MGWCC #775

crossword 3:19
meta 3 days 


hello and welcome to episode #775 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Examples Abound”. i attempted this week 1 puzzle without the instructions, and although i should probably have been able to solve it like that, i did not, so ultimately i did look at the instructions. what’s the theme? there’s only one theme answer in evidence in this undersized (13×13) grid, the central across answer: {When MGWCC #774 was released — sadly and typically over the past year, 24 hours behind schedule; it appears nineteen times on this page} APRIL FOOL’S DAY. well, last week’s puzzle did indeed come out a day late on april 1, even though it was supposed to be the march 31 week 5 puzzle. what does “it appears nineteen times on this page” mean, though? april first in the american style of notating dates is 4/1, and there are nineteen clues that end with “, for one”:

  • {Home plate, for one} BASE.
  • {The Kansas City Chiefs, for one} TEAM.
  • {LSAT, for one} EXAM.
  • {Oliver Twist, for one} LAD.
  • {Ada Louise Gaffney, for one} TOT.
  • {Shari Lewis’s puppet Lamb Chop, for one} EWE.
  • {Conventiongoer, for one} TOURIST. this feels a bit off to me—i don’t think the relationship between conventiongoer and TOURIST is quite tight enough. a conventiongoer need not be a TOURIST, because you can go to a convention in (say) your own hometown and not do any touristy stuff.
  • {Dunn, for one} NORA.
  • {Kudzu, for one} VINE.
  • {December 24, for one} EVE.
  • {Siesta, for one} REST.
  • {Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Circles,” for one} ESSAY.
  • {The Bhagavad Gita, for one} TEXT.
  • {Howard Hughes, for one} RECLUSE.
  • {King Kong, for one} APE.
  • {Leon Ray Livingston, for one} HOBO. never heard of him, but it’s interesting that there’s a HOBO famous enough to clue the word HOBO by example.
  • {51 in Nevada, for one} AREA.
  • {Aerie, for one} NEST.
  • {Longoria, for one} EVA.

having found all these instances, i was totally unclear on what to do next, although i guess it should have been obvious. but i peeked at the instructions, which tell us that we’re looking for a 19-letter phrase that could be MGWCC’s motto. well, if we’re looking for a 19-letter answer, we should probably look at the first letters of these 19 answers. i’ve circled them in the screenshot above, and they spell out BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, which is quite an apt tie-in to the lengthy clue for APRIL FOOLS DAY.

in the end, i’m glad i did peek at the instructions, because it made the punch line much more satisfying, even if it made me feel a little inadequate as a meta solver. my ego is bruised, but i’ll get over it.

on the other hand, the meta itself was fantastic. with the instructions echoing the “nineteen” in the APRIL FOOL’S DAY clue, it’s definitely easy enough for a week 1, but what a brilliant and self-deprecating way for matt to spin off another meta based on last week’s coming out a day late. the repurposing of the uber-common cluing trope “, for one” to clue by example (examples do, indeed, abound in just about every crossword) into a “4/1” and tying in with april fool’s day was absolutely inspired.

i found the grid to be mostly unremarkable, except for the totally unfamiliar word {Babble endlessly, in Scotland} TAVER. i was quite certain this was going to be HAVER, a nearly equally unfamiliar word that i (and many others) know for exactly one reason. but no, it’s TAVER, a word that is knowable for one fewer reason than that. you can still see the eraser mark on my paper where i used to have HAVER and TOURISH. even though TOURISH isn’t a word, i could see myself using it as a word, whereas i can’t say the same for TAVER.

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

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11 Responses to MGWCC #775

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 568 right answers this week (and just two wrong ones).

    Intriguing backstory: I dreamed this meta. I think I’ve dreamed elements of a theme before but never the whole thing like this, and on a meta. Busy week in life and work and went to bed exhausted at 1:30 AM on Thursday with no Week 1 ideas that I liked. Was resigned to either postponing or just writing a fine-but-nothing-special week 1 in the morning, but as I went to bed I said, let me think about this. Drifted off with nothing in mind but my subconscious both realized that last week’s puzzle ran (late) on April 1st and wasn’t an April Fool’s puzzle so that was a possibility, and then also the 4/1 = “for one” idea, and then using the “for one” clues to spell something out, and that that thing would be BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. Jolted awake from all this at 3:00 AM, jumped out of bed, checked in a panic to see if anyone had ever done the 4/1 = “for one” idea, relieved to find they hadn’t, wrote the grid and clues by 5:30 AM and sent it off to tester.

    I don’t expect this to work every time (or maybe ever again) but I am certainly going to start trying it…

    Anyone else here dream a whole theme? Do share if so.

  2. Margaret says:

    I read the instructions first and immediately thought of Better late than never. It didn’t help me backsolve at all but once I saw the 4/1 connection and started circling the letters in the grid I got a little thrill!
    PS joon count me in as one of the people who know HAVER for only one reason! There was no question in my mind what your link was going to be.

  3. Mary Flaminio says:

    Three days for a week one? I didn’t get it. If it took Joon that long well….is it really a week one?

    • joon says:

      i guess i didn’t spell this out exactly, but: i tried the puzzle without the instructions, couldn’t see the last step, and three days later (i.e. this morning) i looked at the instructions and saw it basically right away. if i’d looked at the instructions in advance (as i generally do except for week 1s), this would probably have been a 1-minute meta.

  4. EP says:

    I’ll stake a claim for the ‘idiot of the week’ award: found the 19 ‘for one’ answers easily enough, figured that I’d need 1 letter from each grid entry, and tried the first letter, last letter, alternating the fourth letter with the first letter…but always taking all the across answers in order followed by the down answers. This, of course, yielded nothing but gibberish…it never occurred to me to take the answers as they appeared in the grid. Oy…

  5. Garrett says:

    I first looked for IT embedded in the clues, and got seven instances, as I recall. So I thought about what the subject of IT was, and thought, “Well, April 1st!” This started me looking for ONE or FIRST, but ONE was the immediate thing, and there were 19. From there, I got BETTE, then BETTER, and I knew what it had to be, but still made sure, and submitted it.

    It was only later that “for one” clicked as 4/1.

    Nice meta!

  6. Rob T says:

    One of my favourite MGWCC’s so far!! Slightly biased by the fact that April Fool’s Day is my birthday and I’ve said “4/1” a thousand times so it was an easy solve, but….

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