MGWCC #349

crossword 3:22
meta 0:01 

mgwcc349hello and welcome to episode #349 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Dome Sweet Dome”. for this week 1 puzzle, matt challenges us to identify a famous building.. what are the theme answers? four long answers pinwheel the puzzle:

  • {Intimidating-looking crossword variant} DIAGRAMLESS. it is certainly intimidating-looking to fill. 17×17 with no black squares? yikes.
  • {Understood} HAD A GRASP OF.
  • {Very short sporting events} DRAG RACES.
  • {“Dallas” Emmy nominee} LINDA GRAY. i’ll take your word for it.

in addition, the central across, antoni GAUDI, is clued as {Architect of the Sagrada Familia — a building which is not this meta’s answer, but which would have made a good fifth theme entry!}.

so what do all these answers have in common? the tetragram AGRA, an indian metropolis which is home to one of the world’s most famous buildings: the taj mahal. there are, of course, other buildings there, and i suppose they are “famous” to some, but much less famous. the red fort is probably the only other building i’d heard of, and i bet if somebody was snarky enough to submit it, matt would probably have to take it. in fact, i bet somebody was snarky enough to submit it, and that matt did take it. (it has some dome-like thingies, too, so the title doesn’t disqualify it.)

fun fact: agra has a population of 1.7 million, a little more than philadelphia (and more than all but the four biggest american cities). and yet agra is only the 23rd-most populous city in india. i bet you’ve never even heard of at least ten of the top 22. crazy stuff. india is frickin’ huge, man.

fun fill:

  • {VCR button (remember those?)} REC. yes, but only just. amusing clue, gently poking fun at the ability of crosswords to refer to technology long after their expiration date.
  • {Director DuVernay} AVA. topical—she directed selma, which is up for best picture. however, duvernay herself was snubbed (some say) for best director.
  • {“The Glamorous Life” singer, 1984} is SHEILAE, which it only now occurs to me is probably SHEILA E, a person i have heard of. in the grid it looks like an insane way to pluralize SHEILA.
  • {What rain’ll ruin} SUEDE. because MACBOOK AIR wouldn’t fit.
  • {He was Dynamite} HEDER. that’s jon HEDER, of napoleon dynamite.
  • {Number with no letters, on a keypad} ONE. remember keypads? in those days you had to press numbers on your phone to get letters.
  • {You can make a wish on it} EYELASH. i am pretty sure i don’t understand this clue. is that … a thing? i mean, you can pretty much make a wish on anything, but that doesn’t really make it any more likely to come true.

that’s all for me—it’s back to the snow mines. see you next week, if i’ve managed to dig out by then.

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10 Responses to MGWCC #349

  1. MM says:

    One hour in and no comments? Is that a record?

  2. Evad says:

    We’re just following Jeffrey’s (?) “The number of comments is inversely proportional to the difficulty of the meta” principle.

  3. Jim S says:

    I got this meta, but had to come here to figure out a mistake I made. For some reason, I saw the theme answer in the NE as “Achilles” – I was familiar with Agra referring to the Taj Mahal, but had a little concern about 3 Agras and 1 Hill in the themes. Doh!

  4. Abide says:

    “You can make a wish on it} EYELASH. i am pretty sure i don’t understand this clue. is that … a thing?”

    Yep, pretty big deal back in the VCR button days…

  5. Scott says:

    I had to share with you all what I submitted to Matt with my answer:
    “I was surprised not to see a clue referencing the little blue sex pill.”

  6. Abby says:

    REC is also a movie series, though it’s usually rendered like the on-screen indicator on a camcorder, not the button or key on a VCR.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    478 correct entries this week.

    @Joon: I was about to tell you that no one had submitted another Agra building, but it checking that I saw that one of the four entries I had marked as incorrect was “The Pearl Mosque.” Where is that, I wondered? Turns out there are several famous buildings by that name, and one of them is indeed in Agra.

    So one person submitted a non-Taj Mahal Agra building, and I indeed took it.

  8. Amy L says:

    The little dome-like thingies are “chhatris.” There are probably hundreds in Agra.

    From Wikipedia: Chhatris are elevated, dome-shaped pavilions used as an element in Indian architecture…. They are today seen on its finest monuments, Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra. Chhatris are basic element of Hindu as well as Mughal architecture. The term “chhatri” (Hindi: छतरी) means umbrella or canopy.

    That would be a cool word to see in a crossword puzzle.

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