Last week’s puzzle featured a very Scrabbly grid in which, most solvers probably quickly noticed, each of the four long answers (ALL THAT JAZZ, KWAZY KWANZAA, BEATRICE WEBB, SHE’S SO THICC) ended in a double letter. (Curiously, though not all that relevant to the meta other than as a coincidence, these double letters started at Z and then “started over again,” alphabetically.)
After that simple initial insight, many were apparently left scratching their heads. The way to move on was in the clues: four of the puzzle’s clues started with a word that, when added to a theme entry’s closing double letter, made an in-the-language phrase, person or title: ZZ Top, AA battery, BB King, CC Rider. Now back to the grid; the first letters of the entries for those clues – HEAD, ANODE, JOHN, JOCKEY – spelled out HAJJ, yet another thing ending in a double letter. So, back to the clues to look for JJ ___, and we find the clue for 40-across begins with Watt, a famous JJ (and, for those unfamiliar with him, one of Google’s top autocompletes if you start searching “JJ …”). So the answer was that clue’s entry, JAMES.
A few notes on this puzzle:
- I wanted to use single-word clues (Top, Battery, King, Rider) but couldn’t make it work. Top, Battery (for “assault” instead of anode) and Rider were all fine, and King could clue “highness” (though an 8-letter entry might have been tough for the grid), but I couldn’t figure out a way to get both Js. This probably made it harder to spot the mechanism.
- The song was originally called “See See Rider” – but lots of artists (including Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, the Grateful Dead, and many others) have recorded it under the title “C. C. Rider,” so I felt okay about it.
- I was a little reluctant to co-opt the term “thicc,” which is certainly not in my own vernacular, and I definitely wanted to steer clear of any sense of body-shaming. Here is a good piece highlighting the perils of being glib with the term. Also, that theme entry is pretty green-painty, as the crossword nerds would say.
- Last Wednesday’s NYT crossword, published not long after this one, had HAJJ at 1-across. That same day I had a couple other coincidental experiences which I’ll tell you about next week.
This week’s puzzle is called “Hodgepodge”:
The answer to the metapuzzle is something that appears to be made from several disparate parts.
UPDATE: As of 9:30 am Pacific Time on Friday, exactly zero people have solved this one. So, here’s some extra guidance: first, as the eight clues with parentheticals suggest, the answer is eight letters long; second, there is another clue, besides those eight, that’s meant to direct you to a helpful place.
Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, October 21 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.