MGWCC #364

crossword 4:10
meta 1 minute 

mgwcc364hello and welcome to episode #364 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Something’s Different About You”. for this week 4 puzzle, we are looking for the two grid entries that would make a good fifth theme entry. what are the four theme answers?

  • {Catcher’s tactic, while awaiting an outside pitch?} ANGLED CROUCHING.
  • {Figure at an agricultural competition?} SOYBEAN JUDGE.
  • {Janeless ape man?} LONELY TARZAN.
  • {Soccer player who loves chip shots?} DINKING PROMOTER.

the second theme answer was the big giveaway for me: the first word of each theme answer, when you change one letter and add a space, becomes the full name of somebody described by the second word:

  • ANGLED CROUCHING becomes crouching tiger, hidden dragon director ANG LEE.
  • SOYBEAN JUDGE is old west judge ROY BEAN.
  • LONELY TARZAN is tarzan actor RON ELY. i saw his full name in probably dozens of crossword puzzles before i realized it wasn’t a guy with the last name ronely. (the existence of RONEE blakely, another old-time entertainment name i only know from crosswords, was probably contributing to my addlement.)
  • DINKING PROMOTER is boxing promoter DON KING.

so that’s a cute theme. what’s the answer? well, we’re looking for an entry which is one letter off from somebody’s full name, and another to go with it that describes that person. the ten-letter fill PIMPERNEL and ARCHITECT pretty much leaped off the page here, and the latter is the one we want: I.M. PEI is hiding in 43-across, IMPEL. so the meta answer is IMPEL ARCHITECT. i can’t think of a particularly fun clue for that; my best effort is something matter-of-fact like {Coerce Frank Lloyd Wright?}.

as of monday night, about 300 solvers have gotten this right, a very high number for a week 4 (even a week 4 of 5). i wonder if the hit rate might have been closer to the typical level if the partner word had been LOUVRE instead of ARCHITECT.

are there any other good candidates for this theme? other than folks who go by a mononymous stage name, there are not a lot of people with short enough full names that we often see them in the grid. DON HO comes to mind, but i don’t think you can change one letter of that to get a legit word. ED AMES and AL GORE, same thing (unless you count E-DATES as a “word”).

the fill and clues were unusually knotty, i found, especially in that top-left corner. i thought {Rebel ___ (Sam Adams beer)} IPA might be ALE, {Hubbub} DIN might be ADO, and had no idea on PIMPERNEL until most of the letters were in place. eventually i sorted it all out and solved the crossword in a normal amount of time for me.

that’s all for me this week. i hope to see lots of you at this weekend’s indie 500 in washington. i’m told it’s not too late to register, so get yourself to d.c. and enjoy a great day of great people and great puzzles!

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33 Responses to MGWCC #364

  1. Bret says:

    I bet Gaffney probably thinks he made it too easy, but it was nice for me finally getting a Week 4. Nothing wrong with “too easy” every now and again.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    Sorry, I realize the last thing anyone wants to hear is another alternate answer from the Pedant’s Corner, but I have a strong argument, I think. The route came very early, so I was rushing to be first in. The changed letters spell out ERRO_ so I felt certain Matt was going for ERROR. It correctly describes what’s going on, and fits in with the title. Looking for an entry that could change to a name by switching one letter to R, I found ASKIN/ARKIN. His two most prominent roles were as John Singer in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Capt. John Yossarian in Catch 22, so I submitted ARKIN/JOHN.

    It’s hard to argue with an answer that so many got (I also saw IMPEI/ARCHITECT right after the board rejected mine.) On the side of the intended answer, they’re all complete names, though Pei’s is abbreviated. It’s a mixed bag for the second part. Judge and Promoter are professions, Tarzan is a role like John, and Crouching is part of a Film title. As for length, which Matt didn’t specify, a nine letter theme entry could be a fifth one in the middle. All in all, I like my answer better. Did anyone else see this?

    • Paul Coulter says:

      I don’t know why it’s saying Undefined above, but this is from Paul Coulter

    • Dan Seidman says:

      I think it has to be a full name, not just the last name.

    • Tony says:

      I didn’t see it, but to me, Alan Arkin will always be Sheldon “Shelly” Kornpett in “The In-Laws” (1979 version, not the 2003 travesty).

    • baskin98 says:

      I was very distracted by ERRO_ too, and spent way too much time searching for the R substitution. Briefly considered Arkin, but discarded since it wasn’t a full name. Finally went with Impel Architect, but was not convinced it wasn’t a red herring until I saw my name on the board.

    • Flinty Steve says:

      Adam Arkin acts as well (and has even played a character named John), so things get still messier.

  3. Qatsi says:

    Intrigued by a monster with a bird’s body and a woman’s head? (12)

  4. David R says:

    I only had a chance to look at this meta Monday night. My first thing I do when I start a meta late is to see how many people have solved it. If it is under 100 than I typically don’t put in much time to the solving experience. Seeing almost 300 solvers figuring it out put me on notice that I better get this one.

    I first tried finding a commonality between the two words. I did see Lonely and Tarzan connecting to two songs that finish with the word BOY but from there it was a dead end. I then focused on that weird word DINKING and why it was used. Don King leaped off the page and from there the meta fell with ease late on a Monday night.

  5. Dan Seidman says:

    I came up with one person who could fit: Mike Post, best known for the Hill Street Blues theme, could be MILEPOST.

  6. Tony says:

    Probably the easiest week 4 of 5 I’ve seen in a while, which most likely means that Matt has the hammer ready to drop, or simply taking it easy on us for Memorial Day.

    I too saw the link to SOYBEAN JUDGE and Judge Roy Bean almost immediately & then got the others shortly thereafter. When I finished the puzzle, I saw ARCHITECHT and somehow knew to look for IM Pei with a changed letter making it a 5-letter word.

  7. Jason T says:

    Didn’t have much trouble figuring out the meta (thanks especially to the way JUDGE SOYBEAN leaped out) – what took much, much longer was finding I.M. PEI. I wasn’t expecting initials! Boy, I bent over backwards trying to make SALAMIS work. Sam Amis, Martin Amis’s lesser-known brother?…

  8. D’oh, I missed the fact that all the names were full first+last names. Any chance I might get credit for DIN ARCHITECH, one letter off from architech (Maya) LIN?

  9. Jeff G. says:

    I need to learn my architects! Ended up submitting Eddie femur after stumbling upon Ed Dye a famous bones musician. Still experienced a great aha moment when I figured out the names hidden in the first words. Very clever!

  10. Pete Rimkus says:

    I went down a rabbit hole briefly after grokking what was going on and spotting ALIAS and NIN in the grid.

    Then I recalled that the diarist’s first name is ANAIS, not ANIAS.

  11. Norm says:

    I was bothered by the fact that JUDGE ROY BEAN and PROMOTER DON KING stood on their own, while the other two required you to insert additional terms to make the “theme” work: CROUCHING [director] ANG LEE and TARZAN [actor] RON ELY. I actually thought of the movie and director, but ignored it because of that. Got the right answer anyway, since CROUCHING ANGLER proved to be a thing, and the first two could not be coincidences, so ARCHITECT I.M. PEI had to be the meta, but ….

  12. Alex B. says:

    I took a few seconds to look for other names that worked. There aren’t too many.
    B.B. King -> biking, baking
    Li Na -> [lots]
    Bow Wow -> powwow
    U Nu -> gnu
    Joe Buck -> roebuck
    Bo Bice -> bodice
    Warren G -> warring
    Sue Bird -> sunbird

    • Abide says:

      Flanking Comedian
      Brewing Dallas
      Hopping Bonanza

    • pgw says:

      Some of these get pretty obscure, but I found:

      Early western star Tom Mix (apparently COMMIX is an obscure word)
      Running back Ben Tate (DENTATE)
      Punter Ray Guy (RAYGUN)
      Choreographer Jack Cole (slang term JACKHOLE)
      Comedian Ron White (NONWHITE)
      Professional kayaker Clay Wright (PLAYWRIGHT)
      Johnnie Cochran’s law partner Jock Smith (LOCKSMITH)
      Obscure soccer player Wes Knight (WEEKNIGHT)

      Then there are those whose full names are words without any letter changes:
      Al Kaline
      Adam Ant

  13. dildo says:

    Y’all got WAY too much time on your hands.

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