MGWCC #336 — Friday, November 7th, 2014 — “Wedge Issues”



Complex Week 5 meta, but there were several ways to find the right answer. One of the five guests at our Halloween party was really an evil beast of some sort; who was it and what creature concealed itself beneath their costume?

The five guests were:

19-A: [First you meet WALLY, who works for a web company that specializes in ___] = BLOG HOSTING.
33-A: [Then you talk to ALICE, who’s writing a history of ___] = VAUDEVILLE.
47-A: [Soon you’re in a conversation with JULIA, who’s been enjoying a few rum drinks called ___] = LATIN MANHATTANS.
64-A: [Next you’re chatting with ISAAC, who was going to go as ___ with his girlfriend for Halloween, but they broke up a week ago so he’s here alone] BRANGELINA.
80-A: [Finally you talk to WENDY, who tells you she operates the ___ at a large hotel in town] = SWITCHBOARD.

So the first thing you notice is the five costumes each one is wearing, concealed in the five theme entries and emboldened above: GHOST, DEVIL, TIN MAN, ANGEL, and WITCH.

The second thing to notice, with a nudge from the title, is that a certain part of each costume is changed by one letter to form a fill entry. The first one at 21-A was starred to put you on the trail. In order of costume:

At 21-A, SWEET becomes the ghost’s SHEET (H—>W)
At 78-A, HORAS becomes the devil’s HORNS (N—>A)
At 26-A, AXL becomes the Tin Man’s AXE (E—>L)
At 44-D, HALL becomes the angel’s HALO (O—>L)
At 73-D, MOLY becomes the witch’s MOLE (E—>Y)

From the changed letters in bold above, we see that WALLY is the evil guest. But what creature is he? For that we turn to the second starred clue, which is 31-Across, where the oddly worded [Halt Satan] is the clue for DO GOOD. Where else can you find those nine letters in the grid? They’re the leftovers from LATIN MANHATTANS once you remove the TIN MAN from it.

There are three other clues that, like this one, are comprised of the non-costume letters in theme entries:

67-A is [Value] which are the non-DEVIL letters from VAUDEVILLE.

76-D is [Brain] which are the non-ANGEL letters from BRANGELINA.

39-D is [“Sad, bro!”] which are the non-WITCH letters from SWITCHBOARD.

The one theme entry whose remaining letters aren’t used in a clue is BLOG HOSTING, which suggests that we anagram its leftovers. They are BLOING — and look here, those anagram to GOBLIN, Wally’s secret evil identity. So WALLY THE GOBLIN it is, found by 183 solvers. wally

Now, this meta had a couple of flaws, one of which was carelessness on my part and the other of which was tough to do anything about. The careless part was including AWE and ABE in the grid, which stepped on the toes of the Tin Man’s AXE change.

The tough part to do anything about was: this was supposed to be a Week 5 meta, but there was nothing stopping solvers from anagramming the leftover letters in BLOG HOSTING right off the bat and finding WALLY/GOBLIN. Was hoping that not many would find this shortcut, but couldn’t find a good way around it besides distracting with the starred clues.

Anyway, lively discussion on some other points of this meta here.

This week’s winner, whose name was chosen randomly from that group, is A.S.B. of Portland, Ore. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, A.S.B. will also receive a signed copy of my new book Pocket Posh Easy Crosswords.


Ok, I blanked on picking the monthly winners (first time in a few months that I’ve done that, at least) so we’ll do them next week and pick 12 instead of 10.


Patrick Merrell’s Kickstarter project looks really cool. I’m going to be kicking in this weekend.


This week’s contest answer is a kind of food. 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 (2,334 members now!) here. Or you can
download the .puz file (you may have to right-click the link and save to your Downloads folder).


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

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