MGWCC #346 — Friday, January 16th, 2015 — “You’re Surrounded!”

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of January 2nd, MGWCC is now a subscribers-only crossword. The cost is $26 per year, and you can subscribe here:



Trickier than your normal Week 2, even though your path was spelled out: we sought an American historical figure, and were told how to find him/her:

17-A/63-A [(w)hat you need two of to form the meta] = EUROPEAN / CAPITALS

28-A [What each 17-/63-Across needs to be in (well, one already is) to get the meta] = ITS NATIVE TONGUE

46-A [What you need to do to each 17-/63-Across to get the meta] = CHANGE ONE LETTER

Lots of countries in Europe, but the answer lay in two of her alpha nations, Italy and France, where ROMA and PARIS change one letter to become bus boycott icon and meta answer ROSA PARKS.


Simple once you saw it, but changing the two-syllable PARIS to the one-syllable PARKS can easily trick the eye.

Three solvers submitted former Miss America Pageant host BERT PARKS, which I also accepted as correct. Switzerland’s capital doesn’t appear to have an official designation in English between German Bern and French Berne, so you could reasonably claim that that one is already in its native tongue as BERN.

DIS says:

Roma / Paris. Not quite hard enough to save for MLK day weekend?

Exactly, more Week 2 than 3.

Andrew R jests:

I guess its too soon to consider DAN MARINO a historical figure, huh?

The joke is: Marino is a legend, but you’re only changing one letter to get one capital so it doesn’t quite work here.

hibob got the adrenaline rush:

Wow when I saw Roma -> Rosa then looked at Paris -> Parks, I actually started and involuntarily spoke aloud. one of my best aha moments.

Stribbs says:

Fun, though I was hoping for a more exotic answer, with a name like Osco Brubelles.

Bretbloomquist suggests:

On the e-mailed puzzle, perhaps below the across answers, could you put “this week’s instructions”?

Done, starting today.

Many solvers caught red herrings. Like cscottclay:

I was stuck on LYNDON for too long but I couldn’t find the capital that morphed to JOHNSON.

And magoo:

Week 2? You’re kidding me! Oh, wait – maybe reading the title would have helped. But having RIGA in the grid certainly didn’t.

(He was looking for a famous RITA.)

FrotzNPL says:

I like the new look of the PDF version!

Thanks. So do I!

And finally, jowens had a facepalm moment:

This took me far too long given it’s the NAME OF MY DAUGHTER’S SCHOOL.

This week’s winner, whose name was chosen randomly from the 338 correct entries received, is Rachel Parsons of Chappaqua, N.Y. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Rachel will also receive a signed copy of my book Pocket Posh Easy Crosswords.


The fourth season of Pete Muller‘s outstanding Monthly Music Meta begins on Tuesday. I’ve blogged all three seasons so far over at Crossword Fiend, and take my word for it that these are a ton of fun and beautifully constructed (Season 3, Episode 12 won my Crossword of the Month for December 2014). It’s free to play, and highly recommended.

now this is a mug shot!

now this is a mug shot!

In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, winners this week and next will also receive a Muller Monthly Music Meta coffee mug.


This week’s puzzle deadline is Wednesday, January 21st, at noon ET. The MIT Mystery Hunt is this weekend and a lot of MGWCC solvers have requested an extra day because of it, so here you go.


OK, here’s what those solvers who got 48 or more of 2014′s metas will receive: a pen that’s also a flashlight! What better way to illustrate the a-ha moment? The text will read:

The light went on for me!
48+ times in 2014
Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest

Isn’t that awesome? I like to think so. I’ll be ordering the pens this week and contacting winners soon thereafter. Full list of winners’ names coming next week. Sorry it keeps getting delayed, but it will be next week for sure — and note that you can now keep track of your 2015 total with the handy “This Year” tab on the leaderboard. Thanks to Dave Sullivan for adding that!

And yes, we’re doing it again: everyone who gets 48 or more metas right in 2015 will receive a “The light came on” flashlight pen! Don’t act like you’re not excited!


This week’s contest answer is a well-known peninsula.

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of January 2nd, MGWCC is now a subscribers-only crossword. The cost is $26 per year, and you can subscribe here:

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