MGWCC #287

crossword 3:58
meta 1 day 

hello and welcome to week #287 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Today’s Menu”. for this post-thanksgiving puzzle, matt challenges us to identify the three grid entries referenced in 58-across. okay, so what are the theme answers?

  • {Portmanteau you may have experienced yesterday} is TURDUCKEN.
  • {Portmanteau you may have experienced yesterday} is THANKSGIVUKKAH.
  • and 58-across itself is {What might be on today’s menu, or another way to describe the three grid entries you’re looking for} LEFTOVERS. indeed, i spent all of friday and much of saturday eating leftover thanksgiving dinner. and it was tasty.

intriguing. my first thought was to interpret LEFTOVERS cryptically: LEFT OVER S, i.e. L above S. so i started looking for down entries that had LS in them. i didn’t find any. even relaxing my search to entries containing L followed by S (with letters between) revealed only two: DEMOLISH and VALENS. there’s also LEANS, but it’s an across answer, which really doesn’t fit with the OVER part of the LEFT OVER S interpretation.

then i thought about taking across entries and reading them backwards (i.e. to the LEFT). i noticed that EDAM backwards is MADE, and MADE OVER is a phrase. so EDAM is a LEFT OVER of sorts… but i couldn’t find any others.

eventually i realized that i was completely ignoring the other two theme answers, the matched portmanteaux TURDUCKEN and THANKSGIVUKKAH (neither of which, incidentally, i experienced last week, as a gentile who is perfectly content with one poultry at a time). here, i realized that LEFTOVERS could refer to the letters that got elided out in the portmanteau: TURkey + DUCk + chicKEN (or TURkey + DUCK + chickEN, if you prefer) and THANKSGIVing + hanUKKAH. and yes, i know there are a million other ways to spell hanukkah, but far fewer once you require the UKKAH ending; basically it’s HAN- or CHAN- and that’s it.

i started looking for KEY and CHICK and ING and HAN… but didn’t find them. that’s when i put the puzzle aside for a day. when i came back to it the next day, i noticed that CINCH at 62-across had all of the letters of CHIC plus another N; quickly going through the rest of the grid brought out KHAKI at 20-across (need to get some K’s in there somehow) and GEN-Y at 63-across. together, those three entries have all of the LEFTOVER letters and no others, so that’s the meta answer. and it resolves the HANUKKAH vs CHANUKKAH dispute in favor of HANUKKAH; there’s no C to spare once you apply both of the C’s from CINCH to CHICK.

so that was a pretty simple meta, but a neat observation—two well-known portmanteaux both relating to the holiday, and repurposing the idea of thanksgiving LEFTOVERS to the letters chopped out in the making of the portmanteau. very clever idea.

i find that i don’t have much else to say, not because the puzzle was uninteresting (although the crossword itself was unusually easy/speedy to solve for a late-month puzzle) but because it’s late and i’m still a little out of sorts sleep-wise from the weekend. how did you all like this one?

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29 Responses to MGWCC #287

  1. Ephraim says:

    So close! We thought about the excised letters and moved from there to other entries with excised letters, such as RELO(CATION) and GEN(ERATION)Y and OP(ERATION)S. Which made me think of military rations and then time was up.

  2. Evan says:

    Good gravy (pun mostly intended). I was nowhere close. I went with some three-letter answers that had something left off of last week’s entries: PAL (from last week’s OPAL), AGE (from last week’s AGNEW), and IRA (pretty much because this was a desperate last-minute guess, but all the letters of IRA were in HARRY HAMLIN). I think that was a clever way of considering the meta, but my solution was obviously too tortured for it to make sense.

    I actually did hit on the idea of the missing -HAN- and -ING- from the portmanteaus and thought I might have had something since you could find them in CHANTS and TRIPPING, but -HAN- is also in THANKSGIVUKKAH and the -KEY- and -CHI- weren’t in the grid. And besides, that would have required more than three grid answers, so I tossed that idea aside. I noticed the uncommon K-answers like KASHI and KERALA, but it never would have occurred to me that the missing letters would have been split across multiple entries.

    • David Glasser says:

      I too was a member of the “found CHANTS and TRIPPING and got stuck” club. (As well as “KHAKI phonetically like KEY?”.)

  3. Abide says:

    I went through the same cryptic permutations as Joon for 2 days, but when I focused on the excised letters it fell in Jangler time.

  4. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Ah well — I found 14A:SEE as the leftover letters from seDUCe (and even clued in a way that sort of applies to either words), but found no further examples like rapTURe or waKENs; and earlier noticed that 20A:KHAKI seemed like the start of KHAnukkah plus (phonetically) the end of turKEY, but couldn’t find further examples of that either — plus it left the N of of KHAnUKKAH unaccounted for. Now I know why.

    —oam lkies

  5. Garrett says:

    I figured-out the meta, and came up with a one-word difference from the answer Joon came up with. In my case, I used the letters one time to finish turkey and chicken (needing CHICKEY) using CINCH, KASHI, and GENY. Then re-used them as required to finish Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (needing INGHAN). That works out just dandy.

    As for using KHAKI rather than KASHI, that clearly works as well, with no leftovers, but I’ll tell you that I took the clue LEFTOVERS to imply that there would be something left over after finishing all the words. To me that makes just as much sense as the leftovers being exactly the missing letters.

    And, that also means that the way this meta is clued is not air-tight.

    • Garrett says:

      So I’ve been thinking about this since I posted, and I’m going to retract my comment that the meta is not air-tight. I now realize that the term LEFTOVERS refers exclusively to the letters that are left over when they are removed from the original words to form the two portmanteau words in the grid. I rue the fact that I did not think of it that way. But now that I do, it makes perfect sense, and thus it has to be khaki rather than kashi as the third word. The one letter — S for the other K — should have been obvious to me when I finally figured out what was being looked for. I rated it a 5.

    • pgw says:

      Garrett -

      I’m not really following your logic about the clue implying that there’d be leftovers left over, but what was missing from TURDUCKEN was not CHICKEY, but CHICKKEY. (turkey is missing k-e-y; chicken is missing c-h-i; c-k is missing from either chicken or duck, depending on how you look at it.) So you needed KHAKI’s second K, or you needed to reuse the K in KASHI (and not reuse anything else, and not use the S at all.)

  6. Paul Coulter says:

    Wow, the actual solution was one of my first ideas, but I’d transcribed the truncated letters incorrectly so that there was only one k. I couldn’t make three other words come to that list, so I discarded that idea. Talk about sloppy! I really should learn to check my work. I’ll have no right to take points off my students final exams for incomplete answers.
    The interesting thing was that this led me to try dozens of other routes that seemed to have a chance with cryptic readings of leftover. On some past fails, it didn’t even seem like there was one good place to start. My favorite blind alleys were L+OVER, leading to PET and HONEYBEE, but there wasn’t a third, and CAD+AVER in the NE (BLINDAUER fashion, making an L by taking the left side of the ACAD entry and going down. Cadaver also can be thought of as a sort of leftover. I really liked this one , but there were no others that worked this way. Anyway, props to Matt (and Patrick while I’m at it.) Both puzzles get 5s from me.

  7. Mutman says:

    I loved this meta. I started by typing all grid answers (except the themes)
    and then alphabetizing them. At first I thought I had to merge three grid
    entries to make some sort of portmanteau leftover food, like say,
    cranstuffatoes. When this didn’t work, I thought maybe leftover implied put
    ‘over’ with the ‘left’ word of a two word phrase. So ASK IN would imply,
    ASK OVER, TAKE AS would be OVERTAKE, but this just didn’t feel right and
    any third entry was worse than the first two. I finally kept staring at my
    list and decided to write the other entries down anyway. That’s when it
    just hit me that leftovers implied the missing letters of the portmanteaus!

    The three entries were then easy to find.

    Awesome job Matt!!

  8. icdogg says:

    Some puzzles seem so easy to others and I take forever getting them, but this one I think was the opposite for me… took me maybe 5 minutes once I solved the grid.

  9. Karen says:

    I went through pretty much the same thought process as joon. Stumbled over forgetting about the duCK’s extra letters, but found them on reexamining my scribbles. Nice post-turkey solve.

  10. Wayne says:

    This being week 5, I was looking for something more cryptic, too. I thought there might be a nautical connection between PORTmanteau and LEFTovers. I also went looking for a portmanteau related to Black Friday. And I was looking for something to do with the grid entries that were to the LEFT and above (i.e., OVER) the theme answers.

    At least I went down swinging.

  11. I spent a long time trying to parse the clue as LEFTOVER S. I found that there are exactly 3 grid entries which can have an S prepended to them to make another valid word (SAVER, SAGE, and STRIPPING), but that seemed to be too weak for a week 4/5 puzzle. After stewing on it for the weekend, I thought to use the leftover letters from the portmanteaus and figured it out.

  12. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon. 150 correct answers this week.

  13. Bunella says:

    Had all the leftover letters and couldn’t put them together to get anything.

    oh well better luck next time.

  14. Maggie W. says:

    Also went through approximately the same process as Joon. In addition to EDAM –> MADE OVER, I noticed PAL –> OVERLAP. But I couldn’t find a third.

  15. charles montpetit says:

    Thank god for the controversy last week, as the easier puzzle offered as compensation this week FINALLY enables me to say that I’ve survived a week-5 challenge, and in record time to boot!

  16. Sheep says:

    The clue for LOU at 56A convinced me that I needed to find three words that were used in previous puzzles from this month. Found LOU and SEE, then submitted IRA out of desperation.
    The portmanteau part didn’t even occur to me.

  17. Amy L says:

    Another amazing puzzle! I thought of the missing letters and looked around for a key and a chic, but never thought to anagram them.

    A nit to pick: 42d {College co-founder} MELLON. Is this supposed to be Carnegie-Mellon University or is there a different Mellon college I’m unaware of? CMU used to be Carnegie Institute of Technology before it merged with Mellon Institute. I don’t know if either Andrew Carnegie or someone from the Mellon family founded either entity–I always thought they were named after them upon receiving substantial donations. Just asking.

  18. Jim says:

    Alas, I ignored the first 2 theme answers, figuring they were just a result of the holiday. I took “leftovers” literally – the word “over” “left” the 3 words called out in the clue for 58 across. Looking back through the answers, I found (over)see, (over)age, and leans (over) so I submitted those three words. Obviously not the most elegant solution, but I thought it was possible and, since nothing else came to mind, I sent it in. Oh, well.

  19. Zezito says:

    A good puzzle, but I think the clue to the meta was a bit off. The clue said “another way to describe the three grid entries you’re looking for.” The three grid entries are not leftovers. They are anagrams of leftovers. So I spent all of my effort looking for grid entries that were left over from previous puzzles.

  20. Valerie Gunderson says:

    Got the bit about the leftover letters but had too much tryptophan to work it out.

  21. MeanMrMustard says:

    Well I went a totally different way and was somehow totally convinced I was right…Picked the three words that could be made out of the word leftovers…SEE, RELO, and VOTE.

    Since I found just three, I just knew that was right. Oh well.

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