MGWCC #770

crossword 3:11
meta 0:05 


hello and welcome to episode #770 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “It Takes Two”. for this week 1 puzzle, the instructions weren’t necessary. what are the theme answers? five long across answers are two-word phrases with initials E.R.:

  • {Flower seen in Manhattan} EAST RIVER. “flower” as in “something that flows”, not a bloom. the kind of trick you sometimes see in crosswords but that wouldn’t make sense in an audio puzzle (because it would have to rhyme with “goer”).
  • {Buzzing cutter} ELECTRIC RAZOR.
  • {Leaving work before quitting time} EARLY RETIREMENT. another subtle misdirection here—we’re not talking about taking off before 5 pm, but rather leaving work on a more permanent basis.
  • {Best Actor winner for portraying Stephen Hawking} EDDIE REDMAYNE.
  • {1969 movie portraying a motorcycle trip from Los Angeles to New Orleans} EASY RIDER. it’s fascinating how this is only a one-letter change in each word away from EAST RIVER.

anyway, so the answer is just ER, right? gotta be. it’s the name of a famous tv show and that’s self-evidently the theme of the puzzle. can’t overthink these things in week 1.

some notable bits from the fill:

  • {Mena or Jong} ERICA. i wasn’t familiar with erica mena (whenever i see MENA in the grid it’s clued as actress suvari), but what was more surprising to me was the inclusion in the grid of both this answer and the clue {Erykah of R&B} BADU. i guess you can’t clue ERICA and BADU together because of the spelling, but it still felt weird.
  • {Like good journalists} NOSY. NOSY almost always gets clued in a negative sense, so this felt like a fresh cluing angle.
  • {“Garson Hampfield, Crossword ___”} INKER. boy, this one is a blast from the past.
  • {Gymnast/social media star Olivia} DUNNE. i didn’t know this name either. apparently she is famous on tiktok and instagram, two platforms i have never used. two points of interest i’ve gleaned from reading up on her just now: first, she came along at the perfect time to cash in from the ncaa’s new rule allowing athletes to earn money from name/image/likeness (NIL) rights, as the most followed ncaa athlete on social media. second, her social media accounts and website all use the nickname “livvy” dunne, which is a spelling i have never seen, and a rare instance of the double-v bigram. so that’s one to keep an eye on, grid-wise.
  • {All-consonant pierogi brand} MRS. T’S. another new one for me, and it looks wild in the grid.
  • {Bee creations} QUILTS. neither this answer nor the answer to {Buzzing cutter} had anything to do with genus apis.

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

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3 Responses to MGWCC #770

  1. Garrett says:

    Was vaguely aware of crossword inkers, but coming up with a name for such an obscure job?

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 610 correct answers this week…

    …and zero incorrect, so the platonic ideal for a Week 1/5! Go me (and 610 of you)

  3. Seth Cohen says:

    Seriously close to a DNF on the puzzle. I had “bOy would I!” at 8D and so could not see the misdirection of the word “flower” — I thought it was a kind of flower called an east something. And _IB for Ruckus was therefore confusing. Also hadn’t heard of the movie Tar, so that last letter could have been anything. And the DUVET clue was opaque to me. FINALLY got DUVET, which allowed me to see EAST RIVER and fix bOy.

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