MGWCC #192

crossword 3:11
puzzle 0:15 

hello and welcome to the 192nd episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “The Question Is…”. this week, matt challenges us to identify a one-word breed of dog. okay, then, what are the theme answers?

  • {Documentary that both Siskel and Ebert named the best movie of 1994} is HOOP DREAMS, about arthur agee and william … i can’t remember his name. but i saw this movie. i think it was the first documentary i’d ever watched.
  • {Africans who inspired a 1960s dance} are the WATUSI TRIBE.
  • {TV role played in film by Christina Ricci} is WEDNESDAY ADDAMS.
  • {Starting to be more annoying than funny} is WEARING THIN.
  • {Word in many reality show titles} is HOUSEWIVES, and i needed almost all of the crossings before this emerged. i am not a reality show connoisseur, i’ll admit.

so with a nudge from the title, we can see that these entries phonetically begin WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE HOW, although each one is spelled differently in the theme answer, a nice touch. the missing interrogative is WHY, so we’re looking for a one-word dog breed that starts with that syllable. WEIMARANER sprang to mind pretty quickly, and even though it’s often pronounced with an initial V sound, the W pronunciation is also acceptable.

i’m running a little behind today so i don’t have time for a fill roundup, but i did want to mention that the crossword was very, very easy for a MGWCC. i know it’s week 1, but i think this might be the easiest puzzle to date. i don’t think i’ve seen HIV in a crossword before. i liked john millington SYNGE, the {“The Playboy of the Western World” playwright}.

i think that’s all for me. what’d you think of this one?

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50 Responses to MGWCC #192

  1. Scott says:

    Wow, I interpreted Housewives to provide the WHY, so I submitted HOUND! I guess I was thinking of the typical order who, what, when, where, why, how. How many hounds did you get, Matt?

  2. Bruce S. says:

    I too sent in Weimaraner, but the “Why” sound in HOUSEWIVES gave me pause. There are other words like HOUSEBOATS Matt could have used to avoid the sound there.

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    This took me a few minutes longer than most Week 1s, since I was also initially hearing the why in wives, not the how in house, so like Scott, I was thinking hound for how. But Matt did say a 1-word breed. I imagine he did that to distinguish from the wirehaired ___ and white ___ varieties. And I was all set to criticize him for putting the why sound in the second word, unlike the others. Good one, Matt, from a fellow dog lover. I’ve had a Dachsund, Golden Retriever, Black Lab, Airedale, and Husky in my life, all good dogs, but our family dog now is a rescue mutt.

  4. David says:

    I also interpreted Housewives to include the How and Why, but even though I considered Weimaraner it felt sort of obscure (I found it through googling), I went with Rottweiler, since it’s a more common dog breed (or is it?), albeit with the Why syllable coming second. There is also an rare dog breed called a Kanni, which could be interpreted in question form (Can I?). Oh well, at least I was somewhat on the right track.

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    291 correct answers this week. I consider HOUSEWIVES to be a pretty ugly flaw since I didn’t notice that its second syllable starts with the WHY sound (what are the odds of that? Aargh…)

    As Scott and Bruce S. mention above that’s certainly enough to give people pause, even if it starts the second syllable instead of coming at the beginning like the others. It’s worse since it’s in the last entry; if it were in a middle entry it could look more random, but in the last one it looks more like part of the theme.

    So, my bad on that. Might need to come to a Solomon-like decision by Friday, as I’d hate for people to be bumped out on Week 1 by my oversight.

  6. Scott says:

    Thanks for the consideration Matt. Here’s hoping…

  7. Matthew G. says:

    So, this threw me off more than the typical Week 1.

    I noticed immediately that the start of each theme entry sounded like one of the standard journo questions — Who, What, When, Where, and How — with only “Why” omitted. What I couldn’t see was how to get from there to a dog. I ultimately went with “Yorkie” on the reasoning that: (1) “Why” means “Y”; (2) the only breed of dog I can find that starts with “Y” is the Yorkshire Terrier; and (3) Matt’s use of the word “doggie” in the instructions suggested a breed nickname rather than a full breed name, and using “Yorkie” conveniently also allowed it to be one word.

    I did see “Weimaraner” on the list of dog breeds I looked up, and considered it for the reasons Joon gives, but I rationalized against it on the grounds that I’d never heard of the breed and deemed it too obscure to be the answer to a Week 1 meta. Oh well.

  8. ===Dan says:

    I saw a reminder about this puzzle only a few minutes before deadline, but because this is week 1 I thought I had an outside shot. I finished the grid with a few minutes to spare and could only come up with WIREHAIR. It’s a generic term but strictly speaking not a breed. Grrrr!

  9. Paul Coulter says:

    Matt – you gave us paws, all right… but I thought it was just the right pause for an easy puzzle. Didn’t realize it was unintentional.

  10. ===Dan says:

    Scott, was that literally HOUND! with the exclamation point in repayment for a missing one the previous week (as per the instructions)?

  11. rebecca says:

    I think the fact that the other 4 theme entries all STARTED with the question word sound-alike is enough to make you realize that the 5th one also should. Having said that, I too was initially stumped because when they went in order WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE, my immediate thought was that WHY would be next and then HOW would be the one to find…. (how did it happen that i seem to have memorized the list in that order, is that common for everyone?)

    But finally I found my error by not being able to choose between greyhound, bloodhound, and chow-chow and realizing that there must be a simpler answer. Wiemaraner is not an obscure breed to me, though I’ve never been a dog owner.

  12. pannonica says:

    Surely everyone is familiar with William Wegman‘s photographs?

  13. Norm says:

    Rebacca, I think it used to be the 5 W’s and HOW got added later. I certainly learned them in the same order you did. Considered and rejected WIVES for the WHY since it wasn’t at the very beginning and didn’t even begin a separate word.

  14. Blanche says:

    I agree with rebecca. It was clear enough that the missing WHY had to be at the beginning of the breed’s name, and if it had been a clue entry that would also be the case. The only thing that gave me “paws” for a bit was the German pronunciation.

  15. Jimmy d says:

    I went so far to think that HOUSEWIVES was the seed entry, since it contained both HOW and WHY… I figured any breed with a ‘questionable’ syllable in it would be ok… I sent in greyhound (RIP Jessie)

  16. Old Geezer says:

    Ridiculous 1st wk puzzle. Never heard of Weimaraner. Ambiguous pronunciation. All the interrogatives were in the puzzle, though I get why ‘why’ was excluded.

    I don’t like this one. No, I don’t like this one at all. Matt, you’re a genius, but this one was not indicative of your stature, imho. Upon reading the comments, I think ‘Yorkie’ should count (no, I didn’t submit it, but considered it).

    My instinct led to ‘Pug.’ I’ll let Addams Family fans figure that one out.

  17. Themutman says:

    Maybe Matt should have made the instructions ‘What solvers do when they get week 1 meta incorrect’. I am sure you guys would have sent in WHINE without hesitating.

    Nice work Matt. Other than being unfamiliar with that breed of dog, I had no issues.

  18. Hugh says:

    My 2 cents. . . I agree with Blanche and Rebecca.

    And, If there weren’t 291 correct answers, maybe Matt would need to go the Solomon route. Hold fast, Matt.

  19. Tony says:

    I too agree with Rebecca & Blanche, and, by extension, Hugh. Sounds like there are a lot of Cliff Clavins out there!

  20. Bruce S. says:

    I think it was a completely fair meta and great puzzle as always. Yes, yes in all the other ones it was in the first syllable of the word. My point was just that since there were other options for HOUSE????? , I was certain that Matt had chosen HOUSEWIVES for a particular reason since he could have avoided that sound completely in the theme answers. I suspected he didn’t notice the sound, but took my time making sure I wasn’t missing anything. I got the correct answer, just didn’t have the “click” that I usually associate with getting a correct Gaffney meta.

  21. Noam D. Elkies says:

    I’m with Old Geezer (though I did get the intended solution). Moreover, the metapuzzle answer should really have been a two word phrase, to match the theme entries. These are all “unforced errors”, which is a pity because the overall idea is quite nice. If only Matt didn’t go to the dogs for the metapuzzle, he could easily have had a much better answer than “Weimaraner” (pronounced as in “Vy a duck?”?), e.g. Wild Turkey, _Wise Guys_, or (assuming the last theme entry were changed to something like HOUSEBOAT) any two-word phrase starting with “wife”.

  22. David says:

    Meta was totally fair – I still like Rottweiler, as the “why” sound in both Rottweiler and Housewives is the 2nd syllable, thought it might be a differentiator. But to be honest, the other reason I discounted Wiemaraner was that I had never previously heard of that breed, so to me it was obscure.

  23. Charles Montpetit says:

    @Noam: While I did get the right answer instantly after wiki-ing “Dog Breeds” (looking past the theme entries’ first syllables didn’t even occur to me), I too asked “Why WEIMARANER?” as Matt could have easily gone for a Hawaiian island (WAIKIKI), a fast food joint (WHITE CASTLE) or a Village People song (YMCA). Of course, since this is Matt’s house, and therefore Matt’s rules, he could always argue back: “Why ‘Why Weimaraner?’?” At which point, the *real* meta-answer would be… “Billy Currington” (

  24. Completely agree with Old Geezer, this is a rather subpar puzzle. I went with ROTTWEILER since it’s pronounced like WHY, not VY. Like Jimmy d, I also assumed that HOUSEWIVES was the seed entry.

  25. ant says:

    Boy, do I feel dumb! I noticed all the Ws & Hs, saw the question in the title, and submitted…CHIHUAHUA (due to the pronunciation). Couldn’t get more different than those two breeds, huh?
    Week 1 – and I’m out. Ugh!

  26. Janette says:

    I forgot to turn in an answer this week since I was off work yesterday. I was going to turn in Weimaraner (not an obsure breed in my book). Was held up with the wives sounding like why as well. Which got me thinking bloodhound (1 word) for a while. Since the bloodhound is used to solve the questions who, what, where etc.

    Ultimately i figured that the wives being the second words was not a good enough reason to change from the Weimaraner. If only I would have remembered to turn in my answer.

  27. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Noam: But HOUSEWIVES is one word, not two.

    @Adam: I just looked up both Weimaraner and Rottweiler in a dictionary. The W pronunciations are given first and the V pronunciations are listed second, so your Rottweiler defense falls apart on further analysis.

    @Charles: Waikiki’s a beach resort, not an island.

    (I’m feeling argumentative, apparently.)

    Matt did consider Wyoming, but the “one-word” caveat for the dog breed knocks out the wirehairs. I don’t get why so many people are complaining that they’ve never heard of Weimaraners. (I do love Wegman’s wonderful Weimaraner portraits!) I went straight to the Wikipedia listing of dog breeds to be sure that there wasn’t another “wye”-sounding first syllable to beat out the optional German V pronunciation, and there wasn’t.

  28. Michael says:

    I think this answer is much too complicated. The meta could easily be interpreted as who, what, when, where, why = how

    In other words – the instructions to a young reporter are see how = c how = Chow

  29. Howard B says:

    The interrogative as the start of each theme answer seemed to be fairly straightforward for a week 1 puzzle. I only solved the meta after looking up breeds, however. That was the tougher part.
    I think the Weimaraner is one of those things that those perhaps more familiar with dogs in general know pretty commonly, and those with less exposure to our furry friends may or may not have heard of, depending on experience. If you haven’t done a lot of reading on the subject, know enough people with dogs, or logged plenty of pet shop time, perhaps you may not have encountered one.

    There’s an awful lot of breed names out there, and let’s not even get into those combinations like Labradoodles etc. ;). So I think this one just falls into that general but specific knowledge non-category. It’s a gettable meta with a little Google juice, but wasn’t intuitive to me. Still fun to work out.

  30. ===Dan says:

    Amy said “the “one-word” caveat for the dog breed knocks out the wirehairs. ” Agreed, BUT “wirehair” is a one-word generic term that refers to a breed (but could refer to more than one). So it’s possible to consider it wrong, but in some contexts it could be considered correct.

    ASTA has been clued by “wirehair” a few times, and it could be argued that the word was used in reference to a breed (even if not technically accurate according to AKC…..)

  31. Mark M. says:

    Went with Whippet, thought the “wh” start of the questions meant a “wh” dog. Have to agree with some folks that the “wives” threw me off the scent.

    It is always funny that when someone gets it right they find it clear despite the cries from the masses about confusion. Trust me, when people who can solve week four and five metas express concern over a week one it is not clear.

    I always defer to Matt and agree it is his sandbox that we play in. But it feels like this one could be discounted when looking at solvers of all four metas this month.

  32. pannonica says:

    I agree that perhaps an alternative answer could have been used, but dispute most of the suggestions offered by commenters.

    Words like white, wild, wise, wire, and even whine (I know that one was a joke) don’t have “wye” as their complete first syllable; there’s an extra consonant sound at the end of each.

  33. rmac says:

    A first for me in that I was sure I had the meta, but got it wrong just the same. I grokked the “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, and “how” part soon enough, and thought, “Hey, those are all elements of a plot.” So I sent in “plott.” Seemed reasonable at the time. Anybody else think so?

  34. Evad says:

    I figured the WIVES of HOUSEWIVES was just an unhappy coincidence, and I was right. It was clearly a first-syllable pattern based on the other entries, and I thought of weimaraner (familiar as they are to me based on the Wegman photos) immediately.

  35. Dannoz says:

    I went with BULLDOG as it was the only newspaper term I could find that was also a breed of dog. It was the how and why of HOUSEWIVES that threw me. Oh well. 0 for 1, I suppose.

  36. @Amy: What dictionary did you use? I don’t have a dead tree edition, but both and list the V- then the W- pronunciations for Weimaraner. For Rottweiler, the first entry in lists only the W-, while the second lists V- then W-; lists W- then V-. Of course, they both ultimately come from German, where they should both be pronounced like V-.

    But I think that given that the W/H-word homophones all occur on the first syllables of the theme answers (ignoring the errant WIVES), that Rottweiler should not be accepted as answer [yes, I'm saying that my answer should be wrong, but if Matt wants to accept it, hey, I won't complain].

  37. Pj says:

    It always amazes me that WAT some people consider easy, can be so difficult for those HOO just don’t get it right away (or at all). I just didn’t “see” or”hear” the 5 Ws WEN I first looked at the puzzle, though I certainly realized there were a lot off Ws in the theme answers. WEAR to go to figure out HOU to figure out the meta? I finally got it and thought it was a great puzzle. I thought this was a difficult week 1 meta. Just goes to show you WEI we keep coming back for more!

  38. joon says:

    pannonica, the theme answers in the grid don’t strictly adhere to the “one syllable = one interrogative” rule, so it follows that the meta answer need not either. that said, i don’t see a convincing argument that any answer not beginning with a “wye” sound should be acceptable. i’d be inclined to accept WIREHAIR, though. i’m no dog expert but it seems close enough to me.

  39. pannonica says:

    You’re absolutely right, joon. I lost the plot.

  40. Joan says:

    I thought that Sprechen sie Deutsch? was the main clue so thought about Dachshunds, Weimaraners, and other German dogs. Almost used dachshund but finally saw the who what when etc theme and realized Weimaraner fit perfectly. It was a really cute puzzle and fun, but not so easy for me. Thanks Matt.

  41. Howard B says:

    @Mark M – point taken. Been guilty of that bias myself here, and understand how a tough puzzle can seem easy if you are fortunate to solve it quickly. Didn’t think this one was intuitive or easy for its placement in the month, only that there was a direct line to a valid answer based on a commonality between the themes.
    (theme is just that an interrogative leads off each answer, regardless of syllable/spelling/digits of PI/etc.).

    The WIVES syllable did create extra static and was not perfect, and in any given puzzle this might throw off some solvers and not others (Been on both sides of this).

    My contention was only that the final answer did not necessarily “jump out” at the solver like some Week 1 metas, as it wasn’t as common a word/name as some. Now I would argue with Joon for WIREHAIR and any other one-word (why+x) sounding breeds that are on that fuzzy edge.

  42. jefe says:

    Am I the only one who didn’t notice the WHY sound in WIVES? I figure if Matt wanted all 6 in the fill, he would’ve had 6 theme entries. While I’m by no means a dog person, I’ve certainly heard of Weimaraners. Even if I hadn’t, that shouldn’t in any way preclude it from being an answer.

  43. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Adam: The dictionary I turned to was the one in the Mac widget, which is drawn from the New Oxford American Dictionary.

  44. Abby says:

    I did the puzzle on my phone when I got the email and thought the answer must start with the sound “why”. I hadn’t yet read the instructions, so I was guessing, with that big game on TV over the weekend it’d be “wide receiver”. Then I read the instructions and knew the right answer. Seemed pretty straightforward to me, but if I hadn’t known (or been able to find in Wikipedia) a breed that fit the bill, I might’ve gone back to the drawing board. It was week one, so I didn’t think I needed to get more creative.

    Chambers lists the “v” pronunciation of rottweiler and weimaraner first, but that didn’t bother me. Because the cryptic community uses it and they have a really good iPhone app, I always look there first, but I hit an American dictionary too for pronunciation and usage.

  45. Joan says:

    I believe “wirehair” to be a description of a dog and not a BREED by itself, i.e., Wirehaired Dachshund, Wirehaired Terrier, etc. So I wouldn’t deem “Wirehair” acceptable. Also “wei” in Weimaraner is clearly one syllable, as is the word “why”, while “wire” is arguably two syllables. I also noticed the “wi” in wives but didn’t think it mattered as “housewives” was only one word and would be only one clue.

  46. Jonathoninmoz says:

    I learned about the breed from the movie Juno. Juno’s mom mentions that when the kids leave she wants to have Weimaraners. Juno responds in a sarcastic tone, “woah, dream big!”

  47. Jeff says:

    I’m allergic to dogs, I don’t like them, and I really don’t like the fact that they were one of my categories on Jeopardy! Houndever, our very close family friends when I was growing up had a Weimaraner, so I sent it in without hesitation.

  48. Old Geezer says:

    Well, here’s another whine, if anybody’s still reading this.

    In Matt’s write-up, he proclaims ‘why’ to be pronounced just like the letter ‘y.’ In fact, I have ALWAYS pronounced it the same as the other interrogatives: what, when, where, why, enumciating as though the letters were reversed, ie, ‘hw.’ I was TAUGHT this in school!

    I do, however, agree that both pronunciations are acceptable. See my first sentence? Is it ‘wine’ or ‘hwine?’ I say ‘hwine.’

    There have been other metas that have hinged on a regional pronunciation to get the real aha moment. I would just like Matt (or other meta constructors) to keep this in mind in their future constructions.

    (I wanted to call this a consonantic dipthong — obviously a connived and incorrect label. Is there anyone out there who can tell me the correct description of ‘wh’ being pronounced like ‘hw?’)

  49. pannonica says:

    I think that’d be “aspirated.”

    Have a look at this post from Language Log: Hwæt about WH?.

  50. Old Geezer says:

    Nice. Thanks!

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