Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “What Am I Missing?”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upSo this week constructor Matt Gaffney poses the question, “What am I missing?” Apparently, based on the contest instructions, this missing thing is a certain animal breed. The recent Westminster Dog Show came immediately to mind, would we find a breed of dog missing among the entries in the grid? Let us put on our deerstalker cap and investigate further.
The five longest across entries share an unusual phenomenon; they are all missing their final letters. To wit:
- 17a. [Campaign strategist for Clinton in 1996], DICK MORRI[S] – only vaguely familiar with the name, couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, I’m sure. Apparently he still publishes a regular podcast on his website.
- 24a. [2002 Neil Simon revision subtitled “A New Look at the Odd Couple”], OSCAR AND FELI[X]
- 41a. [Spinal Tap album named for a famous sculpture], INTRAVENUS DE MIL[O]
- 52a. [President for just 200 days], JAMES GARFIEL[D] – Jim, we hardly knew ya.
- 66a. [1965 Dr. Seuss book], FOX IN SOCK[S]
Switching gears and thinking about tails got me in the frame of mind of dogs again and I started to look at the final name in each theme entry. We have:
All famous cats! So if we’re looking for a breed of cat (now I understand why “animal” was used in the meta instructions, so as not to let the cat out of the bag as it were), I was hoping that there was only one breed that is known for not having a tail. Indeed, we have the MANX cat, named after the Isle of Man, where it originated.
I was sort of surprised only one breed of cats is known for not having a tail; in fact, even Manx (or is the plural Manxes?) can sometimes have tails; however, this is quite rare. Other fun facts I learned from the puzzle are the constructor shares his first name with [Savannah’s co-host] (from the “Today” show) and that TOKYO has the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world. With five letters, I was probably not alone in slapping PARIS in there. Finally, who knew that VIRGO was the [Largest constellation in the zodiac] (but not the in the entire Milky Way, which is Hydra, the Sea Serpent)? On the other side of the coin, [___ Janeiro] for RIO DE is a pretty unfortunate looking partial. Though I bet the Manx with its partial tail would sympathize…