MGWCC #828

crossword &
meta approx. 35 mins  


G’day from Downunder! benchen71 here, filling in for joon who was at ACPT this past weekend (where he finished 7th – congrats!), and may not have had time to do the MGWCC.

Anyhoo, #828 was entitled “Know Your Place” and we’re looking for “a hyphenated 10-letter adjective I hope you’d apply to this crossword”. Given the answer has 10 letters, it seems significant that there are 5 2-word long entries:

  • 17A. {Scroll up?} IONIC COLUMN
  • 25A. {Treatise that begins: “Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour”} COMMON SENSE
  • 35A. {State of bliss} HOG HEAVEN
  • 51A. {Far from prime time} AMATEUR HOUR
  • 58A. {Song covered by Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, and Justin Bieber} SILENT NIGHT

My meta-solving wheels spun for a while. The title made me think of numerical places, and COLUMN seemed to confirm that, at least initially. I’d written the themers out and at some point the phrase “7th heaven” floated through my brain. This was closely followed by “6th sense”, “5th column”, “11th hour” and “12th night”. The obvious thing to try, now that I had the numbers 5, 6, 7, 11 and 12, was to look at those numbered squares in the grid. This spelled CLASS. Given the mechanism that I had used to get this far, putting an ordinal in front of this seemed appropriate, and FIRST CLASS matched Matt’s prompt: yes indeed, this meta was first-class!
Clue comments:

  • 57A. {+4, in Ancient Rome} LXI had me stumped for a bit, until I realised the clue number was involved: 57+4=61.

And, in honour of the answer, here’s the trailer to X-Men: First Class:

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12 Responses to MGWCC #828

  1. Ben Chenoweth says:

    Image courtesy of BarbaraK on xword-muggles!

    • J says:

      Q for the community – was there a hint somewhere to zero in on the second words in the theme answers?

      For a week 2 I initially expected that 5 themers of 2 words towards a meta solution of 10 words meant we’d need to extract two letters from each theme phrase. It was only after a nudge to focus on the second words of each phrase that the mechanism revealed itself to me, but I’m curious if the puzzle itself had a clue I missed instead of relying on my solving partner to push me in the right direction.

      • BarbaraK says:

        I did not see anything pointing to second words only. But it is not unusual in metas, or even in regular themed crosswords, for only one word in the theme entries to relevant.

        I think this time it was more difficult to think of because the prompt specified a 10 letter answer instead of 5.

  2. Joshua Kosman says:

    It seems so easy when Joon does it!

    Here’s another thing that’s true about the five theme entries: In each two-word phrase, every letter occurs either exactly once or exactly twice. I don’t have a good sense of how likely that is to occur randomly, but to have it happen all five times seemed unlikely to be a coincidence. That, plus “place,” told me to construe each individual word as a binary number, with the singleton letters as 0s and the doubletons as 1s.

    It would’ve worked, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!

  3. EP says:

    Week 2 fails are not exactly rare for me, but a week 2 in which, after reading the solution, I can honestly say ‘no way I’d ever have gotten this’ is. Judging by the number of solves (232), this is no week 2, more like a tough 3 or easier 4. But even if it were a week 3, I have these complaints:

    The title is particularly unhelpful, one that more clearly suggested focusing on a ‘second word’ would have helped a lot.

    ‘First class’ is, according to the sources I checked, is far more often NOT hyphenated than it is; the solution should more accurately have read ‘an occasionally hyphenated 10 letter adjective’

    57A was a grizzly clue, a little ‘mini-meta’ in itself

    In my book, Matt still owes us a week 2 this month.

    • Garrett says:

      I agree — that’s no week 2 meta.

      However, the meta question is accurate. “First class” is used as a noun or adverb. The adjectival form is always hyphenated.

    • MountainManZach says:

      Agree that it was >week 2, but disagree that the title was unhelpful. I was spinning my wheels for a while on the idea that 6/10 theme words have natural ‘opposites’ (and there were ‘companion’ words for the other 4). Wasn’t until I had the thought that place could imply ordinal numbers that I got traction

      And yeah, that LLH corner was a journey!

  4. JML says:

    To me, this is the perfect execution of a meta puzzle. Well made, well done!

  5. jae says:

    I kept coming back to this and getting nowhere over several days. I picked it up again late Wednesday morning west coast time and noticed that I’d written 7th next to heaven the day before and suddenly it all clicked. Unfortunately it was past noon in Matt world so I was too late. That said it felt good to get it.

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