MGWCC #240

crossword 2:47
meta about -2 minutes 

hello and welcome to episode #240 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Born That Way”. i’m glad to be back on the horse this week after essentially mailing it in due to outside commitments last week. (mailing in the blog post, that is. not the horse. you know what? let’s just let this whole aside end here.) matt gives us a nice fun romp to start 2013. we’re looking for a ten-letter answer to the crossword clue [Velvet-voiced singer Torme?]. what are the theme answers?

  • {Blockbuster queen Ryan?} is MEGASTAR MEG.
  • {Costello who never quit yakking?} is LOUDMOUTH LOU.
  • {Onassis born to great wealth?} is ARISTOCRATIC ARI.
  • {The alluring Ms. Arthur?} is BEAUTIFUL BEA. i’ll take matt’s word for it, since i don’t remember what she looks like (and even at that, i don’t think i ever saw what she looked like in her heyday.)
  • {The talented Mr. Garfunkel?} is ARTISTIC ART. “i think i have what it takes to make it in the music industry as a solo act”, paul said artlessly.

so we’ve got five famous people with three-letter first names, affixed with a delightfully appropriate word beginning with those same three letters. the velvet-voiced singer torme is mel, so in ten letters, we’re looking at melodic mel. without the letter count, we could go with melodious mel or melismatic mel or (my favorite) mellifluous mel, or some slightly iffier choices like mellow or melodramatic or melancholy.

odds & ends from the fill:

  • {Defiant DiFranco} is ANI, and this clue made me think she could have been a theme answer. ANIMADVERSARY ANI?
  • {Like some photography subjects} is TOPLIT. took me a while to piece this one together, but yeah, sure.
  • {Words to a flatterer} OH, STOP IT. this is great fill.
  • {Arabic for “forbidden place”} HAREM. now this i did not know. nifty etymology clue for a pretty common crossword answer. for some reason i thought this word would come from turkish, not arabic.
  • {Night before} EVE. but what about {Ubiquitous actress Plum?}
  • {Not quite breakneck speed} is a SNAIL SPACE, kind of like a crawlspace except slimier.
  • {Melodramatic goodbye, if you’re not a French-speaker} ADIEU. almost as melodramatic as mel torme.
  • {Role for Ron Howard} OPIE TAYLOR. full name! congrats OPIE—you’ve made the big-time now.

and with that, i bid you adieu. écoutons-nous à vos pensées à la boîte de commentaire.

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10 Responses to MGWCC #240

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    598 correct answers this week, soundly crushing the previous record of 553. Oddly enough, Bea Arthur served as a theme answer in both this puzzle and the previous record holder (The GOLDEN GIRLS meta, puzzle #231).

    44 incorrect entries, too, from those who overlooked the ten-letter stipulation. Many MELLIFLUOUS MELs, which is a much nicer word that MELODIC, but for Week 1 I thought it might be slightly tough.

    I did accept MELTING MEL and MELLOWY MEL, since they fit the bill as well (I anticipated the first but not the second, but it looks legit).

    My wife is chiding me for only counting correct answers in the tally, so this would be a good week to start counting all entries, since that’s a record as well. So there it is: 642 entries overall submitted this week.

    • Christopher Jablonski says:

      Congrats, Matt! I have a feeling today will also enforce the inverse relationship between the number of correct entries and the number of comments on the blog post.

  2. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Wikipedia says that “harem” *is* Turkish, though based on the Arabic “haram” that means “forbidden” (as well as “holy”); so you’re both right.

    Surely I wasn’t the only one of the 642 solvers who first thought 50D would be I-TILE (as in QI), since UTILE (unlike ITILE) is already a legitimate word.

  3. Debbie says:

    I read 11D as SNAILS PACE?

    ….or are you just being clever and I’m not getting it? o_O

    • joon says:

      perhaps too clever.

      or, more likely, not clever enough. i haven’t collected any data on this, but anecdotally, it seems that this genre of “cleverness” in crossword blogging (reparsing an entry and then remarking on the transformed phrase in earnestness) is extremely likely to lead to confused comments of this sort. a rational person, confronted with such repeated instances, would probably stop trying to make these jokes. hmm, what does that say about me, then?

  4. AaronB says:

    The Hebrew word “cherem” which refers to a ban or an excommunication is related to harem, and in Biblical Hebrew means to ban, devote or confiscate

    For an interesting etymological discussion see

  5. abide says:

    Goo done Joon!

  6. klew archer says:

    Je n’ai rien à ajouter

  7. Blanche says:

    For me it was a toss-up between MELODIC and MELTING, but as you specified “velvet-voiced,” I went with MELTING. Thanks for accepting it.

Comments are closed.