MGWCC #657

crossword 2:50 
meta -0:45 


hello and welcome to episode #657 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Beast Mode”. i solved this week 1 puzzle without the instructions, as i typically do for week 1. what’s the theme of the puzzle? wacky two-word phrases with the initials OX:

  • {Southern Missourians’ love of other cultures?} OZARK XENOPHILIA.
  • {Anti-panic pill made with no artificial ingredients?} ORGANIC XANAX. yeah, pretty sure that’s not a thing, but then, that’s the joke.
  • {Does exactly as a major Internet provider demands?} OBEYS XFINITY.
  • {Percussion instrument you just can’t get to sound right?} ORNERY XYLOPHONE.

tying it all together is the clue for the last across answer, {Country whose traditional calendar assigns an animal to each year, including 2021 (or actually 4719)} CHINA. and although china doesn’t celebrate its new year for another month (and a bit), 2021 in the chinese zodiac will indeed be the year of the OX, which is the answer to the meta. for now, we’re still in the year of the rat.

that actually evokes a very dim memory of one of the first MGWCC puzzles i ever blogged for crossword fiend, back at the old site. this was 12 years ago, and the theme was a RAT -> OX substitution in honor of the new year. doing a lunar new year puzzle a month early, on the solar new year, is a little more of a surprise. anyway, this is not a big deal and almost nobody (likely including matt himself) will remember that puzzle from 12 years ago, but it did get my spidey-sense tingling.

this week’s puzzle was much easier and much more of a week 1; it’s almost impossible to miss. (apologies if you did, in fact, miss it.) the rarity of words starting with X makes the theme more striking, and the CHINA clue pretty much lays it all out for you even if you somehow missed the OX bit.

that’s all i’ve got this week. happy new year!

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3 Responses to MGWCC #657

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — a record 745 correct entries this week.

    Zero memory of the RAT — OX puzzle. How do you remember this stuff!? You’ve now been blogging the meta through a full cycle of the Chinese calendar. Amazing + thanks.

  2. Mutman says:

    Hug and a Kiss for this nice week 1!

  3. Jim Schooler says:

    A perfect Week 1 puzzle and meta!

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