MGWCC #623

crossword 2:37 
meta 3ish 


hello and welcome to episode #623 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Questionable Humor”. for this week 2 puzzle, the instructions tell us that we’re looking for a two-word phrase. what are the theme answers? the only one explicitly marked as such is the central across answer, {My message to you, regarding seven clues in this puzzle} NO PUN INTENDED. the next step is to notice, with a little nudge from the title, that there are seven punny clues ending with question marks:

  • {Queen’s main man?} MERCURY, as in freddie.
  • {Lose a few pounds?} SHOP, if you’re shopping in the u.k. or egypt.
  • {Wind-up toy?} KITE. that’s wind with a short i.
  • {Bank convenience?} PIER.
  • {Patient person?} NURSE.
  • {Keys on a piano?} ALICIA.
  • {The capital of Norway?} KRONE. this one caught my attention, because i had noticed before getting to it that OSLO, the actual capital of norway, was in the grid, clued as {City on a fjord}. hmm.

that turned out to be the key—if you de-punnify each of those ? clues, they can clue a different entry in the grid. from top to bottom, those are:

  • {Humanlike plaything} DOLL, which could also be a {Wind-up toy}.
  • {Dispenser of dollars} ATM, which is a {Bank convenience}.
  • {Atkins or Paleo, e.g.} DIET, or as a verb, to {Lose a few pounds}.
  • {Biblical sufferer} is JOB, a notably {Patient person}. it’s a nice week 2-level hint here that it’s clued as the biblical character in the straight-up clue as opposed to the common noun (with a short o).
  • {City on a fjord} OSLO, as discussed above.
  • {Chess piece that can’t be captured} KING, who is also the {Queen’s main man}.
  • {36 of 88 on a Steinway} EBONIES; these are, of course, {Keys on a piano}.

taking the first letters of each of these spells out DAD JOKE, which is a *chef’s kiss* perfect answer to this puzzle. bravo, matt. is tilghman old enough yet to inflict dad jokes upon him? (yes)

this puzzle was great—fun and funny and not too challenging, the platonic ideal of a good week 2. how’d you all like it?

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10 Responses to MGWCC #623

  1. Wayne says:

    In last week’s writeup, Matt said:

    > [There were] a Subscription-Era record 682 solvers! The previous record was 655, so we blew past that. The pre-Subscription record was 723.

    It kills me that we still haven’t broken the pre-Subscription record. These grids are so consistently clean and clever, week after week. I don’t know of a better value in the crossword world. Oh, and there’s a meta!

    If we each got just one person a year hooked (and subscribed!), we could break through the 1000-solver barrier in no time. It’s frustrating that there’s no way to give gift subscriptions via Patreon (even though people have been asking for that for *years*: )

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      I in no way object to this plan! :)

      There’s no official way to give a gift subscription but anyone can e-mail me if they want to do so. What happens is the person giving the gift subscription ups their current pledge by $3/mo. and then I put the giftee on a list to receive the puzzle via e-mail every week.

      • Wayne says:


        Put them on my tab. I’ll pay for the first ten people that email you this week wanting to give a new member a 3-month gift subscription.

        The series is scheduled to end in 2027, right? Let’s get that many solvers signed up before then. Who’s with me? 2,027 in 2027! Come on people; we can do this!

  2. Scott Trerotola says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a nice brief diversion from that other MG crossword this week, which was a doozy (and also great). Having inflicted many a dad joke on my kids, i got a nice laugh when it all came together.

    Stay well, all!

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 593 right answers this week.

  4. Jim S says:

    Great puzzle. My “in” was filling in NURSE so soon after entering JOB… the “patient” portion of the clue made me mentally say “the patience of Job” and as soon as I filled the meta clue it was smooth sailing. Funny about the punny clue for KITE – I totally took it as needing to wind the string and didn’t even think about short-i “wind”.

  5. david glasser says:

    This was the perfect week-2-level meta. Everything from the title to the structure to the revealer to the appropriate-but-not-immediately-guessable answer.

  6. ni3t says:

    I got all the way to the end but chose the wrong alternate clue for “patient person” – I chose “OLDERMAN” because my biblical history apparently needs brushing off. I spend about an hour trying to find words with DADOOKE.

  7. Amy L says:

    For “patient person” I thought “DRUG USER” was the alternate clue, perhaps because I work at a medical school and one physician was just saying that she mostly sees patients who need marijuana therapy. I reviewed the entries and realized “JOB” made a lot more sense.

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