MGWCC #658

crossword 3:23 
meta -2:00 


hello and welcome to episode #658 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Hidden Power”. for this week 2 puzzle, the instructions tell us that we are looking for one of the seven continents. well, there are only seven choices—how hard can it be? as it turns out, not too hard at all. each* of the five long answers is a wacky phrase containing one or more hidden world capitals:

  • {“The Mystery of the Stolen Makeup,” for example?} MASCARA CASE. okay, the clue is silly, but a MASCARA CASE is, more or less, an actual thing—a container for mascara, generally with a brush applicator attached to the lid. hence the * qualifier in the above paragraph.
  • {Shrub made of sturdy fabric?} BURLAP AZALEA. okay, now this one is well and truly made up.
  • {Hot and humid, just the way their larvae like it?} MOSQUITO CLIMATE. this one’s a little different from the other theme answers in that it contains two cities (QUITO and LIMA), neither of which spans a word break.
  • {Plot point in many Sylvester Stallone movies?} RAMBO GOT AWAY.
  • {Edition of a Homer poem owned by actress Winger?} DEBRA’S ILIAD.

the meta answer is, of course, south america, where all of these world capitals are: CARACAS, venezuela; LA PAZ, bolivia; QUITO, ecuador; LIMA, peru; BOGOTA, colombia; and BRASILIA, brazil. i would’ve been really impressed if matt had managed to hide BUENOS AIRES or ASUNCION or especially PARAMARIBO in a theme answer.

this felt very much like a week 1 meta, which is perhaps explained by the fact that it was intended to be last week’s meta. that’s fine. we have a five-friday january this year, so there’s plenty of time yet for matt to stump us with diabolical metas. but this one was easy-peasy; i wonder if we’ll have a record number of correct solutions.

speaking of diabolical metas, the MIT mystery hunt is this weekend. i won’t, of course, see any of you there in person, as the hunt has gone fully online this year due to the pandemic. nevertheless, i’m very much looking forward to the hunt! it’s perhaps my favorite event on the annual puzzle calendar. if you’re going to be hunting also, good luck and stay hydrated!

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10 Responses to MGWCC #658

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 772 correct entries this week (27 more than the old record)

  2. Scott Clay says:

    I didn’t notice LIMA until reading this.

  3. Adam Rosenfield says:

    [Movies about Braves outfielder Abraham?] ALMONTE VIDEOS

    [Pastry that causes me great decision-making pain?] CROISSANT I AGONIZE OVER

    [Some things you mind bring to a Dodge orienteering/barbecue event?] A MAP, A RAM, A RIB ORDER

    [Two options when you’re unhappy to find some lost property?] RAGE OR GET OWNER

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