Marie Kelly’s (Mike Shenk) Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Driving Around”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upIf you’re reading this blog post while you are “driving around,” please pull over! But if not, let’s go for a spin in search of a make and model of automobile.
There’s one obvious theme entries and a few others that could be masquerading as such:
- 37a. [Tries to find a place to park one’s car], CIRCLE THE BLOCK – given its central position, its grid-spanning 15 letters, and the fact that clue mentions a car, I thought it a sure bet this was meta-related.
Four other entries were long enough to be considered as possibly meta-related:
- 17a. [Guac-making waste], AVOCADO PITS – last night on the Food Network’s Kids Baking Championship, a young girl had to make a blueberry cupcake with avocado frosting. It looked disgusting, but the judges assured us it was tasty (or they didn’t want to hurt her feelings).
- 57a. [Novice], ABECEDARIAN – a lovely word, can we all agree to call experts EXWIZEARIANS as well?
- 10d. [Silas Timberlake’s mother], JESSICA BIEL – her hubby Justin just released the following:
- 25d. [“Face the Nation” moderator before Bob Schieffer], LESLEY STAHL – R.I.P. her 60 Minutes teammate, Morley Safer
Two other long downs, ADMISSIONS and TURTLENECK seemed less promising. Most inveterate crossword solvers, when seeing a reference to “blocks” in an entry, think of those little black squares that are found in grids. I wondered if I should circle them somehow? But the entry is in the singular and there are many blocks in this particular grid (34, to be exact). And was there something in common between Lesley and Jessica that would help me here?
Looking more carefully at the grid, I noticed there were only two blocks that letters actually surround, or that one could take a metaphorical trip around. The first, in the upper left, is surrounded by the letters (reading clockwise and starting from the upper left): CADILLAC and in the lower right, we have ELDORADO (odd that the following is all one word in the car’s make). So there we have it. All of the other long entries were just red herrings.
Such a small amount of theme material did allow Marie (or should I say Mike?) to open up the grid with the longer down entries. I’m always hesitant with the HADJ vs. HAJJ entry; I believe I see the former more frequently when driving around the grids I solve. I’d never heard of the ALLIS-Chalmers farm equipment company; surprising for me as we are now officially farmers here in Vermont with extensive vegetable gardens, a beehive, 13 chickens and goats on the way. I was wonder if this might follow Deutschland, Deutschland, uber, but that’s ALLES. Speaking of Germany, did you know that the Brandenburg Gate’s columns were DORIC?
This was a really good puzzle that took me much longer than it should have.
I enjoyed this one as well. Wasn’t immediately obvious to me so I circled many different blocks too many times. I nearly ran out of gas before my daughter pointed out the shortest (1 square) block and saved the day!