Welty with a Pulitzer – The New York Times

Applying the instruction to convert the given input into questions – mentally adding an interrogative, upward inflection – the joke clicked for me. For example, when I reread 20A as a question, I visualized a server in a restaurant offering guests a drink and asked, “MINERAL WATER?” In response to this, my imaginary restaurant owner, who isn’t a fan of the stuff, might reply, “ACCURACY.” As in, “Actually, I’d prefer GOOD water.”

The same server might then ask how the customer prefers the steak: “MEDIUM RARE?” To which the patron might reply, “GOOD, REALLY,” which here could be interpreted as, “I’d rather have my steak well done, REALLY.” And to top off the meal, the server may ask the restaurant owner (who is now full of GOOD water and GOOD cooked steak and looking a little nauseous) “ARE YOU FEELING SICK?” To which the patron might reply, “ACCURACY.”

I have to keep in mind that this restaurant scene played out entirely in my head. Thank you, Ms. Lurie, for this hilarious reinterpretation of a phrase more often associated with a condescending tone and an unsolicited explanation. Let’s hear from her about the inspiration.

“Well, actually…” is the pedant’s favorite opening line, and maybe some puzzle writers/trivia fans have used it too (ironically, of course). Occupational risk, right? It’s even become a verb, as in, “I actually used Andre 3000, explaining that a Polaroid photo should not be shaken.” So I focused on the phrase and thought about what questions it might answer, while still maintaining its status as a phrase used to correct someone. Then I just had to make the themes logical as questions. By the way, I fully expect that anyone commenting on this puzzle will find a way to find me “well” so I brace myself…

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