MGWCC #788

crossword 3:24
meta 2? 


hello and welcome to episode #788 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Mix Six”. i attempted, as i often do on week 1 puzzles, to solve without instructions. what are the theme answers?

  • {1930 Evelyn Waugh satire about London’s party scene} VILE BODIES. i’m familiar with this title, having read some waugh in college, but i haven’t read this one. is it any good?
  • {James Bond movie with a theme song by Wings} LIVE AND LET DIE. i thought this theme song was by paul mccartney solo, but the clue is correct and i was misremembering.
  • {Reasoning technique that removes bias} VEIL OF IGNORANCE. from john rawls’s 1971 ethics book a theory of justice, possibly an even more erudite reference than the waugh book.
  • {He played Boris Spassky in 2014’s “Pawn Sacrifice”} LIEV SCHREIBER. leave it to matt to clue this actor via chess somehow. i’ve actually never even heard of this film. is it any good?
  • {Hannibal Lecter or Henry Hook, e.g.} EVIL GENIUS. leave it to matt to clue this term via crosswords somehow.

so the theme is fairly clear—each of these themers begins with a word that’s an arrangement of the same four letters: VILE, LIVE, VEIL, LIEV, and EVIL. the title suggests finding a sixth anagram of those letters, which can sort of only be LEVI if you want the result to be an actual thing instead of just an arbitrary block of letters like ELIV or IEVL. that said, i still didn’t know without looking at the instructions whether the answer was just going to be LEVI (as in the biblical figure and tribe), or whether the instructions would contain some more specific prompt and the answer was going to be something like LEVI STUBBS, the singer of the four tops. so i did look at the instructions, which ask for a famous american company. from there it took only a second to come up with levi strauss. i suppose that might have been guessable from the start with fairly high confidence, but not 100%.

the fill contained some surprisingly tough proper noun crosses for a week 1: photographer KOO stark crossing model KARLIE kloss at the K, and picasso’s middle name (or rather, his paternal surname, with picasso being his maternal surname) RUIZ crossing the frightfully obscure REZA {___ Jarrahy (plastic surgeon who was married to Geena Davis for 20 years)}. i am not sure of the reasoning behind these, but my opinion is that replacing REZA with RENT (and hence RUIZ and SEA with RUIN and SET) would have improved the puzzle. KOO/KARLIE is harder to improve without larger changes in the grid, since it’s not tucked away in its own corner. in fairness, the long overlap of themers LIEV SCHREIBER and EVIL GENIUS at the bottom of the grid makes for a very constrained grid, so in that context, the fill is actually pretty good.

elsewhere, i enjoyed the clue {U2 #1} cluing not one of their #1 hits, but their front man BONO. that was cute.

that’s all for me. how’d you like this one?

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5 Responses to MGWCC #788

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, joon! 547 right answers this week, 526 of which were solo solves.

    “Pawn Sacrifice” was fine, but no “Searching for Bobby Fischer”. Read this if you like; the reviewer did an outstanding job off breaking down the chess scenes:

  2. EP says:

    I thought this a pretty solid week #1 construction. The 5 VILEs were apparent enough, but I wasted some time looking for the 6th, not realizing that the answer itself was the 6th. And I thought that Matt threw in a moderate red herring with those overly descriptive clues, like ‘(plastic surgeon that was married to Geena Davis for 20 years)’, and Kloss ‘who is apparently not friends anymore with Taylor Swift’. Do we really need that additional information?

    And, after my comment last week you know that I agree Joon about ‘some surprisingly tough proper noun crosses’.

  3. John says:

    Vile Bodies is excellent reading and i believe considered one of Waugh’s best. Reading the write-up was interesting because i choose the “Downs Only” version of the puzzle and so missed a lot of those more obscure clues.

  4. Mikie says:

    After answering just “Levi”, it occured to me that technically the company is named “Levi Strauss and Co.”, and that it’s also commonly referred to as “Levi Strauss” or even “Levi’s.” Figured Matt wouldn’t quibble, and he didn’t, gave me credit for “Levi.” A tad ambiguous, perhaps, but hey, it’s a Week 1.

  5. makfan says:

    I didn’t submit an answer because I forgot to go back to the puzzle before the cutoff time, but I spent some time debating whether Google’s former “Don’t be evil” slogan factored in at all. The six in the title was the reason that did not feel right, except for Google’s name having six letters.

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