by Derek Kisman; idea by Tom Yue
This looks like a crossword, and it is a crossword, but a very unusual one. There are no numbers, and some mysterious unordered letters next to each clue. And the title, Ex Post Facto, means "after the fact". What's going on?
Well, as it turns out, this crossword was solved once before, in a very linear fashion (each answer written in intersects with the previous answer), and you are being given enough information to retrace the solver's steps. The letters next to each clue are the letters the solver had already entered into the puzzle when he solved that clue.
Of course, your first step has to be reconstructing the final solution. This is easier said than done, since some entries have barely any information. But it's fairly dense for a Fill-In, so going back and forth should enable you to solve all the given clues:
- ORSO About A HAZY Blurred A TRALA Carefree song syllables A NYAN Colorful cat A GAIA Earth Goddess A SRA Mexico Mrs. A ASIA Polo venue? A ARENA Venue E ABATE Let up G GLIBC Essential programming package H PSHA "Yeah, right!" I WIN Triumph L POOL Hotel amenity L LNS Math funcs. L AXL Rose of rock L DAMOSEL Young maiden: Archaic N URN Coffee container N NED Reli-diddly-igious guy O KILO Drug unit P VEEP Dick or Joe, recently R RAS ___ al Ghul R ARAN Armored Samus R SARA Gilbert of "Roseanne" and "The Big Bang Theory" S USSR Longtime U.S. foe S TSA They have wands: Abbr. T TINTYPE Old-style photo U MUGS Coffee containers U SLUE Swivel V VALOR Heroism AA VAYA ___ con Dios AE ENOLA Gay bomber? BR BRAVO "Amazing!" HT ACTH Pituitary hormone KS SKIES Hopefully they're blue LO ALOT Oodles LY LYDIA Ancient kingdom in western Anatolia NO HATON Hang one's ___ (trust) PW SWAP Fair trade AIS AISHA Muhammad's favorite wife ASS ASSESS Evaluate ASS SHERPAS Hillary's helpers CEL ONCLE Frere de mere ou pere ENO SEGNO Repetition mark, in music ETT EATIT Motherly advice from Weird Al HMS HELMS Steers a ship IOS STOLI Popular vodka, informally ENOT LEPTON Neutrino, for one ABEOT NOTBEATEN Still in the running ABGOT GATORBOWL Annual Florida football game AOTTY YOTTAMETER One is 105 million light years DELRY ELDERLY Aged INOST ENTERSINTO Signs, as an agreement AEEGLR ALTEREGOS Kent and Wayne AELNSV SVENGALI Fictional hypnotist CIPRRSY SCRIPTORY Pertaining to writing EINORRSSW REWINDCROSSWORD What to do next!
Note that 18 clues are actually missing. In most cases this doesn't affect the fill, but there are a couple of grid letters you'll need to infer. The final grid is thus:
MUGS##SWAP#ACTH BRAVO#KILO#SARA ENTERSINTO#SPAZ ##ONCLE#ELDERLY #LRG#USSR#ASIA# #ABATE#HELMS### STOLI#SEGNO#NED REWINDCROSSWORD AXL#TARPS#EATIT ###LYDIA#GLIBC# #VEEP#PSHA#TEA# VANPELT#AISHA## ALOT#YOTTAMETER YOLO#ORSO#ARENA ARAN#NYAN##ENDS
Now you can reconstruct the order in which the clues were solved. As it turns out, the missing 18 answers are the ones which were missing exactly one letter when entered into the grid. Here's the full reconstruction:
1 - ORSO 2 S TSA 3 A NYAN 4 NO HATON 5 H PSHA 6 A GAIA 7 G GLIBC 8 L DAMOSEL 9 A ASIA 10 A TRALA 11 R SARA 12 A HAZY 13 HT ACTH 14 ASS ASSESS 15 (P) SPAZ 16 (R) CAPRI 17 DELRY ELDERLY 18 L POOL 19 O KILO 20 I WIN 21 PW SWAP 22 KS SKIES 23 S USSR 24 U SLUE 25 E ABATE 26 T TINTYPE 27 P VEEP 28 V VALOR 29 R ARAN 30 AE ENOLA 31 LO ALOT 32 AA VAYA 33 (O) YOLO 34 ENOT LEPTON 35 LY LYDIA 36 ASS SHERPAS 37 HMS HELMS 38 L LNS 39 ENO SEGNO 40 AEEGLR ALTEREGOS 41 INOST ENTERSINTO 42 N URN 43 U MUGS 44 (B) MBE 45 BR BRAVO 46 (C) ORC 47 CEL ONCLE 48 ABGOT GATORBOWL 49 L AXL 50 A SRA 51 IOS STOLI 52 AELNSV SVENGALI 53 (L) LRG 54 (E) LATEX 55 EINORRSSW REWINDCROSSWORD 56 (A) DAD 57 (R) TARPS 58 CIPRRSY SCRIPTORY 59 (L) VANPELT 60 (Y) LYON 61 AOTTY YOTTAMETER 62 R RAS 63 A ARENA 64 (S) SMA 65 AIS AISHA 66 ABEOT NOTBEATEN 67 N NED 68 (T) DDT 69 ETT EATIT 70 (A) ERICA 71 (T) TEA 72 (E) WAITHERE 73 (D) END/ENDS, a clear ending to the sequence.
The single letters spell PROB CLEARLY STATED. Interesting, but still not an answer. A quick Google should reveal the Dorothea Brande quote:
"A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved."
Aha! You need to half-solve the puzzle!
There are an odd number of letters, so you can't halve them. The only way to half-solve the puzzle is to write in the first 37 words out of 74. This is the final state when you do:
....##SWAP#ACTH .....#KILO#SARA .....SIN.O#SPAZ ##...LE#ELDERLY #...#USSR#ASIA# #ABATE#HELMS### ....I#.E..O#... ....N..R..S.... ...#T..P.#E.... ###LYDIA#GLIBC# #VEEP#PSHA#...# VANPE..#AI...## ALOT#..TTA..... YOLO#ORSO#..... ARAN#NYAN##....
You can see the final answer symmetrically positioned in the center: INTERPOSE. How appropriate.