The first thing I look for in any meta crossword puzzle are obvious theme entries in its layout - usually the longest Across entries. There were four: 17, 30, 48, & 64. Plus their clues verified their importance, being parenthetical numbers. Therefore, I saw no reason to solve any but their cross entries.Henry Paul wrote: ↑Mon May 10, 2021 8:12 pm yes! I'd like to hear from fellow Muggles; how did you do from seeing these numbers in parens to understanding that the clues were somehow crossword clues themselves? And the speed that those connections are made astounds me.
Even with a nudge (thank you Wendy) that one of my substitute words (PO) was correct, I was flailing on the others...
I initially solve grids using PUZ files on Acrosslite (computer) or Alphacross (android phone) apps, I am used to seeing each clue with the # of its entry letters in parentheses at clue's end. (Usually, this mindset is a hindrance with parenthetical numbers in clues, but not this time.)
I saw WIT, HERS, PO, & ON very quickly, thought 'REESE' and, having the meta clue & title in mind, REESE'S PIECES was obvious.
My solve time for the grid, tracked by the app, was shocking, including backfilling the remaining spaces. I attribute that to concentrating on filling in the theme entries first. Luck had me thinking WIT before other crosswordese entries for 38A. Luck also had me making the correct mental connections before rabbit holes (Squirrel!) took over my .
(EDIT: Metas have a way of humbling a person. After spraining my arm typing this, I pulled the BIGGEST, boneheaded, blinded mistake on this week's MMM. More post-deadline.)