MGWCC #722

crossword 2:46
meta –2:00 


hello and welcome to episode #722 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “I Kid”. for this week 1 puzzle that came out on april fools day (also the first day of the ACPT), the instructions were quite unnecessary. what are the theme answers?

  • {Where, instead of writing the words he’s been instructed to, a prankster in detention might repeatedly scribble: “I will not aim for the head” or “I will not sell school property”} CHALKBOARD. is this true? i had always assumed that he’s writing what he’s been assigned to write, but i guess it’s open to interpretation.
  • {A prankster might set his fourth-grade teacher up on a nonexistent blind date, providing her with a picture of this hockey legend} GORDIE HOWE.
  • {A prankster might lower a radio down into a well, then remotely speak into it using one of these, convincing the entire town that he’s a little boy trapped at the well’s bottom} MICROPHONE.
  • {Business a prankster might call, requesting to speak with patrons named “Heywood U. Cuddleme” or “Jacques Strap”} MOE’S TAVERN. moe’s tavern featured in one of the theme clues last week, and here it is again promoted to an answer.

the theme answers make it abundantly clear that the prankster in question is none other than bart simpson, who is pictured in the intro sequence to every simpsons episode writing a different gag on the CHALKBOARD, and in dozens of episodes prank-calling MOE’S TAVERN. the episode where he sets up mrs. krabappel with GORDIE HOWE (“bart the lover”) and the one where he puts the MICROPHONE down the well (“radio bart”) are both from season 3, squarely in the golden age of the show.

this meta is definitely among the easiest week 1’s we’ve ever seen, and not just for solvers in my demographic who grew up on the simpsons. it’s a slight curiosity that in crossworld, MOE(’S) is more famous than bart himself; the same could perhaps be said of APU and disco STU. but in any event, bart simpson is probably the most famous prankster in modern popular culture, and the references in the puzzle are easily traced to him even for people who have never watched the show.

other bits:

  • {“Now I understand the meta!”} AHA! well, sometimes. this one was so easy that the AHA moment was a bit muted.
  • {Stephen King’s favorite lake (I’m guessing)} ERIE. i approve of this pun. lake eerie was the name of the horror-themed round at this year’s MIT mystery hunt.
  • {Destroyed, in gaming slang} REKT. it’s like “wrecked” but spelled cutesily. i don’t believe i’ve ever seen this in a crossword, but it is the kind of word my son and his friends use.

that’s all for me. it was lovely to see many of you this past weekend in stamford, for the first time in three years!

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7 Responses to MGWCC #722

  1. Hector says:

    After solving I looked at the entries starting with I — the title being I Kid — and found O L D M A N … and then D.

  2. C. Y. Hollander says:

    D’OH! in the center was a nice touch.

  3. Joe says:

    Why all the hate in the ratings?? It was a cute, easy meta. I’m giving it a 5 to offset some of that nonsense, I hope.

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      What’s the point of aggregating ratings if not to reflect whatever rough measure of the “central tendency” of voter’s opinions can be captured in a number? Deliberately misstating your own opinion in order to make the average look closer to your own opinion only distorts that measure. I’m not sure what you think you’re accomplishing by this.

    • Alice Schubach says:

      I did not rate the meta at all. However, it was probably my least favorite, since I have been doing these (about two years). I was not familiar with the pop culture reference to Bart Simpson, not being big on those things, so it went totally over my head. I asked somebody for help. She suggested that I “focus on the clues.” Even that didn’t help until I googled the clues and saw the Bart Simpson tie-in.

      After I solved it, I realized that the grid was no help at all. (I had put a lot of time into studying the grid!) Anybody who knows the Bart Simpson thing can solve it without the grid. So, not a very satisfying meta, in my opinion.

  4. Silverskiesdean says:

    I am sorry about this but can someone explain last weeks title “I As in Interrobang” . I have read the comments from last week but still cannot grok its significance. Forgive me for being so late with this.

    • Flinty Steve says:

      I think the idea was to get people thinking about the initial letters of punctuation marks, since they were central to the solve. Not that I actually figured it out . . .

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