Snowed in? Just feel like some meta goodness? Solve Erik’s latest, then clickety click.
Let’s mix it up this week with a meta crossword! We’re given some instructions to start things off: “To sculpt a statue of an elephant, it’s said, you simply get a big granite block and then chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant. To solve this meta, you’re going to have to do some sculpting on three entries in the grid. Your completed statues, as it were, will yield six letters (two each); put them in order using the parenthetical indices, and then add a letter to the beginning to reveal the meta answer.”
Intriguing. So we have a 14×17 grid with lots of black spaces, with two 14s and a 15 across the center. These longer entries are likely the ones we need to “sculpt.” They are:
- 32a. [“The Jacksons: An ___” (6, 2)] AMERICAN DREAM
- 35a. [“Calvary” star who played Mad-Eye Moody in the “Harry Potter” films (7, 3)] BRENDAN GLEESON
- 37a. [71-100 characters, for a tweet, per Business Insider (5, 4)] OPTIMAL LENGTH
These entries seem to have nothing in common, but apparently they need to be sculpted into something else. But what? Given the elephant example, I checked for hidden animals first, without any luck. Then some words popped out at me, like “dangle” in BRENDAN GLEESON and “mall” in OPTIMAL LENGTH, but those made no sense. Finally after several minutes of staring, I saw actor ERIC ANDRÉ in AMERICAN DREAM thanks to last week’s themeless, and actor TIM ALLEN in OPTIMAL LENGTH soon followed.
The central themer caused me the most trouble. The name DAN GLEESON is found in BRENDAN GLEESON, but 1) That is the name of either an English footballer or an Australian politician, neither of whom is particularly famous, and 2) That name stretches to the end of the theme entry, where the other two names more elegantly span the two words in each entry without touching the edges. During a second look hours later, though, director ANG LEE waved at me, and I had my answer for BRENDAN GLEESON.
So now we have three “completed statues” in ERIC ANDRÉ, ANG LEE, and TIM ALLEN. Each of these is supposed to yield two letters. The most logical choice to me would be their initials, which leaves up with E A, A L, and T A. The enumerations provided match up to the initials as E-6, A-2, A-7, L-3, T-5, A-4. When the letters are put in order, we get _ALATEA (we are told we need to supply the first letter). While those who are better versed in Greek mythology than I am may have known which letter to add, I had to resort to a Google search. That search produced GALATEA, which according to myth was a statue carved by Pygmalion that was brought to life by Aphrodite after Pygmalion fell in love with his creation.
I found this to be a very elegant meta. Three names/phrases which reveal people when their ends are carved off, whose initials can then be arranged (with the addition of one letter) to find a sculpture that came to life. The only part that would have made this more impressive would be to have the first G contained in one of the three names, but I don’t think there is a way to accomplish that without sacrificing elegance elsewhere. Overall, just lovely.
I can’t complain about the fill. CSTAR and IBAR aren’t wonderful, but their clues make up for it: [Celestial body that sounds like a marine creature] and [Construction material that sounds like… the place where you… look at stuff while drinking?], respectively. IBAR’s clue made me laugh out loud, actually. DJ TURNTABLES and FOURTEEN DOWN were impressive. Favorite clue is definitely [Have one’s cake and beat it, too?] for ELOPE.
Erik tends to have layers in his metas that I don’t find, so if anyone has noticed something I missed, please comment below. Or let me know what you liked about the puzzle, or what irked you a bit. Anyone in the path of the winter storm, I hope you are warm and safe, and everyone else, I hope life is treating you well.