Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Buyer Be Where?”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upWe’re on a shopping spree this week, in search of a place to buy things. My default answer would’ve been “the mall,” but all the recent news articles have said online shopping (read the behemoth Amazon) is causing brick-and-mortar stores to close. Let’s see what this one offers in terms of theme entries:
- Only one is called out: 30a. [A place to buy things (and a hint to finding another place to buy things)], FIVE AND TEN – I would’ve called these “five and dime” stores, but I figured the numbers here had meta import.
So from here, I posited that either the other entries that were 10 letters long should be considered as part of the meta, or that numbered entries in multiples of five, ten or fifteen (combining five and ten) were part of the set. It seems the first path was the more promising one:
- 17a. [President with an office in the Palacio de la Revolucion], RAUL CASTRO
- 21a. [Losing reflectivity, in a way], STEAMING UP
- 41a. [Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, e.g.], SEX SYMBOLS – together now only in crossword clues like this one
- 54a. [Trump promised to “load it up with some bad dudes”], GUANTANAMO – the less I think of what DJT promised either on the campaign trail or now in office,
the better for my mental stability
- 59a. [Loser in both his vice presidential and presidential campaigns], ROBERT
If you take the fifth and tenth letters of each of these entries read from top to bottom (including 30a. noted above), you have the meta solution, COMPANY STORE.
I was pretty impressed with the theme density on this one–stacking 10-letter entries over each other like this isn’t easy to pull off, but Marie (“really Mike”) did it well. It probably helped to some degree that the only constraints on these entries were the fifth and tenth letters of each. I also enjoyed clues such as [Subject of a Magritte painting (or is it?)], referring of course to this painting with the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” I’m not familiar with the ALE called “Old Speckled Hen,” I see here that it’s an English brown ale from the Morland brewery and got its name from a brown car used to shuttle workers around the MG plant that got “speckled” with paint. Finally, [Bridal shower?] for RICE was a nice pun.