MGWCC #230 — Friday, October 26th, 2012 — “Let’s Run Those Numbers”


Even if they’ve never read a Sue Grafton novel before, her alphabetical oeuvre is still familiar to crossword solvers due to those ubiquitous “___ Is for ___” clue references.

Last week’s instructions asked for a literary genre, and the mystery began right away with the title, “X Is for Xword,” and 1-across, where SUE was clued as [Grafton who wrote “D Is for Derelict” and “P Is for Pitfall”]. Thing is, she never wrote those two books: their correct titles are “D Is for Deadbeat” and “P Is for Peril.” And yet “derelict” and “pitfall” are synonyms of “deadbeat” and “peril” that begin with their same initial letters. Hmmm…

That same-initial synonym switch takes place in each of the five theme answers, and forms the basis for the meta:

16-a [Zombie movie “extra”] = ROTTING CADAVER, though “rotting corpse” is the more familiar phrase.
21-a [Cases where fire comes back towards the shooter] = REBOUND EFFECTS, though “ricochet effects” is more precise.
37-a [Amanda Knox was one, as it turned out] = IMMACULATE WOMAN, instead of the more common “innocent woman.”
50-a [Forgive and forget] = BEAR NO MEANNESS, which yields but one amusing Google hit, compared to “bear no malice,” which yields tens of thousands.
58-a [Presented the facts of the case in court] = SHOWED EXHIBITS, which makes lexical sense but isn’t nearly as familiar as “showed evidence.”

These synonyms have a common source, of course, which is the above-mentioned Sue Grafton canon. Said canon includes the following: “C Is for Corpse,” “R Is for Ricochet,” “I Is for Innocent,” “M Is for Malice” and “E is for Evidence.” Put those letters together and you’ve got CRIME, a literary genre Grafton herself fits squarely into.

This week’s winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 164 correct entries received, is John L. Wilson of Shoreview, Minn. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, John will also receive a signed copy of my new book Mental Floss Crosswords.


Three recent crosswords you’d surely dig: 1) Jeff Chen‘s elegant L.A. Times puzzle from last Friday (watch the ad, then scroll down to 10/19/12); Erik Agard‘s funny meta contest from Wednesday; and Neville Fogarty‘s spooky Halloween meta contest from today.


This week’s contest answer is a famous mathematician. Submit your answer in the form on the left sidebar by Tuesday at noon ET. Note: the submissions form disappears from the site promptly at noon on Tuesday.

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 (1,890 members now!) here.

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

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