Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “The Inner City”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up
Greetings, and welcome to another installment of the Wall Street Journal’s weekly contest puzzle. Today’s is by prolific meta constructor, Matt Gaffney, and is entitled “The Inner City.” We are asked for an American city to solve today’s contest. Hopefully we will be able to exclaim “Eureka!” after completing the puzzle (but only after exclaiming the correct city first, as only our first submission will count!)
As has been typical among the contest puzzles so far, the theme answers are obvious–they are the five longest across entries:
- 16a. [Skull-centered pseudoscience], PHRENOLOGY – is there where someone looks for bumps on your skull? If they find them, what does that imply? Or, instead, this may be the Nazi era practice of examining skull sizes to prop up the notion that the Aryan race is superior. Phrenologists out there, clue me in, please!
- 25a. [Actor in “The Wild Bunch” and “Stripes”], WARREN OATES – not a clue on this one. Any relation to Haulin’? (insert smiley here)
- 37a. [“Robinson Crusoe” and “Jurassic Park”], ADVENTURE NOVELS
- 53a. [1975 #1 hit for Linda Ronstadt], “YOU’RE NO GOOD – let’s get into the way-back machine and take a listen
- 63a. [“Point taken”], “FAIR ENOUGH” – not sure these two phrases are interchangeable, but perhaps they’re close enough
Astute solvers will notice that the same four letters are found inside each theme answer, and they are also the name of a famous American city: RENO, Nevada. It’s a nice touch that the letters are split in different ways in each answer, with just a necessary duplication of one split (RE/NO) with five theme answers. The fill was also superb in this one–I enjoyed DELOITTE (first imagining an acute accent on “Touche” in the clue), AWAY TEAM, ESCHEW, EAGLE EYE and finally FOLDEROL for [Nonsensical activity]. Not as happy with O-FER for [Batter’s hitless game, in baseball slang] as that leading “oh” is really a numeral not a letter. Oh, and is Matt sure that Rand Paul has read AYN Rand? Has he quoted from Atlas Shrugged in public, perhaps?
Those looking to amp up the difficulty of these week 1 or 2 (on the MGWCC hardness scale) meta puzzles might try to avoid looking at the instructions before submitting their answer. Though in practice, this seems pretty difficult to do with either the applet or printing out the puzzle as the instructions appear prominently in both cases. Maybe some feedback on the WSJ site would lead them to allow the instructions to be more hidden, perhaps like the Notepad appears in AcrossLite. OTOH, if you’re new to these type of meta puzzles, these are a great way to get started.