MGWCC #459

crossword 3:47 
meta 0:10 


hello and welcome to episode #459 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “I’m Not a Doctor, But I Play One on This Crossword”. the instructions for this week 3 puzzle ask us to find something you may (or may not) see a doctor about. what are the theme answers?

  • {Result of romantic disappointment…but I wouldn’t see a doctor about it} ACHY BREAKY HEART. you could ask dr. cyrus.
  • {How welcome sights may be applied…but I wouldn’t see a doctor about it} FOR SORE EYES. this feels like a partial to me, so the clue is necessarily awkward.
  • {What people nervous about using public restrooms are said to have…but I wouldn’t see a doctor about it} SHY BLADDERS. i am pretty sure that many people do, in fact, see a doctor about this!
  • {Finds intolerable…but I wouldn’t see a doctor about it} CAN’T STOMACH.
  • {Couldn’t get along due to past conflicts…but I wouldn’t see a doctor about it} HAD SOME BAD BLOOD.

straightforward, but cute, meta idea here: based on the body part in each of the not-quite-ailments, figure out what kind of doctor you might see:

  • a cardiologist for your ACHY BREAKY HEART
  • an ophthalmologist FOR SORE EYES (an optometrist would be for corrective lenses, not for any kind of eye ailment)
  • a urologist for SHY BLADDERS
  • a gastroenterologist for your CAN’T STOMACH
  • and a hematologist for HAD SOME BAD BLOOD.

take the first letters of those medical specialists, in order, and you spell out COUGH, which is something you might well see a doctor about if it were persistent/severe enough.

i mostly dug this puzzle. i have the tiniest nagging sensation that i might have seen this meta mechanism in a mgwcc before, but i can’t remember when. at any rate, it must have been a long time ago, if indeed ever. it didn’t affect my solving experience this week, which was mostly positive. the fill was a little less interesting/clean than usual, with more than a handful of blah fill-in-the-blank entries, suffixes, and such. i was surprised to see the clue {Company whose third letter is stylized as a lambda (even though it’s an A)} for KIA. it’s rare that a clue explicitly tells you what letter to put where in the answer!

that’s all for me this week, but i look forward to seeing a lot of you this weekend at ACPT in stamford!

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30 Responses to MGWCC #459

  1. austin says:

    “I’m Not a Doctor, But I Play One on TV” was first said by an actor from The Young & The Restless.

    Restless Leg Syndrome was not the correct answer.

    Oh well.

  2. Eric Conrad says:

    Very strong ‘aha’ moment for me this week.

    For the meta, I had nothing… nothing… nothing… nothing… nothing… BAM!

    • Matthew G. says:

      Same here. The first time I looked at the puzzle, I saw nothing. When I picked it up again four hours later, I saw the answer in about five seconds.

      It may have helped that in the interim I had seen a Facebook post from a friend of mine complaining about her gastroenterologist.

  3. CFXK says:

    Actually, the “I’m not a doctor…” phrase originated with a 1984 commercial for Vicks 44 Cough Medicine:

    So even without solving the puzzle, one might have stumbled upon “cough” as the correct answer to the meta.

  4. Magoo says:

    Neat, but too hard for me. Astonished that 260+ people got it.

  5. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    Best I could come up with, with absolutely no support from the grid, was to say I might or might not go to a doctor if I had A GREEN THUMB!

  6. Paul Coulter says:

    This was clever and fun to solve. It would have been really cool if the answer had two meanings, something you really might or might not see a doctor about. Maybe HIVES. (Yes, a cough often isn’t bad enough to consult your GP, but a beekeeper definitely wouldn’t see a doctor about the apiary kind of hives.)

  7. Tony says:

    I submitted coughing up a lung since all the other theme entries had an organ as part of the answer.

  8. Amy L says:

    I was going to answer “Pain in the Neck” which is how I feel about a Week 3 when I get nothing…nothing…nothing. And I work at a medical school!

  9. Brian says:

    I guess I underthought this one when I stumbled across an answer that seemed to fit the theme and the title. I saw that the theme answers were non-real ailments and assumed that the meta answer could be another phrase that refers to a non-real ailment. And the title implied wishy-washy wavering, so I guessed COLD FEET.

  10. sharkicicles says:

    I submitted HARD NOSE- I noticed there seemed to be a lot of Os, and the letters in HARDNOSE are the only letters in the grid that appear in double-digit quantities in the grid. I thought perhaps “TV” being out of the title pointed towards individual letters.

  11. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 259 right answers this week.

  12. Joe says:

    I lucked out and got this one pretty quickly. When I looked back at the grid I wondered if maybe the word “gist” would be lurking somewhere in there.

  13. Kali says:

    I took the sore eyes for an Ophthalmologist :)

    Good meta for a week 3, took me just enough time to panic but then breathe a sigh of relief when it clicked (no pulmonologist needed)

  14. Scott says:

    I just couldn’t connect the dots. I should have gotten this one in retrospect. But alas, I failed this week.

  15. Pete Rimkus says:

    Here’s what I almost went with…while suspecting that “I play one” in the title was important.
    The letters in boxes ending with ‘1’ are:

    They anagram to LABOR ILL

    If I were an expectant mom, I’d see a doctor about that, but I wouldn’t if I were a union steward.

    But it didn’t click cleanly (and didn’t use the longer theme answers) so I moved on.

  16. mnemonica says:

    I obsessed on the “see a doctor” in the grid (PHD with CA right above it). That led nowhere, but I couldn’t let it go.

  17. Kaille says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle this week. It’s unusual for me to get a week three, so I was happy about that!

    Off-topic, I am awestruck by some of the folks whose names are on the MGWCC leader board within a very few minutes of the puzzle being emailed. Sometimes (like this week) there are people on the board whose answers have been submitted before 12:01 pm. Are there really people out there that solve both the grid and the meta in less than a minute? How do they do that? It’s like a superpower!

    • joon says:

      i think, but do not know for sure, that the people submitting at 12:00 or 12:01 are test-solvers who solved the meta in advance. (well, usually. there are some week 1 puzzles easy enough to get the meta just from the title and instructions, or maybe with the grid only slightly filled in. this one feels at least a little bit too hard for that, but maybe only a little.)

      • Tim H. says:

        The mass-mailing often arrives in the five or so minutes leading up to noon. That at least explains the times I appear with a 12:01 solution on week 1.

        • Kaille says:

          Okay, that makes sense. But seriously, Tim, how on earth do you solve the grid AND the meta so quickly? I barely get the grid printed in that amount of time. Amazing!

          • Tim H. says:

            On week 1, you can often suss out the meta before filling in the whole grid, especially after learning Matt’s style over a few years of subscribing. Two long answers can be enough to give you a guess what the meta answer is, and if you get the same spark from the third long, and the puzzle title is in agreement, it’s hard to resist the risk of bum’s-rushing your answer in, just for how cool it looks when you finish in single digits along with (if not ahead of) JanglerNPL and the true heroes of meta solving.

            If I could remember one of my very few stories about failing in Week 1 this way, I’d tell it, but who’d make a point of remembering such a thing?

        • Matthew G. says:

          Looking back in my inbox, I can see that this month’s week 2 puzzle (the KUDZU one) arrived at 11:55 a.m. With a meta that easy, not surprising that there were a lot of 12:00 or 12:01 submitters.

      • Kaille says:

        Joon, I always enjoy your dissections of the puzzles. I have only been doing MGWCC for about year, but as I recall, there have been one or two of these where you have come in with the solution at the last minute. Have you ever not solved one of Matt’s puzzles? If so, what do you do when you are the one reviewing the puzzle for this site?

        • joon says:

          oh, lots of times. what i do is… i start writing it up anyway. it’s actually astonishing how often something will click while i’m in the process of writing the blog post, and i’ll submit the right answer at the last minute. when that doesn’t happen, the post just kind of ends with me not getting it and i say, “well, somebody will post the right solution in the comments.”

  18. aoboboa says:

    With answers EAR and FLEA intersecting in the NW, I almost submitted A FLEA IN ONE’S EAR. But it just didn’t have that Gaffney Meta Panache.

    • docison says:

      That is exactly what I submitted. It seemed like an appropriately made-up malady (though I’d never heard of it before Googling), and I didn’t think another body part would be strewn inside the grid unintentionally. Oh, well…

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