MGWCC #823

crossword 4:26
meta 2:30 


hello, and welcome to episode #823 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Watching the State of the Union on TV”. for this week 2 puzzle, the instructions asked for a U.S. state. what were the theme answers? five grid-spanning across answers were goofy made-up phrases that each concealed the name of a well-known TV show:

  • {“The first President Roosevelt had a mean streak, right?”} WASN’T TEDDY NASTY conceals DYNASTY.
  • {Two things u might see if ur in a baseball stadium’s lounge? [Note: tortured syntax alert, sorry]} NEWSMAG ‘N’ UMPIRES. the tortured syntax was necessary to get MAGNUM, P.I. in there.
  • {Military takeover of a bookstore’s “Novels” wing?} PROSE ANNEXATION. ROSEANNE.
  • {Soak up the frigid ocean waters near Akureyri?} BATHE OFF ICELAND. THE OFFICE. i had never heard of akureyri, but “frigid ocean waters” was a useful hint.
  • {President Wilson, when he couldn’t get a decent hand all night at the poker table?} CARD-DEAD WOODROW. similarly, the poker slang term “card-dead” was not familiar to me.

what next? well, it’s mildly interesting that the first and last of these theme answers referred to u.s. presidents, given the state of the union tie-in in the title. but no, that was totally irrelevant; instead, we needed the state in which each of these TV shows was set. i knew four of them off the top of my head: MAGNUM, P.I. was in hawaii, ROSEANNE in illinois, THE OFFICE in pennsylvania, and DEADWOOD in south dakota (not that i’ve ever seen the show specifically, but i do know where deadwood is). i thought DYNASTY might, like its rival dallas, have been set in texas, but no, it was in colorado. overall, it was a nice mix of shows from different eras.

anyway, taking the first letters of these states in order gives CHIPS, another notable TV show associated with the state of california, as the title is an acronym (or near-acronym) of california highway patrol. so that’s our meta answer.

like dynasty, i suppose, CHiPs was slightly before my time, airing from 1977 to 1983. i know it in a crossword context mostly from clues for ERIK (estrada). i believe it’s mainly about two particular officers, but it occurs to me that i have no idea who played the other guy. somebody whose name is much less useful to crossword constructors, i can only assume.

it’s a bit of a relief to have a nice gentle week 2 meta, after the travails of last month.

odds and ends:

  • {“I guess summer’s about over”} BRR. i found this clue totally impenetrable. i feel like i am much more likely to say or hear this in the winter than the fall, though, honestly, it happens in summer, too, if i’m wearing shorts and i go into a supermarket or something where it’s over-air-conditioned.
  • {Admirably and amusingly assertive attitude} SASS. an amply assonant articulation.
  • {Kid, half the time} SON. it was mildly jarring to solve this and then immediately run into {Engage in jesting} KID at 8-down.
  • {It’s nice if it’s iced (if you ask me)} LATTE. depends on the season, if you ask me. (BRR.)
  • {“Now that you’ve completely refuted my argument, allow me to continue as if that hadn’t happened”} STILL. this one made me laugh.
  • {Two-player play} ALLEY-OOP. i kept trying to think of stage plays with only two characters: topdog/underdog, the dumb waiter, the zoo story. well, none of those was the answer. but i learned that such plays are called “two-handers” in the theater business, so it wasn’t a total waste.

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

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7 Responses to MGWCC #823

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, joon — 511 right answers this week.

  2. Richard K says:

    I, too, conflated “Dynasty” and “Dallas” at first, so I started off with TH —, thinking we were headed toward “The OC.” Luckily, I would still have ended up in California. (Though I must admit that “CHiPs” is closer to my generation than “The OC.” Well, actually, I’m more of the “77 Sunset Strip” generation.)

  3. Joe Eckman says:

    Matt hit the week 2 sweet spot! Nice puzzle!

    • EP says:

      Completely agree, for me also this hit that (for Matt) elusive week 2 sweet spot. Also agree with Joon’s comment about a ‘nice, gentle week 2 meta, after the travails of last month.’

  4. Norm H says:

    Nice Week 2 from Matt. Clean and simple, the tortured themers notwithstanding.

    Larry Wilcox played Erik Estrada’s partner. Prior to that, I had seen Wilcox portray a gas station attendant working for his boss, station owner “Murph,” in a series of TV commercials for Union 76. Sheesh, I am really dating myself…

  5. Seth Cohen says:

    Got hung up a little because the more recent reboot of Dynasty takes place in Georgia, not Colorado, and GHIPS didn’t mean anything to me. Had to get a nudge to regoogle the states to see where I went wrong.

  6. Myelbow says:

    It looks like Matt accepted my answer of WEST VIRGINIA, a state that has “TV” hidden inside it. But I guess the CHiPs/California solution is more on point!

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