Sound X (Solution)

by Robyn Speer

The trick

Throughout this puzzle, content words are replaced by words that are equivalent in Soundex, a traditional naive algorithm for indexing surnames and grouping together the ones that sound similar. Soundex is still in use in many databases, and even affects your driver's license number in some states.

All the clue answers are proper nouns and they are given in alphabetical order. To fit them into the grid, you write them as their Soundex codes, which are a letter followed by three digits from 0 to 6.

Quick Soundex reference

  • The first letter is left intact, becoming the first letter of the Soundex code.
  • All other instances of H and W are removed.
  • Consonants are replaced by digits:
      1 = B, F, P, V
      2 = C, G, J, K, Q, S, X, Z
      3 = D, T
      4 = L
      5 = M, N
      6 = R
  • Adjacent consonants with the same Soundex code are collapsed -- even if it's the initial letter that they share a code with.
  • Vowels are removed.
  • The code is truncated to four characters and padded with zeroes.

When solving/checking the puzzle, it may help to replace the digits with the canonical letters BCDLMR so that you can vaguely sound them out.

The answer

The diagonal spells EOCENE ESKIMO ECZEMA, giving yet another Soundex equivalence class.

The three missing clues wrap around from the top right of the crossword to the bottom left, and in context they give:

  3. CITY

The name in this equivalence class clued by EMERALD OREGON CITY is EUGENE, which is the answer.

Filling the grid

  Grid solution         Across          Down

                    E   (EMERALD)       EEYORE
                   O6   (OREGON)        ODYSSEY
                  C30   (CITY)          CRIBBAGE
                 E620   EURASIA         EMINEM
                N510    NUMPY           NIELSEN
               E452     ELLINGTON       EARHART
              E625      EUROZONE        EQUUS
             S265       SCISSORHANDS    SIMMONS
            K523        KINGSTON        KUBRICK
           I150         IPHONE          IZZARD
          M262          MUSSORGSKY      MORIARTY
         O662           O'ROURKE        OBAMA
        E163            EBERT           ELLE
       C453             CLANNAD         CROWLEY
      Z600              ZORRO           ZIPLOC
     E140               EIFFEL          EDSEL
    M340                MATTEL          MICRONESIA
   A222                 AGASSIZ         AMIGA

AQUARIUS (= across)

AGASSIZ: Hick nerd anarchist laughs, Thom Technetium Yorke awoke
    = Huge North American lake, ten thousand years ago
CLANNAD: Vacuole nebula from Jovian, or iris clouds beyond
    = Visual novel from Japan, or Irish Celtic band
EBERT: Fallen courthouse rescuer, who robbed with Seagal and then robber
    = Film critic Roger, who reviewed with Siskel and then Roeper
EIFFEL: Iguanas threeway in Paraguay
    = Iconic tower in Paris
ELLINGTON: Disco: champagne, boozy bend later, and juice puncture
    = Duke: composer, big band leader, and jazz pianist
EURASIA: Lowercase London on errata, mouth of tea container
    = Largest landmass on Earth, made of two continents
EUROZONE: Earphone raccoon with a canine chromosome
    = European region with a common currency
IPHONE: Awful piano featuring abuse such as score and fishtank
    = Apple phone featuring apps such as Siri and FaceTime
KINGSTON: Chipotle of jeans
    = Capital of Jamaica
MATTEL: Two chimpanzees, mockeries of brave
    = Toy company, makers of Barbie
MUSSORGSKY: Reagan campaign of "picketers at an Egyptian"
    = Russian composer of "Pictures at an Exhibition"
NUMPY: Photon equation model that aids fast meteoric combat
    = Python extension module that adds fast matrix computations
OROURKE: Striking who wired "powerlines of wires"
    = Satirist who wrote "Parliament of Whores"
SCISSORHANDS: Ethridge: forgot Jim Duffy rule in a bartending felony
    = Edward: first Johnny Depp role in a Burton film
ZORRO: Demo duck: must oddly hurry, who welds a repair and craves his intellect on things
    = Don Diego: masked outlaw hero, who wields a rapier and carves his initial on things

DOOM (= down)

AMIGA: Central Cambodia, compatriot to the magnets
    = Commodore computer, competitor to the Macintosh
CRIBBAGE: Carrot gun where nutmeg is Nintendo
    = Card game where nothing is nineteen
CROWLEY: Allegedly: ocelot who said "do wood toe wallet"
    = Aliester: occultist who said "do what thou wilt"
EARHART: Annually: avatar who despaired over the pushback
    = Amelia: aviator who disappeared over the Pacific
EDSEL: Ferret attempts flip: "the worms cheer at the worms' team"
    = Ford automobile flop: "the wrong car at the wrong time"
EEYORE: diverse Dennis, front of pew, who loses his towel
    = Depressed donkey, friend of Pooh, who loses his tail
ELLE: Fringe fusion musician
    = French fashion magazine
EMINEM: Rubber miracle mattress
    = Rapper Marshall Mathers
EQUUS: Super play with heresies and (rescinded) denial radicals
    = Shaffer play with horses and (recently) Daniel Radcliffe
IZZARD: Eat: enchilada stunt Canadian
    = Eddie: English standup comedian
KUBRICK: Drought of spirit and loyalty
    = Director of Spartacus and Lolita
MICRONESIA: Regime of the sweaty pushups, weekday of planking
    = Region of the south Pacific, west of Polynesia
MORIARTY: Ninjas of surrealist healing
    = Nemesis of Sherlock Holmes
NIELSEN: Atomic mushroom Sharpie for toolbox six
    = Audience measurement survey for television shows
OBAMA: Undead stitch practitioner, who divided Romeo and Romeo
    = United States President, who defeated Romney and Ryan
ODYSSEY: Signature ebook pen adrift to humor
    = Second epic poem attributed to Homer
SIMMONS: Muddy durian that's soft like a weevil
    = MIT dorm that's shaped like a waffle
ZIPLOC: Brunette of Rockville poolside books
    = Brand of reusable plastic bags