WSJ Contest – November 13, 2015

untimed (Evad) 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Palace Intrigue”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest - "Palace Intrigue" - 11/13/15

WSJ Contest – “Palace Intrigue” – 11/13/15

This week we are looking for a figure in European history (and what a figure he had, as it turns out!)

Three theme entries this week, each clued in reference to the last names of two women:

  • 19a. [Oscar nominee for “Capote”/Teacher of Helen Keller], KEENER SULLIVANCatherine Keener played Go Set a Watchman’s Harper Lee and Anne Sullivan (no relation, btw!) was played by another Anne (Bancroft) on Broadway in The Miracle Worker.
  • 36a. [Champion of chimpanzees/”The Vampire Lestat” writer], GOODALL RICE – Before I noticed all the theme answers were women, I considered TARZAN in place of the anthropologist Jane Goodall. New Orleans gothic novelist Anne Rice is one of my partner’s favorite authors-he has a collection of hard-cover first editions of most of her early books (including The Vampire Lestat).
  • 54a. [“Chicago” Oscar winner/Performer in four of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries], ZETA-JONES O’HARA – I’m certainly more familiar with Catherine Zeta-Jones than Catherine O’Hara, but loved the latter in her role of Cookie Fleck in Guest’s Best In Show.


So although many of these women are actresses, not all are, so I compiled a list of their first names. In matrimonial order, they match the names of the six wives of that rotund British regent from the early-mid 16th century, Henry VIII:

The Six Wives of Henry VIII:

  • Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) Married from 1509-1533
  • Anne Boleyn (1501-1536) Married from 1533-1536
  • Jane Seymour (1508-1537) Married from 1536-1537
  • Anne of Cleves (1515-1557) Married from 1540-1540
  • Catherine Howard (1521-1542) Married from 1540-1541
  • Catherine Parr (1512-1548) Married from 1543-1547

I thought this meta a little looser than some as the women chosen spanned many different disciplines, but I was happy to see that there were no differently-spelled Katherines (sorry Ms. Heigl!) or Katharines (sorry Ms. Hepburn!) in the mix. I wasn’t familiar with the last name of screenwriter Robert TOWNE, but I would think he would be more famous for the script for Chinatown than a romcom about hairdressers. Timely clue for JEB as [Rival of Donald and Marco] (physician Ben Carson notably missing from the clue, perhaps to trick solvers to put him in first (as I did!))

Just having three theme entries allowed for some nice long crossing down entries; I particularly enjoyed AL CAPONE, BOTSWANA, UNTIL THEN and GRAPE JAM. I was a bit unsure of the spelling of RIUNITE, the [Wine with cheesy 1970s and 1980s ads] (nice play on the pairing of “wine and cheese” in the clue, btw). Let’s go back and relive one of those cheesy ads:

See you next week, and UNTIL THEN I think I’ll go grab a Riunite on ice!

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8 Responses to WSJ Contest – November 13, 2015

  1. Cyrano says:

    I would love to get in on the Friday WSJ metas but am traveling (for long enough that it is significant) and have only an iPad and no printer. I hope it is okay to ask this here, but is there any way to get WSJ puzzles in .puz or .jpz format?

  2. Norm says:

    I think I read somewhere that .puz will be available at some point, but not yet. According to “You can also solve the crosswords on the WSJ iPad app.”

  3. Scott says:

    This was a perfect meta for me. Took just the right amount of time for me to solve. Thank you Matt.

  4. CoffeeLover says:

    Interesting that you commented on the consistency in spellings of Catherine. In the source I consulted to verify my meta solve of Henry VIII, I found three spellings for the ladies: Catherine of Aragon, Kathryn Howard, and Katherine Parr. I see today that Wiki is consistent with the spelling Catherine. At any rate, what sad fates for all of these women – even Katherine Parr was widowed.

  5. DaveB says:

    Way too easy, Matt!

  6. austin says:

    much like Jeb! in the polls, he was the third one I thought of, behind Ben and Ted.

  7. dbardolph says:

    Loved it. I started with the thought that “Keener Sullivan” sounds a lot like “Kiefer Sutherland.” Took me way too long to get off of that and onto the first names.

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