Sunday, October 26, 2014

Here you go:

THEME: X MARKS THE SPOT / ALPHANUMERICS — if you take all the Xs in all the grids from the past week, in order, and change each one to a letter of the alphabet based on the number that's in its box (i.e. "X" in a box numbered "20" = T, "X" in a box marked "5" = E, etc.), you end up with the phrase

TEMPUS FUGIT (i.e. "time flies")

You can see the Xs in the today's grid are in the boxes numbered "7" (which represents "G", the 7th letter of the alphabet), "9" (which represents "I"), and "20" (which represents "T")—these are, as you can see, the last three letters in the solution phrase, "tempus fugit."

So the mathematical times symbol (i.e. "X") ends up indicating (via ALPHANUMERICS) the letters in a Latin phrase related to time.

[Note: "time flies" are the last words in the Tears for Fears video I posted Saturday. Not that that should've helped you any …]


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


John V 10:38 PM  

I got nothing. Not a whisper, not a prayer.

Whirred Whacks 10:47 PM  

I especially liked Wednesday puzzle's 49 across clue
"Shakespearean title character" and answer:

(as if there were any doubts at that point that the META was about "time")

I said this earlier, but I'll say it again:
one of the great delights of the META week was reading @Casco Kid's comments on Saturday. It was an interesting window into his thought processes (although it could've been any one of us in how we've approached solving other puzzles).

I'd like the T-shirt that says: "I'm a veteran of a Blindauer Meta-Week!"

j88keys 11:03 PM  

I'd be interested to know what comments of Rex's "tipped off" the constructor.

I thought the entire meta-week was fun- gave something to look forward to every day.

Thanks, Blindauer!

Masked et AnonymoUs 11:25 PM  

I gotta have one of them TEMPWSFUTGI Tshirts. har.
Shoot, I agree with U -- and if @CascoKid ever ever needs cheerin up, I'm definitly there, with a cupcake on my head, for him.

Gotta give up some luv to Patrick Blindauer, too. Crankin out a snootful of related puzs like this has got to be a big undertakin. Some wanted the meta to be a wee bit more challenging -- which was easily tweekable, by modifying the SatPuz metathemer clues. But I liked it fine, as is. Well done, Mr. Pauer.

This meta marathon deal would make a kinda interestin crossword puz tournament gauntlet. Next ACPT, puz #5 could be the meta climax puz, feedin on stuff in puzs 1-4. Solvers get extra points (and a Tshirt) for figurin out the meta. Epic. Consider it, Sir Shortzmeister? If U build it, M&A will come...

M et A

Marymom 12:32 AM  

Hey, Patrick! I remember us talking about crossword puzzles years ago. Enjoyed your meta. Hope allthings are good for you.

mac 4:22 AM  

Excellent meta! Didn't get it, but really had no time to try. So logical in hindsight.

Nooooo, Maseked etc. no moooore precure around nr. 5!

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

Thanks for all that, but as I subscribe to the puzzles on my tablet I didn't have any idea what was going on. I only started searching when the program told me I had everything wrong on the Saturday puzzle, and the correct answers were all, literally, "????" But I hope everyone else had fun.

chefbea 7:19 AM  

I too did not get it at all until it was explained!!

AnnieD 7:30 AM  

Got me! I got the tempusfugit, but not knowing latin, didn't recognize it as THE answer. Sheesh! I kept trying to anagram the thing into something like


So much for what I know...

Susan McConnell 7:38 AM  

Meta proved to be easier than expected. I appreciate Rex sharing the solution, but was looking forward to more of his thoughts on the meta, as well as more info on how he was tipped off to the solution,

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

Not nearly as interesting a meta challenge as Blindauer's previous in the NYT. This one was predictable and did not, for me anyway, make the subpar puzzles during the week worth the slog.

Generic Solver 9:02 AM  

If there were a poll of whether folks would rather see a week of quality puzzles without a meta-puzzle, or a week where some of the puzzles take a bit of a hit for sake of a meta with a high reward factor for solving it, I wonder which would win out? I've heard both views expressed on here during the past week, and I'm definitely in the former camp. For me each puzzle is its own daily diversion and then it's on to the next day's puzzle.

That said, props to Mr. Blindauer for a job well-done and certainly provoking some interesting discussion on here.

Richard 10:38 AM  

The only other meta I had tried previously was the one by the other PB in the Times last year. However, my main early insight proved to be correct and even helped me solve the Saturday puzzle.

After Wednesday, I did notice that there were a lot of "X"s AND that they all were in the first three rows. I also connected this specific letter with the stated theme concept of time since "x" can stand for 10 o'clock. I noticed that this trend continued on Thursday and Friday, although a couple of "X"s appeared in the 4th row.

So, when I got to the Saturday puzzle and saw the second meta clue, I immediately thought of the answer without any prior horizontal crosses and then quickly confirmed it with a few horizontal crosses. I wish I had put more thought into the significance of all the "x"s being in the first 4 rows because it took me about half the crosses to get the answer to the second meta clue. Once I got this answer I was able to quickly solve the meta.

I understand how and why the meta was too easy for many. However, it was the right level for me and my positive experience my cause me to try others in the future.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  


NCA President 1:19 PM  

I am not that smart and I got it so immediately that I thought I was missing some grander "meta." As I was casually trying to see if I was even intrigued by solving the meta, I figured once I got all the letters from the numbers where the Xs were, they would at the very least be scrambled and then I'd have to take some time to unscramble them.

But, I guess as a tribute to the construction, they were in order. All you had to do was, a la Christmas Story's Ralphie and the LIttle Orphan Annie Decoder Ring, line up the Xs and match the square number with a letter.

Ralphie and his excitement of the decoder ring and the hidden message was a function of him being around 10 years old. I'm not saying I'm an old, crotchety, and grumpy...but as a 54 year old man, simply decoding the message was, um...elementary.

I'm not sure how others found this so difficult, especially given the clues in the Saturday puzzle.

Needless to say, Captain Obvious paid a visit to me on Saturday and told me not to make too much of the meta. It was pretty straight ahead.

TimJim 1:59 PM  

Like @AnnieD, I got it but didn't get it. Thought tempus fugit was gibberish or code for something else. Still, fun!

pmdm 4:40 PM  

The phrase first appeared in one of Virgil's works, the Georgics, an epic poem that preceded the unfinished Aeneid.

For me, the solution seemed self-evident. The first clue seemed to point to all instances of the letter X in the puzzle grids for the week. Quickly noticing that each instance of X occurred in a numbered square, the second hint also seemed to me to be self evident. I too was surprised the letters were not scrambled. With three of the four themed puzzles involving TIME and having taken 5 years of latin in high school and college, I probably would have noticed tempus immediately, not making it much harder for me.

It would seem to me that, with a puzzle like this one, you either see the solution very quickly or you remain baffled for a very long time.

It turns out that I was on vacation all last week sampling wineries in the Finger Lakes region, so I did all the puzzles today (Monday). Perhaps that enhanced my enjoyment, because I was much more pleased with this challenge than the previous challenge. I certainly hope PB was paid a little extra for his entertaining set of puzzles.

By the way, even with downcast weather, when you are on vacation visiting wineries (and a few breweries), my does tempus fugit.

Penna Resident 9:51 PM  

thank goodness our schools teach 6 years of latin. i thought the meta was rather easy until i did the translation and then knew i didnt have it. recognized the temp from fr/it/sp so asked my teenage kids if it might be a latin phrase. i hope thats not cheating.

LHS 888 4:44 PM  

OK. Put me in the "It was hard" group. I didn't go down the paths @Casco took. Instead, I went my own way looking for an anagram of all of the letters in each of the 6 puzzles in the same location as an X in each of the puzzles. For the case where an X appeared in the same location 2X, I doubled up those letters and threw them in the anagram mix. Needless to say I was over thinking it BY A MILE. Can't say I would ever have thought up the Lil Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring method. Oh, well. Live and learn. It only made me a little crazy trying to solve it.

Chad Hayes 7:08 PM  

Drink more Ovaltine

Red Valerian 2:14 PM  

Only 20 comments? I guess Rex just posted the completed grid at first, so not much to comment on. I'm didn't get the meta. And it was quite a lot of build-up, so I liked @Chad Hayes' comment :-) But I think I would have been thrilled had I figured it out on my own.
Liked the puzzle for itself today. Managed to get it all with only one cheat--looking at the back of our Requiem cd.

Anonymous 12:01 AM  

Now for the recycling bin! Fun but couldn't get the meta of it all: had to look!

Anonymous 10:44 PM  

Well, I got the meta challenge but had no idea what it meant. Figured it must be an anagram of something. After a fruitless 45 minutes trying to work out what that might be, I broke down and plugged the letters into an anagram server and came up with: TEMPUS FUGIT. OK, so that's a thing on its own then? Googled the phrase and now I know.

All I need to know now is, what's Latin for "Fruit flies like a banana"?

Anonymous 10:54 PM  

Thank you, Patrick, for sneaking F.U. FRIDAY into the New York Times crossword Puzzle.

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