MGWCC #259

crossword 3:39
meta 3 days 

hello and welcome to episode #259 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Where in the World…?”. in this easy week 3 puzzle, matt challenges us to figure out where [he]’ll be heading for vacation next week. what are the theme answers? there are only two long answers in the grid, both explicitly thematic:

  • {Descriptor of my vacation destination} CARIBBEAN ISLAND. sounds good already!
  • {What you must do to figure out which 17-across I’ll be on} USE ANAGRAM TWICE.
  • finally, there’s one starred clue at the end: {Itinerary for many Acela passengers, briefly*} DC-NY, as in washington to new york.

is that it for theme? i think so, yes. it’s a squeaky-clean grid with some great fill, and that would be a lot harder to do if there were tons of theme here. in particular, i don’t think the central across MEMPHIS has anything to do with the answer, even though it is a place in the world.

so the wording of USE ANAGRAM TWICE is a bit strange. i couldn’t tell if it was strange because it needed to be exactly 15 letters long, or because it would have sounded strange anyway. my first thought was to take DC-NY and expand to “washington-new york”, and then anagram that… but that didn’t really look promising. i was relying on this list of islands, which includes all 94 islands larger than 2 square miles, and there didn’t seem to be anything that was an anagram of washington-new york. and that doesn’t really explain the “twice”, either, unless it were an anagram of washington followed by an anagram of new york (much more constrained than just mixing up all 17 letters).

the next thing that occurred to me was the possibility that matt wasn’t on a caribbean island at all, but rather in a location that could be described by an anagram of CARIBBEAN ISLAND. there would be a second anagram involving DCNY for the specific locale. but that seemed way too hard for a week 3.

so i put it down for the weekend, which was a busy weekend for me what with dash 5 and my mother-in-law’s graduation party. some time on sunday it occurred to me that perhaps i was supposed to use ANAGRAM itself as anagram fodder. but i didn’t have time to try it out until monday, and then … i was abruptly done. ANAGRAM+DCNY anagrams to GRAND CAYMAN, which is indeed a caribbean island. enjoy your vacation, matt!

this was a neat meta, i’m sure inspired by matt noticing that his destination of GRAND CAYMAN contains all the letters of ANAGRAM. i don’t know that i’ve ever seen a MGWCC with less “theme material” than this 15+15+4, but that didn’t bother me. we were anagramming the word ANAGRAM itself! for the meta! how meta is that?

fill i liked:

  • {Francis Xavier, e.g.} JESUIT. topical, as our new pope francis is also a jesuit (but was clear in stating that he took the name francis in honor of francis of assisi, not francis xavier). there’s an old-school catholic mini-theme here with SAINT and PRAY and perhaps INCENSE.
  • {“I’ve heard more than enough out of you”} “OH BE QUIET!”. lovely.
  • {Watches for a lot of money} isn’t about mansion-sitting; it’s the plural noun ROLEXES.
  • {Three-time Cy Young winner of the 1970s} JIM PALMER. of the orioles. that’s a full name that looks nice in the grid, unlike DON HO or AL HIRT or MEL OTT.
  • {Kid’s projectile} SPITWAD. awesome. yes.

looking forward to weeks 4 and 5. how’d you all do this week?

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38 Responses to MGWCC #259

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    I usually find Matt’s asterisks overly generous when he uses them to indicate theme content, but without a * this time, the meta would have been nearly impossible. On the plus side, USE ANAGRAM TWICE was clever. Since DCNY ( a misspelled knockoff clothing label?) wouldn’t work with anything else, I came back to the word “anagram,” which I’d already tried as ANAGRAMANAGRAM for fodder. One other thing I tried was “many Acela” from the DCNY clue, which coincidentally came to Cayman Ale. I assume that’s what Matt and his lovely bride will be drinking soon. Bon Voyage, Mr. and Mrs. Meta.

  2. Matt says:

    183 right answers. And no, I didn’t choose this island for the meta! We’re going for a wedding.

  3. DannyBoy says:

    I entered Mustique. It’s an anagram of sum and quiet. I knew that DCNY or its clue had to be important, but couldn’t find anything there. Mustique was too good to pass up, since each syllable was an anagram, rather than mixing two words together. When I looked up Mustique, it’s a private island where the jet set stay, but Matt’s the King of Metas, no? Did anyone find another island?

    • I Before E says:

      The two long acrosses anagram to ANTIGUA BARBUDA using a “U” twice (my incorrect entry) and 4and 41 Down anagram to HISPANIOLA. Of course neither use all the letters. Never noticed the asterisk at DCNY.

  4. Wayne says:

    I went down anagramming pairs of stations on the Acela line. Didn’t think about anagramming ANAGRAM. Now that’s a meta meta. Very nice!

    Am I the only one that did a double-take at 16A and 18A on Monday’s NYT? A chess champ and a Caribbean island right next to each other? My first thought was “I wouldn’t put it past Matt to hide a clue to MGWCC in another puzzle.” I’m going to be a paranoid wreck by the time we get to #1000.

    • mps says:

      18a in the Monday NYT is the only reason i got the meta. I initially filled in Grand Cayman and anagram + dcny just jumped out. best wrong answer i’ve ever had

      • Tyler Hinman says:

        Yup, me too. I’d like to think I would have been successful anyway, as I was planning on combing through a list of Caribbean islands for names with all of DCNY, but I was very pleased to be spared that labor.

        • CY Hollander says:

          Prickly Pear Island
          Anderson Cay
          Angle and Fish Cay
          Big Grand Cay
          Big Joe Downer Cay
          Bonds Cay
          Burnside Cay
          Children’s Bay Cay
          Crisby Island
          Danger Cay
          Daniels Cay
          Dead Mens Cays
          Deadman Cay
          Diamond Cay
          Dunc Cays
          Fernandez Cay
          Garden Cay
          Gaulding Cay
          Golding Cay
          Grand Cay
          Grand Cays
          Halls Pond Cay
          India Cay
          Joe Downer Cays
          John Downer Cays
          Lanzadera Cay
          Laughing Bird Cay
          Leonard Cay
          Linder Cay
          Little Grand Cay
          Little Joe Downer Cay
          Lynyard Cay
          Mamma Rhonda Cay
          Man Head Cay
          Norman’s Pond Cay
          Old Yankee Cay
          Over Yonder Cay
          Peace and Plenty Island
          Randall’s Cay
          Red Shank Cay
          Redknapp Cay
          Salt Pond Cay
          Sand Bank Cays
          Sandy Cay
          Sandy Harbour Cay
          Scotland Cay
          Sneijder Cay
          Staniard Cay
          Upper Sandy Harbour Cay
          Woolen Dean Cay
          Ernst Thälmann Island (formerly Cayo Blancos del Sur)
          Cayo Ines de Soto
          Cayo Levantado Island (Barcelo Island)
          Calivigny Island
          Grande Cayemite
          Big Portland Cay
          Drunken Man’s Cay
          Gordon Cay
          Sandals Cay
          Little Portland Cay
          Maiden Cay
          Sandbank Cay
          Golden Cay
          Sand Cay
          Deadman’s Cay
          Prickly Pear Island
          Sandy Cay
          Grand Cayman
          Duck Pond Cay
          Sand Cay
          Big Sand Cay
          Donna Cay
          Middleton Cay
          Plandon Cay
          Sand Cay
          Cayo Algodones
          Cayo Don Luis
          Cayo Fanduca
          Cayos de Ratones
          Sandy Point Rock
          Whistling Cay

          I guess that narrows it down some

  5. *David* says:

    I didn’t even realize that the DCNY clue was asterisked, no wonder it took me so long to solve. I beat this one down with brute force using a list of Caribbean Islands and anagramming them. I concluded that one of the two fill used couldn’t be a proper word after netting no results. I went back to the fill and first tried REY and then went to DCNY which were in GRAND CAYMAN and voila I was left with the letters for ANAGRAM.

  6. jefe says:

    Oof. Sleep deprived from a busy weekend (friend’s birthday party, brother’s graduation, grading term papers); wasn’t able to put two and two together. They always make perfect sense in retrospect though. Enjoy your trip, Matt!

  7. neil B says:

    very good. Couldn’t get there. I was thrown a little by leon and leno being anagrams in bottom left but they didn’t fit an island. enjoy trip

  8. mrbreen says:

    I figured the letters dcny would be part of the island, but didn’t know if the long downs had anything to do with the theme. Puzzle remained a mystery until Monday morning, when, whilst solving the NYT, I mistakenly wrote in GRANDCAYMAN for GRANDBAHAMA. Funny, I thought. My mistake contained the letters DCNY and… ANAGRAM! So of course: Use ANAGRAM twice. 1st the letters, then the function. Super cool.

    And I know I’m not the only one who was helped out by the Monday NYT Puzzle.

  9. Abide says:

    My comment to Matt (for further anagrammation):


  10. Brilliant. I kept trying to anagram two words from the grid together to make an island, but it just wouldn’t work. Could not figure out what to do with the DCNY either.

    The fact that the puzzle was a pangram also distracted me. I thought there might have been something going on with PANGRAM ANAGRAM, but that didn’t really lead anywhere.

    I ended up sending in BONAIRE, which is the only Caribbean island mentioned in the lyrics of the “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”.

  11. mmespeer says:

    I’ve been doing these metas since December and this is the first month I have got to week 3. But not by any increase in solving ability. I entered the correct answer after looking at a VERY long Wiki list of Caribbean islands and looking for likely ones for vacation that had DC-NY (because of the asterisk) somewhere in their names. It wasn’t until after I entered that I spotted how “anagram” came into it. Oh well, I’m still giving myself a high five!

  12. Amy L says:

    I looked at an atlas for inspiration. I found lots of islands named for saints but nothing popped up for the puzzle. I thought “DCNY” might be part of the name. I was looking at the part of the Caribbean where all those other islands are and couldn’t find “DCNY” anywhere. I finaly looked at a list of islands (similar to Joon’s) and found Grand Cayman and it clicked.

    I love Matt’s puzzles when you know you’ve nailed the answer. This wasn’t as satifying as the Estonian kroon, because it was easier, but it was still nifty.

  13. Mutman says:

    I spent countless hours trying to find two sets of letters to anagram into a two word island. Mostly looking at answers and diagonals in the DC-NY corridor. Finally looked at island list for something with DCNY in it. Found the Grand Cayman and then the remaining anagram. Even though I kinda backed into it, it felt good!

  14. Scott says:

    Use Anagram Twice made me think to first anagram the digits in the starred clue from 65 to 56 and look at the answer there, ECON. Then anagram that into CONE. So I sent in St. Lucia which has a prominent cone. Now that I think of it, there are two cones. Now that I think of it, they are just cone-shaped mountains. Me fail! Nice meta though!

  15. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Ah well. I thought the awkward 34A:ILM must have indicated some theme material nearby, but not so. I also wondered about “score” in the 13D:LODE clue colliding with 19D:SCORES, normally a no-no, and thought either “score” should have been “source” or maybe the metapuzzle involves the U that separates the letters of SCORE from SOURCE; but no, it was just an unforced error. Neat puzzle, at any rate.

  16. Johnny says:

    I answered CANDLE CAY, which is an anagram of DCNY and ACELA. I didn’t have much confidence in it, however, because a) the true name of this group of islands in the Bahamas is Candle Cays (plural), and b) they appear to be uninhabited, which would make it difficult as a vacation spot. Wish I had thought to anagram ANAGRAM!

    • Charles Montpetit says:

      Very cool wrong answer though, as it did “use anagram twice,” both times in connection with the starred entry. Can’t help but wish that you’d get, say, half a point for that!

  17. Jimmy says:

    Didn’t even notice DCNY. Looked for an existing anagram. Found LEON and LONE which also anagram to NOEL. If there had been a NOEL island, I don’t think my answer would be that bad.

    But it put in mind of Christmas Island. The one I think I’ve heard of is near Australia, but wiki says there’s also one in the Bahamas, so that was the closest I got to an answer.

  18. Garrett says:

    Neat that this grid is a pangram. I always check for that. I think the meta is very clever and smart (and so obvious in retrospect!). Too bad I went another direction and missed it!

    I’d like to explain my submission and the logic there… in case anyone else went this direction.

    I took the USEANAGRAMTWICE to literally mean “Use: ANAGRAMTWICE.” I figured that DCNY was a reference to taking the Acela to New York, then taking a KLM flight from there. KLM being right in the middle of the grid seemed to be a destination clue (Netherlands Antilles). SAINT is spelled-out at 9D, so I immediately thought of Saint Martin. But how to use ANAGRAMTWICE, well… twice?

    That Caribbean island is split into two parts — a French part and a Dutch part. The French part is called Saint Martin, and the Dutch part Sint Maarten. So we have two “Martins”. And you can get both out of Martin and Maarten out of ANAGRAMTWICE. So that is what I submitted.

    A couple of other observations. CARIBBEANISLAND and USEANAGRAMTWICE both have exactly three As each. So do Jamaica and Bahamas. But no anagramming involved.

    And as I already observed, you can get Martin out of the second theme answer, and EQUI is hidden in OHBEQUIET, which anagrams to Martinique, which is a double anagram. But, no explanation for DCNY there. Unless there is a KLM flight 600 out of New York. :-)

    Then there is the matter of the four blocks of three-letter words (BIB, BBQ; KLM, ILM; HUE, SUM; LIT, ALI) which all travel NW to SE. I looked around for another set like that embedded in longer words and found COR/TOX (in SCORES/DETOX) with the T in TOX picking-up the last letter of SAINT. This gives you enough letters to create SAINT CRO_X, needing only the letter I. Tantalizing.

  19. Mac says:

    I must confess confusion. I get that “Grand Cayman” is an anagram of “anagram” and “dcny” but where does the “twice” come in? The fact that the island is two words does not make it two anagrams.

    • Al says:

      The second use of anagram is the concept of anagramming to combine the letters of DCNY and ANAGRAM.

    • Patrick L says:

      Yes, I don’t see the twice part either. Using the word ‘ANAGRAM’ and then ‘anagramming’ isn’t really doing anything twice – it’s more like two different things.

      I unfortunately didn’t see the asterisk on the DCNY clue so I doubt I would have solved this even with a lot more time.

      • wobbith says:

        Use anagram twice = anagram “ANAGRAM”

        • Patrick L says:

          I still see that as using ANAGRAM once.

          • Matt Gaffney says:

            1) use ANAGRAM as an indicator, meaning you need to anagram something

            2) use the letters in ANAGRAM for 1)

            If you were reversing the letters ANAGRAM to MARGANA, that would be using ANAGRAM once. If you ANAGRAM the letters in SUPERSONIC to get PERCUSSION, you’re using ANAGRAM once. If you ANAGRAM the letters in ANAGRAM, you’re using it twice, in two different ways.

  20. Bruce S. says:

    I didn’t catch on at all that the DC-NY should be appended to the word ANAGRAM. I tried to use ANAGRAM twice by first mapping the letters of ANAGRAM to new letters using some shift and the concept of DC->NY but mapping D to N while also mapping C to Y didn’t work out for me. I then figured I would have to Anagram the result. No luck, so I sent in JAMAICA which had three letters the same , no other common letters, and since I and J are one apart I hoped they would come from the N and M in ANAGRAM. Fun puzzle though.

  21. Neville says:

    Back-arsed my way into this one. Had come up with GRAND CAYMAN over the weekend, but only because it had DCNY in it. Only going to submit it this morning did I notice that the rest anagrammed to ANAGRAM. Clever!

    Enjoy your trip, Matt!

  22. rmac says:

    I was initially among the confused about what “use anagram twice” was supposed to mean. So I abandoned that temporarily and used grep to make a list of words that all contained D, C, N, and Y. One of the first in the list was ADAMANCY, which had enough Caymanesque letters that I was able to sort of backsolve the meta from there. I agree that this one would have been nearly impossible without the asterisk.

    — Russ

  23. Dave says:

    So frustrating — I noticed that DC-NY had letters that would help in spelling “Grand Cayman,” and I thought of actually anagramming “anagram,” but I didn’t think of both at the same time. If only I had remembered to just go ahead and guess something this morning.

  24. About The Same says:

    I tried using “anagram” broken down into:
    AND [for N]
    G [for GRAM]
    with the DCNY letters, which didn’t work but gave me enough of the correct letters that GRANDCAYMAN still jumped out at me somehow, and then I saw the true anagram. Fun.

    • I thought about trying to parse ANAGRAM different ways too. But none of “USE A NAG RAM TWICE”, “USE AN AG RAM TWICE” (use a silver ram twice?), “USE AN A-GRAM TWICE”, etc. made any sense.

  25. Amy Reynaldo says:

    The starred clue included “MANY ACela passengers” and although I could find no GRAND, LITTLE, or BRAC, Grand Cayman is much more touristy so I gambled on it. And yes, USE ANAGRAM TWICE was really not used at all. A correct wrong answer!

  26. pannonica says:

    Was dumbfounded by this one. Was going to submit GRAND BAHAMAS because it seemed to have the highest “anagram” content, but was freaked out by the fact that it appeared in two other puzzles in the intervening time between onset and deadline. Was out all day today and never had a chance for a last-minute entry.

    Not thrilled with this one.

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