Grab the puzzle and solve if you haven’t, then click below…
Erik decided to mix it up with a meta puzzle this week, and he did not disappoint. This crossword, as suggested by the title, is devoid of across clues. It’s also a meta, with the instructions “the meta answer is a movie villain.” Erik gives credit to constructor Patrick Blindauer for the title. And the gimmick. And the grid. We’ll talk more about Patrick a little later.
Some top solvers will tackle a regular puzzle this way for an added challenge. I am not a top solver, so this was a bit of a struggle for me. I was able to fill in most of it except for a few entries and the long themers. Theoretically we should be able to fill in the blanks with the across answers, all of which will be valid entries. Some are easy: UR_U can pretty much only be URDU, and KC_L is KCAL. But MI_D? SA_E? SI_ON? I had a few errors I had to check before completing the grid correctly.
The long entries are three clues to the meta answer: DRUNKEN TAI BLANK / MAN SWINGING IN DC / HAVE THE RIGHTS TO. I recognized the middle column as NAT (Washington Nationals player) right away, and the last clue seemed like OWN to me. The first one was a little trickier, as I was thinking of mai tai, with the blank being the mai, which can be drunken…er, drunk. It didn’t make great sense, though. A quick Google search led to Drunken Tai CHI, though. That leaves us with CHI / NAT / OWN, or the 1974 movie CHINATOWN. I haven’t seen it, so it was time to look through the Wikipedia page for the plot summary. It turns out the villain of this film, and our meta answer, is NOAH CROSS.
I don’t think I have ever groaned so loudly upon figuring out a meta answer in my life. NOAH CROSS (“No Across”) couldn’t be more perfect for a downs-only puzzle. It’s a deliciously awful play on words, and I’m still in awe over it.
Not much to say about the fill, really. The clues had to be easy since the crossings are rarely helpful, so there isn’t the cleverness we’re used to. The PDF has some artwork from Erik’s grade school days, so there’s that. Overall, the solve was difficult, but the revealer was more than worth it.
Now for other crossword news. Two tournaments recently released details for this year. The Indie 500, run by Erik, NGOTB’s own Peter Broda, Andy Kravis, and Angela Olson Halsted, will be hosting a Crossword Prom on Saturday, June 4. Peter has done a wonderful job sprucing up their website. As for Patrick Blindauer, he and Brian Cimmet will be hosting Lollapuzzoola 9 on Saturday, August 13. Registration for the Indie 500 is live, and registration for Lollapuzzoola will happen eventually. Both tournaments are tons of fun…a lot less formal than ACPT, with snacks and clever puzzly twists. If you haven’t tried a crossword tournament yet, either of these would be a wonderful place to start.