MGWCC #443 — Friday, November 25th, 2016 — “Shadow Boxing”

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of January 2015 MGWCC is a subscribers-only crossword. The cost is $26 per year, and you can subscribe (or get a free trial month first) here:



Week 2 was really a Week 3, so I made Week 3 a Week 2. Solvers were tasked with finding a Best Actress winner who would’ve made a good sixth theme entry in this puzzle. Our five theme entries were:

18-A [Fighter pilot after whom an airport is named] = EDWARD O’HARE. Chicago.
20-A [He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Konigsberg in 1755] = IMMANUEL KANT
38-A [She wrote about a rascally rabbit] = BEATRIX POTTER
55-A [North Dakota-born bandleader] = LAWRENCE WELK
58-A [“Teen Wolf” star, 1985] = MICHAEL J. FOX

What’s the common thread? Remove the first letter of each of these people’s surnames and you’re left with an animal — hare, ant, otter, elk, and ox. What Best Actress winner fits the pattern? CHARLIZE THERON, found by 373 solvers, who becomes a heron without her first letter.

There were a few pitfalls to avoid: 71 solvers submitted SANDRA BULLOCK because she starts with BULL. I submitted this to the panel, but they rejected it 4-0 as an alternative answer. The five theme entries were consistent in losing their first letter to leave an animal, so BULLOCK starting with an animal (and losing three letters to get “bull” instead of just one) was seen as too many steps removed.

Also tricky was the WREN and EWE hiding in LAWRENCE WELK, though that pattern didn’t repeat in the other entries. Plus the fact that Michael J. Fox’s surname is an animal in and of itself was a red herring for many.

Even though I mentioned in last week’s e-mail that I was making this one a Week 2 since Week 3 had been so tough, Burghman wants his victory:

Shh, don’t tell anyone but I’m claiming this as a legit week 3 win 😉

Redhead64 says:

Funny how she won the Oscar for “Monster”, which is what all the animals hidden in these names technically are!

ICDogg quips:

I hope I don’t rEGRET this answer

DW says:

Or Bette Davis, if we can use Latin animals.

And finally, Maggie W. noticed something:

Hi Matt, A subtle Merl Reagle tribute puzzle?

This week’s winner, whose name was chosen at random from among the 373 correct entries received, is B.B. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil, and notepad set, B.B. will also receive a 1-year subscription to Matt Gaffney’s Daily Crossword.


This week’s contest answer is a two-word phrase.

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

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