MGWCC #253

crossword 2:16
meta 0:05 

hello and welcome to episode #253 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Book Club”. in this week 1 puzzle, matt challenges us to name a well-known American novel. well, what are the theme answers? here are the four long answers in the grid:

  • {God complex} MEGALOMANIA.
  • {Stealing a car just to drive it around for a while} JOYRIDING.
  • to {Defeat everyone} is to BE THE BEST, but i don’t love it as a crossword answer. this isn’t really a verb phrase in its own right; it’s just BE + THE BEST.
  • {Chemical name of the recreational drug called “poppers”} AMYL NITRITE.

so, famous novel from american literature, and the four theme answers start with MEG, JO, BETH, and AMY. well, those are the names of the four march sisters in louisa may alcott’s little women, QED. i do believe that, start to finish, this is the fastest i’ve ever completed a MGWCC puzzle. the crossword solve alone is a good 20 seconds faster than my previous best, and (as you can see) the meta didn’t take too long either.

1-acrossspeaking of little women, though, did you catch 1-across? {Biblical wife of Jacob} is LEAH, the name of my 2-week old daughter. hooray! matt is successfully sucking up to me after i took issue with the title of last week’s puzzle. i’ll offer my tired grin also to LUCKY, ADORE, EUPHORIC, and brown-EYED girl (and just pretend i didn’t see AWRY, SPANK, LAME, BOO, or UH-OH). five stars, since i’m in an especially good mood.

as easy as this puzzle was, apparently there was one trap (presumably unintentional) that some solvers fell into: with AMY and JOY, LUCKY, and the title “book CLUB”, you could potentially submit amy tan’s the joy luck club. i wouldn’t really recommend this—it doesn’t explain what MEGALOMANIA (tied for the longest answer in the puzzle) is doing, nor BE THE BEST (as long as JOYRIDING). and it would be pretty sloppy to include one key answer word outright in the grid and put another one in the title. but it is rather a surprising set of coincidences.

that’s all i’ve got to say about this one. what did you think?

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27 Responses to MGWCC #253

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    The ol’ “put the reveiwer’s newborn at 1-across trick” works every time. And also in Massachusetts, like the four theme Little Women.

    580 right answers this week. 25 incorrect, 13 of which were THE JOY LUCK CLUB, which was indeed unintentional. Also 4 for FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, which I haven’t read. Can someone explain that entry to me?

  2. Matthew G. says:

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, huh? Not sure where that comes from. Possibly because Hunter S. Thompson evinced MEGALOMANIA and some of the book is spent JOYRIDING around the Nevada desert and popping drugs, which might have included AMYL NITRITE. Not sure how BE THE BEST fits into that, though. Maybe because of Thompson’s fascination with Horatio Alger?

  3. Matthew G. says:

    Oh, of course — I just remembered this quote, memorably delivered by Johnny Depp in the film version of Fear and Loathing: “We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all this for the trip, but once you get locked in a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.”

    I’m sure that’s what the 4 entrants were thinking of.

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    CONGRATS JOON. (re Leah, not Meg, Amy, Beth, or Jo.)

  5. Jeff G. says:

    Beautiful baby girl, congratulations Joon! My kids go to Alcott Elementary so I would’ve been in the doghouse if I didn’t get this one.

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Whoa. Not long after this puzzle came out, I wiped out on a wet floor and split my face open (in a minor way). I spent all afternoon fretting about bleeding and completely forgot to do the puzzle. The medical superglue is holding strong but I missed out on a week 1 meta. I could’ve gotten this!

    Jeff G., is that the Alcott Elementary in Chicago?

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Geez, Amy, I’m not sure there’s a minor way to “split your face open” and then spend all afternoon bleeding. I’m glad your cut man/person did a good job, ( or did you successfully treat yourself?), and I hope it heals quickly. I’m sure you don’t need a reminder to be aware of possible latent concussion effects.

      I too was momentarily distracted by the Amy Tan, Joy Luck Club red herring.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        It was a slow bleed, Bruce. No blood-soaked kitchen towels—just a succession of three bandaids in five hours of slow but continuing blood. So the nice doctor at the urgent care place, she glued me back together and sent me on my way. No sign of concussion—in fact, the bump removed the headache I’d already had.

    • Jeff G. says:

      Hi Amy, my Alcott Elementary is in Westerville, OH

  7. HH says:

    Shouldn’t this puzzle have run last month?

  8. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    My comment to Matt, in support of Little Women, was, “How can we forget the heartwarming stories of Leah, Amanda, Karen and Gabe?”

  9. Jason T says:

    May I take a moment to observe how Matt cleverly disguised the pronunciation of three of the four names – a nice bit of misdirection to slow us down for a moment, even in a Week 1.

  10. jane lewis says:

    i think leah is trying to decide if she wants to stay – congratulations!!!!

  11. janie says:

    hey, joon — congrats on the latest addition to the family! wow wow wow — another beauty, i see!

    and matt — thanks (always) for the chance to re-start my “streak” of one!


  12. Alex Bourzutschky says:

    Megalomania instantly made me think of Moby Dick, and Joyriding and Be The Best (and maybe even Amyl Nitrite) made me think of Catcher in the Rye. I spent two days researching all sorts of American novels, primarily from 1900 to 1980, and was wondering why nothing was yielding until I glanced at the theme answers again and it clicked.

  13. Jim Schooler says:

    Congrats to Joon!

  14. Maggie W. says:

    Mazel tov, Joon! What a beaut.

  15. Elaine says:

    Actually, there MUST be a wife in there who needs congratulating, too. That is a very beautiful baby!
    Shouldn’t this be affecting Guess My Word at least a little? I mean, terms like colic, postpartum, sleeplessness, and the like….

    My babies are 32 and 29, so I can afford to laugh.

  16. Crossword Rush says:

    If anyone is interested in cleverly themed, hand constructed American style crosswords, Crossword Rush is now a free app in the Android play store.

  17. Mike says:

    I put down joy luck club before I realized my mistake. I thought megalomania wa a creative way to get Lo Mein (sounds like, not spelled like) – a Chinese dish. I thought be the best was simply reference to it being a Best seller. Ah well…..

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