MGWCC #149 — Friday, April 8th, 2011 — “Eight Is Enough”

Good afternoon, crossword fans — welcome to Week 149 of my contest. If you’re new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.

LAST WEEK’S RESULTS:

“Mind your P’s and Q’s,” the saying goes. But in last week’s puzzle, solvers needed to mind their O’s (including the apostrophe and s!).

Three boxes in the grid took an O’S instead of a single letter, and in each of the three cases the O’S was used in a different way:

As a classic apostrophe:

17-a TW(O’S) COMPANY
3-d WH(O’S) IN

In a surname:

38-a GILBERT (O’S)ULLIVAN
26-d JIM (O’S)HEA

As a possessive:

58-a CARLIT(O’S) WAY
46-d GEN(O’S)

Which Major League baseball team does this theme point to? The AL East-leading (!) Baltimore Orioles, nicknamed the O’s, which 344 solvers submitted. “Baltimore Orioles,” “Orioles” or simply “The O’s” were all naturally accepted as correct.

Four solvers sent in a clever alternate answer which I’m also counting as correct. Peter Gwinn was first, so I’ll let him explain:

RED SOX / BOSOX

That’s what I get from putting OS in one BOX.

Isn’t that nice? True, this answer ignores the three apostrophes, but the cryptic crossword logic of B(OS)OX is so elegant that I’m accepting these four entries as correct.

This week’s winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 348 correct entries received, is Monica Krausse of El Paso, Tex. Monica has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

ANATOMY OF A THEME:

Last week’s theme had a recent and intriguing provenance. At the ACPT last month, solver Jan O’Sullivan asked me to sign her copy of my book Gridlock. I always sign this book on the title page, which features a crossword grid I can fill appropriately.

There was no 9- or 10-letter space for Jan’s surname, however, so I was forced to fit the O, apostrophe and S all in one square, rebus-style. Immediately my theme antennae began going crazy, and with baseball season around the corner I knew we had a first-of-April theme.

Jan was kind enough to scan the page, and here it is (click to enlarge):

Proof that theme inspiration can strike anywhere, anytime!

THIS WEEK’S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week’s contest answer is the country in which I’ll be vacationing for a week this summer. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer country in the subject line of your e-mail.

To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit “print” on your browser. To solve using Across Lite either solve on the applet below or download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,477 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.

Solve well, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.

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