WSJ Contest – Friday, June 17, 2016

untimed (Evad) 


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

WSJ Contest - 6/17/16 - "Odd Man Out"

WSJ Contest – 6/17/16 – “Odd Man Out”

This week we’re in search of the seven-letter last name of the missing member of a set. Lots of information there, so hopefully this meta will reveal its secrets without too much difficulty. Let us see!

Looks like five theme entries in this one, all clued with a question mark, indicating a made-up phrase:

  • 16a. [Indy action?], CAR RACING – this seems like a valid phrase to me
  • 19a. [Serenading, but at dawn instead of at night?], CROONING EARLY – this one is definitely wacky; it made me think the base phrase was the similar CROWNING GLORY
  • 36a. [Result of anticlimatic negotiations?], DEAL LETDOWN – here I thought the base phrase was (a) REAL LETDOWN
  • 54a. [Indication of a mole problem?], BURROWS IN LAWN – this phrase (as is) actually Googles well, but, here, my initial thought was to drop the N of LAWN and change BURROWS to BROTHERS to get BROTHERS-IN-LAW. I wasn’t seeing a pattern in these potential transformations.
  • 61a. [Bossy, perhaps?], MOO SOURCE – back to something pretty wacky

So I struggled with trying to find some pattern among these entries and how they represented five of a six-member set, where the missing entry was a person’s (likely male, given the title) last name. The way I began to crack this one open was to focus on the title; in what way would the missing man be “odd” if he is the sixth of a six-member set? I’m not much of an expert in cryptic crosswords (read “not much of” as “not at all,” really), but looking for “odd” as a cryptic signal here helped me to consider looking at the odd-numbered letters in these five phrases. Thus:

  • CAR RACING becomes CRAIG
  • BURROWS IN LAWN becomes BROSNAN, and
  • MOO SOURCE becomes MOORE

The rest of this is pretty trivial–who is the sixth man to play Bond? Actually, there seem to be two candidates, David Niven, and, happily, one with a seven-letter last name, George Lazenby. (Or even an eighth, if you believe this page.) So, unless I’m missing a sixth theme entry, I’m bothered that Lazenby doesn’t complete the set. Readers, please clue me in! Also, unless I had discovered the page on how to solve cryptic clues, I think I’d still be struggling with this one. I wonder how familiar your quotidian WSJ solver is with cryptics, as I see them more as a British fixture than American. YMMVW.

As for the rest of the puzzle, as you can see, I had 3 mistakes–for some reason I read [His pa was Andy] as “pal” instead of “pa,” and came up with OTIS instead of OPIE. (Check your crossings!) Also, the answer for [“A lie that makes us realize truth,” per Picasso] of ART makes a lot more sense than my initial ACT. I’m off to have a martini, shaken, not stirred, of course!

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5 Responses to WSJ Contest – Friday, June 17, 2016

  1. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    Got it, with the most useful hint being “last name.”

    The biggest false lead I followed had to do with double letters in the grid. I have no idea if this was an unusual collection, but starting with the RR in CARRACING, I saw R O L L T R O L doubled in the Acrosses and C L O R S doubled in the Downs. Meant nothing, of course.

    Why LAZENBY and not Niven and some others? Don’t have time to check, but I thought the six considered a “set” were in the Broccoli films.

  2. Scott says:

    Agree about the wording implying that there is one missing member. But otherwise loved the puzzle.

  3. Art Metzer says:

    I also liked the little hint of BONDS in the NE.

    • BrainBoggler says:

      Nice one, Art — I completely overlooked that, even after solving! (smacks forehead in V8 fashion)

  4. pannonica says:

    Niven’s outing wasn’t for the “official” main series of Bond films, those produced by the Broccoli clan.

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