Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “College Search”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up
Many of my nieces and nephews are currently engaged in a college search, so this week’s contest puzzle seems aptly timed. Specifically, we are looking for an American college. So let’s get out our applications and begin the search.
We have four obvious theme entries (but also a tantalizing bonus one at 56a. [State in two parts], MICHIGAN):
- 17a. [Negatively affect the company’s revenue stream?], HURT GROSS, the surface sense of this entry hurts me too!
- 29a. [Pet deer on the grounds of an investment bank?], GOLDMAN HART, I’m not certain many outside of the crosswording community know that a “hart” refers to a deer (I think of the male persuasion) and here, GOLDMAN shares the sense of the eponymous company in the clue, which seems like a demerit to me.
- 46a. [Reveal a secret to Duvall or Winters?], TELL SHELLEY, a bit of an improvement, but SHELLEY refers to a name (albeit a first name) in the clue.
- 62a. [Water supply for a magician with a one-named partner?], PENN WELLS, oof, PENN refers to another person (I thought at first it was referring to the college) and I sure would’ve liked a possessive there at the beginning of the theme phrase to avoid too much wackiness.
So from whence does all this wackiness derive? Well, the first word in each theme entry is the last name of a famous William (I had to look up Goldman’s first name) and the second is a famous Mary (I had to refresh my SNL memory to come up with Mary Gross), so we have the college of William & Mary, our meta solution.
I wish there had been more play with the last names involved in the theme entries, and I found the surface sense of them a bit too wacky for my tastes, but, as always, YMMV. I found TRIPTYCH to be an interesting entry; the artist Hieronymus Bosch comes to mind, who must’ve inspired the animations featured in Monty Python outtakes. I found the clue for SCREEN, namely [Crosswords may be solved on one], aptly meta, as I rarely solve on paper these days. Finally, the clue [Xi’s language] isn’t referring to the present Chinese leader Xi Jinping (who likely speaks Mandarin as his native tongue), but to the Greek letter Xi.