Puzzle #60 Solution and Puzzle #61, “Take It from the Top”

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Last week’s puzzle, “Little Things?”, featured seven starred clues – which some said was unnecessary, but while the pattern was pretty recognizable, two of the themers were short and two of the non-themers were long, so I didn’t want anyone to be hung up on that. Also, it turned out those two non-themers contained, totally unintentionally, a bit of a red herring that was theme-adjacent, so I’m glad I went with the better-safe-than-sorry approach. Anyway here’s the solution:

Those seven theme acrosses all end in -ET. With a bit of a nudge from the title and prompt (a word that can mean “small”), successful solvers noticed that the final word of each theme entry is also a word if you tack on the letters -TE to make an -ETTE word. What’s more, each theme entry is crossed by a down entry whose clue also works for the new -ETTE word. Like so:

24a. STRIP CROQUET -> CROQUETTE, which is a {Snack on a cocktail party tray}, like a TAPA
33a. MAMA CASSET -> CASSETTE, which is a {Retro music medium}, like a RECORD
39a. WWI VET -> VETTE, which is a {Classic Chevy}, like an IMPALA
63a. LOW FLOW TOILET -> TOILETTE, which fills in {Eau de ___}, like VIE
94a. I’LL BET -> BETTE, which is a female screen legend’s first name, like INGRID
96a. TONY GILLET -> GILLETTE, which is a {Brand name seen in the razor aisle}, like ATRA
112a. STATE BANQUET -> BANQUETTE, which is a {Window seat, maybe}, like a LEDGE

Take the first letters of those bolded entries and it spells out TRIVIAL, which can mean “small” and was the meta answer.

Some solvers noticed that you can do a somewhat similar thing to the final words in those other two long across entries, DROP THE BALL and FRAGGLE ROCK – both BALL and ROCK make new words if you add -ET. (Also, ROCKET can turn into ROCKETTE, which I really wish I’d found as a possible theme pair – it’s better than at least half of the ones I used. Oh well, live and learn.) Anyway, this was totally unintentional and coincidental but if it tripped you up, I apologize. I could not find a way to structure this grid that didn’t require either long entries there, or two-letter entries somewhere, which is why I decided to mark the theme entries with *s to leave no doubt. But I know I as a solver have missed asterisks before …

Moving on, I did manage to work an old idea that I wasn’t satisfied with into what I hope is a good puzzle over the weekend. We’ll see. It’s called “Take It from the Top.”

061_takefromtop.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is an eight-letter phrase. Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, May 25. I’ll publish 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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