The main event last week featured kind of a weird grid – a central 15-letter entry, and highly contained areas in the NW and SE with triple-stacked tens. What was going on? It turns out, a whole lot of theme was going on.
TRANSLITERATION across the middle had the clue “Process that’s a bit like something you’ll do in solving the meta,” which is vague enough that maybe you were best off just ignoring it until you worked out the meta and saw what I meant, which was this: those triple-stacked tens all clue a word ending in -X which is not itself in the grid, but which has a homonym ending in -CKS elsewhere in the grid. For example, 11-across WOODCUTTER would be a fine clue for AX, and there’s ACKS at 22-across. So you’re kind of transliterating X into CKS – that’s not what transliterate means precisely, but it’s pretty close. (I couldn’t find a good word that describes what we’re doing here, whereas transliteration fit perfectly in the grid, which basically had to have that central 15-letter entry given all the rest of the constraints – and once I realized that I thought it would be weird if that entry weren’t somehow thematic.) The rest of the word pairs are highlighted in matching colors below:
Next, in grid order, take the first letters of the -CKS words (STICKS, TACKS, ACKS, COCKS, KICKS, SACKS) to spell out another such word, STACKS, which is of course how our main theme entries are arranged. But we’re not done, because we haven’t found a record label. To finish, we do the kinda-sorta-transliteration move again, but in reverse, to get the meta answer, the gospel/soul/funk/blues label STAX.
Looking at how much of the grid above is highlighted I’m still kind of shocked this puzzle worked. (The stats: 105 theme squares, 46 black blocks, 74 other.) What’s odd is it just kind of fell into place – the biggest struggle I had in the whole process was getting the six main theme entries to be the same length, which I only tried to do after choosing the meta answer almost by accident, and then thinking it would be kind of cool if I could make the themers appear in actual stacks. I don’t think I’d have ever tried this if I’d started with the “stack the themers” idea – it would have sounded too difficult to attempt.
Unfortunately, I think the puzzle may have been a little too solvable with partial information, so that people may not have noticed everything that was going on. Oh well – this one, I think, was always going to be more interesting from the point of view of the constructor. (A few solvers also pointed out that 21-across SKATS, backwards, also “transliterates” to the meta answer, which was not intended; I wish I’d noticed, because I would have redone it if I had.)
Meanwhile last week’s smaller puzzle contained a simple set of three grid-spanning entries:
There wasn’t really anything complicated going on with this one, though a basic knowledge of blues music helped. The instructions asked for a song, and these three people, in order, make up a song title because Louis XV was a member of the house of Bourbon; Sean Connery is (if you don’t mind using an adjective that’s not usually applied to people) Scotch; and Samuel Adams is, in addition to an American founding father, a brand of Beer. Thus the answer:
Apparently this has been “cool old music” week on PGWCC. Each of the two puzzles was solved by 38 people, though not precisely the same set of 38. And now on to puzzle #8, “Try Another.” 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 solo pastime other than solving crossword puzzles. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, May 6 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.