“Wax Dummy”

by Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] Difficulty: 4/5

As I write this, we’re half way into a conspicuously delightful weekend trip to MASS MoCA with artist and activist Parker Higgins and local beauty Keely Taylor. And to start the weekend, I felt compelled to shared with P&K that Jessie, having only ever seen “MoCA” in writing, pronounced it “moo-kuh,” as opposed to the obbbviously correct “moh-kuh.” It’s probably the first mistake that Jessie–literally perfect–has ever made, full stop, and it kicked off a collective case of the giggles from which we still haven’t fully recovered.

Anyway, Parker’s been taking some great pictures (including the one below) with an old Olympus that he’s been toting around. Check back here or on my Instagram in the next couple of days for some of his snaps. Meantime, please enjoy “Wax Dummy,” which was test solved by Matt and Dan (and partner). Thanks, guys! I’m leaving off constructor notes this week, so if you’ve got any questions about the puzzle don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Happy solving, friends! -R

17 thoughts on ““Wax Dummy”

  1. Very nice visual, the grid is a lovely solar panel.
    I wonder if optimally the melting letters from WING would show up in that same peach color, disconnected from the remainder that is still attached to the doomed ding-dong? So below WI there would be a plummeting N and G?
    That probably is too tough a constructing burden – a wing and a prayer maybe…

    • I agree. My first instinct was that something must go in those yellow squares until I recast my focus to them for what they really are. Well done Sir Ross.

    • While I agree that there might be some fun ways to build out this concept a bit further, I feel compelled to point out that you’ve buried the lede … today is Rich Katz day in the New York Times!!! Mazel tov on a delightful Sunday(!) debut!

      • Very kind of you to say, Ross!
        I feel like a first-time writer who just got a book-jacket blurb from a Pulitzer Prize winner.
        Of course, there is some elegance to that, given there’s no way I could have developed sufficient skills to be published without having done about two hundred Rosswords…

        • The only credit I deserve/will accept is as that of a sometime enabler. (I regret to inform that this personal milestone, while very satisfying, will in no way cure you of your addiction.)

  2. Very clever theme, really enjoyed the “wings” melting. Only thought was that the entries going into or out of the sun could have had the word “sun” standing in (like having CAPRI at 6-Across, for example.) Thanks for the fun puzzle!

    • I love noodling with high-ish concept ideas like this because of all the “yes, and” ideating you can do when you’re trying to figure out how elaborate you can get… I’ve already gotten 3 different emails with really imaginative variations on the theme!

  3. Wow! Incredible puzzle, honestly one of the best I’ve done in a long time. The flow was perfect for me, as I happened to get the three themer areas to the upper right, but had not yet gotten the full ones at the lower left, when I got the revealer, put it all together in my head and went “aha!”. Really clever feat of construction and very satisfying, especially for someone like me who loves Greek mythology. (As an aside, I highly recommend the book Circe, which retells some myths and includes some Icarus stuff).

    Last thing I’ll say is that I have been to MassMoCA before and it is a really fantastic museum. That’s hilarious that someone would pronounce it like MOOCA!

  4. Caught on to the melting and the revealer early and was wondering why a 4/5 rating. That is until I got stuck entering tAkeITin for EATSITUP (with multiple iterations in between). Stuck on AMC too until I got “unchained”. Many thanks for a great puzzle.

    Also, a shout out to Rich Katz on a great NYT debut.

    • You betcha, John! Sometimes I tag a puzzle as more difficult because the testers felt the gimmick was challenging, but in this case I gather some of the reported crunchiness was a function of a few less intuitive clue/answers pairings. Thanks for solving, as usual!

  5. Nice puzzle Ross. You have ascended to new heights with “Wax Dummy”. I quickly recognized the theme and visuals, but before long several of the clues had me tumbling towards earth. For instance 44D (quite funny clue/answer) left me adrift, exploring in the wrong direction. Thanks for such an enjoyable puzzle to solve. And congratulations to Rich for his NYTs debut!

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