MGWCC #360

crossword 4:45
meta 1 minute 

mgwcc360hello and welcome to episode #360 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “What Do I Look Like to You?”. for this week 4 puzzle, we are told that This puzzle has four theme entries, but two intersecting grid entries could combine to form a fifth. Which two are they? okay then. what are the four theme entries?

  • {Piece of fruit served with Cajun seasoning?} LOUISIANA ORANGE.
  • {Volcanoes that spew milk instead of lava?} UDDER MOUNTAINS.
  • {Where to display all your Shoshone artifacts?} ARROWHEAD TABLE.
  • {Glen filled with French pastry?} CROISSANT VALLEY.

i’m not even sure i was conscious of the title while solving this, but i got the theme immediately. what do these look like to you?well, they all look like (or can look like) their first letters:
so we’re looking for one more intersecting pair of answers that can look like their first letters, and it’s there at 30d/43a: SNAKE/BUTTOCKS. i’ll do you the favor of not posting a picture, but how about a clue contest for this entry? i’ll go first: {Asp’s ass?}.

was this a very easy week 4 meta? i actually have no idea. as of 10 pm monday, there are about 200 correct solvers, so that feels maybe a little on the easy side, but not much. i got it right away, but sometimes that just happens. (it probably helps that my 2-year old daughter has this puzzle and the letters are perpetually strewn about our living room.) it could also be that the memory of mgwcc #191 nudged me towards the relevant insight.

this was an impressive feat of construction. stacking 15- and 14-letter theme answers (twice!) is very, very hard. normally you’d put the 14s a little more towards the middle, but then there’d be very little real estate left for the hidden SNAKE/BUTTOCKS pair. anyway, the fill was actually really quite good around there, which is an impressive feat. i loved {Sassy words after “That’s right”} “I SAID IT!” and {“Isn’t that so?”} “AMIRITE?”. {Crossword great Jack (one of six people I dedicated my book “Gridlock” to)} LUZZATTO wasn’t a familiar name (although i read gridlock), but it was pretty cool to honor him like that. then again, the crossing of that name with {French novelist Pierre ___} LOTI and ESOL (usually ESL in the grid, although my mom has taught ESOL for thirty years and she calls it ESOL) could trip some solvers up.

really fun puzzle. 4.5 stars from me. what’d you all think?

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20 Responses to MGWCC #360

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    241 right answers this week, so certainly in easy range for Week 4, but still fewer right answers than Week 3. Or maybe solvers just did very well…

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    I loved it! Five stars from me. Great job on the photos, Joon, and your restraint on withholding the last one. Best of all, Matt’s meta answer was a real hoot. Of course, I felt like a giant Boob as I stared at the themers for an hour before seeing the shapes – er, make that boob, singular. As for the shape of Buttocks, plural, or backside, singular, my Derriere was once shaped like a Dome. After a botched operation to reduce it, my Posterior looks like the P of Prat. In court, the judge agreed my surgeon was at fault. “Your work was thoroughly half-assed,” he said.

  3. Evan says:

    I think I sent in four potential clues. My favorite one was [Rattler’s tail?].

  4. Mutman says:

    Got this one without a full grok. I was pretty certain this was a visual.

    I thought the udders kind of ‘fit into’ the mountains. Same with the croissant and valley. The other two weren’t quite there, but figured I was on right track.

    Went looking for potential pairs and snake/buttocks looked best. Like Joon, I will also skip the visual since my initial thoughts makes this pair even sketchier!

    Nice work Matt!

  5. Scott says:

    Wow. I wasn’t even close. I saw URAL crossing MOUNTAIN and PTA crossing VALLEY (as in Harper Valley PTA) and ORANGE crossing EGG and got nowhere. Then I noticed that RANGE, MOUNTAIN, VALLEY, and TABLE are all landforms and got nowhere. Nice puzzle though.

  6. Matthew G. says:

    Dagnabbit. I didn’t grok the shaped-like-letters part of the meta, but I noticed that all of the words in the theme entries were physical objects with well-defined shapes. So I decided this morning on the way to work that I would submit SNAKES/BUTTOCKS because it was the only intersecting pair meeting that description.

    Then I got to work, immediately got caught up in something, and forgot to submit. Bah. Still, I guess I can’t complain when I didn’t fully grok it.

  7. Amy L says:

    I got it bass-ackward. I thought the LOUISIANA ORANGE should really be a Florida orange, and Louisiana sort of looks like Florida if you flip it over. If you flip the udder over, you get Teton Mountains. If you flip the croissant over, you get Monument Valley. (The croissant has to be facing the right way to get this.) I had trouble with the ARROWHEAD TABLE. I wondered if anyone calls a pie chart a “pie table,” since the arrowhead could be a slice of pie.

    So I looked at things that could be shapes in the puzzle. The buttocks and snake are the only things. Buttocks upside down looks like a fork (think back to grade school doodles–and be happy I’m not sending illustrations). Snakes have forked tongues. Voila!

    You can convince yourself you are right so many different ways.

  8. Jim S. says:

    Holy smokes, how embarrassing. I thought it had something to do with geography (Louisiana and the ends of the other 3 theme entries can be geography-related) and . The only entry that I could find that was geography related this AM was “snake” (as in River). Nothing crossing seemed likely, but “Snake buttocks” struck me as hilarious so I submitted it.

    Great meta, wish I had gotten it for the right reasons!

  9. Neil b says:

    I also saw that the theme entries ended in range mountain table and valley so I thought answer would be geographic. Only thing that looked geographic was dip at end of chili dip but I felt was wrong

  10. Norm says:

    I treated it as a logic puzzle. The down part of the meta could not intersect any of the four theme answers, since they were already “taken.” That limited the search to the center of the grid. The theme answers were all two nouns with one used as an adjective. That further limited the options. Of the few pairs left that matched those criteria, SNAKE BUTTOCKS seemed to fit the wacky mode of the others. So, I got it but not really, so my “streak” has an implied asterisk. ;-)

  11. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    I saw exactly the four landforms as listed by Scott at 11:33 AM, and failed to solve the meta. Somewhat eerily, though, my best guess (which I didn’t send in) was BUTTOCKS/ALT, thinking that if re-parsed as BUTTOCK SALT it might reference a salt flat.

  12. jps says:

    I got the correct answer but only because I saw there was something going on about shapes making SNAKE/BUTTOCKS the only option, though I was sure I was missing something. I suspect I would have had no chance if the instructions had not specified that the two entries interlinked.

    I drew pictures of the entries. My udder does not look like a U, my valley does not look like a V, my mountains are kind of M-like, but my table looks nothing like a T as it has four legs.

    Louisiana looks like a foot and an orange looks like a ball which gave me FOOTBALL. Aha! Rebuses! I tried crescent wrench(?) moon(?) but got nowhere with the others.

  13. Garrett says:

    I started going down a wrong path when I associated Arrowhead with the water company, so in my mind’s eye I saw:

    Arrowhead –> Water –> Table

    Then a while later

    Louisiana –> State –> Tree (orange)

    Was disappointed that I could not make that go anywhere. Also, my visualization of a table is something with four legs, so it took me a while to think of the bar type. Then it was, Doh!

  14. Dele says:

    I am not as classy as joon, so I will provide a (New Yorker cartoon) illustration:

  15. Maggie W. says:

    For clues I suggest {Copperhead tail} and {Mamba badonkadonk}.

  16. Daniel Barkalow says:

    I drew my udder a bit less unified, and came up with the pictures looking like they spelled “LOW MATCV”. It was only when I realized that there was a more obvious way to extract practically the same nonsense from the theme answers that I got the actual method.

  17. Andy says:

    Apart from the “intersecting” requirement, anybody else think ZAPS could be argued to fit the meta? Little Z-shaped electricity bolts?

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