MGWCC #329

crossword 4:30
meta 15-20 minutes 

mgwcc329hello everyone, and welcome to episode #329 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest. this week in guest constructor month we have neville fogarty‘s puzzle, “Reconnect Four”. for this week 3 puzzle, we’re looking for an actor with a ten-letter name who’d make a good fifth theme entry for this puzzle. well, let’s start with the four overt theme answers:

  • {Alias-identifying phrase} ALSO KNOWN AS, aka AKA.
  • {Physics and chemistry, vis-a-vis economics and psychology} clues PURE SCIENCES. but i’d argue that the distinction here is actually natural sciences vs social sciences, or (more informally) hard sciences vs soft sciences. there’s applied physics and applied chemistry, which i think are the counterparts to pure physics and pure chemistry.
  • {Grouse} clues MOAN AND GROAN, not a bird.
  • {Whatever the weather is} is RAIN OR SHINE.

so the first thing my eye was drawn to is that MOAN AND GROAN contains all of the letters of MANGO (49-down) in order. perhaps that’s what “reconnect” is about? but try as i might, i could not find other words in the grid contained in the other three theme answers. i spent a good while on this. at the back of my mind, i was thinking that a nice open grid with only 74 words was unlikely to house 9 theme answers rather than the 4 we could see, so i eventually started looking for something else.

the next thing i noticed was that each theme answer started with a four-letter word: ALSO, PURE, MOAN, RAIN. the title suggested doing something with these four, and before long i had it: they are anagrams of four-letter country names: LAOS, PERU, OMAN, and IRAN. so we need another four-letter country that anagrams to an actor’s first name. i thought of IRAQ right away, but that pretty clearly doesn’t anagram to anything. FIJI came next, but ditto.

then i spent a while unable to think of any more, but i didn’t feel like looking it up. like the three-letter body parts, i know i’ve seen the list of four-letter countries several times. i asked my six year-old, because sometimes that works (!), but he could only think of iran and iraq. finally another one occurred to me: MALI, which anagrams to LIAM, the first name of 10-letter actor LIAM NEESON. and he’s the meta answer. very nice.

quick writeup today, but here’s a couple of interesting bits from the fill:

  • {Device banned from NSA premises in 1999} FURBY. now that is an interesting clue! please tell me more.
  • {When promotion likely occurs (because there are fewer men on board, of course)} is ENDGAME. ha! this is not about the glass ceiling, but about promoting pawns in chess. although in game 9 of last year’s world championship match between carlsen and anand, anand intentionally let carlsen promote a pawn to a queen on move 27, with check no less, and was still in a fine position with an intriguing counterattack against carlsen’s king, but he blundered away the game on the very next move and had to resign.
  • {Puck’s place} SPAGO. that’s celebrichef wolfgang puck and his restaurant, not a hockey puck.
  • {Ziering of “Sharknado 2: The Second One”} IAN. yeah, he went there.
  • {Apps that you probably don’t want to get on your new iPhone 6} CLAM DIPS. i confess i don’t really understand this clue. does “app” mean something i don’t know about? does clam dip mean something i don’t know about?

that’s all for me. have a great week!

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20 Responses to MGWCC #329

  1. Dan Seidman says:

    App is short for appetizer.

  2. Justin Weinbaum says:

    I’ll be curious if anyone submitted a “CHAD XXXXXX” (if one exists). I’d count it wrong, but “CHAD” was certainly the first country that popped into my head when I thought “four letter country name / person’s name”.

    Incidentally, I thought this meta was perfect, well done Neville.

  3. Todd Dashoff says:

    Apps as in appetizers. Although clam dip isn’t really an appetizer, but part of one; you need crackers or bread sticks or chips.

  4. Paul Coulter says:

    The four letter first words of all the themers jumped out immediately. What to do with them? I tried anagramming right away, and saw they all were countries. Like Joon, Fiji and Iraq occurred to me, also Niau. No luck on those, but a quick trip to Wikipedia produced other four letter possibilities, and Mali worked. Also, as Justin mentions above and my son Dan pointed out to me, Chad is the first name of several actors, including ten-lettered Chad Murray from One Tree Hill. I wonder if Chad tripped up anyone. Or Cuba Gooding, if your math skills are decidedly poor, like mine. The title seemed far too much of a hint for Week 2, but that’s often an editorial decision, and may not have been Neville’s first choice. Overall, it was quick, but fun – four stars from me.

  5. Jon says:

    App as in appetizer.

  6. Evan says:

    Once again, anagrams prove to be my Achilles heel in these metas. I figured the title was asking for reshuffling of four letters, and I figured the four-letter starts of the long acrosses had to be important, but no matter how many times anagrams come up as the trick, I just can’t ever seem to crack them. Dunno why. Maybe it’s just the difficulty in knowing what they’re supposed to anagram to, or the fact that I only considered non-proper nouns rather than proper ones.

    I went with BILL MURRAY. Because who doesn’t love Bill Murray?

    • Christopher Jablonski says:

      Me too! Anagrams never leap out at me. I have no idea why, as I feel my other puzzle chops are pretty strong.

    • makfan says:

      I was seeing embedded two-letter postal state abbreviations in all the names, but I couldn’t find any name that uniquely fit this, so I knew it was wrong. Never did see the anagrams.

  7. Abide says:

    After two days of nowhere, I googled “moan pure rain”. The first hit was golden and the rest were nsfw. I considered the anagram idea early on but couldnt make any words except Rain/nair. Interestingly, I had decided earlier that Liam would be my hail mary guess, because it at least anagrammed to mail.

  8. Daniel Barkalow says:

    Without looking at reference material, I was able to come up with Oman, Peru, Laos, Iran, Iraq, Chad, Cuba, Fiji, and Togo. 9/10 of the UN member nations isn’t bad, aside from the fact that the only one I was missing was the helpful one. I did consider that Goto is a Japanese surname, which would traditionally be first, and IMDB does have one actress with it and a 6-letter given name, but she seems to get credited as “Kumiko Goto”.

  9. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks Neville and Joon! 198 right answers this week.

  10. DBraun91 says:

    I remember incorrectly submitting Liam Neeson for a late month guest constructor puzzle last year, glad it worked out this year.

  11. Amy L says:

    The title led me to think it might have something to do with the game Connect Four, which I never played. I looked up the rules and did find four As in a row in the puzzle (from ROALD down right). That got me nowhere.

    Once I found the countries, I was disappointed I couldn’t submit Paul Newman–if only the people of Lapu had voted yes in their referendum!

  12. Wayne says:

    I [over-]confidently entered StAGe for “Puck’s place.”

  13. Garrett says:

    I did not notice that MOAN and GROAN contained all the letters of mango. But I did notice some other interesting things. Here is one heck of a coincidence to do with the four theme answers specifically:

    1. Of all the letters used in them, there is an L, and only one. Same with the letter M.
    2. If you add to these (ALSO, and MOAN) the word SCIENCE, you can spell Liam Neeson
    3. After spelling his name, you are left over with 5 letters: soacc.

    By the way, below one of the C letters in SCIENCE (2nd one) is an H. Swap with one of the C leftovers and anagram that into chaos.

    Swap moan and groan, drop an ‘o’ and change an ‘a’ to ‘w’ and you have GROWN MAN.

    Change the ‘a’ in moan and grab the last word in the theme answers and you have MOON SHINE.

    But I just love the reconnecting of those four them answer 4-letter words into countries. Took me a while to see LAOS for some reason. Such an ah-ha moment. Liam was already on my mind and what popped into my mind when I thought of his name was, “Landlocked African country”

  14. Wendy H says:

    Furby was banned back in the late ’90s because it was a voice-activated stuffed animal/toy and someone thought it was recording and therfore”spying” on its surroundings. The new ones probably should be as they are much more sophisticated!

    Great puzzle and meta! No joy on Mali…sigh.

  15. Brucenm says:

    Woo-Hoo — I actually got one — quickly — on the basis of the correct analysis. Great puzzle by Neville. Unlike other people, I try to make everything an anagram, even when that’s not the point. Resisted the temptation to send in Mali Ringwald. I was wishing that the “pure sciences” entry had been “Epur si muove,” (following the science aspect), except that it turns out that it is spelled with 2 ‘p’s, (which I hadn’t realized.)

  16. jefe says:

    I got it after googling “also pure moan rain”, but I’d been hung up on those 4 diagonal A’s and other near-4-in-a-rows, as well as the near ARKANSAS diagonally at the 3 square.

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