MGWCC #324

crossword 4:32
meta 5 seconds, or 5 minutes 

mgwcc324hello everyone, and welcome to episode #324 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “You Can Take That to The Bank”. for this week 3 puzzle, the instructions tell us that we’re looking for a well-known magazine. what are the theme answers? there are 5 goofy made-up phrases:

  • {Drive a Titleist into a window at Cadillac Place, hit a chip shot into Comerica Park, etc.?} clues GOLF DETROIT.
  • {Alternative to: “Alright, First Staters, eyes up here!”?} is “FOCUS, DELAWARE!”.
  • {Finally get to move to Dubuque or Council Bluffs?} is to ESCAPE DES MOINES.
  • {Response to “Zsa Zsa, where will you be building your new mansion?”?} is “MALIBU, DARLING.”
  • {Mafia boss who doesn’t put 100% into his work?} is a CAVALIER DON.

so the first thing i noticed was that these phrases all begin with car models: the VW GOLF, ford FOCUS and ESCAPE, and chevy MALIBU and CAVALIER. i couldn’t figure out what the connection was with the second parts, but in any event i was leaning toward car & driver just because it is a famous magazine about cars. (motortrend is, too, but these phrases are all clearly in two parts, so “car & ___” seemed promising.)

now, obviously DETROIT and DES MOINES are cities, but DELAWARE is a state and what is going on with DARLING and DON? it took me a little while to piece it together, and in a sense i was backsolving, because i really wanted car & driver to be right. and it was, of course. but the first thing to notice is that they all start with D. from there it’s only a little leap to notice, “well hey, we’ve already got car & d, all that’s left is … river.” and indeed, they are all names of rivers starting with D, although i would say only one of them is very famous as a river: washington famously crossed the DELAWARE to attack trenton in 1776.

as for the others? the DETROIT river flows through the city of the same name. and i did not know this prior to solving, but the same is true for DES MOINES. the DARLING makes up part of the murray-darling river system, the largest in australia. and the DON is a russian river, most famous (at least to me) as part of the title of the novel and quiet flows the DON, the masterpiece of soviet nobel laureate mikhail sholokhov. so indeed the answer to the meta is car & driver, or if you prefer, “car & D river”. the “bank” in the puzzle title, if not exactly hinting at rivers in any active sense, at least provides some confirmation once you hit upon the idea of rivers.

neat meta. it’s interesting to take apart the name of the magazine cryptic-style and interpret it thusly, although not terribly difficult. i found this easier than week 2, but maybe it’s just me.

fill bits:

  • {TLA which sometimes starts with a Z} OMG. ha, yes. yes it does, although then it becomes a FLA.
  • {“Love at First ___” (cheesy headline of many articles about online dating)} BYTE. surely i can’t be the only one who tried SITE?
  • {With no holds barred} FULL-FORCE. i am really digging matt jones’s no holds barred crosswords, which arrived in the mail last week. some insane grids with lots of fun fill.
  • {“Get on your knees and ask again!”} clues “BEG ME!”, which seems a little forced to me.
  • {Like Georges Perec’s 300-page 1969 novel “La disparition”} E-LESS, unlike this answer. this is also rather unusual as fill goes, but i rather like it. if anything, E-LESSness is harder to pull off in french than in english. gilbert adair translater perec’s novel into english under the title a void, since the disappearance obviously doesn’t work.
  • {“___ a Witch” (“Charmed” episode title)} clues PAYBACK’S. this is a cute way of getting around the fact that PAYBACK is an awfully awkward concept in the plural.

that’s all from me. how’d you all like this one?

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31 Responses to MGWCC #324

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon. 477 right answers this week, so it did play easier than last week (440).

    • joon says:

      i’m guessing there were fewer than 440 people who fully “got” the meta, but it’s pretty guessable if all you see are the cars.

      • Justin Weinbaum says:

        Count me as one of those, Joon. NOW it makes more sense (with the river concept).

      • CY Hollander says:

        I still don’t know why Matt doesn’t make it a rule to show your work. True, it would mean that he had to check each correct submission by hand, but he double-checks them anyway.

        • Mutman says:

          Matt did that once on a week 4 with the ‘GEMS’ puzzle — “Treasure Hunt”. But I imagine the ‘checking’ of people’s work is too hard and time consuming.

          For this week, I thought it was just car + d-word, thus Car & Driver.

  2. pgw says:

    I struggled with this for days. I noticed the car thing immediately. I did not notice the rivers. I just saw [car model] [word that starts with D.] I’m very glad Matt included Golf among his car models, else I’d probably have submitted Golf Digest on Friday. Finally yesterday I thought well, the Delaware is definitely a river, the other two obvious geographical names might also be, so I googled to confirm this theory. And yet I *still* didn’t see it, even though like joon I’d penciled in Car & Driver as a strong possibility early on. I felt kind of stupid when “D river” finally clicked.

  3. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Got the rivers (thanks to the title’s “bank”) before the cars, none of which I recognized as such. Had to look up each of the first word’s “disambiguation page” on Wikipedia. Curiously each of the last theme answer’s CAVALIER and DON works two ways: there’s also a Vauxhall Cavalier and a Don River in Ontario.

    Thanks,
    —NDE

  4. SLO DIDDLY says:

    Ended up a creek diverted by the fact that the first words of the theme answers were all magazines (some of them multiple) as well as cars.

  5. Paul Coulter says:

    I liked this one as a 3rd of 5 puzzle. Four stars. The cryptic construction of D-river appealed to me a lot. My daughter in law tells me there’s an actual D River in Oregon where she’s from. It happens to be in LINCOLN City. It was once the Guinness record holder for shortest river at something like 400 feet until the category was eliminated.

    • Joel says:

      If you talk to people in Lincoln City, they’ll tell you in very emphatic terms that it’s still the shortest river in the world, Guinness notwithstanding. They’re very proud of their river, are Lincoln Citizians.

  6. Jason says:

    Five theme answers, two “cars” by Ford and two by Chevy. I spent too much time going through Volkswagen models to find a magazine which had a D in its second work. So I just gave up and submitted CAR & DRIVER this morning. I feel guilty now.

  7. Jim S. says:

    I was completely floored by the D River aspect of the solution. Like others here, I back solved to stumble upon that item, but just could not believe how Matt worked that in. One of the best tricks I’ve seen in a meta since I started doing them late last year.

    My false starts included financial magazines given that the final theme answer initials were CD and the title referenced “bank”. Couldn’t figure out how GD, MD, etc. fit into that theme though, so gave up on that one. Also briefly considered GQ as a two-letter mag title, but it had no ties whatsoever to the theme answers. Readers Digest also popped into my head, thinking that perhaps it was well known as RD among some circles (not mine, for sure). Glad I kept working it to find the trick.

  8. Jeff G. says:

    Spotted the cars right away, but took a full day for the “D” rivers to sink in. Like Joon, I felt it should be Car and something. Excellent week 3 meta!

  9. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    My continuing blindness to metas continues to amaze me!

    I had a busy weekend, so I didn’t post my answer very early, but it didn’t take long after completing the grid to see that the theme answers were composed of a car and a river. So I simply said to myself, “Car and river” which sounded just like “car an’ driver” with a slight vowel change. That is to say, I never noticed that they were all “D” rivers!

    So I submitted the right answer for a slightly wrong reason.

  10. Ephraim says:

    The theme answers started G, F, E, M, C. Was D’s absence significant? I thought perhaps it hinted that CAR AND RIVER is one D short of CAR AND DRIVER.

  11. Jon says:

    I found this puzzle much easier than the week 2 puzzle especially given that I failed to get last week but figured out the answer this week.

    I saw the car models like everyone and thought it had to be either Car & Driver or Motortrend. There is a DONald DRIVER in football and so I searched if there were any Darling Drivers, Delaware Driver, etc. No luck. I even pondered if perhaps the D could be combined with the CAR to make CARD. Is there a Card magazine? Frustrated, I put the puzzle down and picked it back up after a few hours break.

    That’s when DON popped out to me as being a river. I’m obsessed with Geography quizzes on Sporcle and remembered that DON is a name of a river. Being from the mid-west, I knew that Des Moines was a river and from history class knew Delaware was a river. I had to check on Detroit and Darling and sure enough they were. That’s when the a-ha moment came to me: D-river, duh.

  12. Lynne R Equation says:

    She who hesitates is lost…..thought it was Car & Driver from the start, but didn’t fully get the reasoning for Driver. As the church bells across the street began to ring, I realized that it was noon and I hadn’t submitted an answer. Bummer.

    • Bencoe says:

      Same thing here. I’ve been traveling so much the last couple weeks I simply haven’t had the time to fully think through the meta puzzles. Almost had this one, but then I forgot about it until just now, sitting in Vienna.

  13. WendyH says:

    i had this p-chem (Physical Chemistry, nasty course) professor in college who said he didn’t care if we got the right answer, just how we got the problem worked out. Thanks to Matt for doing the converse! I never saw the river thing although I grew up on the delaware and now live on the ohio.

  14. David R says:

    I wasn’t too excited about this meta since the cars were so obvious and the answer was inferable without getting the rest of the meta. There was also two ways in, with the river getting figured out first(minority I’m sure) and also having an inferable answer. The more a meta requires you to solve the complete revealer, the more satisfying it is. Similarly when there is less opportunity to “guess” the answer there is a certain integrity to the solution.

  15. Mac says:

    Like many, got the cars right away and never got the rivers. Also got CD for Car & Driver and Certificate of Deposit (at the “bank”). Car & Driver is the only car mag in the top 100 of circulation so it had to be. One thing kept bugging me in addition to not having an explanation for the second words — the inclusion of “drive” in the first meta-clue convinced me for the longest time that “Driver” could not be in the answer. Finally gave in and submitted Car & Driver.

  16. Dianne says:

    Grrowl…first time in my recollection that I got this meta (both the “car” and the “d-river” hints) in record time for me, but was 4 hours too late for submission…due to Pacific time zone and a late Monday eve arrival home from a most enjoyable weekend at a jazz + oysters + beer festival at the ocean. I guess missing three-in-a-row at Matt’s was worth three days at Long Beach, though.

  17. jefe says:

    “from there it’s only a little leap to notice, ‘well hey, we’ve already got car & d, all that’s left is … river.’”

    That’s one little leap for joon, one whole weekend of agonizing for everyone else!

  18. Amy L says:

    You can find all kinds of things on Google if you look long enough. I found the cars but I checked the second words to see what they had to do with drivers. The cities and state all have race tracks that have BANKS. Evan DARLING is a NASCAR driver and DON Williams was a stock car driver. That was close enough to CAR & DRIVER for me. I never noticed the rivers, and I live 15 blocks from the Delaware.

  19. Matthew G. says:

    Thank goodness for having majored in Russian literature and married a girl from southeast Michigan. I only had to Google “darling river” to confirm this one.

  20. Barbara Hartwell says:

    Before I realized they were all cars I realized they are all names of magazines. That got me nowhere until I realized they were all cars. I guess it’s just coincidence all five car models are also names of magazines.

  21. mike morse says:

    I’m surprised how many didn’t see the river connection. I would think that most people who do a lot of crosswords would immediately connect “bank” as misdirection for the side of a river.

  22. DonnaK says:

    1st week3 for me. Never got to the rivers…another week3 I may have jumped the gun.

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