MGWCC #588

crossword 4:00 
meta 0:15 


hello and welcome to episode #588 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest. it’s week 1 of guest constructor month, and matt has invited the legendary duo of emily cox and henry rathvon to offer this week’s puzzle, “Call to Order”. i did this one without peeking at the instructions, but the puzzle was fairly upfront about what it was looking for. in particular, these two entries crossed in the center of the grid:

  • {Description of the order, in parts} PIECEMEAL.
  • {What’s ordered, and how to get it} TAKEOUT.

in addition, four across entries were all clued the same way:

  • {Order, in part} PEPERON.
  • {Order, in part} MORELLA.
  • {Order, in part} ARMESAN.
  • {Order, in part} ANCHOVS.

all right, well, those are pretty clearly pizza toppings (or, depending on your definition of what constitutes a pizza, maybe the MORELLA isn’t a topping but an integral part of the pizza qua pizza), except that each is missing some letters: PEPpERONi, MOzzaRELLA, pARMESAN, and ANCHOVieS. taken in order, those missing letters spell out PIZZA PIE, which must be the answer to the meta. the instructions, it turns out, say only that the answer is a two-word phrase, so i don’t think i missed anything by not reading them.

this is an easy meta, certainly easy enough for a week 1. i love the piecewise reinterpretation of TAKEOUT and PIECEMEAL in the context of ordering a pizza. and while we’re at it, “call to order” is a *chef’s kiss* perfect title for this puzzle. filling in the actual grid was tougher than usual because of the somewhat nonsensical theme entries, where you had to carefully check every crossing because the missing letters could be anywhere (until you figured out the meta). it’s very cool that you can spell out PIZZA PIE using pizza ingredients, although it would have been slightly more elegant to have two letters from each theme answer instead of 2, 3, 1, and 2. i’d suggest perhaps PINEPLE instead of ARMESAN for the third theme answer, but i don’t really want to start another internet fight about hawaiian pizza.

if the idea of solving more metas by emily and henry (collectively known as “hex”) appeals to you (and if it doesn’t, what can i even say here), be sure to check out the wall street journal’s saturday variety puzzle. every other week, it’s a variety cryptic by hex, often featuring a meta element, almost always quite ingenious. (and in the alternate weeks, the variety grid puzzles by patrick berry and mike shenk are, to put it mildly, also not bad.)

that’s all for me. can’t wait to see what and who is in store for the rest of guest constructor month!

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7 Responses to MGWCC #588

  1. Matthew G. says:

    Hawaiian pizza is the ambrosia of the gods. Better still is a Flaming Hawaiian–ham, pineapple, and jalapenos. The weird thing is that I always have to repeat the order because they think I’ve misspoken …

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 625 correct entries this week. Such fun to have the great Cox & Rathvon leading off the month (LOTS of solver messages that expressed that sentiment; I’ll run a bunch of them on site on Friday).

  3. Amy L says:

    I was so stuck on morTADella that it took me a little longer to figure out the answer.

  4. bunella says:

    That’s amore!

  5. CFXK says:

    Is the rumor true that the prize this week is a delivered pizza pie?

  6. ===Dan says:

    The WSJ Hex variety cryptics run once every _four_ weeks. The Hex acrostics run every other week in the NYT.

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