(Blog readers, this is an entry just for my fellow solvers of the WSJ Friday Crossword Contest. It has nothing to do with Unionville.)
Dear Fellow Muggles,
I thought it might amuse you to see some of my "rabbit holes."
1. I took synonyms of the phrase "that's why" like "reason" and "explanation" and tried crossing out the letters from the key answers and seeing what remained.
2. I tried looking for synonyms of "that's why" in the key answers -- found "reason" in waynesworld, "intent" in tenniscourt and "aim" in macadamia nut.
3. After I noticed the scrambled "Seattle" in thenleast, I really thought I was on to something: Maybe all the cities had the same newspaper name, and a key one would be missing! (As it happens, it's the Seattle Times.) I found "Tucson" in tenniscourt, "Acadia" in macadamia and "Newsday" in waynesworld.
4. The Y! Must somehow use the Y! Thought of "net" from tenniscourt, added "y" and got "nyet." Pravda! Needless to say that went nowhere.
5. I finally got it on Day 2 when I started thinking about the meaning of the key answers rather than their letters. Not being a baseball fan, I had Googled the teams of the NL East when filling in the grid, so I had "NAT" in the back of my head. I think "NET" was the next, and then -- long shot -- nit as in nit-picking. When I noticed the vowels were in alpha order, I had my epiphany.
Awesome puzzle, Matt. Thank you!