MGWCC #384

crossword 4:08
meta about 20 minutes 
mgwcc384hello and welcome to episode #384 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Looks Can Be Deceiving”. for this week 2 puzzle, matt asks us to name a U.S. state capital that fits this puzzle’s theme pattern. NOTE: Be careful! This meta has only one correct answer, though it may appear to have several at first glance. okay, i’ll be careful. what are the theme answers?

  • {Chess piece that starts the game on g1 or g8} KING’S KNIGHT. the queen’s knights start on b1 and b8.
  • {When beer is cheap} clues HAPPY HOURS, although i’m not sure i’m buying the plural with that clue.
  • {The facts of the matter?} is a great clue for an even greater answer, PARTICLE PHYSICS.
  • {White alternative} is WHOLE WHEAT bread.
  • {Jan’s fake boyfriend, in a “Brady Bunch” episode} is somebody named GEORGE GLASS. a fictionally fictional character from one episode of a show from the 1970s? okay, i call shenanigans. astrophysicist GEORGE GAMOW would have been better here, not that that’s saying much. (did you know that it was gamow, and not watson or crick, who cracked the genetic code? it’s true.)

so obviously these are all two-word phrases starting with the same letter, but note that none of them are alliterative phrases, because in each case the two starting sounds of the words are different. so we’re looking for a state capital that fits this pattern.

it took me a very long time, during which i had to make two full mental passes through the states and capitals. honolulu, hawaii; indianapolis, indiana; oklahoma city, oklahoma; dover, delaware. these are all alliterative by both the orthographic and phonetic definition. (sticklers might call the two vowel-starting ones assonant rather than alliterative.) but those are the only ones i could come up with where the state and the capital started with the same letter.

by now, you know why—it’s because those are, in fact, the only ones where the state and the capital start with the same letter. once, my fevered brain tried to convince me the answer was knoxville, kentucky—cleverly ignoring the fact that the capital of kentucky is frankfort (and also that knoxville is in tennessee).

so what’s the answer? why, it’s just carson city, nevada. the state name doesn’t enter into it at all! sneaky. i like it!

in fact, other than the ridiculous GEORGE GLASS, i like everything about this puzzle. some great fill—LAST CALL to pair with HAPPY HOURS, trendy SXSW, high-class MAN RAY and UROLOGIST clued via manny nosowski, and two-time nobelist frederick SANGER—timely, given last week’s nobel prize announcements. the meta difficulty was just right, and the title was helpful but not obvious.

how’d you all like this one?

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39 Responses to MGWCC #384

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    393 right answers this week.

    • Justin says:

      So much “yes” for the video. I had no concerns filling George Glass in, personally, having seen that movie. Also a bit of a meme, I think.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    Like Joon, it took me the longest time to realize the state’s name needn’t be involved. I was really getting into panic mode, considering the already massive fail I was suffering on Pete’s MMMM test. Honestly, I felt like our little town of Metaville had a vacancy for village idiot, and I was the prime candidate. Hands up if your MGWCC process was similar to mine:
    See the repeating initial letters with different sounds
    Check Wikipedia’s list of state capitals
    Find the four Joon mentioned that have the same first letter as the state
    Sound them out, and hear with deep chagrin that nope, this isn’t working
    Check the individual pages for pronunciation, hoping somehow there’s a difference
    Convince yourself there really is for Honolulu vs. Hawaii
    Un-convince yourself before you send it in
    Decide historic capitals should count, in which case Philadelphia, PA would work
    Decide that no, that couldn’t be what Matt wants, but he did warn us it was tricky
    Check the list again, hoping for some inspiration
    Finally notice Carson City, which you’d ignored before because it doesn’t start with N.

    Okay, I’m seeing a lot of hands. No, put yours down, Eric. We all know EA had this by about the third theme entry. Personally, I thought I’d need to don Karnac the Magnificent’s turban to pull Carson City from the hat. Oh right, it’s named for Kit, not Johnny, isn’t it? One other thing I noticed. Honolulu, Hawaii has the interesting vowel pattern of oouuaaii. Well, interesting to us word nerds, anyway. And it’s the only state capital that can be typed with one hand, not counting hunt and peck, of course, though Ohio can be typed with the right, and Texas with the left. Thanks for the Week 2 panic attack, Matt (said with no sarcastic tone… all right, maybe a bit) — four stars from me.

  3. Evan says:

    I actually never saw the states entering into it at all; I only looked at the capital names. Carson City was the only one that made sense on first glance (same two initials, different starting consonant sounds). That’s why I held out on submitting my answer for a few days — with Matt’s warning, I was trying to convince myself that either it was wrong or at least that there were many other possible answers. But I never figured out what those other possibilities could be. Maybe GEORGE GLASS would make people think of Georgia? Dunno.

    A good puzzle though, my confusion over Matt’s instructions notwithstanding.

    • Dave C says:

      Exact same process for me. I saw Carson City right away and didn’t think it could be anything else, but the warning concerned me. I did eventually look at the capitals vis a vis the states, and fortunately nothing fit the non-alliterative pattern.

      GEORGE GLASS made me laugh. The heyday of 70’s sitcom TV, yikes…

    • Evad says:

      Same here, never thought that the state name would be involved and wondered what other options other than Carson City there were, even without noticing the different pronunciations.

    • jbeck says:

      Me four.

      Although, in my case, I never did submit, because I couldn’t figure out which other state capitals might be contenders.

    • pannonica says:

      Another hand up for this experience.

    • Dan Seidman says:

      I thought it was pretty straightforward (although I found the instructions confusing two weeks ago when few others did). The answer could be either a two-word city name or the city and state; either way the warning made it clear that it had to be non-alliterative, which eliminated all but one. And it was a week 2, so it couldn’t be overly complicated.

    • Jeffrey K says:

      Same here. Had Carson City, assumed it had to be wrong based on the warning and never submitted.

    • Lorraine says:

      yes! i found the instructions the most confusing part of this week’s meta as well! It was so glaringly obvious (to me) that Carson City was the correct answer and could NOT see how anyone could think otherwise that of course i didn’t trust myself. I figured that I, a not-very-proficient-meta-solver, was missing something everyone else could see. Thankfully i submitted CC anyway.

    • Justin says:

      Me n+1. Matt already knows that I was baffled by the warning, especially after my MMMM fail.

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    I should also mention that, yes, I included that warning to guard against answers of Dover, Delaware and Honolulu, Hawaii (about 15 solvers submitted each of those afetr all). I might’ve had to count them as correct without the warning that there was only one correct answer.

    • David says:

      I saw Carson City right away. No other capital city seemed possible. I did not submit it because your warning said there were other possible capitals so I thought my reasoning was incorrect. Thanks for the warning.

    • George says:

      I think you were good about being explicit in the instructions. You were asking for a state capital that fit the theme, not the state and its capital that fit the theme. That being said, the warning may have slowed me down and forced me to consider all options, instead of jumping on the first alliterative state and capital I could think of. Either way, fun puzzle! Thanks!

  5. Ed says:

    As Evan said. I never considered the state, the instructions said “state capital” and Carson City was the only “state capital” that fits. But it seemed too simple so I too held off a bit before submitting it, trying to figure out what I was missing.

    • Todd Dashoff says:

      I had the same problem. A quick review of the list of state capitals made it look like Carson City was the only correct response. I thought perhaps Matt meant not to pick any other two-word capital, like Baton Rouge, given the alliteration; this was, after all, only Week 2. But it seemed like that was too obvious to need a caution.

  6. 10 miles north of Clute says:

    O.K., I went for Dover.

    I could drop one letter in each of the key clues and get a word, (k)night, (h)ours, (p)article, (w)hole and (w)heat and (g)lass. For the answer, dropping the (d), shows over.

    So it goes.

    • rmac says:

      I picked Dover, too, for exactly the same reason.

      • DBraun91 says:

        my reasoning as well. although that didn’t really explain why each phrase started with teh same letter. submitted DOVER at around 11 before I left a run this morning (thinking I’d be out past the deadline), but then was thinking about the meta on my run and figured CARSON CITY made more sense, got in around 11:55 and tried to submit and remember I had entered DOVER already…oh well.

      • Paul Coulter says:

        I’ll put my hand up for considering this, too.

        • Bob Dorfman says:

          After much deliberation, I too went with Dover for the drop-a-letter-make-a-word rationale. Stupidly never even considered the capital without its state.

    • Brian says:

      But then (C)arson city fits that pattern as well, so by Matt’s disclaimer that there’s only one right answer, there must be something else going on.

  7. jj says:

    Greg Giraldo was a pretty well-known comedian who died young in 2010. He did a lot of the Comedy Central shows and roasts. Same length as George Glass, too.

  8. The Brady Bunch was before my time, so George Glass was a total mystery to me. But I’m a huge fan of The Simpsons, and in the episode “Treehouse of Horror XI,” the witch claims to have a boyfriend named George Cauldron. I used to think that that was just the writers being their usual selves writing a silly scene; but now after solving this puzzle, I realized they were actually cleverly parodying The Brady Bunch.

    The things you learn from puzzles.

  9. BrainBoggler says:

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m part of the “Indianapolis, Indiana” group…assuming I’m not the only group member, of course. Seeing the state abbreviations in the title words (loOKS CAn be DEceivINg) put me on the doomed trial of thinking state had to somehow be involved. Then, I immediately made the connection of (Bobby) Knight to Indiana and then reasoned that wheat and glass (thinking of sand dunes) reinforced the answer. I was less certain about particle physics and happy hours but found enough hits on both to be convinced of Week 2 sucesss…more like “weak, too”.

  10. DanWhite says:

    I had Carson City right away. I never looked at states. But the caution seemed to tell me there must be something else. So I looked for repeating letters within a capital, where two words were formed. The result was Frankfort Kentucky. As an added incentive to submit, the (f)rank part left a common word, as in the comment from “10 miles north” above.

  11. Clint Hepner says:

    I waited until the last minute, trying to think why the answer wasn’t obviously Carson City and not one of Frankfort, Concord, or Trenton (syllable-level alliteration).

  12. Icdogg says:

    The theme entries were all such that the initials, though the same, were pronounced differently. George Glass, soft G Hard G.

  13. Jsolomon1999 says:

    I found Carson City immediately but never submitted it because it seemed too obvious and tenuous, even for a week two (I didn’t come up with Dover et al.) I also thought that if it was a Hard C, Soft C pattern, Matt would have put all the theme phrases in hard-soft order. Too much overthinking, to be redundant. Lesson learned.

  14. Mutman says:

    As a former state capital savant, I went thru the obvious, Dover, Honolulu and Indianapolis City, before realizing the I was including the state. Carson City then came, and I knew exactly why Matt had put the warning out there.

    And as a (senior?) solver of the MGWCC, I loved the George Glass entry! I have to struggle with a lot of modern TV that I have no clue about — so my Brady Bunch knowledge pays off big for once! Matt — try to work in “Sam the Butcher” and “Johnny Bravo” into future puzzles!!

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