MGWCC #170

crossword 3:22
puzzle -2:30ish 

hello again, and welcome to the 170th episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest. the instructions to this week’s puzzle, “Quaker States”, ask us to identify a region of the United States. there are four theme answers, each of which is a nonsense phrase clued with “after the quake”:

  • {Immobilize a bunch of jackets, after the quake?} is TASE COATS.
  • {Mexican food meant to be eaten in a chair, after the quake?} is SEAT TACOS.
  • {Make a Puccini heroine happy, after the quake?} is SATE TOSCA.
  • {Doesn’t merely nosh on necktie, after the quake?} is EATS ASCOT. i’m glad this wasn’t EATS A SCOT.

what do these nonsense phrases have in common? why, they’re all anagrams of east coast, the region of the US hit by an earthquake last week (and then a hurricane/tropical storm, but who’s counting?). so the quake has jumbled the letters of “east coast” into these phrases. somewhat tidily, the first word of each phrase is an anagram of “east”, followed by an anagram of “coast”. that made things a little easier to see than if they had just been unfettered anagrams of “east coast” like TOAST CASE or OAT CASTES.

what did you guys think of the silly phrases? would it have been better or worse to use the combination with the most surface sense: {Has some Mexican food, after the quake?} = EATS TACOS. i think maybe worse—you don’t want to get too close to an actual phrase, and i bet somebody has tried to use an entry like EATS TACOS as crossword fill, if only out of desperation. that said, the actual phrases didn’t particularly amuse me.

odds & ends:

  • {Round number?} is ZERO. i feel like i must have seen this clue before, but i can’t specifically recall an instance. it’s a very good clue.
  • {Bill of goods in the software industry} is GATES. definitely haven’t seen this clue—it’s a trademark gaffney.
  • {Dark and introspective} clues EMO. hey, remember when matt used to make fun of EMO practically every week?
  • {Cheesy 1990s TV “news” show} is HARD COPY. oh geez, i had totally forgotten about this. not sure whether i’m glad or sad that the clue reminded me. HARD COPY (the idea, not the show) is a nice retronym.
  • {Where ONE is 3 and TWO is 6} is SCRABBLE. quick, what’s the smallest number whose scrabble value is itself? i’ll put the answer in the comments.
  • {___ Plus (green shampoo)} PERT. hey, how’d you know?
  • {Firing offense?} is ARSON. geez, with all the great ARSON clues i’ve seen over the years, you’d think i’d have seen this one. but i don’t remember it. very good. what is it with ARSON, by the way (and ELOPE and ATM), that inspires constructors to come up with clever clues? i swear, half the ARSON clues i’ve ever seen have had question marks.
  • {2011 Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, e.g.} is a CZECH. kvitova, like the other women who have won majors this year, did not advance to even the second round of the US open. li na, who won the french, lost her first match, and kim clijsters, who won the australian, didn’t even play in the open.
  • {Guinness superlative} is TALLEST, {Another Guinness superlative} is BIGGEST, but {Part of LCD} is LEAST. i guess guinness only goes big? now i’m trying to imagine a “least” world record. least likeable governor? least crazy raelian? i got nothing. help me out, here.

that’s all for me. see you next week.

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9 Responses to MGWCC #170

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    406 right answers this week, new record!

    I hope LI NA wins a couple more majors before her career ends. She’s a great crossword answer and a total comedian:

  2. joon says:

    oh, by the way, the smallest (and only! unless i made a mistake somewhere) number whose scrabble value is itself is TWELVE.

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    As I’ve mentioned to Matt before, I’m a bio prof. Here’s my lab request list for next week’s anatomy class: Seta, Costa… Hmm, that’s only one hair-like structure and one rib, so I’ll need more supplies. A cat’s toes, maybe? Joon- I suppose all timed events could be put in terms of least hours/minutes/seconds, etc.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    I came up with EAST COAST quickly but three hours later I thought the answer was west coast.

  5. Scott says:

    Fun puzzle and easy meta. I was very impressed with the “Quaker States” title. I don’t know how Matt consistently pulls the “clever card” out each and every week.

  6. Noam D. Elkies says:

    The ZERO clue is nice but not new: xwordinfo shows three earlier occurrences (out of 57 total ZERO clues), two of them without the “?”.

    The problem with EATS TACOS is that there’s no way to make the remaining three anagram pairs equally sensible.

    @Jeffrey: (-: hope you waited another 21 hours before submitting your answer, then.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:


  8. pannonica says:

    Eats, tacos and leaves?

  9. The Tag Police says:

    Need the “Matt Gaffney” tag on this one.

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