MGWCC #610

crossword 2:47 
meta 1-5 min 


hello and welcome to episode #610 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “There Will Be Blood”. i attempted this week 1 puzzle without the instructions, and while i wasn’t able to solve it like that, it was easy enough once i peeked at the instructions, and in retrospect, perhaps i should have known. anyway, what are the theme answers? there are five long acrosses in the grid, each of which hides a blood-sucker of some kind:

  • {Cartoon character whose hat is larger than his body} YOSEMITE SAM.
  • {Picnic cutters} PLASTIC KNIVES.
  • {Friend of Van Gogh} is henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC.
  • {1972 transgender-themed movie starring Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed} THE TRIPLE ECHO. never heard of this movie, i must admit.
  • {Hide your boredom, one way} STIFLE A YAWN.

so what’s going on here? mite, tick, and louse are arachnids; flea is an insect; and leech is an annelid (worm), so it’s not about taxonomic classification. the straightforward answer (that i certainly should have seen!) is that they’re all parasites. eventually i did give up and check the instructions to discover that we were looking for a Best Picture nominee this weekend. that was a real headdesk moment; of course the answer is PARASITE, a nominee at the time matt sent out the puzzle but now that it’s tuesday, the puzzle is even better because PARASITE actually won best picture. nice going, matt!

i joked to matt that the academy’s decision to once again go without a host for the oscars ceremony might be a bad sign for PARASITE, but looks like the joke was on me, as bong joon-ho scooped the awards for best picture, director, original screenplay, and (naturally) foreign film. i also learned this weekend that bong had an earlier film called the host (2006), at the time the highest-grossing south korean film ever. maybe that’s why parasite was unaffected by the oscars’ lack of a host?

hidden word themes often hide the words across word breaks; here, TICK, LEECH and FLEA span two words each, but MITE and LOUSE are just contained in one word, and there are various words in theme entries (SAM, LAUTREC, THE, YAWN) that didn’t participate in hiding any parasites. it didn’t bother me at all, but perhaps it would have been more elegant to hide them in a more consistent way. i’m just spitballing here, but maybe JEALOUS EX, OFF-LEASH, and … i guess i can’t think of anything good for MITE. ADMIT ERROR or COMMIT ERRORS, maybe, but those are a bit forced.

bits & pieces:

  • {Gauff of tennis or Chanel of perfume} COCO. in an oscars-themed puzzle, this could have been clued as the pixar movie (best animated feature and best original song from 2017), but i appreciate the love for american teen tennis sensation coco gauff, who has played in three majors and advanced to at least the third round in all of them. oh, and she’s turning 16… next month.
  • {City close to the Perfume Pagoda} HANOI. this is a new clue for me. perfume pagoda! sounds fancy.
  • {“___ Trois Mousquetaires” (1844 novel)} LES. that’s french for “milky way”.
  • {“You’re welcome!”} SURE THING. this is great. it could have been clued as {Lock} or {Certainty} or something like that, but i love the conversational tone here.
  • {The Great Lake you never hear much about} HURON. i suppose this is true, although it’s more common in crossword puzzles than superior or michigan. (much less common than erie, of course!)

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

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8 Responses to MGWCC #610

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 601 right answers this week.

  2. Astrokurtis says:

    W00t! I came in last place!

  3. Jonesy says:

    I commented that it felt like more of a week 2 but 601 solvers make it seem like I was wrong!

    • Amanda says:

      You could get a pretty good guess just from the title and the list of nominees, I think.

      • mkmf says:

        Yes, but there were lots of other “blood” nominees that the puzzle title could refer to though, involving:
        WWI – enough said;
        The Joker’s bloody smile (at best);
        The title that sounds like Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West and, well, Tarantino;
        Hitler’s Germany;
        Scorsese (!);
        Super high-speed auto racing

        Not very good odds for guessing. Plus, “parasite” is one of the least stereotypical connotations of “blood” usually seen in movies. This was fun.

  4. Jim Schooler says:

    A delightful turn. 5 stars from me.

  5. Mutman says:


    “___ Trois Mousquetaires” (1844 novel)} LES. that’s french for “milky way”.

    Is this humor over my head? Or did you mean 3 Musketeers bar!?!?

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