Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “You Better Shop Around”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upIf you’re already tired of the commercialism on conspicuous display for the holidays, this puzzle ain’t gonna help! We’re asked for well-known company. At first glance, only one potential theme entry seems evident:
- 31a. [Neighborhood business, or a hint to finding the contest answer], CORNER STORE
Funny digression here, until I was well into adult-hood, I thought the phrase was “next store” instead of “next door” when referring to your neighbor. (When telling a friend this, her malapropism was “doggie dog world” for “dog eat dog world.”) Back to the puzzle, taking this “hint” literally, I started to look for one or more stores lurking in the corners. Sure enough there were four common letters in each of the 2×2 corners of this one:
- EASTER and KIMONO crossed by EKBERG and AIRS AT (the latter with the somewhat tortured clue [Fills the time slot of, as a TV show]
- PAD THAI and ONE WEEK (the latter clued with the interesting trivia fact: [Barenaked Ladies hit, or how long it topped the charts in 1998] crossing AEROBES and IKEBANA
- PULASKI and SNOW PEA (the former featuring a bit of geographic trivia, [County in seven states, named for a Revolutionary War hero] crossing KEEP HOT and I ASSUME
- And finally, Mayim BIALIK and SUNDAE crossing CRANIA and STROKE
So the four common letters were IKEA, which indeed is a company well-known for Scandinavian inspired build-it-yourself furniture with often frustrating instructions. Not much else to add on this one–I struggled with just one crossing: the I shared by [America’s second-largest labor org.] for SEIU (I see here, it stands for Service Employees International Union) and Mayim BIALIK (someone I recognize, but not by name). See y’all next week!