WSJ Contest – February 9, 2018

untimed (Evad) 


Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Street Smart”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 2/9/18 – “Street Smart”

This week we’re on the hunt for a five-letter verb. OK, with five theme entries it’s a good bet each will contribute one letter to that verb. Let’s dig in and find out, shall we?

  • 17a. [*Color in a Crayola 64-crayon box], RAW SIENNA
  • 21a. [*John Glenn, in the 1950s], TEST PILOT
  • 39a. [*”I’ve done this before, you know!”], NOT MY FIRST RODEO – a great phrase, I wonder what its etymology is?
  • 54a. [*Amtrak’s New York-to-Toronto train], MAPLE LEAF
  • 64a. [*Fifth movie in a 1940s-’50s comedy series], ROAD TO RIO – I think this was the Marx Brothers,
    but I’m too lazy to confirm right now.

Rodeo Drive

I originally thought the solution might be “drive,” as that can follow TEST and RODEO. Then I wondered if perhaps a different synonym of street (like way, road, etc.) might work for each one, but there was no street that began with RAW or SIENNA that I’ve ever heard of. I’m not sure now if it was SIENNA or PILOT that made me think of car makes, but that was the right path to take. Without further ado, here are the manufacturers of each model:

  • ISUZU RODEO – is Joe Isuzu still around?
  • NISSAN LEAF – all-electric, no?

From top to bottom, you get THINK, a five-letter verb and confirmed by the puzzle’s title “Street Smart.” I enjoyed the tie-in between the title and the meta solution in this one, but feel car makes are a perhaps too-well-trodden vein for meta material. As always, YMMVW. I’ll close with my favorite clue in this one, [Rabbit hole dweller], for ALICE, as it reminded me of the many rabbit holes I’ve visited over the years of meta puzzle solving!

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12 Responses to WSJ Contest – February 9, 2018

  1. Harry says:

    The thing is, DRIVE can go with all of the starred clues — raw drive is a computer term, maple drive was a TV show and rio drive is a well-recognized song. Plus it fits with the title, since drive as a noun is a kind of street, and you drive a car. This one feels pretty arbitrary to me.

  2. Neil b says:

    Rodeo and maple got me thinking of street names like Rodeo drive but Sienna and pilot did not so then Honda Pilot set me on right path

  3. Bob H says:

    And don’t forget the final across clue: it has a make and a model (car). We are given the MODELS and the MAKES give us the meta answer. That clinched it for me.

  4. Amy L says:

    Never heard of any of the cars–I’ve never owned a car. I knew Sienna wasn’t the spelling of the city in Italy so I googled it and came up with Toyota. That let me google the rest and come up with the answer.

    The Marx Brothers!!! Oh, Dave!! Bob Hope and Bing Crosby starred in a bunch of “Road to (some exotic place)” movies.

  5. JakaB says:

    53A answered “ITS” is a starred clue.


  6. Eric Conrad says:

    I saw RODEO, started down the DRIVE rabbit hole, saw MAPLELEAF, and abandoned DRIVE. I found THINK shortly after.

    This is an example where bruised egos are causing people to leave low marks (it’s currently rated 2.6, which is ridiculous).

    For the DRIVE folks (I was one temporarily) : now that you’ve seen THINK: it is clearly a superior answer, IMO

  7. Ed says:

    “Road” movies are Crosby/Hope.

  8. JohnH says:

    Not a puzzle for a New Yorker like me who thinks of cars on the street as a nuisance and have never owned one. I didn’t recognize a single car name in the themed answers, so no incentive to search the Web for others. More power, I guess, to those for whom cars are second nature.

    I first thought of Crayola’s colors as raw umber and burn sienna, so my first thought was that maybe the others were wrong, too, and a substitution would prove helpful. Maybe that wasn’t the fifth Hope/Crosby movie but only the fourth, and the correction would matter. But nope, all just fine. Then I saw ROAD, along with the sound-alike ROD-eo, akin to street, but no hope there either. So I just gave up. Keeps my streak of not getting these just perfect. I guess either I’m dumb or they’re not for me.

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