Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “A Breezy Solve”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upMost visitors to this blog are familiar with Matt’s Weekly Crossword Contest, but if not, get thee to the site and plunk down your 50 cents/week for some of the toughest and most satisfying brain teasers in Crossworld.
Today in the WSJ, though, Matt lobs a slow pitch over the plate and asks us for a seven-letter European country. (Is it just my imagination, or have we been asked for a lot of European countries of late?) Today’s grid is remarkable for the theme entries that run in the down direction (usually this is a hint to the meta as well):
- 3d. [Packet served with your in-flight hot dog?], SKY MUSTARD – I wonder if this is reconstituted as Tang used to be?
- 9d. [Occupant of Her Majesty’s birdcage?], ROYAL CANARY – I bet it would enjoy Imperial margarine.
- 23d. [Get late Globetrotter Meadowlark ready for his TV appearance?], POWDER LEMON – I missed the notice that M.L. had passed away, guess it was just over a month ago at the age of 83. Thanks for the hilarious hoops hijinks!
- 29d. [What the bumpers are made of on aircraft carriers?], NAVY CHROME – I’m afraid Google has appropriated the term Chrome for me now. Anyone out there know the origin of that browser name?
So, after a few of these, I found the pattern that the first term was a shade of BLUE and the second of YELLOW. We have three additional hints about what to do with these:
- The aforementioned down entries, so it’s important that the shade of blue is over the yellow
- The title, “A Breezy Solve,” so something to do with breezes or winds is involved in the meta solution
- Finally, a central theme entry: 17d. [Words said by a football announcer–or by you, perhaps in a few minutes], THERE’S A FLAG – timely entry with Super Bowl 50 today; my ear would like to hear “…on the play” at the end of this phrase
All that remained was to head over to Wikipedia (I hope you donate generously to them as I do), and check out European countries that have a flag with blue over yellow and are seven letters. Our answer found there is Ukraine, found in Eastern Europe. I guess I would’ve liked to have seen Matt omit the letter count as well as the country being in Europe in his meta instructions, since that would give solvers a chance to consider Sweden over Ukraine, but only the latter has the blue over the yellow in its flag.
I’ll close up today with a few clues I enjoyed:
- 17a. [Cowboy concerned with safety issues] is TONY ROMO, another football-related clue with “safety” referring to the 2-point play. The Cowboys had a rough season with Tony on the sidelines for most of it.
- I didn’t know former “SNL” cast member Gary KROEGER, running for Congress in Iowa. If successful, he’ll follow in the footsteps of another SNL alum, Al Franken.
- New to me is the [Uncouth Bournemouth youth], CHAV – looks like Bournemouth, Dorset has lots of other deplorable things going for it, along with its anti-social youth.