Last week’s puzzle, “Keep Your Head Above Water,” had a seven letter answer. Did it have something to do with the seven seas? No – there were just five bodies of water in the grid. What you had to notice was that each body of water had at least one square where a down entry began such that, with a letter added on to the beginning (or, placed in the black square above the body of water), it would spell out the name of an island situated in that body of water:
There’s I(RELAND) and (the somewhat obscure island) A(CHILL) in the North Atlantic; D(ELOS) and S(AMOS) in the Aegean Sea, L(ANAI) in the Pacific, N(EVIS) in the Caribbean (which your idiot clue-writer misidentified as where the Amazon discharges … sorry about that), and S(ICILY) in the Mediterranean (this one was the entry point for many solvers.) Those added letters anagram to the meta answer, ISLANDS. I tried to get them to appear in grid order, or perhaps left to right, but it just wouldn’t work. There weren’t a ton of options to choose from – as you can see some of the resultant down entries were already very shaky crossword fill.
Also, I mentioned last week that the previous week’s puzzle had something extra. I knew it was fairly well hidden but apparently even moreso than I’d realized. Here’s what was going on: [20a.] EXTRA was clued as “Bonus feature.” As it turned out, nine other clues had the word “bonus” better-hidden in them. Some of those clues were very weird. Anyway here they are, in order of where in the grid their first letters fall:
20a. Bonus feature = EXTRA
22a. President of Gabon (usurper, according to opponents) = ALI BONGO
29a. Bourbon user = SOT
32d. Job onus = TASK
56d. Non-bimbo Nussbaum = EMILY
67a. Verb on Usher’s first #1 single of 2001 = REMIND
87a. Hydrocarbon used to make plastic = ETHYLENE
92d. Verb on Usher’s second #1 single of 2001 = GOT
95a. Swab, on U.S. Navy ships = GOB
99a. Hub on U.S. airline maps = SFO
Take the first letters of those ten entries and it spells out EASTER EGGS, another term for bonus features in a video game or online content – or in a puzzle that I was a few weeks late running (truth be told I didn’t have the idea until after Easter itself.)
Next up is puzzle #60, “Little Things?”
The answer to the metapuzzle is a word that can mean “small.” Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, May 18. Will there be a puzzle next week? I have not had a new idea in a while … I’ll see if I can dust off an old one.