Last Wednesday’s AV Club wasn’t quite a meta, but DID have a contest element, so here’s that writeup now that things are closed.
Editor Ben Tausig’s email suggested that there was something to look out and photograph in the real world with this puzzle, noting “Send us a picture of something that’s visibly 72-Across in your life, and you’ll be entered to win one of two prizes”
It took me until about 2/3rds of the way through my first pass of the clues, but once I had one of the theme clues, I knew exactly what I’d have to find and photograph:
- 23A:Big top act during which a lion, a clown, and a tightrope walker are put on trial? — THREE RULING CIRCUS
- 43A: Siri’s place? — IN THE CELLULAR
- 51A:Eating plan that minimizes guilt if you cheat on it? — LOW-FAULT DIET
- 90A:Dessert option aboard lunar landers? — PIE A LA MODULE
- 99A:Cause a ceasefire, say? — RESULT IN PEACE
- 119A: Egg-production from a chicken on two feet? — STANDING OVULATION
- 72A:Like products with wires tested for safety … and a hint to the letters imprinted in this puzzle’s theme answers — UL-CERTIFIED
So…as a Sunday-sized puzzle, this is pretty good, theme-wise. It’s fun and plays on a nice bigram find to transform common phrases (THREE RING CIRCUS, IN THE CELLAR, LOW-FAT DIET, PIE A LA MODE, REST IN PEACE, STANDING OVATION) into something new and goofy. I’d even say that it’s a good NYT theme. But as an AV Club puzzle, even with some changes to the clues to fit it more to that style, it’s a little underwhelming. The grid’s fine, but I expect a certain tone and cleverness to the AV Club’s puzzles that I didn’t really get from this.
(You can’t mention “Sextet” in your puzzle title and MAE West in the fill and not expect me to post a clip of her and Timothy Dalton pre-Bond barely warbling “Love Will Keep Us Together”. You really can’t.)
Fill I liked: Keyser SOZE, PIRANHA, John OATES, ARMPIT, TEETHE, GUESTIMATE, STUD FARM, and STERNUMS
Oh, and as long as we’re discussing the puzzle, hopefully you found something UL-certified to send in. I sent in this photocollage of the LED lightbulbs above my bathroom mirror and proof they’re UL-certified on the box they came in:
A fine grid, but an underwhelming AV Club puzzle.
This would have been a good one for WIRED.