Last week’s puzzle was inspired by a recent WSJ contest crossword. That puzzle was baseball-themed, and included the entry MARNER. One of the ideas I considered before finding the right path to the solution was that I could insert an I to get a member of an MLB team, so when the puzzle turned out to have nothing to do with that I decided to make a puzzle that did.
Mine, though, had nothing to do with baseball. Instead, the trick had to do with the unusually high number of words containing a letter with a circumflex (the diacritical mark that looks like a caret or ^). To drive the point home, I made sure that both the across and down entries called for the accent. While this didn’t require me to use a bunch of French words, most of the familiar words that contain the circumflex are French, so there we were …
Anyhow, the grid contained:
CRÊPES crossing À-TÊTE;
MAÎTRE D’HÔTEL crossing NÎMES and CÔTES; and
CHÂLET crossing GRÂCE.
Then there was the odd clue for 76-across: “Proofreading marks meaning ‘leave as is’ (in contrast to the one seen four times in this grid, once each letter has been filled in accurately.)” That was your cue to be mindful of the diacritical marks, and to reinterpret the circumflex as the proofreader’s caret, which is used to denote insertion:
Next, the idea was to go ahead and follow the proofreading directions and insert the letter below the ^ into the word above, creating a new word:
METING -> MEETING;
MARNER -> MARINER:
HOCH -> HOOCH; and
CRESS -> CARESS.
Since this didn’t yield a four-letter word as called for by the instructions, we kept going. The grid contains a synonym for each of the four newly-created words:
CARESS = HUG
MEETING = ASSEMBLY
MARINER = TAR
HOOCH = SAUCE
Arranged in grid order as above, the initial letters of the synonyms spell out HATS, a fitting meta answer because that’s what many people call the circumflex.
Next up is Puzzle #30, “Show Me a Sign.”
The answer to the metapuzzle is a four letter word. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, October 7 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.