MGWCC #409

crossword 2:45 
meta 10 minutes 


mgwcc409hello and welcome to episode #409 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Random Noise”. for this unusual week 1 puzzle, matt challenges us to find a 9-letter world capital that would have made a good 7th theme entry. okay. what are the six theme answers?

  • {Fierce-looking feature of a maritime creature} NARWHAL TUSK.
  • {Resident of a certain state of Mexico} OAXACAN.
  • {They’re run on treadmills} STRESS TESTS.
  • {Handy in any situation} ALL-PURPOSE.
  • {Downward-facing dog location} YOGA MAT.
  • {Worker who accepts no cash} UBER DRIVER.

what do these six have in common? nothing, of course! the theme of the puzzle is an elaborate april fool’s joke on four top meta solvers: jangler (aka jeffrey harris), vraal (paul melamud), tyler hinman, and dan feyer. the real instructions for this puzzle, are to pick out any two grid entries that you think, when combined, would make a good band name. ha!

i actually spent a good while deliberating over this (ALF and WITTY and DHARMA and even RENT TO seem fairly dripping with possibility), but eventually settled on two “theme” answers, ALL-PURPOSE UBER DRIVER. seems like a useful person to have around, no?

i have to say, i’m just glad to be one of the people in on the joke instead of one of the targets, because i didn’t get around to doing this puzzle until last night. since i left home before noon on friday to head up to stamford, i didn’t even read the email from matt until i was talking to some folks on friday afternoon in the marriott lobby who said, “you should definitely read the email!” i had a good chuckle, but i didn’t trust my acting skills enough to actually attempt to troll tyler or dan in person. jeffrey wasn’t there at the tournament (in fact, i believe he tied for 1st place in the online version with our illustrious hostess amy), and i don’t know about paul—in fact, although i am facebook friends with paul, i don’t believe i have ever met him and i don’t know what he looks like. (just checking now, he doesn’t seem to be on the list of competitors, but perhaps he was there as an official?)

anyway, back to the puzzle. this was a hilarious and cruel and unusual joke. big points to matt for creativity and taking advantage of the rare convergence of 4/1 and the start of ACPT. plus, i enjoyed the actual meta, too. there are a lot of fun band name possibilities! IRATE OAXACAN. ASTHMA ISSUES. you could string together even more phrases to make complete sentences: ALF ATE RUSSIA. MEGA-MORON TAKES TEN STRESS TESTS. etc.

all righty, that’s all i’ve got. great to see many of you this weekend! if you missed it yesterday, here is my recap of the ACPT (contains no spoilers for tournament puzzles), plus there’s a free variety puzzle with meta contest in there, too.

have a great day!

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27 Responses to MGWCC #409

  1. PJ Ward says:

    I’d like to know the reactions of some of the targets. Did they bite?

  2. Matt says:

    Thanks, Joon — 442 right answers this week.

    Full credit to Brent Holman for coming up with the idea back in February. My e-mail response to his suggestion was “There’s a 100% chance we’re doing this.”

    3 of the 4 targets did get to the puzzle on Friday, and I’ll post a writeup of their reactions on Friday (including Jangler, who actually submitted an answer on Friday! Wha?)

    I have to count them up, but at first glance the most popular band name was IRATE NAVELS or ALL-PURPOSE MORON or UBER DRIVER ON A VISIT.

    • Jason T says:

      Wow – so you mean to say the answer was a total giveaway, and yet there were still fewer correct answers than there were for each of the last 3 Week 1 puzzles? Is this the ACPT Effect?

      • Matthew G. says:

        I wonder if the response rate is low because some people didn’t read the e-mail and only went by the website, which continued to display the fake instructions throughout the weekend (and still does now).

  3. classicalguy says:

    So who tipped off Jangler?

    • tabstop says:

      According to Matt, Jangler actually submitted a 9-letter world capital. Whether he had a reason for it, or picked it at random thinking it was April Fool’s, I don’t know.

      • Matt says:

        Yes, he submitted REYKJAVIK! The man who can see patterns where none exist! Explanation on Friday (I need to get clarification from him on his reasoning myself — or maybe he can explain here if he’s around)

        • Justin says:

          I will plug Eric Berlin’s “Spaghetti”, for which Jangler usually finds an “answer”:

        • Matthew G. says:

          Jangler submitted his answer three minutes before I submitted mine on Friday, and I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw that on the leaderboard. Even when the guy is given impossible instructions, I can’t hope to compete!

        • Jim Schooler says:

          Ah, so he didn’t “pick out any two grid entries that you think, when combined, would make a good band name.” I was worried when I saw his name on the leaderboard.

  4. Norm H says:

    Obviously the most stress-free MGWCC ever. I went with PARASITIS. I’m imagining them having a sludgy 90s metal-ish sound, a la Tool.

  5. CC says:

    I once saw the SATYR STRESS TESTS open for the Apples in Stereo.

  6. Dan F says:

    I am usually immune to April Foolery, but Matt got me good! Here’s the thing though – despite being the world’s second-best crossword solver, I only get about 60% of Matt’s metas, nowhere near the other ‘victims’. Though it’s unusual for me not to figure out a Week 1, I looked at it for a few minutes, shrugged, and moved on to the WSJ meta. Friday night at dinner, some of the group brought up the MGWCC, but I was still oblivious. If I had any investment in meta solving, I might be pissed. Hope the others took it well.

  7. Jim Peredo says:

    Love this idea for a meta—both the April Fools part of it and the mashing together of random words to make band names. So many good choices, but I went with DHARMA TAKES TEN which sounds pretty legit to my ear. Plus, fans would lovingly call them “The DTs.”

  8. Dan Seidman says:

    I kind of liked “Dharma, Inc.”, but I went for a pun with “Start Ova”.

  9. jefe says:

    wouldn’t it be LUV ALI

  10. Icdogg says:

    I went for the heavy metal band “MEGASPLAT”.

  11. Bret says:

    SATYR CHURCH, which I’m pretty sure could be found in the nine-letter capital Amersterdam

  12. LuckyGuest says:

    I submitted “LIU SCRAP” (“loose crap”); even got a self-click with the title.

  13. Lee Sammons says:

    I went with that Bollywood studio band, the RUBY NAVELS.

  14. Yeow, great writeup, and congrats on being #4! So they let you do the last puzzle with any group? And have you practiced up on doing a puzzle, while standing up, on a large easel?

    • joon says:

      thanks, bill. during the playoffs they pass out copies of all three versions of the puzzle and you can try whichever set of clues you like. i’ve solved on the big board in the B finals of acpt 2010, plus a couple of times at lollapuzzoola (2011-12), once at indie 500 last year, and once at westport way back in 2009. i have a pretty good record in those finals, but i’ve never had to face dan, howard, tyler, anne, or david, who are the only people to make it to the A finals in any of my seven years of going to acpt.

      i haven’t done any extra practice on my own (à la thomas snyder), but it surely doesn’t hurt that during my days as a physics teacher, i spent plenty of time writing on a whiteboard.

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