MGWCC #370

crossword 4:29
meta 0:30 

mgwcc370hello and welcome to episode #370 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Scales of Justice”. for this first puzzle of guest constructor month, peter gordon challenges us to find a past or present member of the Supreme Court who would complete this puzzle’s theme. so what are the theme answers? there are four long answers in the 16×16 grid, plus two more theme answers in the first and last acrosses:

  • {He got married on “The Tonight Show” in 1969} clues TINY TIM. i actually don’t know who this is. i’m assuming it’s not the fictional character tim cratchit from a christmas carol.
  • {Actress on “Orange Is the New Black” and “Are You There, Chelsea?”} is LAUREN LAPKUS. never having watched oitnb, i only know her from this goofy video.
  • {Partner of Stefano Gabbana in fashion} is DOMENICO DOLCE, and no, i sure didn’t know his first name. (or gabbana’s.)
  • {Trader who served time in the early 1990s for securities violations} is MICHAEL MILKEN. i only know this guy because he’s in peter gordon’s delightful trivia game app celebrity: get a clue.
  • {Author of “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book”} is FANNIE FARMER.
  • {Film critic who was on “At the Movies”} is REX REED.

so it’s clear that these people are all alliterative, but in fact it goes slightly further than that: they all have first & last names starting with the same two letters. and, with help from the title, we can see that they aren’t just arbitrary two-letter combinations: they’re solfege notes, and with six theme answers, cover six of the seven distinct tones in a (major) scale: DO RE MI FA LA TI. the only one missing is SO (sometimes SOL, but it turns out not this time). thinking about supreme court justices who would fit the bill, it didn’t take me long to light upon sonia sotomayor.

so: nice theme, fun meta. i’m not 100% sure why it’s 16×16, but i suppose 13 13 12 12 7 7 is a pretty awkward set of lengths for a 15×15 puzzle. it probably just worked out better to embiggen the grid a little bit. as it is, there’s plenty of great, fresh fill (KASPAROV, POWERADE, AGNOMEN) and zero garbage, just as you’d expect from peter gordon. i didn’t know TOULA, the {Bride in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”}. one unfamiliar name i did know was {Hall of Fame shortstop} ARKY vaughan, but i reckon that won’t be a familiar name to lots of folks.

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

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23 Responses to MGWCC #370

  1. bananarchy says:

    Took me an embarrassingly long time for a week 1/5. Couldn’t narrow it down between John Jay and Sotomayor because I didn’t see the solfege connection at first.

  2. George says:

    Wow, I had a totally different path to the same answer. I was thinking of the scales as an actual scale, and the theme answers, if you split them first name/last name, you get an uneven number of letters, 34 first name letters and 30 last name letters. Add Sonia Sotomayor, and you get an even 39/39. But the solfege notes is a way more fun meta. thanks for the puzzle!

  3. Amy L says:

    I was going to enter John Jay or Felix Frankfurter, but somehow entered Sonia Sotomayor. After submitting, I noticed the second letter matched too. So I was lucky. David Davis also has two first letters that match, but Sonia is the only justice that completes the scale. I never noticed the tones–which makes this a brilliant puzzle, especially for a week one.

    I actually saw Tiny Tim’s wedding on the Tonight Show. If you missed it, consider yourself lucky.

  4. Alex B. says:

    Missing a “Peter Gordon” tag on this post?

    The baseball cognoscenti will tell you that Arky Vaughan is one of the most underrated players in history.

  5. Jim S. says:

    Wow, I completely missed the second letter and (obviously) solfege aspect of the meta. Impressive! My only real purpose of commenting is that I meant to give the puzzle a 4.5 rating but was momentarily confused by the iPhone drop down interface and hit “Submit” on the default ‘3’ before hitting ‘Done’ on my desired ‘4.5’. Oops!

  6. joon says:

    i’ve added the peter gordon tag. thanks, alex, for catching it.

    also, i have just been directed to a link that suggests that 71a (NO TV) is an entry not long for the databases. the times, they are a-changin’.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      I almost suggested to Peter that we change that to NORV Turner, but who wants to glorify that guy.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks Joon and Peter — 432 correct answers this week. And 48 incorrect, so tough for Week 1 of 5.

  8. lorraine says:

    wow, i got a little lucky i guess. I definitely saw the ABxxxxxx ABxxxxxx sequence right away, so I would have ignored John Jay or Felix Frankfurter had it come to that, but I didn’t even come CLOSE to considering the solfege notes, maybe because I started thinking Sonia Sotomayor after the 2nd theme entry. But it’s pure luck that Sotomayor is on the current court AND is the right answer, since I missed the 2nd part of the meta completely.

  9. Mac says:

    Second week in a row I got the meta without getting the meta. S.S is the only Justice with both names starting with the same two, but not more than the same two, letters (David Davis has four). And its a Week 1. That was enough for me. I love the metas and am in awe of Matt and his ability to put these together week after week, but I think that these last two weeks have been flawed (a bit) because of that feature.

    • Slow Stumper Solver says:

      I submitted SS for the same flawed reason. First 2 ONLY the same. That nixed Jay, Frankfurter, Davis, as well as not fitting Thomas Todd, William Woods, or Lucius Lamar. Hilarious that there are 7 justices that come close to fitting here. Thanks to Peter for a very fun week 1. Kudos to George above for weighing the names in the teetering scales — that’s very clever, even too clever for Matt or Peter?

      • Maggie W. says:

        Before I noticed the solfege (“Hey, I wonder why it’s called ‘Scales of Justice’?”) I was also thinking of “Whizzer” White.

        • Matthew G. says:

          Yes, I hesitated a bit because I wanted an answer that justified the puzzle’s title.

          I did grok it, but I’ve still been edified by joon, as I did not know the word “solfege” before today.

  10. Ed Foster says:

    Joon, all you need to know about Tiny Tim . . . and Miss Vicki.

  11. Joe says:

    Wow. I was lucky. All I saw was that the names started with the same letter. Since it was a week 1, I figured Matt would just accept any alliterative justice. I should never underestimate! I went with S.S. just cuz I like her.

  12. abide says:

    I “paulcoultered” this Week 1 by immediately submitting after Googling 3 of the 4 long entries. Sonia is the only current double lettered justice and it’s Week 1. Didn’t notice the two at top and bottom until later. Also never caught on to the Do-Re-Mi (or even the DOx DOx) until now. Sometimes you have to live dangerously, like Paul Coulter (#12 to my #13).

    • Vraal says:

      Hehe sorta the same for me.

      I was driving to Long Island and looking at the puzzle on my phone (well, my wife was, I was in the passenger seat), and just went after the long entries, and never saw Tiny Tim or Rex Reed. Took another minute or three to figure out how to narrow down the Wikipedia list of justices from 7 to 1 after spotting the first letters were the same (solfege). Overall I think it was a very strong Week 1 offering.

      I was always taught “sol” vs. “so” for the note, though. Anyone into British painters? :)

  13. Hah, I noticed the ABxxx AByyy pattern right away and narrowed it down to Davis or Sotomayor, and it didn’t take long to notice that we were looking for scale degrees, so I sent in Sotomayor. But I completely missed the fact that TINY TIM and REX REED were also theme answers, so I sent in a comment to Matt expressing my displeasure that the scale wasn’t really being completed with only 5 notes. I’m sure he must have had a good larf at that =P.

  14. rosebud says:

    I got the ABXXX ABXXX pattern as well, and the SOSO answer, but missed the scale reference completely.

  15. Tony says:

    Didn’t see the solfege connection. Just went with Sotomayor because she was the only one that fit the pattern of the first two letters in each name. Rejected David Davis because it just seemed wrong.

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