MGWCC #750

crossword 2:46
meta 1:30 


hello and welcome to episode #750 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Monster Match”. first of all, thanks to matt for filling in for me last week while i was not, in fact, waterskiing on lake manitoba—i just spaced out and forgot to blog the puzzle. my apologies! anyway, i’m back for this halloween-appropriate week 2 puzzle, in which matt challenges us to name a sound heard in horror movies. okay, what are the theme answers? the four longest across answers answers each evoke (and share part of the name of) a famous monster:

  • {Video game created by Shigeru Miyamoto} DONKEY KONG. he’s a big ape, like KING KONG.
  • {Food only sold in September and October} COUNT CHOCULA. i had no idea! i remember seeing commercials for this as a child and i assumed that all of these general mills monster cereals were available year-round. apparently they became seasonal in 2010. anyway, he’s vampirish, like COUNT DRACULA.
  • {Genetically modified organisms, casually} FRANKENFOODS. these are named after senator AL FRANKEN.
  • {Wedding planner’s nightmare} BRIDEZILLA, an (it must be said) unkind comparison of a bride to the kaiju GODZILLA.

i might as well say up front that based on just the instructions and the number of theme answers (four), MOAN is already a very strong candidate. but let’s continue. the title suggests that we match up the monsters. it turns out that the part of the original monster’s name that does not appear in each theme answer does show up elsewhere in the grid, except with one letter (the first letter, in each case) changed:

  • KING KONG is missing his KING, but {Dynasty from 1368-1644} MING is there at 41-across.
  • COUNT DRACULA is missing his DRA, but {Rita who sings “I Will Never Let You Down”} ORA is there at 20-across.
  • FRANKENSTEIN (okay, yeah, i was kidding about al franken) is missing his STEIN, but {Didn’t go out for dinner} ATE IN is there at 66-across. don’t @ me about the monster actually being FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER.
  • GODZILLA is GODless, but {Say “yes” without saying anything} NOD is there at 42-across.

taking these changed letters in order spells out MOAN, so yes, that is the answer.

i thought this puzzle was great. it felt easy enough for a week 1; i suppose there is one more step than last week’s actual week 1 meta, in the sense that you had to search the fill for the extra words suggested by the meta mechanism, whereas for last week’s puzzle you merely had to read off the first letters of the extra words themselves. at any rate, the mechanism still felt fresh, original, and entertaining despite being both easy and seasonally appropriate. two thumbs up from me.

clues and fill that caught my eye:

  • {Gmail prompt option} NOT SPAM. this entry is dancing on the line that divides “fresh new entry” from “wait, is that a thing”. in the end, i think i like it.
  • {Business end of a woodpecker} BEAK. this is a wonderful clue. easy, sure, but it evokes a very striking image of a person getting into it with a woodpecker (and losing).
  • {The Phils are in it} NL EAST. the phils are also in the NLCS (which starts tonight), unlike their division rivals the braves and mets, who both won 101 games and have been eliminated from the playoffs. baseball can be cruel.
  • {Ryan and Damon, for two} MATTS, plus {___ Club} SAM’S and {Wilson and Curry, for two} ANNS felt like too many plural/possessive names for one grid.

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

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12 Responses to MGWCC #750

  1. Louis D says:

    I was temporarily distracted by the eight clues in quotes and their answers. Having eight clues of this type seemed excessive, so I thought they would be relevant. The answers were

    ISIT (the letters of which are found in FRANKENSTEIN)
    NONO (the letters of which are found in DONKEYKONG)
    OHNO (the letters of which are found in COUNTCHOCULA)
    TSK (the letters of which are found in FRANKENSTEIN)
    LOL (the letters of which are found in GODZILLA)
    OKOK (the letters of which are found in DONKEYKONG)

    Luckily, I abandoned this line of reasoning pretty quickly and got back on track.

  2. Garrett says:

    I wanted to rate this one a 4, but somehow it wound up 3. Fat-fingered something on the iPhone.

    I, too, liked this meta, seasonally apt, fun to do. I did think that the mechanisms changed, though, which initially confused me.

    The first was Donkey Kong. Here we just match King with Kong.

    The second is different. Instead of matching, we are changing three letters to make a different match, from Count Chocula to Dracula. But note: still two words.

    The third is different — we now have a one word themer whose last part can be replaced to evoke Mary Shelley’s monster. Like the previous one, the in-place letter change creates a different match.

    The last one is like the previous one in one way (one word), but more like the first, because you are matching with the second half while ignoring the first half (God with zilla).

    Random notes:
    — Bride, with “of”, matches with Frankenstein.

    — There were two movie titles involving the first and last themers: “King Kong vs Godzilla,” and, “Godzilla vs Kong.”

    — If you removed EY on the first themer, and inserted ING, you’d have DONKINGKONG.

    — Don matches with Ho in CHOCULA.


  3. Mutman says:

    When I was a kid, Frankenberry and Count Chocula were on the shelves all year ‘round. But that was a long time ago …

  4. Joe Eckman says:

    Go Phils!
    Great puzzle Matt.

  5. Tom Bassett/ MajordomoTom says:

    Good puzzle, I’m too drained by the end of the extended tax season to have gotten this, but I should have …

    At least only 4 Fridays in October this year.

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