MGWCC #719

crossword 7:16
meta 0:15 


hello and welcome to episode #719 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Something’s Brewing”. this was a week 2, but since the email said it was aimed at more of a week 1 difficulty, i solved it without the instructions, and it was readily solvable as such. what are the theme answers? there’s only one overt themer in the grid: {Convenient beer purchase; you’ll need several of them today} SIX-PACK. and indeed, there are seven SIX-PACKS in the grid, consisting of 2×3 blocks of the same letter six times. those letters, read off in grid order, spell out FOSTER’S, a beer brand and the answer to the meta.

each SIX-PACK necessarily entails two stacked answers containing the same letter three times in a row. that’s not something you see every day. (there are also three stacked answers containing merely a doubled letter reading in the other direction, but that’s much less noteworthy.) in order, those triple-letter answers are:

  • {Former Arizona congressman who’s currently serving as U.S. ambassador to Turkey} JEFF FLAKE and {Playing poorly, to Brits} OFF-FORM.
  • {Like a kid who’s 13 and wants to play Little League} TOO OLD and {Encourage to leave the house, as a fly} SHOO OUT.
  • {Guilty party, one-sixth of the time} MISS SCARLET (the guilty suspect in clue) and {Instrument for Colin Stetson} BASS SAX. not familiar with colin stetson, but nevertheless this went into the grid with no crossings because what else could it be?
  • {Subject of the February 2022 Hulu documentary “Let the World See”} EMMETT TILL and {Former Rolling Stone journalist who now has the 4th-highest number of paid subscribers on Substack} MATT TAIBBI.
  • {“Got a visual on those guys?”} SEE ‘EM? and {Thai noodle dish} PAD SEE EW. that’s a creative way to clue SEE ‘EM, which is usually a partial, and there’s a bit of fancy stepping involved in writing a fill-in-the-blank clue from “i call ’em like i see ’em” without duplicating the ‘EM. the noodle dish, on the other hand, is both an elegant find and quite tasty.
  • {Publication that imperiled the Clinton White House} STARR REPORT and {Utterance rarely heard in summer} BRRR. unless you’re somewhere indoors and over-air-conditioned… which is a lot of places, in my experience.
  • {Body of water off Antarctica that is not named for a “Friends” character} ROSS SEA and {Couturier’s concern} DRESS SIZE. i looked it up, and it turns out the ROSS SEA is actually named after susan ross, george’s fiancée from seinfeld.

so that’s a very constrained theme, both in terms of sheer amount of material and the requirement that they be in those 2×3 stacks. hence the 21×21 grid size this week. overall, the puzzle was definitely easy enough for a week 1 and pleasant enough to solve, but after the initial aha, there was just a whole lot of crossword left and not much in the way of surprise theme-wise. it’s a nice touch that matt got SIX-PACK in there, although the puzzle would not have been much harder without it—those triple-letter combos are pretty eye-catching. but its inclusion tied the whole beer theme together neatly.

a couple of things that caught my eye from the fill:

  • {Hook used to catch fish (also a nickname of mine as a kid)} GAFF. you sure they weren’t calling you GAFFE? kids can be so cruel.
  • {Spanish soccer great} XAVI. now here’s a name i don’t remember seeing in crosswords before. but XAVI was an amazing player for both spain and barcelona, and although he just retired as a player quite recently, he’s back in barcelona as the manager (“coach”) and having quite some success.
  • {All-consonant spelling that’s a counterpart to “boi”} GRL. i don’t think i’ve seen this in the wild. GRRL, yes. maybe even GRRRL (although i would’ve looked askance at that if matt had used in for the R six-pack in the theme).

that’s all i’ve got this week. how’d you all like this one?

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7 Responses to MGWCC #719

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 673 correct answers this week (and only 5 incorrect, so a true Week 1).

  2. BHamren says:

    Nice “research” on the true person the Ross Sea is named after!

    It’s obvious now, but I never associated sixpack with the answer. I did think it was clued oddly “you’ll need several of them today”. I should have associated that with the answer, but already seeing all the sixpacks of letters and being a week 1 I don’t think it helped in getting the meta.

  3. Mike says:

    {Body of water off Antarctica that is not named for a “Friends” character} ROSS SEA and {Couturier’s concern} DRESS SIZE. I looked it up, and it turns out the ROSS SEA is actually named after Susan Ross, George’s fiancée from Seinfeld.

    *****CHEF’S KISS*****

  4. Adam Rosenfield says:

    > and it turns out the ROSS SEA is actually named after susan ross …

    My reaction: oh wow, that’s great! I didn’t know that was named after a woman!

    > … george’s fiancée from seinfeld.

    Oh joon, you little devil ;). (I’ve watched the show and remembered her first name was Susan, but didn’t know her last name so it didn’t jump out at me.)

  5. AmyL says:

    The Ross Sea is actually named for Marion Ross from Happy Days. Wasn’t she called Mrs. Sea?

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