MGWCC #553

crossword 3:22  
meta 1 minute 


hello and happy new year! welcome to episode #553 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Product Placement”. for this week 1 puzzle, not only of january but of 2019, i solved it without the instructions as i often do in week 1, although that quickly turned out to be irrelevant. what were the theme answers?

  • {Jump into the pool while holding a bunch of [meta answer]?} SWIM WITH THE TIDE. at this point i was thinking it might be something to do with fish!
  • {Result of taking an aspirin when you’ve run out of [meta answer]?} NO PAIN, NO GAIN.
  • {What people used for [meta answer] 400 million years ago?} PALEOZOIC ERA.
  • {With 67-Across, what a [meta answer] superfan may have?} THE GREATEST LOVE / OF ALL.

TIDE, GAIN, ERA, and ALL are all brands of laundry detergent, which must be the [meta answer]. and indeed, the instructions ask for a common household product, so there you go.

this is a simple meta, as befitting the first puzzle of the year, but i found it very entertaining. all of the theme answers amused me, especially the last one. basically this was an excellent tuesday crossword theme, with “laundry detergent” redacted from the theme clues. that’s a recipe for a fine week 1 puzzle.

one fill entry definitely caught my eye: {Group photo taken with a stick} WEFIE. i don’t believe i have seen this word. “group selfie”, sure, lots of times. but if WEFIE has caught on, somehow i’ve missed it. i’m reminded of the last time i saw the late, great henry hook, at a lollapuzzoola (i can’t remember which one, but i think it was a year or two before he passed away). he asked me about the word USIE (pronounced “ussy”), meaning the same thing. now that would be a darn useful bit of 4-letter crossword fill! alas, it didn’t catch on either. WEFIE seems objectionable to me in all of the ways that USIE is, with one more thrown in: to wit, why does it contain an F? the F in SELFIE comes from the word SELF. i’m not sure why this only now occurs to me, but the most closely analogous plural would seem to be SELVESIE? i’m far from the first to think of this, but no, it hasn’t caught on either, perhaps because it’s rather difficult to enunciate. i think we’re stuck with “group selfie”.

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

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18 Responses to MGWCC #553

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 629 correct answers this week. And approximately three dozen comments about the “clean fill.”

  2. Lance says:

    Totally with you, joon, in pretty much all the commentary: liked the puzzle, found it pleasant and fun and well-tuned for difficulty…and was very much thrown by WEFIE.

    Then again, I’m in my 40s, so I’m not surprised to find neologisms I don’t recognize, and Google returns more than enough hits for “wefie” to convince me that it’s genuinely a word that people use. I also wince at the word, though probably mostly because it sounds like someone mispronouncing “wifi”; the etymological brokenness of it isn’t that bothersome. Sure, if a self-portrait is a “selfie”, a group portrait should be a “groupie”, but that one’s taken. Or a “group selfie”, but that’s unnecessarily long. And yes, “wefie” contains the F from SELF; but that’s pretty much the way coining-by-analogy works: “-thon” became a suffix (walkathon, telethon, crosswordathon) even though it’s not a suffix at all in “marathon”. (And, um, I think other examples that don’t come to mind.)

    But since this is a crossword blog, and not Language Log, I’ll end by reiterating that I enjoyed the crossword. :-)

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Some forced hipness on my part there. A lot going on in that corner so when a possibility with WEFIE opened up I 1) looked up what it meant and then 2) used it and am now 3) prepared to attack all you uncool dorks who’ve never heard of WEFIE. What, are you living under a rock?

      • Amy L says:

        Yes, I am living under a rock, scrubbing my bearskins with Paleozoic Era (my favorite answer). I’ve never heard WEFIE and I don’t think there is any need for it, because it’s all about the self. Who cares if there are other people in the picture? Everyone just focuses on themselves.

      • Garrett says:

        There is ample evidence that Wefie has been in use since at least 2015, but a competing term I personally like better is a Groupie.

    • Bunny Zukowski says:

      You think it’s tough doing these puzzles in your 40’s, try doing them in your 60’s like myself and a few of my fellow solvers.

  3. David says:

    Ha, I kind of gave myself the run-around by doing this one downs-only. I started seeing the theme connection early, so I assumed the answer would be “detergent,” but finished just to be safe/paranoid. But Joon’s write-up made me realize that I don’t think I ever went back and looked at the clues for the theme entries, so I didn’t realize that they were so explicit about the [meta answer]. Spent at least a few minutes wondering if there could be a second step, like another detergent name to find. Note to self in 2019: look at the dang meta clues.

    Also, watching WEFIE form in the grid without knowing its clue was fun. I had a hunch what it meant, but that one I did confirm at the end!

    Fun start to the puzzle year, let’s keep it rolling!

  4. Garrett says:

    I thought it was mildly interesting that there were DOS and DONTS in the same puzzle.

  5. Gio says:

    Hi all!
    I’ve recently subscribed to MGWCC and I can’t find a good app to open the .puz files on my phone (I have an Android phone). Any recommendations?
    I’d appreciate the help.


  6. Scott says:

    Try Robo Crosswords to open Matt’s puzzles on an Android phone.

    • ant says:

      +1 for this. Robo Crosswords is a continuation of the old open source Shortyz app. I thought Shortyz was no longer supported, but I just looked it up on Google Play, and it appears an update was last released on 10/27/18.
      Robo works with the Muller Monthly Music Meta files, as well.

  7. john says:

    I just love it when the meta is ridiculously clever and funny on an easy week. It makes it so much more fun even though it takes little to no time to get. this was one of those and a great start to 2019!

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