MGWCC #537

crossword 2:56  
meta 5 min 


hello and welcome to episode #537 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Please Make a Note of It”. for this week 2 puzzle, matt challenges us to find a three-word note from me to solvers. what are the theme answers? that’s not entirely clear, but it must be true that the exclamation point after the last square is related somehow to the theme. the last across entry is {Common type of note} POST-IT, and it’s the key to the puzzle: we need to find all instances of IT in the grid and reinterpret “post” to mean: take the letter in the following square:

  • {Sparta and Singapore, for two} CITY-STATES.
  • {Father of Michael, Sonny, Connie, and Fredo} VITO.
  • {Source for songs} ITUNES.
  • {One-bite dessert} PETITFOUR.
  • {Edible triangles} DORITOS.
  • {Begin a round of golf, casually} TEE IT UP.
  • {They’re called in court} WITNESSES.
  • {Auditor’s calculation} EBITDA. an acronym for earnings before interest, taxes, debt, and amortization. maybe. (i’m doing this from memory.)
  • {___ Field (where the Mets play)} CITI. going to have to ding matt here for the CITY/CITI dupe. reasonable alternatives would have been using one of the many _______ITY words at 17a, or something like IT IS or ZITI in place of CITI.
  • {Leave} HIT THE ROAD.
  • and, of course, POST-IT itself, with the trailing !.

the letters following these ITs spell out YOU FOUND IT! (i’m assuming the ! is required, but maybe not), which is the meta answer.

this was a fun, easy week 2. the mechanism is very nice and i love the reinterpretation of POST-IT. the exclamation point was a little goofy, i thought, but i suppose it makes sense for consistency that every instance of IT should participate in the meta extraction, including the one in the “reveal” answer POST-IT. having the theme answers symmetrically located (except for the reveal in the bottom right) was an elegant touch.

before taking those letters in the following squares, i very briefly considered whether we were also supposed to reinterpret “note” to mean a musical note. ITUNES can become the word REUNES if you replace IT with the musical note RE, and CITY (states) can become CLAY if you change IT to LA. but CLAY STATES isn’t actually a thing (there’s really just kentucky, right?), and also it doesn’t work for all the other ITs.

in the fill, i loved {Team tennis tournament won by the U.S. in 2017} FED CUP. i didn’t love SIP TEA and TAKE ME, both of which seemed maybe a little roll-your-own. also, how many apple i-names is too many for one grid? with ITUNES in the theme and {Touch, for example} IPOD in the fill, i felt like this was pushing it. then {Some phones run on it} IOS was just clearly over the line.

overall, a mixed bag—some deductions, but the overriding funness of the theme wins out for me. four stars.

what’d you think?

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11 Responses to MGWCC #537

  1. David Harris says:

    Fun week 2 where it all comes together nicely. The use of “note” in the title, prompt, and revealer was a straight-forward connection, but I appreciated post-solve how the title also sneakily invoked how “it” was key without seeming obvious. And I did blink a tad at CITY/CITI, but actually didn’t notice the multitude of Apple entries—I guess the need for the letter I to be carefully placed so many times added some tough spots there. In that vein, I appreciate that only one of the theme/meta answers used IT as itself with TEEITUP, to avoid the IT connection being too obvious or repetitive.

    I also briefly started looking for a musical note connection, but mine led more directly to the real trick—I saw TI in PETITFOUR, and when the other long answers didn’t have similar notes, I realized that they all had TI *backwards*. Seemed a weird and unimportant coincidence, until the IT connection jumped out and I started scanning the rest of the grid.

  2. Daniel Barkalow says:

    I noticed that answers containing “IT” were symmetrically placed, except that there wasn’t one opposite POST-IT, and opposite the “IT” of POST-IT was the BE of BEHELD. Then I spent a while trying to make LET IT BE seem convincing as either a note or a description of replacing IT with BE.

  3. Clint Hepner says:

    I was looking at letters above and below “it” until the title put me in mind of footnotes, which led to the correct approach of looking at the letter after each “it”. Not until I had the answer did I appreciate the presence of the “!”. (I didn’t pick up on the “post” hint until reading about it here.)

  4. Justin says:

    I will note that I did this one right after the WSJ, and the WSJ cued in my mind to look after the “IT”. I didn’t notice the post-it clue (and besides didn’t know about the “!” when I solved).

    • Lee Sammons says:

      I don’t know if Matt has control over when his WSJ metas run, but I too was struck by the similarities between the two metas this week.

      • Jim Schooler says:

        I noticed the same meta mechanism.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        Lee — not intentional on my part. I send my WSJ puzzles in six weeks ahead of time so usually don’t recall which puzzle is scheduled until it runs in the paper. Just coincidental on the timing.

  5. ajk says:

    Went down the replace-IT-with-note-of-some-kind rabbit hole and never got back out. :)

  6. Scott says:

    Like a few others, I also got the meta without understanding the Post-it reference. Five stars.

  7. dbardolph says:

    Liked this one a lot – a really fine Week 2. Excellent execution of a fun idea. BTW, joon, the D in EBITDA is depreciation. At least it was when I was in business school, which is getting to be a very long time ago.

  8. Mary Flaminio says:

    Very nice week 2! Thought it was very fair and enjoyable! Matt is something else!

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