MGWCC #596

crossword 2:37 
meta 0:05 


hello and welcome to episode #596 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “What Can We Do for You?”. i often do week 1 puzzles without looking at the instructions, but this week i saw by accident that we were looking for certain parts of the body. okay. what are the theme answers?

  • {“I see what you mean”} POINT TAKEN.
  • {Ridicule} POKE FUN AT.
  • {Pitcher’s replacement, often} PINCH HITTER. in the national league, anyway. in the AL it’s generally just another pitcher.
  • {Cher’s line after slapping Nicolas Cage in “Moonstruck”} SNAP OUT OF IT.
  • {Update one another} TOUCH BASE.
  • {Meet by chance} CROSS PATHS.

the first words of these themers are POINT, POKE, PINCH, SNAP, TOUCH, and CROSS, which are all things you do with your fingers. so that’s the meta answer. it’s a nice touch that none of the themers use the key word in the same sense as it applies to fingers.

i think this is a really nice theme with a lively and varied set of theme answers. the meta is certainly easy enough for a week 1, and it’s the kind of puzzle that works better as a meta (albeit an easy one) than a standard crossword.

with six themers, there isn’t a great deal of room in the fill for anything especially lively, but ROID RAGE is pretty great and i enjoyed MOCKUP as well. cluing TRAPP as {Liesl Von ___ (“The Sound of Music” role)} is a sly joke, since it’s much more common to see LIESL in the grid with the von trapp clue; there are, of course, many other von trapps in the film but no other famous LIESLs to clue.

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

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7 Responses to MGWCC #596

  1. MM says:

    Don’t forget TAP at the centrally-located 35D–something else you can do with your fingers!

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      I will simultaneously take full credit for that subtlety while also thanking you for pointing it out to me.

      Thanks for the review, Joon — 618 correct answers, and zero incorrect.

  2. David says:

    I wish this one had had more of a *click* on the meta, personally. Fingers made sense with the title—they certainly do all of these things—but then “cross your heart” and “touch your toes” came to mind, especially with “touch” being a fairly generic verb. And some seemed to be actions that fingers take, while others took fingers as a direct object (poke vs. “cross your fingers”). I don’t know, it just felt a bit hodge-podged, so I was weirdly nervous about submitting.

    • Jonesy says:

      I have to agree with the general vibe of this comment. Sorta felt like “yea it has to be fingers, right?” But I was not nearly as certain as I normally am with a correct meta answer – think it just goes to show how high a bar Gaffney has set for himself. Also 618/0 is pretty damning as a counter argument to my/David’s view.

  3. Jason T says:

    A quintessential Week 1, for my money. A fun idea, deftly executed… and hard to miss!

  4. Andy says:

    Anybody else notice the role/ROLE dupe?

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