Puzzle #68 Solution and Puzzle #69, “Do the Twist”

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Last week’s theme guys were “men of letters” in the sense that they are best known by their first two initials. The long entries referenced, in order:

R.L. STINE (who wrote the “Goosebumps” books)
A.C. GREEN (a member of the “Showtime” Lakers)
J.R. EWING (Larry Hagman’s long-running character on “Dallas”)
B.B. KING (a master of the blues guitar)
G.E. SMITH (the SNL bandleader from ’85 to ’95)
H.G. WELLS (“The Invisible Man” author)

Then the grid contained entries that change one of those initials, like so:

The changed letters spell out ALBINO, which was the (somewhat forced) clue for 44-down, WHITE. That hints at well-known children’s author E.B. WHITE, your meta answer. (A couple solvers also mentioned T.H. WHITE, a guy I wasn’t familiar with who wrote “The Sword in the Stone” and its sequels.)

One quick note – I did not set out to exclude women from this puzzle. The title only came at the end when I realized that this was, unfortunately, an all-male affair. I may have missed someone but I simply didn’t find any well-known women who went by X.Y. Lastname that I could play this letter-substitution game with.

Up next is puzzle #69, “Do the Twist.”

069_dothetwist2.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a five-letter word. Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, July 20. 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.

Puzzle #67 Solution and Puzzle #68, “Men of Letters”


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Last week’s puzzle, “Tree Rings,” asked for a type of tree. The idea was that each of the “rings” (the letter O) in the grid was located at the center of a tree, like the growth rings in a real tree trunk:

That’s six “rings” where the two crossing entries can be combined to spell:

PONDEROSA
LODGEPOLE
KNOBCONE
OREGON
SOUTHERN YELLOW
LOBLOLLY

Those are all types of PINE trees. (Things I learned making this puzzle: Oregon Pine is another name for what’s better known as a Douglas Fir – even though it isn’t really a fir, it’s a pine after all! Also, Loblolly and Southern Yellow are pretty much the same thing – Southern Yellow seems to be a lumber industry term which can refer to several species, Loblolly among them.)

Up next is puzzle #68, “Men of Letters.”

068_menofletters.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a writer best known for children’s books. Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, July 13. 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.

Puzzle #67, “Tree Rings”

A day late, here’s Puzzle #67:

067_treerings.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a type of tree. Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, July 6. I’ll publish a new puzzle next Tuesday (or will I? I failed to do so this 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 #66 Solution

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Last week’s solution went like this:

The first letter of each theme entry anagrams to a fancy-schmancy animal adjective – in order, that’s URSINE, CANINE, LUPINE, AVIAN and FELINE. In the clues there are several more “low English” kind of words that, while not necessarily synonyms for the above, can be thought of as such – bearish, doggy, wolfish, birdy, and cat-like. The entries for those clues, highlighted above, acrostic to COLTS (in both grid and theme-entry order). And, returning to our nose-in-the-air words, what are colts? They’re EQUINES, of course, which is split in the grid between 74d. EQUI and 21a. NES.

I’m not ready with a new puzzle right now; I’ve got some grids filled but have not clued them yet. I will try to get something out late tonight but it might have to wait until tomorrow. We’ll see …

Puzzle #65 Solution and Puzzle #66, “Unpack Your Adjectives”

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Another quick solution post. Last week’s was pretty accessible; the six theme entries hid the names of the symbols on the keys 1 through 6 on a QWERTY keyboard:

BANG (another name for !), AT, POUND, DOLLAR, PER CENT, CARET … what comes next is AMPERSAND. So the phrase formed from two grid entries hiding the “seventh sign” was the (only theoretically sensical) DAMPER SANDBOX. (In retrospect there was an actual in-the-world thing I could have used.)

Up next is #66, “Unpack Your Adjectives.”

066_unpackadjectives.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is formed from two grid entries. Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, June 29. 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.

Puzzle #64 Solution and Puzzle #65, “The Seventh Sign”

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Quick solution post today, though the puzzle had a lot going on. We had eight long entries that were titles of artistic works (mostly books) derived from Shakespeare quotes. We also had a handful Shakespeare quotes in the clues, with citations to Act X, Scene Y by just writing (X, Y). And we had a 5×5 square in the upper left, shaded.

The idea was to find the “inspiration point” for each title by thinking of the (act, scene) pair as (column, row) coordinates in the grid. The letters in those squares, in order of the theme entries (two of which mapped to the same point as they were both from Act V Scene 1 of their respective plays), spelled out Vladimir Nabokov’s novel PALE FIRE, itself a Shakespeare-inspired title. Like so:

From Shakespeare-inspired titles we move on to one from Revelation; up next is Puzzle #65, “The Seventh Sign.”

065_seventhsign.puz

What phrase, formed from two grid entries, could be a seventh theme entry?. Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, June 22. 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.

Puzzle #63 Solution and Puzzle #64, “Inspiration Point”

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Last week’s grid didn’t have any obvious theme entries but there were a couple of pretty unusual words in the fill, most notably the barely-real word HIVING and the archaic, slightly off-color PIZZLE. Why not HAVING, which could have crossed with GAVE instead of GIVE, and PUZZLE, which could have crossed with SHRUNK instead of SHRINK?

Oh, so that’s why it was called “A Thing of the Past.” It turned out there were four other places where changing one letter changed a present-tense verb into past-tense, and all of the changes resulted in a perfectly good word at the crossing. All of them in order:

10d. GIVE -> GAVE making 17a. HAVING
30d. WAKE -> WOKE making 35a. SOME
36d. DRAW -> DREW making 46a. VERY
44d. BLOW -> BLEW making 53a. NICE
55d. SHRINK -> SHRUNK making 69a. PUZZLE
65d. MAKE -> MADE making 76a. IDEAS

So the six-word phrase, and what I somewhat conceitedly said I hoped I’ve been doing lately, was HAVING SOME VERY NICE PUZZLE IDEAS.

Up next is Puzzle #64, “Inspiration Point.” Note that I’m only posting the PDF version below. This is because .puz files won’t support shaded squares, which this puzzle features. If you want a .puz file, leave a note on the comment page and I’ll email it to you – just make sure you give the PDF a glance so you know about the shading. (Also, please forgive the somewhat lo-res shading on the PDF; it seems like this should have been easy to do, but I spent hours trying to get it right and this was the least bad version I was able to make without springing for some expensive software …)

Update: a few clues in the original puzzle had errors. Some eagle-eyed solvers spotted them and I have corrected them, I think. New puzzle file below:

The answer to the metapuzzle is a 20th-century novel. Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, June 15. 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.

Puzzle #62 Solution and Puzzle #63, “A Thing of the Past”

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Two-step solution last week; many solvers saw the first step pretty readily, but the second was trickier. Here’s how it went:

Step one: each long across entry could be paired with another grid entry if you added “half-” to the beginning, like so:

SEMICIRCULAR = [HALF-]MOON
SIMPLETON = [HALF-]WIT
PREVARICATION = [HALF-]TRUTH
PHONE IT IN = [HALF-]ASS
ILL-CONCEIVED = [HALF-]BAKED

Step two was to take the clue numbers of MOON, WIT, etc., cut them in half, and find the letter at that point in the grid:

2d. MOON -> 1. S
36a. WIT -> 18. P
46a. TRUTH -> 23. L
52d. ASS -> 26. I
76a. BAKED -> 38. T

So the answer was SPLIT.

Next up, Puzzle #63, “A Thing of the Past.” ***Update***: the original puzzle had a mistake in a clue; nothing to do with the meta. (13-down is a surname for which I gave two options, but they’re spelled differently …) I’ve fixed the error in the updated puzzle files below:

063_thingofpast

The answer to the metapuzzle is a six-word phrase, and what I hope I have been doing in the recent past. Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, June 8. 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.

Puzzle #61 Solution and Puzzle #62, “Down the Middle”

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Here’s a succinct recap of last week’s solution, thanks to a solver:

8 of the Down answers are the names of mountains, if you TAKE [the first letter] FROM THE TOP, as indicated by the title.
(B)RAINIER
(I)KEA
(G)LASSEN
(M)ADAMS
(A)ETNA
(M)K2
(A)ROSE
(S)EVEREST
The removed letter, in order, spell BIG MAMAS.

Next up, Puzzle #62, “Down the Middle.”

062_downmiddle.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a five-letter word. Submit your answer using the contact form by 11 pm Pacific Time on Monday, June 1. 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.

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.