Last week’s instructions asked for a person from Eastern Europe, and it was easy to see there were plenty of Greek letters in the finished grid (highlighted in blue below), including the two cardinal-crossword-sin 2-letter entries in the NW and SE corners:
So was the answer as simple as “Greek?” Nope. Put those Greek letters in grid order – “ΠΙΚΤΟΓΡΑΜ” – and then transliterate back to the Roman alphabet and you get “PIKTOGRAM,” which looks and sounds suspiciously like an English word. Next, apply the “pictogram” concept to the grid’s three longest entries HANGMAN GALLOWS, HORSESHOE and DO NOT ENTER SIGN, in order:
The result looks a lot like more capital Greek letters, spelling out ΓΩΘ, which you can then transliterate back to the Roman alphabet to make answer GOTH.
A few solvers pointed out that the Goths weren’t entirely from Eastern Europe, which I’ll confess was a somewhat vague understanding that I only “confirmed” with pretty minimal research before running the puzzle. It turns out that the Goths’ origins appear to be Scandinavian, and their eventual spread was all over the continent. Along the way I think there was a period when they were largely centered in what we would traditionally call Eastern Europe (from Poland down to the Balkans, basically) but my prompt was potentially confusing; I should have left off “Eastern.”
Here’s a bit of very unintentional bonus theme content. When you look at the entire grid above, the long entries highlighted in green somewhat resemble the Greek capital letter Xi (Ξ), which though it is not the typical transliteration for our letter X is pronounced how we usually pronounce X. X, of course, is often used as a shorthand for “cross,” as in “xword.”
It didn’t occur to me until well after I constructed it, but this puzzle owes a clear creative debt to an old MGWCC. Like I said in week one, I’m just copying the master …
I was pretty happy with myself for getting all that theme stuff in there and ending up with a reasonably filled grid, though I do apologize for the very lame partials IS TAN and IS WARM. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m not afraid of a little janky fill if it helps me get to something I think is a good meta.
68 correct answers before deadline this week (and one who saw it this morning.) That’s nearly twice last week’s total, which I think reflects that this one was a bit easier, and I hope also reflects a growing audience. Keep spreading the word! Puzzle #3, entitled “Do the Math,” follows. As always, you can either download the .pdf below, or click on the link for the .puz file which is shared from Google Drive.
The answer to the metapuzzle is a body part. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, April 1 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.
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LATE UPDATE – BONUS PUZZLE! The puzzle above may be pretty challenging. I’ve decided to go ahead and also publish a second puzzle, “Bitter Sweets,” which ought to be significantly easier. But as I think will become clear as you’re solving it, that’s not really why I’ve decided to run it now – it’s been in the pipeline for a while, and recent events made me feel like it may be now or never. So, enjoy! The answer to the metapuzzle is a famous person. You can submit your answer to both puzzles in the same comment, or submit separately; your choice. I don’t think there’s much chance of confusion between the two answers but just to be precise, please go ahead and make clear if your answer is for the bonus puzzle by including the word “bonus,” which is not otherwise involved in either meta solution.