MGWCC #605

crossword 2:48 
meta 2 minutes 


hello and welcome to episode #605 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Mystery Movie”. first of all, happy new year! secondly, thanks to laura for filling in for me here last week while i was on vacation. happy to be back in the saddle for the first mgwcc of 2020, which i attempted (unsuccessfully) to solve without the instructions. what are the theme answers? it looks like a standard vowel-progression theme, with a missing entry:

  • {Head of a Prohibition-Era crime family} MA BARKER.
  • {Opposite of “same here”} ME NEITHER.
  • {Words that welcome} MI CASA ES SU CASA. this 14-letter entry spans the middle of the grid, which is why the puzzle is slightly narrower than usual.
  • {Chinese dish served with tortilla-like pancakes} MU SHU PORK.
  • {Eminem song whose video features Dr. Dre and Gheorghe Muresan} MY NAME IS.

so it’s pretty clear that the MO entry is missing, and based on the title, i assumed it was going to be a movie title. unfortunately for me, that didn’t help me figure out the answer, because i couldn’t think of any movies with the word “mo” in the title. so i did peek at the instructions, which informed me that i was looking for a Spike Lee movie that should be in this grid, but isn’t. well, at least i had something to google, so i googled a list of spike lee titles and found mo’ better blues (1990). while it was not a totally unfamiliar title to me, i don’t think i could have pulled it without the instructions even if i’d spent days and days trying to think of it, as it’s a film i certainly haven’t seen and probably haven’t even thought or heard about in the last quarter-century or so.

with the instructions, of course, the meta is very easy—certainly easy enough for a week 1—although, like with miller’s crossing a little while back, i wish it had been a little mo’ famous. or perhaps it is, and it’s my own deficiency that i didn’t have that title in my head; i watch very few movies, and though i try to at least have some familiarity with the titles of culturally relevant films, 1990 is maybe a little too far back for me.

other little bits:

  • {USA Today crossword editor Agard} ERIK. represent!
  • {Cookies with Double Stuf, Mega Stuf, and The Most Stuf varieties} OREOS. the most stuf? wow. that’s a new one for me.
  • {Show with episodes titled “All In” and “Fur and Loathing”} CSI. the original, the one set in vegas (which explains the episode titles). i love clues like this. on the last crossnerds, chris king talked about how he enjoys writing trivia clues that reflect a puzzler’s figure-it-out sensibility, and this is a prime example.
  • {City where Steph Curry and LeBron James were born} AKRON. lebron i knew. steph? he was raised in north carolina, where his dad dell was a long-time hornets player, so this was a little surprising. but apparently dell was on the cavaliers the year steph was born, a fact i either never knew or had forgotten.
  • {T-shirts, bumper stickers, and other stuff with the band’s name on it} MERCH. this is a great in-the-language slangy shortening that i’m not sure i’ve seen in puzzles before. adding it to my own word list now.

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

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to MGWCC #605

  1. The most famous thing beginning with MO that I knew of was former Red Sox slugger MO VAUGHN.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 652 right answers this week.

    There were other MO’s (and MYs and MAs et al.) but I thought this one worked best as an answer since it’s a member of a discrete set and can therefore be easily looked up.

  3. Daniel Barkalow says:

    I was amused by this puzzle having a rectangular grid and one theme answer starting with an alternative answer to a clue (MICA to replace TALC) as well as another theme answer containing a different-length alternative answer to a clue (BARK to replace GRR). Then “MYNA” and “MUSH” are words but don’t go anywhere. Plenty of red herrings for people who are looking for something too complicated.

  4. JRS says:

    An example of what aging does:
    There are ten “M”s in the grid, right? So, 10 is X, and M x 10 is M x X, thus Malcolm X! Impeccable logic, right?
    Except it turns out there are 11 “M”s.

  5. Drew says:

    Between META, EDGES, and EASTEREGG, I was sure I was missing something since I thought the “MO” connection felt loose.

  6. Solver says:

    I wonder if the inclusion of TED at 61D was an easter egg, given that it was part of the solution to the *other* meta-puzzle of Matt’s published Friday (WSJ).

  7. andreaborn says:

    short story: when Mo’ Better Blues was a current movie, I passed a marquee for it that advertised “Mo’s Better Blues.” Because not only does every word ending in S need to include an apostrophe, every word ending in an apostrophe needs to include an S. Sigh.

  8. Jed says:

    Oh man, what an inauspicious start to the year. I immediately thought of the movie “Mo’ Money” and googled it for spelling only, didn’t even check to confirm who the director was. That one will sting for a while.

Comments are closed.