MGWCC #419

crossword 7:00 
meta 1 minute or so 


mgwcc419hello and welcome to episode #419 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Abridged to … Know Where?”, by guest constructor (and fiend contributor) samuel a. donaldson. for this week 2 puzzle of guest constructor month, sam challenges us to name something much sought after. intriguing—and we get a 21×21 puzzle to boot. what are the theme answers? they’re not explicitly marked, but the long across answers are:

  • {Forked whip} CAT O’ NINE TAILS.
  • {Totally apathetic} COULDN’T CARE LESS. i think the clue’s off here; since the answer’s a past-tense verb, the clue has to be a past-tense verb instead of an adjective. unless somehow we’re supposed to interpret COULDN’T-CARE-LESS as a hyphenated compound adjective? like a couldn’t-care-less attitude?
  • {Brad Garrett sitcom (2006-2010)} ‘TIL DEATH.
  • {Cereal mascot whose first name is Horatio} CAP’N CRUNCH.
  • {Anticipatory cry} I CAN’T WAIT.
  • {Irish gesture of respect} TIP O’ THE HAT.
  • {“Downton Abbey” affirmative} YES M’LADY.
  • {Southern farewell} Y’ALL COME BACK NOW. sam moved from seattle to atlanta a few years ago, so i bet he hears this a lot now.
  • {Game played in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker} NO LIMIT HOLD ‘EM.

well, these are indeed all “abridged” in the sense that they all contain contractions. what letters are elided by those apostrophes?

  • F from CAT O’ NINE TAILS.
  • UN from ‘TIL DEATH.
  • TAI from CAP’N CRUNCH.
  • NO from I CAN’T WAIT.
  • F from TIP O’ THE HAT.
  • Y from YES M’LADY.
  • TH from NO LIMIT HOLD ‘EM.

well, would you look at that? reading the letters off in order, we have the FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH, which certainly was much sought after.

i think this is a remarkable construction. extracting a 15-letter answer from letters taken in order from symmetrically positioned long theme entries? wow. there can’t have been all that many options to choose from (just try thinking of words and phrases that elide different letters—a B or an M, two pick two examples pretty much off the top of my head). the title is pretty fun, too—punning on “a bridge to nowhere” but suggesting both the key meta idea and hinting that the answer is a location.

in fairness, i’ll also mention that there is one fairly significant strike against it, which is that i’ve seen this idea before played out in a couple ways. in fact, it’s been done before by matt in the mgwcc, way back in mgwcc #009 (before i started blogging the puzzle for crossword fiend). more recently, there was a terrific fireball meta from patrick berry about 18 months ago with the exact same mechanism, spelling out an appropriate 11-letter answer from 8 theme answers in a 15×15 grid (the ship part FO’C’S’LE provided four of those letters). so this theme didn’t quite have the novelty value of most metas for me.

the 21×21 grid had much to love and a little that made me wince. {Rock’s Patty} SMYTH and {Horseshoe maker} SMITHY felt like a pretty big dupe even with the variant spelling on SMYTH. i didn’t know about {India’s first “Smart IT City”} SURAT and i still don’t really know what that means. i’ve actually had a friend staying with me the last two days who lives now in bangalore, center of india’s tech industry. perhaps i should have asked him about SURAT. and {Word after dating, sex, and crime} is an alarming clue but the answer is just the benign SCENE. i would have much preferred a clue that did not evoke date rape, regardless of whether that was sam’s (or matt’s) intention.

on the other side of the ledger, i enjoyed DO YOU COPY, X GAMES, OH STOP, GET BENT, WHOA NELLY, and many of the other colorful fill entries. the clue {Ex-lax?} for TENSE made me laugh.

that’s all i’ve got this week. how’d you like this one?

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to MGWCC #419

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 460 right answers this week. Sounds like I shoulda flipped weeks 1 and 2.

    And thanks to Sam for an excellent Guest Constructor Month puzzle!

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    ShaSam! Sam’s meta flew by like Evel Knevel launchin’ off that bridge to nowhere. Great construction, though as Joon says, we’ve seen something much like this recently. The verb tense in COULDNTCARELESS’s clue doesn’t bother me, but two things strike me as minor flaws – the f elision works repetitively in CATONINETAILS and TIPOTHEHAT, both abridging OF. Also, WHA’ has an elision, but doesn’t participate in the meta’s answer. Personally, I would have clued that as “Org. in which the legendary Gordie Howe became the only athlete in a major pro sport to play on the same team as his sons.” Overall, I liked it a lot — four morning stars for Sam’s Fountain of Youth.

    • Eckless says:

      Speaking of elisions, there’s another at 29A — Des’ree has an apostrophe, and although I’m not a Des’ree expert, the Wikipedia page says it’s short for Desiree. So the answer is “foiuntain oft youth”. :)

  3. kevin brown says:

    I wonder if anyone submitted The Fountain of Youth by mistake, and if they got credit for it. Since that’s how the phrase usually goes, it would be pretty easy to type “The” in when rushing, though you’ve correctly spotted the right answer starting with Fountain.

    • Matthew G. says:

      Can’t speak for Matt, but I’m not even sure that would be a mistake. The use of an unnecessary article is a de minimis change; I know that on Jeopardy!, for instance, contestants are not penalized for adding or omitting articles.

  4. Amy L says:

    FYI. Just heard on BBC News-It Happened this Week: Valentina Tereshkova took her flight into space on June 16, 1963. Not mentioned was the movie that was shown on the flight.

  5. Jason T says:

    This was such a brilliant construction – finding such long apostrophe phrases whose missing letters spell such a long phrase, in order and with symmetrical placing. Yowza! Just feel that another comment was needed to acknowledge that.

Comments are closed.