MGWCC #536

crossword 3:21  
meta 5 min 


hello and welcome to episode #536 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Part Time”. i solved this week 1 puzzle without the instructions, and for once, that was the perfect amount of added challenge. what are the theme answers? well, there are five long acrosses in the grid:

  • {Been unable to achieve one’s goal} FALLEN SHORT. the clue was deftly written to indicate the past participle rather than the past tense (FELL SHORT).
  • {Baileys or Carolans, notably} IRISH CREAM.
  • {Really wish you hadn’t} REGRET IN A BIG WAY. sort of a roll-your-own, or at least borderline. it seems to me that “regret” is not especially high on the list of verbs often followed by “in a big way”.
  • {Style of Tiffany lamps} ART NOUVEAU.
  • {Storage containers so named for their strength} MUSCLE RACKS. i wasn’t familiar with this term, and in fact i wondered if its relationship to MUSCLE CAR (as RACKS starts with CAR reversed) was the essence of the theme.

it took me a few minutes of squinting at the answers, and the title, before RETINA jumped out at me from the middle of REGRET IN A BIG WAY. as you can see, each of the theme answers contains part of the eye: LENS, IRIS, RETINA, UVEA (nice find!) and SCLERA (whoa). since the contest instructions do indeed ask for a part of the body, we’re done here.

to me, this is just about the perfect week 1 meta. it’s an elegant touch that the meta uses “part” doubly, in the sense that the eye is a part of the body and that the mechanism is parts of the eye. (tangentially: i find it interesting that you wouldn’t describe the sclera or retina as “part of the body”, even though it clearly is. you’d say “part of the eye”.) i wonder if matt considered any other parts of the eye for theme answers, such as this one.

bits & pieces:

  • {1976 miniseries starring Sally Field in the title role} SYBIL. i’m a very good speller, but i can never remember which of sibyl/sybil is the prophetess and which is the (more common) spelling of a woman’s name. to add to the confusion, sometimes the name is spelled sibyl (like the prophetess), and then there’s also cybill shepherd. looking it up just now, i have learned that she was named after her grandfather cy and father bill. no relation at all to sibyl or sybil!
  • {Mailer of manuscripts} NORMAN. it’s been a long time since i’ve fallen for the disguised capitals trick, but this one got me good. in fact, it got me almost as bad as another clue for NORMAN back in mgwcc #112, {Cousins of the literati}. that one turned out to be (spoiler alert for meta from 8 years ago) a theme answer.
  • {Flack in the music industry} ROBERTA. this one did not get me.
  • {Michelle of “Crazy Rich Asians”} YEOH. and plenty of other movies, but this one is particularly zeitgeisty at the nonce. i wonder if anybody got tripped up where YEOH crossed {Jason Momoa’s role on “Game of Thrones”} DROGO at the second O?

that’s all for me. have a great week!

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7 Responses to MGWCC #536

  1. Scott says:

    This would have been a great puzzle to run on the first Friday in 2020. Get it? 20/20 vision.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 535 right answers.

    I saw CORN EARWORM but figured MUSCLE RACKS was enough legit-but-not-real-great theme entry material.

  3. Jonesy says:

    I found this to be on the harder side for a week 1 (ie felt more like a week 2) – but the number of correct answers probably means I was just slow to pick up on it.

  4. Big Cheese says:

    I first fumbled around trying to make RIBS work. Title connected … (Spare) Part and (Spare) Time with Spare Ribs. Also, Last part of 1st long clue, Short (Ribs), and last clue Racks (of Ribs). First letters of middle clue, Regret in a Big Way, almost spelled RIB, but since it wasn’t clean, I kept looking and saw the eye references.

  5. Old Meta says:

    “particularly zeitgeisty at the nonce”

    LOL!! Nice.

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