MGWCC #592

crossword 3:30 
meta 0:15 


hello and welcome to episode #592 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest. after a fun guest constructor month, matt himself is back in the saddle with a week 1 puzzle called “Body Work”. i solved this puzzle without the instructions. what are the theme answers? these five wacky phrases:

  • {Reply when a tree asks “Does anyone know where my xylem is located?”?} BEHIND YOUR BARK.
  • {Modest financial request in Johannesburg?} LEND ME A RAND.
  • {Boater’s suggestion when you can’t find your gong’s hammer?} LET’S PLAY IT BY OAR.
  • {Barely takes gold in the Fastest Flautist competition?} WINS BY A NOTE.
  • {Having overstayed one’s welcome at a restaurant?} LONG IN THE BOOTH.

of course, each of these is a familiar idiom involving a body part, with one letter changed:


taking the letters from the five original body parts (in bold) spells out CHEST, another body part, which must be the meta answer. unsurprisingly, it turns out the directions do indeed ask for a part of the body.

i enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit. the meta is certainly easy enough for a week 1, but all five theme answers and their clues were amusing. the 14-letter themers at the top and bottom necessitated slightly ungainly-looking chunks of black squares in the corners, but overall the grid and fill were fine. i liked the pairing of {Heath of soccer} TOBIN and {Heath of movies} LEDGER at 1d and 6d—that’s a nice juxtaposition of a famous woman’s last name and a famous man’s first name.

i did not know {Cini ___ (little desserts at Burger King)} MINIS, although the “little” in the clue steered me in the right direction. maybe next time this will be clued as {Daily 5×5 puzzles in the New York Times crosswords app}. that would have been a more welcome NYT reference than {New York Times columnist Stephens} BRET.

that’s all for me. how’d you like this one?

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4 Responses to MGWCC #592

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 628 right answers this week.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    When we’re looking for a body part in Week 1, and the first one starts BEHIND… it sure makes me wonder how many people were tempted to be first in with A _ _. Or something a little classier like BUTTOCKS. Okay, I admit it, I almost bit. Oops, not going there. Let’s make that, “took the bait.” Better sense swept me on, but I firmly expected things like REARADMIRAL, SCUTTLEBUTT, and PREHENSILETAIL. All in all, it was an enjoyable Week 1, with a bit more crunch than we get sometimes.

  3. JRS says:

    Was anybody else fooled by the red herring “Aye”?

  4. MM says:

    Silly pedantic rant:

    Is any one else bothered by the NEG clue? Negative signs, hyphens, en/em dashes are all different! Even hyphen-minus (which I don’t like) is different.

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