Andy here, filling in for joon this week on a (thankfully) easier Week 4 puzzle than most. (Matt said it would play like a Week 2.5, but I’d put it at a flat Week 2.)
The title of MGWCC 291 was “It Never Ends.” Matt informed us that we were looking for “a Major League Baseball team that would have made an excellent theme entry in this puzzle.”
Step One is to find the theme entries. Not too challenging in today’s grid, as 5 entries stood right out:
- [Words that aim to persuade] or O(PI)NION (PI)ECE
- [How biscuits should be served] or (PI)(PI)NG HOT
- [Powerful tablet] or SLEE(PI)NG (PI)LL
- [Successful businessperson, in old propaganda] or CA(PI)TALIST (PI)G
- [Code invoked biennially] or OLYM(PI)C S(PI)RIT
Each of the theme answers contains 2 PI (hence the title “It Never Ends”). Seems like we’re looking for an MLB team that contains the digraph PI twice. A quick scan of the memory bank reveals this week’s meta answer, the (PI)TTSBURGH (PI)RATES [not the similarly double-Greek (PHI)LADELPHIA (PHI)LLIES].
A S(PI)FFING meta as usual. I wasn’t bothered by the 4/1 imbalance of nonconsecutive/consecutive PIs, nor did I mind that the sought-after meta answer was the only two word phrase whose words both started with PI.
Sourest fill for me was 31d, WE ON [“Met ___ hill, in dale, forest or mead”–“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”]. Also not used to seeing the spellings TI(PI) or GISMO, but those didn’t negatively affect my solving experience.
Looks like nearly 500 correct answers were submitted for this Week 4. Might that be a record?
I so wanted the Pipi Long Sox to be a real team.
And, as Andy notes, I so wanted it to be a Phi instead of Pi, for my beloved Philadelphia Phillies.
Thanks Matt for a great year of metas, and a well-appreciated gimme after last week’s butt-whipping. Happy New Year to all from Genevieve and me! Since I know a few of you are fellow cryptic fans, here’s one of the best & lit. clues I saw this year. It’s from Anax in the Independent:
Art seldom beaten (3,6)
Nice &lit (which means it should end with “!” by American conventions). What’s the source of “Sondheim’s ultimate song! (5)”?
Meanwhile, Φladelφa Φllies is actually a triple! Which would make it much harder to find other theme entries… Though the golden ratio φ also “never ends”, being irrational like π (and much easier to prove irrational).
And yes, the central theme entry really should have had one Π in each word, as in ΠTCH_ΠPE or ΠTCH_ΠNE, both of which would fit in the same 7-wide space. Still a fun end-of-the-year rebus, though I agree that it was much more of a week-2 than a week-4 or even week-π puzzle :-)
Good point about the triple Phi. If the & lit. answer’s Maria, I think it would be better as simply Sondheim’s ultimate song! “What’s the source of” isn’t doing much of anything except falsely producing S for Sondheim.
Oops, never mind. I see you had the second part set off by quotation marks. That IS the entire clue, I take it.
The clue does ring a bell. (Sets off some firecrackers, too.) I could be wrong, but I think it’s from a Cox and Rathvon puzzle.
The Independent 7545 by Morph, December 21, 2010, 2 Down. I’ve got them all memorized, Rain Man-like.
No, seriously, fifteensquared.net is searchable. Good reference to see if the clue you thought was clever has been done to death.
I’m picking the Pipi Long Sox in my fantasy league next year.
Got the meta as soon as I spotted the rebus; way before I finished the grid. Definitely week 2 at best. Not complaining. Jus’ sayin’.
I wouldn’t have even noticed the awkward fill (WE ON, TIPI, GISMO) if it had appeared in the NYT. The fact that it was jarring here is just a testament to how high the Gaffney bar is.