WSJ Contest – April 22, 2016

untimed (Evad) 


Marie Kelly’s (Really Mike) Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Recycling”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest - 4/22/16 - "Recycling"

WSJ Contest – 4/22/16 – “Recycling”

Our weekly WSJ contest puzzle today honors Earth Day, asking for a five-letter word. Let’s look at the theme entries and see how they might lead us to this word:

  • 17a. [Ring up on the holidays?], PINE WREATH – not sure I’ve ever heard a wreath referred to by the type of boughs that it is made of, I would say pine seems the most common type around New England
  • 21a. [Album from which the 1968 Top 10 hit “Think” came], ARETHA NOW – I guess another famous singer, EARTHA KITT would give too much away here
  • 39a. [Judge at a Wonderland trial], THE KING OF HEARTS – this and the next entry made me think we might be looking at an Alice Through the Looking Glass tie-in for the meta
  • 53a. [Witness at a Wonderland trial], MAD HATTER – I wonder why the judge gets a definite article, but not this character?
  • 61a. [Diesel engine part], HEATER PLUG – so diesel fuel needs to be heated as opposed to regular gas?

To these, we also have a hint at 49d. [Today’s honoree (and the focus of the recycling in each theme answer)], EARTH.

So, regular meta solvers to this blog should make an initial assumption that if we’re looking for a five-letter word and have five theme entries, each entry should “donate” a letter to the final answer. Here, each entry has a six-letter word with five of those letters taken from EARTH (in various rearrangements, or “recycling”), leaving one letter remaining. Those “left over” letters spell WASTE from top-to-bottom, and I guess can be seen as the byproduct of our recycling efforts.

Truth be told, I would say this is one of my least favorite metas in the WSJ canon to date–the meta mechanism seemed almost too straightforward that I questioned if I missing a deeper level. (It might’ve given a bit more resistance without the hint at 49d.) I also didn’t like the fact that two of the theme entries had a Wonderland vibe, all five or just one would seem more appropriate to this solver. Finally, I had wished that the EARTH letters, when rearranged, would remain contiguous, which is the case for the first three of the five entries. Again, a bit of inconsistency there.

Other bits and pieces:

  • I enjoyed the French “Que la lumiere soit!” or “Let there be light!” spoken in The Bible by God, or the French DIEU
  • I also enjoyed the connection of the double entries for [Photog’s take], PIC and SHOT
  • Nice tie-in with the title with the clue for 38d. [Recycled, perhaps], USED
  • Not sure I follow the connection between the clue [Make do?] and STYLE. Are we talking about the verb to style hair?

Hope you did at least one simple thing to save our planet today!

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3 Responses to WSJ Contest – April 22, 2016

  1. Bob Huckvale says:

    You may have heard that the actual answer to the meta was in fact EARTH, and not WASTE as hundreds guessed, including me. I figured that if you eliminate WASTE from the earth, then your are doing your part. But apparently you, I and hundreds of others were over-thinking it. So if it was your least favorite meta before, I expect it has dropped even further, if that’s possible, with this news.

  2. Evad says:

    The Monday puzzle solution confirms WASTE was correct:

    What makes you think EARTH was the correct answer?

    • Bob Huckvale says:

      I could have sworn that Mike Miller posted saying that the answer was EARTH, and that roughly half the people who submitted entries were incorrect. I read it a few times to make sure, and I don’t recall seeing the word WASTE anywhere in his post. And now of course the old blog entries are no longer available. But thanks for responding to clarify. I was a little miffed that it wasn’t WASTE, which made a lot more sense to me. Now I can let it go and get on with my life. :-)

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