MGWCC #318

crossword 3:15 (across lite)
meta -3:15 

mgwcc318hello everyone, and welcome to episode #318 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Found Art”. for this week 1 puzzle, the instructions tell us that we’re looking for a musical duo. what are the theme answers?

  • {Simple side starch} clues PARSLEY POTATOES.
  • {Nickname for Warren Buffett} is THE SAGE OF OMAHA.
  • {1968 Mia Farrow movie} is ROSEMARY’S BABY. this was an unusual crossword entry, with the apostrophe taking up its own square in the grid, crossed by {Lacking an owner} NO ONE’S.
  • {Like a caterer who’s almost out of a certain herb the day of a big event?} clues PRESSED FOR THYME. this was jarring—it would be a fine theme entry in an herbs pun theme, but here it kind of blindsided me, since it’s a made-up phrase and the other three were straightforward.

speaking of straightforward, the four herbs in the theme answers are PARSLEY, SAGE, ROSEMARY, and THYME, which is the name of an album by simon & garfunkel. (if you tried to use the ampersand in the web submission form, it was rejected, but “and” works fine.) it’s also a famous repeated lyric in one of their signature songs, scarborough fair/canticle. curiously, that song requires three-voice harmony, so the video link there will send you to a performance by paul simon, art garfunkel, and andy williams. (on the album recording, it’s only simon & garfunkel with their voices dubbed over themselves.) it’s a funny little twist on what it means to be a musical duo.

this was an easy one for me because we own simon & garfunkel’s collected works and listen to it pretty often. in fact, based on the title and instructions alone, i was pretty sure it was going to be them just because i associate “art” and “musical duo” so strongly with art garfunkel, very much the sidekick in the duo. that said, i love simon & garfunkel’s stuff, but i’m not really a fan of simon’s solo career, even though he was obviously the creative genius. this could be because my favorite thing about s&g songs is the beautiful close vocal harmony, and you don’t get that with only one singer.

fill tidbits and oddments:

  • {Dutch painter Mondrian} PIET. hey, look, i found art!
  • {“Blackfish” creature} ORCA. i don’t know what “blackfish” is.
  • {On the ___ (cheesing it from the fuzz)} LAM. ha ha. this clue is weirdly and delightfully evocative.
  • {What peruke makers make} WIGS. a curiously pleonastic clue, but yes, a peruke is just a wig.
  • {Creator of the Corleones} is mario PUZO, author of the godfather books. he’s certainly famous enough, but i wonder if the grid wouldn’t be better without that Z crossing {Mohammad ____ Pahlavi (former Shah of Iran)} REZA, which to my ear is scrabbly crosswordese, à la ERIQ la salle or OJAI, california. what do you think? also, 10 points to anybody in the comments who can come up with a good neologism for this phenomenon of scrabbly crosswordese.
  • {Ohio alma mater of Michael Eisner, Steve Carell and Richard Lugar} DENISON. i did not know that.
  • {Crossword stars Timothy and Rex} PARKERS. ha ha.
  • {Country that looks like something a stoner hippie would say} OMAN. my friends and i used to do this all the time in high school whenever OMAN came up in conversation. (okay, i had nerdy friends. (okay, i was one of them too.))
  • {Bic, Cross and Mont Blanc} are PENS. mont blanc is also the highest mountain in the EU.
  • {One of two for Magnus Carlsen so far in 2014} LOSS. he’s doing well, i guess?

that’s all for me. see you next week!

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29 Responses to MGWCC #318

  1. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    Ultra-easy meta means few comments, but just so you know someone is out here, “Blackfish” is a sad documentary about orcas in captivity.

    • This took me a day instead of minutes because I’d never heard of the song “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” (sorry, not much of a S&G fan). I was poring over Wikipedia lists of musical duos trying to find one with an herb or spice in its name but couldn’t find anything good. It was only after I googled the four together that I found the song and the meta clicked.

    • Mutman says:

      Blackfish is an excellent film!

      I recommend it for all who think Seaworld is a great attraction. You’ll never think the same again.

  2. Christopher Jablonski says:

    It may have been an ultra-easy meta, but that was no ultra-easy grid! Quite possibly the worst grid to use explain meta puzzles to a crossword neophyte for whom English is not her first language. I, of course, did not get the apostrophe thing for quite some time and spent far too long trying to work out how ROSEMARYSS BABY was a thing.

  3. Wayne says:

    I was surprised to see the apostrophe in the grid. On a Week 1, no less. Reminded me of one of the few times I found myself at Rex’s level of acrimony:

    This puzzle reminded me that it’s been too many years since I’ve watched The Graduate. Gotta fix that this weekend.

    • Zifmia says:

      Once I finally realized that one square had an apostrophe, I was annoyed to find that Across Lite wouldn’t let me enter it.

      • icdogg says:

        Yep, and entering “Simon & Garfunkel” didn’t work on the entry because of the ampersand!

      • Norm says:

        I used the downward triangle system. Closest image I could find that AcrossLite would let me enter.

  4. Zifmia says:

    Well, the meta was too easy for me.

    Since it was obvious what the theme entries had in common (herbs) I didn’t think to Google to find the real connection.

  5. Armagh says:

    Always seen him referenced as the Oracle of Omaha, not the sage (-1). I’m all for week 1 puzzles being easier, but I had the meta after filling in 25A and didn’t bother with the bottom two-thirds.

    • Wayne says:

      I had the same thought. “oracle of omaha” googles in at 2,270,000 hits.
      “sage of omaha” at 460,000. Clearly less common, but half a million hits ain’t chicken feed. So I think it’s valid.

    • Flinty Steve says:

      I think Matt’s probably well aware of the more common “Oracle of Omaha”. It was the meta for MGWCC #233.

  6. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon. 633 correct answers this week.

    Yes, the random apostrophe is unusual, but let’s call it “Hookian.” And it’s not totally random, since it serves the purpose of keeping ROSEMARY separate from its S, which keeps the theme entries consistent (in one way of looking at it).

    Now the THYME pun? That’s 100% random. But hey, I was feeling both Hookian and Reaglesque.

  7. pgw says:

    joon – how about qrosswordeze?

    I found the themers clunky in various ways. Parsley potatoes obviously refers to a common thing, but is it commonly called that? I think I’d be more likely to call it potatoes with parsley. I’d never heard Buffett called the “Sage of Omaha,” and the familiar-to-me “Oracle of Omaha” is about five times more common according to google. The apostrophe thing is an interesting gimmick but the rest of the grid is free of any such machinations. And then there’s the made-up phrase at the end.

    Not sure I’d have done much better, of course. Any attempt to find common phrases containing the four words in question pretty much fails. Here are four 15-letter possibilities, but I’d need the Wikipedia link to know anything about any of them other than Mrs. Clooney:

    Parsley Massacre
    Sagebrush steppe
    Rosemary Clooney
    The Sprig of Thyme

    I had the answer guessed after filling in two theme entries, though I looked up the instructions to confirm. joon, to each his own, but you should give Paul’s solo work – especially the lesser-known albums of the ’70s and early ’80s – some more listens.

    • abide says:

      For the critics of diacritics, JERUSALEMSAGE would match up with ROSEMARYSBABY.

      I liked the last entry, seemed quite Reagle.

  8. Ale M says:

    The apostrophe ties in perfectly with the song, though. Listen to it. Towards the end, they add an extra pause right after “rosemary.” In musical symbols, a short pause that breaks the pulse is often written into the sheet music as an apostrophe-like symbol (just above the staff).

    I’ll try to find a link with an exact spot to go to. You’ll hear, “Parsley, sage, rosemary ‘ (…) and thyme.”

  9. Amy L says:

    I thought of Simon and Garfunkel as soon as I saw “musical duo.” I could have entered for a very fast time, but I thought I’d better check the grid. Parsley and sage came up very fast, so I could have entered then and still gotten a pretty fast time. Too bad it was Saturday. I think the fast people probably work the puzzle for the answer and enter without completing the whole grid. I like to complete the whole grid. That’s the fun of it. The meta is a lagniappe.

    Yes, parsley potatoes are a thing. I tend to call them “parsleyed potatoes.”

    The song is quite well known. I watch a TV show called “Rosemary and Thyme” and the song, an old English song, is used for the sound track.

    I wasn’t crazy about Simon once he went solo, but Graceland is terrific.

  10. Alex Vratsanos says:

    I didn’t submit anything, but it seems pretty clear to me that solvers who submitted “Simon & Garfunkel” got the meta, even if the system didn’t give them credit for it. Matt, does your figure of 633 correct answers this week include them?

    • Evad says:

      Ampersands are prohibited (to help thwart cross site scripting) from the entry form. Those who tried to input one received a message to take that character out and submit again, so there were no entries with ampersands in them.

  11. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Apropos the hoary and horrible THYME pun:

    ‘ Til next thyme,

  12. CY Hollander says:

    Cute variations like the apostrophe are fun in an ordinary crossword, but I humbly submit that they should be avoided in a meta puzzle, where every deviations from the norm are all potential clues. I spent a couple of days vainly trying to find a connection between the apostrophe and Simon and Garfunkel. If it hadn’t been a week one, I’d likely have agonized longer.

    My best guess, FWIW, was that “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme” of the song was being viewed as a sort of apostrophe, in the sense of addressing a personified object.

  13. Elaine says:

    I guess you have to be ‘of a certain age’ for this to be a total gimme. I knew the answer as soon as the second herb showed up. Weirdly, I did not ‘get’ the apostrophe–just tucked an extra S into the grid there, circled, and then wondered if there would be an extraneous G as well.

    But thanks to preoccupation with repairs from tornado damage (the contractor is finally down to our job on his long list) I never made it back to the computer to enter my answer. I get so few meta-puzzles that it’s no big loss to society…

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