MGWCC #607

crossword 2:55 
meta 1:20 


hello and welcome to episode #607 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Initial Public Offering”. for this week 3 puzzle, matt challenges us to name a famous British author. okay. what are the theme answers? five celebrities with three names are given with only their first and last names appearing in the grid:

  • {“A Star Is Born” actor, 2018} is crass 1990s comedian ANDREW (DICE) CLAY.
  • {He said “I see dead people”} is child actor HALEY (JOEL) OSMENT from the sixth sense.
  • {With 41-Across, she played Miss Scarlet in 1985’s “Clue”} LESLEY / (ANN) / WARREN.
  • {Pioneer of the Prairie School of architecture} FRANK (LLOYD) WRIGHT.
  • {“In Living Color” cast member, 1990-1994} DAVID (ALAN) GRIER.

the omission of those middle names is quite conspicuous, but what next? well, the title suggests the initials, and each of the five theme answers has a three-letter monogram which is hidden in the grid—as a four-letter entry with one extra letter:

  • {Band whose first album was 1975’s “High Voltage”} AC/DC = ADC plus an extra C.
  • {Hotel chain now owned by Wyndham, casually} HOJO = HJO + O.
  • {Croquet course location} LAWN = LAW + N.
  • {Shortcoming} FLAW = FLW + A.
  • {“Shoot!”} DANG = DAG + N.

taken in this order, the extra letters spell out CONAN, the middle name of famous british author sir arthur conan doyle.

this is a very elegant meta. it felt easy to me for a week 3—each step is quite strongly indicated, i think. the title is a very nice double-nudge in the correct direction, both because of the word “initial” and also because the phrase “initial public offering” itself appears in crosswords so often as the initialism IPO. unlike in a few notable recent metas, all five of the theme answers were people i knew, and the meta answer itself was at least as famous as any of them. so that was great, too.

i’m actually rather relieved to get an easier week 3, since i didn’t even get to this until monday night and my brain was pretty fried after mystery hunt. but enough from me. what’d you think of this one?

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11 Responses to MGWCC #607

  1. Margaret says:

    When I submitted I told Matt that it was week two or even week one easy for me, which was such a relief after missing so many metas in 2019! I also think he might get a lot of successful Hail Marys on this one since Arthur Conan Doyle is pretty much THE three name British author. I confirmed it with the added letters but considered sending in ACD without even bothering to figure out the mechanism.

    • MM says:

      I agree–with the possible exception of Robert Louis Stevenson (arguably more “crossword famous” than ACD).

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 451 right answers this week. Between Mystery Hunt and new Patreon solvers I wanted to keep week 3/5 easier than usual, but 4 and 5 coming up will be back to regularly scheduled difficulty levels.

  3. Jim S says:

    Ugh. I took the initials of the missing middle names, which spelled DJALA, and guess what? There’s a story written by Max Pemberton, a knighted British author, called The Vengeance of Djala. I figured that was too obscure to be right and even admitted as much when I submitted, but it was pretty easy to find via google (the first answer when searching for “djala British author”) so I thought it might be more than a coincidence. Oh well.

    • J says:

      Same here, even down to a similar admission on submission. I knew I was missing a ‘click’ but thought I might just not be particularly well versed in British authors

  4. Norm H says:

    It bugged me a little that LESLEY / (ANN) / WARREN also works with FLAW as F + LAW. Of course, that leaves FRANK (LLOYD) WRIGHT with nowhere to go, unless FLAW is used again — and even that results in the nonsensical COFAN. So it impacted my solve not at all — just wondering if Matt noticed and, if so, tried to find a workaround.

    • PAUL E MANASTER says:

      I’d love to hear this from Mr. Gaffney himself, but it seemed to me that the fact that the flaw in the meta concerned the word flaw was possibly intended as a little joke. I found it pretty funny, at any rate.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        Exactly right — even after specifically looking for ambiguities while writing the puzzle I somehow managed to not see that LAW could lead to either FLAW or LAWN. As Norm H points out it doesn’t ruin the meta since FLW has to be Frank Lloyd Wright, but it is slightly inelegant. I was talking on the phone with my tester Thursday night and he agreed that it was funny that this flaw centered on the word “flaw” so I’m going to go ahead and take credit for this even though I only saw it after the fact. A little joke from the crossword gods.

    • mkmf says:

      I didn’t notice the FLAW flaw until reading your post. But then I thought about ACDC. It worked first as Andrew Dice Clay plus a letter. But it is also the answer, Arthur Conan Doyle, plus a letter. A confirmation (?) and another overlap example. I see though from Matt’s response, that that’s not how it was intended. I appreciate the inside joke!

  5. Amy L says:

    It took me a long time to get this. At one point, when I was stuck, I looked up a list of famous British authors and was surprised to find only four who used three names: Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Alexander McCall Smith. I briefly considered that the odds were pretty good to guess one of them, but somehow HOJO popped into my head when I was thinking what an odd name Haley Joel Osment is (Is there another Haley Osment that he had to distinguish himself from?). I remembered that HOJO was in the puzzle, so I managed to find all the four-letter words and solve the meta.

  6. ajk says:

    Solved it pretty quickly, but didn’t get around to doing it until just now, so well after the deadline. Still glad to figure out a week 3, even if an easy one. :)

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