Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Final Exam”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upFunny coincidence in meta-land this weekend, Matt Gaffney is looking for a five-syllable word this week and here, the WSJ contest puzzle is looking for a five-word phrase. What’s this thing with five for end-of-year puzzles? Well, let us see!
We have five (!) theme answers whose clues are starred this week:
- 17a. [*Words from a not-ready-to-make-up spouse], DON’T TOUCH ME – yikes, not a phrase that embodies the holiday spirit, is it?
- 22a. [*Protein-rich side dish], THREE BEAN SALAD – something I detested as a child, but now can at least tolerate except for those grayish, soggy green beans.
- 36a. [*Explode], GO OFF – BLASTED DYNAMITE from last week didn’t fit
- 49a. [*Kvell], BURST WITH PRIDE – I always get kvell and kvetch confused, I assume both come to us from Yiddish?
- 57a. [*1955 hit for Julie London], CRY ME A RIVER – a bit before my time, but the title seems familiar. Take a listen (and tell me if you think those eyelashes are real):
So this week the title is a big hint, and I looked at the final letter of each word in each theme phrase, assuming each theme entry contributed a word to the five-word phrase we were searching for. And yes, we have THE END OF THE YEAR as our meta solution. Not sure I get the “exam” part of the title, perhaps implying this is the final test of the year, which indeed it is. So how did the contest puzzles of 2016 treat you? I’m very happy the WSJ offers these gratis each week and am thankful for the quality of the constructions and metas posed. On to 2017!
Sorry for my hastily-drawn solution above; but you can see I had a bit of trouble with SEES instead of USES for 39a. [Calls on], and then SIRE for SIRS as the [Quaint salutation] (I guess I was going back a bit too far with my “quaintness.”) My only other trouble was with the [Jewish Community Ctr. forerunner] or YWHA (I had YHCA first, knowing at least that H of Hebrew was in there somewhere), but I guess I can’t
kvell kvetch about that one.