Puzzle #31 Solution and Puzzle #32, “Hodgepodge”

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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”:

hodgepodge.puz

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.

To keep up with the puzzles: Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzle #31, “Double Back and Start Over”

Hey all – I am in haste, so this post will be quick. Also, I didn’t have time to thoroughly check the puzzle for errors, so I hope I didn’t mess anything up too badly … anyway here is this week’s puzzle:

031_doubleback.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is an entry in the grid. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, October 14 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

Update: this puzzle has stymied lots of solvers. If you want a hint, click here.

To keep up with the puzzles: Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzle #30 Solution

Quick post this morning to reveal the solution to last week’s puzzle; release of the next puzzle is unfortunately delayed.

Last week I asked for a four-letter word in a puzzle called “show me a sign.” There were four long answers, but they didn’t seem very themey (because they weren’t.) But there was one clue with a *: 13d “Color of a ‘Spot’ on Jupiter” = RED. The idea here was to envision all the letters of the word “Stop” in the grid in red. A subtle hint, and a lot of solvers commented that they didn’t really forward-solve this puzzle; rather the puzzle title and the star on the clue for RED led to a guess that the answer would be STOP, which it was.

I will hopefully have time to get Puzzle #31 up later today. Stay tuned …

Puzzle #29 Solution and Puzzle #30, “Show Me a Sign”

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Last week’s puzzle was inspired by a recent WSJ contest crossword. That puzzle was baseball-themed, and included the entry MARNER. One of the ideas I considered before finding the right path to the solution was that I could insert an I to get a member of an MLB team, so when the puzzle turned out to have nothing to do with that I decided to make a puzzle that did.

Mine, though, had nothing to do with baseball. Instead, the trick had to do with the unusually high number of words containing a letter with a circumflex (the diacritical mark that looks like a caret or ^). To drive the point home, I made sure that both the across and down entries called for the accent. While this didn’t require me to use a bunch of French words, most of the familiar words that contain the circumflex are French, so there we were …

Anyhow, the grid contained:

CRÊPES crossing À-TÊTE;
MAÎTRE D’HÔTEL crossing NÎMES and CÔTES; and
CHÂLET crossing GRÂCE.

Then there was the odd clue for 76-across: “Proofreading marks meaning ‘leave as is’ (in contrast to the one seen four times in this grid, once each letter has been filled in accurately.)” That was your cue to be mindful of the diacritical marks, and to reinterpret the circumflex as the proofreader’s caret, which is used to denote insertion:

Next, the idea was to go ahead and follow the proofreading directions and insert the letter below the ^ into the word above, creating a new word:

METING -> MEETING;
MARNER -> MARINER:
HOCH -> HOOCH; and
CRESS -> CARESS.

Since this didn’t yield a four-letter word as called for by the instructions, we kept going. The grid contains a synonym for each of the four newly-created words:

CARESS = HUG
MEETING = ASSEMBLY
MARINER = TAR
HOOCH = SAUCE

Arranged in grid order as above, the initial letters of the synonyms spell out HATS, a fitting meta answer because that’s what many people call the circumflex.

Next up is Puzzle #30, “Show Me a Sign.”

030_showmeasign.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a four letter word. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, October 7 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and 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.

Puzzle #28 Solution and Puzzle #29, “Wedge Issues”

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Like I said last week I really struggled with the right title. I gave it a long, weird one, that arguably gave away too much. Anyhow, the deal with the puzzle, which asked for a mathematical term, was that it had five isolated black squares (four 1x1s, and a 2×2, necessitating the slightly larger 16×16 grid to center it.) And if you started at the right place and read around those “blocks,” each spelled something:

Those somethings were TURMERIC, CELERIAC, RUSSET POTATO, RED ONION, and RUTABAGA – all foods that are the root of a plant. (Are the onion, technically a bulb, or the potato, technically a tuber, or even turmeric, technically a rhizome, really roots? Maybe not to a botanist but Wikipedia is here to bail me out: “the term ‘root vegetable’ is applied to all these types …” Also, no one who entered raised a fuss about this so I’m not gonna worry about it.)

Anyway, these underground edibles, whether or not you insist they aren’t all really “roots,” were spelled out in squares, so the mathematical term we were looking for was SQUARE ROOT(S). (Submissions were about 50/50 between singular and plural. I suppose it’s possible some of those who submitted the singular didn’t see the four smaller ones, but no matter, I consider either entry correct.)

Up next is a puzzle called “Wedge Issues.” I hope it won’t be controversial!

029_wedgeissues.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a four-letter word. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, September 30 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and 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.

Puzzle #27 Solution and Puzzle #28, Whose Title Is Long and Strange

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Last week’s puzzle “featured” some geographic wordplay. No clear theme entries, but several named geographic features throughout the grid, in each case crossing an entry that started with the same letter and was followed by the type of feature. For example, CALVARY is a HILL that starts with C – or if you like, a “C-HILL” – and it crossed CHILL. Like so:

The letters at the crossings spelled out SLAKE, which, reparsed as “S-LAKE,” suggested the metapuzzle’s answer SUPERIOR, sitting there at 14-across.

Longtime Gaffney solvers may remember an old meta of his that heavily featured the “D-RIVER” pun seen here at 62-across. I can honestly say I did not consciously recall that puzzle during the construction of this one, though I’m sure it was somewhere in the recesses of my memory. In fact, this puzzle didn’t start out about geography at all – I was just trying to think of things starting with [letter] that could be crossed with a seemingly unrelated word of the form [letter + type of the thing], and after several geographic features made the list I realized I could make the whole thing more cohesive. Some good nongeographic ones had to be sacrificed though – my favorite was SPOONERISM / (S)WORDPLAY, though it would have been tough to fit a lot more theme around that crossing … Anyhow, as usual I must acknowledge Matt for providing inspiration, even if I wasn’t aware of it!

Up next is a puzzle whose title I struggled with. I settled on a long-winded mixed metaphor that … well, you’ll see:

028_pgwcc028.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a mathematical term. Submit you answer using the contact form by Monday, September 23 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and 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.

Puzzle #26 Solution and Puzzle #27, “Distinguishing Features”

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Last week’s grid had six occupations. There was also some pretty weird fill. Six entries in the grid were one letter different from a body part known as a common “occupational” injury for those six. For example, [artist Paul] KLEE is KNEE with one letter changed, and there’s a condition known as “housemaid’s knee.”

As shown above, the changed letters in (nursemaid’s) elbow, (skier’s) thumb, (housemaid’s) knee, (toper’s) nose, (athlete’s) foot and (swimmer’s) ear spell out the appropriate meta answer MALADY.

This week’s puzzle is called “Distinguishing Features.” PDF and .puz are below:

027_distinguishingfeatures.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is an entry in the grid. Submit you answer using the contact form by Monday, September 16 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and 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.