MGWCC #423

crossword 3:22 
meta 0:25 


mgwcc423hello and welcome to episode #423 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Water, Water Everywhere”. for this week 2 puzzle, matt challenges us to name an island in the Mediterranean Sea. cool! i like geography. what are the theme answers?

  • {Baroque city center getting swiftly restored these days} OLD HAVANA.
  • {Orange replica of a famous Paris structure} TOKYO TOWER. i don’t know if i’d call it a “replica”, but it’s certainly eiffel-ish.
  • {Rock some kiss} THE BLARNEY STONE. that’s a crash-blossomy clue.
  • {Memorial visited by over 2 million people per year} USS ARIZONA. in pearl harbor.
  • {Locals call it “Mungibeddu”} MOUNT ETNA. news to me: mungibeddu is the name for it in sicilian, which is a language i did not even know existed. neat! (in italian, it’s montebello or mongibello.)

very quick solve on this one: we’re looking for an island and we have five things found on (or near, in the case of the arizona) islands, and the clues conspicuously do not mention the islands. those are (in order) cuba, honshu, ireland, oahu, and sicily, and the first letters of those spell out chios, which is indeed an island in the mediterranean (specifically, in the aegean). it’s not the most famous island, mind you—i wonder how many solvers got the letters but then didn’t submit it. i hope they would at least google it, but you never know.

i know chios mostly from an infamous incident there during the greek war of independence from the ottoman empire, as immortalized in a famous delacroix painting i’ve seen in the louvre.

ever since solving this meta, i’ve had the nagging sense that we’ve seen something very much like this from matt before, but i can’t remember the specifics. these early-month metas sometimes don’t stick in my memory too well if i don’t spend much time solving them, so perhaps one of you will remind me which puzzle i’m thinking of with basically the same mechanism. or maybe i’m just imagining things altogether.

i don’t have a lot else to say about the puzzle. ADAMS and SHOT reminded me of hamilton, but then, pretty much everything these days reminds me of hamilton. BANDWAGON and ZUMBA are nice entries i’m not sure i’ve seen before in crosswords.

what’d you all think?

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14 Responses to MGWCC #423

  1. Matt says:

    Thanks, Joon — 335 right answers this week.

    The one you’re thinking of is here:

    Islandy as well, though not the same mechanism. I actually had this one slated to run in May but then realized that was too many islands too close so I waited a couple of months. But of course you remembered — you sometimes remember things from MGWCCs that start with a double zero.

  2. sharkicicles says:

    First Week 2 I didn’t solve. Went down a few rabbit holes:

    -SKY right above TOKYO TOWER and SUB right below USSARIZONA seemed suspicious.

    -“Water, water everywhere” is a line from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner so I spent a while looking for rhyming clues or answers.

    • Dan Seidman says:

      I tried every third letter for that reason.

    • Lance says:

      I actually got a little bit rabbit-holed by trying to name the bodies of water the five entries were near, rather than the islands they were on. Except that Blarney Castle isn’t really near any bodies of water, and the first letters of “Caribbean, (Sea of) Japan, Irish Sea, Pacific Ocean, Mediterranean Sea” weren’t spelling anything. It did worry me for a bit that I was going to break a decent streak on a Week 2.

  3. Lynne R Equation says:

    Sorry, but Chios isn’t even close to the Mediterrean Sea. Very misleading.

  4. Ephraim says:

    My officemate points out that LEONE directed “A Fistful of Dollars”, not “For a Fistful of Dollars”.

  5. Reid says:

    Count me as someone who pretty quickly saw the islands and came up with Chios but didn’t take it any farther b/c I had never heard of it.


  6. Abide says:

    This was a bummer for me. I saw five island references and viewed the question as “Name the island in the Mediterranean” which was Sicily. (I hate geography and still had to Google that.)

    Even though that was ridiculously easy, I justified it by seeing how many got the answer in 10 minutes or less. Plus last week was trickier than normal. Snapped my longest streak on my first missed Week 2.

  7. Amy L says:

    There is a Mastiha Shop in New York that only sells products made with mastic from Chios, the original chewing gum. Chios is granted protected designation of origin because its mastic is supposed to have special therapeutic properties. I tried the toothpaste and liked it. So I remember Chios from coming across this little shop.

    There is even a Chios Mastic Museum which looks quite beautiful on its website.

  8. Lise P. says:

    Chios is one of the Greek islands in the news during the height of the migrant crisis last spring; the name popped out when I scribbled down the islands associated with the theme answers, though I did double-check on the web in case my unreliable memory was playing tricks.

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