Time’s up on this week’s AVCX contest puzzle. Here’s what’s going on.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s American Values Club contest crossword, “Cloud Storage”
There was a lot going on in this week’s AVCX Contest puzzle. I solved the puzzle one day, slept on figuring out the final meta (more on that later), and really ended up enjoying what’s going on here.
To start out, here’s the note from BEQ that came attached to this week’s puzzle:
I left my computer outside last night, and now my crossword software’s fried! Something’s gotten into all my theme answers, and on top of that, data got dumped from my cloud storage and messed up my clues somehow. I’m going to need some tech support to figure out what caused the problem. When you’re finished solving the puzzle, shake out any excess data from the clues and send it back up to the cloud (I only have 4×4 bits of memory, but try to make it all fit.) Maybe there’ll be an answer up there…
Let’s take a look at the main grid and its theme answers first and come back to the “cloud” that appears beside the puzzle. Once they’re all stacked up together, it’s easy to see what got into all of the theme answers:
- 20A: “Look! On the horizon! Fairylike Tolkien creatures speaking their language with silky smooth perfection!” — VELVET ELVISH HO
- 27A: Vacuum with commercials featuring Siouxsie and the Banshees? — GOTH HOOVER
- 45A: Jerk who ruined the 43rd president’s old-timey social dance? — BUSH HOP ASS
- 53A: Cudgel carried around by caddies when following golfer Vijay? — SINGH HOLES CLUB
Yep, some water (or, more correctly, H2O) worked its way into some perfectly normal phrases. I don’t think this is the first (or even second) time I’ve seen this theme, but there was some lovely finds here – VELVET ELVISH HO got a solid laugh out of me while working with the grid.
That’s not the answer here, though. As the instructions call out, something got into the clues as well. Working through the puzzle to see which entries don’t quitematch their clues reveal the following “data” dumped from the cloud:
- 9A: REAPpear with greenish-yellow skin — BOSC (Pear with greenish-yellow skin)
- 33A: “WEAVE” director Oliver — STONE (“W” director Oliver)
- 38A: StREAMy — PEN (Sty)
- 60A: AVIAtor — CRAG (Tor)
- 66A: MalARIAl rats, perhaps — TEENS (Mall rats, perhaps)
- 1D: DeMEANed — ACT (Deed)
- 40D: BEARLike maneuvers — WHEELIES (Bike maneuvers)
- 63D: PLANe alternative — LSD (E alternative)
I stopped after finding two across and two down hidden words and couldn’t understand why the meta made sense. Once I combed through the clues another time and found I had eight clues, not four, everything fell into place. The nice thing about these four-letter words is you can arrange them into a word square like so:
Reading down the diagonal (whether you had REAP or REAM going across) gives you the final four-letter solution to what got into BEQ’s crossword software: RAIN. A little underwhelming? Maybe, but the construction on this one was really lovely.