meta maybe 2-3 minutes
Hi everyone! Andy here, filling in for joon as he does a bit of traveling this week.
In this week’s puzzle, “Titanic Effort,” the meta answer is a large and highly populated area. Vague, yet intriguing.
As I was solving this one, nothing really jumped out at me as thematic except the central entry, TIP OF THE ICEBERG [What’s really going on lurks beneath it]. So presumably, we have to figure out what’s beneath the tip of the iceberg in this puzzle in order to solve the meta. But what’s the tip of the iceberg?
The other entry that struck me as an odd choice was 40d, IVY JONES [Actress in “Audrey Rose” and “City Island”]. She’s not extremely famous, and she doesn’t make that corner easier to fill, so I figured something was going on that required Matt to put her in the grid (maybe she was thematic, maybe one of the crossings was important).
I have a feeling this was a meta which either struck people very quickly or not at all. For me, this is actually one of the first themes I tried to construct–and then later realized I wasn’t so clever after all, and that it was an old chestnut of crossword themes. In my puzzle, the clue [V] clued CENTER OF GRAVITY, because the letter V is in the center of the word GRAVITY. I think I had [N] as END OF DISCUSSION and [T] as BEGINNING OF TIME.
You might now see where this is going. The first assumption I tried was that TIP OF THE ICEBERG referred in the same way to the letter I. If that were the case, the clue [What’s really going on lurks beneath it] might mean that the meta answer was the concatenation of the letters beneath all the “I”s in the grid.
In fact, when you think about it, there are surprisingly few Is in the grid. There are only five, to be exact:
- 4d, IDA [NAACP co-founder ___ B. Wells]
- the aforementioned 40d, IVY JONES [Actress in “Audrey Rose” and “City Island”]
- 42d, ILO [UN agency that won the 1969 Nobel Peace Prize]. Another surprisingly unclean thing to put in a grid this seemingly unrestricted, for Matt.
- 48d, ICK [“That grosses me out!”]
- 68d, IER [Suffix with bombard or cloth]. Again, Matt probably could have filled this section without IER if the puzzle were truly unrestricted, so something was probably going on in this corner too.
That gives us the large and highly populated area DAVY JONES’ LOCKER, the answer to this week’s meta.
It turns out that the entire puzzle was highly restricted–not only did Matt need to include these five downs in this order plus the revealer, but he also couldn’t use a single other I in the grid.
From the chatter on crossword Twitter/Facebook and my own personal sense, I have a feeling this was a harder Week 3 than usual. Week 4 might be a little easier to make up for it, but this is a five-week month, so I expect something even more dastardly in a couple of Fridays.
What did you all think?