MGWCC #483

crossword 2:44 
meta 30 seconds 


hello and welcome to episode #483 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Sounds Like Something I’d Watch”. i solved this week 1 puzzle without the instructions, as i am often wont to do. what are the theme answers? the four long answers all contain a rhyming word:

  • {“Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Black-ish” actress} WANDA SYKES.
  • {Heaviest species of snake in the world} GREEN ANACONDA. i knew the anaconda part. not the green part.
  • {African capital where the 2016 chess movie “Queen of Katwe” is set} KAMPALA UGANDA. more good trivia—we see IDI and AMIN (and even sometimes IDI AMIN) in the grid all the time, but rarely KAMPALA.
  • {SUV since ’02} HONDA PILOT.

it took me a very short while to realize that the rhyming words, interpreted in the context of the title, suggest tv mogul SHONDA RHIMES, because they are all “shonda rhymes”. and indeed, the instructions ask for a noted TV producer, so that’s our answer. (as an aside, i wonder/fear how many solvers are going to claim they’ve “never heard of her” even though she is basically the most successful tv producer there is right now. this is reasonably likely to digress into a more serious sociological discussion than i am really prepared for, but … let’s just say i hope you’ve heard of her. i don’t watch any tv shows at all—literally zero right now—and i missed a trivia question about her last year that left me feeling very embarrassed when i saw all the shows she has created.)

i hope you are all subscribed to will nediger’s puzzles over at bewilderingly. will posts a free puzzle there every monday, and a subscriber-only puzzle on thursdays. the puzzles are very good, but why do i mention them here? i hate to be the bearer of bad news for matt, but: will scooped you on this theme by about two weeks. that was a major contributor to how i was able to pick up on the meta answer so quickly without the instructions. that said, it is a delightful little piece of wordplay and i’m glad it’s now been brought to a wider audience. and go get those bewilderingly puzzles!

clues, etc.:

  • {Q: “Do you watch ‘M*A*S*H’?” A: “Yeah, ___ time!”} ALDA. i chuckled. is this a gaffney original?
  • {Leconte of tennis or Becquerel of physics} HENRI. much to my surprise, this is a tennis player i don’t know.
    apparently he peaked in the 1980s, but wasn’t quite good enough to impinge on my consciousness in those days. he made one major final and reached a high ranking of #5. (the physicist, on the other hand, is even more in my wheelhouse.) there’s also {Athletic Arthur} ASHE, namesake of the stadium where many of the matches i’ve been watching this week have been played.
  • {Where Mrs. Peacock might have done it with the rope} DINING ROOM. a positively scandalous and scurrilous accusation, which i can refute by showing you one vital card (in secret).
  • {Irish singer who has never played a solo concert} ENYA. that’s an interesting tidbit.

that’s all i’ve got this week. cheers!

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30 Responses to MGWCC #483

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 467 right answers this week, so more of a week 1/2 out of 5 than a Week 1.

    Yes, someone alerted me to Will Nediger’s puzzle on Friday. I was a bit surprised to discover (incorrectly, it turns out) that no one had done the Shonda Rhimes trick before, but Will’s puzzle didn’t show up on my pre-constructing searches (since it wasn’t reviewed on Fiend) and doesn’t have a Google footprint at all since it was from his subscriptions puzzles, not posted online. Oh well — I did add him to my site sidebar, though!

    • Matthew G. says:

      Scoop notwithstanding, this was the best Week 1 puzzle in a long time. The best Week 1s are the ones with just enough pushback that you scratch your head for 90 seconds or so, and then laugh heartily when you see the connection. This did that.

    • makfan says:

      I left Friday morning for a weekend in the Midwest of baseball and beer. Solved the puzzle on the plane, had nothing and forgot about it until too late (four hour delay coming home last night didn’t help). I had never heard of her, but I bet had I spent a few minutes saying the answers out loud, the rhyme would have stood out. Enjoyed the puzzle and feel dumb for not submitting a week one. Enjoyed the games and beer even more.

  2. J. R. Skelton says:

    Not fair! Too esoteric. Never heard of this person, so how do we pick up on clue? First week of the month is supposed to be easy.

    • PSA: Whenever a meta asks for a famous [occupation], I’ve found that Googling “list of famous [occupation]s” helps since the most well-known people of the category show up in that pictured list below the search bar. It’s not a perfect method, obviously, since some groups of famous people (like actors or athletes) might have way too many possibilities. But Shonda Rhimes appears on that list; that’s how I got this one.

  3. dbardolph says:

    Count me in as a “never heard of her.” Sadly, her name didn’t come up when I Googled TV producers, but James Fonda did, so that’s who I went with. A “noted” producer? Well, probably not. Anyone else out there old enough to remember “Hazel?”

    • - kip - says:

      I’m old enough to remember Hazel! And “You Are There” produced by James Fonda (with Walter Cronkite) won a couple of Emmy’s. It was a long time ago, so I was suspicious of the answer when I submitted, but somehow Shonda Rhimes didn’t come up in my google search for television producers either – and that’s not a name I’m familiar with – so I went with James Fonda.

      • dbardolph says:

        Yeah, I didn’t love my answer, but I had nothing else – and what were the odds of a second TV producer with a rhyming name? Well, pretty good, as it turns out.

        • pgw says:

          I considered James Fonda as well – not because I remembered him but because Fonda was the first rhyming name I came up with, and is a famous name in the entertainment industry, so I initially googled “TV producer Fonda.” But it didn’t click sufficiently so I took a look at a list of other TV producers, which included Shonda (a name with which I’m vaguely familiar but until this meta I couldn’t have told you one thing about her) and that became obviously right.

    • pgw says:

      Her name didn’t come up – really? When I google “TV producers” she is second in google’s list. Third if the search is for “television producers.” Ninth (but still pictured onscreen with no scrolling required) for “famous television producers.” It seems odd that your search wouldn’t turn her up.

      • dbardolph says:

        I swear it didn’t. Although, somewhat maddeningly, it does now – and James Fonda does not. Google is messing with me.

    • "C" Fogarty says:

      Add me to the list of James Fonda submitters! I had the same problem as you!

  4. David L says:

    Didn’t do the puzzle — I just like to read the write-ups to imagine all the different ways I would have failed to solve the meta.

    In this case, I’d be interested to know the % of people who think SHONDA and UGANDA rhyme. Not for me — Uganda rhymes with panda.

    • Matthew G. says:

      I pronounce UGANDA to rhyme with SHONDA. According to Wikipedia, it may be pronounced either way.

      Given that Uganda is an English-speaking country, I’d be curious to know how they pronounce it there. I couldn’t find the answer to that with a quick google.

      • David L says:

        I know (very slightly) someone from Uganda, and she speaks English with a very British accent, as do I. FWIW, here’s the Cambridge Dictionary with an authentic UK pronunciation and a possibly inauthentic US pronunciation.

        • Andy says:

          I traveled there myself last February. It rhymes with Shonda, and to be honest I’ve never heard or even considered an alternate pronunciation.

  5. Amy L says:

    Whenever I can’t get a meta that has to do with something like physics (there are so many!) or sports, I always suspect it’s because I’m not familiar with the subject and it will be something I either don’t understand or have never heard of. This was the FIRST time that actually happened! Add me to the list of ignoramuses who never heard of her. Just because someone’s very successful in a popular field, doesn’t mean you are an idiot if you don’t know that person.

    • John says:

      Exactly. If you are older, your list of “famous” producers is much longer, and thus i was stuck on thinking the trick was going to point to all the famous shows this person has produced. Grey’s Anatomy? Scandal? Never seen em
      – or heard of Shonda. i read about the Netflix thing she signed but didn’t have her name stick. The fact is, in this wonderful era of exploding choices in programming, the pool of producers has become hopelessly diluted (wonderful!). There isn’t anyone famous anymore such that those not particularly interested in the business will know them. Not like a Norman Lear, when there were 3 channels competing.

  6. Jim S. says:

    Her name didn’t jump to mind right away, but I googled “tv producer ones” and she was prominently displayed. Sure, “onda” was only 50% of the spellings, so I guess I got lucky. Googling with “anda” might have been a problem – Anda Podniece shows up second in the results and is also a producer (though ‘noted’ is certainly a stretch).

    I know Shonda from the old days of watching Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, and Scandal is a pretty well known network show. She didn’t pop immediately to my mind, but the answer was pretty easy to get if the rhyming was spotted (and I lamely didn’t even catch the double meaning of her last name!).

  7. RAD2626 says:

    NORMAN right down the middle of the puzzle and the two long downs were pretty good sidetracks but nothing else led to LEAR: no jet, no King, no misspelled sideways glance so the rhyming gambit had to do it. Also tried initials NDA to see if that lead to someone famous but NaDA there also. Fun puzzle and meta. Glad I had heard of Shonda.

  8. e.a. says:

    after not having known ann b davis and paul lynde (much to my detriment) or most of the phoenixes, it felt really nice to finally get one in my wheelhouse this week (if being aware of the woman who owns a whole night of the week on ABC can even count as having a wheelhouse)

  9. richie says:

    If you go to Wikipedia page for “TV producers”, and ask to Find “nda” on that page, there are five matches, but only one has shONDA, with a show titled scANDAl. Seemed like a sure thing, since there were two ONDA and two ANDA in the theme answers. Didn’t need the rhymes.

  10. Scott says:

    I also never heard of her. My problem, not Matt’s. I submitted FONDA like a few others. My bad.

  11. David Glasser says:

    I’m just embarrassed that I got the right answer without actually getting the pun.

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