MGWCC #288

crossword 2:39
meta -2 minutes or so 

hello and welcome to week #288 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “State Lines”. for this easy-peasy week 1 puzzle, matt challenges us to identify a U.S. state. okay, so what are the theme answers?

  • {“Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” with “The”} is (the) GOLDEN RULE.
  • {The Northern Lights} are called the AURORA BOREALIS.
  • {Stock prop in the Road Runner cartoons} is a FALLING BOULDER.
  • {He began a song with “Almost heaven / West Virginia”} clues JOHN DENVER.

well, it could hardly be easier, could it? golden, aurora, boulder, and denver are four major cities in colorado. note how matt used the first word of the phrase twice and the second word twice. the same one four times would have been slightly preferable, but 2-and-2 is a lot less jarring than 3-and-1.

this was a good week 1 to try to solve without the instructions. or maybe it wasn’t, because even without the instructions, the meta was so obvious that i didn’t feel get to feel particularly smug for eschewing the instructions. frankly, the JOHN DENVER clue alone pretty much makes this unmissable. (the AURORA in illinois is almost as big as the one in colorado.)

so instead, let’s talk about murder by meta, matt’s new kickstarter project. 8 interconnected crosswords, each with a meta, leading the solver to unravel a murder mystery. it looks fantastic, and i’m very excited about it. matt has a well-deserved reputation for being a master of the meta, so it’s no surprise that he reached his backing goal of $5000 within a few days of the project’s launch. but if for any reason you haven’t backed it yet, well, what on earth are you waiting for?

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14 Responses to MGWCC #288

  1. Noam D. Elkies says:

    I didn’t know Aurora and Golden as Colorado towns, or it would have taken me even less than your -2 minutes to solve this metapuzzle… Still Boulder and Denver were evidently sufficient because Matt got 600+ solutions.

    NDE (not iN DEnver)

    • joon says:

      golden is notable for being the site of the coors brewery. i’m not a beer drinker but i know this from having sat through order 10^4 beer commercials during televised sporting events.

      aurora, sadly, is probably most famous now for being the site of one of the big mass shootings of 2012, inside a movie theater. it’s in the denver metro area and has about half the population of denver itself.

  2. HH says:

    “…murder by meta, matt’s new kickstarter project. … if for any reason you haven’t backed it yet, well, what on earth are you waiting for?”

    I’m waiting for something that’s not all crosswords. Preferably something that’s not at all crosswords.

    • HH says:

      Though I gotta admit, the idea of a murder at a crossword tournament does have a certain appeal.

    • Might I suggest P&A Magazine? In addition to some ordinary puzzles, each issue has about 8-12 metapuzzles* of varying types and difficulties as well as a mega-meta* combining the answers.

      For an even bigger challenge, check out the MIT Mystery Hunt in January.

      * Terminology note: In many other puzzling circles, what this crowd calls a metapuzzle is just called a puzzle, and what this crowd calls a mega-meta is called a metapuzzle

  3. Jim Schooler says:

    I can’t wait for “Murder by Meta”!

  4. Wayne says:

    @joon, I was struck by your use of the word “jarring” as I was by the
    similar comment that Amy made in regard to last Wednesday’s NYT (to
    say nothing of Rex’s vociferous and ill-tempered rant on the same

    I would have enjoyed Matt’s puzzle just as much if the theme word
    order had been split 3-and-1. And in the case of Mr. Raymon’s NYT
    puzzle, the 3-and-1 split made the solve a little more challenging,
    and therefore a little more enjoyable.

    If a theme is applied uniformly, and the theme answers don’t feel
    forced, I call that a well constructed puzzle. Extra style points for
    getting the same theme word ordinality, the same answer length, etc.;
    but that’s above-and-beyond as far as I’m concerned.

    Is it just me?

    • joon says:

      it is certainly not just you. but neither is it just me who feels differently.

      i have no problem, of course, with puzzles that are a little more difficult. but i prefer it when the difficulty level is a deliberate feature of the puzzle. a 3-and-1 theme, unless there is an actual punch line to the 1, just feels sloppy to me. in designing a theme, a constructor wants the solver to notice what the entries have in common. that is the raison d’être of an early-week theme. a 3-and-1 draws attention to precisely the opposite.

  5. Adam N says:

    It took me two theme answers and no other fill to get Colorado. JOHN DENVER struck gold.

  6. Zezito says:

    I’m crushed (pun intended) that the answer to “Stock prop in the Road Runner cartoons” did not include ACME in it anywhere.

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