MGWCC #189

crossword DNF (gave up after 3:19)
puzzle 0:10 (approx) 

so here’s the thing. i spent the whole weekend at the MIT mystery hunt. i’m pretty puzzled out. i did solve the meta to this week’s puzzle, “Did You Finish That Book?”, but i didn’t have an in to that upper-middle section of the grid, and i wasn’t at all in the mood to keep at it after getting the meta (an attitude that definitely comes from mystery-hunting for 48 straight hours), so … i didn’t bother. i did the rest of the grid and figured out the meta pretty quick. i got the 20th-century American novelist from these clues:

  • {Dr. Seuss book about an elephant} is HORTON HEARS A. but where’s the ending? in the next line: WHO is the answer to 23a, {“Which one of these folks?”}.
  • {Book that Jessica Fletcher works on during the intro to the same-name TV series} is MURDER SHE, with WROTE coming as the next clue.
  • {Classic 1878 novel set on the mysterious Egdon Heath} is thomas hardy’s THE RETURN OF THE / {Person born here} NATIVE.
  • {Dickens novel about a shipping company owner} is DOMBEY AND / {Kind of kid} SON.

taking those extra words in order, we get the question WHO WROTE NATIVE SON? the answer is richard wright.

oh, here’s an interesting thing. i just tried CONAGRA (for no real reason—isn’t it a power company?) for {Monsanto rival} and that corner of the grid fell more or less instantly. never heard of joe SPANO or sufjan stevens’s “A SUN came”, but whatever. the {Game played with a rope} clue for CLUE is pretty cute. so … i dunno. if i hadn’t stopped, i either would have solved this thing in about 3:30, or never had that moment of “let’s just try CONAGRA”. whatever.

okay, that’s all i’ll say about this week’s puzzle, because that’s all i can really say. in future years, i’m sure i’m not the only one who’d appreciate the MGWCC deadline pushed back a day for the weekend of the mystery hunt. i didn’t even have to travel to cambridge (well, i did, but it was a 25-minute commute by bike), and i still feel totally worn out even though i stopped on sunday at noon.

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to MGWCC #189

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    437 right answers this week.

    Starting next year MGWCC policy will dictate an extra day for the post-Hunt deadline — it was requested by quite a few solvers.

  2. Noam D. Elkies says:

    This inventive theme must have been quite hard to realize since Matt resorted to an asymmetric grid. (I still don’t understand the fetish for grid symmetry: the irregular grid here didn’t make the puzzle less enjoyable.)

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    Despite the symmetry issues, I liked this puzzle as an easy, but not immediately obvious Week 2 meta. It will probably encourage the new solvers coming in from Facebook. My first thought was a name denoting each title’s final word had been positioned beneath, like (Shelby) Foote. Updike occurred to me, too, for the opposite reason, and (Howard) Fast, to indicate the novel had ended quickly. But playing with these ideas, the actual last words quickly formed themselves together. I’d read Native Son years ago, but had to look up the author. Clever idea, Matt.

  4. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    Solving the meta of this puzzle left me a bit puzzled.

    Although the WHO WROTE NATIVE SON was fairly obvious, it seemed just too obvious that 23 A and 33 A followed exactly after the incomplete titles, reading the grid left to right, line by line, as normal English, but then NATIVE and SON did not follow their incomplete beginnings. (I actually looked up ARUBA QUEUE – there are some references in Google.) All the more confusing since the grid is completely irregular, and we all know Matt is a master who can do whatever he wants with a puzzle.

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    Symmetry went out the window because it was hard enough just coming up with novels that ending in two words that also spelled out another famous novel (and it had to be very famous and recognizable). Getting them to also be (without their final words) 12 and 9 letters was impossible. At least for me.

    Even without the symmetry, placing the extra words was tough. I realized later that I could have just left them out completely!

  6. Matthew G. says:

    I was about to say, Matt — this would have felt more Week Two-ish if you’d left out the final word of each book. Felt pretty Week One-ish as is. Really liked it, though!

  7. joon says:

    ha! that just shows you how mentally out of it i was. didn’t notice the wildly asymmetric grid at all!

  8. Mike says:

    @Matt @Matthew I disagree re: leaving out the final words of the titles. Having everything in the grid is a MGWCC hallmark and makes the meta more elegant, if a bit easier. Personally, I didn’t know either of the last two titles but was able to guess “NATIVE” and “SON” by following the pattern of the first two (i.e., finding words in the grid that seemed to make sense).

  9. Matthew G. says:

    @Mike: I can definitely see how one might like it better this way, that’s purely a matter of taste. But I’m not sure I agree that “[h]aving everything in the grid is a MGWCC hallmark” — there have certainly been puzzles that relied on acts of omission.

  10. Matt Gaffney says:

    Actually Mike I’m remembering now that I did consider leaving those words out and decided not to for the exact reason you mention (I thought Dombey and Son in particular was a little obscure).

  11. jane lewis says:

    the only dickens i have read is a christmas carol but i knew the title is dombey and son.

  12. Bananarchy says:

    Only noticed the asymmetry after solving. Kind of a neat pseudo-symmetry, though. I think debates about symmetry tend to polarize the issue (strict classical symmetry vs. wild free-form grids), but a grid like this introduces an interesting middle ground. It is totally fair to the solver (which a crazy asymmetrical themed grid might not be – where are the theme entries?), instantly recognizable as a “typical” crossword (so as to not be unapproachable to tyros), and aesthetically pleasing, while still relaxing the constraints on the constructor. I, for one, welcome our new asymmetric cruciverbs…

  13. Evad says:

    I’m in the camp of being surprised the last word of the titles were in the grid at all and felt they didn’t have to be there. It also bothered me that with them there, they weren’t always the next across entry after the first part of the title.

    Not that I’m not impressed that MG got them in there from a construction standpoint, even with relaxing the symmetry constraints…

  14. I Before E says:

    I had an interesting misdirection in that I had at one point THEhoundsOFTHE and wondered if there was a novelist named Baskervilles. Agree that the last word of each title was not necessary and leaving it out would be in keeping with the puzzle title.

Comments are closed.