Remember last week’s AV Club contest puzzle?
Erik Agard’s American Values Club contest crossword, “You Snooze, You Lose”
I liked the concept behind last week’s AV Club crossword contest, even if it felt a little more like something you’d see at a puzzle hunt than your standard meta crossword. Working with someone who started the puzzle before you, it was all about solving the remaining clues and checking their work to make corrections.
I ended up using two puzzles side by side, so I could keep track of what was my handwriting, and what was already written in the grid. I also used a sharpie to keep track of any changes – see the screenshot of the puzzle. To find “what you need to finish this puzzle”, as suggested in 64A, it wasn’t about RESOLUTION, as your previous solver suggested, but RESOLUTION – finding the 11 places where even though their answer was wrong, their letter in a square was correct. Highlighting these squares and reading from left to right, top to bottom, gives the advice to RISE EARLIER if you want to avoid this situation again. For all the work that went into this week’s puzzle (both on the constructing and solving sides), that answer was a little disappointing – when reading what I was supposed to be looking for before starting the puzzle, I figured it’d be a message to wake up earlier, and that was basically it.
Since the entire puzzle is themed around the concept of correcting this other solver’s mistakes, there’s not a good way to single out themed clues, but here’s some of the nicer clues throughout the puzzle:
- 28A: Their apparel may be 100% off — NATURISTS
- 57A: Long-tusked marine animal — NARWHAL (This clue stumped me for far longer than it should have in the lower left corner)
- 1D: Brie of Room — LARSON (completely deserved her Oscar last night. The grid’s existing entry of CHEESE got a giggle from me)
- 40D: TLC hit about guys with no game — NO SCRUBS (For a brief moment when solving this clue I was terrified that a sequel to The Pickup Artist was airing on TLC)
- 66D: “Angela’s Ashes” sequel — TIS
Some solid fill on this one (especially given the constraint). A fun concept overall, but this felt a little let down by a meta that was almost guessable before you started the puzzle
I’m afraid you missed some pretty major parts of the meta, Ben.
1) There are indeed theme entries: when the correct letters are inserted, four long entries become two-word phrases, each of them following the pattern R____ E____: 16A REAL ESTATE; 38A RENEWABLE ENERGY; 18D RADIO EDIT; 24D RUB ELBOWS.
2) The last theme entry at 64A, which was “originally” SECRET CODE, becomes RESOLUTION: in other words, you’re looking for the R E SOLUTION. R E — get it?
3) The hidden message RISE EARLIER follows that same pattern and is thus an “R E SOLUTION.”
Thanks for pointing this out, Jeff! I was so sure I knew was going on and what I needed to do (thanks to years of Mystery Hunt-style solving) that I completely missed some rather nice theme work.
also… there were several instances in which the “wrong” answer had one “right” letter (i no longer have my completed grid or i’d be more specific about where exactly this occurred). but the beauty part — amping up the R/E layer — is that these right letters could then be used to spell out RISE EARLIER. high “wow” factor, no?
one terrific puzz — on any level/on *many* levels!
My completed grid’s included in the post, Janie – the correct letters in the wrong answers were the one part of this meta that didn’t manage to go completely over my head :P
d’oh — apologies, ben! what you reported is far more elegant than the process i described! in fact, maybe because i was using only one print-out, i didn’t see *all* of the dupes, and retro-solved after using the R/E pattern to give me RISE EARLIER.
to repeat myself… d’oh!
What’s nice is that there appear to have been two ways to get to the solution, giving you a way to confirm you had the correct final answer whether you focused on the theme answers (as I didn’t) or the places where the incorrect fill had the correct letters (as I did).
I ended up needing two grids because the font used for the incorrect fill, when printed out, looked waaaay too similar to my handwriting in pencil – a second copy and marking over the pre-filled answers in Sharpie helped me confirm what matched and what didn’t from the initial grid configuration.
Most fun I’ve had so far this year. The bogus answers were sometimes comically apt, so I was chuckling through the whole solve, on top of the meta aspect of the theme being novel and engaging.
Yup, I had just as much fun trying to think of other bogus starting answers as I did solving the meta. [Bad smell] at 23-Across = SMEL.
I ignored the incorrect fill. The R/E theme answers seemed to throw the solution at me. I guess if it hadn’t I would have gone back and looked at the original entries.
I had the opposite experience – while I did notice the RE theme it seemed kind of superfluous! Neat to see that people successfully solved the puzzle both ways.
GENRAL for “GM part” was my favorite wrong answer.