MGWCC #95

crossword 7:14
puzzle 0:16

i’ve been swamped with actual work, so i haven’t yet had time to blog the puzzle. grid and meta solution after the jump, and i’ll chime in with a full post later today. in the meantime, feel free to comment about the puzzle.
update: the full post is up.
mgwcc95okay, i’m back and i’m here to blog the 95th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Silence is Golden.” the instructions were pretty simple: This week’s contest answer is a famous character from children’s literature. the four 15-letter answers in the grid spelled out four “clues” to the meta answer:

  • MEAT CUT IN ROASTS = RUMP
  • AFRICAN GOLF STAR = ernie ELS
  • PINBALL MISTAKES = TILTS
  • RELATIVE BY BLOOD = KIN

the charade works out straightforwardly: RUMP+ELS+TILTS+KIN = RUMPELSTILTSKIN, which is a fairly appropriate answer for a contest in which we are trying to guess somebody’s name, no? i’m not sure what to make of the puzzle’s title. in the fairy tale, old rumpy would have got what he had coming (the queen’s first-born child) if he had just kept his mouth shut instead of singing his name while dancing madly about his cabin in the mountains, but honestly, who hasn’t fallen for that one a few times? i know i have. i’m not sure if that’s all there is to it, though. does the gold have anything to do with anything? i guess rumpelstiltskin got the queen to promise him her first-born in the first place by spinning straw into gold. is that what the allusion is all about?

one other tie-in i just noticed: the grid’s central down answer is GRIMM, clued as {Fitting literary surname}. it’s a fitting name because their tales are rather grim, but it’s doubly fitting as a clue because the meta answer is a grimm fairy tale character! that’s terrific.

anyway, this was an easy meta, but the crossword was pretty tough. it’s a gorgeous grid, though, with a word count of 72 (low enough to be a freestyle) despite the constraint of 60 theme squares, while still being very clean. nice long answers LOSES TRACK, HOBO CAMP, CHAINSAW, and ANNABEL LEE (my starting point in the grid). i had the toughest time in the bottom section:

  • {Southeastern Conference sch.} is LSU, but it could have been a bunch of other things.
  • {Humble TLA} is IMO. TLA is “three-letter acronym,” and i guess i didn’t work out while solving that “humble” refers to the sentiment expressed by the acronym, rather than the acronym itself. IMO (“in my opinion”) is so humble that there’s an IMHO version with humble explicitly added in.
  • LVOV, the {Historic city of the USSR}, is here, too. just a few days ago on LACC, there was a discussion of four letter cities in the former USSR, and i mentioned RIGA, KIEV, ORSK, and OREL but forgot about LVOV.
  • something feels off about the clue {Top} for BRA. i think it’s legit, but usually when the answer is more specific than the clue, there is a qualifying adjective thrown in. like {Large dog} for HUSKY is fine, but {Dog} for HUSKY seems insufficient. what do you guys think? either way, it’s a ridiculously vague clue.
  • i like the clue {High ways} for OVERPASSES. and {Get the blood circulating} works for MOVE AROUND, but that took me some time to unravel, too.

other than that area, i moved through the puzzle pretty quickly despite the long unclued answers and the low word count. some clues of note:

  • speaking of humble acronyms, {Acronym sort of like TANSTAAFL} is GIGO. appropriately enough, the answer stands for “garbage in, garbage out,” but i did eventually manage to parse that horrible acronym in the clue: there [ain't?] no such thing as a free lunch. (i was perhaps aided by my familiarity with gary huckabay’s coinage TNSTAAPP, “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect.”) at least, i think that’s what’s going on. i’m a little hazy on the connection between that and GIGO, though.
  • {Dell champions them}? why, PCS, of course. if you were thinking of the dell champion crossword books, you were on the wrong path. however, {Crossword constructor Lynn} LEMPEL is in the grid. crosswords about crossword constructors! is that fair? many crossword fans certainly know her name, and we’re all crossword fans here, so why not?
  • {Spring in France} is not PRINTEMPS (which gets a heck of a lot less grid play than ÉTÉ), but the ÉVIAN natural spring that lends its name to the bottled water. i loved this clue.
  • {“American Idol” Season 8 finalist ___ Desai} is ANOOP. i don’t watch idol, but i remembered this guy’s name because amy posted about him on her blog 9 months ago. not about him being on idol, but about him doing crossword puzzles (and maybe reading this blog), and how ANOOP could be a new fill possibility. i don’t know how i dredged up his name, but there you have it: welcome to the big time, ANOOP.
  • i did not know: {Peter Tosh’s “___ Africa”} is MAMA and {#1 hit possibly about David Bowie’s wife} is ANGIE. i assume these are both songs, but not within my ken.
  • the baseball players were more up my alley. both {2009 World Series MVP} hideki MATSUI and {1977 AL Cy Young winner} SPARKY lyle were gimmes. the P of SPARKY gave me CAPELLA, the {5th-brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere}. this one comes up every so often, and it differs by only one P from CAPPELLA of “a cappella.”
  • {She married her brother} sounds scandalous, but it’s just HERA. there was a lot of that going around.
  • the {Count in Lemony Snicket books} is OLAF, but if this were a real OLAF clue, it would read {Evil count in Lemony Snicket books with a group of similarly evil associates who he refers to as his “theatre troupe”}.

okay, that’s all from me. sorry for the late post, and we’ll see you next week with the easy first MGWCC of april.

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18 Responses to MGWCC #95

  1. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    The meta seemed way too easy for the last puzzle of the month!

  2. tony says:

    I found this easier than last week’s meta, but as I told Matt, I do much better with metas that are obtained via theme entries than by other methods.

  3. Wes says:

    Since I had “Chuck” as meat cut into roasts, I spun my wheels for hours.

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    Bob and Tony —

    I shelved the (very tough) puzzle and meta I had originally planned and replaced it with the easier RUMPELSTILTSKIN idea. The first three puzzles had been on the tough side and I got a lot of “I’m 0-for-3 in March” e-mails, so I decided to lighten up a little on the last round.

  5. Aaron says:

    So *that’s* what happened. I wonder if going easy on us tricked anyone else into thinking you were being even *tougher*.

  6. Matt Gaffney says:

    I’m in your head, Aaron.

  7. annette says:

    I definitely way overthought the meta on this one. especially because the puzzle was so tough. L’vov? Is bob’s last name really kerfuffle?

  8. Jim says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle and the meta. And what foresight to put Ernie Els in a crossword the weekend he wins a tournament!

  9. SethG says:

    I solved the meta about halfway through my solve. But I couldn’t believe it was so easy for a 4th week meta, so I spent a while looking into other possibilities.

    Ribplayerdrainsparent? Shoulderpriceguttersuncle? Tenderloinsabbatinisinksaunt? It wasn’t looking good, and I couldn’t find anything to indicate that Rumpelstiltskin wouldn’t be at least a viable alternate answer so I decided to submit that after all.

    Then I was away from my computer this morning, missed the trigger reminding me to send in my answer, and didn’t think of it until 12:08pm. You got me again, Matt Gaffney; I fell into your evil trap. 3 for 4 in March.

  10. Karen says:

    I got the right answer eventually, but I started off with Loinel (Lionel) Stilson. Zip on the google hits for him. I believe my first answer in the grid was off too, I tried CRAB for 11A. Is HOBOCAMP a real word?

  11. Russ says:

    I agree that the puzzle was challenging but the meta was easy. I’ve been wondering if Matt intended the “mpel” in “Lempel” as a secondary hint to the meta answer? Or was that just coincidence?

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    The crossword part killed me. After about 10 minutes, the bottom quarter was mostly empty. I had figured out the meta but the rest of the grid wasn’t filled until I Googled two things. Gah!

    Thanks to Russ, I’m now pondering a theme with constructors’ names in it. LEMPELSTILTSKIN is 15. And…that’s all I got.

  13. ArtLvr says:

    @Amy — takes a terrible spill? TRIPSPAYNEFULLY

  14. joon says:

    oh man, i can’t believe i mentioned the dell champion crosswords, and then forgot to mock matt for the endearingly earnest cover letter he wrote to them when he was 13. i guess everybody here has seen it (since they did last week’s puzzle), but … that was awesome.

    for amy’s theme, we’d just have to poll constructors to see how other kids made fun of their names in the third grade. small pahk, chicken pahk, backpahk, pahkahontas, pahket protector, and pahkyderm. okay, i made the last one up. pahkahontas is true, though.

  15. BrianGoodBeat says:

    “Silence is Golden”

    Wasn’t there something in that story about not saying Rumpelstiltskin’s name? And spinning straw into gold, as long as the name wasn’t said…

    I’m not exactly sure on the details (obviously), but I thought the title was pretty clever anyway.

  16. Jed says:

    TANSTAAFL — it’s from HEINLEIN! Sneaky, Matt….

  17. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    @ annette – On the internet it is.

  18. I got wiggly and squiggly for Quigley all the time.

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