Meta: about five minutes?
Hi again! Time to crack open the Washington Post meta contest, in which we need to find the answer to 94a., the last portion of our missing link. Please see the original writeup in Sunday’s blog post here, if you have not yet. Based on the Sunday comments it looks like many people have figured out the meta answer. To recap, we have five starred entries:
- 24a. [*Cold War leader] HARRY TRUMAN
- 64a. [*“Rebecca” producer] DAVID SELZNICK
- 100a. [*Independent Spirit Award-winning star of “Pulp Fiction”] SAMUEL JACKSON
- 119a. [*Notable socialist presidential candidate] EUGENE DEBS
- 122a. [*Geneva-born automotive pioneer] RANSOM OLDS
We also created most of a URL from other entries in the grid: devilcross.com/?????. The next step is to figure out what fits in 94a. [Last part of the link that’s missing from this puzzle]. The constructor’s note states “Some things are missing from the answers to the starred clues,” so if we find out what’s missing, we have the rest of our URL. The starred clues’ entries are all famous people. I got really lucky and as I was solving thought to myself, “Who ever says SAMUEL JACKSON without the L?” That was the breakthrough I needed, because it turns out the missing link is each famous name’s equally famous middle initial:
- HARRY S. TRUMAN (not related to the meta, but the S. did not stand for anything)
- DAVID O. SELZNICK (also did not stand for anything)
- SAMUEL L. JACKSON (Leroy)
- EUGENE V. DEBS (Victor)
- RANSOM E. OLDS (Eli)
Together they spell SOLVE. What happens when we go to devilcross.com/solve? We get this message:
“(This webpage is best viewed on a desktop or laptop rather than on a mobile device.)
Congratulations! You have SOLVEd the mystery of the missing link! The video below explains what to do next. Give it a listen, and then scroll down the page for the final instructions.”
This is the video Mr. Birnholz leaves for us. I am so sorry.
Finally, Evan writes: “Oh, were you expecting a contest that you could enter to win a special prize? Sorry, but there is no contest. I did what Mr. Astley said I shouldn’t do: I told a lie. Hopefully I didn’t hurt you.
But to make it up to you, I hid two other features in the puzzle:
- The first letters of the clues to the 11 thematic Across answers, in clue order, spell out what just happened.
- There’s a familiar two-word phrase hidden diagonally in the puzzle that explains why I did it.”
The 11 mentioned letters spell RICKROLLING (here is a definition in case anyone is not familiar with the term) and starting from the NW diagonally toward the SE we find APRIL FOOLS. I give props to Evan for creating both a satisfying meta moment with several thematic layers and a clever April Fools’ Day prank that put that darn song in my head. Well done.