Published On: Mon, Apr 1st, 2024

Solution to Evan Birnholz’s March 31 crossword, ‘World Wide Web’

Solution to Evan Birnholz’s March 31 crossword, ‘World Wide Web’
Solution to Evan Birnholz’s March 31 crossword, ‘World Wide Web’

Before we get into the solution for today’s double metapuzzle, I want to offer a couple of friendly tips for online solvers since this comes up somewhat frequently for this type of crossword. First, you probably noticed just filling in the grid that this puzzle was unusual in a certain way. I’m often asked how can you enter multiple letters in a square on The Washington Post’s website — it’s actually pretty easy! If you’re solving on a computer, the rebus button above the grid will do the trick, as will pressing the backtick key (that’s the backward apostrophe, to the left of the numeral 1). Hitting one of those two will allow you to enter multiple letters in a square. For mobile solvers, the rebus button is the circled “R” icon above the grid.

Second, some solvers have told me that they don’t know where to find meta instructions when solving online. They show up in the initial pop-up once you open the puzzle, where it displays the title and my byline. If you don’t remember that, though, it’s easy to find them again just by hitting the info button above the puzzle.

Finally, if you’re at all worried that you might need to look up resources online to help you solve a meta, don’t be! I give you permission to do this. Looking up whatever you need to find to solve a meta is fair game in my book.

Oh, one other bit of news: This week is the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT) in Stamford, Conn. I will be there, so come say hello if you’re planning to be there, too.

The instructions say that this puzzle has “two internet-related meta answers, both of which are seven letters long.” As usual with metas, the best place to start is the theme entries. There are seven bizarre names of made-up webpages from around the world, with DOT in rebus squares. (Note that if you solved in print, you can write an actual dot in the rebus squares as you’d see in URLs. If you solved this puzzle online, however, it’s not possible to enter a “.” for the rebus squares, so for that you just have to enter the letters DOT.)

  • 26A: [European webpage where you can say “Settle down” to a female deer?] is EASYDOE.IT, and crossing the rebus square at 27D: [Elaborate request?] is (DO T)ELL. A tough crossing clue — you have to think of “elaborate” as a verb rather than an adjective — but it’s a clue I’ve been sitting on for a few years, just waiting for DO TELL to drop into a grid.
  • 28A: [South American webpage showing a sculpture of a rodent patterned after Erté’s style?] is DECORAT.VE, and crossing it at 15D: [“Viva Maria!” actress Brigitte] is BAR(DOT).
  • 47A: [European webpage where you can chat with a stage mom?] is PLAYMA.ES, and crossing it at 49D: [Showered attention (on)] is (DOT)ED.
  • 59A: [South American webpage showing a Calif. city pigpen?] is LASTY.AR, and crossing it at 52D: [French printer Firmin ___ (Hint: If you didn’t know of him, his name is one letter off from a word in this clue)] is DI(DOT). The hint in that clue was my little way of acknowledging that he may be a tough answer to rely on for a rebus-based meta, so hopefully you spotted that DIDOT is one letter off “didn’t.” Moving on …
  • 64A: [African webpage where you can follow an intergovernmental org.’s holy jurisdiction?] is UNSEE.LY, and crossing it at 66D: [Serve a sentence] is (DO T)IME.
  • 82A: [Asian webpage with info about an old horse (but not just any old horse)?] is THENAG.IN, and crossing it at 74D: [Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for ___”] is GO(DOT).
  • 109A: [North American webpage where you can get live views of a big zoo animal?] is HIPPOCAM.US, and crossing it at 96D: [“Wonder Woman” actress Gal] is GA(DOT).

There’s also a hint in the bottom half of the grid at 119A: [Place you might visit, and an alternate title for this puzzle] which is POINT OF INTEREST. “Point” is a synonym for DOT, so if you’ve managed to figure out that you need a “.” (or DOT) in rebus squares, that’s a good place to look for at least one of the theme answers. Do the webpage names look suspiciously close to real words and phrases? They are. You can replace each of the dots with a single letter to get valid entries in both directions:

  • EASYDOE.IT → EASY DOES IT, creating SELL at 27D.
  • DECORAT.VE → DECORATIVE, creating BARI (an Italian seaport) at 15D.
  • PLAYMA.ES → PLAYMATES, creating TED at 49D.
  • LASTY.AR → LAST YEAR, creating DIE at 52D.
  • UNSEE.LY → UNSEEMLY, creating MIME at 66D.
  • THENAG.IN → THEN AGAIN, creating GOA (a state in India) at 74D.
  • HIPPOCAM.US → HIPPOCAMPUS, creating GAP at 96D.

The letters that can replace the dots spell SITE MAP, which provides information about a website’s pages, but you don’t need to know that for this meta. Its two words hint at websites and world geography, which is the main takeaway of the first meta answer.

The second meta answer is trickier to find and involves a couple of steps. As before, though, it’s a good idea to start with the theme answers since those are what the puzzle is primarily built on — and I can tell you that POINT OF INTEREST hints at the second meta answer in a more subtle way.

By now, you know this puzzle is about the internet and world geography, so that’s what you should be focusing on. Look at the webpage names again and, in addition, look at their clues. Do you notice how I said they were webpages from Europe or South America or whichever continent? You can get more specific than just continents. You might need some assistance from (where else?) the World Wide Web to confirm what you’re looking for, but the last two letters of each webpage indicate which country the webpage is supposedly from. Here’s a good list that you can consult if you need to look them up.

  • IT → Italy
  • VE → Venezuela
  • ES → Spain (be careful here, since it’s tempting to think ES might stand for Estonia, but no — ES refers to it’s Spanish spelling, España).
  • AR → Argentina
  • LY → Libya
  • IN → India
  • US → United States

Now what? The first letters of those country names don’t seem to spell anything. But think about the puzzle you’ve just solved. Do you remember seeing those countries anywhere while you were solving it? They’re in the clues, and they mention an attraction (or a point of interest) in each country:

  • 24A: [Grand ___ Rimini (five-star locale in Italy)] is HOTEL.
  • 51A: [Venezuelan Coastal Range flower] is ORCHID.
  • 54A: [Setting of the Palacio de Galiana in Spain] is TOLEDO.
  • 61D: [Mammal one might find at Argentina’s Mundo Marino] is SEAL.
  • 113A: [El-Kouf National ___ (wildlife area in Libya)] is PARK.
  • 121D: [India ___ (badminton event held at the K.D. Jadhav Indoor Hall in New Delhi)] is OPEN.
  • 136A: [U.S. state that’s home to the Alamo] is TEXAS.

Take the first letters of those corresponding entries and they spell out HOTSPOT — a location where you can get online, but as a two-word phrase, “hot spot” is also a rough synonym for a “point of interest.” I had added some other countries in the clues, too, mostly to make it a little bit tougher to sniff out the correct seven that you need, but once you lock onto the seven countries from the webpage names, then it becomes a scavenger hunt in the clues to land on the second meta answer.

If you got one or both meta answers, well done! If you didn’t find either of them, not to worry — it was a strange puzzle from the get-go with the rebus squares and the fake URLs and two meta answers to find instead of one. But we got to spend time on the internet together, and isn’t that what online friendships are all about?

See you at the ACPT if you’ll be in attendance!

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