LAST WEEK’S RESULTS:
We were looking for a well-known magazine last week, and our theme answers were:
17-A [Drive a Titleist into a window at Cadillac Place, hit a chip shot into Comerica Park, etc.?] = GOLF DETROIT
24-A [Alternative to: "Alright, First Staters, eyes up here!"?] = FOCUS, DELAWARE!
37-A [Finally get to move to Dubuque or Council Bluffs?] = ESCAPE DES MOINES
47-A [Response to "Zsa Zsa, where will you be building your new mansion?"?] = MALIBU, DARLING
58-A [Mafia boss who doesn't put 100% into his work?] = CAVALIER DON
So, what’s the big idea? Each theme entry has two components: the first word is a model of car (Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Ford Escape, Chevy Malibu, Chevy Cavalier) and the second is a river beginning with the letter D, which you might call a “D-river.” That makes our meta magazine CAR AND DRIVER, found by 479 entrants (higher than Week 2′s total, and higher than I thought it’d be).
I don’t know if you were aware of it, but there actually is a D River in Oregon:
I did not know that.
Tyler Hinman chides:
What, couldn’t come up with a good clue for a phrase ending in DNIEPER?
And Gwinns is a longtime reader of Car and D-River magazine:
I loved last month’s feature on “30 Ways To Drive the Danube Wild!”
Definitely a niche publication.
This week’s winner, whose name was chosen randomly from the 479 correct entries received, is Moses Roth of Seattle, Wash. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Moses will also receive a copy of Doug Peterson’s new book, Lickety-Split Crosswords.
If you follow the MGWCC Leaderboard, you’ve no doubt noticed the username JanglerNPL. Last week he hit 100 metas in a row, meaning he’s the only solver who’s gotten every single meta correct since we started the Leaderboard.
Remember that infamous meta that was so difficult that I had to apologize for it the following week? Where only four people got it, and one of those was by accident? Well, that one took him 90 minutes. I think it’s safe to say that he’s the best meta-solver in the country.
I thought you might be interested in knowing a little about how JanglerNPL, whose real name is Jeffrey Harris, goes about solving a meta. Here are my five questions and his replies:
1) Tell us a little about your background.
I’m 29 years old, currently living in Columbus, Georgia. I’ve been solving crossword puzzles regularly since my late teens, and constructing since not long after that.
2) What’s your process for solving a meta?
Generally, the first thing I do when solving a meta is to figure out what the theme entries are. Often, especially in the earlier weeks, this is obvious–either because they follow a standard crossword pattern for theme entries (four >10-letter Across entries, say), or they’re explicitly indicated by asterisks. If that’s the case, then I mentally go through the different types of themes (category themes, synonym themes, hidden words, anagrams, etc.) to see if they have something in common, which then usually leads directly to the meta answer. If there aren’t any obvious theme answers, then I check if the grid has any conspicuous patterns, like an excess or dearth of a certain letter, or words on the diagonal, etc. Then at the clues. At this point if I don’t have it, I still don’t consider myself “stuck”–the next thing I try is generally brainstorming the title–that was how I got the “Hey, It Could Happen” meta, for instance.
3) What are some tactics you use on those rare occasions when you’re stuck?
If after all that I still don’t have anything, it’s mostly just a matter of setting it down and coming back to it a few times hoping for inspiration to strike, but there are a few other tricks I use. One that rarely works, but when it does is quite exhilarating, is just thinking of or looking up a list of all the possible answers and going through them asking myself “How would this fit into a meta?”. Puzzle #239 (“What’s That Sound?”) was solved with this method–looking at the grid/clues didn’t help much, but the prompt was “This week’s contest answer is a period in American history”, and I eventually got there by brainstorming those.
4) Do you do well on all metas, or just mine?
I generally do well at metas, I think, though I’ve certainly been stumped before. Peter Broda ran a series of four metas on his website a while ago, and I stumbled on the third one. I noticed one pertinent aspect but failed to notice the second, so I submitted a wrong answer.
5) Have you ever written any metas?
I have written at least two. One of them, originally published on my now-dormant website, is available in .puz format here:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/5bxzqbn46t0wk8o/TerseVerse.puz (make sure to read the notepad!)
Most of the active crossword-making bloggers (Neville, Erik, BEQ, Andy K, Evan, etc.) have dabbled in metas from time to time, so any solvers looking for more metas would do well to check them out.
[Links to all five of those bloggers are on the left sidebar of this site].
Thanks to Jeffrey and congratulations on his 100-meta streak!
THIS WEEK’S INSTRUCTIONS:
This week’s contest answer is what I hope you’ll do with this meta. Submit your answer in the form on the left sidebar by Tuesday at noon ET. Note: the submissions form disappears from the site promptly at noon on Tuesday.
To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit “print” on your browser. To solve using Across Lite either solve on the applet below or download the free software here, then join the Google Group (2,295 members now!) here. Or you can download the .puz file (you may have to right-click the link and save to your Downloads folder).
Solve well, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.