Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Color Commentary”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up
Today we are looking for a Hall of Fame athlete, certainly appropriately as we are in the thick of the Rio Olympics. Given a strong clue from the title, I assumed all the entries strongly related to a color were part of the theme set:
- 17a. [Good news for meteor shower gazers], CLEAR SKY – I initially associated this with BLUE, but then I thought more about the clue and went with BLACK. **Spoiler alert**, either works with the meta answer.
- 19a. [Figurative inducement], CARROT – unambiguously ORANGE
- 35a. [December birthstone], TURQUOISE – could be either BLUE or GREEN. Another **spoiler alert**, this one does matter which you choose.
- 37a. [Resident of a mushroom-shaped house], SMURF – famously BLUE cartoon characters
- 41a. [Bucket of bolts], LEMON – pucker up, it’s YELLOW
- 42a. [Fruit named for a Moroccan port], TANGERINE, ORANGE
- 59a. [Coke variety], CHERRY, RED
- 61a. [Don’t go there], STOP SIGN, RED
So my first idea was to consider each pair of colors as team colors of the four teams this Hall of Fame athlete played on. I was strongly influenced by the blue (when I considered “clear skies” to be blue) and orange of the first pair, suggesting the team colors of the Denver Broncos. The two Broncos in the Hall who came first to mind were John Elway and Shannon Sharpe, but following the careers of these two didn’t seem to jive with the three other color pairs. (Elway only played professionally with the Broncos and Sharpe only played one season with the Ravens between his two stints with the Broncos.)
Finally, I hit upon the idea to put the colors in a sequential list like this:
BLUE (or BLACK)
BLUE (notably, not GREEN)
Reading the first letters of these colors from top to bottom, you get Bobby Orr, a NHL Hall-of-Famer from my home town of Boston. (In fact there’s a statue of him in front of the old Boston Garden where he played.) I’d like to think the constructor considered the connection between the four “pairs” of theme colors and Bobby Orr’s famous jersey number, but maybe that was just serendipitous. Nice find that all the letters of his name start the names of primary colors.
OTOH, this meta seems a bit unsettling with some of the theme entries being things that are famously a certain color (I’m looking at you Smurfette!), but others that are just a shade of the primary color (tangerine, lemon, cherry, turquoise), even if this latter set are clued to something other than the color. Hard to pull off with so many theme entries and perhaps this is the best that can be done under the constraints. Also, does this athlete have any unique connection to colors? I’ll just pick out one clue that made me smile, notably at One Across: [Source of Starbuck’s orders] for AHAB, of Moby-Dick.
While solving the puzzle, I noted that there were a lot of blue and orange colors. Once I finished and looked at the title again, I wrote down all the things associated with color and then wrote their color names next to them. I inititally had Green for TURQUOISE, but when I looked at the list, my eyes somehow first fell to the bottom om the list and saw YORR and then had the answer of BOBBY ORR.
I also initially toyed with Azure being the color for CLEAR SKY since that is a common crossword answer for Sky Blue.
Even if I used Azure and Green, I would have had AOGBYORR and think I’d still have gotten the meta.
I’m not great at metas anyway, and I figure I don’t have a chance when they are sports-related, but I’ll plead a busy weekend, centered on Lollapuzzoola 9. In a few spare minutes, I looked at this one and decided, on very shaky grounds, that black, white, and all of ROY G BIV were somehow represented except green, so I submitted DARRELL GREEN as my answer!
“but others that are just a shade of the primary color (tangerine, lemon, cherry, turquoise)”
All four of these are also objects that are the correct color. (Three fruits and a gem, which is also my favorite Steve Guttenberg film.)
Yes, but in my mind STOP SIGN, SMURF and CARROT (as examples) are a bit different in that the “thing” isn’t also the name of a shade of the color the “thing” is. (I’d rather see RUBBER DUCKY instead of LEMON, for instance, but with this kind of theme density I realize the options are limited.)
One also speaks of a redhead as carrot top. So yes, the name thing threw me, even though one can salvage consistency by seeing them all as objects of a certain color. (I in fact had only one outlier at first, since I didn’t know about mushrooms and smurfs.)
Even then, maybe a small dissonance in that one speaks of turquoise and tangerine alone, but of sky blue, lemon yellow, and cherry red. And that left no place for “clear” with sky. Also, I’d the ambiguity of a reddish orange and blue green. But writing down the color names of what I had led me to the answer, and I figured out the last two colors from there. Not satisfying trying to find what counts as consistency, but will have to do.