MGWCC #323

crossword 3:48
meta about 10 minutes with lots of googling 

mgwcc323hello everyone, and welcome to episode #323 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Instrumental”. for this unusually challenging (at least for me!) week 2 puzzle, the instructions tell us that we’re looking for a musical instrument. straightforward enough. what are the theme answers? there are 5 *ed clues, each a song or work of music:

  • {1980 Grammy winner for Record of the Year*} SAILING. i think i have heard of this song, but i still needed almost every crossing.
  • {1913 symphony named for a Shakespeare character*} is FALSTAFF, a “symphonic study” by edward elgar.
  • {1997 hit off the album “Firecracker”*} is I DO. never heard of it.
  • {1968 song banned from many country music stations*} is something called FIST CITY. never heard of this either.
  • {1983 song off “Bark at the Moon”*} is SO TIRED. never heard of this. yikes. i know the kinks’ “tired of waiting for you”, which is what i thought this was when i had the title.

okay, so what is going on with this theme? it turned out you needed to know the artists of these five mystery songs. so i googled the hell out of them and here’s what i found:

  • SAILING is by christopher cross. not to be confused with kris kross, the “jump” kids.
  • as mentioned, FALSTAFF is by composer edward elgar.
  • I DO is apparently a song by lisa loeb. i know exactly one lisa loeb song and that wasn’t it.
  • FIST CITY is by loretta lynn. at least i know who that is.
  • and SO TIRED is by ozzy osbourne, as i rather suspected it would be after looking up the previous four.

so—all of them are musicians with the same repeated initials, and taking the initials in order gives CELLO, our meta answer this week. straightforward, i guess, but man, these theme answers were waaaay out of my wheelhouse. at least elgar was in there as a sop. if you liked this puzzle, i hope you’ve been doing the muller monthly music metas. i haven’t, just because this is a subject i am expressly not interested in, and it can be a struggle to solve even the simplest of metas on a subject where you lack even rudimentary knowledge. but i’m told they’re very good puzzles.

even filling in the grid kicked my butt this week, almost 4 minutes for an itty-bitty 13×13. part of that is that i had just no idea on 4 of the 5 theme answers, so i had to work the crossings like crazy. it felt almost like solving an entire puzzle using only the down clues! curiously, the downs had four entries longer than any of the theme answers: GRAPE NEHI, STILLNESS, APPLE TREE, and FACE CREAM. good stuff, though, all of it.

the middle section was particularly tough, with the unknown theme answers I DO and FIST CITY, the {Ethnic group for Barack Obama, Sr.} LUO (never heard of this), the never-heard-anybody-say-this {“Turn the record over!”} “FLIP IT”, and {“Hang On ___”} SLOOPY, which was apparently a hit song for somebody called the mccoys in 1965. yikes.

how’d this one treat you? let me know in the comments.

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15 Responses to MGWCC #323

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    This seemed just right for a Week 2. I had a false start based on solfeggio with the sa, fa, fi, and so starts. Didn’t remember how the half-step vowels work, and anyway, the id of I DO definitely didn’t work out. Then I noticed that Matt went out of his way to avoid the artists’ names, but I put down Verdi for the composer of Falstaff. When I rechecked, I saw we wanted the symphony not the opera, then it was smooth SAILING, not to mention beautiful music, once I changed that one to Elgar. Four stars.

    A big WELL DONE to Jangler for his astonishing century! A hundred correct in a row is staggering when you consider just how hard a lot of these have been. Some extremely intelligent people have missed only one or two in the approximately two years of our leader board, but Jeffrey is in a class of his own. And much appreciation to Matt for all of these delightful puzzles.

    • Wayne says:

      Went down all the same blind alleys as Paul with one addition: spent a while playing with the years that were conspicuously in the theme clues. (I know Matt put them there to trip someone up, so I thought I’d mention that I fell for it.)

      Eventually, Lisa Loeb got me on the right path.

      As others said, perfect week 2.

      • Noam D. Elkies says:

        I figured the years were there to avoid alternative instance of the same title. Yes, it’s a fine theme idea but a pity that it required such obscure examples for want of better-known people with repeated-letter initials. I didn’t know any of them, not even the Elgar (BTW a “symphonic study” is not the same thing as a symphony!). I too noticed three solfege syllables in the starred answers, though they were FAlstaff, iDO, SOtired, but this (as well as the musical falSTAFF) turned out to be a REd herring. Now if he’d had the cello strings DO, SO, RE, LA… (though that could equally be a viola).


  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 441 right answers this week.

  3. CY Hollander says:

    I wanted a “double cello”, but said instrument does not exist. The double initials didn’t seem to tie into the theme in any way except to draw extra attention to the artists’ initials. Felt a little arbitrary to me.

    • Flinty Steve says:

      It seems related to Pete Muller’s “Double Time” puzzle of last month, which also used doubled initials to spell a single word:

      • Abide says:

        And the month before, there was a Fireball meta referencing King, Bean, Milne, and Munro. The meta answer was an eight letter hyphenated word.

    • Daniel Barkalow says:

      It seemed obvious to me that this was to let you get the right answer from a list like “Elgar”, “Lisa Loeb”, … “Ozzy”. On the other hand, I did make sure that the instrument that looks like a cello and has a name with “double” in it really was never called a “double cello” or a “double bass cello”. If the viol family were named like the clarinet family, and “cello” were a replacement for “bass viol”, that other instrument would have been plausible.

  4. Jim S. says:

    I, too, had a tough time with this. I started listening to the songs, trying to see if they each contained an unusual instrument. At one point, I announced to my wife that I was missing something fairly obvious because nearly 300 people had solved it already! Then I remembered that Matt’s used clued years in the past to specifically identify versions of things that may have more than one iteration. When the math didn’t work out (88 piano keys?), I figured it had to be something related to the artists that released those songs in the given years.

    Very tough, though – I knew (and love) Sailing but the other 4 we’re unknown to me (I like plenty of Ozzy tunes, but never heard of So Tired). Great meta, but has me scared for weeks 3-5.

  5. Neil says:

    “Hang On Sloopy” has notoriety as a song often played at Ohio State football games. As a Michigan alumnus I was sad to see it in the puzzle, but there you go…

  6. Ephraim says:

    Seems just right for week two. I look at the filled grid and have no idea. I print the grid, start making notes about the theme answers, and it’s totally obvious. The obscurity of the theme answers seemed like an invitation to look them up.

    Joon, Chris Cross’s Sailing was on pop radio for years and years and years. Before you were born, maybe, but a long time in any case. Likewise for Hang on Sloopy, though it was always an oldie to me. I wasn’t listening to the radio much before I was 12, in 1969.

  7. ===Dan says:

    I forgot to read and post yesterday: I felt so strongly about an alternative answer that I wrote Matt about it. He didn’t buy it, understandably, but I even gave it another shot. The idea was that all the theme answers consisted of two names (first and last), and were alliterative. The answer was a musical instrument, so I went for Tom-Tom. My answer ignores the acrostic feature, but the right answer ignores the alliteration. (I also enjoyed tacking on “you can’t beat that with a Club.”)
    (“The Best Damn Band in the Land” has been playing Sloopy at OSU games at least since I went to grad school there, 40 years ago this month.)

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