MGWCC #336

crossword 3:00
meta 20 seconds 

mgwcc336hello and welcome to episode #336 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Wedge Issues”. in this week 1 puzzle, matt asks us to identify a type of food. what are the theme answers? there are four long answers whose clues get parenthetical countries:

  • {Comedian who traveled to Finland because he resembles its former president Tarja Halonen (France)} is CONAN O’BRIEN. it’s true. also, i always laugh at this because tarja halonen was a hall of fame pitcher in my simulated baseball league.
  • {Find serendipitously (France et al.)} is STUMBLE UPON.
  • {Where some bottles of Perrier rest (Greece)} are CAFE TABLES.
  • {Margaret Farrar or Meryl Streep (the Netherlands)} clues GRANDE DAME. this is one of three clues in the puzzle that pairs a crossword celebrity (farrar, the first editor of the NYT crossword puzzle) and a celebrity celebrity, the others being {Norah of music or Matt of crosswords} JONES and {Clint Eastwood or Merl Reagle} COOL DUDE. i’m not 100% sold on that last answer, but perhaps you can sway me.

anyway, with a hint from the parenthetical countries, it doesn’t take long to see BRIE, BLEU, FETA, and EDAM hiding in those long answers. they’re all types of cheese, of course. i think i might have liked to see four different countries, but off the top of my head i can’t think of a good phrase that hides ASIAGO or ROMANO or, uh, BEL PAESE, JARLSBERG, or VENEZUELAN BEAVER CHEESE. ROMANO is hiding in the title of the nathaniel hawthorne short story collection MOSSES FROM AN OLD MANSE, which is awesome but too long for a standard 15x crossword. well, i guess it could be split 10/10. that would be kind of cool. although it would be cutting the cheese (so to speak).

quick stroll through the fill and clues:

  • {First “M*A*S*H” star to visit South Korea} was apparently loretta SWIT, who played lieutenant houlihan. i confidently filled in ALDA at 1-across here, just because it’s usually ALDA. but of course SWIT and FARR also fit. anyway, given this clue and the CONAN O’BRIEN clue i thought this theme was going to be about TV stars visiting other countries.
  • {He never met Bobby Fischer in person} clues garry KASPAROV, in many ways his spiritual successor at the chess board. (not so much his successor with the paranoia and virulent antisemitism, so at least there’s that.) i can only imagine matt’s eyes lighting up when he realized this name could fit in the grid here. that entire section of the grid is squeaky-clean, though, so it’s not like he had to move heaven and earth to shoehorn it into the grid. (i guess that’s a mixed metaphor? or, since i used “like”, it’s a metaphor mixed with a simile.)
  • {Use 140 characters or fewer (and plenty of hashtags)} TWEET. who are you following on twitter? the hashtag of the most relevance to me this week is #ToC2014, as it’s that wonderful time of year again on jeopardy!.
  • {LOLcat’s eating sound} NOM. also, {When repeated, LOLcat’s eating sound}.
  • {Taste and touch and such} SENSES. direction, temperature, proprioception, etc. the list goes on.
  • {You’re using them right now} EYES. made you look!

that’s all for me. how’d you like this one?

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17 Responses to MGWCC #336

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, joon. 659 right answers this week. Only two incorrect.

  2. Jeff G. says:

    I liked the crossword celebrity shout-outs! Made me chuckle. Lots of fun as always. Thanks Matt!

  3. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Nice Week 1 offering. For ROMANO there’s also MICROMANOMETERS (15), admittedly not as awesome as the Hawthorne collection but of the right length for a central theme entry. Still it would surely lose 20A:KASPAROV, as well as the uniformity of four-letter cheeses.

    Otherwise, I wonder if the 600+ solvers include any (say) Braille readers who did not use their 25D:EYES. There must be some blind crossword fans out there. Also scores of tennis players who’d rather not see their shots hit “nothing but net” (see the 5D:SCORES clue)…


  4. Math Teacher Dave says:

    I see what you did there, Joon. For those who don’t know about Venezuelan Beaver Cheese…

  5. Mike W says:

    Another cheesy clue. Cast credit from Othello – BRANAGH AS IAGO

  6. sandirhodes says:

    coOLDude – lol. Clint, maybe, but not Merl!!

  7. Alex B. says:

    Does anyone else not really like the {He never met Bobby Fischer in person}-type clues that could apply to literally almost anyone who’s ever lived?

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      It’s an interesting factoid I myself only learned a couple of months ago. The #1 and #2 chess players of all time, despite the fact that their adult lives overlapped for three decades, never even met.

      • Ephraim says:

        I really like this kind of clue, as long as the answer fulfills the implication of surprise. Who do you expect Bobby Fischer to have met? All the chess notables of his era, obviously. So KASPAROV is a surprising answer and not hard to recognize once you’ve got a few letters.

  8. Bill Maher says:

    got a little stuck on this one for a bit since I had the answer to 39 across as ‘idiot’

  9. Joe says:

    Joon, Loretta Swit played Major Houlihan, not lieutenant… unless there was a demotion that I missed in the final episode.

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