Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “What’s the Difference?”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upThis week we’re in search of a 6-letter adjective. That doesn’t narrow things down very much, so let’s get some more info from the starred entries in this one:
- 17a. [*Nonsense], APPLESAUCE
- 21a. [*One might be hatched by a jailbird], ESCAPEPLAN
- 33a. [*Was soon to capture], CLOSED IN ON
- 44a. [*Neither a win nor a loss for a starting pitcher], NO DECISION
- 54a. [*Catch one’s steady by surprise], STEAL A KISS – “steady” seems dated to me, do you think today’s teenagers use it in this sense at all?
- 62a. [*Critics’ preferences, perhaps], AISLE SEATS – so that they can leave a film early?
The critical observation with this one is to note, with six theme entries, that they can be paired off in three sets of two. (The juxtaposition of the entries in the grid lends to this observation.) . So what does each pair have in common? Well, they both share all but one letter with each other:
- APPLESAUCE and ESCAPE PLAN
- CLOSED IN ON and NO DECISION
- STEAL A KISS and AISLE SEATS
From top to bottom, these unmatched letters spell UNLIKE, a very appropriate 6-letter adjective to describe these entries. (Well, actually they are very ALIKE with one UNLIKE exception!) . In general, I think this was probably a meta that was more fun to develop by the constructor than a solver to solve as all of these similar letters lends less interest to the grid as a whole. That said, I enjoyed the crossing longs, in particular [DIPHTHONGS], clued as [Sounds of “sounds” and “voices”]. Strange though that this consonant-rich word actually refers to a pair of vowels in which the pronunciation in one syllable moves from one vowel to the other.