MGWCC #706

crossword 4:37 
meta ??? 


hello and welcome to episode #706 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Happy Early New Year!”. for this week 2 puzzle, the instructions tell us that we’re looking for a 12-letter activity. what are the theme answers? the only obvious one in the grid is the last across answer: {The forthcoming new one is found four times herein} YEAR. this mildly dupes the title, but that didn’t really bother me. anyway, what does it mean? well, with years in crossword puzzles, you always have to be looking out for roman numerals, and next year is 2022, or MMXXII. that’s interesting already. now, MMXXII together isn’t anywhere in the grid, let alone appearing four times, but MM, XX, and II appear four times each, in the correct order:

  • {Best Director winner for “The Silence of the Lambs”} is jonathan DEMME.
  • {Latin American chain with over 20,000 convenience stores} OXXO. never heard of this one, but i haven’t traveled much in latin america.
  • {American version of a character encoding standard} U.S. ASCII. this seems redundant, as the A in ASCII stands for american.
  • {“That’s a pity,” casually} BUMMER.
  • {Sci-fi series whose stars included Tim Curry and Malcolm McDowell} LEXX. never heard of this one either.
  • {Joel who’s been an NBA All-Star for the past four seasons} EMBIID. one of the most entertaining and watchable players in the world, and also the mainstay of my fantasy basketball team.
  • {Blocks of writing that may begin with “Lorem ipsum”} DUMMY TEXTS.
  • {Disobeyer of Dr. Fauci} ANTI-VAXXER. i gotta say, this is a major downer of an answer for me. seeing this word and being reminded of these people is just depressing.
  • {Japanese gate} TORII.
  • {Ginormous} IMMENSE.
  • {Maker of Assure and Therappe shampoos} NEXXUS. never heard of this one either! not a great hit rate for me here on the double-X answers.
  • {Super-smart people, jocularly} GENII.

as far as i can tell, that’s the theme—MM followed by XX followed by II, four times. it’s quite noticeable because even though MM is a fairly common bigram in english, both XX and II are quite unusual (the former more so, of course). now, twelve theme answers is a lot even if many of them are short, so it’s a 17×17 grid—but i do think that’s the entire theme. which leaves us… where, exactly?

honestly, i don’t know. it took me under a minute to think of the term DOUBLE-DATING, which is kind of a punny explanation of the theme, in the sense that specifying the year is part of a date and MMXXII comprises only double-letters. i have very little confidence that that’s the right answer, though. it feels appropriate and it fits the instructions (12-letter activity), but there’s not such a strong “click”. i am planning to submit it, but i don’t know why it’s any more apt than something like, i dunno, MIXED DOUBLES, which is also a 12-letter activity that uses M, X, I, double-letters, and mixing (anagramming).

what i’m hoping is that i missed something in the puzzle that confirms DOUBLE-DATING (or, indeed, some other answer). what i’m fearing is that there isn’t anything, and we were supposed to just guess it… which, even though i am indeed just guessing it, is not very satisfying. i guess we’ll see.

while we’re here, though, i will point out that in addition to three of the four XX answers being total unknowns to me and the fourth a BUMMER, the down answers that crossed those XX themers were pretty creaky. OXISH, EXIST IN, XKE, OXI, and SAXE were not my favorite fill answers. the rest of the grid was mostly pretty fun to work through.

that’s all i have this week. i do hope i did indeed miss something and that somebody will let me know about it in the comments!

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16 Responses to MGWCC #706

  1. Norm H says:

    I submitted DOUBLE DATING. Not a super-crisp click, but enough that it felt right.

  2. anonymous says:

    Take the first letter of each word containing double letters and you get DOUBLE DATING.

  3. Joe says:

    The first letters of all the themers is DOUBLE DATING

  4. Scott says:

    How did I not get this one? I am a smart guy.

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 538 right answers this week.

    I originally tried to fit this all into a 15×15 grid, which…wasn’t happening. Even in a 17×17 it was a challenge. I wanted no double letters on the downs but even that wouldn’t work.

  6. Mikie says:

    Dang it! I thought MIXED DOUBLES immediately and submitted it thinking, “It’s a Week 2, it could be that simple,” though one of the little voices in my head kept telling me, “You know that’s just a guess, you haven’t really nailed it down…”

    • Mike W says:

      Same here. I submitted this, given the three letters of MIX and their doubles throughout the grid. Once I saw I didn’t continue my prior streak of correct answers, I looked at the grid again and DOUBLE DATING leaped out as the desired answer. Lesson learned – do a double take if an answer seems right but lacks the “click” of certainty.

  7. David Glasser says:

    Count me as another member of the “took a surprisingly long time to look at the first letters” club. I looked at all the letters near the doubles themselves for quite a while before trying the theoretically obvious!

  8. John says:

    It all clicked immediately for me and i thought the take on the “doubles” within the repeated dates for “Double Dating” was super clever. I love the Week 2s that have a temporal and amusing hook that elevates the aha of sussing the meta. Plus, the 12 theme answers obviously made the construction tricky.

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