MGWCC #283

crossword 2:50
meta uh… 

hello and welcome to week #283 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Range Finder”. this week’s instructions ask us for a two-word region of the United States. what are the theme answers? well, there are five of them, once again not (exclusively) the five longest in the grid:

  • {It spells out messages — from the dead!} OUIJA BOARD.
  • {Where 52-down works} OVAL OFFICE. (52-down is OBAMA.)
  • {Soccer blunder} OWN GOAL. this is as short as four of the answers from the fill, but it’s centrally located.
  • {Common flower} OXEYE DAISY.
  • {Alternative to lobster bisque} OYSTER STEW.

so these all start with O, and then the second letter progresses through the alphabet U-V-W-X-Y. that much is immediately clear. what to do with this, though?

i actually tried to solve this one, as i sometimes do, without looking at the instructions. i thought maybe the answer might just be OZ (the next term in the sequence), but i wanted something a little more definite. eventually i caved and looked at the instructions. well, if we’re going with OZ-, the answer must be the ozark mountains. nice how “range” in the title is pulling double-duty to mean a range of letters in the alphabet as well as a geological mountain range.

that said, i was a little confused about how we were supposed to know to take the next term after the 5th in the series, as opposed to the one before the first or something else that just describes the theme. (off the top of my head, it seems like you could easily come up with familiar 2-word phrases starting with everything from OA to OZ.) but unless i missed something, there’s nothing concrete. so did i miss something? usually there is less uncertainty when i come up with the right answer.

i enjoyed seeing MALESKA in the fill. there are lots of fun medium-length answers, actually: HG WELLS, SPY KIDS, FALAFEL, BROKAW, AND HOW, GI JANE. but it’s already super-late and i’m quite busy tomorrow, so i’ll leave off here. how’d you like the puzzle? let’s hear from you in the comments.

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18 Responses to MGWCC #283

  1. Jonesy says:

    I was also uncertain about Ozark Mountains vs Ozark Plateau. The mountains feels more in tune with the title but plateau feels more like a region…

    Guessing both were accepted (as I put plateau – title of the wiki page for the area…)

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    471 right answers this week. Apologies for the submissions form closing an hour early; I assume it was Daylight Savings that got us. If you had the answer but weren’t able to submit at the 11th hour because of the form closing, please e-mail me at

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    Joon makes a good point about the OT*. If something like Otter Commons were a US region, it would be a perfectly legitimate answer. Still, I rather like this one. It took me a good twenty minutes to see the pattern, a nice enough challenge for Week 1. Last month’s was like this, too, and if Matt’s stepping up his Week 1 degree of difficulty over the no-brainers, I say well done.

  4. hibob says:

    I looked at the range of U-V-W-X-Y and thought of both ends, T & Z. This gave me Time Zone. I submitted that and when I didn’t see my name on the board, went back and still couldn’t figure it out. Week One fail. How sad, I don’t have anything to look forward to this month.

  5. Wayne says:

    I got the meta without looking at the prompt, so I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. In other words, I’m eagerly awaiting Week 2 and a return to my normal state of despondency.

  6. Jeff G. says:

    Definitely not a gimme for a week 1 of 5, but very enjoyable. Found Ozark fairly quickly and debated what the second word should be for quite a while. The Range in the title fit nicely with Mountains.

  7. Matthew G. says:

    Ugh. I thought it might be “The Ozarks,” but didn’t think the “the” would qualify as one of two words. I was still going to submit it in any event but then forgot by noon. Not because of DST — just forgot to go back and submit.

  8. CY Hollander says:

    Didn’t find this one as solid as usual: like Joon points out, what did OZ- have to do with the range per se? It’s the next term in the series, sure, but it has nothing to do with the overall range U-Y. And “range” is probably a reference to mountains, too, except that the Ozarks aren’t really a mountain range either—apparently they are a dissected plateau (which, unlike a true mountain range, does not feature much variety among the individual “mountains”). So I didn’t feel this theme really worked that well on any level, but I couldn’t think of anything better, so I submitted “Ozark mountains”, and apparently it was the answer.

  9. *David* says:

    I felt the meta was a bit squishy as well as far as the clarity on which direction to go in. My reliance was primary on the crossword finishing with the penultimate letter of the alphabet and hence the meta should start with OZ. I still did look at the leaderboard with some trepidation to confirm my name was on there.

  10. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    As soon as I got the first theme answer, OUIJA BOARD, I *knew* the meta would be OUTER BANKS. When I got the second theme answer, I put that thought on hold, and continued to fill in the rest of the grid. A bit of study, and I had the right answer.

    But I did go to Wikipedia, and although I submitted my answer as Ozark Mountains, I made sure my comment box included the alternates (The Ozarks, Ozark Plateau) which were mentioned.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      The Ozarks wouldn’t be right, but Ozark Plateau, Ozark Highlands, or anything following the pattern Oz* ____ or Ot* ____ that’s a recognizable US region would have worked.

  11. baskin98 says:

    I made this harder than it needed to be for a week 1. I got to the Ozarks easily enough, but was unsure because of the 2-word requirement (“The Ozarks” vs. “Ozark Mountains” vs. “Ozark Plateau”). Submitted Interior Highlands since the Ouachita and Ozark ranges are collectively known as the Ouachita-Ozark Interior Highlands, and thought this must cover the “range” from OU-OZ.

  12. lorraine says:

    Like Bob, I, too, just KNEW the answer would be Outer Banks, until, well, it wasn’t, but it certainly took me a bit of time to see the OU/OV/OW/OX/OY progression. After that, it was just a matter of sweating out whether it was Ozark Plateau or Ozark Mountains. I went with Ozark Plateau because Ozark Mountains didn’t “sound” like a region, whereas Ozark Plateau (to me) did. Thankfully Matt accepted both, phew!

  13. Blanche Schulz says:

    From Wikipedia: “The Ozarks (also referred to as Ozarks Mountain Country, the Ozark Mountains, and the Ozark Plateau) are a physiographic and geologic highland region of the central United States.”

    That was good enough for me.

  14. Jason says:

    I was so sure it was ORANGE COUNTY since it’s a region in the United States and pretty sure there was some connection between range in the title and orange.

  15. abide says:

    After finishing, this was stuck in my head:

    Ooh-ooh-hoo-hoo …Jackie Blue! (Ozark Plateau Daredevils)

  16. jefe says:

    (I think) I just put “The Ozarks”, which was accepted, so I guess Matt accepted a *range* of responses!


  17. saurgoth says:

    At the outset of the puzzle, I began working under the assumption that I would have to FIND a mountain RANGE in the U.S. I haven’t come here before, so was that too simplistic a reading of the instructions? And I’m surprised to be the first to object to the clue referring to Spy Kids as “science fiction.”

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