MGWCC #380

crossword 4:21
meta 0:30, 0:25 of which was spent googling 
mgwcc380hello and welcome to episode #380 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Read Between the Lines”. for this week 2 puzzle, matt asks us to find a well-known American corporation. what are the theme answers?

  • {Furniture with a handle (4)} is a LA-Z-BOY CHAIR.
  • {Fast-food chain with a “Not-So-Secret-Menu” (6)} is IN-N-OUT BURGER, mostly of the west coast.
  • {Rapping sound (1)} is RAT-A-TAT.
  • {Old-school candy that became what is now Fun Dip (2)} is LIKMAID. i was unfamiliar with this one, and had no idea how to parse it. apparently it’s LIK-M-AID. (that’s the googling i mentioned in my “solving time” above.)
  • {Mr. October? (5)} JACK-O-LANTERN. cute clue.
  • {1994 Robert Altman film (3)} is PRET-A-PORTER, french for “ready to wear”.

well, all of these phrases have two hyphens, and exactly one letter between the hyphens. reading off these letters “between the lines” in the order indicated by the parenthetical numerals, we get AMAZON, which is indeed a well-known american corporation. i don’t know exactly why amazon is the answer, but it probably has something to do with having letters that are used in phrases like this. there can’t be all that many well-known ones.

to me, this felt easier than week 1. i think basically the only way not to get the meta is to be unfamiliar with some of these phrases, and then not bother googling them to see how they are actually written (i.e. without using the crossword convention of letters only, ignoring spaces and punctuation). that said, as of this writing monday night there are under 400 people on the leaderboard, whereas 477 solved last week’s puzzle.

anyway, neat theme. i don’t have time to say much about the fill or clues, but those were fine, too. what’d you all think?

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13 Responses to MGWCC #380

  1. Tony says:

    Never saw the parenthetical numerals, possibly because I was solving using the Stand Alone crossword app on my phone. Definitely saw the pattern of the theme entries and was able to easily anagram the letters to get AMAZON.

    I agree that it felts like a week 1 meta-wise.

    Hungry for some Lik-M-Aid right now. Loved them as a kid. Used my fingers once the dipper was eaten.

    • Clint Hepner says:

      I missed the parenthetical numbers as well, which made me submit the right answer with a little trepidation. The iOS app I use (Crosswords) always displays the answer length in parentheses following the clue on the grid screen, and I never noticed where it silently omitted the length from clues already ending in a parenthetical number. (The parenthetical numbers are conspicuously present in the clues screen, which I never use. Maybe it’s time I started doing these on paper again, since this isn’t the first time I’ve missed clues using the app.)

  2. Amy L says:

    I, too, thought it played like a Week One and was thinking that the parenthetical numbers could have been replaced with asterisks. Tony and Clint got it without seeing the numbers so it seems that asterisks would not have been needed either.

    I never heard of Lik-M-Aid, but since googling it, it has popped up in all its bright colors every time I click. It’s definitely kid-food.

    • joon says:

      the parenthetical numbers weren’t needed to make it easier, but they were needed to make it less arbitrary. there are those who view random anagramming as a highly inelegant way of arriving at the final answer to a puzzle; you can count me in that camp.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        Certainly having all six in AMAZON order would’ve been ideal, but there was no way to make that work. The -?- letters all had to be unambiguously between two hyphens, so there weren’t that many to choose from, and I really wanted to use the Z in La-Z-Boy. When I found AMAZON and the title “Read Between the Lines,” I liked that enough to proceed even with the randagramming. And another reason for including the parentheticals was not just to guide the randagram, but also to guard against solvers submitting just any company with a -?- in its name.

  3. Wayne says:

    Good puzzle. Week 1 easy.

    Now I’m hijacking this thread, since Tony and Clint brought up apps, and I suspect things will be quiet here. I use Stand Alone Crosswords *Classic* for iPhone. I tried the new Crosswords when it came out, and a couple of times since. I’ve never seen any reason to upgrade. Crosswords has been around almost since the iOS app store launched. Since then I think I’ve purchased all the competing apps that have come out; specifically, all the ones that let you enter your own subscription info and/or import arbitrary puzzle files. But I haven’t found anything I like better. (CRUX used to be okay. And Puzzazz was interesting. But in the end, I always go back to SA CC.)

    Anyone feel differently? I’d love to hear that there’s a shiny new, fully-supported app out there with all of the same features, usability and stability.

    • Tom says:

      I swear by Crosswords Classic on iOS. In fact, I own an iPod Touch just to use it, because I’m an Android user and the version for Android is awful.

      • mrbreen says:

        I solve (or attempt to solve), every MGWCC on Crosswords Classic on my iPad. I have yet to find a better way of solving electronically. I will note that I always look at the PDF first, lest something such as the parentheticals mentioned above slip past my notice.

        Fun puzzle this week, btw.

  4. Joe Eckman says:

    Another Crossword Classic iOS user- love it! For meta puzzles week 3ish or harder, I will print out the filled in grid, or sometimes fill it by hand. I have no idea why it’s easier for me to solve metas with an actual piece of paper in front of me, but it seems to be.

  5. George says:

    I’ll offer one way a person might have gotten this meta wrong. They wrote down the single letters of each meta word, ZNAKOA, didn’t see an anagram in it, looked for a company name that fit the theme, the most likely candidate being rent-a-center, and submitted that before realizing they miswrote K instead of M for lik-m-aid. Of course I’m only speaking hypothetically.

    Also, I use the standalone app, and the parenthetical numbers don’t show correctly. I don’t think they were needed for this puzzle, but the same thing happened in another recent meta as well. The app shows the numbers of letter in parenthesis after the clue for every answer. But the extra hint included ends up overriding this bit in the app, so it just looks like the app shows the wrong number of letters. I guess these types of hints will just be missed for those of us who use an app and don’t glance at the pdf as well.

    • dave glasser says:

      I use Standalone and didn’t have this problem this time but only because I have gotten in the habit of looking at every meta crossword’s PDF checking for parentheticals, after several metas that I missed for exactly this reason. Maybe I will contact the author and send a link to this page requesting an option to disable this feature…

  6. AboutTheSame says:

    I had some trouble with this. It started with a couple of typos, so it looked to me as though I needed to look for the “wrong letter” in each word. {Typical for me, I had a sense of the meta but approached it all wrong.] Never heard of LIK-M-AID and was thinking MILKMAID (what my brain really wanted was Milk Duds) and that some of the words might have a missing letter. But, there was nothing wrong with rat-a-tat and La-Z-Boy, and then I fixed my typo, and In-N-Out was okay too, so I was lost. Set it aside and came back to it. Could not see a way to read between the lines, since there was nothing between the rows (and I think of – as a dash, not a _ line). Then my brain finally saw the separated letter in each answer and … doh. So, I struggled but enjoyed it,

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