Puzzle #3 and #3a Solutions and Puzzle #4, “Blackout”

The title of last week’s puzzle was “Do the Math,” but it wasn’t obvious what math you were supposed to do. There were six theme entries, identified by starred clues:

13-D *Defensive score in football = SAFETY
17-A *Mess in a delivery room = PLACENTA
37-A *Kill, as a project = CANCEL
39-A *Corkscrew shape = SPIRAL
47-D *Part of the female reproductive system = UTERUS
62-A *Cartoon cat = GARFIELD

The (difficult, I think) first insight is to see that for each of these, there’s another grid entry that can satisfy the clue if you tack a certain two letters onto the end:

Another defensive score in football is a PICK S(IX)
Another delivery room mess is VERN(IX)
Another term meaning to kill a project is DEEP-S(IX)
Another word for a corkscrew’s shape is HEL(IX)
Another female reproductive part is the CERV(IX)
Another cartoon cat is FEL(IX)

This already hints strongly at the answer, APPENDIX. The extra confirming step (which it appears from the comments some successful solvers did not see) relates back to the puzzle’s title. Notice that each of these pairs sits nine grid numbers apart – e.g. PICKS is at 4-down; add nine to its clue number and you’re at the clue number for SAFETY. And you can parse the meta answer as APPEND IX, which taken literally might mean to tack those two letters onto the end of another word, but also can be interpreted as “add nine.”

This Week’s Evidence That I Should Have An Editor: not one but two inaccurate clues, and one that wasn’t even finished! 9-down ELU Thingol is a major character in the legendarium of Middle-Earth but I don’t believe he’s mentioned in 42-down LOTR, as the clue said. Whoops. 69-across CLUE has 21 cards, not 15. Whoops again. And somehow the clue for 44-down BEER GUT was missing the punch line, which I can only assume happened because I started writing the clue but never got around to deciding whom to victimize … . Triple whoops. (I just re-reviewed this week’s puzzle and didn’t see any glaring errors … but I’m obviously good at missing them, so who knows?)

As for the bonus puzzle – the grid (not pictured) had five made-up phrases, clued via all-caps ranting:

  • {“WE’RE SCOURING THE PICK ‘N’ PULL FOR JEEP ACCESSORIES!”}: IT’S A WINCH HUNT
  • {“WE NEED TO SECURE HUGH’S GRAVE BEFORE SOMEONE STEALS THE BODY!”}: LOCK HEF UP
  • {“I DID NOT RUN INTO YOUR CAR! FAKE NEWS!”}: NO COLLISION
  • {“YOU CAN TRUST ONE OF AMERICA’S OLDEST COMPANIES!”}: BELIEVE GE
  • {“TIRE THAT GURU OUT!”}: DRAIN THE SWAMI

Of course, these halfsensical entries are all one letter off from some familiar ranting from a certain someone who turns out to be the meta answer. In order, the letters that will make the phrases above make, uh, sense, are T-R-U-M-P.

16 solvers entered the correct answer to the main puzzle, and 44 to the bonus. Since the bonus puzzle was quite easy, I hope the drop in solver count from last week just represents people who, discouraged by the difficulty of the main puzzle, didn’t bother to submit for the bonus – but who will come back for future puzzles. Anyhow, several of you have given very encouraging feedback – if you still like these, tell others you think might as well!

Next up is puzzle #4, “Blackout.” As always, you can either download the .pdf below, or click on the link for the .puz file which is shared from Google Drive.

004_blackout (.puz file Google Drive link)

The answer to the metapuzzle is a nine-letter word. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, April 8 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles, follow me on Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; or, for those who remember good ol’ usenet, dust off your rss reader.

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