MGWCC #277 — Friday, September 20th, 2013 — “Playces, Everyone”



“SCRABBLE!@#$ING” at 40-across was defined last week as [Indelicate crossword biz term for when a constructor tries way too hard to fit an X, Q, Z or J into their grid]. There were six of those letters in this particular grid, where the following entries intersect:

***[Spanish city that gave sherry its name] = XERES and [Dry: Prefix] = XERO
***[WWII general and namesakes] = TOJOS and [Arabian plateau region] = NEJD
***[Four times a day, in an Rx] = QID and [O-T connectors] = PQRS
***[40′s boxer Tony] = ZALE and [Japanese sandal] = ZORI
***[George ___, German-American artist known for vitriolic caricature] = GROSZ and [Enough, to Etienne] = ASSEZ
***[Editor’s activity] EXING and [Asian evergreen] = OLAX

What to do next? Clean the grid up, as the title requests! Un-Scrabble-!@#$ those six with the far superior HERE’S + HERO, TOROS + NERD, AID + PARS, TALE + TORI, GROSS + ASSES and EYING + OLAY, and you’ll see you’ve used the letters emboldened above, which anagram to our meta answer: TRASHY! Which is indeed a word meaning “of poor quality,” found by 282 solvers.

Lest you think I made those twelve up, be advised that they’re all actual entries (and their clues, which I copied verbatim) from New York Times crosswords. And to show that I have a sense of irony, one of the twelve (XERO) was from an NYT puzzle that I wrote in 1995.

Gwinns asks:

Couldn’t you have gone up to 18×18 and made the theme entry “Scrabble Making Love?” So much more delicate.

Julian L writes:

This is nitpicking, but I disliked having TORUS right above the crossing that “should” be TALE/TORI. Yes, it’s not a real dupe, and TORI could be clued for the singer rather than the plural, but it was still bothersome somehow.

Ah, interesting point. My intended clue there was [Actress Spelling], and I didn’t even notice that using TORI semi-dupes TORUS. A (minor) blot indeed.

And finally, Hollie has a tactical request:

Can you give the “prefer not to solve” free pass on a Week 4 puzzle next time?

This week’s winner, whose name was chosen randomly from the 282 correct entries received, is John Kromer of Oxford, O. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, John will also receive a copy of Matt Jones’ new puzzle series, “No Holds Barred Crosswords.” Check out Matt’s Kickstarter campaign here:


MGWCC Superfan Jeff Gellner (he’s the guy who wrote my Wikipedia page) has a new project: tracking where folks are who solve my metas. The map below isn’t stocked with data yet since Jeff wants to make it an opt-in deal (so he doesn’t post anyone’s location against their wishes).

If you’d like to represent your city/state/province/country/continent, read Jeff’s instructions, italicized below, and e-mail him at the given address. Should be interesting!

If you would like your name and location included, please send the following to (which stands for “Where in the World are MGWCC solvers?”):

MGWCC username (required – case sensitive, must match exactly)
City (required)
State (required if located in US)
Country (required if located outside US)
Location (optional, can be a ZIP code, Canadian Postal Code, or lat/long coordinates. This helps prevent overlapping points on the map if several solvers are from the same city. The coordinates can be obtained by going to, right clicking on the map and selecting “What’s here?”)

Thanks, Jeff! Looking forward to the results, which I’ll post here at a later date.


This week’s contest answer is someone with whom you may have a passing familiarity. 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 (2,092 members now!) here.

mgwcc 277

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

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