MGWCC #692

crossword 4:38 
meta 3 days 


hello and welcome to episode #691 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Bottom Drawers”. i attempted this week 1 puzzle without the instructions, as i usually do, and so far have come up empty. but let’s take another look, shall we? what are the theme answers? there are seven long down answers consisting of silly phrases:

  • {“You can create practically anything with our contest answer! If you’re into violet-shaded postage, for example, you could make a ___”} LILAC STAMP.
  • {“Ever wonder what the Dalai Lama would look like if he joined the Blue Man Group? Just create a ___ and see!”} TEAL TIBETAN. the actual blue man group is a much deeper blue than TEAL, for what it’s worth.
  • {“Or maybe light-green luxury cars are your thing? Then go ahead a make a ___”} PISTACHIO CADILLAC.
  • {“You know what’d be funny? How about an English nobleman covered in grape jelly? I’d love for you to make me a ___”} PURPLE EARL.
  • {“Although those animals are usually brown and white, I see no reason why you couldn’t create a ___”} SILVER OKAPI.
  • {“If you’ve always wanted to see a shimmering blue body of water in the forest, how about depicting an ___?”} INDIGO LAKE.
  • {“If you’re tired of seeing 19th-century overcoats always depicted in drab hues, why not create your own ___?”} RED ULSTERS.

so, obviously these are all two-word phrases with a color as the first word. what do the second words have in common? i have absolutely no idea. i was expecting this to be more obvious in a week 1 puzzle, but sometimes they’re not.

… okay, hang on, sometimes they are. i just noticed the clue for 76d, {Most important parts of our contest answer…and of the words in the theme entries} TIPS. that would have been a useful thing to spot three days ago! hmm. TIPS can mean either ends, but the title (and vertical orientation of the theme answers) suggests the bottom tips, so … well, we’ve got PENCILS spelled out from left to right using the last letters of each theme answer. oh, and COLORED from the last letters of the color words. so COLORED PENCILS must be the answer. checking the instructions, they ask for a “two-word school supply”. i don’t think that would necessarily have helped me—it was all about noticing the reveal clue at 76d.

it’s definitely a straightforward enough meta for a week 1 if you do notice the TIPS clue, but i have to say it leaves me feeling a little unsatisfied. i get that the choices of colors used to spell out COLORED using the last letters is quite constrained. but what is with the arbitrary nouns used for the second word? with only the last letters constrained, those could have been anything; ULSTERS, in particular, could have literally been any (regular) plural. its similarity to the color-related word LUSTERS was distracting to me, and even in retrospect i don’t know what, if anything, went into the decision. so it’s more solvable than it is satisfying. i’m very prepared to change my mind on this if and when somebody points out some more elegant thread connecting STAMP, LAKE, TIBETAN, etc.

that’s all i’ve got. have a great week!

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to MGWCC #692

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 609 right answers this week.

    That’s right — the second words in the entry had to be things that could be plausibly drawn and end in the correct letter. Not as constrained as the first word in each entry, which also had to be a color.

    • Seth says:

      What do you mean, things that can be drawn? Like, drawn with a pencil? That’s basically any noun, right? How’d you pick these nouns in particular? Just kind of random, or did you use the fill to help you?

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        1) yes
        2) yes
        3) no. Like for the first one (????P) there are a lot of common nouns that would fit that would be difficult to draw (GRASP, RECAP, SCRAP, SWEEP)
        4) plausibility and amusing-ness
        5) yes, fairly heavy fill constraints. Like I wanted RED UMLAUTS but had to settle for RED ULSTERS

  2. Mutman says:

    Week 1 fail again!

    I was simply in the ‘Comedy Central’ week 1 mode and didn’t think too hard. Saw colors at the TIPS of the themers and simply submitted MAGIC MARKERS.

    Felt more like a week 2 to me to take the second step.


  3. Mikie says:

    Tough crowd. I thought it was fairly elegant for a Week 1, a bit trickier than usual perhaps but not all that difficult (especially with the gimme hint), and I liked the offbeat themers just for the fun of ’em. The theme density is actually high-side, even for a 17x, with 14 constrained squares, cripes, that’s plenty for a Week 1.

  4. PJ says:

    I liked it. Maybe slightly tougher than some Week 1 puzzles but I that’s not a drawback for me. Also, if you miss 76d it’s on you, not the puzzle.

  5. david glasser says:

    I totally missed that COLORED was spelled out — getting PENCILS and seeing the colors was good enough for me! (And yeah, I missed that 76D said “words”.)

  6. EP says:

    I thought that the title was just as big a hint as the TIP…’bottom’ pretty clearly suggests the last letter of a down answer. I like this one, it’s pretty easy once you ‘see’ it, but until then, not so much.

  7. Kevin Bryant says:

    Happy to have been pointed here.

Comments are closed.