MGWCC #693

crossword 3:51 
meta 1:45 


hello and welcome to episode #693 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, a guest puzzle from alex boisvert called “Picture This”. for this week 2 puzzle, the instructions tell us that the the answer is something architects need to be good at. okay. what are the theme answers? there are four “architectural marvels”:

  • {Architectural marvel in Bangkok} CHANG BUILDING. didn’t know this one, but it is also called the elephant building because it resembles … an elephant.
  • {Architectural marvel in Paris} EIFFEL TOWER.
  • {Architectural marvel in Rio} CHRIST THE REDEEMER. i suppose this is an architectural marvel, even though it’s a statue rather than a building. the work was a collaboration between french sculptor paul landowski, brazilian engineer heitor da silva costa, and some other people.
  • {Architectural marvel in Kuala Lumpur} PETRONAS TOWERS.

well, the title says “picture this”, so let’s look at some pictures:

the shapes of the structures resemble the letters M, A, T, and H, so the answer is MATH. apt, since alex is himself a mathematician.

while we’re on the subject of architecture, today’s grid has unusual architecture, with non-square (17×14) dimensions and no symmetry, to accommodate the long answer CHRIST THE REDEEMER and the non-matching lengths of the theme answers. that didn’t bother me at all—there aren’t that many iconic buildings that look like letters, so you take what you can get. and it’s cool that you can spell a word with buildings, since most of them just look like the letter I.

the one thing i didn’t love about this puzzle was its resemblance to mgwcc #191, down to its reuse of the eiffel tower. but that one was almost a decade ago and i wonder if anybody but me even remembers it? this one was different enough anyway, with its architectural bent, that i still very much enjoyed it.

that’s all i’ve got this week.

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19 Responses to MGWCC #693

  1. joon says:

    ugh, my picture sizes are all wonky. gimme a minute and i will fix it.

  2. sharkicicles says:

    I remembered 191, but for some reason in my head it was GOOGLE. And now that I think about it, how the heck would you have a G or E shaped building?

  3. Dan Seidman says:

    I definitely remember that one. I have a much better memory of the ones I didn’t get.

  4. Dave says:

    Well, the asymmetry bothered me. If your theme answers won’t work in a symmetrical grid, you need new answers or a new theme (unless, of course, the asymmetry is part of the meta).

    Just my opinion.

    • Why? It’s not like it wasn’t 100% clear what the theme answers in this puzzle were. Symmetry or lack thereof is just a simple property of the puzzle, like word count or the number of black squares. It’s fine to note asymmetry, and maybe it can be integral to figuring out a meta, but it’s not necessary to make a good meta.

    • Maggie Wittlin says:

      Hard agree with Evan here: I would much rather have a cool meta in an asymmetric grid than not have the cool meta at all.

    • jefe says:

      Agree with Evan and Maggie. In fact, I didn’t even notice that the grid was asymmetric at all.

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    Joon, you’ve got the memory of a Chang Building! (elephant, not M for Memory, though that works, too)

    Thanks, Alex — 506 correct entries this week. Very cool meta.

  6. oldjudge says:

    I’m usually not a fan of visual puzzles since there are often multiple interpretations. This puzzle, however, was clear and fun. I think Alex did a fantastic job.

  7. Mutman says:

    I also remember #191, and still think Matt was wrong to accept YAHOO as opposed to the correct answer YAHOO!

    Without the exclamation point, the STICK AND BALL was unnecessary — and the really deserved the notoriety.

    (Sorry Matt — but I still remember that. Plus the fact that I did not get the meta.)

  8. John says:

    I remembered the YAHOO! puzzle well and mentioned it in my comments. I think 10 years is long enough to dust off a once-used concept, especially if done well. This was. Great puzzle!

  9. Brian says:

    Surely I wasn’t the only one who was thinking about James Bond movies. First, picture = movie. Second, odd way to clue 18A. Third, the Eiffel Tower and Christ the Redeemer are both in James Bond movies, in fact both Roger Moore movies. Finally, the Patronus Towers are featured in the film and Entrapment which starred Sean Connery. Then I got stuck. The Chang Building isn’t in any movie that I could find, and the only James Bond film set in Thailand is The Man with the Golden Gun, and that was filmed before the Chang Building was constructed.

    Nice meta. I should have got it. I wish I had never reread the clue for 18 across.

  10. Pamster says:

    I was distracted by the dimensions and asymmetry of the grid, and kept trying to make a “picture” out of the black squares. Now that I know such a grid is acceptable, I won’t be led astray again.

  11. Tom Bassett says:

    I was too focused on the structures having 3, 4, 1 and 2 footings and trying to find something in the grid or the clues to use those values.

    Never considered the images themselves.

    Nice one, even though I DNF.

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