MGWCC #495

crossword 3:43 
meta 5 minutes 


hello and welcome to episode #495 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “American-Made Clothing”. it’s week 4, but after last week’s brainbuster, matt eased off the gas pedal with a gentle week 2 difficulty puzzle. the instructions tell us we’re looking for a two-word piece of clothing. okay. what are the theme answers? well, there’s only one, although it’s in three parts: {Where to find the clothing} is the FIRST LETTERS OF / EIGHT / ADJACENT STATES.

this took a little bit of playing around with a state map, but it wasn’t hard; you need some vowels, and most of the vowels are in the middle. (although the west has oregon, idaho, utah, and arizona, and i definitely started my search there.) the answer is MINK COAT, and there are two ways to spell it out. here’s one of them:

(the other way uses missouri instead of minnesota for the M, but the rest of the path is the same.) are there any other even plausible things you could spell? i didn’t find anything, but there are probably much longer phrases you can spell if you relax the criterion that there should be path from one letter to the next that only ever goes from one state to a bordering state (that hasn’t been used), boggle-style. but that would be a lot less elegant, and a lot less fun to solve, so i’m glad it worked the way it did.

other notes:

  • {Guzman of “Narcos”} LUIS. never heard of him or it.
  • {___-O-Matic (baseball game)} STRAT. this one i know. we got a s-o-m game for my son last christmas.
    if you love baseball, dice, cards, complicated rules, and verisimilitude, this is the game for you.
  • {Easier to drive on} SMOOTHER. and to bike on!
  • {Environmentalist on California’s state quarter} MUIR and {Capital in the Willamette Valley} SALEM. i wonder if these were a hint not to use the west coast for the meta.
  • {What MGWCC solvers shout when the puzzle goes out} TGIF. okay—has anybody ever done this?
  • {Mine consists of 012346888 but not in that order (abbr.)} SSN. well of course not in that order, because that would be mine.

that’s all i’ve got this week. how about you? i’m curious to see anything else interesting people found to spell.

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32 Responses to MGWCC #495

  1. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, I didn’t get that “adjacent” implied that the states would be in order so I went down Joon’s less fun path before calling it a day. I thought “PASSPORT” might be a hint that they were border states, then thought “SPARTAN” was a hint that Michigan was involved. When the southern- and northern-most border states, and Michigan-linked states, didn’t get me anywhere, I looked at anagramming some vowel-heavy areas but was quickly done. I’m no anagrammer, and the thought of the number of 8 state permutations shut me down pretty quickly.

    No problem with he meta itself, I just missed the “straight-line” aspect and wasn’t interested in a brute-force plow through anagramming states.

    On a different note, was it just me or was the crossword itself incredibly difficult in comparison to other MGWCCs?

  2. Crypdex says:

    You could also go from Arkansas to Tennessee for the final T.

    • joon says:

      ah, good catch.

      • Jim Schooler says:

        I started up with Missouri and ended at Tennessee as well. At first I misinterpreted “adjacent” for “contiguous” and ended up counting up the 8 states starting with the same letter, and there are exactly 8 states that begin with “M”. That got me no where until I realized that “adjacent” really meant “adjacent” with only an hour to spare, and snuck in at the last minute.

  3. Bret says:

    There are a lot of other options if you don’t have to use the letters in proper order (there’s no indication you do, though it is more elegant that way). For the Missouri path, you can use Kentucky for the K and North Carolina for the N.

  4. I overthought this one at first. There are 2 states, Missouri and Tennessee, that each have 8 other adjacent states to them, and so I thought the clue phrase was referencing that. I tried taking the first letters of Missouri’s 8 neighbors and anagramming them, and likewise I tried the same for Tennessee’s 8 neighbors, but neither KIINKOAT nor MAMAGNVK yielded anything remotely good.

    • Brian says:

      Adam, I did the same thing at first, with the same results. I was wondering what kind of body structure would lead one to wear an OCTAKINI, but then I found my way to he right path.

  5. Mac says:

    I ended up with the correct (and much more valuable) mink coat though with a totally different path but started with my favorite “pink coat” (Alabama to Connecticut). I did not get at all that the letters had to be in order and I think it is not indicated as a requirement. I wonder if anyone actually submitted an answer with the states adjacent but in a different order.

  6. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 427 right answers this week.

    This meta came about when I was looking something up on a US map and my eye noticed that you could spell FATAL from Florida-Alabama-Tennessee-Arkansas-Louisiana. I then found a 6 (CANUCK — ironic), then a 7 (CANTATA) and had almost given up on an 8 when MINK COAT jumped out. I stopped looking then but I’d be surprised if there’s a 9.

  7. Small Wave Dave says:

    Starting in the NW you can get WINO CANTATA.
    I’ve been humming it between blackouts.

  8. mrbreen says:

    Good stuff. The Easter egg @60A was a nice touch.

  9. Jon says:

    There’s also COW at the west coast.

    For me, I wasted about a day trying to find the meta solution/word in the grid itself. I looked around the the postal 2-letter code of states that were next to other ones. I only found 3 areas where this happened: AS & PA among the ASK & PANG; RI & IN among the GRIEF & WINCE; and then depending on your direction, the MO & AR among MOE & SARA (or going vertically: MA & OR among IMAGE & SORER). I hunted and hunted for a 4th grouping so I could then anagram an 8-letter solution but I couldn’t find one.

    I also tried to find more creative usages of “state” when I was GRIEF in the grid. “A state of grief,”if you will. The more I went, the more tenuous they became. “Water in WATERY is a state of matter…” It’s weird that I didn’t immediately go for the geography route since I consider myself to be a geography nerd.

    I don’t know how I feel about the solution being completely outside of the grid. And nothing in the direction or title or grid to hint that you needed to go in a line rather than 4-pairs of adjacent states. I wonder if adding “line” to the title might have been a good way to hint at this? “America-Made Clothing Line?”

  10. sharkicicles says:

    Got this one right away- figured some sort of COAT needed to be involved given the constraints and from there it was quite simple.

  11. Bill Spindler says:

    Aargh! After staring at a map for awhile I did come up with COAT, but the MINK part eluded me. I never thought that the letters would be in consecutive states…rather I marked off the map indicating which states had 7 other adjacent states, sort of what Adam mentioned.

  12. Eric M says:

    A summer collegiate baseball league already had a headstart on this.

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