by Matto Mildenberger and Greg Pliska
Problem: New Year’s Town/​Holi Town

This puzzle provides solvers with a non-enumerated crossword where many cryptic clues are themed around climate and environmental crises. Solvers working through these clues will quickly realize that some words are two letters longer than grid entries allow. In total, there are 16 such words in the puzzle.

Solvers should then notice that every across “extra letter” word crosses a second down “extra-letter” word, with a shared trigram between them. Solvers should arrange their answers in the grid to overlap these shared trigrams (e.g. as a rebus). The rebus nature of the grid is also clued by “squeeze” in the flavor text. Solvers may realize that there is exactly one trigram present in every primary row and column in the grid. Note further every crossword entry is checked on at least half of its letters.

The cryptic clues are constructed as follows:

1.Certain wizards shuffle aimlessly around dragonHUFFLE(PUFF)S*
6.Good, fine, grandTHIN + G
9.Greens sad about onset of algae lossS(A+L)AD
11.Like a certain group of stars: an oasis epic castCASSIOPEIAN*
12.Warning for the consumer: by Uber we are mistreated (2 wds.)BUYER BEWARE*
15.Integrity of Solomon Islands capital more than half destroyed by oxygen resistanceHON[IARA]+O+R
17.Prow of Kon-tiki water vessel in Seven Seas conglomerateK + RAFT
19.Lousy nap? Temple hosts Eastern Orthodox litanySYNAPTE (C)
21.Ounce, for example, is cup plus a tonC + A + T
22.And . . .spiral!DNA (&lit!)
23.Vehicle impales horse, evoking deathMA(CAB)RE
26.Gore (Ramon’s heart) from Texas battle siteAL + AMO
27.Last of scent coming from polluted toilet: stay stationary with head windwardLIE TO[T]*
28.Master of Rolls serves boiled sea urchin in advance to Arnold Schwarzenegger and other award-winners (2 wds.)MR(UNI)+VERSES*
31.Cambridge-based nonprofit opposing computer attacks but was probated in a mix-upSTOP BADWARE*
34.Mostly Hungarian goulash topping immersed in a certain acidU(G)RIC
37.Period of showers sounds like monkey at small streamAPRIL (H)
38.Famous animal painter’s sculpture honours bear (2 wds.)ROSA BONHEUR*
1Inhales noxious fumes in fits of angerHUFFS (double def)
2Droop, losing length—that’s funny!LOL[L]
3El Niño’s progenitor goes west in NerdapaloozaPADRE (C)
4A fiscal disaster: beauty treatmentsFACIALS*
5Appeal for help from Soros, or notS[OR]OS
6Mozart’s final, lavish opera: Taking Time for CaddisfliesT + RICH + OP(T)ERA
7I’m MIT’s Pritzker-earning icon, initially! (3 wds.)IM PEI (initials, &lit!)
8Variable, as integer on X, Y and Z, perhapsGENERATIONS*
10Illness detailed in meeting of climate scientistsAGU[E]
12Dessert is a consequence of runaway climate change? (2 wds.)BAKED ALASKA (double def)
13Your pal has a bachelor's degree—drink! (2 wds.)YER(BA)MATE
14Extinction of natural geneses in Hadean or ArcheanEON (initials)
16Plant fluids’ scent is revolting—cut off at both ends by viscous liquids[T]NEC[S] + TARS
18Slave grabs turkey eaten by insane master of wood, water and hill (2 wds.)TO(M(BOMB)AD)IL
20Semi-annual agreementYEA[RLY]
24Disheveled, crummy man missing in WalesCYMRU[M]*
25They leave the EU’s monarch without teeth? Just the opposite!B(REX)ITERS
29“Czech-Serbian, on the radio, holds area outside the city”EXURB (H, container)
30Transcendental numbers used for Yale method of quantifying a nation’s impact on climate changeE + PI
32Gate surrounding the central part of death rowO(A)R
33North-flowing river inlet is site of carbon pollutionAIR (R)
35Melt peeled prune[P]RUN[E]
36Pierre’s heart-broken course without directionCOEUR[S]*
 G  R I   C   E
A B   L O O E A
E M O  E  R T I
A T B Y X   R N
A   M   T X  P 

Upon completing the grid, solvers will realize they have inserted 8 trigrams into the grid, and that each of these is unique. Solvers may then notice that every trigram is also an ISO 4217 currency code. This is clued by the word “financial” in the flavortext. It is also clued more subtly by the secondary meaning of “change” in the phrase climate change. While solvers are very unlikely to notice, there is also a tertiary clue that exists more as an easter egg than real clue. Treating “change” as an anagram indicator—and thus the theme and title as a stand-alone cryptic phrase—one of the only possible anagrams of “climate” is “metical”, a currency unit in Zimbabwe.

Reading in row-major order of grid appearance, solvers can identify the currency name associated with each of these codes. Doing so generates the following list:

ISO 4217 CodeCurrency name

Reading the first letter of each currency in the order provided gives the final answer FIRE CODE.