MGWCC #442

crossword 3:02 
meta 1 minute 


mgwcc442hello and welcome to episode #442 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “The Human Animal”. for this week 3 puzzle, matt challenges us to name a Best Actress winner who would’ve made a good sixth theme entry in this puzzle. what are the other five?

  • {Fighter pilot after whom an airport is named} EDWARD O’HARE. that airport is in the great u.s. city of … toronto?????
  • {He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Konigsberg in 1755} IMMANUEL KANT. i have been thinking a lot recently about the categorical imperative and things like anti-trump protests. maybe it’s just me, though. i haven’t come to any firm conclusions, but i continue to be amazed at how clear and relevant kant’s ethical system is, two and a half centuries on.
  • {She wrote about a rascally rabbit} BEATRIX POTTER.
  • {North Dakota-born bandleader} LAWRENCE WELK.
  • {“Teen Wolf” star, 1985} MICHAEL J. FOX.

well, there are some animal references in the clues (rascally rabbit, teen wolf), and FOX is an animal, and WELK is a homophone of an animal, but those are red herrings. the actual theme is quite simple: each of these people has a surname that becomes the name of an animal if you remove its first letter: HARE, ANT, OTTER, ELK, and OX.

what best actress winner fits this theme? it’s charlize THERON, winner for monster in 2003, who becomes a HERON after dropping her T.

this is a tidy little theme and a far sight easier than last week’s. that’s only fair, since last week’s was really a week 3 masquerading as a week 2; this one felt much more like a real week 2.

there isn’t a whole lot else i have to say about the puzzle. the grid is good—pretty clean at 76 words despite significant overlap-stacking of theme answers at the top and bottom. i don’t think i’ve seen {Switzerland’s fourth-largest city} LAUSANNE in a grid before; that’s pretty nice. and the clue for {Lionel Richie hit with Kenny Rogers and Jimmy Connors (!) on backing vocals} “YOU ARE”—is that kenny rogers the singer or kenny rogers the left-handed pitcher? ;)

that’s all i’ve got for this week. happy thanksgiving and safe travels to everybody traveling this week to visit far-flung friends and family. see you in week 4!

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26 Responses to MGWCC #442

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    Trying to be first in, I jumped the gun again. Unlike last week, I didn’t reconsider and push on to complete the grid. I imagine most of the wrong answers this week were BULLOCK, but with HARE and ANT, I thought the pattern was names that become animals with one of the end letters removed. Hilary SWANk immediately came to mind. But of course, it was really only the left hand end letter of the names that dropped, thus tHERON. It was a solid meta, though as Joon notes, it played like a Week 2. Four stars from me.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 373 right answers this week. I have had some requests to send sandra BULLock and a couple of others (like jessiCA Tandy) to the panel since they hide an animal, but I think the panel will say no since the pattern of the five theme entries (remove first letter from surname to leave an animal) is clear.

    • Jesse says:

      “Bullock” works without dropping a letter.

      I think Sandra Bullock fits based on the inclusion of Michael J. Fox on the list, since the theme could be names that end in animals, regardless of how many letters are dropped.

      • Dave says:

        When I saw Sandra BULLOCK, my thought process was, “Is it OK that it’s the whole last name? Yes, Fox is the whole last name. It just has to be at the end. Done.”

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Since when would Matt have four theme answers that work one way and a fifth that works a different way, though?

  3. Jesse says:

    I went with Sandra Bullock (“Bullock” being a term for an ox or castrated male bull) and would argue that she fits the meta as well.

    Obviously, you don’t need to drop a letter to make the animal name, but I decided that was acceptable because of Michael J. Fox (reading it as “Fox” rather than “Ox”). The theme would then be surnames that end in animal names.

    I need a mimosa…

  4. ML Perry says:

    I was mis-led (in my little brain) by “FOX” – “see, there are some some answers with the whole animal name”. So, Sandra BULLOCK was it, since bullock is an animal. I could see after a while that I was wrong, so I rethought this…and only then did I see that “OX” was a creature and the real pattern was dropping the 1st letter…

  5. Ephraim says:

    I read FOX as FOX, not F+OX, thought it was OK for the animal to be the entire last name, and submitted Sandra BULLOCK. I need to slow down, look for alternative answers, and think about which is best.

    • Mutman says:

      I didn’t notice the F+OX either, but fortunately and not familiar with a BULLOCK and went on to find THERON.

      I did have a thought that a SPOON might be concealed in WITHESPOON, but research showed that it is actually a SPOONBILL I was thing of.

      Nice work Matt.

  6. Neil B says:

    I saw elk in Emmauel kant so put Jessica tandy but it is certainly not fitting the mold like Theron

  7. sharkicicles says:

    I joked about Hilary Swank’s name if you follow the same pattern as the theme entries and only later realized there’s also a SWAN in there.

  8. JRS says:

    I saw that Immanuel Kant contained “elk”, but so did Lawrence Welk. decided to let Kant have “elk” and give “wren” to Welk. So I went with Hilary Swank. Too many animals!

  9. Lee Sammons says:

    My first pass through the list of winners noted Anna magnANI, that crossword worthy animal. Then I noticed THERON and realized the consistency of dropping only the first letter after seeing fox/ox.

  10. Tyler Hinman says:

    I saw only that the animal ended the name and not that just the first letter was taken away from the surname each time. Fortunately, it was enough.

  11. lisepac says:

    Did no one else enter “anna magnANI?” She won Best Actress in 1955 for “The Rose Tattoo,” and I loved that the animal, ANI, is a common crossword fill (black bird). Like Tyler, I saw that the animal ended the name and thought the theme answer for 58A yielded FOX rather than OX. However, I would point out that 58A, michael j. fox, is the only name with a middle initial, so instead of dropping the first letter of the last name (“F”), I dropped the letter that follows the first name (J); this reasoning works for all the other theme answers as well.

    I’ll let the panel decide, and won’t bother anyone about this any more.

    • lisepac says:

      Doh! “anna magnANI” doesn’t follow my supposed pattern of dropping the letter that follows the first name. I was looking for an actress whose name ended in an animal and must have gone cross-eyed at “charlize tHERON.” Never mind….

  12. Makfan says:

    Slightly mad at myself because I got the exact theme requirements and despite three passes through the Wikipedia best actress list I missed tHERON. I went with Bette dAVIS knowing it didn’t quite seem right, but I rejected the cases where it required removing anything except the first letter of the last name.

  13. ===Dan says:

    I submitted the correct answer, but also thought one could make a jocular case for CHER, because “her” refers to a (human) animal. I also thought of Avis before I found the right answer.

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