MGWCC #683

crossword 2:52 
meta 1ish 


hello and welcome to episode #683 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “First Taste”. for the first time in a month, i’m blogging a puzzle i was actually able to solve*, so there’s that. despite my losing streak, i went ahead and attempted this week 1 without the instructions, because hubris. what are the theme answers? the six long across answers all start with a japanese comestible/potable:

  • {“My goodness!”} SAKE‘S ALIVE has SAKE, appropriately crossing DOES SHOTS.
  • {Wowed the crowd} WAS A BIG SUCCESS has WASABI. i’ve never been a fan of the crossword answers that are essentially [form of “to be”] + [word or phrase that would be an acceptable crossword entry on its own] like IS INTO or, in this very grid, 42d {Cop an attitude} BE HUFFY. but i have to admit this is a cool find.
  • {Discriminatory, in a way} MISOGYNISTIC has MISO. the clue feels imprecise to me—the discriminatory aspects of misogyny, to me, are described by the word “sexist”. misogyny is more pervasive than just discrimination; i wouldn’t describe, say, a movie that objectifies women as discriminatory, per se, but it’s definitely still misogyny.
  • {Like many a 1980s music video} SO BAD IT’S GOOD has delicious SOBA noodles. and although i grew up in the ’80s, i have to differ with this clue—most of those videos are just so bad they’re bad.
  • {Discombobulated} BENT OUT OF SHAPE has a BENTO box, and this is my favorite of the theme answers.
  • {Matt Damon’s condition, in the Jason Bourne movies} FUGUE STATE has the pufferfish delicacy FUGU, hopefully detoxified prior to serving.

okay, so, about that asterisk: based on the title, i would have submitted UMAMI, which is the one of the five basic tastes with a japanese name. but after “solving” the meta, i did check the instructions, and what do you know? This week’s contest answer is a country. oops. i guess it’s just japan. well, at least i checked before submitting. missing three in a row was bad enough, there’s no need to extend the streak to four by whiffing on a week 1.

there’s not much else to say about the meta—it’s easy even by week 1 standards. but the grid itself is a marvel—despite six long theme answers, including two stacked pairs, it’s a 72-word grid, low enough to be a themeless. now, there are some less-than-lovely entries like the aforementioned BE HUFFY and a few others. but there’s also some cool medium-long fill like DOES SHOTS and CAGE MATCH (!). also {Italian for “large”} GROSSO reminded me of the italian footballer fabio GROSSO, who scored the winning goal against germany in the 2006 world cup semifinal and the clinching penalty kick in the final against france. he’s long since retired, and i was definitely rooting against italy in both of those matches, but i’ve really enjoyed watching italy play in the current euro 2020 (sic) championships. their semifinal against spain kicks off in a few hours, and you better believe i’ll be watching.

that’s all from me. have a great week!

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4 Responses to MGWCC #683

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Arigato, Joon — 692 right answers this week.

  2. Jason T says:

    Can we also pause to appreciate not only that Matt found six words/phrases hiding a Japanese food/drink at the front, and not only that all six fit in the grid symmetrically, but that in all six cases, the pronunciation of the food changes when reading the full grid entry! Very elegant.

  3. Garrett says:

    Nicely done!

  4. TRidgway says:

    I am not well versed in food-related things, and was not familiar with FUGU.
    Relieved to hear it is in fact a Japanese food, and not Matt spewing thinly veiled curses.

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