MGWCC #266

crossword untimed
meta 0:30 after visiting imdb 

MGWCC #266 crossword solution – 07/09/13

Welcome to Guest Constructor Month at Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest! I’m not on for blogging today’s puzzle, but I thought I’d post today’s tribute to one of the greatest puzzle constructors that ever lived, and certainly the orneriest (if you follow his comments here at da Fiend), Henry Hook.

joon may be by to give his impressions, but in the meantime, please share yours below. Do you agree it was a tougher-than-a-typical-week-one puzzle, but once solved, the meta was a snap?

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25 Responses to MGWCC #266

  1. Matt says:

    *The* greatest, if you ask me!

    570 correct answers this week.

  2. Evan says:

    I agree that the puzzle itself was much tougher than expected (the meta, not so much), and while I’m aware of Henry’s renown in the crosswording business and have been a fan of his previous work, I really didn’t enjoy this puzzle. It’s possible I was frustrated by it being abnormally tough for a Week #1 meta, but that southern section made me wince. PLATERS and ILGWU crossing NEWLEY, which crosses REPOSIT and LYSETTE. Ugh, no thanks. NON-GOLD? Pretty arbitrary if you ask me. All of that to accommodate the bizarre 57-Across. No one uses a Roman numeral to describe a year in a written or spoken phrase like that — it’s just there to make the other theme answers fit symmetrically.

    Just not my cup o’ tea.

    • CY Hollander says:

      No one uses a Roman numeral to describe a year in a written or spoken phrase like that — it’s just there to make the other theme answers fit symmetrically.

      It has some justification in that it refers to the year of a film, which is one of the few subjects for which Roman numerals are still used by convention.

      • Evan says:

        Yes, but you don’t use the Roman numeral when you write it out in a phrase or a quotation. I wouldn’t like MCMLXIV FILM as a straight-up answer for ['Zulu,' e.g.] or MCMLXXVII MOVIE for ['Star Wars,' e.g.] for that matter, so I’m no more okay with it here.

    • Wayne says:

      The chief virtue of Guest Constructor month is to demonstrate how good Matt is at this. IMO.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        Henry’s were the first metas I ever solved, so in a way you’ve complimented him there

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    Thanks, Henry, for countless evenings of puzzling pleasure over the years. I liked this one fine, and I realize how hard it must be to make theme clues mesh. I imagine our guest constructor tried other modifiers like British in front of film before going with the Roman numerals.

  4. Matt Zinno says:

    WAY too hard for a week 1. (Which is not a critique of the puzzle, but rather the scheduling.)

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      I hear you; the puzzle was tough but the meta not so much, however (575 right answers is about avg. for a Week 1)

  5. Blanche says:

    I was glad that this one didn’t make my head hurt as did weeks 2 and 3 last month. The Roman numerals bothered me not a whit — I’m used to seeing them in film credits, and they provided a nice little aha moment.

  6. joon says:

    ohhhh man. i totally spaced out this week and forgot to post. sorry, matt and henry, and thanks, evad, for picking up the slack.

    i totally agree—the fill was difficult, but the meta was easy with imdb. (would have been impossible, of course, without outside references.) i liked the puzzle, though. it was different and interesting.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Don’t sweat it — you’ve got 3 kids now so 50% more leeway on all commitments

      • Jed says:

        In my experience, time required is exponential with each added kid – so I think Joon deserves 200% more leeway – though I really should leave the math to Joon.

  7. Tony says:

    No complaints with the puzzle being a little tougher than normal. I liked that HH used a different writer named James. Sick of AGEE.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Ohhhh man. I totally spaced out this week and forgot to even open the puzzle. Dagnabbit!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      OK, having only skimmed the post and comments, I just did the puzzle fairly unspoiled. The AMON/NEWLEY/LYSETTE/NONGOLD bits were unfortunate but when I scrolled down the movie’s Wikipedia page and found the character’s name, I laughed and forgave the uglinesses in the grid.

  9. Martin says:

    Ha ha!

    -MAS

  10. Abide says:

    when I was solving this I wondered did Matt assist Michael Caine in constructing a puzzle?

  11. HH says:

    I feel I should point out that this puzzle was constructed months before Matt asked me to contribute. I agree it was too tough for Week 1.

    • pannonica says:

      What was its raison d’être, then?

      • HH says:

        Sometimes I have to write a puzzle just for me, as a change from the dreck I have to write for money.

        • joon says:

          sometimes i write a puzzle just for me, but you appear to have taken “just for me” to a new level. :)

          {“Benny & ___” (early Johnny Depp movie)} (4)
          {___ the cah in Hahvahd Yahd} (4)

  12. icdogg says:

    I thought it was quite good. Then again, I don’t really like when they’re super-easy.

  13. mean old elaine says:

    Aw, heck. I loved the puzzle even though I did find some of the proper names difficult. I also happen to be a big fan of the movie ZULU, and ‘HOOK’ (as he is mostly called during the movie) instantly came to mind. I admit to double-checking it because I did not know the actor’s name (there were only two well-known actors, plus Michael Caine later became very familiar), but I was pretty sure of my ground. I will have to watch the movie again, with ‘Breaker Morant’ for a chaser, mayhap.

  14. Joan says:

    Good puzzle and no complaints. When I find puzzle pretty easy and meta not hard, it’s always good. Roman numerals were fun and a change.

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