MGWCC #732

crossword 3:48
meta –3:48* 


hello and welcome to episode #732 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Time to Get Up”. the instructions for this week 2 puzzle tell us that this week’s contest answer is something people can’t stand having. i have to admit that when i read the clue, i immediately thought of the answer LAPS, since that’s a bit of a chestnut clue. but let us proceed anyway. what are the theme answers? the four long across answers would seem to have nothing in common:

  • {New York Mets owner (who shares his name with a Tennessee congressman)} STEVE COHEN.
  • {Court figure} LITIGATOR.
  • {Kudos from the boss} GREAT WORK.
  • {Organic dairy brand} STONYFIELD.

however, the final across clue is explicitly thematic: {“All ___” (legal drama you don’t need to have seen to solve this meta)} RISE. well, that’s good, because i haven’t seen it. (and, it turns out, i had already solved the meta.) does it star aaron judge?

anyway, with this clue in mind, we can see that each of the four long theme answers has the word ALL directly below it in the grid:

  • {Home to the WNBA’s Wings} DALLAS sits below STEVE COHEN.
  • {Comrade} ALLY is under LITIGATOR.
  • {88-year-old bluesman John} MAYALL is under GREAT WORK.
  • and {One of the rooms in the board game Clue} HALL is under STONYFIELD.

usually with a mechanism like this, we’re supposed to look at the letters right above ALL in each case, but those are COH, LIT, ORK, and TON, which are not very promising. it took me a little while to realize that ALL literally needed to rise into the row above it to produce a new answer!


neat! i don’t think i’ve ever seen such a mechanism. the next step was rather more familiar: each of these new answers can also satisfy the clue for one of the entries in the fill:

  • {Former host of “The Tonight Show”} is jay LENO, but also STEVE ALLEN.
  • {Creature on the first page of a children’s book about animals, maybe} is APE, but also ALLIGATOR. actually it’s ALLIGATOR much more often than APE. (but Z is almost always ZEBRA, even though it really should be ZYZZYVA.)
  • {Symbol of China} is the giant PANDA, but also the GREAT WALL.
  • {Winner of two Best Actress Oscars} is hilary SWANK, but also SALLY FIELD.

taking the first letters of those answers indeed gives LAPS, as i had suspected all along.

this was a great mechanism. i kind of wish the instructions hadn’t given the game away, but i enjoyed solving it anyway. let’s hear from the rest of you—surely i wasn’t the only one who thought LAPS had to be the answer right from the start?

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12 Responses to MGWCC #732

  1. Wayne says:

    I’m curious to know if LAP (singular) would have been accepted. Like joon, I had guessed that just from the title and the prompt … because Dad Joke!

    The singularity of “something” in the prompt hung me up for a while, because I kept trying to back solve from LAP (a three letter word) to the four theme entries I got in Step 1. I think the prompt should have been “TWCA is things (plural) people can’t stand having.”

    That the double Ls [vaguely] resemble laps was a nice touch.

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      I’m curious to know if LAP (singular) would have been accepted. Like joon, I had guessed that just from the title and the prompt

      Insofar as the essential puzzle is to find and decode the meta-clues hidden in the crossword, it’s unfortunate enough for the actual answer to be guessable from the title and prompt alone. Would you really want Matt to accept alternate answers that could only have come from guessing at the prompt? I certainly wouldn’t.

  2. Mac says:

    Can someone help me with 8D? If we are talking Roman numerals, 1018 years ago was the year 1004, which is MIV, not CIV. What am I missing?

  3. Jim S says:

    I wonder if anyone submitted CLOT, the first letters of the 4 sections that were removed when ALL was elevated. Many certainly couldn’t stand to have a clot (especially those who missed the dad jokiness of the prompt and title), and wondered if maybe that “answer” was enough to prevent some from moving onto the next step.

    • David Glasser says:

      Team CLOT here. I thought it was a bit odd, but one way you end up getting blood clots if if you don’t stand up for too long. If this was Week 3 or 4 I would have tried harder, but this seemed like a reasonable level of complexity for Week 2.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Clot is what I submitted as well. I suspected there was more, but CLOT is in fact something people can’t “stand” having and fits with “all rise.” LAPS is better, but that’s just an unfortunate exit ramp to put in a week 2.

  4. ddlatham says:

    At first I thought that maybe Alligator was a Dundee rejection. “Not alligator, it should be Crocodile Dundee!”. Then I found the proper answer.

  5. Tony says:

    Knew the answer but forgot to submit. I did the puzzle while in a nearly endless layover at Amsterdam International Airport after a long flight from SFO. NEVER FLY THROUGH THERE!!!!! Crappy WiFi and horrible customer service. The wait to get through security for the connection to Athens was about 3 hours. Didn’t make it to Athens until nearly 3:00 AM this morning. (6 EDT Monday). Completely forgot to submit the entry.

  6. Tom Bassett/ MajordomoTom says:

    My “guess” was going to be “A LAP”, because I was taking “people” to be a singular, and it was clearly a plural.

    Nice mechanism, I didn’t even throw a guess, I should have, but it’s clearly LAPS, and A LAP (or, simply, LAP) clearly means you’re guessing and that you didn’t solve it.

    Nice work as usual Matt, looking forward to week 3.

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