crossword 4:12
meta 0:04
mgwcc88greetings and welcome to the 88th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Are You Ready for Some Football?” the four-part instructions contained in the grid spell out the simple question: WHICH ENTRY / CONCEALS NEXT / SUNDAY’S SUPER / BOWL NUMBER? well, it’s no longer next sunday, but the super bowl we just had was number 44, or as they say in rome, XLIV. and there’s XLIV hiding in SEX LIVES, clued as {Celebrities’ are tabloid fodder}. easiest meta ever? well, close, anyway. not much to say about it, is there?

i’ve seen XLIV themes before, but they were related to the fact that president obama is the 44th president. coincidence? well, in some sense, yes: barring a rather unlikely turn of events, this is the only year in which the super bowl number and the president number will match up. which is better, obama or the saints-colts super bowl? not clear yet, but the president has his work cut out for him, because it was a great game. (amy points out that the guy who runs the “america bowl” has decided on this one in favor of XLIV, but i’m going to reserve judgment. the first quarter of the super bowl wasn’t all that much to write home about, either.)

on to the fill: easy puzzle, as befits a first-of-the-month week, but i had my trouble spots:

  • {Vague, as a memory} is GAUZY. i really, really wanted this to be FUZZY or HAZY. i don’t think i’d ever heard GAUZY used to describe anything intangible … until yesterday (after doing this puzzle). now i can’t even remember where i saw it. anyway, the U and Z crosses were not easy: {Hollywood producer Peter} GUBER is an unfamiliar name, and {Baku resident}? well, that’s the capital of azerbaijan, but i didn’t know that someone from azerbaijan could be referred to as an AZERI, although certainly Z was going to be my guess.
  • near miss here: {Muslim pilgrims} are HAJJIS, but it can also be spelled HADJIS. what’s the crossing at the first J? {“Waiting” novelist Ha ___} JIN. this is definitely, definitely not the kind of book i know about, but as it happens, my wife got a book of ha JIN’s short stories (i think it’s called a good fall) for christmas. also, JIN looks like it has to be clued as someone’s name (unless you’re a scrabble player, in which case it’s perfectly acceptable as the 7th-most common variant of DJINNI), whereas DIN is a common english word.
  • one more mystery man: {Seattle mayor Mike ___} MCGINN. luckily his crosses were all gettable for me, although i was making an educated guess on {Lyle Lovett’s “Don’t CRY A Tear”}.
  • did not like this clue: {China setting, with “the”} = ORIENT. i was just explaining on the cruciverb list last week why this eurocentric term should be avoided. i don’t know whether matt is on the list, but i bet he is, and i bet he did this just to annoy me. or maybe he really just couldn’t resist the “china setting” pun.
  • {Actividad para adultos} is SEXO, which i guess is spanish for sex. not thrilled with this as a foreign word we should know, but i guess it’s a cognate. the bigger problem is that not only is SEX LIVES in the grid, it’s the answer.
  • wait, i didn’t even see this clue: {Kind of molecule} = ION? i don’t like that one either. molecule and ion are overlapping sets on a “chemical species” venn diagram.
  • enough crabbing. what did i like? the {Shortest dwarf, in a way} is DOC, who has the shortest name. i’d like it even more if matt hadn’t used {Shortest month, so to speak} for MAY in the daily beast puzzle this week.
  • {AFC Championship game losers}? the JETS, of course. why did i like this clue? suck it, jets fans! i have no great love for the colts (though i respect peyton manning as a great QB), but man, rex ryan is obNOXious.
  • {It’s much older than you?} clues THOU. i tend to prefer not to use a ? when the clue forms a complete sentence, but other than that, this clue is fairly clever. and of course, we now use “you” as both a subject and object pronoun, so the answer could well have been THEE.
  • mythology roundup: {Goddess with an ankh} is ISIS, but the {Underworld river} is STYX. let’s see, should i link “come sail away”? no, i’ll leave you with the robotic stylings of freakishly tall england striker peter crouch.
  • geography roundup: the {French-speaking African nation} is SENEGAL. the {Skinny nation} is CHILE. {Country that Soviet-born chess grandmaster Boris Gelfand now represents} is ISRAEL. (hey, that’s not geography. that’s chess!) and we also have the familiar ARAL sea and LAS colinas, texas.
  • {Used an old phone} is DIALED. a couple weeks back on amy’s forum, gary raised the question of what verb we should use for entering numbers on a phone in this day and age. i voted for “call,” but “dial” is probably still okay, right? even though it’s now a bit of an anachronism? maybe we should just go back to rotary phones. better to antiquize our technology than modernize our language, right?

peace out.

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10 Responses to MGWCC #88

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Among the 320 or so correct entries this week (almost a new record but not quite) were about 8 that said some form of “Joon isn’t going to like the SEX LIVES / SEXO duplication.”

    On 21x21s I always run the “similar words” check on Crossword Compiler. On 15x15s I somehow deem it unnecessary to do so, but it’s looking like I’d better start.

  2. joon says:

    i wouldn’t want to disappoint my fans!

  3. John Farmer says:

    “…this is the only year in which the super bowl number and the president number will match up.”

    I hope so. It’s true as long as Mr. Obama has a healthy year ahead.

  4. BrianGoodBeat says:

    What other possible entries could contain XLIV?


    FIXLIVER { Surgeon’s job, perhaps }

  5. Matt K says:

    STYX LIVE {Concert announcement}

  6. Evad says:

    If we are allowed to venture overseas, another possible entry is DEUX LIVRES {Contents of un élève’s backpack?}

  7. joon says:

    XBOX LIVE has the virtue of not being a made-up phrase. (it even debuted as an answer in tyler hinman’s CS sunday challenge this week.) but of course, it duplicates a word from SEX LIVES.

  8. *David* says:

    76er who idolizes GnR?


  9. anna says:

    Spar with Lord of the Rings actress?


  10. Muy bueno , me gusta mucho vuestra blog, de lo mejor que tengo visto en google.

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