Puzzle #22 Solution and Puzzle #23, “Cut the Ending”

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Pretty easy last week – the puzzle (like its title) had a limited number of three-letter entries, all of which are pronounced like the name of letters of the alphabet. Most figured this out QUICKLY, which was the answer (KEW-YEW-EYE-SEA-CAY-ELL-WHY).

Up next is puzzle #23, “Cut the Ending.”

023_cutending.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a nine-letter word. Submit you answer using the contact form by Monday, August 19 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles: Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzle #21 Solution and Puzzle #22, “Gee, What Could I Have Been Thinking? … Ohh!”

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Quick writeup this week, I’ll just let the visual aid do the talking:

The central “mountain” of black squares helped solvers get on the right track toward the answer, which as shown above was POWER.

I had a nice idea the other day and wanted to get it finished by today, but I’ve been on the road. Should have it ready next week. So for the second week in a row I am mining the archives:

022_whatthinking.puz

This week’s instructions are a little unusual; I’ll just let you read them in the puzzle. Whatever answer you think I’m looking for, submit it using the contact form by Monday, August 12 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles: Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.



Puzzle #20 Solution and Puzzle #21, “In Tip-Top Shape”

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Last week’s puzzle “Stand-Ins” had a pretty obvious 3×3 mega-grid in its regular 17×17 grid. And while there were a bunch of long entries, good luck to you if you tried finding a theme in them. Instead, the idea was to look to the central five-letter across entry in each of the nine squares of the mega-grid:

Each of these was clued referencing a person (most of them reasonably famous, but a few obscure), and the grid didn’t feature any surnames outside of the list below:

19a. Children’s author Marc BROWN (his work is well known, but who?)
20a. Serial killer Ted BUNDY
21a. Multiple Pro Bowl honoree Merlin OLSEN
47a. Comedic actor Brian HOOKS (who??)
48a. Short story writer H. H. MUNRO (a.k.a. Saki)
49a. Hollywood Walk of Fame honoree Chuck LORRE
75a. Longtime New York Post columnist Joey ADAMS (weird way to clue him)
76a. Heavyweight TYSON Fury (this one’s not a surname in the grid, but wait for it …)
77a. U.S. Open winner Steve JONES

These people don’t have anything to do with one another, but it turns out they were “standing in” for others who could also fit the clue:

MARCIA Brown also wrote children’s books
CAROL Bundy was also a serial killer
GREG Olsen also has gone to multiple Pro Bowls
JAN Hooks also was a (much better-known) comedic actor
ALICE Munro also wrote short stories
PETER Lorre also has a Walk of Fame star
CINDY Adams (Joey’s wife) also had (and still has) a longtime Post column
MIKE Tyson was also a heavyweight
BOBBY Jones also won the U.S. Open (and is way more famous)

As you have probably noticed by now, you’ve almost certainly seen a group of people with those names, arranged in the grid’s 3×3 pattern and “standing in” their respective squares:

So the answer was BRADY. (Not Alice’s surname, of course, but she’s family!)

I wanted to use CLARK instead of Brown in the NW, as Marcia Clark is well known to me whereas I had to google for Marcia Brown. But even though Clark is a very common name, I couldn’t find another Clark for whom I could write a straightforward clue fitting both. (Best I could do was Lewis Clark, who like Marcia is associated with a very well-known Simpson – he’s a classmate of Bart – but I just couldn’t find suitable wording. “Simpson associate” doesn’t really work for Marcia …)

Up next is Puzzle #21, “In Tip-Top Shape.” I ran out of time this week to finish any of the various works in progress I’ve got at the moment, so this is one that’s been gathering dust for a while (you’ll see about how long in one of the clues). Some of the fill maybe suffers from my inexperience at the time I constructed it, but I like the meta …

021_tiptopshape.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a five-letter attribute a mountain climber needs. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, August 5 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles: Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzle #19 Solution and Puzzle #20, “Stand-Ins”

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Last week’s puzzle, titled “Go With Plan B,” asked for a five-letter category and featured five long across theme entries:

HAND GRENADE
LOUSY CAR
COMPUTER MAKER
FIVE-HOLE
QWERTY PHONE

Some of these evoked a certain category fairly readily: a lousy car is a LEMON, a leading QWERTY phone is a BLACKBERRY, and (going back to the well) a top computer maker is APPLE. With a little extra thought (maybe) you could land on either PINEAPPLE or POMEGRANATE for hand grenade, and NUTMEG for five-hole. (And yes, while it isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, nutmeg is a fruit! Most of us are familiar with consuming the ground-up seed, or [I didn’t know this] the red seed-covering aril, which is what makes the spice mace – but the internet tells me there are those who make jams and candies and whatnot with the fruit itself.)

The twist was that instead of extracting one letter from each theme entry as one might have expected, it turned out that when you put these in grid order their first letters spelled out PLAN B as mentioned in the title. So the answer was just FRUIT, which is five letters by happenstance, and is the unifying category for how to “go with plan B” in terms of what you call the five themers.

39 people submitted the correct answer. Next up, Puzzle #20, called “Stand-Ins.”

020_standins.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a common surname. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, July 29 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles: Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzle #18 Solution and Puzzle #19, “Go With Plan B”

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Last week’s puzzle featured kind of a red herring: I asked for a kind of sandwich, and gave you a puzzle titled “Triple Deckers” with nine three-entry stacks in which the middle entry was clued only as “see grid.” Surely the theme must be built around these visual “sandwiches,” right?

Wrong. The bottom bit of each triple decker was irrelevant, actually. Instead, all that was going on was that each entry lacking a clue could be clued by a word formed by adding the prefix “sub” to the entry above it – so, e.g., 14-across BOW could be clued as “submit” – and it sits in the grid under (or SUB) the entry MIT. And so on:

So the meta answer was just SUB, which happens to be a kind of sandwich, but sandwiches didn’t otherwise have anything to do with the meta.

21 solvers submitted (ha!) the correct answer. Now we move on to Puzzle #19, “Go With Plan B.” Will this puzzle yet again be about sandwiches? You’ll have to solve it to find out ….

019_planb.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a five-letter category. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, July 22 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles: Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzle #17 Solution and Puzzle #18, “Triple Deckers”

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This cramped grid had three symmetrically-placed, longish food/drink answers with starred clues. With a nudge from the title you might have noticed that each of these types of food/drink has an example of the form “X&Y”:

40-across CANDY PIECES: m&m
15-down ROOT BEER: A&W
36-down SANDWICH: PB&J

A healthy, balanced meal …

Next, you can find entries around the grid that correspond to the letters of the “combos” above:

M = 16-across THOUSAND; M = 60-down MASS
A = 9-down ACE; W = 67-across TUNGSTEN
Pb = 25-across LEAD; J = 51-down JOULE

The last step is to treat the “&” of each combo as an arithmetic operation and add the clue numbers of each pair together, which it turns out gives you the same answer all three times: 16+60 = 9+67 = 25+51 = 76, which confirms itself as the meta answer by being the clue number for the entry SUM.

Next up is puzzle #18, “Triple Deckers.”

018_tripledeckers.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a kind of sandwich. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, July 15 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles: Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzle #16 Solution and Puzzle #17, “Combo Platter”

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Three initial things to notice about last week’s puzzle: (1) the prompt asked for a phrase consisting of two eight-letter words; (2) the grid had eight seven-letter entries (and nothing longer); and (3) the title was “Cut Out the Middle, Man.” The middle letters of those seven-letter entries appropriately spelled out S-A-N-D-W-I-C-H. So far so good … but you need another eight-letter word. To get it you had to look to the clues, which contained eight six-letter words/phrases formed from the letters left over from the theme entries after you took out their middle letters. So, for example, the clue for 9-across, FBI, was “U.S. agency concerned with the law,” corresponding to 53-across THE CLAW. The first letters of the entries whose clues contained those six-letter words/phrases, in the order in which they appear in the grid, spell out F-I-L-L-I-N-G-S, so your meta answer was SANDWICH FILLINGS.

Though it was several steps, most of you found this one on the easier side. I don’t have final numbers as I write this – I will be on the road by the time this posts – but at least 47 people solved it.

Next up is #17, “Combo Platter.”

017_comboplatter.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a two-digit number appearing in the grid. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, July 8 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll be returning from vacation that day – maybe late – so I can’t guarantee the solution and next puzzle will be up as usual on Tuesday morning. We’ll see what happens.

To keep up with the puzzles:
Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.