AV Club contest puzzle from last week

Francis Heaney’s American Values Club crossword from last week, “Seasonal Staff,” was a contest puzzle. Write-up after the jump.

AV Club crossword solution, 12 18 25 "Seasonal Staff"

AV Club crossword solution, 12 18 25 “Seasonal Staff”

The “staff” in question is a cane, a candy cane in particular. The puzzle included rebus squares in Across answers that needed either WHITE or RED to complete the entry, while the Down crossings used straightforward letters. As you can see in Stella Zawistowski’s prize-winning pretty grid (does she print so neatly at ACPT speed? Because if so, she’d be a contender for the Best Handwriting prize from the judges. But I can write neatly when I’m not in a hurry too. I bet her ACPT grids are scruffier, like mine.), those straightforward letters are ideally highlighted with either white or red.

So 21a clued NON-{WHITE}, 15a clued SAW {RED}, and so on. Sometimes the RED was just those letters, as in 48a: POU{RED} IT ON, rather than the color/word red.

The instructions were to find two other clues in the grid. If you start with the white R in 21a (part of EWERS) and the red L in 15a (part of SLR) and read all the red letters in candy-cane order and then all the white letters, you get these clues:

  • The white letters spell out ROCK DUO.
  • The red letters spell out LAGERS.

I drew a blank on how to proceed. I mean, it took me long enough to figure out where to find the hidden clues, and then I resorted to Googling my way to a long list of lagers, hoping something would jump out at me. (The only rock duo that came right to mind was Hall & Oates….) After perusing most of the alphabet, I came upon the Jamaican beer Red Stripe and it clicked. RED STRIPES are our lagers and correspond to the red stripes in the candy cane, and then our rock duo is WHITE STRIPES, consisting of Jack White and Meg White. Well! Isn’t that a clever and pleasing meta. Kudos to Francis for cooking up another gem. (Wait, can gems be cooked? You know what I mean.)

If you hadn’t rated the puzzle last week but want to, its star-rating widget resides in the 12/19 post. Me, I gave it 4.66 stars, and I’m surprised to see that the average rating is just 4.25 stars.


P.S. If you were one of the many just-bought-this-one-puzzle-for-a-buck solvers, you didn’t see Ben Tausig’s follow-up subscriber email announcing the winners. Stella and Trip Payne tied for prettiest grid (Trip used Scrabble tiles—apparently he owns many, many sets of tiles in various colors), and Jeffrey Schwartz was the winner of an extra year’s subscription. Jeffrey’s name was drawn at random from over 100 correct submissions.

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6 Responses to AV Club contest puzzle from last week

  1. bananarchy says:

    Incredible. 5 stars from me.

  2. Jeff says:

    I loved it and it won be a free year’s subscription, so I doubly loved it!

  3. Stella says:

    Actually, that is pretty close to my ACPT-level handwriting. Maybe I could get in under the minute a time or two more often if I could just make myself write uglier!

  4. mnemonica says:

    Huh. I should have gotten the answer email, but don’t see it. I’m wondering if my lager answer, REDHOOKS, was accepted as an alternate. Red hooks plus white stripes = candy canes, no?

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