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













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 …


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.

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