Puzzle #47 Solution

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Last week’s puzzle, “Flock Together,” asked for something birds do. Astute solvers noticed that phonetically, we had a few birds of a feather flocking together around the grid:

PUFF + PHIN = PUFFIN
PAIR + RUT = PARROT
KEY + WEE = KIWI
AWE + SPREE = OSPREY
PENN + GWYNN = PENGUIN

The letters where these pairs of entries came together spelled out PREEN, which is something all birds (even kiwis! – those hair-like things are indeed feathers) do.

At the bottom of this post is an extra note that contains major spoilers for a recent metapuzzle from a different outlet. The submission window for that one is closed, but in case you’re behind and still plan to solve it, I’ve put it below another spoiler space. Scroll down if you like.

Unfortunately, puzzle #48 is constructed, but not yet clued. Between work and my son’s birthday today, I am going to have to delay its release until tomorrow. My apologies; stay tuned.

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In a crazy coincidence, this week’s WSJ contest crossword – a Matt Gaffney joint – made use of this exact same “two words that phonetically sound out a thing” trick. His were bodies of water:

CHESS + APEAK Bay
ARK + TICK Ocean
BARE + RING Sea
Lake SOUP + EERIER
YELL + OWE River

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a metapuzzle with this core idea, and now we get two in one week, independent of one another. It’s not Baader-Meinhof, but it’s a pretty weird happenstance.

Puzzle #46 Solution and Puzzle #47, “Flock Together”

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Last week’s instructions asked for a letter taken from one of the six theme entries. Those entries were:

LAMPREYS
ARROGANTE
CONTRALTI
AHEM SORRY
ARMY MAJOR
ORANGELO

That’s an eclectic mix of words and phrases, and there weren’t really any other hints about how to proceed – but one puzzle-solving strategy that’s often worth a shot is anagrams. In this case, there was a slight twist – each theme entry could anagram to something, but with a letter left over (aha, now we’re doing something related to the meta prompt!):

LAMPREYS -> PARSLEY + M
ARROGANTE -> TARRAGON + E
CONTRALTI -> CILANTRO + T
AHEM SORRY -> ROSEMARY + H
ARMY MAJOR -> MARJORAM + Y
ORANGELO -> OREGANO + L

So we’ve got a collection of herbs, and the extra letters spell out … METHYL, which again has nothing to do with anything. But of course, the prompt asked you for a letter taken from one of the entries, suggesting we should repeat the meta mechanism, and it’s pretty easy to see you can get yet another herb – METHYL -> THYME + L. So the answer was the L from ORANGELO. For those who like pictures:

Up next is puzzle #47, “Flock Together.”

047_flocktogether.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is something birds do. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, February 3 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 #46, “Taking Reveals”

Is two days late better than never? We’ll see. Here’s this week’s puzzle:

UPDATE: a successful solver pointed out a slight error in the clue for one of the theme entries; I have changed the clue to 35-across to make clear that we’re looking for the plural form, which wasn’t obvious before especially since the crossing (a Hindu goddess) might not be familiar to everyone. Corrected files are below.

046_takingreveals.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a letter taken from one of the six theme entries. I’m going to try to get back on the Tuesday schedule, so this week’s submission window is shortened; submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, January 27 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution next Tuesday. Will it be accompanied by a new puzzle? I’m scared to promise …

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

Puzzle #45 Solution

Once again I find myself apologizing that I haven’t gotten a new puzzle ready for Tuesday, as promised last week. Some additional work responsibilities have come my way recently, and I may need to move to an every-other-week schedule … we’ll see. Meanwhile, here at least is last week’s solution.

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I asked for a book of the Gospel … and then I put all four books of the Gospel in the grid itself, each one clued simply as such. So what was the deal?

The title was “Good News, You’re In The Right Place.” Good News, of course, is a way of referring to the Gospel. So which of the four was in the right place? To figure that out you had to look at the three long entries, PRINCE CASPIAN, IN IT TO WIN IT, and CURSE OF CHUCKY. Each of those is a title in a longer series of books/movies. Prince Caspian was the second (in publication order – I’m not even gonna get into this stupid controversy) of the Chronicles of Narnia; In It To Win It is number four in the Bring It On series; and Curse of Chucky is the sixth in the Child’s Play franchise. What you had to figure out is that each one of those was also “in the right place,” thusly:

PRINCE CASPIAN, which is #2 in a 7-part series, is at 27-across;
IN IT TO WIN IT, which is #4 in a 6-part series, is at 46-across; and
CURSE OF CHUCKY, which is #6 in a 7-part series, is at 67-across.

Well, there are four Gospels, and in the Bible they appear in the order MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, JOHN. So MARK, which is #2 of 4 Gospels, is in the right place because it appears at 24-down in the grid.

I will try to get another puzzle out soon!

Puzzle #44 Solution and Puzzle #45, “Good News, You’re In The Right Place”

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Hey all – pretty easy puzzle for most of you last week, and I’m already late posting this thanks to a deadline for my actual job, so I’ll be brief. Here’s the picture:

The long answers contained, across word breaks, the common shorthand ways people often refer to five of America’s top national newspapers – the Los Angeles Times (LAT), USA Today (USAT), the New York Times (NYT), the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), and the Washington Post (WaPo). The trick was then to see that the grid also contained scrambled (or “shuffled”) versions of these groups of letters, with one extra. The extra letters, taken in grid order, spelled out the meta answer, INKER.

Up next is puzzle #45, “Good News, You’re In the Right Place.”

045_goodnews.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a book of the Gospel. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, January 20 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday. (Unless, like this week, I don’t because I’m a liar!)

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

Puzzle #43 Solution and Puzzle #44, “Shuffling Papers”

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Last week’s title was fitting, though I thought it would be a bit of a giveaway. Turns out it was more complicated than I realized …

There were no obvious theme entries other than a 15-letter entry across the middle, STYLIZED LETTERS clued as “Feature of some personal or corporate branding.” Around the rest of the grid were some names of music performers, brands, and one other thing that might have been a touch harder to find. Some of these things feature stylized letters and some don’t, and it was up to you to find them. The image below shows them, in their stylized form:

Some of the clues referenced certain album covers, logos, etc., which if you looked them up, would reveal exactly one stylized letter in each bit of branding. (The “resist” bumper sticker was the trickiest to find – there are many such stickers without any strange letters, but an image search will turn up at least one with an upside-down T.) Here’s a picture of all six:

The I in P!NK is an exclamation point, and the A in SΛMSUNG looks like a capital lambda. The rest are just upside-down or backwards versions of the letters they’re standing in for. Anyhow, if you flip each one (in the direction in which each thing appeared in the grid, incidentally) and take them in grid order, you get something that looks like iNVERT, a fitting answer (and also, interestingly, inverted in terms of capitalization from a normal way you might type the word, Invert.)

Okay, so that was how it was supposed to go, and how it did go for many of you. But there were a few pitfalls:

First, many solvers had trouble finding RESIS. (A few had some trouble with the others, but not in significant numbers.) Second, my terrible clue for the already-terrible entry at 26-down caused problems. The entry is terrible because, well, just look at it. The clue was terrible because TESL is not, in fact, the stock symbol for Tesla (it’s TSLA) – the right clue would have been about Teaching English as a Second Language, which, I know, isn’t the best crossword fill. And it caused problems because the Tesla logo has some stylized letters. Anyway, moving on from that, the third problem was that a lot of solvers simply looked at the six stylized letters, INAERT, and when that wasn’t a word, anagrammed them. That set of letters has two valid anagrams, RETAIN and RETINA. That would be a pretty sloppy meta mechanism – why not put them in a reasonable order in the grid? – but many solvers were tripped up by the fact that RETINA is a thematically appropriate word, because what your eye’s lens projects onto the retina is an inverted image.

So, a nice idea but with some significant flaws, I think.

Up next is Puzzle #44, “Shuffling Papers.”

044_shufflingpapers.puz

Update – oops, I left the end off a clue! Nothing to do with the meta, but here’s the updated puzzle:

044_shufflingpapers-02.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a part in a printing press. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, January 13 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 #42 Solution and Puzzle #43, “Flip the Script”

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Last week’s puzzle was called “Connect the Dots” and asked for a Greek mythology figure, which combined to suggest maybe we were dealing with a constellation. Et voila:

Five of the grid’s black squares were surrounded by four entries that could make a compound word or phrase with “star” added to the front or back. Connect those five dots as above and you get a pretty fair approximation (with a couple of the angles exaggerated a bit to fit the format) of the constellation Cassiopeia:

I would be remiss if I did not mention here that a similar theme has been done before, and not terribly long ago. In October 2018, the New York Times ran a puzzle from constructor Jennifer Nutt that similarly drew Cassiopeia, with Xs representing the stars. That grid was beautifully constructed, and crosswordfiend.com gave it the Orca for Best Easy Crossword.

I constructed this one before I’d seen Jennifer’s, but ran across hers before writing the clues; fortunately, she and Will Shortz both gave their blessing for me to publish this.

Up next is Puzzle #43, “Flip the Script.”

043_flipscript.puz

The answer to the metapuzzle is a six-letter word. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, January 6 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday. Happy New Year!

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