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Puzzle Solution #10: On Wisconsin


Tammy took five puttsI hope you have finished my “Wisconsin’s Playground” puzzle by now. This puzzle was tough for many of you. Worse than that, for some the theme was uninteresting (it was created for a specific audience). To make amends, my next puzzle will be easier and feature a theme enjoyable by all. That is a promise.

(If you haven’t worked the puzzle, what are you waiting for? Sure, it is tougher than some of my other puzzles. But you are a genius and will have no problems with it. Click  HERE  to go back and get it. Come back here anytime for the solution.)

As always, spoiler space. Here is a a live version of Joni Mitchell’s “In France They Kiss on Main Street.” The original version of this song appeared on her 1975 album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns:

The solution

If you have spent any time in the Wisconsin Dells area, you are probably familiar with its claims to be the “waterpark capital of the world” and “Wisconsin’s playground.” You can hardly have missed the Pirate’s Cove miniature golf course which looms on a hill overlooking the town’s main drag. Lake Delton is the name of a man-made reservoir and city bordering the city of Wisconsin Dells on its south side. If you are a competitive Scrabble player living anywhere in the Upper Midwest, then you have probably competed in one or more of the annual “Dells Spell” tournaments.

If, on the other hand, you have never visited this “playground,” this puzzle’s theme can’t have meant much to you. I hope the “double clues” made it possible to solve, but they are pretty ugly.

Solution

I constructed this puzzle fairly quickly and did not do a very good job of making sure that clues for crossing answers were not unnecessarily opaque. Overall, the puzzle is not very satisfying.

There are a few answers and clues I like. I think having ICICLE and CARROT as back-to-back answers clued off of each other is fun. Using “mind one’s own business” and “poke one’s nose into others’ business” as clues in close succession amused me if no one else.

I was surprised to analyze this puzzle at XwordInfo.com and find a high number of rarely or never used answers. (Click on the grid the above for a visual representation of this.) In particular I was very surprised that the two three-letter answers CMT (for Country Music Television) and OCR (optical character recognition) have never been used in New York Times puzzles. It is difficult to find legitimate three-letter fill that has not been used (to death, often). I see no reason why either should not be fair game.

Errata

Ned Flanders is very much alive.I rushed through the construction of this puzzle a bit and did not ask anyone to proofread it for me. Predictably, I made at least one egregious error. Homer and Marge Simpson’s neighbor Ned Flanders is not dead! It was his wife who was killed by a T-shirt shot from an air gun into an auto race crowd, not Ned. I have corrected the erroneous clue in all versions of the puzzle, but most of you saw the mistake. D’oh!
 

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