MGWCC #667

crossword 2:52 
meta 1:00 


hello and welcome to episode #667 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Search for Apps”. for this week 2 puzzle, the instructions tell us that we are looking for a well-known, two-word app. what are the theme answers? there are six long across answers in the grid:

  • {Kids often bite their heads off} GUMMI BEARS.
  • {Scandinavians make preserves from them} CLOUDBERRIES.
  • {British term for “eggplant”} AUBERGINE.
  • {They’re used to make tzatziki} CUCUMBERS.
  • {M&M’s variety} PEANUT BUTTER.
  • {Healthy sandwich} TUNA BURGER.

okay, so first and most obviously, these are all foods, so we’re probably looking for a food-related app. that was actually not the first thing i noticed, though, even though in retrospect it should have been. no, the first thing i noticed was that there seemed to be a lot of U’s. each of the last three entries has two U’s, and the first three each have one. that seemed like a lot. then i noticed the B’s, and, well, i was halfway there. each theme entry contains the letters of UBER in order (though not consecutively, except in the case of AUBERGINE). so the app we’re looking for is uber’s food app, UBER EATS, which, as we all know, is called “overeats” in germany.

congrats to matt on reaching the 2/3 point of the planned 1,000-week MGWCC series. that’s a remarkable milestone, and it’s even more impressive how few of the 667 have been clunkers. this week’s, to cite an example, was nearly the platonic ideal of a week 2 meta: nothing too intricate, but an interesting way to reinterpret the name of an app as a crossword theme, with a bit of subtle concealment. if they’d all been consecutive like in AUBERGINE, it would have been a week 1. as it is, i wonder if AUBERGINE was the way in for many solvers. and i like how “two-word” was in the instructions to make sure people didn’t just submit “uber”.

as a construction feat, the grid’s not too shabby either. both the top and the bottom of the grid feature seven-letter overlap of stacked theme answers, but the fill doesn’t suffer noticeably. the {Choral initialism} SATB might be a little unfamiliar—as a former chorister myself, i’m quite familiar with it (soprano, alto, tenor, bass; SATB is often used as a shorthand for “this piece is in four-part harmony”), but i’m not sure i’ve seen it in a grid before, and it’s doing some work here because not too many things fit into __TB down where PEANUT BUTTER is stacked on TUNA BURGER (which, by the way, is two foods i would not recommend eating together).

fun puzzle, matt! can’t wait to see what’s in store for us the next 333 weeks!

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19 Responses to MGWCC #667

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 588 right answers this week.

    You’re right — the grid took a looong time. Many iterations before finding one that worked reasonably well.

    And thank you for blogging for the past decade. These are greatly enriched by your commentary and evaluations.

    • EP says:

      Amen, Matt — this blog is a big part of the enjoyment of the whole meta process.

      Add my thanks, Joon.

  2. Jim S says:

    Wow, quiet in here today :)

    I had a difficult time with this one – I’m not a guy to load up my phone with apps, and the sequence of “BE*R”, 3 “BER”s, and then 2 “B*ER”s had me thinking either BEAR or BEER for a long time. I almost asked my kids which hot new app that Dad’s never heard of involves BEAR or BEER (they’re 18 and 13, though, so probably – hopefully – couldn’t have helped if it was a BEER app). The U’s jumped out before I had a chance. Glad Matt asked for a 2 word app name or I most certainly would have submitted plain old Uber.

  3. James Schooler says:

    “nearly the platonic ideal of a week 2 meta”–spot on week 2 Matt. You’re back in the groove!

  4. Joe Eckman says:

    I also had a tough time pulling the trigger on answering this one, and was as unsure as I’ve ever been when submitting. I think it was one of those cases where I saw “uber” right away, and assumed that there would be seven more app names hidden within, and that the first initial of each would spell the two word app that was being asked for. So many apps have weird names, and I ALMOST saw a few obscure app names within the long answers. Even after seeing UBER in all of the food answers, I was worried that I was missing something, and thought that maybe the letters within the spread out letters may yield the answer, or another confirmation (like spelling a food or something). I realized that I was overthinking, and submitted. I had a serious FOMO moment when the leaderboard kept getting bigger and bigger, and I was at sea.
    Thanks for the great puzzle Matt! My search for “more” was only because I’ve seen you pull off the impossible countless times before!


  5. Shalaka says:

    I also enjoyed TAPAS in 1A which are of course Spanish apps (appetizers). I even spent some time debating if apps were really applications or appetizers given the food theme. Happily the answer was a food app. An app app!

  6. TRidgway says:

    All the Us and Bs briefly had me thinking that there must be tangled instances of YOU TUBE. But while trying to find and untangle them, the consecutive UBER in 35A burst thru like the Kool Aid Man. Getting the second word to click came right after. Lovely!

  7. Vlad says:

    Have the Russians finally taken down the muggles forum site, or is it just something on my end?

  8. Hector says:

    And the great St Patrick’s Day Muggle Blackout of 2021 enters hour twenty-something! Knowing nothing about the problem, I hope Brian does not treat this as more important or pressing than it is, which is, not very at all. The puzzles and chit chat can wait as long as it takes.

    The question of where to look for fellow forum users reminds me of a similar puzzle from a while back for NY area people: if your entire plan is to meet up with a certain friend on a certain day in NYC, with no further communication possible, where would you go and when would you be there? At the time the overwhelmingly natural answer was, under the big clock in Grand Central Station at noon, and the uniqueness of that answer, given all the salient places in NYC, was hard to understand (noon, easier). It was still the natural answer if you were asked to assume that your friend knew nothing about New York. I don’t really know what I’d say about my home city of SF today, maybe the main entrance to the Ferry Building?

    Brian, bring the forum back, or I will keep typing.

    • dplass says:

      Is Ghirardelli Square or fisherman’s wharf still a thing?

      • Hector says:

        Yes, both are! And Twin Peaks, and Union Square, and City Hall, and Haight/Ashbury, and the Cliff House, etc. Embarrassment of riches, which is why it’s boggling that one little unassuming place in NYC was the uncontested winner.

  9. TMart says:

    I can’t get on the Muggle forum either, on any device. I was beginning to think I had imagined that it even existed.

  10. mkmf says:

    Off topic, but I hope some Muggles who come here due to the forum blackout might know the answer to this: What is the status of the annual Orca Awards? It usually happens in early March for the previous calendar-year’s best crosswords. Any info appreciated.

    • Sam Donaldson says:

      It’s under construction. It traditionally comes out on Oscar weekend, which is also delayed this year.

      • mkmf says:

        Thanks so much Sam! That makes sense – I just hadn’t realized the connection with the Oscars before. I’m looking forward to it!

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