MGWCC #319

crossword 3:40
meta 5 minutes 

mgwcc319hello everyone, and welcome to episode #319 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Triple Play”. for this week 2 puzzle, the instructions tell us that we’re looking for a city in Europe. what are the theme answers?

  • {Part #1 of city} is WEIRD PERSON.
  • {Part 2 of city} is PROFIT SYSTEM.
  • {Part 3 of city} is TRANQUIL ARTWORK.
  • {Part 4 of city} is FUNNY REDNECK. this is a little more specific than the first three—it probably refers to jeff foxworthy, the “you know you’re a redneck if…” comic.
  • {Part 5 of city} is HEWROTEONEL, which is awfully hard to parse. HE WROTE ONE L makes it clearer that we’re talking about novelist scott turow.

on the margin of my crossword i wrote “jeff foxworthy” and “scott turow”, followed by “landscape/still life” for TRANQUIL ARTWORK. (i also tried “al yankovic?” for WEIRD PERSON but i figured if it were him, the clue would probably be WEIRD SINGER.) then the theme jumped out at me, with a nudge from the title—these implied phrases contain a triple letter across the word break. L from still life (not landscape), F from jeff foxworthy, and T from scott turow. so we’re looking for a european city in 5 letters that ends with __LFT, which strongly suggests delft, in the netherlands, home of the famous dutch painter jan vermeer.

view of delft (jan vermeer 1660-61)

view of delft (jan vermeer 1660-61)


(there’s your landscape. it is rather tranquil, isn’t it?) with the D and E in mind, it only took another couple of minutes to come up with “odd duck” for WEIRD PERSON and “free enterprise” for PROFIT SYSTEM. the aha/click was complete.

this was a cool meta, pitched at just the right difficulty. there was one no-doubter among the five; only scott turow wrote ONE L. but jeff foxworthy is strongly implied, and noticing the triple letters in those (with the title providing a big hint) is not that tough, and then you can work out the rest. i probably had an easier time with this because i remembered mgwcc #150, in which SCOTT TUROW was a theme answer. (that was a great meta, by the way—definitely check it out if you weren’t doing the mgwcc back in those days. wow, i can’t believe it’s been over 3 years since then!)

fill roundup:

  • {Country whose best World Cup result was 4th place in 1966} USSR. they won’t better that result, i’m thinking.
  • {Soccer star who’s done ads for Subway during this World Cup} PELE. pele is king of the soccer field. to be king of your kitchen, use crestfield wax paper.
  • {___ on penalty kicks (advance to the next round, but not convincingly)} WIN. i am very glad the final did not come down to a PK shoot-out.

that’s all for me this week. i hope to see some of you this weekend during a cameo appearance at the NPL convention in maine.

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39 Responses to MGWCC #319

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    This gave me unusual trouble for Week 2. I thought the title meant the meta required three steps. As Joon notes, only the fifth theme entry had a definitive answer, though Foxworthy seemed likely for the fourth. I tried mispronouncing Turow into toro, then translating it into bull as the third step. I thought the weird person might be turkey, then capitalized it into Turkey. I had profit system as capitalism, then shortened it into capital. I kept trying to make this somehow into Is-tan-bul (which was the Byzantine capital, if not modern Turkey’s.) But I knew it was much too complicated for Week 2. It finally clicked when I added first names to 4 and 5. Aha – the city’s parts were letters, not syllables or words. So with _ _ _ FT, it had to be Delft. A little searching on OneLook confirmed the oDD Duck, frEE Enterprise, and stiLL Life that we needed. Good meta, Matt, but it played more like a Week 3 for me. Four stars.

  2. Jon says:

    Just a correction: this was a week 2 meta, not a week 1.

  3. Wayne says:

    This came pretty easily for me, even though I never heard of DELFT. I particularly appreciated the way Matt arranged the clues from least-to-most gettable. That allowed me to get a foothold, while still preventing solvers from falling back on Google auto-complete to do the work.

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      Fortunately I recognized DELFT from ?EL?T. It’s this Jeff Who-The-Foxworthy dude whom I could only find via Google, after back-solving my way to ?FF F?. Fortunately it was clear what I was looking for once I had SCOTTTUROW (after dredging that name from memory: usually it’s ONEL that goes in the grid) and confirmed with the title.

      —Noam DDD Elkies

  4. Lorraine says:

    damn. i parsed the “triple play” incorrectly. Since all the themers had the triple letters across two words, I thought we needed either a) a city with two words that would mirror the themers or b) a city/country combo that would work. Since i couldn’t find any city to fulfill a), i concentrated on b) and found Inveness, Scotland. Sigh. I never even considered a different angle. Tough week 2!!

    • jefe says:

      You must’ve forgotten that the clues were “Part 1/2/3/4/5 of city”, meaning that the answer should be extracted from the entries as opposed to matching the theme.

  5. Jim S says:

    I had a hard time with this too. First, I couldn’t get “Louis CK” out of my head as a redneck, mainly because I thought Jeff Foxworthy has been out of the picture for so long. Once I got “free enterprise”, “odd duck” jumped out and I was able to see Foxworthy. I had to back solve for Scott Turow – I parsed it as “He Wrote On El” and I knew I needed a T, so I looked him up and, sure enough he’s from Chicago! So I assumed it was well known that he wrote while riding the El (I’m not a fan).

    • Jim S says:

      Hmm, after reading Tony’s comment below I realized that I was picturing Larry the Cable Guy as my redneck but was assigning him a name of Louis CK. Oops! Sorry Louis.

  6. I was only able to identify SCOTT TUROW from the 5 clues at first and immediately figured out how the meta was going to work (like Joon, MGWCC #150 came to mind immediately). I guessed that the answer was going to be BREST off of ????T but decided to keep trying to solve the clues, which was the right call, and eventually found the rest, though I thought for some reason that part #1 would be ODD DUDE.

  7. janie says:

    oh, lord. *never* figured out how the title came into play, but when i had Landscape, Foxworthy and Turow in place, opted for Ditz and Economic [whatever...] — giving me DELFT. so the meta gods let me squeak on in. but “d’oh” — and thx, joon, for settin’ me straight. thx, matt, too, for the always well-conceived/played-out metas!

    ;-)

    • Flinty Steve says:

      My experience too – I never did see what “Triple Play” was all about. Once I had Foxworthy and Turow, Delft seemed obvious, so I backsolved the first three (I know, I know, never backsolve) as Deviant, Economy, and Landscape. I’m a little embarrassed to slip in this way, but shucks, I’ll take it.

  8. Ben Vincent says:

    never heard of delft, so this one took me a while. had to infer the middle ‘l’ and managed to convince myself matt was going for was ‘fall landscape.’ glad and humbled to see the obviously more elegant ‘still life.’ thanks for the write up, joon!

  9. mnemonica says:

    Like Janie, I got DELFT from the last names of Foxworthy and Turow, but I wasn’t satisfied with it because I didn’t see the rest of the steps. So I put it off, waiting for a flash of enlightenment. It didn’t come. Tuesday morning, I remembered that I hadn’t solved it, shrugged and entered DELFT half an hour from the deadline, walked away, and not five minutes later realized why it was completely correct.

  10. Amy L says:

    Chagall landscape was my TRANQUIL ARTWORK.

    I really liked that BLUEST was an answer–perhaps another clue: for Delft Blue, the pottery Delft is known for.

  11. Matthew G. says:

    I eventually got this when STILL LIFE came to me about twenty minutes before the deadline. All’s well that ends well, but I did struggle more than I usually do with a week 2.

    Funny story: when I had some but not all of the letters, I tried to back-solve by scouring a list of all European cities with populations greater than 100,000. It didn’t get me anywhere. The population of Delft? 99,973.

  12. Blanche says:

    Ironically, it was the fifth clue that destroyed my chance to get this meta. I was absolutely sure the answer was Ogden Nash, who wrote about the “one l lama.”

    • CY Hollander says:

      But when his name didn’t fit into the crossword, didn’t you try Googling it?

      • Jonesy says:

        his name wouldn’t fit / isn’t supposed to fit in the crossword (just like Scott Turow’s didn’t) — the 5th theme entry was “HEWROTEONEL” in the actual grid.

    • Steve Durfee says:

      I got it, but only after giving up on my first choice, Ogden Nash.

  13. Todd Dashoff says:

    I was just glad that I wasn’t the answer to the first meta clue .

    • Evad says:

      Does that mean you weren’t the weird person Matt was referring to? Hmmm….guess I just got lucky on that one!

  14. Tony says:

    Got zero traction on this one. Only theme entry I got was Scott Turow. Stupidly stuck on Larry The Cable Guy since Foxworthy does more game shows than stand up these days. Odd Duck never entered my thoughts. Once I was stuck on Larry, I thought of three word phrases. All I could think for profit system was Point of Sale, though that thought was nothing but a POS.

    Oh well. There’s always next week.

  15. David Cole says:

    STILL LIFE provide my aha moment this week. I had written FREE ENTERPRISE/CAPITALISM, FOXWORTHY and TUROW in the margins, and went nowhere fast. Totally stuck on decent answers for #1 and #3, and even if I had some, what would I do next?

    Then STILL LIFE hit me like a ton of bricks. I crossed out Capitalism quickly, and just as quickly wrote out the full names of Foxworthy and Turow, and knew I was home. Never did get ODD DUCK, was stuck on Odd Ball and then settled for Odd Dude.

    Also noted and loved the progressive difficulty in sussing the meta components from south to north.

  16. Don Lloyd says:

    I got stifled by funny redneck Archie Bunker. Guess my age is showing.

    • makfan says:

      I didn’t get the answer, in part because I didn’t see it right away and forgot to come back to it, but Jeff Foxworthy’s shtick is “you might be a redneck if…”.

  17. Bencoe says:

    Huh. Because of the “tranquil” part, I had myself convinced the answer was IDYLL LANDSCAPE.

  18. J. T. Williams says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the three OUTs in the grid. I spent a little while trying to do something with the “home plate” area before going back to the long entries. Surely those three outs and their placement was not just coincidence Matt?

  19. Jon says:

    I filled in ICON on the down before I was able to fill in Tranquil Artwork, so for me the finished puzzle – before I switched the C to a K – was Tranquil Artworc. Backwards the first 4 letters spells Crow and I thought I might be onto something. The 5th entry had Leno. Perhaps I was on a roll? Mets? [cue tires screech sound and crash sound effects] Neck backwards is Kcen and Person backwards is Nosrep. No dice.

    Google helped me figure out who wrote One L (or Onel? or On El?) Scott Turow? Never heard of him. Too obscure? Jeff Foxworthy popped out at me right away because of his catch phrase “you might be a redneck if…” Once I checked the title (I don’t know why I sometimes forget to check it) and saw that Scott Turow had 3 Ts in a row and Jeff Foxworthy had 3 Fs in a row, then I knew I was looking for a 5 letter European city name.

    I eventually got DE*FT but entering just that into Google didn’t help me out. So I started systematically trying different letters of the alphabet in there. Deaft, Debft, Decft… but then gave up after it seemed like too much work for a week 2 puzzle. I tried looking up synonyms of Tranquil Artwork and eventually saw Still Life as a suggestion. Bingo. It was Delft.

    Delft? Where the hell is that town? I’ve never heard of it. Maybe I got Weird Person and Profit System wrong? After thinking over this for awhile I figured that they HAD to be Odd Duck and Free Enterprise and that, despite never hearing about the city of Delft before, Delft was the answer. Thankfully I was right.

    I’m still relatively new to Matt’s metas, but I think the level of difficulty felt more inbetween a week 2 and a week 3. Too hard for a week 2 but too easy for a week 3. Whatever, I got it right and my steak continues.

    • BrainBoggler says:

      …your “steak”, huh?…”well”, let’s hope it’s not that “rare” :P

    • CY Hollander says:

      I eventually got DE*FT but entering just that into Google didn’t help me out. So I started systematically trying different letters of the alphabet in there. Deaft, Debft, Decft… but then gave up after it seemed like too much work for a week 2 puzzle.

      Tip for next time.

  20. Pamela Downs Feiring says:

    I got it but didn’t “get” it so I didn’t submit, sigh.

  21. Abide says:

    Took me very long for a week 2. Wonderful execution. I have to deduct .01 stars for the typo at “Forth Worthian” which sent me looking for others.

  22. Brucenm says:

    I suppose I could take the view that it’s nice to have my inability to solve metas reconfirmed. (GRR!) And I had a lot going for me on this one. My mother collected European china, so we had a couple Delft plates on the wall, (which we bought at the source.) And I immediately hit on Scott Turow and Jeff Foxworthy, though, like Joon, I thought of Weird Al. Unfortunately I gravitated to “Mona Lisa” for the art work, but what really did me in was “capitalism” instead of “free enterprise,” and that convinced me with total confidence that the answer was a European capital. So I went through all of them, trying things like anagramming parts of the 5 answers, or the presumed referents of the 5 answers, but nothing seemed to make any sense.

  23. Gregg says:

    I got the last two (Scott Turow and Jeff Foxworthy) and the meta, but could not figure out the remaining three. So with just F and T, I guessed Belfast

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