crossword 3:35
puzzle 0:15

hello and welcome to the 96th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Warm-Up Puzzle.” as the first puzzle in april, it is indeed just that, a warm-up for the tougher crosswords (and metas) to follow later in the month. let’s take a look at the theme answers:

  • {Found followers} clues WON SUPPORT.
  • ON SWITCHES {make machines start}.
  • if someone {Kicks ass when it counts}, she OWNS THE MOMENT.
  • the {Words over a theater poster} are NOW SHOWING. my favorite theme answer, i think.
  • the {Classic Gershwin tune} i’m unfamiliar with is ‘S WONDERFUL.

as you can see from the highlighting, each of the theme answers starts with the same four letters in a different order. so what’s the meta answer? the instructions this week: This week’s contest answer would have made a good title for this crossword. You can find it by combining two entries somewhere in this puzzle’s fill. Bonus hint: it’s something most of us recently endured. well i had already noticed SNOW in the puzzle at 53a, clued as {___ White}. i figured that had to be it. what word could go with SNOW to make an apt title? i hunted through the grid and eventually found STORM at 62a. so our answer this week is SNOW STORM, which is indeed something those of us in the northeast, mid-atlantic, midwest, and rockies have recently experienced.

as a theme and a meta, this one wasn’t one of my favorite MGWCCs. partly it’s because it’s not that original a theme in general, but in particular, matt has done this theme before for the MGWCC: last year’s pre-ACPT puzzle was basically the same theme with the letters ACPT instead of SNOW. this one was a bit more intricate because of the inclusion of SNOW and STORM in the grid itself, but i think the earlier puzzle had a stronger set of theme answers overall.

it’s now monday night, three days after i solved this puzzle, and the NCAA championship game is going down to the wire. so the rest of this writeup will be brief. i liked the grid quite a bit. 10-10-13-10-10 is plenty of theme, and managing to sneak SNOW and STORM into the mix as well is impressive. the best part is where three theme answers are stacked up on each other (NOW SHOWING on SNOW on ‘S WONDERFUL), and yet the fill still manages to include my favorite down answer: “WOW ME,” clued as {“Let’s see what you can do”}. of course, it also includes perhaps the most obscure proper name, {Former Orioles/Yankees pitcher Sidney} PONSON. (didn’t he also pitch for the giants, briefly?) sir sidney—i’m not kidding, he was really knighted by queen beatrix—also ran afoul of the law for assaulting a judge in his native aruba. that, and not being a very good pitcher, means that he’s pretty iffy as crossword fill goes. but hey, i knew him, so i didn’t have any trouble.

other stuff from the fill:

  • i liked the corners a lot, with the stack of CAPE HORN, I’M OVER IT, and DETESTS (okay, that one is a bit dull, but the other two are great) in the northeast and ANNULAR, ONE ON ONE, and WAXWORKS in the SW.
  • also loved how {“Now may I present…”} NEXT UP sat on top of NOW SHOWING. like a little story being told in there.
  • how come AMMAN isn’t in crossword puzzles all the time? is it the two Ms? the clue is {Royal Jordanian Airlines is based there}. raise your hand if you agree with me that they should change their name to air jordan.
  • the last two answers are the {New Jersey squad} NETS and {Isn’t indifferent} CARES. the NETS, of course, are worse than indifferent: they really, really suck. but at least they’ll be spared the ignominy of being labeled the worst NBA team of all time, as they recently won their 10th game of the season. the record 18-game losing streak to start the season, though, is an achievement that nobody can take away from them.
  • {Leave no room for doubt} clues INSURE. dictionaries are okay with this, i guess, but to me, this meaning clues ENSURE, and INSURE means only to sell insurance to. i like to keep the two separate.
  • {Chevrolet named for an African animal} is the IMPALA, of skee-lo’s i wish fame. i still distinctly remember looking askance when matt crossed IMPALE with IMPALA in an early MGWCC, but despite being almost identical, the two words clearly have no etymological relationship, so it’s kosher.

nerts. duke just beat butler, and i’m really tired and have to lecture in the morning. peace out.

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4 Responses to MGWCC #96

  1. Evad says:

    Yay! 1-for-1 for April so far, let’s see how this holds up.

    I know May is going to be a killer meta-month (or is that a meta-killer month?), but what do we know about the April metas to come?

  2. Michael M. says:

    (raises hand for Air Jordan, chuckles silently to self)

  3. sps says:

    Love Air Jordan. Easy puzz, easier meta, Made me happy b/c I was one of the non-yutzers last week…

    Sad to miss the tourney this weekend.

  4. Abby says:

    No sweat. :-)

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