Saturday, February 4, 2023

Solution to Evan Birnholz’s Nov. 27 crossword, “The Long and the Short of It”

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Thanksgiving is now previous us, however the December holidays are arising quickly, so right here’s a present advice for the puzzle lover in your loved ones. The movie firm A24 has launched a book of 99 movie crosswords, edited by Anna Shechtman and constructed by a number of puzzle writers (some of whom are entertainers in the movie and TV enterprise). It options puzzles that vary from straightforward to laborious and it touches on totally different areas of movie data, however figuring out the of us concerned, I’d say you’d be in for a great time.

The directions to the meta say we’re in search of a five-letter American firm. There are 5 starred solutions to get you began:

  • 23A: [*Key term in many EPA publications] is HAZMAT.
  • 43A: [*NYC film festival locale] is TRIBECA.
  • 72A: [*Annual Nov. challenge for aspiring authors] is NANOWRIMO.
  • 103A: [*Military org. that’s part of the U.S. Department of Defense] is CENTCOM.
  • 126A: [*Gummy candy company that expanded to the U.S. in 1982] is HARIBO.
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So, simply 5 apparent theme solutions, totaling solely 35 letters between them. That’s not so much of actual property for a Sunday-size grid, in order that should imply there’s extra at work on this puzzle than simply these entries.

The first step is to discover that each one 5 of these solutions are made up of abbreviated phrases, and their clues trace at that with abbreviations of their very own. Actually, there’s a helpful time period for this sort of phrase: a syllabic abbreviation, which strings collectively syllables of totally different phrases to type a single phrase.

What may the second step be? Well, since you’ve gotten abbreviated phrases in these 5 solutions, what in the event you wrote out these abbreviations in full? It might take some Googling in the event you don’t know them off the high of your head, however it’s straightforward sufficient to discover what all of them stand for:

  • HAZMAT → Hazardous Materials
  • TRIBECA → Triangle Below Canal
  • NANOWRIMO → National Novel Writing Month
  • CENTCOM → Central Command
  • HARIBO → Hans Riegel Bonn
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The third step is the actual key to fixing the meta. Do you keep in mind seeing some of these longer phrases whereas fixing the puzzle? They’re not in the grid, however you’ll discover them in the first phrases of 14 totally different clues. Here they’re in thematic order:

  • 112D: [Hazardous blanket] is SMOG.
  • 32A [Materials used in basketry] is REEDS.
  • 11D: [Triangle after gamma] is DELTA.
  • 2D: [Below the correct pitch] is FLAT.
  • 66D: [Canal in the folk song “Low Bridge, Everybody Down”] is ERIE.
  • 59A: [National emblem of Wales] is LEEK.
  • 111D: [Novel on a Nook] is EBOOK.
  • 105A: [Writing implements] is PENS.
  • 47A: [Month for the Boston Marathon] is APRIL.
  • 87A: [Central Chinese city] is XIAN.
  • 12D: [Command from a monarch] is EDICT.
  • 7A: [Hans attends her coronation in “Frozen”] is ELSA.
  • 119A: [Riegel who provided the voice of Donatello on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”] is SAM.
  • 109D: [Bonn river] is RHINE.

Now what? The first letters of these solutions in that order seem to type gibberish. But there’s one other logical manner you may get them organized. Take those self same entries in grid order, from high to backside:

  • 2D: FLAT
  • 7A: ELSA
  • 11D: DELTA
  • 12D: EDICT
  • 32A: REEDS
  • 47A: APRIL
  • 59A: LEEK
  • 66D: ERIE
  • 87A: XIAN
  • 105A: PENS
  • 109D: RHINE
  • 111D: EBOOK
  • 112D: SMOG
  • 119A: SAM

Now, take the first letters of these 14 solutions in that order, and you spell out FEDERAL EXPRESS. That’s the lengthened title of the five-letter American firm (and syllabic abbreviation) FEDEX. There’s our meta reply.

One of the starred solutions has private significance for me in that I did NaNoWriMo as soon as, again in Nov. 2009. The problem is to write 50,000 phrases of an unique novel in simply 30 days. For most individuals it’s inconceivable to begin and end a well-written and absolutely polished novel in that quick a interval of time, so that you simply let go of no matter anxiousness you’ve gotten about the story’s high quality and simply write as a lot as you may. I made it to the 50,000-word purpose, although I’d say I used to be perhaps solely one-third of the manner via the novel I used to be engaged on. I by no means obtained round to ending it and it most likely wasn’t what you’ll name a “good story” or “something that has a remote chance of ever getting published,” however that’s not the level of NaNoWriMo. The complete purpose was simply to get inventive and have enjoyable in the course of, and it was remarkably enjoyable to write. Perhaps sooner or later I’ll attempt it once more if I’ve the time. For anybody who’s taking part this 12 months, you solely have a couple of days left, so good luck on making it to 50,000 phrases … and in the event you can’t get there, give your self a pat on the again for nevertheless a lot you have been in a position to accomplish.

The one potential theme reply I used to be saddest to miss of the puzzle was BIMONSCIFICON. Longtime followers of “The Simpsons” will acknowledge that as the Bimonthly Science Fiction Convention, which had a hilarious gag when it was first launched in 1998. I didn’t go away it out of the grid as a result of it will be a complete thriller for readers who don’t watch “The Simpsons.” I left it out as a result of I didn’t know what to do with the first two syllables. The phrase is rendered on the present as Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con, and that makes 5 syllables from 4 phrases. I wasn’t positive if I ought to use one clue beginning with “Bimonthly,” or two clues beginning with “Bi” and “Monthly.” The former could be extra correct for the abbreviation, however it will even be inconsistent with the different theme solutions since none of them use two syllables hinting at the identical phrase.

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