MGWCC #358

crossword 4:09
meta 0:30 

mgwcc358hello and welcome to episode #358 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Location, Location, Location… Location, Location”. first, i apologize for completely spacing out last week and forgetting to blog the week 1 puzzle. i hope you enjoyed the easter egg hunt—i liked the puzzle quite a bit, but i was distracted by actual easter festivities. then by monday i was just super-busy at work, and come monday night i was so tired i just forgot. mea culpa. anyway, for this week 2 puzzle, we are told that we are looking for a nine-letter geographical term. what are the theme answers?

  • {Redneck Riviera city} is PENSACOLA, FL. i’m quite sure i’ve never heard the term “redneck riviera”.
  • {Where Dan Feyer recently won #6 in a row} is STAMFORD, CT the once and present home of the acpt.
  • {Resort town often seen as a fill-in-the-blank crossword clue} is COEUR D’ALENE, ID.
  • {City that’s the Spanish word for “yellow”} is AMARILLO, TX.
  • {Home to the Barbara Fritchie House and Museum (use the most expansive definition on this one)} is FREDERICK, MD.

what do all these cities have in common? their location within their states:





they’re all in the panhandle of their respective states. well, sort of. frederick isn’t actually in what i would consider the panhandle of maryland (the part west of the very skinny neck at cumberland), but then, very little actually is. there’s frostburg, home of frostburg state university. i know a guy who went there, but it’s not exactly a well-known city (or school). then again, neither is frederick, i think. i have heard of it because i grew up in the dc area and it’s not so far (i-270 goes there), but this theme answer still fell a little bit flat for me. has everybody else heard of frederick?

are there better choices? maybe, but probably not. oklahoma has a famous panhandle, but there are no notable cities in it. (indeed, the entire panhandle has a population under 30,000.) wheeling, wv is perhaps notable enough, but west virginia actually has two panhandles, one sticking up north and one jutting east, hugging the sw corner of pennsylvania, which might cause confusion. (wheeling is in the northern panhandle.) the alaska panhandle has juneau and sitka, and the alabama panhandle has mobile, all famous cities, but nothing has the right length to match PENSACOLA FL (11 letters) or COEUR D’ALENE, ID (13 letters). the only other state with a panhandle i could find was nebraska, but like the oklahoma panhandle, the nebraska panhandle doesn’t have any major cities (although the largest, scottsbluff, would match coeur d’alene for length).

fill bits:

  • {“Scorpion” network} CBS. never heard of this show.
  • {“That makes sense,” when texting} OIC. not sure i’ve seen this in a crossword, but i’ve seen it irl. if you don’t know what it stands for, try pronouncing it.
  • {Dime bust} FDR. nice clue. were you thinking of dime bags and a drug bust? 4/20 is next week, man.
  • {Crossword writer Andrew (whose first initial + last name spells a sign of the zodiac)} RIES. third overt crossword reference in this puzzle, after the clues for STAMFORD, CT and COEUR D’ALENE, ID. andrew is a great guy, but i’m not sure he’s famous enough yet to have his name in a grid.
  • {Poisonous substance} VENIN. weird word. who didn’t write VENOM in first?
  • {When to post old pictures of yourself on Facebook, briefly} TBT. throwback thursday. another tla i’ve never seen in a puzzle, and a facebook “tradition” i have always eschewed with the exception of the one time i posted a link to a youtube video (since removed by the nfl) of this infamous play.
  • {Ice Bucket Challenge cause} ALS. omg lol that is the third trendy tla used in this puzzle. kids these days! smh.
  • {Philip Michael Thomas has gone 0 for 4 on this acronym} EGOT. i thought this was a thoroughly random clue (i mean, i am also 0 for 4 as of this writing), but then i did some research and found out that he coined the acronym in reference to his plans to win all four. so that is a little more apt.
  • {Hindu’s bindi, e.g.} is that RED DOT on the forehead. i like the bindi reference, but i’m not sure it is enough to salvage this as an entry. it is basically just adjective+noun. i’d look more kindly on BINDI itself as fill.
  • {First name in Fleetwood Mac, the Clash, Foreigner and the Rolling Stones} MICK. two of them are (two different guys) named MICK jones. jagger, of course, is the stones guy. i think drummer MICK fleetwood may be the most obscure of the bunch, but then, half the band is named after him, so i guess he’s famous by association.

fun puzzle for geography fans. i’ll give it 4.2 stars despite my reservations about the last theme answer.

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12 Responses to MGWCC #358

  1. pannonica says:

    “{Redneck Riviera city} is PENSACOLA, FL. i’m quite sure i’ve never heard the term ‘redneck riviera’.”

    Vic Chestnutt wrote a song employing that term, at least as far back as the ’90s. M²O’H covers it on the tribute album.

    addendum: Here we go.

    • abide says:

      I spent last weekend on a guys’ golf trip in the R.R. (where the Flora-Bama is Ground Zero). In my weakened and hungover state, I read the last entry (with the expansive comment) as Fredericksburg, Va. As such, it took a few days to figure out.

      If that little piece of Connecticut is a panhandle, I wonder if Mississippi and Alabama could claim panhandles. If so, Mobile and Biloxi could be matching 8s.

  2. hibob says:

    Been to Pensacola, Destin, Panama City, FL, & Gulf Shores, Al (all panhandle cities). Beautiful beaches and not East Coast crowded or expensive.

  3. Matt says:

    Thanks, Joon — 365 right answers this week.

    I lived in FROSTBURG, MD for a couple of years so definitely wanted that, but couldn’t justify it since it’s not really noteworthy. But it’s more panhandle-y than Frederick, for sure.

    Here’s the nice Wiki page on panhandles:

  4. Matthew G. says:

    I definitely hesitated sending in my answer, because Frederick, Maryland does not appear to be in anything resembling a panhandle, to my eye. But that hesitation only lasted about fifteen minutes, because the theme seemed pretty unambiguous otherwise.

  5. MountainManZach says:

    Well now I’m just irritated at how loosey-goosey people are about what’s considered a panhandle. Nebraska has one but Utah doesn’t? What about New Hampshire?

    It’s like in elementary school when we learned that “Australia is the only continent that is an island.” I told the teacher that if we’re calling anything surrounded on all sides by water an “island”, both Americas, Africa, and Antarctica are also continent/islands. I was deemed a “difficult student.”

  6. Garrett says:

    I was showing the puzzle to a friend of mine who I ran into walking back from lunch right outside my office (I had just completed the grid, but did not have the meta yet). He was looking at it and he said, “Amarillo… I’ve never been there.” And I replied, “I have. It is right in the Texas panhandle.”

    {a brief pause}

    He asked, “Does Maryland have a panhandle?”

  7. Herb Kaplan says:

    I wasn’t sure about each city being on a panhandle, so I took another approach. I connected all the cities together on Google maps, and voila, the outline formed a pan with a handle. Close enough!

  8. Scott says:

    I thought maybe Matt would put an Easter egg in the puzzle in the form of the word BEG.

  9. Squonk says:

    I live just outside of Frederick, so yes, I’ve heard of it. :-) In fact, it’s the second-largest incorporated city in Maryland.

    That said, I’ve never thought of myself as living in a panhandle until this puzzle. Shows what I know!

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I spent the night in Frederick once, with a group of grad students going to a rally in DC. Boy, were they pissed when I sprang for a second motel room for me and my best friend, leaving them to split the other room four ways instead of six ways. I CANNOT SLEEP SIX TO A ROOM. I have standards. Anyway, it was late when we reached Frederick, and we ditched it first thing in the morning. But! It is also notable as the home of some National Cancer Institute research facilities.

  11. Jim Peredo says:

    I drew connecting lines between the cities but didn’t see anything. Never thought to zoom in on each one.

    Then I proceeded to overthink it. Got caught up in the language aspect of the theme entries and their corresponding countries, each one being different. COUR D’ALENE is obviously French, AMARILLO Spanish, FREDERICK German, STAMFORD English (from England), and PENSACOLA (according to research) Native American. Those countries, all Old World except one, didn’t provide any insight, so I looked at the definitions of those words (especially since Matt tells us to look for a definition in the FREDERICK clue). If anyone’s interested, they are:

    PENSACOLA = long-haired people
    STAMFORD = stone bridge
    COEUR D’ALENE = heart of an awl
    AMARILLO = (aforementioned) yellow
    FREDERICK = peaceful ruler

    I couldn’t see anything there either, so that’s where I left it. I don’t know if this was an intended red herring, but it was a good one. Very impressive that each of those names, given the panhandle constraint, had a different language origin.

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