Glutton for Pun #187 by Erik Agard


It’s time to crank the Aww Factor up to 187 for this tribute meta. Solve it here, then read on.


There have been many tribute puzzles recently, following the passing of crossword greats Merl Reagle and Henry Hook. Erik created a puzzle this week to honor someone still with us who has played a major role in his crosswording career: Matt Gaffney. Erik’s post says it all, really. The part most relevant to this puzzle, though, is that the grid is identical to the one Matt used in MGWCC #187, “The Edge of Darkness.” The original can be solved here, and the solution is discussed here.  The tl;dr version is that Matt’s grid was designed to have eight squares which could be replaced with black squares while keeping the new words consistent with their original clues. The letters that could be removed spelled the answer to the meta.

For Glutton #187, we are asked to find a six-letter figure from Greek mythology. The grid was a tough solve, complicated by the need to discover the eight two-letter rebus squares around the edge of the grid. Other than this, the only other entries that seem related are the crossing of MATCHES / TEACHER at the center of the puzzle. We were already told that the grid was identical to Matt’s; further examination reveals that the presence of the rebus squares matches the added black squares in Matt’s grid. The second letter of each rebus square, when read clockwise from the bottom, spell DARKNESS. A quick Google search of “Greek mythology darkness” leads to EREBUS, a primordial deity and the personification of darkness, and our meta answer. The presence of DARKNESS around the border alludes to the title of Matt’s original puzzle.

I figured this had to be the answer, but there wasn’t that extra confirmation expected from a meta, and for this to be a tribute to “Mr. Meta” himself, I was sure there was a layer I was missing. Most of my solving is on my phone thanks to a two year old who loves to mash on laptop keyboards and tear up paper. While transcribing the grid to Across Lite, I noticed that each rebus square started with the letter E. An E-REBUS. Much better than an E-MAG, and the aha moment I was missing.

I don’t have much to say about the fill. Nothing made me cringe. Favorite clues were [Brevity is the s- wait, can I start over? Humor] for WIT[Bars for people wearing stars] for TAPS, and [How much a set of screwdrivers costs?] for TAB. I didn’t know EEYORISH was an actual word, but I got it pretty quickly (maybe because I’ve been compared to Eeyore more than once in my life).

Overall, a satisfying meta and an adorable tribute.


  1. Ben Johnston said:

    Lovely tribute puzzle. The E-REBUS gimmick is a great bit of wordplay. Love TEACHER in the middle slot — I wonder if that’s also a shout-out to Matt?


  2. bananarchy said:

    This is beautiful


  3. i had “m is for…” MEDUSA and kept trying to anagram SNAKE + DRS into something that made sense.


  4. erinium said:

    In true Agardian fashion, there is another layer to this meta that I noticed somewhat initially, thought it didn’t mean anything, but then it popped into mind so I decided to look again. The title “M Is for…” was a tribute to Matt’s puzzle “M Is for Merl” The key to the meta (explained at was finding the Ms in Merl Reagle’s original grid and looking at the corresponding letters in Matt’s structurally identical grid, which spelled MASTERFUL, a description of Merl.

    I tried this after finding DARKNESS in the rebus squares but not getting E-REBUS yet, so what I found didn’t make sense at the time. If you find the Ms in Matt’s “The Edge of Darkness” grid, and read the corresponding squares in Erik’s grid, starting at the (E)D of DARKNESS and reading clockwise, you get (ED)APHNE. Remove the E from the rebus square, and you’re left with DAPHNE, who is also a 6-letter Greek mythological figure, and whose name rhymes with GAFFNEY. I’m mad at myself because I saw the letters of DAPHNE then and noticed the rhyme, but because I hadn’t seen the E-REBUS part, dismissed it as a coincidence. Should have realized that if it looks like a coincidence, it’s probably a subtle bit of awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

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