This is the fastest I’ve ever gotten the meta puzzle answer. Also likely the fastest I’ve ever gotten the Friday crossword completed. That is to say that I sent in the answer at 3:02pm on Thursday, and I didn’t even print out the puzzle as soon as it was released.
I’ve said this before, but there’s something that’s just fun about doing the crossword with pen and paper that isn’t there on the screen. I don’t know if it’s the risk of crossouts or the illegibility or sometimes misread of which clue goes with which box, but I’m going to keep on doing this for the WSJ crossword contest.
The title of this puzzle is IN CHARACTER.
The answer to this week’s contest crossword is a famous novel.
For my analysis, I still have to put it into a different format, so there’s no real time saving to do it all onscreen.
I’ve learned from the past that the starred clues are important for the meta puzzle answer.
17A *Lightly fruity wine: BEAUJOLAIS. 25A *Faultfinding situation: BLAMEGAME. 50A *Meditation-while-asleep practice: DREAMYOGA. 58A *1970 chart-topping hit for the Jackson 5: ILLBETHERE.
Then there was the hint clue:
36A George Eliot novel that’s not the contest answer, but provides a hint to it: MIDDLEMARCH.
BTW, What’s that comma doing in the clue?
Whatever this thing is must be in the middle of these long answers!
As to what links JO, MEG, AMY, and BETH, Calah immediately blurted, “Little Women!” And there you have it.
A NEW PERSONAL RECORD!!!! It’s not even a February Fools’ Day joke. Also happy 2121. Although the twos have abounded, we haven’t yet seen the full-on silver squeeze. Two because silver medal is second place. I want the silver squeeze to happen because if silver goes to $1000/ozt, this half dollar in my hand is worth more than $350. But just try to get that kind of cash for it, right? I know from my time in rare coins and collectibles that if you go to a place that sells precious metals, they’ll tell you that they can’t sell it to you at spot because they’re a business and have to make a profit on it. If you try to sell them precious metals, they’ll tell you that they can’t buy it for spot because they’re a business and have to make a profit on it. They make a profit on both ends of the transaction. Unless the price falls dramatically after they buy it and before they sell it.
I pulled out 14D Dull photo finish: MATTE because my name is Matt, and I’m allowed to be vain. Also months and months ago Calah and I bought our wedding bands with the expectation that we’d be long married by now. I made sure to get one with a matte finish. Why? Because my name is Matt, and I’m allowed to be vain.
This puzzle was the bees’ knees! And not just in the sense that I have a new Monday PR.
19A One on the front lines during a crisis: ESSENTIALWORKER. 35A Crown wearer at a fall football game: HOMECOMINGQUEEN. 52A Unmanned Dept. of Defense aircraft: USMILITARYDRONE.
19A WORKER BEE. 35A QUEEN BEE. 52A DRONE BEE.
Finished this one in 3:49, ABSOLUTELY OBLITERATING my old Monday PR of 4:21.
It’s so cold today in LA! It rained and hailed yesterday. It’s sunny out now, but it’s 54 degrees outside. Bananas. But the rain has made me realize I can make progress on the chairs with the chisel set that my college roommate Darren got me as a gift recently. But more on that in the woodworking chair project series. Woodworking series posts every Tuesday at 10am PT.
I pulled out 37A Singer Watson, a.k.a. Tones and I, with the 2019 hit “Dance Monkey”: TONI because I think the clue is bad. The song itself is catchy. As much as I don’t care for it, it’s not the worst every so often. But the clue has the answer in it. There are down clues to get you there if you don’t know that her name is TONI (which I didn’t), but you might as well have clues like Musician Adams, a.k.a. will.i.am, with the 2009 instant classic “I Gotta Feeling,” or State of origin of Tramar Dillard, a.k.a. Flo Rida, with the 2007 breakout single “Low.”
I remembered to look at the title of the puzzle this time, and that helped me solve a lot of it.
Sugar, Sugar is even more helpful now that I look at it again. I got that it is candy from the Sugar, but I now I realize that the two Sugars is indicative of that already.
22A Bookworms call dad?: NERDSRINGPOP. This was one of the last ones I got in the entire puzzle. Some friends of mine proposed to their now-wives with ring pops and then went ring shopping later. I proposed to Calah with a costume jewelry ring. I’m not talking a ring that looks nice but isn’t expensive. This ring probably came in a big pack that had a choking hazard warning on it. I had gotten it for free years earlier in a creative wedding invitation. Despite earlier statements she’d made that the type of ring didn’t matter, Calah looked at it and said no repeatedly and emphatically. So there we were at the park at night near a lamppost. I was on one knee on the damp ground with a ring out, and I got denied. But I’m good at quick thinking. In an attempt to make the situation less awkward, I pulled out from my pocket a ring box and revealed an honest engagement ring with a stone that caught what little light there was. My second attempt got a more favorable result. Of course she’d tell the story a little differently. But now I get to look forward to her reading this and expressing horror at me telling the world a story with too little context and arguably major, relevant omissions. 31A A young Justice Ginsburg chuckles?: BABYRUTHSNICKERS. Aw, I miss RBG. Especially now that ACB is sitting in her chair. 47A Do core exercises all day, every day?: CRUNCHNOWANDLATER. This could not be a more applicable clue and answer. Whenever I’ve had Now and Later, it’s been hard, and I eat a little bit of the wax paper wrapper that I cannot separate from the petrified candy. Even though CRUNCH in this context refers to the Nestle chocolate-and-rice bar, I’ve yet to find a Now and Later that’s not made a loud sound when I chew it. 67A Burger King bingefest?: WHOPPERSSPREE. OK I had never heard of Spree until this morning.
But I can talk about Whoppers for eternity. My favorite one in the box or carton–wait a second, does it come in a carton because it’s malted milk? Whoa!–is the one that’s a little soft and chewy. It’s a wonderful surprise whenever it happens. Also Whoppers are better than Maltesers. Maltesers is reportedly the choice of terrorists. Whoppers is the choice of me. 84A Supernova in our galaxy?: MILKYWAYSTARBURST. Pretty good. 103A When E.M.T.s bring home the bacon?: LIFESAVERSPAYDAY. Pineapple is the best lifesaver.
115A Some astronomy Ph.D.s?: MARSSMARTIES. Probably the weakest of all the theme ones.
Finished in 38:35. The blog post took me way longer to write.
It’s Thursday and the first full day of the Biden presidency. A reminder that I’m writing this on Sunday, January 17. It’s the end of my first week of doing last week’s puzzles on Sunday and timing them to post throughout the week.
I pulled out 57A Is for two: ARE because I got a chuckle out of it. Is is for one. Are is for two. What a world!
The title of this puzzle is Victory Parade. Biden won, the inauguration was yesterday, and even Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal has long turned to dunking on Trump.
17A Like an active surfer?: INMANYWAVES. 24A Message left for each of Henry VIII’s spouses?: AWORDTOTHEWIVES. 36A Suffers from a fear of icicles? FEELSILLATEAVES. 49A Motivations for midnight snacking?: THELATESTCRAVES. 58A Cat’s nine-pat allotment?: PACKOFLIVES.
It was all gratuitous these:
17A INMANYWAVES – V = IN MANY WAYS. 24A AWORDTOTHEWIVES – V = A WORD TO THE WISE. 36A FEELSTILLATEAVES – V = FEEL STILL AT EASE. 49A THELATESTCRAVES – V = THE LATEST CRAZE. 58A PACKOFLIVES – V = PACK OF LIES.
What an inauguration this morning. I’m feeling hopeful. I expect good things from this administration. Things are looking less divisive.
I pulled out 65A Isle of ___ : SKYE because it reminds me of when I went to Islay. I enjoyed going to the Laphroiag distillery back in 2019. They were really nice there, and I am looking forward to going back. When I was sitting at the bar at the distillery, some dude said that he was going to other places in Scotland, including the Isle of Skye. I said, “Oh! Are you going to go to Talisker?” When he asked me if he should, I recommended he talk to the people who work at Laphroaig. So the guy told a bartender that he was going to Skye. The reply: “Oh! Are you going to Talisker?”
The theme of this puzzle was our country being together.
15A Sharing thoughts like a Vulcan [Detroit, Fargo]: MINDMELDING. There’s been too much of that. Let’s get back to honest debate. 22A Classic of daytime TV first aired in 1962 [Atlanta, Bangor]: MATCHGAME. Betty White was on Match Game for years. She’s now in her 100th year. How cool is that? 45A Arthritis symptom [Altoona, South Bend]: JOINTPAIN. 57A Sommelier’s suggestion [Oshkosh, Omaha]: WINEPAIRING. How else would we know not to have white wine with steak?
36A Red, white and blue land … or what 15-, 22-, 45- and 57-Across feature?: THEUNITEDSTATES. United.
15A Detroit, MI; Fargo, ND. MIND. 22A Atlanta, GA; Bangor, ME. GAME. 45A Altoona, PA; South Bend, IN. PAIN. 57A Oshkosh, WI; Omaha, NE. WINE.
And in what was a clear shoutout to Bernie Sanders…
This is the ides of January puzzle. Too many people don’t know that the ides of a month is more infrequently than not on the 15th. It’s on the 13th day of every month that isn’t one of March, May, July, and October. Also I’m writing this on Sunday, January 17, and the deeper into the week I get, the more I don’t know what has happened. If the tone of this blog post is incongruous with how the world looks, my bad. But hi from the past!
I pulled out 23A Plymouth Reliant, e.g.: KCAR because I had only heard of the K-Car in the Barenaked Ladies song If I Had $1,000,000:
If I had $1,000,000 I would buy you a K-Car (a nice reliant automobile).
It makes more sense now that I know that a Reliant is a K-Car, so it’s a good play on words as both a reliant automobile and a Reliant automobile. Nice job, BNL. Also in the news is that Chrysler has merged with PSA, the company that made Peugeot and Citröen. The joint company is called Stellantis. Is it a dumb name? Yes. But is it a good name? No.
The title of this puzzle is You’re All Wet.
17A Unofficial means of communication: BACKCHANNEL. We no longer have to worry about the current president advising that a foreign government “talk to Rudy.” Hooray! 25A Floor routine component: HANDSPRING. This is an interesting clue to me because 10D Bestselling PDAs: PALMPILOTS while Handspring did not and does not get that title.
36A Penny Lane Locale: LIVERPOOL. Also in my ears and in my eyes. 50A Seneca, e.g.: FINGERLAKE. I hadn’t heard of the Finger Lakes until recently when one of the late-night hosts mentioned them, I think. I don’t remember which one it was, and it’s all a blur.
58A Geographic feature, and a hint to four answers in this puzzle: BODYOFWATER.
CHANNEL, SPRING, POOL, LAKE.
Finished this one in 13:50. Not bad for a Wednesday.
This blog post ended up mostly being about the clue and answer I pulled out, so it may be more entertaining to read than most of the WSJXW blog posts are. I did struggle with this one a little, but I made my way through. This doing-them-all-on-Sunday thing is fine so far. We’ll see how it continues.
I pulled out 8A Ballpark official: SCORER because it reminds me of when I was a baseball broadcaster in college. I read the entire NCAA rulebook for baseball and always brought the book with me to games because I had no one around me to let me know what had just happened when there was a crazy event in the game. There was one game I called with my often-broadcast partner Mitchell Clements where this rulebook came in handy. A guy got to first base, and the next batter was power hitter. I saw that the third baseman was playing almost on the outfield grass, and although this batter had the speed to turn a close triple into a long single, he decided to drop down a bunt down the third baseline. To the casual baseball fan, it seems like a standard sacrifice bunt play: He was thrown out easily, and the runner moved over from first to second. However, it didn’t look to me like that’s what he had wanted to do. I saw that the third baseman was playing deep. I figured he saw the same thing. Rather than give himself up, it sure seemed like he had gone rogue and decided to drop down a bunt into no-man’s land in an attempt to make it to first safely.
Per the rules:
HOWEVER, then there’s this:
I knew it had to be the latter. I knew there was no chance he had been instructed to play smallball in that situation.
Announcement from the official scorer: “Sacrifice.”
After that game, the head coach was unfazed by my question about that play. He shrugged it off and said that sometimes they ask this batter to drop down a bunt to move a guy over and that the plan had worked. I was unconvinced and asked the guy later what had really happened. He seemed kind of excited to tell me that my analysis in real time had been entirely correct.
Since I wasn’t the official scorer, it went down as a sacrifice. But I knew the rule.
Major League Baseball unsurprisingly has a similar rule:
But there’s an interpretation that the NCAA rulebook does not have:
So there you go.
The title of this puzzle is A Few Brief Words.
20A Secret compartments in some desks: HIDDENDRAWERS. Also what is often found under a pair of pants on the bedroom only after the rest of the laundry is done. 33A Some Pixar works: ANIMATEDSHORTS. 40A Long proboscises: ELEPHANTTRUNKS. 57A Golden Gloves competitors: AMATEURBOXERS.
The wind is supposed to pick up in the next couple hours. It’s going to be crazy, and I’ll have the police radio on in the background. I think it will be downed trees today. I hope there won’t be fires.
I pulled out 67A Actor Mickey of “The Wrestler”: ROURKE because for too much of the puzzle, I had ROONEY in there. It’s understandable, right?
I figured out the theme about 1/3 of the way through this puzzle.
18A *Bygone Crayola color: LEMONYELLOW. It took me a while to realize that this wasn’t LEMONY ELBOW–the thing that happens when you’re not careful around these:
41A *Sweet, healthful treat: FRUITCUP. Will Shortz is in Del Monte’s pocket. 62A *World’s largest terrestrial arthropod: COCONUTCRAB.
12D *Sign in a deli window, perhaps: HOTCOFFEE. Because HOTPASTRAMI was too long. 35D *Staple of Japanese cuisine: WHITERICE. Hard to argue when it’s the majority of the country’s flag.
60D Word that can follow either half of the answers to the starred clues: CAKE.
Today there was kind of muted craziness. The Trump administration said the travel ban from Europe is ending or something. That’s silly because COVID obvz. Then Biden was like, “Hang on, buddy!” Also Kayleigh McEnany reportedly has moved back home to Florida already. Does she not know that that’s where the Trumps are moving, too??????
I pulled out 3D “Here comes Poindexter!”: NERDALERT because of what this is. Might as well have been “Look! Someone doing the crossword!”
Today’s theme was something like why travel the world when you can travel the whole world in this country?
17A City where you won’t find the Eiffel Tower: PARISTEXAS. 24A City where you won’t find the Parthenon: ATHENSGEORGIA. Republic of Georgia should look into naming one of their towns after the city in Greece, too. 46A City where you won’t find Virgil’s Tomb: NAPLESFLORIDA. 56A City where you won’t find the El Greco Museum: TOLEDOOHIO.