Last week’s puzzle was called “That Sounds Different,” and it featured what Google tells me are called heteronyms – words that are spelled the same, but sound different. The first challenge was just to find the theme entries. As the answer was a five-letter word, it’s reasonable to guess that there would have been five, which there were, plus five more entries that intersected with these and whose clues (given *s in the puzzle’s easier version) could also yield their respective theme entries’ heteronymic partners. Like so:
[12a. Jazz trumpeter Alpert] HERB (in which the H is pronounced) intersected with 1d. CHARD, whose clue, [Garden green], also works for HERB (with a silent H, so long as you’re not British – if this one was tricky for you, sorry old chap);
[27a. Brighten] POLISH (rhymes with “abolish”) intersected with 11d. CZECH, whose clue, [West Slavic language], also works for POLISH (rhymes with “trollish”);
[40a. Situating] PUTTING (rhymes with “footing”) intersected with 14d. CHIPPING, whose clue, [Element of a golfer’s short game], also works for PUTTING (rhymes with “gutting”);
[51a. Ink a new deal] RESIGN (the S pronounced as in “loose”) intersected with 44d. QUIT, whose clue, [Leave one’s post], also works for RESIGN (the S pronounced as in “lose”);
[68a. Guitars, slangily] AXES (rhymes with “taxes”) intersected with 56d. NODES, whose clue, [Parts of a mathematical graph], also works for AXES (rhymes with “taxis”).
Okay, we’ve found thematic, intersecting pairs of entries – promising. Turning to common meta-extraction methods, neither the first letters of either set (HPPRA, CCCQN) nor the intersection letters (HHNIE) yields anything. So, recheck the title and the theme idea and notice that in each pair of heteronyms, the change in sound happens in exactly one letter, highlighted in the image below:
In order, those letters (the H in HERB, the O in POLISH, the U in PUTTING, the S in RESIGN, and the E in AXES) spell out the meta answer, HOUSE (which is also heteronymic – the noun rhymes with “Gauss,” the verb rhymes with “cows” – though it wouldn’t have worked very well as a theme entry here because its two meanings are basically the same thing, just different parts of speech).
Next up is puzzle #56, “Foreign Cinema.”
The answer to the metapuzzle is a movie title. Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, April 20. The puzzle gods willing, I will publish a new puzzle next Tuesday. Uncertain times …