MGWCC #411 — Andy’s Review

puzzle untimed (Andy) 
meta maybe 2-3 minutes 



Hi everyone! Andy here, filling in for joon as he does a bit of traveling this week.

In this week’s puzzle, “Titanic Effort,” the meta answer is a large and highly populated area. Vague, yet intriguing.

As I was solving this one, nothing really jumped out at me as thematic except the central entry, TIP OF THE ICEBERG [What’s really going on lurks beneath it]. So presumably, we have to figure out what’s beneath the tip of the iceberg in this puzzle in order to solve the meta. But what’s the tip of the iceberg?

The other entry that struck me as an odd choice was 40d, IVY JONES [Actress in “Audrey Rose” and “City Island”]. She’s not extremely famous, and she doesn’t make that corner easier to fill, so I figured something was going on that required Matt to put her in the grid (maybe she was thematic, maybe one of the crossings was important).

I have a feeling this was a meta which either struck people very quickly or not at all. For me, this is actually one of the first themes I tried to construct–and then later realized I wasn’t so clever after all, and that it was an old chestnut of crossword themes. In my puzzle, the clue [V] clued CENTER OF GRAVITY, because the letter is in the center of the word GRAVITY. I think I had [N] as END OF DISCUSSION and [T] as BEGINNING OF TIME. 

You might now see where this is going. The first assumption I tried was that TIP OF THE ICEBERG referred in the same way to the letter I. If that were the case, the clue [What’s really going on lurks beneath it] might mean that the meta answer was the concatenation of the letters beneath all the “I”s in the grid.

In fact, when you think about it, there are surprisingly few Is in the grid. There are only five, to be exact:

  • 4d, IDA [NAACP co-founder ___ B. Wells]
  • the aforementioned 40d, IVY JONES [Actress in “Audrey Rose” and “City Island”]
  • 42d, ILO [UN agency that won the 1969 Nobel Peace Prize]. Another surprisingly unclean thing to put in a grid this seemingly unrestricted, for Matt.
  • 48d, ICK [“That grosses me out!”]
  • 68d, IER [Suffix with bombard or cloth]. Again, Matt probably could have filled this section without IER if the puzzle were truly unrestricted, so something was probably going on in this corner too.

That gives us the large and highly populated area DAVY JONES’ LOCKER, the answer to this week’s meta.

It turns out that the entire puzzle was highly restricted–not only did Matt need to include these five downs in this order plus the revealer, but he also couldn’t use a single other I in the grid.

From the chatter on crossword Twitter/Facebook and my own personal sense, I have a feeling this was a harder Week 3 than usual. Week 4 might be a little easier to make up for it, but this is a five-week month, so I expect something even more dastardly in a couple of Fridays.

What did you all think?

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35 Responses to MGWCC #411 — Andy’s Review

  1. jefe says:

    Last minute aha for me – I figured it out less than 10 minutes ago!


  2. Ephraim says:

    I noticed “LA” under the tip of ICeberg but knew that was too simple for week three. Never got any further than that.

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    Matt had me at sea all weekend, but finally Ivy Jones threw a lifeline. She stood out as the grid’s strangest entry, inviting a look at what was really going on above her. From there, it was a short swim to the I’s at the Tip of the Iceberg and Davy Jones’ Locker.
    First thing I noticed under the hint was that ROSE is in the clue for IVYJONES, while JACKson is in the crossing entry’s clue for PYT. They make a gravestone’s cross (RIP for Jack, perhaps?) But nothing else matched this path. Then for a long time, I was convinced it had to do with “Tip over, trace boat” which can be connected starting at TIP then following beneath the central line. So I did this with the boat shapes at the top and bottom (though the S. S. Titanic had four smokestacks, two seemed good enough for a 15×15 grid) but I couldn’t make the outlines spell out anything. Did anyone else try this? Another brilliantly original tour de force from our very talented host. 5 stars from me.

    • Matthew G. says:

      IVY JONES was the point of entry for my meta-solve. She is an obscure actor with no Wikipedia entry and barely an IMDb entry, so she clearly is not crossworthy unless she had to be there to serve the meta. And once that led me to focus on her, the rest of the meta fell quickly (though I did spend a couple of minutes focused on the Rose/Titanic connection first).

    • Qatsi says:

      I saw TIP OVER and tried capsizing the grid to see if any hidden messages jumped out at me.

  4. Evan says:

    My wife rescued me from being lost at sea this week while I was driving her to work. Apparently all I had to tell her was that there were five I’s in the grid, which I thought was strange, but I didn’t know what to do with them. She took a look at the printed grid, thought about the lack of I’s, and then cracked it a few minutes later. So my streak is (still) basically a Frankenstein streak between me and her. Teamwork!

    The funny thing for me is that, before Vicki got the trick, I tried two things that were oh-so-close to the right mechanism but didn’t yield the right answer. I looked one letter under the I’s, and one letter under both the I’s and T’s (because the meta was lurking beneath “it,” per 39-Across, right?). And then, I did exactly the right trick — under the C’s, or, “under the sea.” I looked at all the letters extending down below the C’s, but still it got me nowhere. So close, yet so far away.

  5. Garrett says:

    Came so close to getting that, but I got hung-up on the clue for TipOfTheIceberg which said that “What’s really going on lurks beneath it.” I kept thinking if that was meaningful, what we were looking for was below either Iceberg or Tip. I did not see anything useful under Iceberg, so then focused on Tip and saw that Ivy could be Davy, but did not see anything under that 39A line that could provide the DA. So I refocused my efforts.

    I noticed a lot of water references, with the standout EAU at 27A. EAU again in MOREAU. And Moreau lived on an island in the ocean. Then REDSEA. SWAN in SWANSONG — Swans are aquatic birds, right? NIOBE sheds tears. AHOY — an ocean-going reference. Also odd partials, like TREAD as in tread water, and MELON as in watermelon. ALE could be Adam’s Ale, which is water. Icebergs are in the ocean, and the tip is above water. So that added to a partial daVYJONES caused me to throw Earth’s Oceans as a Hail Mary.

    I like the way the partials we needed were all hidden under an i. Just missed it!

  6. Mutman says:

    Loved this meta!

    I often look for literal hints (like tip of iceberg being an ‘i’) but they rarely pan out. But it did this time. I noticed five i’s only and felt like I was on to something. When I reread theme clue, I clicked.

    I had always heard the expression Davy Jones Locker, but never knew its meaning. I do now.

    Great job Matt!

  7. Amy L says:

    Like Evan, I highlighted all the Ts and Is and looked beneath them–found nothing. KRAMER’s first name is Cosmo, so I tried to find a cosmopolis. Now I understand the strange phrasing of the instructions.

    Although I didn’t get the answer, I’ll still give the puzzle 5 stars. The simplicity is amazing. A perfect week 3.

  8. Norm H says:

    Never got close to this one, despite realizing that IVYJONES is not a well-known name. I was more struck by the absurdity of the entry to Ivy’s immediate left — TOPPLACE, which is awful (unless is somehow ties into the meta?).

    Other things I noticed and considered were that ICE is hidden in the puzzle’s title and that there were some repeated words/names in some clues:
    — “Fruit” and “organ” each repeat in a single clue.
    — “Wells” in consecutive clues.
    — “Thrill” and “Thriller” in consecutive clues.

    Wonderful meta to look at in hindsight. Great job, Matt.

  9. Jim S. says:

    Never got there – noticed a lot of names in the grid (Ramis, Moreau, Marat, IvyJones, Lomb, Ernst,…) and couldn’t get past highlighting the crossing letters… figured that the plethora of names had to be involved somehow. Turns out just one critical name was involved. Simple in retrospect!

  10. Patricia Coffin says:

    Noticed the Davy Jones right away and found locker (but not that the letters were under the i’s) but didn’t make the connection that Davy Jones Locker was the answer, instead of just a path to the answer. Argh!

    • Paul Coulter says:

      I’m with Pete. It did seem just a bit unfair to me that “highly populated” was used in the instructions. The misdirection to make us think the answer would be a city is fine, but I’m not sure you can describe a seabed full of bones as populated. Perhaps a better choice of wording for a Week 3 would have been ” a large area where many have settled?” I still gave the meta a 5, however, for its overall excellence.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        I could afford the misdirect / macabre humor since the meta was such a clear click once you had it.

        • Gideon says:

          After finding DJL I did spend a few minutes convincing myself it was the end answer and not just a path. Then I figured just like Matt – the click was strong enough to allow the black humor connection.

  11. Pete Mitchell says:

    Large, sure, but highly populated? Doesn’t “populated” imply living?

    I saw “LO MANE” (I know, misspelled, but had nothing better) under the tip of the ICEBERG and went with China.

    • Evan says:

      I think the instructions were fine. The bottom of the ocean has lots of living fish, so it’s populated with them. I figured Matt was pointing us to the Atlantic or a body of water somehow, since he would have just said “city” or “country” if he wanted those. I don’t know how else he would have done it since saying “a phrase related to the ocean” or even “an apt three-word phrase” might have been too much of a giveaway.

      • Dan Seidman says:

        I agree the instructions were fine. The imprecision makes it harder to guess, but no harder to get it by actually solving it.

  12. Jim Peredo says:

    I too focused on IVY JONES, an obscure actor and whose beginning could be changed to DAVY JONES. But then I noticed that right next door, also under the TIP was PETSMART, whose beginning could be changed to G to get GET SMART. DAVY JONES was a singer/actor on the 60s TV show The Monkees and GET SMART was a TV show from the same time frame. So of course that led me to focus on TOP PLACE, the only other word under the TIP and which sounded really weird to me, to see what could be changed to make something else from 60s TV. Of course, that led nowhere.

    I eventually thought the DA from daVYJONES and the G from gETSMART might lead to MADAGASCAR, but that sounded so preposterous that I didn’t submit it.

  13. David R says:

    I had the general idea but was way off. I went with the four letter box that had the letters ICEB and assumed that was the floe. Then you have below that KRAMER a man, CAP which is a hat, and LOMB which makes Ray-Bans, TAN (stretch there). The answer is obviously MANHATTAN.

  14. Bri Nebulae says:

    Anyone else get caught up thinking about actresses? Lots of names and partial female names are lurking:

    Ivy Jones
    (Pet) (Jean) Smart
    (Top) (Mary Kay) Place
    (Gloria) Swanson(g)
    Bree (Larson)
    (Jeanne) Moreau
    (Donna) Reed

    Also various names like JANE, IDA, NIOBE are in there.

  15. Mutman says:

    And let us not forget the timing of this marvelous puzzle: the anniversary of the Titanic sinking (April 15)! Would not have worked so well week 4!

  16. Abide says:

    Such an impressive construction as others have said. Five i’s to start five down entries, with two of them being in the central tIpoftheIceberg. I liked the little “ahoy” (and pirate reference) at the bottom of the ocean.

  17. Scott says:

    I was looking for clues under the letter C (as in sea) and never got past that.

  18. Dele says:

    Excellent meta! I got as close as DVLCE, which didn’t spell anything. Should’ve extended that logic further!

    Thanks, Matt!

    • slubduck says:

      This, exactly, for me also. I’ve been in a bad streak lately where my mind just doesn’t want to churn enough to follow through on good leads. Oh well, it was fun reading a bunch about the Titanic this weekend, and I was humming the classic Gillian Welch tune “April the 14th” the whole time (When the iceberg hit/Oh they must’ve known/God moves on the water/Like Casey Jones …….. wow, that is so close to hitting the DJL nail on the head it’s amazing I didn’t make the connect with those lyrics running through my head all weekend, sheesh!).

    • Matthew G. says:

      I saw those same letters, and noticed immediately that they are 5/9 of the letters needed to spell CLEVELAND. So I spent a minute or two looking for the other four. Thankfully, I saw the correct answer before spending too much time on that red herring.

  19. joon says:

    this was friggin’ brilliant.

    andy, thanks so much for filling in for me. i spent some time this weekend looking and relooking at this meta with no click. this morning as i was driving my kids down to virginia to visit my parents, i had an epiphany that TIP OF THE ICEBERG might refer to just I (previously i’d tried looking at RMS and/or the letters below R, M, and S) and, since it was almost noon, i pulled over at a rest stop, grabbed the grid out of my backpack in the trunk of the car, found the five I’s, and submitted from my phone. very satisfying aha.

  20. austin says:

    lurking under ICEBERG is the word AMERICA in a (nearly) straight line, and i submitted that as my guess when nothing else came to me. oh well.

  21. Thomas says:

    The first thing I did was look under the I’s — but only the letter immediately under. DVLCE doesn’t spell anything, move on. At some point I noticed IVY JONES/DAVY JONES, and I even saw the DA in IDA. But I thought maybe I needed to find other short answers that could combine with long answers to make a bigger thing, the tip and then the iceberg, didn’t find anything, move on. Set it aside for a day, then another, suddenly saw it yesterday and was floored. Just hovering right there on the edge of it for days, and I almost didn’t get it. But I did.

  22. Richard K says:

    I didn’t get this meta, but now that I see it explained, it’s really good. I actually thought about “tip of the iceberg” referring to I’s, but never actually counted them. Oh, well. I did notice that the central across entry could be the water line, and then the seven rows beneath it would be the submerged seven-eighths of the iceberg. That meant the one-eighth “tip” would be the first row above the surface. And so I spent a lot of time trying to anagram the tempting phrase CAREW MELON.

  23. Ale M says:

    I got this eventually, but I was thrown by two other red herrings:

    1) the bunching of the letters from JAMES CAMERON in the SW corner, in the shape of a jagged tip of an iceberg no less.

    2) In the SE corner, a similar string of letters in a C shape spells out CAPE DENISON (part of Antarctica) which is highly populated with penguins. I read with interest that an iceberg attached itself to Cape Denison, forcing the penguin population there to make a “Titanic effort” with long treks between their feeding and their breeding grounds. I was sure the double Ps at each side of the puzzle were going to represent breeding pairs of penguins somehow, trekking across the puzzle and back.

    This is the first time I have gone down a rabbit hole for a penguin. But thankfully I saw DJL late Sunday night. Great puzzle!

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