MGWCC #302

crossword 3:29
meta about 15 seconds 

mgwcc302hello and welcome to week #302 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “The Play’s The Thing”. the instructions for this week 2 puzzle (i’m pretty sure about that this time!) tell us that we’re looking for a Shakespeare play. what are the theme answers?

  • {Big drawn dog} is MARMADUKE.
  • {Another term for the dromedary} is an ARABIAN CAMEL.
  • a {Bishop’s path} on the chess board is a DIAGONAL LINE.
  • {Constellation next to Andromeda} is the W-shaped CASSIOPEIA.

(there are two long downs, GRASS MATS and BUD ABBOTT, but i don’t think either has to do with the theme.) well, i’ve bolded the letters in the answers and circled them in my screenshot: these are characters from the tragedy of othello, the moor of venice: the duke of venice (referred to as “duke” in the stage directions), bianca the lover of cassio, diabolical schemer iago, and cassio himself.

so i think that was pretty straightforward, but there were some places to go astray. if you read too much into the title (a quote from hamlet), and noticed that MARMADUKE is a great dane, you might go wrong. there are also plenty of other familiar shakespearean dukes: lots of english dukes in the history plays, duke orsino from twelfth night, duke vincentio from measure for measure, albany and cornwall from king lear, etc. (in fact, there are so many notable dukes that you really shouldn’t base your entire answer on just noticing “duke” in MARMADUKE.) or if you thought of the much more familiar shakespearean BIANCA, kate’s little sister from the taming of the shrew, that’s another pitfall. or if you got CASSIO confused with CASSIUS, you might try julius caesar. but only the correct answer relates to all four long across answers.

fill tidbits:

  • {Albrecht Mayer’s instrument} OBOE. never heard of this guy, but it’s a nice fresh clue for a repeater fill entry.
  • {Fuss (no, not that play — you think I’d make it that easy?)} ADO. well, at least he was upfront about it. wouldn’t want to make much … oh, never mind.
  • {Aesop, St. Patrick or Frederick Douglass} SLAVE. hey, it’s st. patrick’s day right now as i’m writing this.
  • {Tautological “Who’s there?” response} “IT’S ME”. yeah, that is rather a tautology.
  • {“[A]n implement used for water-borne propulsion,” per Wikipedia} OAR. if there is a joke here, i guess i don’t get it?
  • {Like the Florence Cathedral, famously} DOMED. yes, thanks to brunelleschi.
  • {“American Grown” author Michelle} OBAMA. that’s one way to clue OBAMA, i suppose.
  • {You put music on it in the ’90s} BLANK CD. great fill. also, you want to know a secret? i still put music on these in the 2010s.
  • {Good surname for a running back?} GAINES. clever, and true. just ask these guys.
  • {Turn something abstract into something concrete} REIFY. now this is a word i have only ever seen on a scrabble board.

well, as a big shakespeare fan, i enjoyed this one. BIANCA hiding in ARABIAN CAMEL was a particularly nice find. what did you think?

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24 Responses to MGWCC #302

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon. 530 correct entries this week and 48 incorrect, 34 of which were “Hamlet.” Which wasn’t an intentional misdirect; I knew he was a Great Dane of course (been to Elsinore Castle twice, in fact) but didn’t know about the “cloud shaped like a camel” speech that one solver mentioned, and didn’t know which play the title came from.

    • joon says:

      HAMLET Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
      POLONIUS By th’ mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.
      HAMLET Methinks it is like a weasel.
      POLONIUS It is backed like a weasel.
      HAMLET Or like a whale.
      POLONIUS Very like a whale.

      this exchange lends its title to my favorite ogden nash poem (you’ll also want to be familiar with this byron poem, which has, for my money, the best meter of any english poem) .

  2. icdogg says:

    One clue semi-confused me a little bit… it was the clue to the word “OAR”, which began (IIRC) “Per Wikipedia, [A]”

    Curious as to why the A was in brackets?

  3. genefaba says:

    As a Hamlet submitter, I was really struck by the idea that Shakespeare saw a supernova in Cassiopeia as an 8 year old boy and was the source of the event in Hamlet. That just seemed too good to not be appropriate.

  4. Bunella says:

    As a fairly recent solver of metas, I found this one to be very straightforward. Once I saw Bianca and Cassio and Iago I knew it had to be Othello.
    I’ve found in the past I sometimes overthink these puzzles so this time I didn’t and just submitted it.

  5. icdogg says:

    By the way, does anyone know of of good android app that works well for Acrosslite puzzles? I’ve tried a couple on my tablet and they stink.

  6. Mark says:

    Matt – just wondering why the grid design isn’t symmetrical? Or is it symmetrical, and I just don’t see it? If not, was that at all related to the theme?

    • Jonesy says:

      yea good point… even on second glance i thought it was symmetrical — don’t think its thematic, guessing just because matt couldn’t find a good 10-letter DUKE or 9-letter CASSIO… unsure…

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        Right, MARMADUKE was the only thing I could find with DUKE in it that wasn’t just some form of the word itself. And CASSIO only had the 10-letter option I used. So asymmetrical, which, when you’re going to do it, you have an obligation to make it as inconspicuous as possible.

  7. Kim McW says:

    I fell for Hamlet: the great Dane, the camel quote, the Cassiopeia inspiration, the possibility of epilepsy like Bud Abbott, diagonal angles in a critical film-version scene (at least per google) — and, well, nothing for grass mats. Seemed over-thought, especially for week 2, but couldn’t give up the great Dane.

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