crossword 4:02 (across lite)
happy new year! unfortunately, due to holiday travel & other plans, i haven’t really had any time to work on episode #239 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, let alone blog it. i’ll put this post here as a placeholder for discussion, but i’m afraid i don’t have any useful insight. i did manage to carve out four minutes to solve the crossword, but the 5-10 minutes i spent thinking about the meta did not yield any flash of insight. i thought this week we’d get another day since tuesday is a holiday, and that would have really helped me, but i guess not.
hope your solve went better!
When solving Matt’s metas, sometimes it’s hard to know which entries contribute to the meta answer–they’re not always the longest entries in the puzzle (the “theme” entries), and sometimes they’re not even entries at all, but to be found among the clues to the entries. Solving this one, I noticed a lot of animals at first–LIONS, TIGERS and a LEOPARDESS. And looking again at the puzzle’s title “What’s That Sound?” I immediately thought all of these animals ROARED, and since we were looking for a period in American history, THE ROARING TWENTIES became my tentative solution.
The problem with this, though, was what about the other long entries? Do SINGLE HOME SALES roar? How about ESPN THE MAGAZINE or SEMESTER AT SEA? I tried to convince myself that there was such a thing as “roaring sales” and that a gun’s magazine could be thought to roar, but these were long stretches of the imagination to be sure and did not offer the “click” that Matt’s metas consistently offer. The “sea” part of semester at sea definitely roars, though, so I submitted my answer half expecting to be incorrect.
The luck of the Irish was with me this week, though, as The Roaring ’20s is indeed the correct answer. Matt emailed me after my submission and told me to look at entries whose clue numbers were in the 20s, and sure enough, I started to see even more things that roared:
- 20-Across: [Hyena or puma] – CAT. More roaring animals!
- 21-Across: [Clapping people] – AUDIENCE. Audiences definitely roar at times, especially if they are on a laugh track.
- 22-Across: [Word often seen in white] – STOP. As in a stop sign. You can come to a roaring stop.
- 24-Across: SEA as mentioned above
We then move to the down clues:
- 23-Down & 27-Down – TIGERS and LIONS, both given sports-related clues to hide their roaring a bit
- 25-Down: [Theatrical application] – GREASEPAINT. How does this roar? Off to wikipedia my friends!
- 26-Down: [It may purr like a kitten] – ENGINE, and it may also roar like a lion!
- 28-Down: [Large groups] – CROWDS. The roar of the crowd is the “smell” transposed with greasepaint.
- 29-Down: LEOPARDESS also mentioned above, this helped me a lot since it’s of a typical theme entry length
Yet again there were so many subtleties to this construction that I initially missed. I can’t even imagine how hard it must’ve been for Matt to get all these roaring entries in the 20s across and down clues. Those of you who got the meta correct, did you catch them all? Each number from 20 to 29 is covered in either an across or down clue, with no repetition.
Looking forward to another 52 weeks of mind-blowing constructions like this one from Matt!