Title: “Follow the Directions!”
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is a famous rock-and-roll song.
Well it’s 54 minutes before the deadline and I got nothin’, so let me try Joon’s method of blogging the DNF and seeing if you can turn it into a last-minute save. The first couple of steps were pretty easy but I can’t suss out what I assume is the last step.
First thing you do is notice that the word “direction” appears in eleven clues, all acrosses. Their answers, in grid order, are:
Next thing to notice is that each of those contains a one- or two-letter abbreviation for a direction:
This can’t be chance, since each of these contains exactly one direction, i.e. there are no unused E’s, S’s, N’s, or W’s anywhere. I also noticed that each of the eight main points on the compass is represented at least once in these eleven entries, with two extra N’s and one extra S left over. Could mean something, or could be that Pete just wanted to confirm that we’re on the correct path.
So now what? Well, the first things you’d think of don’t lead anywhere:
*** Going in the indicated direction from each direction letter doesn’t do anything: west from the W in ARROW yields an O, then NE from the NE in VANE yields… and a black square? And then north from the N in DYLAN is an I, and then E from the E in DOLCE takes you out of the grid, so this isn’t it.
*** Next I noticed the curious entry at 47-A: [___START (“Arrested Development” license plate)]. It’s been a while, so I had to go back and read about Toby wanting “a new start” in life and signaling this with a vanity tag that says ANUSTART, without realizing that it can be read another way. So the odd thing here is that we have the word START in all capital letters, which I’d give an 85% chance of being a signal from Pete that we’re supposed to start there. I’d give it higher, but there’s also a chance that he needed the entry ANU there for some meta-related reason and didn’t realize that he’d left the letters START there as a nasty red herring. Now that I’m typing this out, let me up that to 90%+ that this is where we’re supposed to start. There aren’t any other words in all caps except NYC in another clue, so this big START looks like a big hint.
But now what? If we start at the A in ANU, say, and go west (as indicated by the W in ARROW), we are already off the grid. Not promising. Starting at the N or the U don’t yield anything either. Hmmm.
At this point I drew a little schematic on a graph showing what it would look like if we started at a certain letter in the grid and followed the 11 directions in order. Turns out it is a pattern with a lot of repeated letters — I theorized that we might be looking for a 12-letter song where the 3rd, 8th, 10th, and 12th letters were the same, as were the 4th, 7th, and 9th. Plugging this into a search I found THE WAY WE WERE. Now I wouldn’t call this a “rock and roll’ song per se, but it does have “way” in it (which fits with the direction idea) and it’s weird that all those letters mostly fit, plus WAY is in 3-D. I don’t have time to type up my findings now since I’ve got 30 minutes left, but long story short it turns out the R in “The Way We Were” wouldn’t work (which is fatal) and there’d be two W’s (which isn’t fatal but would be a little inelegant. Anyway I couldn’t locate the right constellation of letters in the grid to make this theory fit but weird that it’s so close.
Anyhoo…my Hail Mary is going to be Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” since there would be twelve letters in the song (from the twelve points of starting on a letter and taking eleven steps), but I don’t think it’s right since, even though Pete’s a big fan of theirs, there’s no G in the grid so I’m not sure where we’d get that from.
OK, let’s look for bad fill. Why EEKS/EARP instead of the superior ELKS/LARP? E is a direction letter. Why SMEW insted of the superior SMUG? Those WE are direction letters.
OK, it’s 13 minutes before the deadline and I submitted Peter Frampton’s “Show Me the Way” with maybe 5% confidence. I think the song title is probably 12 letters long for the reason stated above, and it would have some connections to “directions,” and I suspect Pete is a Frampton fan. The G-lessness of the grid nudged me away from “Go Your Own Way” as explained above.
Someone let me know in comments what the idea was!
The cardinal directions in the grid (four corners and four centers of edges) spell out the answer. I got stuck on START for a long time before zooming out.
It’s THE WANDERER, as spelled out in the eight compass points of the edges of the grid. I would’ve had it with another 10 minutes! As you can see above, I noticed late in the game that SMUG would’ve been better to SMEW and ELKS to EEKS, and that both of those entries used direction letters. Oh well… sad emoji
START was (an accidental) red herring.
You were close in noticing EEKS vs ELKS etc.
The 11-letter answer is spelled out by taking the corners and middle edge squares that correspond to each direction.
Surprisingly challenging puzzle this month…quite a few top solvers were stumped.
130 correct solutions this month…
Very nice. I got exactly as far as Matt did but no further. I assumed I would have to start somewhere and follow the directions in order. In retrospect, the fact that north and south were repeated several times at the end should have caused me to question that assumption.
I did eventually solve it, but with a process almost identical to Matt’s, including fixating on START and drawing out a diagram. I also took one other misstep, which was to reorder the list of direction-containing entries alphabetically—if you do so and START in the black square after ANU, the first five directional steps spell out UNTIL. But then nonsense, so I eventually decided it must just be coincidence, and began looking elsewhere.
My Hail Mary was going to be “Walk This Way” figuring that it had an about an equal chance of being 11 or 12 letters.
I’ve posted this month’s write-up early – you can see it here:
If you have three minutes to spare, this month’s video will probably put a smile on your face.
I feel really obtuse here, but not only did I not get the meta, which was wicked clever and I totally admire the mind that came up with it; I also don’t understand the relationship between the clue and answer for 22D: “Where you might be after failing to score” = OND. Or ON D. There’s probably some innuendo here that I don’t get and about which I am somewhat embarrassed, but I am taking a deep breath and asking anyway ?
I spent half a day trying to figure that one out too. In sports, you are “on D” (short for defense). So in basketball or football, if you don’t score, the ball goes over to the other team and you are now “on defense” or “on D.”
Can’t figure out if i love it or hate it. :)
This clue took me longer to parse than almost any other crossword clue I’ve seen in recent months. It eventually clicked, though.
Whew, thanks. I was hoping that it was sports-related, but you never know… Makes sense now!
Brian Mac: “Can’t figure out if i love it or hate it. :)” – absolutely, because, does anyone say “that team is on O”? ?
The quirks of language
We say that defensive player is a defender
But we don’t say that offensive player is an offender
Glad you asked! I had no idea what this meant. Thought I got the gist of it, when I stumbled onto the urban dictionary OND = On Next Date. As in you didn’t “get lucky” or “score” on your first date, then you’re on your next date to try again! LOL!
I thought I knew what I’d have to do, and tried off and on from Tuesday afternoon til Sunday morning, to follow the directions in every way imaginable! Was desperate for a starting point! Finally thought of how crossword solvers refer to the entire grid in terms of directional quadrants like NE or SW, and decided to take the outermost letter in that direction. Even so, in my initial excitement that it seemed to be working, I first got THE WATDEER. ?
OK, that’s too close to something! CAREFULLY redo it, and I get the correct answer.
My wild guess was going to be Kansas’s Point of Know Return, mostly suggested by the direction grid entries ARROW, POINT, TURN and so on.
Now I’ve got the SnakeLight commercial jingle running through my head. BTW, when I googled SnakeLight and Wanderer, the commercial vid on YouTube came up right away. Everything is on the internet…