MGWCC #513

crossword 6:04
meta DNF 


hello and welcome to episode #513 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Just Get Around to It!”. for this week 5 puzzle, we were looking for a five-word sentence I hope you don’t say after solving this meta. okay. at this point, i’m not likely to say any five-word sentence after solving the meta, because i haven’t solved the meta and i have no idea how it works. but let’s take a look at the theme. we have a three-part instruction: {Aimee Mann lyric you should listen to seven times…and parse in an unusual way} IF SOMEHOW / YOU MOVED POINT / A TO POINT B. or at least, that would be the usual way to parse it, and the way she sings it in that’s just what you are.

is there another way to parse it in the grid? “if somehow you moved PO in T-A to PO in T-B”? i dunno. there are a bunch of P’s in the grid, most of them attached to O’s. and of course there are lots of T’s and A’s, which is normal; there’s only the one B, though, and it’s in the theme answer itself.

also, i have to observe that the grid is just bonkers. it took me longer to solve than a typical newsday saturday stumper or even kevin der’s devious NYT saturday. it wasn’t because of the clues, which were were largely straightforward. it had more to do with some insane answers i had never seen (or thought i might ever see) in a crossword. some of these are tucked away in corners nowhere near the three theme answers (or any P’s)—like the southwest corner, with the crossing of weirdo partials SO NEW/ME RAW. so there has to be something else going on. the instructions do say that we’re supposed to “listen” to the lyric seven times, so i figure there are seven more theme answers floating around here somewhere. that said, i don’t have any idea yet how it will add up to a five-word sentence. maybe each one gives a syllable?

here is another thought: “point” can be abbreviated pt., so “point A” could refer to “PTA”. there are many P’s, T’s, and A’s in the grid. maybe we’re supposed to do something with them? unclear what, though, and there aren’t seven different answers containing all three of those letters. i see PEART, ATOP, PETIPA, SPIT AT, and PEANUT, in addition to the last part of the theme answer.

another way to move A to B is by caesar-shifting every letter by one, but i tried that and found nothing of interest. i also didn’t find words where replacing A with B (but leaving the other letters alone) gave a different word.

okay, let’s try to think about this logically. there’s only one B in the grid, so it can’t really be that we’re supposed to move things there. maybe “point B” just refers to … somewhere else. maybe the second letter of a word? that’s one way to interpret “point B”. then moving “point A” there could be taking an entry containing A where if you moved A to the second letter, you’d get another word. there are various things that look like they could work:

  • {Neat as ___} A PIN. moving the A to second in the word gives PAIN.
  • {Train stop (abbr.)} STA => SAT.
  • {Loan officer’s numbers (abbr.)} APRS => PARS.
  • {USNA rank} ADM => DAM.
  • {Sumac of the non-poisonous variety} YMA => YAM.
  • {Challenge for the washing machine} STAIN => SATIN.
  • {“___ et labora”} ORA => OAR.
  • {Enough} AMPLE => MAPLE.

well, that actually is seven such entries—promising!—but unfortunately, they don’t seem to make a five-word sentence. reordering them from top to bottom in the grid gives SATIN OAR PAIN SAT PARS DAM MAPLE YAM. i like that two of them are PAIN and DAM, which definitely sound like they could be parts of a sentence matt hopes we wouldn’t say after solving the meta.

it feels like we’re onto something, though. could it be some variation of this? maybe just swapping the first two letters (“point A” and “point B”)? that doesn’t work for seven different entries.

there probably does have to be something involving the P’s. there are lots of them in the grid, more than you’d expect. combine that with possible ways of parsing “POINT A” and it just seems like there will be something there.

it occurs to me that i haven’t given much thought to the title. what does “just get around to it” mean? getting around could be indicating something about turning… or perhaps reversing. i briefly considered whether “point” meant compass point—turning W’s into E’s and N’s into S’s. i don’t think that’s it. maybe it’s turning POINT around to become TNOIP? ugh.

point A and point B might be the start and end of words. should we reverse those? that’s sort of “getting around”. but it doesn’t use the P’s in the grid.

well, i guess i’m stumped and it’s 12. let me know what i missed.

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22 Responses to MGWCC #513

  1. Giovanni P. says:

    You have to interpret the 7 “[a]TO[b]” four letter words as points in the grid, and find words that match them. For instance, STOP can be parsed as S TO P, which matches with S-TOO-P.

    STOA–S TO A– S T A

    Take the in between letters in order of the four letter words to get THAT ONE WAS TOO HARD.

    I don’t get the parsing in an unusual way either.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 219 right answers this week.

    The key was the seven ?TO? words in the grid. AtoM, AtoP, EtoN, StoA, StoP, StoW, OtoE.

    Keyword being TO, move (point A)TO(point B) seven times, e.g. find the other seven words that start and end with those seven letters. In grid order: eTHAn sTa sONEw aWASp sTOOp oHARe aDm = THAT ONE WAS TOO HARD.

  3. Eric says:

    I’m stumped as well but I’m guessing the answer has to do with seven occurrences of #to*:

    How to parse them into a five-word sentence was beyond me.

  4. joon says:

    that one was indeed too hard (for me).

  5. Cindy says:

    “TO” is the key. Seven four letter words in the grid with “to” in the center. Stoa = S to A, Stow = S to W, etc.

    Now find seven corresponding words that start and end with the letters, sta, sonew and so on.


    That one was too hard!

  6. Giovanni P. says:

    Do you think joon gets how it works yet?

  7. Matthew G. says:

    Very nice meta.

    I found the seven [ltr]-TO-[ltr] words in the grid right away, but I had very little solving time this week and didn’t have a chance to get back to it to figure out what to do with them. I was busy solving something much harder than a meta this weekend: how to take both of my kids on a road trip without my spouse along!

  8. Eric K says:

    Thank you, Joon, for showing your thought process, even though you didn’t solve it. I’m somewhat gratified to know that you went through many of the same pitfalls as me. :)

    I did eventually solve it…mostly because of seeing the stacked “TO”s on 44A (“ATOP”) and 51A. But then I highlighted all of the occurrences of “TO” – including “TOMATO” and “STOOP” and “TORME”. Then hours later I was at the gym minding my own business and 19A (“AWASP”) came into my head and I was off to the races. I’ll admit the only thing I got from the Aimee Mann stuff was the word “seven” in the clue – the point A to point B reference frankly took me more incorrect places than correct places. :)

  9. Paul Coulter says:

    It was easy enough to find the seven _TO_ words, but like others, I floundered for a long time with how to use them. I had my Hail Mary guess ready in case nothing worked – “There’s no POINT to this!” Then I woke up Sunday morning with what seemed like an improbable idea. It turned out to be the correct technique. It also explains why the fill in some areas was so woeful. I liked this one, especially since I haven’t had a clean five-week month in a very long time. Thanks, Matt.

  10. Amy L says:

    I found the grid really hard and didn’t finish it until last night. I’ve never heard Aimee Mann’s music (besides, she spells her name wrong), I never heard of Marmot clothing, I had no idea Shrek had a Scottish accent, and many more. I’m glad I didn’t spend much more time on the puzzle because there’s no way I would have gotten it, but it is very clever.

    • pgw says:

      > I’ve never heard Aimee Mann’s music (besides, she spells her name wrong)

      I’ll concede the weirdness of her name spelling but you should check out her music, it’s very good. If you’ve seen the movie Magnolia you have indeed heard it, and if you’ve seen The Big Lebowski you’ve seen her needing help ordering lingonberry pancakes because she can’t speak English.

      This one was tricky, and the fill did indeed get a little hairy. That’s not surprising — Matt packed 17 theme entries, using 87 letters (they add up to 90 but three are used twice) into a standard 15×15 grid! With 40 black squares that means 47% of the actual letters in the grid were in theme entries. And only ONE of those theme entries was a down; 41% of the acrosses are theme. This must have been an absolute bear to construct.

      Kudos Matt! I hope you had some ALCOHOL to celebrate when you finished – or ALTERNATIVELY, maybe a nice springtime, wind-in-your-hair drive in a 1968 CORVETTE COUPE?

  11. David R says:

    I was kind of hoping that the fill letters that made up the words were to be hidden in the cluing of the grid answers. The first couple actually worked.

  12. Garrett says:

    I agree with Joon — that grid was exceptionally difficult to fill, especially in the middle area and the southwest corner. In that corner I had O’Hare right away with the HAR and THE crossing, but that was it. I had POEM above and that finally helped me to guess ETHAN, MERAW, and SONEW, but I was like, “EOM, WTF is EOM in a subject line?”

    In the middle area, I was already hosed by putting in AMA for [Group for docs], and I had written-in GOAL for [Lionel Messi’s one hundred]. I did not know the drummer (and even when I got it I’ve still never heard of him), nor [Ballet great Marius], had no idea what the [Starbuck’s treat] was going to be, and never heard of [Yashin of soccer or Polugaevksy of chess]. My cell reception was crud where I was solving this, so I wasn’t going to be googling everything, so I put it away and worked on the Saturday Stumper instead.

    Sunday I googled a few things and finally realized it was not MARMAT and SAREK but MARMOT and SHREK! (Gee, I saw that twice and I don’t recall a Scottish accent!).

    So then I put it away again and did not look at it until Monday. Finally, I started to see the _TO_ formations. I went to bed last night (early) without getting around to it (the meta answer).

    This morning I kept flaming-out on ETON and STOA when I finally noticed SoneW from that blasted SW corner fitting STOW. And bang, EthaN popped out at me. Had the rest inside of 60 seconds. Wow!

    • Andy says:

      LOL at Sarek speaking in a Scottish accent!

      Me mind t’ yer mind, me thoughts t’ yer thoughts!

  13. Dan Seidman says:

    The entry AWASP really stood out, and I was thinking the answer could be something like What a waste of time. I did eventually solve it, but it seems for a week five nobody who figured it out should think it was too hard.

    • Cindy says:

      I agree completely. I thought it was just right. I used the exclamation point for emphasis. I will admit that the 4 letter “to” words were not my first path. There are quite a few more grid entries that contain “to” forward or backward. It was after I made a list of all of those that the four letter ones jumped out at me.

    • Garrett says:

      AWASP, ASTEAK, and MERAW all stood out, I thought.

  14. Daniel Barkalow says:

    I found the 7 aTOb answers, and then looked for other places in the grid where a and b were in a line. Missing the across clues in the SW corner, I found places where there were trigrams in between a and b (not necessarily at the ends of an answer), and I thought it would be legit to have to build a sentence out of some trigrams without ordering information, so I came up with… “tat one was flo ssutoopit” (rotate, so new, a wasp, teflon, assume, stoop, spit at). Sure, I bet Matt hopes I don’t say that, but I doubt it’s right. Then I noticed ethan and o’hare and realized I was the one being ssutoopit.

    Pretty sure this was my first 5-solve month, so I didn’t find it too hard, anyway.

  15. Sarah T says:

    Wow, Joon, you’re seldom stumped. Makes me feel much better for not even having a guess.

  16. Abby Braunsdorf says:

    I think “moved” is a distraction here. It led me down all the same dead ends folks already mentioned. The title was better, but by then I was, literally, running in circles. :-(

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