MGWCC #332

crossword 5-6 mins
meta a few minutes 

Hi folks, Dave/evaD here filling in for a computer-less joon for your week 2 of 5’s Matt Gaffney’s weekly crossword contest. This week the puzzle is called “We’re An American Band” and we are asked for an article of clothing.

So, a pretty clear set of five theme entries: they’re your longest entries and all have some US geographic reference in their clues:

  • [Lithuanian delicacy (Sullivan (!), Orange, and Ulster Counties, New York)] was COLD BORSCHT – isn’t all borscht cold? No immediate connection between the counties and the entry for me on this one.
  • [Summer solstice phenomenon, above the Arctic Circle (California to North Carolina)] was MIDNIGHT SUN – Finland seems to claim sole ownership of the Land of the Midnight Sun moniker, but I guess it applies to any country with land above the Arctic Circle. Speaking of which, I just finished reading Hampton Sides’ excellent In the Kingdom of Ice–a must-read for those interested in late 19th century polar explorations. Back to the puzzle, again I didn’t see an immediate connection between this entry and the large swath of land encompassed between California and NC. the-poisonwood-bible
  • [Barbara Kingsolver’s most famous novel, with “The” (Texas to Virginia)] was POISONWOOD BIBLE – “most famous” is a hard claim to defend–I think her earlier work (The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven) was more widely read and brought her her initial popularity. I read her most recent book, Flight Behavior, about the plight of Monarch butterflies and was disappointed. TPB, though, does feature a young girl who reads things backwards, so it has that gniog rof ti. This was the first entry that gave me a glimmer of hope on the meta, connecting the end of this entry (BIBLE) with the southern US, traditionally known as the “bible belt.” (In fact, our friends in Raleigh, NC, are said to live in the “buckle of the bible belt.”)
  • [Orville Redenbacher’s product (eastern Nebraska to western Ohio)] was POPPING CORN – hmmm, it’s just popcorn without the -ping here.
  • [German 18-year-old who landed a Cessna in Red Square, 5/28/1987 (northern Illinois to central New York)] was MATHIAS RUST – no recollection of this event, but he seems rather young to be flying internationally. Hope he didn’t pass over Ukraine on the way there.

So, by now, I had made the connection between the ends of these entries as words that can all precede BELT, although the Borscht Belt was new to me. Other quick items of note–I tried to fit POMPOMS in at 1-across, thinking golf caps featured them more often than VISORS, but of course that was long ago. Just saw a local production of “INTO the Woods” last night and was aware a movie version is due out–Johnny Depp is the wolf, I hear. Nice shout-out to Tony ORBACH of crossword fame, whose father is an acclaimed B’way and TV actor. Finally, I was surprised to see BALDS as a verb, is it also what happens to a tennis ball after playing with it for a long time?

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13 Responses to MGWCC #332

  1. Matthew G. says:

    This one actually took me longer than last week’s; ironic, considering this was Matt’s fix for the hard Week 1. I missed the forest for the trees initially, looking for an Interstate highway that connected the locations in each clue. Then, while looking at the Wikipedia entry for Sullivan County, New York, I saw a reference to the Borscht Belt and realized I had been overthinking it.

    • Wayne says:

      Took me longer than last week’s too. I went with railroads instead of the highway system, though. MGWCC blind alleys always make for educational googling :-)

      One reason this took me so long is that I think it’s been a while since we had to play with the final word in the theme answers. I looked at the first words, the first letters of each word, looked for hidden words…

      Went for a walk around the block to get the Grand Funk Railroad earworm out of my head. (Thanks for that…not really.) Finally, the penny dropped.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      Same here. Took about twenty minutes trying to find a pattern in the highway route numbers, then I played with map directions. If I’d remembered this was supposed to be a Week 1, I would have just looked at the first and/or last words of the themers, as I usually do for a fast solve.

    • Dan Seidman says:

      Yes, I looked at roads, rails and mountain ranges. What a waist :-)

  2. Jon says:

    Easy one for me. Definitely a week 1 meta. Sun Belt was a new one for me. And to counter this week’s writer, The Poisonwood Bible is definitely the famous title as I’m not much of a reader & even I have heard about the Poisonwood Bible while the other titles evaD mentioned are new to me.

  3. VU-Prof says:

    Borscht is cold when it’s mostly beets. But made with beef, it’s a rich hot soup for the depths of winter. One good recipe is here:

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks Evad — 571 right answers this week.

  5. joon says:

    thanks for filling in, evad!

  6. Daniel Barkalow says:

    As I was writing down the theme answers, “CORN” and “RUST” lined up at the end, and I immediately thought “BELT”. Then I noticed that it fit the other 10 pieces of information and decided it must be right. I’d been expecting o draw something on a map, but my subconscious resolved it for me before I tried.

    In my lexicon, “POPPING CORN” means specifically unpopped popcorn, and is a term you might use to let someone know that what they’re getting won’t be immediately edible. I use the phrase “making popcorn” to mean popping it, which suggests that what I start with isn’t already popcorn.

  7. Jim S. says:

    I was initially thrown off by “popping corn” as well, but googling and viewing the images shows that it’s part of the company logo – “Gourmet Popping Corn”.

    I was stumped by this one as well – thought maybe the compass point abbreviations for the directions for the last four might anagram to the clothing (E, NE, ENE, etc.) but it led to lots of Es and Ns and didn’t pan out. I then noticed the nouns ending all four and focused on them to get the answer.

  8. abide says:

    Matt could have used CARAMELCORN but then we would have nothing to talk about.

    I always thought Orville Redenbacher was a fictional brand name like the Bartles & Jaymes guys, didn’t know he was an actual person.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Yeah that’s an interesting story. After he had figured out the perfect popcorn strain and started his company, he hired an advertising firm to figure out how to advertise it. He was shocked when their analysis was: you and your old-school name are perfect for selling this stuff.

  9. Amy L says:

    Not all corn pops. If you want to make popcorn, you have to buy popping corn.

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