre I could come up with.

    • Howard B says:

      This is why each theme answer consisted of two unrelated words, both described in the clue. The sixth answer (the meta answer) had to follow that pattern, hence the Big East reference in the clue.

  11. Abby says:

    JAN and JUN caught my eye, and I know zydeco, but had to check Villanova. I didn’t bother looking for another musical genre since the count was right, but figured there might be one.

    Way to understand a writer? NOVELIST DECODER The Number Years? NOVOCAINE DECADE

    • Dave C says:

      Similar experience for me – the prevalence of Js caught my eye while solving, and then the JAN JUN JUL made the metasolve easy from there.

      Don’t know any Zydeco music, but will always remember Villanova’s classic upset of Georgetown in the NCAA Hoops Finals in ’85 (or ’86?)

      • ant says:


        (Wildcatter’s Musical Drug?)

        Whether it works or not, I don’t care. I just like the way it sounds.

        Btw, Dave…wouldn’t it be cool if ‘Nova, Kentucky, Arizona, and Kansas State met in the Final Four?!

    • Paul Coulter says:

      The Number Years? Loved this clue for NOVOCAINE DECADE. Polls remain open, but early exit trending suggests that we may have a winner.

  12. Matthew G. says:

    [Soccer player Landon nears retirement?] = DONOVAN DECLINES

    • john farmer says:

      Or [“Mellow Yellow” singer in the buff?] = DONOVAN INDECENT. (My son’s name is Donovan and this one would apply just about any day at our house.)

      Matt got that “Big East” clue in just in time, before it all blows up. I don’t know how they’ll call it the Big East with San Diego State and Boise State joining next year. Those two schools will be in the Big East for football and the Big West for other sports. Talk about nuts.

  13. pannonica says:

    Although I’m sure M Gaffney would like even more participation in his contests, I equally have no doubt that he’s glad the entries number in the hundreds rather than the novemdecillions!

  14. [Fumbles with class?] = TURNOVER DECORUM

  15. Jason says:

    [New boat crew?] NOVICE DECKHANDS

  16. Mordecai Ustinov (abide) says:

    “The Number Years? NOVOCAINE DECADE”

    I’m not even going to try after that one

  17. jefe says:

    [Hunt moose and squirrel?] = BADENOV DECISION

  18. Pam says:

    I got caught up in the Big East conference which was just reduced to 12, so I tried to find a school in the remaining 12 that would combine with a musical genre in 15 letters and came up with CincinnatiBlues. Sigh. So FAR wrong.

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