Puzzle #20: The XX

Puzzle #20: “The XX”

Difficulty: On the easier side

Downloads:     PUZ      PDF     Last Week’s Solution


Good morning, all–

This is the first–and hopefully only–time I’ll have to say this, but happy Tuesday! A lot has gone down this past week, from my return to UVA to my Ravens losing in a heartbreaker. I once again want to apologize for the 24-hour delay, and I hope the puzzle above is well worth the extra wait. But before I can get to that, let’s go over last week’s meta contest, shall we?

For Puzzle #19, entitled “Musical Buildup,” I asked you all to figure out my all-time favorite music album. Well, the main part of the meta was far from subtle, though it was quite complicated until the concept become clearer:


Each of the ten black squares down the middle represented a “brick,” and combined with one of the adjacent answers to make each entry legitimate (see above). As a refresher, these BRICK/answer combos are:

[Hunk in the dairy aisle] = (BRICK) CHEESE

[“Eyes Wide Shut” director, 1999] = STANLEY KU(BRICK)

[Fictional national park in a Comedy Central cartoon] = (BRICK)LEBERRY

[Work shirker] = GOLD(BRICK)

[Type of business that utilizes both physical and online installments] = (BRICK) AND CLICK

[1972 Jethro Tull concept album] = THICK AS A (BRICK)

[Critical comments] = (BRICK)BATS

[Item in a drug dealer’s van] = COCAINE (BRICK)

[Specialty with a well-cooked crust] = (BRICK) OVEN PIZZA

[Road component in an L. Frank Baum series] = YELLOW (BRICK)

Then, solvers also noticed that the unchecked squares were intentional, and that when read from top to bottom, spelled E/M/P/T/Y/S/P/A/C/E/S, or EMPTY SPACES. Any Google search with “empty spaces brick” or something similar brings up Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”…which is the answer to the meta contest!

As an added bonus–and to fill the rest of the grid with more theme material–I dropped a few extra hints to this meta alongside the “bricks/empty spaces” design. Several solvers may have also picked up on the fact that there were three pairs of symmetrically placed cross-reference answers…and indeed, this was no coincidence!

  • IN THE FLESH, though clued as [Physically present], is the title of two songs on the album.
  • CRUEL WORLD, though clued as [Opening track on Lana Del Rey’s 2014 album “Ultraviolence”], is a reference to “Goodbye Cruel World,” the final track on the first side of the album.
  • I WANNA GO HOME, though clued as [Cry from a bratty kid who isn’t enjoying day care, maybe], is an iconic lyric from “Stop,” the track that marks the climax of the album’s story.

So that’s that, and I hope you all enjoyed it! Congratulations to the whopping 101 solvers who answered correctly, and thanks to everyone who tried this out! The winner of the contest, as selected at random through a number generator, is Amy Paepke. Amy will be receiving a CD copy of “The Wall,” as promised, along with a pair of The Grid Kid beverage coasters as an extra treat!


…And now for this week’s puzzle, before it feels it has gotten no love: This week’s puzzle is brought to you by my lucky number. It’s pretty straightforward, as far as my stuff goes, but I had a lot of fun researching the entries to use for the theme. Have any ideas that you feel I left out? Let me know in the comments!


The Grid Kid


5 thoughts on “Puzzle #20: The XX

  1. Awesome puzzle, very enjoyable solve. Don’t tell me you didn’t consider creating a 20 by 20 sized grid. Did you?

    Nice write-up of the meta. I didn’t get the answer in on time but I loved the uniqueness of MERMAID MAN (very…uh…modern? I’m twelve, of course I know it) and DJ GIG. You’re an out-of-the-box thinker. I like that.


  2. Great puzzle. Some elegant long downs. Only negative was the miscluing for 44 down. Citified was never named Shea, but is rather a totally new venue. Looking forward to next weeks puzzle.


    • Oy vey. Yeah, another solver wrote me about this error too…which is quite an embarrassment for the baseball lover in me. Hope this didn’t cause too much trouble!


      • None at all, since it involved the Mets. Now had it been a Yankees reference… Just consider me an old fart trying to keep the facts straight. BTW, OLD FARTR is definitely an answer I’d like to see in an upcoming puzzle.


  3. Nice puzzle, but another wrong clue is 59D. Even leaving aside that German speed signs don’t appear to have units, and that on the Autobahn there’s often no posted numeric limit… KPH is the wrong abbreviation in the metric world. As far as I know, it’s always “km/h”. It certainly is here in Canada. Get that out of your word list!


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