MGWCC #480

crossword 2:45 
meta 2-3 minutes 


hello and welcome to episode #480 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “All My Children”. for this week 2 puzzle, matt challenged us to find a U.S. state capital. what are the theme answers?

  • {The second-best album of the 1980s, per Rolling Stone} PURPLE RAIN.
  • {She hit #1 with “MacArthur Park” and “Hot Stuff”} DONNA SUMMER.
  • {Eugene is on it} WILLAMETTE RIVER.
  • {Gotham behemoth} LADY LIBERTY. i can’t help feeling that “colossus” would have been a much better word choice than “behemoth” in this clue.
  • {California county whose seat is Stockton} SAN JOAQUIN.

well, i didn’t know much about what was going on, but “joaquin” and “river” and “state capital” certainly suggested phoenix to me, as they are/were two acting brothers with that surname. the title suggests that there might be more, and indeed, they do have sisters named rain, summer, and liberty, all of whom are apparently also actors. they also have amazing middle names: rain joan of arc phoenix, summer joy phoenix, and liberty mariposa phoenix. also, and i feel like i used to know this but had forgotten, joaquin had gone by leaf phoenix as a child actor, only changing back to his birth name joaquin as an adult.

anyway, interesting family, and i suppose they are just famous enough for a week 2 meta? i wonder if i would have solved this at all if the last theme answer had been, e.g., NISSAN LEAF instead of SAN JOAQUIN. probably yes; it does seem like one that google can solve for you. that’s not a bad thing early in the month.

i wonder what the rationale was behind asking for a state capital instead of a surname? the title already connotes a family, so i don’t think it’s necessarily any easier this way. i suppose the fact that (i’ve just looked this up) their dad’s last name is bottom rather than phoenix would make it somewhat ambiguous without further pinning, so that’s a good reason if that was the reason.

  • {Letter-shaped Home Depot purchase} U-BOLT. a fitting tribute to sprinter usain bolt, who retired this this week after the track & field world championships in london.
  • {Offer to share} “WANT SOME?” ooh, i like this. don’t think i’ve ever seen it in a puzzle.
  • {Emil and Kjellfrid Zellweger’s famous daughter} RENEE. what an odd clue! i wonder if it’s supposed to hint at the meta mechanism? or maybe matt just liked the name kjellfrid? there’s a lot to like, i admit.

that’s all i’ve got this week. see you at lollapuzzoola, hopefully!

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9 Responses to MGWCC #480

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 476 right answers this week.

    “Colossus” is a better word there, yes. I liked the echo of “Gotham behemoth” but if I’d thought of yours I might have used it.

    Was surprised to see that no one had done this theme before. I guess 3/5 of the Phoenix kids not being legit famous doesn’t help but they do have great names.

    • Jim Schooler says:

      Loved this puzzle meta! I couldn’t help but think about Glen Campbell who passed away last week, and his song “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.”

      • NonnieL says:

        He also did a great version of “MacArthur Park” (written by the same guy who wrote “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”) with an awesome guitar solo.

        • pannonica says:

          There is no such thing as a great version of “MacArthur Park”. This includes Donna Summer and Richard Harris. That said, I tend to like a lot of Jimmy Webb’s songs.

        • Kaille says:

          I am coming on the net to unashamedly admit that I LOVE “MacArthur Park.” Every version, no matter who sang it. Just something about those chord progressions. They get me every time. Lyrics? Didn’t pay so much attention, though they got to me too, even if just a little. It is especially poignant now to listen to Mr. Campbell’s version – I loved him. While I have contemplated it in the past, I know now that I will never ever sell my Glen Campbell Ovation 12-string. Godspeed, Glen Campbell. And thank you, NonnieL for bringing back a fond memory.

  2. Seth says:

    Darn! I got to SALEM because it’s on the Willamette and it’s the fictional town where Days Of Our Lives takes place. I thought the title was meant to suggest soap operas in general. Maybe it’s more of a week one connection.

  3. AboutTheSame says:

    I think I made this harder than it needed to be [and I’m not good at metas to begin with], because I was led astray by the state connections. Minnesota [for Prince], Oregon, New Jersey/New York [not sure where Gotham is], and California, but I could not do anything with Donna Summer. Looked for kids’ names in the capitals because of “All My Children?” and st. PAUL, SALem, TRENTon/ALbany looked promising, but I couldn’t do anything with Sacramento [note to Matt: RAMEN & MENTO could be fun someday]. Gave up, but when the number of correct solutions hit 300, I knew I had to give it another go. Finally just looked at the second words, and immediately had the Oh s*** reaction. I’m bad at celebs, but even I knew Joaquin and River. Very enjoyable.

  4. Brian says:

    Went off on a goose chase with several occurrences of parents/children in the down clues:

    8D. Alex and __ – ANI : Jewelry store named after the founder’s daughters
    24D. Andrew Cuomo’s dad – MARIO
    35D. Emil and Kjellfrid Zellweger’s famous daughter – RENEE
    47D. William and Harry’s mum – DIANA
    48D. Hyderabad’s __ Gandhi International Airport – RAJIV (this is more of a stretch, but he has a famous mother (Indira) and the family name is part of the clue)

    What’s even stranger is that Renee Zellweger has a single sibling, a brother named Drew, and DREW intersects RENEE, while Rajiv Gandhi has a single sibling, Sanjay, and SANJ… intersects RAJIV! Weird set of coincidences, but eventually realized I should ignore them and focus on the long across clues.

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