Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Sounds a Little Off”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upThis week we’re going on safari in search of an animal. So let’s get our binoculars out and see if one appears on the horizon.
Six theme entries all contain an animal reference:
- 17a. [Chaotic situation], GOAT RODEO – this term isn’t familiar to me, and we’re about to start raising goats here on our farm in Vermont!
- 21a. [It’s above criticism], SACRED COW
- 35a. [Family embarrassment], BLACK SHEEP
- 42a. [Item purchased without proper assessment of value], PIG IN A POKE
- 49a. [Part of some magic tricks], WHITE DOVE – hmmm, a white rabbit seems more common in magic tricks, but I guess I’ve seen a dove fly out of a magician’s hat as well
- 60a. [Fan of the Persians, perhaps], CAT PERSON – that clue could’ve also been [Me, for instance], referring to Matt himself, who owns two cats as I recall. (One, named
OTTOOTIS, was the subject of an early MGWCC meta!)
Given the title (which mentions “sound”) and a couple of other suspicious entries (like BOINK and OMOO), I found the following six corresponding entries that included the letters of the typical sound each of these six animals make (in the order of the theme entries):
- 45a. [Trump slogan acronym], MAGA – for Make America Great Again. I have never seen it in the acronym form, though. I wasn’t sure if goats “neighed,” or said “naa” before I settled on “maa.”
- 41a. [Melville’s second book], OMOO
- 1a. [South Asian honorific], BABA
- 54a. [Sound of an object bouncing off something], BOINK
- 37a. [Unruffled], COOL
- 65a. [Less adulterated], PURER – did you join me in looking for “meow” somewhere else first?
The ones with the extra letter in the middle were much harder to find. I’ll also add that I’m glad these entries weren’t starred, as I believe that would’ve given too much away. Thanks Matt and Mike for that.
Anyway, if you read those extra letters from top to bottom you get GOBBLE, which is not an animal, but cleverly is the sound a particular animal makes, the TURKEY, which is our meta answer. Nice challenge, one I found much harder than the recent MGWCC contest in which the solver found extra entries relating to the truncated part of nicknames, since each of these began with the extra letter that was used in the meta answer. (Only two of the six did here.)
Some quick interesting other facts found along the way, first that oilman J. Paul GETTY spoke Arabic (I read here, that he also was fluent in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Greek). And LEET is an unusual entry, it’s also known as 1337–I often use leet when coming up with passwords, substituting an “i” with an exclamation point, an s with a $, and an e with a 3, etc.
À bientôt, j’espère la semaine prochaine!