MGWCC #279

crossword 2:36
meta 2 minutes 

hello and welcome to episode #279 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Music to My Ears”. this week’s instructions ask us for a famous musical. what are the theme answers? well, there are four long answers in the grid:

  • if somebody is {No longer idle}, perhaps it’s because they’ve been SPURRED TO ACTION.
  • {Goal of a mortgage} is HOME OWNERSHIP.
  • {Get taller fast} is GROW LIKE A WEED.
  • {Without delay} is RIGHT THIS SECOND.

the “to my ears” part of the title suggests the way things sound, so it didn’t take me long to notice that PURR, MEOW, GROWL, and HISS were hiding in the theme answers. who makes those sounds? why, cats, of course, which is also the title of a musical based on the poetry of t.s. eliot.

a nice little week 1 meta here—not insultingly trivial, but not too tough either.

bits & pieces:

  • {Magnus Carlsen’s hometown} OSLO. matt loves him some magnus carlsen. and hey, speaking of which…
  • {Game whose world championship will be held in Chennai in November} is CHESS, which happens to also be the title of a well-known musical. carlsen, the world’s #1 player, will be taking on current world champion viswanathan anand.
  • {American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Coordinator ___ Hovanec} HELENE. what a lovely clue. for the MGWCC solving audience, this probably resonates better than HELENE curtis.
  • {What a wage-earner brings home} THE BACON. this seems like a partial to me, unlike {Prison, in slang} THE PEN. nobody ever talks about THE BACON without “bring home” attached.
  • {Herbert Hoover at age 9 or Eleanor Roosevelt at age 10} ORPHAN. interesting trivia clue! usually you hear about literary orphans, or even little orphan annie (another famous musical). i wonder how many people guessed wrong this week?

i’m running late this morning, so that’s all for me. what’d you all think of this one?

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15 Responses to MGWCC #279

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    Categorically, the purrfect Week 1 puzzle. I’m not lion – this one was no dog.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    446 correct answers this month, the lowest for any Week 1 this year (Jan-627; Feb-645; Mar-580; Apr.-590; May-611; Jun-569; Jul-532; Aug-466;Sep-446). A lot of solvers mentioned that it was tougher than usual for a Week 1. Next month is a 5-weeker and we’ll go for a record # of entries on Week 1.

    13 “Oklahoma!” guesses, I think from SPURRED. No one guessed “Chess,” but 3 did guess “Annie” (though the entrant who uses the username “Annie” did get CATS right).

    • Bunella says:

      Well after corresponding with you for a few weeks, I finally got up the nerve to actually submit a guess and I was correct so yay! me. I’m sure I’ll have problems as the weeks progress and get more difficult/

      Also thought orphan & Maria in tia maria were red herrings.

    • Jim Schooler says:

      Toyed with the idea of “Oklahoma” suggested by “spurred”, but than I saw “NOTOK” (as in “not ‘Oklahoma’”) down the middle, saw MEOW, which started me off with the cat sounds, and submitted “Cats”. Great first week puzzle and meta!

  3. tabstop says:

    I got so caught up in the rule-but-not-really-a-rule of Hidden Words Must Cross Word Boundaries that I convinced myself there was nothing hidden in the first theme entry (which means I didn’t look at the rest until much later). Fortunately, two days later was still early enough to submit the answer.

  4. Jason T says:

    I found it a slightly tougher-than-usual Week 1. Didn’t spot the sounds right away – for a while, I went down a blind alley of looking for synonyms for the four theme entries. The cat sounds were particularly well hidden – 3 out of 4 aren’t pronounced the same when you read the theme entries out loud!

  5. Jason Feng says:

    Could I have submitted a musical with “OTIS” in it if one existed?

    • MountainManZach says:

      Otis is all curled up at 16a!

      • Jim Schooler says:

        How cute is that!

      • Jeff G. says:

        Very cool. Otis all curled up is like the hidden Mickey of crosswords. Loved the theme, just right for a week 1.

      • Charles Montpetit says:

        There are also two CATs, starting from squares 19 and 32. Plus a TIGER starting at 45. Plus two LIONs starting two squares past 16 and 41. Plus three THAIs starting two squares past 15, three past 18 and one past 19. Plus a (krazy) KAT inverted at 36a. Man, I got way too much time on my hands.

  6. Wayne says:

    Oh no! I missed the deadline. To quote a recent 54a, “GRR”!

  7. Hugh says:

    Matt also hid two other feline clues in the grid in: (45A) tHEPen and (20A) TOMfoley. Was it intentional?

  8. icdogg says:

    It took me way too long, then I felt stupid once I saw the obvious

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