MGWCC #222

crossword 6:09
meta 10 minutes 

hello, and welcome to episode #222 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Creature Feature”. for this week 5 puzzle, matt challenges us to find a 10-letter word beginning with C that describes this puzzle’s theme. well, okay. the title hints that it’s got something to do with animals, but there are only these three very odd theme answers:

  • {“There’s one on that snowbank, in front of that Titanic-sinking-sized ___ of ice floating in the water.”} SOLID BERG.
  • {“There’s one in the blades of grass being eaten by ___.”} GRAZING CATTLE.
  • {“There’s one right out in the open — utterly ___!”} SHAMELESS.

as i said, odd. what made this puzzle a relatively quick solve was the fact that the crossword itself was quite difficult to solve because there were a bunch of ambiguous clues. it turns out that there were enough of them to turn each of those three answers into a concealed animal. watch:

  • the SOLID BERG supports a POLAR BEAR by turning {Slowpoke in a race, often} LOSER to LOSERLOPER, {First name often seen in crosswords} IDI to IDA, {Apple’s interior bits} CODE to CORE (which is actually sensible whether you’re talking about the fruit or the computer), {Prominent govt. initials since the 1930s} FDR to FDA, and {Airport terminal sights} BAGS to BARS.
  • the GRAZING CATTLE are eating a PRAYING MANTIS, by turning {Unsmiling} GRIM into PRIM, {Word on many CD covers} JAZZ into JAY-Z (nice!), {People know yours if you’re a celebrity} FACE to FAME, {It’s hard for an overweight person to lose it} ITCH to INCH, {Where farm animals may wind up} DELL to DELI, and {Part of one’s coterie} AMIE to AMIS.
  • and finally, the SHAMELESS one hiding in plain sight is the CHAMELEON, by turning {Frequent challenge for Nastase} arthur ASHE into an ACHE, {Kid’s word to describe a breakfast cereal, perhaps} FROSTY into FROOTY, and {What bankers carry around in their hands, in the cartoons} CASES into CANES.

there are some good double-duty clues in here and some weak ones. IDI/IDA and FDR/FDA are not very fun; the clue works for both just by being extremely unspecific. FROSTY is perhaps a bit of a giveaway (nothing about it is really a kid’s word), but points for creativity—FROOTY is an interesting find. AMIE/AMIS is the weakest link, as it’s really two forms of the same word (feminine singular vs masculine plural), much like the E/S ambiguity in erik agard’s DOUBLE AGENTS meta last month.

the rest varied from nice to ingenious. i especially loved DELL/DELI—referring to “the farmer in the dell” and then deli meats made of farm animals. slightly morbid, i suppose, but then, the clue is in service of a meta where a praying mantis is being eaten by cattle. c’est la vie (et le mort) in the animal world.

oh, so the answer? well, with a hiding animals theme, the nudge from CHAMELEON, and the restriction that it be a 10-letter C word, i came up with CAMOUFLAGE. i sure hope that’s right.

i liked this puzzle, which was undeniably clever and had a nice “aha” moment. but i didn’t love it, for a couple reasons. one is that the aforementioned agard meta recently relied on much the same trick (different letters that can go in a square to satisfy the same clue). that feels too recent to trot back out. the other is that the crossword itself suffered somewhat from the difficulty of managing this theme. 82 words is a bit more than usual, with “only” three theme answers totally 31 squares (of course there are actually many more theme answers—the double-duty crossing downs—and they are stacked). there is some ugly, ugly fill here, starting with LASIC at 1a, which is not only misspelled, it’s a misspelling of an already creatively-spelled brand name. ouch. fusty ELA and LAK made me grimace, too. and let us not speak of the clues at 28a or 52d.

overall, i give this one four stars. your thoughts?

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77 Responses to MGWCC #222

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    This one fell much faster than previous Week 5s. I think it was a case of a very difficult meta to construct, but not nearly as hard to solve. The polar bear/solid berg came quickly, it took somewhat longer to work out praying mantis from grazing cattle, then I was getting tired Thursday night, so I went to bed. Minutes later, the shameless/chameleon interplay emerged. This combination appealed to me particularly – though the trick was clear already, the famously changeable chameleon seemed like a neat reveal when tucked into the bottom corner. I got back up and emailed Matt with camouflage. I’d briefly considered “coloration” for a ten letter C word, but in environmental science, the correct term would also need “protective.” As a very minor quibble from the pedant’s corner, it would have been a little better if the chameleon hid behind some animal or physical part of its habitat like the first two, but certainly Matt was dealing with stiff constraints. Also, solid berg felt a bit forced as a term, and as Joon said, some of the double definitions were better than others. Overall, another tour de force – 4.5 stars for me. By the way, Joon means loper where he typo’d the 2nd loser.

  2. Matthew G. says:

    I sent in CAMOUFLAGE too, but doubted it was correct until I read Joon’s post. My grid had POLAR BEAR/GRAZING CATTLE/CHAMELEON, and I never noticed the alternative possibilities for each of those entries. I kept searching for something more but eventually sent in CAMOUFLAGE simply based on (1) CHAMELEON, and (2) the three theme clues that all seemed to refer to spotting something hard to see.

    So I may have gotten it right, but I surely did not grok it. I suspect I’m not alone, and one of the reasons I’m surprised that I may be right is that a Week 5 meta usually isn’t guessable if you haven’t grokked.

    EDIT: Also, I certainly did notice that I had one theme entry (GRAZING CATTLE) that fit its clue, and two (POLAR BEAR and CHAMELEON) that did not. But because the one that fit was the middle “centerpiece” theme entry, I looked for significance in that fact, rather than in looking to see if the upper and lower theme entries had better answers that would actually fit in the blanks.

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    Extremely perceptive review, Joon — I share pretty much all your views on this puzzle.

    It’s an ambitious idea — writing it took about 17 hours, which is far longer than any other MGWCC I can recall. But even with a bunch of revisions the main weakness of the concept is that there are too many “chameleon” squares, which both compromised the fill and made the underlying concept too obvious.

    157 right answers, though I also got 24 CHAMELEONS responses which I’ll have to ask the panel about accepting.

    Also: I had sworn off “chameleon”/”Heisenberg” puzzles for a while after Erik’s puzzle, but then I got enamored with this idea of camouflaging animals in the grid and couldn’t let go of it. But it will be a looooong time before I do one again.

  4. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    I sent in CHANGELING as my answer, since I thought the SHAMELESS/CHAMELEON pair went beyond CAMOUFLAGE.

  5. Daniel S. says:

    I guessed camouflage based on the clues, but I missed the meta entirely.

    I had POLARBERG for 17a, too, which should have made it easier to spot.

  6. Lorraine says:

    I could have been given an extra YEAR instead of an extra day and I still would never have solved the meta…

    Why would CHAMELEONS be acceptable? It’s not even a grid answer (it has the extra S). Also, it’s singling out one of the theme answers, which isn’t called for, IMHO. I’m not on the panel, but I vote no!

    • Andy says:

      Because there are 3 theme answers, thus the plural form. Along with the literal chameleon, there are figurative ones in the polar bear and praying mantis.

      Full disclosure: I submitted CHAMELEONS moments before I realized it may have actually been CAMOUFLAGE that Matt was going for.

  7. Mutman says:

    I needed the extra day over the long weekend, mostly because the puzzle was very difficult for me. I finally grokked 2/3 of the meta on the first two theme answers. I didn’t really notice the chameleon — I thought the shameless referred to Matt using practically the same closing-month theme as in guest-constructor month :O

    Nicely done, Matt!

  8. Paul Coulter says:

    I’d certainly accept changeling (good one, Bob!) or any other ten letter C-word that demonstrates an understanding of the theme. I wouldn’t accept chameleons, or other entries that fail to demonstrate a clear grokiness (was that how we left it, Matthew?) of the concept.

    • Andy says:

      I think it *does* display grokiness though, since SHAMELESS is the entry that properly fits the clue, so you had to find the hidden CHAMELEON, thus grokking the theme. Pluralizing it includes the other 2 theme answers.

      How do CAMOUFLAGE or CHANGELING indicate grokiness any more than CHAMELEONS?

  9. Dave C says:

    I got the meta idea, but missed the answer! Very happy to have found POLARBEAR/PRAYINGMANTIS/CHAMELEON, but I now see that the 3rd theme clue at 66A was a bit of a humorous wink wink that turns out to be the opposite of CAMOUFLAGE, thus reinforcing the answer?

    Anyway, since I “converted” 14 letters to new answers to form 3 new creatures, I went with CONVERSION – and was pretty sure it was not correct.

  10. *David* says:

    I had GRAZING MANTIS which made me scratch my head, why such an obvious connection to the animals which immediately put me on the righ track for the wrong reasons. It is interesting how with the two letter option how many different ways you could find your way to the meta, which is why I think this week was a higher success rate then usual for a fifth week.

  11. Joan says:

    I started out with “coloration” then switched to “chameleons” as an answer. But since there were clearly 3 creatures HIDDEN in the puzzle, I realized that the answer was more likely “camouflage.” Pretty clear upon consideration! I loved it, maybe because I infrequently solve anything later than week 3. And no…I vote for not accepting “chameleons.” It’s already one of the hidden critters.

  12. Like Daniel S, I had POLAR BERG as my 17-across, though I honestly think it made getting the meta even harder. What made that mistake interesting was how much more it made LASIC stand out, as I could discern no reason that section had to look so ugly. It makes much more sense when I consider the extra constraints of LOSER/LOPER, IDI/IDA, and CODE/CORE.

    It also hints at one strategy I use for solving the really tough metas: I look for any awkward fill to signify there are hidden theme answers lurking nearby.

  13. Charles Montpetit says:

    I’m with Joon as far as LASIC is concerned. The use of misspelled entries is definitely *not* a door I want to see opened in puzzles, lest we end up with clues like “Fear” for DREDD (21a) and “Mammals” for DEERE (59a). It’s a pity too, for LASIC could have been clued accurately as a “Computer language often mistaken for an eye surgery procedure.”

    As for the answer word, I did grok the meta and still would up with CHAMELEONS as my first choice even though it was almost the same as 66a, which prompted me to write to Matt that he should have avoided this inelegance by asking for “a totally different word, like MIMETISM or… Oh! Did you want us to send in CAMOUFLAGE?”

  14. John L. Wilson says:

    I may be (OK, am) one of the 24, but I say “yes” to CHAMELEONS. This gets at the change angle to the meta, which CAMOUFLAGE does not… unless you’re taking the really long, evolutionary view. If you landed on CHAMELEON(S), I’d say you demonstrated a grasp of the central trick comparable to that proven by CAMOUFLAGE. John/

    • Andy says:

      I’m also one of the 24. If anything, I think CHAMELEONS is a *better* answer, since the hidden entries are actually “changing their colors,” so to speak, in order to hide, rather than merely covering themselves up as in the case of CAMOUFLAGE.

  15. jimmy d says:

    Wow… even though I grokked the meta pretty quickly (thanks to the solar bear and the shameleon), I still find another level of meta-ness thanks to Joon’s write-up (as always)… thought the central answer was just a MANTIS, never realizing that grazing could become praying…. JAZZ to JAY-Z is very nice! Thanks, Matt!

    edit: I vote YES for accepting CHAMELEONS, even though I submitted CAMOUFLAGE… it does fit the criteria and makes sense.

  16. Charles Montpetit says:

    Oops, sorry about the references to DREDD and DEERE in my earlier post. Those are from Ben Tausig’s current AV crossword, which I was solving just before posting my comment about mgwcc. My point remains the same, though: if we start accepting poorly-spelled entries in the grids, then we can dispense with black squares altogether and claim that anything which isn’t in a dictionary is a purposeful misspelling…

  17. Wayne says:

    Note to self: pay attention to the squares you erase; they’re trying to tell you something about the meta!

    I tell myself that every week, but then I get caught up in solving the grid, and take my eye off the end game. I had more than half of the 14 ambiguous fills written in at one point or another, but the lightbulb never turned on.

    Matt, impressive as always.

    Changeling: +1
    Chameleons: -1

  18. Hah, I somehow completely missed the SOLID and CATTLE — my first pass at the puzzle had SOLAR BERG (wtf?), GRAZING MANTIS, and SHAMELESS. It took me a day, but I eventually corrected SOLAR to POLAR and then figured out what was going on. But I thought it was just BERG/BEAR, GRAZING/PRAYING and SHAMELESS/CHAMELEON.

    I couldn’t find the alternative answer for SHAMELESS at first, so I ended up writing a Python script to search for all possible words that were up to 3 changes away. Once I saw CHAMELEON in the output I knew that was right.

    I don’t think CHAMELEONS should be accepted, it’s not the “feature” we’re looking for.

  19. Ned Robert says:

    If Matt, in his explanation, refers to “chameleon” squares and “chameleon”/”Heisenberg” puzzles, I’d think CHAMELEONS might be an even better meta solution, particularly with the clue for CHAMELEON being “There’s one right out in the open….”

    P.S. I was one of the 24 who submitted CHAMELEONS, so consider the source.

  20. Brian Cross says:

    Like Bob, I also sent in CHANGELING.

    A changeling represents a creature, so I thought it was in line with the “Creature Feature” title. Changeling is also a type of word puzzle where words are changed to other words by replacing individual letters:(http://www.pennydellpuzzles.com/Upload/PuzzleFiles/Sample/chg_d0508_samplepuz.pdf), which is essentially what is happening with GRAZINGCATTLE->PRAYINGMANTIS, SOLIDBERG->POLARBEAR, and SHAMELESS->CHAMELEON. I don’t really care whether changeling is deemed acceptable or not, but that was my thought process.

    Great construction, Matt!

  21. Mutman says:

    I personally wouldn’t accept chameleon as a meta answer for the simple reason that it is a grid entry. It is week 5 folks!

    I agree that changeling works for the meta.

    • Andy says:

      Actually, CHAMELEONS is not a grid entry. CHAMELEON is. And really, that’s not either. SHAMELESS is. You still had to grok the meta to come up with the word (and concept of) “chameleons.”

  22. TimM says:

    I think CAMOUFLAGE should be the only acceptable answer, as it is the only one that fully works with the clues for the theme answers. A polar bear is camouflaged by standing on a snowbank in front of an iceberg, a praying mantis is camouflaged by blades of grass, and a chameleon can be camouflaged against most backgrounds. Polar bears and praying mantises don’t change to fit their surroundings; they just naturally resemble their environments. Neither CHAMELEONS (as a meta-answer) nor CHANGELING support the clues.

  23. Debbie says:

    I had to wiki “changeling”…but upon reading it I’m doubtful of it properly fulfilling the meta. Also, neither the mantis nor the polar bear really change colors so I’m not fond of chameleon either.

    Personally, I thought FAME and ITCH were odd answers (how does a fat person find it difficult to lose an itch? The itch to eat? An itch that fell in between fat folds?) Also, how exactly does one know someone’s FAME? (Actually now that I’ve written it out it makes a tad more sense…) Was also not a huge fan of DELL as it may be obvious to English speakers but I wouldn’t consider “Farmer in the Dell” to be widely known elsewhere (I’m not even sure about UK/Aus/NZ – any thoughts there?)

    I was also surprised that we had another set of interchangeable letter pairs, but I can’t complain, Erik’s puzzle (which I missed) definitely helped me out on this one!

    • Elaine says:

      I had FACE/NAME and INCH, not ITCH.

      Mantids don’t change colors, but they look like leaves or stems, and a polar bear’s fur, matching the ice and snow, give it an advantage in hunting in that environment. There is more than one way to camouflage.

      • Debbie says:

        Chances are you will never see this reply, but just to clarify –

        ITCH was the alternative answer for INCH (when inputting GRAZINGCATTLE as opposed to PRAYINGMANTIS)

        My comment on mantises and polar bears not changing color was more a comment on why CHAMELEONS should not be accepted than the aspect of CAMOUFLAGE (which I am 100% behind).

  24. Karen says:

    No clue, except I couldn’t grok how POLAR BEAR fit into the first blank (I also had GRAZING CATTLE and SHAMELESS). Impressive construction but not a fun solve/slog.

  25. jimmy d says:

    Thanks, TimM ^^ another level to the meta I didn’t fully get… Camouflage it is

  26. Pj says:

    Different strokes for… I loved the puzzle, but, then I got it pretty quickly for a fifth weeker. I got the idea from the three theme clues; then, when I googled ten-letter C words, camouflage popped out at me, and I had it even before I realized that the down clues had two options. I just thought the creatures were hidden. Because I forget past puzzles almost right after I submit the meta, I am not at an advantage if similar puzzles appear. My question for Matt…how many people sent in camouflage spelled correctly? It is an often misspelled word from my experience as a Language Arts teacher.

  27. Hugh says:

    I second TimM’s comment, too. CAMOUFLAGE is it. The others just do not click.

  28. Elaine says:

    I had POLAR BERG early, then realized it could (should) be BEAR.
    PRAYING MANTIS was a good fit with the clue, and although I had CATTLE lightly entered, I dismantled it later and left the insect (a favorite of mine.)
    But then I had SHAMELESS and never considered any other answer.
    Basically, this puzzle ate my lunch and I didn’t struggle very hard with the meta. I almost never get the 4th or 5th weeks. I just like Matt’s puzzles and so…..
    They also serve who only stand and wait…. Given my age, I’d say I’ll never be a Real Puzzle Person.

  29. John L. Wilson says:

    CHAMELEON is not a grid entry. SHAMELESS must/can *change* into CHAMELEON. For that reason, CHANGELING is groovy in my book too.

  30. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    Just for the record, the body of my email to Matt said, “I can see some kind of CONVERSION going on here, SOLIDBERG to POLARBEAR, GRAZINGCATTLE to PRAYINGMANTIS, SHAMELESS to CHAMELEON, but I have no idea what single word you are looking for to describe this CAMOUFLAGE!”

    But the subject line was CHANGELING, and that’s what counts.

  31. klew archer says:

    I’m another one of the 24, but I can’t really state my case without seeming to criticize this excellent puzzle so I won’t try.

  32. CY Hollander says:

    One correction, Joon: the CATTLE are eating blades of grass (hence GRAZING), not a praying mantis.

    I settled on CAMOUFLAGE, but I think that CHAMELEONS is legitimate. The three hidden animals of the theme are all “chameleons” in the metaphorical sense of something that changes to blend in with its surroundings. It’s true that that CHAMELEON appears directly as part of the theme, but the clue, “There’s one out in the open–shameless!” could be taken as a direct admission of that. After all, it’s not like we’ve never seen a theme answer appear in the puzzle itself (cf. “Olympics”).

    • jefe says:

      Oh dear, I thought the cattle were eating the mantis too!

      (I also originally had GRAYING MANTLE, which is camouflage related!)

  33. Matthew G. says:

    I think Matt and his panel should accept CHANGELING but reject CHAMELEONS. The latter is in the grid and doesn’t fully capture the spirit of the meta, but I am hard pressed to say that CHANGELING is inferior to CAMOUFLAGE, since you can equally say that the creatures are hidden or that they are transforming.

  34. klew archer says:

    Yes, and CHAMELEONS do both, they transform in order to hide.

  35. klew archer says:

    (As an aside, google CHAMELEON, CHANGELING and CAMOUFLAGE and you get this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camouflage_(novel) )

  36. Bob says:

    For 17a I had SOLARBERG. changed it to POLARBERG. decided that was not correct. Then changed it to POLARBEAR.then I started looking for hidden animals in the other two.

  37. klew archer says:

    I had SOLARBERG for a while too at one point and thought it was some kind of mashup of SODERBERGH’s version of SOLARIS

    • Andy says:

      I also had SOLARBERG and had no idea what it was. When going to Google, somehow my mind changed it to SUGARBERG which is a real thing!

  38. Joe says:

    I am one of the CHAMELEONS respondents. The reason I was satisfied with my entry echoes what Ned Robert and CY Hollander say. The clue’s reference to “out in the open” gave me the aha moment. And it’s also a clear indication that the meta was grokked (IMHO).

  39. SHAW says:

    I vote no on CHAMELEONS, and on CHANGELING, even though I did initially consider sending it in. The CAMOUFLAGE angle is the only one that fully grasps the meta. The polar bear can hide on an iceberg because they’re both white. The praying mantis can hide in a grassy field among grazing cattle because he’s green. A chameleon can hide anywhere out in the open because his body changes colors to match his background. The only unifying theme is that they’re all properly camouflaged for their surroundings.

    • Garrett Hildebrand says:

      The way I was thinking of chameleons is in the sense that the answers themselves could morph.

  40. klew archer says:

    As far as the clues are concerned the three critters in question are indeed in CAMOUFLAGE. But as far as the grid is concerned, are you guys saying the PRAYING MANTIS is camouflaged as a GRAZING CATTLE and the CHAMELEON is camouflaged as a SHAMELESS? Gridwise it feels a little better to think of each theme entry ambigously adapting to whichever of the two interpretations you perceive, shapeshifting of colorshifting like, well, those other two alternatives

  41. Abide says:

    I don’t see how chameleons could be kosher. In addition to being a theme animal, the chameleon changes his color to hide. Polar bear and praying mantis do not have to change color, but can be hidden in proper environment. It seems a stretch to call these two animals “chameleons”. If third animal was a sand flea/walking stick, there is a stronger argument for using “chameleons” in the broader sense. But not when it’s one of the three hiding animals.

    The Olympics reference was part of a clue, not one of the theme answers. It was also an accident.

  42. Mike L says:

    Speaking for myself, I thought was one of the best puzzles I’ve ever done. Sure LASIC is painful, but the beauty of the meta – and the Awesome JAZZ/JAY-Z entry – makes up for that kind of thing for me. And I hadn’t seen this other recent puzzle with the same idea, so it was just a work of art to me.

  43. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I find Tim’s argument to be persuasive. While the crossword entries may sort of embody the CHANGELING or CHAMELEONS concept, the hidden animals are both camouflaged by their coloring (in nature) and camouflaged by answers that fit the theme clues. CAMOUFLAGE is a more elegant answer.

    Without the “10-letter word starting with C” hint, I doubt anyone would have come up with CONVERSION, COLORATION, CHANGELING, or CHAMELEONS as their answer.

  44. joon says:

    i think CAMOUFLAGE is definitely the best answer, but those others should be accepted because they’re just not wrong. they start with C, they’re 10 letters, and they describe what’s going on in the theme. perhaps they don’t fully capture every nuance of the theme, but frankly, neither does CAMOUFLAGE or any other answer that’s only one word long.

  45. CY Hollander says:

    Re CHANGELING, by the way, I’ll admit that it had crossed my mind as well, but you folks are aware, aren’t you, that the “change” in that word refers to an exchange made by fairies of one child for another? It does not refer to a creature that changes shape or form*.

    I suppose you can make the argument that Matt is the evil fairy who has whipped away the actual letters that make up the creatures’ names and substituted the ones that make up the weird theme answers, but be sure that that’s the argument you’re making.
    ________
    *except as a proper noun in some works of science fiction.

  46. Old Geezer says:

    Just to add to the conversation, and point out something we ALL probably already know, polar bears are not white!!! The undercoat is a colorless transparent, and the outer coat is a colorless transparent hollow tube.

    The hair of a polar bear looks white because the air spaces in each hair scatter light of all colors. The color white becomes visible to our eyes when an object reflects back all of the visible wavelengths of light, rather than absorbing some of the wavelengths.

    I finished the puzzle, but had one of the many permutations available through the chameleon-like individual squares of the grid. So no grokking for me!

    • CY Hollander says:

      I didn’t know those details…but I must say that I can’t see the difference between being white and looking white.

    • Toby Berla says:

      By that definition, snow isn’t white either, is it? Viewed closely enough, *nothing* has any color at all… what we perceive as color is just the tendency of some things to reflect most of the light wavelengths in the visible spectrum. Without broad spectrum light, an eye, and a visual cortex, the phenomenon we perceive as “color” doesn’t exist.

  47. Howard B says:

    Solved the whole puzzle and all hidden letters/answers, but could not come up with CAMOUFLAGE, possibly the easier part of the meta.
    Simply couldn’t figure out a 10-letter C word that encompassed that. I’m not too creative in that way puzzle-wise, I suppose, since the descriptive word had a symbolic connection to the puzzle.

    I sent something else that was unintentionally the entirely wrong meaning out of desperation, that I won’t get into here. But I greatly enjoyed finding all of the double-letter squares and solving the puzzle.

  48. Garrett Hildebrand says:

    I am with Andy, John Wilson, jimmy d, Ned Robert, CY Hollander, klew archer, joe, and joon on chameleons being an acceptable answer. I do grok the various persuasive arguments about camouflage being the superior answer because it describes what the animals do in their natural environment, but remember we are looking for a word that describes the theme. One can argue that the theme is that of changeling theme entries, and that makes them chameleon-like. And as others have pointed out, such an answer with the S added to make it ten letters starting with a C clearly indicates you have understood the way the puzzle works. Not only solved it, but solved it twice!

    Plus, one person said they did not get the meta but guessed camouflage. I ask you, which answer shows a clear understanding of this most excellent puzzle and its meta?

    • Matthew G. says:

      Yeah, that would be me. There were clearly people who understood the meta better than I did but sent in a less-preferred answer. That by itself should counsel toward lenience.

  49. Matt Gaffney says:

    Even the panel is divided on this one. Something tells me I might not enjoy the weekend.

  50. Mike says:

    I submitted camouflage instead of chameleons because of the puzzle’s title. Camouflage is a “feature” of each of the three “creatures” in the environments listed in the clues. Being a chameleon is not true for all three creatures. Also, loved the Jay-Z/Jazz answer, but not a fan of 2-Down as an answer.

  51. ===Dan says:

    I sent in chameleons and mentioned in the body of my message why I didn’t select camouflage. I didn’t see “camouflage” as _describing_ the theme. It certainly is associated with the theme. The theme wasn’t camouflaged, the entries were.

    I thought all three theme answers were metaphorical chameleons, so the word encompasses all three entries. In the third case, “there’s one right in the open” could be taken for an indication that this answer showed the theme explicitly.

  52. Norm says:

    It’s days (weeks) like this that make me see how far I have to go (and why I have no business trying anything after, say, week 2). I actually had GRAZING MANTIS and then saw how to change it to GRAZING CATTLE and then was completely gobblesmacked (or whatever the right word is).

  53. klew archer says:

    Matt, in honor of this puzzle I think you should have some MGWCC camo t-shirts made and sell them on the swag section of your website.

  54. I said CAMOUFLAGE, and I’m normally a stickler, but after reading through this thread, my vote is to accept pretty much every answer mentioned, for this reason: saying “send in a 10-letter word beginning with C” is a tacit acknowledgement that the solution to this meta is a concept rather than a definitive Answer Word. If you found such a word that fits the concept, I think you solved the meta, even if you didn’t grok it 100%.

    (And I was prepared to argue against CHAMELEONS, but “hidden in plain sight” plus the fact that it’s *not* a grid entry made me change my mind.)

  55. Ken / Cazique says:

    For what it’s worth, I said CAMOUFLAGE but think you should accept CHAMELEONS. For one thing, I toyed with CHAMELEONIC for awhile, that while being about the time it took for me to realize it was 11 letters long. But seriously, the more non-specifically an answer is defined (10-letter C word = not very nailed down) I think the more expansive the inclusion has to be for that week. In particular, some transitivity should hold — CHANGELING is certainly a solid alternative, and I don’t think CHAMELEONS is any worse.

    I thought the theme was great, the fill was less so particularly LASIC (and supra-particularly LASIC at 1A), but I understand the theme made it difficult. Also echo previous comments re the proximity to Erik’s last month. But still enjoyable, obviously.

  56. Abby B says:

    I sent in chameleons because it said “in the open” in the clue for the last theme answer. That seemed like an indication that the other answers were chameleons too, but not called such.

  57. Donna k says:

    I wanted to say Cameleon as I had all the variations but since it was a clue I couldn’t let myself send it in. Never thought camaflouge Closest I’ve been on a high week solution.

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