MGWCC #294

crossword 5:26*
meta 3 minutes 

mgwcc294hello and welcome to week #294 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Slight Chance”. look, i’m not going to lie: the mystery hunt was this weekend and i am in no particular mood to solve more puzzles or blog about them just yet. (i am coining “hungt over” to refer to this condition, which i am sure others share.) matt said last year he would push back the deadline for the MGWCC on hunt weekend by 24 hours, but he seems to have forgotten. but anyway, here we are. the instructions tell us that this week’s contest answer is a familiar American actress. so what are the theme entries? well, um. there are three long answers, one of which is goofy and made up:

  • {When fighters deserve permanent battle reminders, but are denied them?} SCAR SNUBS. it took me a few minutes to get the N of this answer, but that’s because i was looking at the wrong 18-down clue. once i noticed the correction, i finished it up pretty quickly. (this also entailed changing 7-down from BUD to BUB.)
  • {Annual gala in yesterday’s news} ACADEMY AWARDS. so the nominees were announced thursday.
  • {He did it, in many mysteries} THE BUTLER.

i think these are the only theme answers. but who knows? anyway, taken together, they seem to suggest that the actress we are looking for is somebody who was in lee daniels’ THE BUTLER (and no, that’s not how i would punctuate it, but that’s the title of the movie) who was snubbed for an academy award nomination. but why SCAR SNUBS?

well, i had no idea who was in that movie, and then even looking at the cast list on imdb didn’t help much, but i googled it up and apparently oprah winfrey is the snubee in question. and i guess it makes sense, then, that the O of OSCAR SNUBS was left out. looking over the grid, i then noticed that in fact the entire grid contains no O’s at all. (o)mission accomplished.

(matt informs me of one thing i hadn’t noticed on my own, which is that the clues also contain no O’s. tuché.)

well, i did say i was hungt over and that’s all i’ve got for you this week. next week is a week four puzzle and i’m going to have be back in the mood for that one, i’m sure!

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21 Responses to MGWCC #294

  1. Scott says:

    Loved the “(o)mission accomplished” comment!

    And I had not noticed the complete lack of Os in the grid AND the clues.

    • Garrett says:

      I also did not notice the complete omission of the letter O in clues AND the grid. That makes the puzzle most impressive to me considering the time constraint, and generally more wonderful to behold.

  2. Alex Bourzutschky says:

    I don’t know about this one. I didn’t have a clue what to do, Googled “Scar snubs”, and it suggested “Oscar snubs.” It wasn’t too hard to figure out what to do next.

  3. Todd Dashoff says:

    I noticed the lack of O’s in the grid, but not the clues. But finding that made the puzzle more confusing. As it stood, it didn’t seem like a Week 3 puzzle, with only 2+ theme clues (the SCAR SNUBS gave me grief, because Scarlett Johanssen also was snubbed, for her role in “Her”). I finally decided that the Butler clue meant to go with Winfrey, but I don’t think of her primarily as an actress, whereas I do for Johannsen. This one didn’t have the solid “got it” feeling that Matt says we should feel when we solve a meta.

    • Evan says:

      I did get the “got it” feeling when I noticed that O was left out of both the grid (and is the only letter missing from the grid) and the clues. But, I felt a little let down since I started to sniff out the meta answer before I was done filling in the puzzle. SCAR SNUBS gave me a hint that I was looking for someone snubbed for an Oscar, and THE BUTLER pretty much gave it to me. I haven’t seen the movie, I just happened to have read something the day before on news websites about who made the cut for nominations and who didn’t.

      I think it’s a clever idea for a meta, but I guess I’m with Paul Coulter below that THE BUTLER made the answer seem a little too obvious for me. I also confess that I don’t know what SCAR SNUBS is really doing — is it supposed to be a signal to the puzzle’s title, that you make a “Slight Chan(g)e” to understand one of the theme answers? I know that MEGASTAR is in the grid so maybe Matt couldn’t use STAR twice…..

      [OH! *Headslap* It’s a signal for OSCAR SNUBS without the O. I thought it meant STAR SNUBS with a one-letter change. Okay, now I appreciate that answer much more.]

  4. Paul Coulter says:

    Kind of a mixed bag for me. While Matt did well with the 0 O thing in the grid and clues, the answer came very quickly for a Week 3. Maybe something less obvious as a hint than The Butler would have been better. If you didn’t know Oprah was in this movie, surely everybody googled it. Okay, now eagerly awaiting Year 3 of the Muller MMMM series.

  5. Wayne says:

    Count me as another one who got it without getting it. I knew there had to be more to “SCARSNUBS” then met the eye, since it’s such a tortured clue and answer.

    It’s less unsatisfying when the solve is easier than the construction. It makes me feel like I didn’t earn the win. And when I can solve the meta without fully appreciating the beauty of the construction…well, then I just feel like a boob.

  6. Flinty Steve says:

    How quick is Matt? The Oscar nominations only came out about 24 hours before the puzzle went up. And here I was expecting a month of Olympics themes . . .

    • Joshua Kosman says:

      I e-mailed Matt after cracking it, asking naively, “What were you going to do if she’d been nominated?” He replied that he’d only gotten the idea after the noms were announced. Zzzzzzip!

  7. mmespeer says:

    Thought of Oprah, but don’t think about her as an actress. Never got “scarsnubs”, but I do like it now. I guessed Jane Fonda because she was in The Butler, went to Vassar, won Academy Awards and was in the play BlueBirds. Still trying to crack a week 3!

  8. David R says:

    I have a larger issue with the metas, back in ye olde days, there was more consistency as far as difficulty ratio to week in the month. I had a feel for how difficult a week three or four meta would be. I am now completely at sea as far as what I am getting myself into. For example it seems like recently the week threes have been brutal and then week four gets a reprieve and is a walk off. It is fun to have some consistency and be able to judge yourself month to month based on weekly difficulty I know that is my barometer and now its been flung overboard, what’s going on in Puzzle HQ?.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      They have been a little wobbly the past few months. The moon’s pull has been especially strong lately, which throws off my meta barometer. But the almanac says things will settle down, and so far so good this month by the numbers (643-563-523) (Five Fridays this month, remember)

  9. I Before E says:

    I got it when I noticed the “O” in (O)SCAR SNUB was OUTSIDE the grid on the LEFT side. Did not notice that there were no Os in the grid or clues–a more elegant solution. Thanks Matt.

  10. Lorraine says:

    I missed the (O)scarsnubs, and was overthinking things based on this being a week 3, not week 1, meta. I thought “The Butler” combined with the concept of an actress nomination snub was too overtly pointing to Oprah as a week 3, but once I saw the lack of Os in the grid and clues, that tipped it for me. I still kept thinking though “but this is too easy for a week 3!”

  11. abide says:

    Didn’t find the extra layers of the missing O’s, but felt pretty confident with an O hanging outside the grid in the NW. I looked for P-R-A-H extensions in the other areas, but only GRR(R) –and to a lesser extent AAA(A)– would have worked.

  12. Makfan says:

    I blew this one. I got hung up on vassar and mega star and came up with Jane Fonda who had a part in the butler and who is presenting in the academy awards program. Oops.

    It didn’t help that I couldn’t see NRA for the life of me.

  13. Howard B says:

    Being that I am in toddler-raising world right now, I am totally out of the Oscar loop this year. So much so, that I have never even heard of The Butler so I didn’t recognize it as a theme!
    Knew it had something to do with the missing O in the one answer and in the puzzle (did not catch the clues). Trail ended there. Super-Meta fail – how about that? Should I turn in my solver cred?

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