MGWCC #618

crossword 2:35 
meta 1:00 


hello and welcome to episode #618 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Get the Idea Across”. i solved this week 1 puzzle without the instructions. what are the theme answers? the only thing obviously thematic was the long central across answer, {Important rows} TWO SIX TEN TWELVE. that straightforwardly directed attention to the 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 12th rows in the grid:

  • row 2 has the entries {App that gives directions} WAZE, {Path for a bus} ROUTE, and {“The Godfather ___ II” (Best Picture-winning movie of 1974)} PART. in the grid, this reads WAZE ROUTE PART, a viable clue for 68a {“The ___ Less Traveled”} ROAD.
  • row 6 has {Hawks and doves, e.g.} BIRDS, {“What was that person’s name again?”} WHO, and {Rollicking good time} HOOT. BIRDS WHO HOOT clues 21 {Wise flyers} OWLS.
  • row 10 has {Saw or awl, for example} TOOL, {“Oh, ___ Pete’s sake!”} FOR, and {Miso and minestrone, for two} SOUPS. i wanted TOOL FOR SOUPS to clue LADLE, but that’s not in the grid; however, 67a is {Kitchen drawer item} SPOON, which is also apt.
  • row 12 has {“Chicago,” “Philadelphia,” or “Nashville,” e.g.} MOVIE, {The sun or Betelgeuse, e.g.} STAR, and {One of many in a dictionary} PAGE. MOVIE STAR PAGE is ELLEN page, also in the grid at 5a {Daytime host DeGeneres} ELLEN.

taken in this order, those entries that get extra-clued in the grid are ROAD, OWLS, SPOON, ELLEN, and their first letters spell out ROSE, a homophone of rows. (as somebody who constructs a rows garden puzzle every week, i’m well aware of this homophone!) surely ROSE is the meta answer, and indeed the instructions ask for something beautiful that’s four letters long.

this is a terrific meta mechanism—easy enough for a week 1, but still totally fresh (as far as i know), and a lot of fun. i’ve often looked at consecutive entries in a completed crossword grid that combine to make a silly phrase, but this is a nice twist on that. and look at all the theme content! counting the central 15, there are five entire rows of theme material, plus four more short themers elsewhere, all in the acrosses. the fill is quite smooth, considering—the only really awkward entry is the central down, {“___ because this is more comfortable” : Solzhenitsyn} WE ERR. that’s a pretty bad partial, but W_E_R is forced by the theme, so there aren’t many options.

all in all, this is an outstanding week 1 puzzle, my favorite in recent memory. hope your april is off to as great a start!

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5 Responses to MGWCC #618

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 615 right answers this week.

  2. Streroto says:

    Matt when I submitted ROSE last week did you think I had “debatable power”? Glad this one was correct! Thanks for a fun puzzle.

  3. David says:

    The Crossword Band Names account on Twitter is shaking!

  4. Garrett says:

    I loved it!

  5. Tom says:

    Gosh I didn’t even notice the difficulty of filling in WE ERR because I got it by filling in the other squares. I was just so happy that I solved the puzzle! So, right now Jangler and I are neck and neck (OK, OK, Jangler, me and 300 or more others). I know that is going to change but I’ll bask in that for the moment knowing that it is unlikely to ever happen again.

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