MGWCC #519

crossword 3:06
meta 3 days 

 

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hello and welcome to episode #519 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Road Trip”. for this week 2 puzzle, matt challenges us to name a flower. okay. what are the theme answers? the five long acrosses are all countries, all clued via a city:

  • {Belgrade’s country (once)} YUGOSLAVIA. nowadays, of course, it’s in serbia.
  • {Roseau’s country} DOMINICA.
  • {Jeddah’s country} SAUDI ARABIA. i don’t quite know why jeddah was the only non-capital city used in a theme clue.
  • {Bratislava’s country} SLOVAKIA.
  • {Antananarivo’s country (this one’s a little different)} MADAGASCAR.

this meta took me quite a while. in particular, it took repeated effort. when i finished the grid, i had nothing. i thought about the title and wondered if the meta might have to do with which side of the road they drive on in these countries, but couldn’t really get anything to work. i knew it didn’t have to do with actually driving to these places, because dominica and madagascar are both island nations.

the next day, i came back to it, and immediately noticed that each of the countries contains a car make:

  • YUGOSLAVIA has YUGO. this seems like cheating, a little, since the make was named for the country.
  • DOMINICA has MINI
  • SAUDI ARABIA has AUDI
  • SLOVAKIA has KIA
  • MADAGASCAR doesn’t contain a make, but it does end with CAR itself.

what do those spell? um… YMAKC. that’s not a flower, nor does it anagram to a flower or anything else that looks like a flower. so this felt like progress, but again i was stuck.

after a third visit to the puzzle, i finally got it: you’re not supposed to do anything in particular with the car makes at all. just put the pieces of the theme together to make a flower: CARNATION. get it? car + nation? i suppose it is prom season.

i’m still a little undecided about how much i like this meta. it’s a nice find, certainly, to come up with five (or 4+1, i guess) country names that contain car makes. there are not so many of each to choose from (around 200 of the former and a few dozen of the latter), and to find five symmetric ones is borderline miraculous. i did still want to do something with those makes, though, so the actual theme answer, while a nice charade, was something of a let-down. maybe if the instructions had been something along the lines of “the contest answer is a flower that would make a good alternate title for the puzzle”? that might have made for a nicer aha.

bits & pieces:

  • {Clothing only worn when eating} BIB. matt… you have a baby. you know this is not true.
  • {1985 hit whose video features the Pointer Sisters dressed as men} DARE ME. not familiar with this song. nor the {1982 Stevie Wonder hit} DO I DO.
  • {Jovi or Iver preceder} BON. interesting juxtaposition of (more) 1980s music and 2010s music.
  • {Word seen after a number in sport fishing} POUNDER. i wonder if matt considered IRAS/ROUNDER instead of IPAS and this.
  • {Large merchant ships} ARGOSIES. this is a beautiful and unusual word with an fascinating etymology.

that’s all i’ve got this week. how’d you all like this one?

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94 Responses to MGWCC #519

  1. jefe says:

    omg i feel super dumb

  2. mlpdyer says:

    I went with car name that is also a flower – LOTUS…fail!

    • Margaret says:

      I also went with Lotus. I couldn’t decide if the last theme answer was S CAR (like the Tesla S) or just CAR but decided it didn’t matter because the answer was obviously Lotus, lol. It’s a car! It’s a flower! It has weird vowels (no letter E) just like the other cars!

    • Bob Kerfuffle says:

      I sent in LOTUS also, and was very surprised when I didn’t see my name!

    • Garrett says:

      My Hail Mary was TULIP

    • Andrew says:

      I also went with Lotus for the same reason

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      I’m going to send LOTUS to the panel (about 45 entries), but it doesn’t address that all the entries are countries so I don’t think they’ll accept it. But we’ll see.

    • Brian Cross says:

      I too went with LOTUS, as it is a flower and a make of car, and is the national flower of several countries (India, Egypt). It felt like just enough of a match to think that was the answer, but admittedly not a 100% solid fit.

  3. B Hamren says:

    Between this one and Matt’s WSJ puzzle I think it is his worst weekend ever. I didn’t like either meta.

  4. Matthew G. says:

    Like joon, it took me three days to get this. I facepalmed when it clicked, and if Twitter is any indication, it seems that was a common experience. Everyone leapt straight to overthinking this Week 2.

    Up until the late click, my blind stab was going to be SUMAC, since the cars hidden in the first three themers start with Y-M-A.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      I’ve gotten a lot of emails in recent months complaining that Week 2s are too easy, so I thought this would be a nice extra-stepper. But we’re definitely going back to easy Week 2’s after this.

      • Flinty Steve says:

        Just for the record, I would never complain that a meta was too easy. I liked this one just fine!

      • AK37 says:

        Tough for a Week 2? Possibly. Maybe just a little different. But no need to make them easier!!!!!

      • KZ Condor says:

        Ugh, Matt, bro, please don’t punish us all because of a few complainers. I would much rather risk being stumped by a week 2 than solve it in 30 seconds. Tough is the stuff.

        • Matthew G. says:

          I concur, KZ Condor, and I say that as someone who is not exactly shining in his 2018 MGWCC performance so far. I like everything after Week 1 to feel earned.

        • Jeremy Smith says:

          Agree!

  5. Garrett says:

    It wasn’t until this morning when I was talking to JJL (because I had nothing) that I finally said (after we compared notes) that I’d be very unhappy if it turns out that having car manufacturers embedded in four of the five theme fills turned out to be irrelevant. That’s one heck of a red herring.

    I was trying everything including spelling with the first letter of the manufacturer’s city and then of different models of the manufacturer’s car. The Yugo is particularly nasty, as the design came from Fiat which bought Innocenti (the Yugo is also known as the Innocenti Koral, but actually made by Zastava).

    Oh, and by the way, besides CAR in Madagascar, there is also DAGA, an automobile company.

    https://www.zaubacorp.com/company/DAGA-AUTOMOBILES-PRIVATE-LIMITED/U34103WB1998PTC088536

    If it had been four random countries with no embedded automobile manufacturers plus MadagasCAR I might have twigged to this meta. A colossal waste of time working on it.

    • Matthew G. says:

      Yeah, I took some crazy detours before getting to the simple answer. I even went so far as to consider that the “flower” we were looking for was really a river, since constructors occasionally use “flower” as a punny misdirecting clue for a river or stream. Did you know that Bratislava and Belgrade are both on the Danube, and that Roseau is on an eponymous river? I didn’t, but I do now!

      • Garrett says:

        Yeah, I tried going down the river angle also. Like maybe the names of rivers in these places would spell a flower or another river.

      • BarbaraK says:

        Since Matt’s WSJ had “Hawaiian flower” for LAVA, I briefly wondered if the answer was going to turn out to be a volcano.

        • Teri L says:

          I put Lotus. Glad I wasn’t alone. Woke up the middle of last night w/ the Lava idea, too! And WSJ was wonderful!

      • lisepac says:

        I hoped I could find a route to MAGMA as the solution, based on Matt’s WSJ contest puzzle this week, in which 1A (lava) was clued as “Hawaiian flower.”

        Other complications: sLOVAkia (Wikipedia: “The Chevrolet Lova RV is a subcompact MPV based on the Chevrolet Sail. The vehicle, launched in 2016, is produced by SAIC GM, a joint venture between American General Motors and SAIC of China.”) A car model, not manufacturer, but….

        And: madAGAscar (Wikipedia: “The Aktiengesellschaft für Automobilbau (= corporation for automotive engineering, abbreviation A.G.A. or AGA) was a German producer of cars in the 1920s in the German capital of Berlin.”) No longer in production, but….

        I couldn’t let go of the idea that the initials letters of the cars would somehow yield the answer. Knew I was overthinking for a week 2, but I just couldn’t untwist my brain.

    • Mutman says:

      I thought the reference was ‘S Car’ — a throwback to Chrysler series from years ago.

      • I had thought it was a reference to the defunct British car company ASCARI. The I isn’t in MADAGASCAR, but I figured, that’s what makes it a little different from the others.

  6. Tyler Hinman says:

    I don’t understand the hate for this one. It ran on the wrong week, but other than that I have no problem with it.

    • Matthew G. says:

      Spillover frustration from the WSJ meta, maybe? I agree with you–this one was fine. I laughed when it clicked, and my meandering only made it funnier. It’s peculiar that so many people overthought it, but I can’t think of any reason to pin that on the puzzle itself.

      • joon says:

        i don’t think it’s peculiar at all that people “overthought” it—generally speaking, if you notice a bunch of (different) hidden things in the theme answers, you *are* supposed to do something with those hidden things.

        that’s why i think maybe the instructions are to blame rather than the meta itself. the puzzle answer was a flower that described the meta mechanism rather than being a word extracted from it.

        • Garrett says:

          I didn’t think of it that way. It actually makes me like the meta much better. Thanks for that.

        • Matt Gaffney says:

          I was surprised by the negative response to the WSJ meta, but I’m mystified by the negative response to this one.

          That you had to do something unexpected with the hidden words instead of the usual thing — isn’t that why people solve these? I’m amazed that this is seen as a flaw.

          • Slowpoke Rodriguez says:

            Please, please, please. Ignore the haters.

            The puzzling world is full of people who stuff their pockets with sour grapes, so if anything defies their expectations or the conventions they’ve come to cherish, they become poisonous detracting voice-boxes. And this is despite the fact, that wondrous defiance of expectations is probably what fostered their love of puzzles in the first place. At least it did for me.

            Keep tricksy week 2s alive or don’t. Just keep your creative mindset as your creative mindset without letting it be beaten into submission by others’ demands.

            Love,
            Slowpoke Rodiguez aka CanNibble aka Jesse

    • Laura B says:

      Agreed. We get one of these every single week of the year, for pennies per puzzle. The WSJ puzzles are even free. So there’s an off-week and the puzzle isn’t perfect — no reason to go all worst episode ever. “I missed the answer to a Week 2 meta! Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.”

      • Eric Conrad says:

        Agreed: metas offer the best bang per buck (by far) for entertainment options, IMO. I find myself giving fives to counteract the ones frustrated people leave when they miss a meta.

    • Ben says:

      Seriously? MadagasCAR?
      Stupid. Really badly written.

  7. Neil B says:

    DOH

  8. John says:

    This has a goofy feel that i think is well below your MGWCC-quality norm. Wasted a lot of time looking at badges, logos, maps, factories. I know a lot about a Yugo now, which is embarrassing. Ugh. I didn’t get it though and so i’m sure this is tinged with sour grapes. I did the WSJ one too and that was even worse. William Tell among a bunch of modern, well-known professional athletes? Everyone has a bad week. Matt’s usual excellence is a burden as well as a gift. Looking forward to an inevitable rebound.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Metas can’t have a “goofy feel,” good to know.

      Guest Constructor Month is just around the corner. Sounds like everyone needs some serious recalibration.

  9. Brian Hattenbach says:

    I don’t understand why Matt put in Madagascar as a 5th theme answer. If it was different from the others and not necessary to solve the meta, then why not just use four theme answers?

    • joon says:

      the set of four without MADAGASCAR can’t be placed symmetrically into the grid.

    • hibob says:

      The car in Madagascar was actually a huge help for me. It kept me from looking at countries of origin, logos, cities or anything else associated with an actual make. I ended up looking a a list of flowers and saw carnation. I laughed at how basic the answer was.
      I think people don’t like this because the answer is a pun and not arrived at by some amazing word play and solving abilities.

  10. Mutman says:

    I too overthought this. There was a week 2 meta about a year back that took 3 steps, if I recall.

    I kept looking for step 2. Five US states mentioned in puzzle. Was that it? Nope.

    Why were capitals used in the clues except for Riyadh? Was that it? Nope.

    I thought we might travel from one city to another country, but with an island in there that fell flat.

    Just had a duh-oh moment and saw cars in nations and it all clicked. I even thought it might be pink carnation when I saw Roseau. But that was overthinking.

    • John says:

      Yes, you had to think “nation”. I was thinking countries, cities, autos – the name nation never came to mind. Its a weird way to have to get a meta.

  11. Jim Schooler says:

    Car-Nation. Head slap.

    I noticed to car names right away, but also found that each of the countries has a volcano, and with Kilauea getting so much notice in the news that’s what I submitted (flow-er).

  12. Jeremy Smith says:

    This was definitely in my wheelhouse. It felt like a Week 1 to me. Yet I have trouble with metas that many others consider easy. Funny the way that works. I was surprised that there were less than 300 successful solvers. Nice meta. Thanks Matt!

    • Amanda says:

      This kind of meta, like the Four and a Half Men one, is really hard for me for some reason. I just don’t think this way…yet.

    • Jim S says:

      Same for me. I finished the puzzle and noticed “GASCAR” at the end of the final themer. Went to the instructions and perhaps lucked out in that “carnation” was the first flower to pop into my mind. The “car” overlap made this one very very quick. I’m usually not ahead of the curve, so I was shocked that there were more than 10 incorrect answers by the time I finished the puzzle Fri evening. Guess I should request more punny metas from now on!

  13. BarbaraK says:

    Wondering why Jeddah instead of Riyadh, I thought about the VW Jetta, but couldn’t find anything similar in the other cities.

    I got this one after a good night’s sleep by looking at a list of flowers.

  14. Jon says:

    The double usage of CAR as both the hidden auto in the theme answer (madagasCAR) and the theme answer (CARnation) seems inelegant to me. Between this one and the WSJ this week, not the best week for Matt reception-wise.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Sheesh. Tough crowd. I even put (This one’s a little different) in the clue.

      • Jon says:

        Yes, but if it’s a no-no to use a fill word in a clue, then I think the same thing applies to metas. Maybe that’s just me. If “carnation” is what you’re trying to get to, then I think ‘car’ can’t be a hidden term. Gotta go for car synonyms (bus, vehicle, ride, van, auto, motor, etc). Looking a list of 10-letter nations, you’re definitely limited. Transylvania is 12-letters and it’d be hard to call it a nation. Hence why you went with former nation Yugoslavia. Maybe you go with Upper Volta and try to use Volt from Chevy Volt? Or omit Yugoslavia and just go with 3-themers? Is that an option? I’m not sure since I’m not a constructor. Obviously constructing a meta is supremely difficult. Just wish you weren’t so defensive. Or do you truly think you’re infallible?

        • Matt Gaffney says:

          Jon, your comments on this one and the WSJ one are aggressive. With this one I think you’re getting close to baiting, so chill out.

          On the crossword front, everything you wrote in this comment is … unhelpful. I couldn’t use the Chevy VOLT because that’s a model, not a make. I couldn’t use “bus” or “van” as a hint since not all of these car makes produce buses or vans. Three theme entries only isn’t enough. Etc.

          • Jon says:

            I assure you that last comment was written from a place of sympathizing with you & how hard constructing is. Tone is hard to illustrate and usually inferred.

            Telling me my thoughts are unhelpful is aggressive. But I won’t take that attack on me personally. You don’t know me nor know the matter-of-fact tone I use in my daily life. Perhaps take a deep breath and ask yourself “maybe these useless thoughts are offered because this solver genuinely doesn’t know the rules or hints or ways to construct a crossword puzzle. Perhaps this is a teaching moment. A moment I could use to further educate lovers of crossword puzzles.”

            I know Volt isn’t a make, but neither is CAR. Thanks for letting me know that 3 theme entries isn’t enough. Now I know.

            Also, for the record, this post is also written from a matter-of-fact & calm tone. So please try to read it with that tone. I mean no offense.

            This is a comment section of a crossword puzzle blog & solvers offer their opinions. I’m genuinely concerned for you, Matt, because you seem to go after those whose opinions you don’t like. I wish you’d interact with your solvers in a less confrontational manner. (Yes, I’m still writing in a matter-of-fact tone)

            You’re the best meta constructor out there, that’s for sure. I bow to your talents. But even Michael Jordan had off games.

            • Matt says:

              I didn’t meant to say your thoughts were unhelpful, I meant your suggestions for the meta were. I thought that was a proper choice of word.

              And I don’t think writing “Sheesh — tough crowd” to you is defensive. Quite the opposite.

              Take your last shot and then we’re done. Make it a good one!

            • anon says:

              Matt – this constant “no, I’m right, the puzzles aren’t flawed”, calling constructive criticism “unhelpful,” etc., is a bad look. There have been whole calendar years where like seven of the top-10 rated puzzles on this site have been your metas. All of your metas are reviewed here and often get by far the most comments of any puzzle for that given week. As a constructor myself, I’m constantly in awe of your work and how consistently top-notch your puzzles are and how long you’ve been doing it. I would absolutely kill to have the grand majority of my work not only regularly reviewed, but so tremendously critically received on this site.

              In my experience, I’ve learned that I’ve made the most improvements when solvers give feedback that isn’t 100% laudatory. If people tell me week after week that I’m a genius and my puzzles are spectacular, there really isn’t room for further growth.
              A little humility goes a long way.

              Just my two cents. Keep up the terrific puzzling.

            • Matt Gaffney says:

              anon,

              I don’t agree with some of your characterizations about what I’ve said, but OK points taken, and especially the one about how tough a grind it can be to gain an audience. My first week at this I had I think 36 entries and was thrilled about it. I don’t forget that, but the reminder helps.

              What can I say — I put a lot of time and energy into these and so do the solvers. Sometimes it gets a little heated. I will keep your counsel in mind next time it does.

        • Ben says:

          I’m completely on Jon’s side. Matt has had no problem being aggressively assholish towards other constructors’ puzzles, so don’t feel too bad about his whining.

      • Ben says:

        You should have put (this one is really stupid) in the clue.

        • joon says:

          i think you’ve made your feelings known. please stop.

          • Ben says:

            Oh, this is only because it is Matt Gaffney.
            We go back.
            A few years ago he sat in for a week for Rex Parker.
            He was ridiculously rude towards the constructors he reviewed.
            So I think he deserves every dig he gets.

  15. Brian says:

    Count me among those who worked on this all weekend before it clicked. I’m new to this puzzle contest, so I don’t have a good feel for the increase in difficulty and was getting nervous that a “week 2” was so hard. I laughed out loud when I got it (in a parking lot walking to my car – must have been a sight). Liked the puzzle but wish I would have seen it sooner!

    Also, how about UPPER VOLTA for that last spot? Does that not work because the actual name is (was) Republic of Upper Volta?

  16. Gwinns says:

    Also overthought this, had to put it down and come back to it.
    Then I showed it to my 10-year-old, and he got it immediately.

  17. Amanda says:

    I thought the last one was “a little different” because the car name was backward. After some Googling I figured it was an Opel ADAM.

  18. Having the Ford EDSELS in the grid was also a bit of a red herring.

  19. Reid says:

    Speaking as a DNFer, I’m with Joon. I don’t think the meta itself was below average, the instructions just felt like they weren’t as helpful as they could have been.

  20. Rachel says:

    I think there should be a mandatory 24-hour-reflection-before-comment period for meta DNF-ers…. like waiting a full day after a game to talk to your kid’s coach.

    In my opinion, the only thing that’s really “wrong” with this meta is that lots of people (including me) are guilty of waaaay over-thinking it (no doubt a result of having done too many metas). When it finally clicked I felt like a total dope. It’s basically a Dixie-cup level pun/joke. Matt wasn’t even looking for some exotic flower that you’d have to trip over on Google. Ask an average person to name ten flowers (if they can even get to ten) and carnation will be one of them.

    • Andy F says:

      From my angle, it seems like it’s sort of a Week 1 (or light Week 2) meta principle: it’s a pun that describes the wordplay or the gimmick in the puzzle. Later weeks will often require digging into the grid or the cluing or some other sort of deeper manipulation. Earlier weeks will often be theme answers that form a set (recent ones with Friends and Sex and the City) or clues that share a gimmick (CoCo and this one).

      So I think this was a earlier week puzzle that he clued in such a way so as to obscure the meta, or make it otherwise seem deeper than it is, which I don’t think is entirely fair.

    • John says:

      While this is undoubtedly true, its completely unworkable as no one pays attention to this blog 24 hours later. You aren’t going to see this, which is proof of the point.

  21. Andy F says:

    I didn’t manage to nail this one, though I considered submitting “LOTUS”, as others have.

    I understand some of the criticism of the WSJ meta (William Tell being the outlier theme answer, Hogan ambiguity, and the debate over canonical names of the sports), but I was able to piece it together in much the same way that Matt imagined. In the end, it might have been a little clunky, but I think it worked as a multi-stage, “gettable” meta that was reasonably clued.

    This one ended up being simpler than I would have expected, and feels a bit unsatisfying. The answer just being “Car-nation” feels like a Week 1 extraction, but with, like a Week 3 premise. It took me a second (and parsing the title) to see the cars in the countries. I was, likewise, mystified in the choice of Jeddah. I was, likewise, bamboozled by the “flower” perhaps cluing a river. That one of the cities was “ROSEau” led me down the garden path. I tried looking at rivers in the countries, countries of origin of the hidden makes, letters below the cars (the “roads”), and etc. Like Joon said, if this were clued as “A flower that could be an alternate name for this puzzle” I think it would have been much more fair, but it would have been a Week 1 principle (car-nations) with Week 1 execution (a pretty explicit clue). Instead, Matt took a Week 1 principle and, seemingly, sort of red herringed it into something harder than a Week 2.

    But I still love Matt’s stuff. Never fear, he’ll have half a dozen entries for next year’s Orcas regardless!

  22. Scott says:

    I struggled with this one, trying many different things, and never got it. When I read this blog, I was initially annoyed at the answer. But as I reflect on it, I think it is fair. I just went too deep and missed the obvious top layer. Thanks Matt.

  23. Sherman says:

    Aww, man. I got the cars right away, but never thought of car + nation.

  24. Norm H says:

    Do I wish that a Yugo weren’t named after YUGOSLAVIA and that there were a fifth car make rather than the word CAR in the final theme answer? Sure — it would have been more elegant that way. But since neither of those scenarios were possible, it seems odd to wish it were otherwise.

    Anyone who claims they missed this one because of supposed design flaws is full of nonsense. You missed a Week 2 — it happens (certainly has to me). Get over it.

  25. David R says:

    I did the ultimate backing into this one. I saw that there were five states in the clues corresponding to the five themed answers. I checked out the five states flowers and none of them connected to the theme fill. Ohio’s state flower was CARNATION and I looked at it and said hmm there is CAR in it. I must have sat there for ten seconds and then the light bulb went off.

    What a week for Matt Gaffney meta controversy, loving the passion of all the solvers. Mother’s Day weekend 2018 I was there for it all.

  26. Pomona47 says:

    Wow. The puzzles this week did not make a big impression on me but the reactions certainly did. Every puzzle can’t be the best — demanding perfection week after week is not reasonable or sustainable. Crossword puzzles are difficult to write and meta crosswords even moreso. As someone who is tentatively dipping her toes into crossword and meta construction, it is especially disheartening to see this criticism. If Mr. Gaffney can’t catch a break on a “just okay” puzzle how can we expect new constructors to be willing to put their amateur crosswords into the world so that we have more puzzles to solve?

    I did solve both of this week’s puzzles, but I don’t always get them right. My most frustrating MGWCC was one that had me up late for days Googling “Chuck Hagel sex thing,” which I’m sure put me on a list. Even worse: I didn’t solve the puzzle. My streak broke and I was angry with myself. However, if I could easily solve every puzzle each week I don’t think it would be as much fun. The challenge is what makes them so great!

    • KZ Condor says:

      Ha ha – I’m on that same list! I did manage to solve that puzzle at the 11th hour, though. Totally agree that it’s not really a puzzle if you know you’re going to find the answer.

      I tried my hand and writing metas, too, putting out a weekly one for a year. I only released them to a small audience, but I found it pretty rewarding. If you are looking for test solvers for your constructions I’d be interested in seeing them.

    • Mutman says:

      Then Jangler must be a very bored man … (note: this was meant as a lame joke — not any implications to Jangler’s pysche)

  27. Wayne says:

    Holy cow. Is there something in the water?

    Matt is without-fail vocally self critical in this forum. So he’s certainly earned the right to stand up for himself when people are all up in his grill.

    For the most part, it seems like the people who missed the meta did so because they over-thought it. So, saying that it was too hard seems rich. The solve required us to consider the theme answers as a class. It’s more common for the mechanism to involve extracting elements from *each* theme answer. So, yeah, unusual but not really hard.

    Sure, it wasn’t the most elegant grid ever. But it was fine. And within the ballpark of Week 2 difficulty.

  28. DJB says:

    I liked this one because it required us to do something we don’t normally do. Rather than read off the first letters of the hidden cars, it required a different approach. When the first letters of the cars didn’t work, I tried looking at the letters or ‘road’ under the cars. I tried looking at whether cars in each country were left hand drive, or right hand drive, and then look at the letters to the left or right of the cars, or the left-most or right-most letters of the cars themselves. Finally hitting on the right answer after a few days, rather than a few seconds, having tried things that didn’t work, in my view is much more satisfying than a meta that gives itself up immediately. Yes, it probably played more like a Week 3, but that’s fine with me. Thanks Matt for being able to come up with different concepts or novel extraction mechanisms (or both) each week.

  29. David Glasser says:

    I got pretty distracted by the fact that the countries where the hidden cars are made almost spell YUGO – Yugoslavia, UK, Germany, then of course South Korea and “car”.

  30. David Stein says:

    Wow, just checked in here and I can’t believe the intensity of the criticism. It was hard for a week 2, and it did take me a ridiculous amount of time, but come on, it’s a fun, different meta. That’s why I enjoy doing these – to try and think about things from different angles. If it was always indexing or the like, these would get boring, Thanks Matt for switching things up!

  31. hibob says:

    Can there be a new ORCA category for the most comments on a single puzzle?

  32. Dave Olson says:

    For me, the Madagascar entry was what allowed me to solve the meta. “This one’s a little different” puzzled me a long time, until it suddenly became obvious that what was different was that the generic word “car” was contained in the entry rather than a particular brand name. So that made me totally focus on the word “car” to the exclusion of everything else, and almost immediately “carnation” emerged as a “d’oh!” moment. Earlier, I thought of the Russian Lada (a true gem of auto engineering, that), and thought what was different was that one letter had been changed to “Mada”, but that got me nowhere. It was a good puzzle, despite some of the carping here.

  33. Lotus Eater says:

    Per Matt, those who submitted Lotus will receive credit.

  34. Bill Twardy says:

    I spotted the car names right away on Friday but had to sleep on it before I connected car and nation. With an audible groan I submitted the answer and was happy to see my name on the board a few hours later. Didn’t fare as well with the WSJ puzzle.

  35. peedee says:

    I worked all weekend on this and spent hours looking at maps of the countries in the grid and the cities in the clues. I sent over an hour on a map of Jeddah, certain that I was going to find something. For some reason, I was certain the “flower” was going to turn out to be a river, something that flowed, and was trying to associate bodies of water with all the different cities. I felt really silly when the nickel finally dropped.

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