MGWCC #367

crossword 2:29
meta 0:30 

mgwcc367hello and welcome to episode #367 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Deface the Nation”. for this week 2 puzzle, we were looking for the two-word answer to the crossword clue: [What the strong ancient Roman wore?]. interesting. what are the theme answers?

  • {Die whose rolls tell the future?} is an OMEN CUBE. sort of like the magic eight ball, i guess.
  • {Being able to see the Pacific from your hotel room, or picking pineapples right from the tree?} MAUI PERK.
  • {Retirement funds for New Mexico artists?} TAOS IRAS.
  • {Guy you meet while climbing a Japanese mountain?} FUJI CHAP.

with a hint from the title, we can see that all eight of the four-letter words in these silly theme answers are one letter off from one of the four-letter countries: OMAN, CUBA, MALI, PERU, LAOS, IRA(Q/N), FIJI, and CHAD. that’s eight of the ten. (i hope you remembered your four-letter countries from the last time it came up!) there’s a little bit of ambiguity between iraq and iran, but one of them has been used and the other hasn’t; the other missing one is TOGO. so the clue in the instructions must be for IRON TOGA, which at last disambiguates IRAS as being from IRAQ.

fun meta. after the unusually tough week 1, matt claimed we were going to get a week 1-esque week 2. did this fit the bill for you? it worked for me, certainly; the crossword itself was mini-sized (13×13) and not all that challenging. still some fun stuff in there like JEJUNE and UMIAKS, the {Non-palindromic Inuit boats} i first learned about from scrabble, because it can also be spelled UMIAQ and is one of the small handful of legal scrabble plays where Q is not followed by U. anyway, i enjoyed the puzzle.

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

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9 Responses to MGWCC #367

  1. Jason says:

    I “disqualified” IRAx as a country because of IRAS and was left with GUAM, TOGO and NIUE as the remaining countries. I ended up submitting GLAM TOGA with a secondary answer of NICE TOGA. Partial credit?

    • Tony says:

      I think GLAM TOGA would fit if the meta was what the flamboyant ancient Roman wore, and if Matt used some of the other 4-letter territories instead of soverign states.

    • abide says:

      It seemed like 2.5 for me, as it took me 30 minutes or so to realize Iran and Iraq were not both in there. Searching synonyms for strong was not much help. I was leaning to NIKE TOGA (Nike does use “Strong” as a branding tool) but knew that Niue was too obscure to be part of a meta.

      I guess they don’t sell the iPAQ in Taos anymore…

      • Alex B. says:

        FWIW Matt appears to have allowed NICE TOGA as an alternate answer. I’m with Jason — the IRAx ambiguity made me think nine countries had been used and NIUE was the only other “country” I could come up with (“country” in scare quotes because I like to stick with “UN member state” as my definition of a country)

        • Vraal says:

          That was kind of him, but also how he rolls – as long as you show you understand what was going on and your answer fits the rules, he won’t penalize you for coming up with something he and his testers hadn’t thought of.

  2. hibob says:

    I said it was A RUBBER DUNGARY, from Aruba and Hungary. Oh well, maybe next time.

  3. coreen says:

    I went “Hemen Toga” (Yemen) after seeing that Hemen is accepted as one word on crossword sites. I thought it really should be a He Man toga since toga is singular. But I thought a strong ancient Roman COULD wear a toga for he men. Again, I should’ve been more patient before I submitted an answer I knew was a stretch!

  4. Jeff G. says:

    I really liked this one. Took me a long time to catch on to the one letter off from 4 letter countries, but Oman and Cuba finally clicked for a great aha moment. Excellent idea – Thanks Matt!

  5. Lorraine says:

    First i thought of elements (for some bizarre reason, i can’t tell you why!), and even checked the various marketing periodic tables of elements that are out there. I finally looked at the title and slapped my forehead. However, i didn’t twig to the “one-letter-off” trick right away. Since i’d been thinking of the 2-letter bigrams for elements, my mind immediately went to the 2-letter country codes. And the first theme answer “OMENCUBE” fits the bill — every 2-letter bigram corresponds to a country code. When i checked all the other ones, the pattern didn’t hold. Thankfully, I finally “saw” the 4-letter countries after awhile.

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