Five theme entries with weird clues last week:
WMNG CT (cartoon) = CHEYENNE
MV LBRDR (novella) = OLD YELLER
RD CCKTL (folklore) = HURRICANE
“DRM TM” NM (arcade game) = CHRISTIAN
NX (animated films based on the cartoon) = SHUT DOWN
What’s going on here? Turns out the meta mechanism is of the “find an alternate clue answer” type, but first you have to figure out what the clue is by reconstructing it. That part’s not that difficult – Cheyenne is a WyoMiNG CiTy; Old Yeller is a MoVie LaBRaDoR (okay he was actually a Lab/mastiff mix in the movie, and not a Lab at all in the book, but close enough); a hurricane is a ReD CoCKTaiL; Christian was a “DReaM TeaM” NaMe (Christian Laettner was the sole college player on the 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball team, nicknamed the “Dream Team”); and to shut something down is to NiX it.
When you try alternate answers to these clues, you can find a pattern that explains those parentheticals in the clues: they’re all fictional ghosts from different media (get it? the vowels in the clues have “ghosted” you …):
CASPER is another Wyoming city (but also a ghost in the cartoon Casper the Friendly Ghost)
MARLEY is another Movie Labrador (but also a ghost from the novella A Christmas Carol)
BLOODY MARY is another red cocktail (but also a ghost from folklore)
CLYDE is another first name from the Dream Team (but also a ghost from the arcade game Pac-Man)
KIBOSH is another synonym of “nix” (but also a ghost from the not-very-well-known movie adaptations of Casper the Friendly Ghost)
Finally, taking those five ghosts and putting their first letters in order yields the vowel-free string CMBCK, which with the right vowels inserted becomes our meta answer, COME BACK – not only something you might say after being abandoned, but also what ghosts do – they “come back” from the dead to haunt the living.
Next up is puzzle #79, “Go Back to the Beginning.”
This metapuzzle has two answers, both of which have something in common with several entries in the grid. One is a well-known animated movie; the other is closely related to the first theme entry. Submit your answers using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, October 12. Will I publish a new puzzle next week? I hope so …