Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Read Between the Lines”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upToday, we’re not given much help by the meta instructions as we are in search of a seven-letter word. Well, how many seven-letter words are there to choose from, I’m curious. We’re on our own this week to find the theme entries as the clues are set in a star-less night. Let’s begin with the two obvious ones:
- 28a. [Amusing stories], RIB TICKLERS
- 44a. [Dream that will never come true], PIE IN THE SKY – huh, I think “never” is a bit strong here, certainly unlikely but not unattainable
There are also two nine-letter across entries that I’ll tentatively add to the list of theme material:
- 17a. [Vail apparel], SKI SUITS
- 60a. [Anniversary celebrated by a diamond jubliee], SIXTIETH – did you notice that the clue number was also sixty? Coincidence or meta-related?
The great thing about metas is that some give up their secrets quickly and others put up a legendary fight. Today’s was happily in the former camp, as I quickly noticed that the only I’s in the puzzle were in these four theme entries, and not only that, there were exactly two I’s in each. Depending on how you draw your I’s (mine are just straight vertical lines), they will look more or less like “lines.” Reading between them gives you the seven-letter meta solution, SUBTEXT. I guess that’s a pretty appropriate solution given that these “trapped” letters are a subtheme to the longer theme entries.
This is what I’d call a “magic eye” puzzle; either you see it or you don’t, and if you don’t, a weekend of staring at the grid or playing with the entries won’t likely help. Hope you saw it quickly as well so you could go and enjoy the rest of your weekend! As is typical in a Berry puzzle, the fill was very smooth, and had some nice adjoining 8-letter down entries in the NW and SE. [On-site tract?] for POST is pretty meta as I’m creating one right now! I also learned that the name of dog food brand EUKANUBA comes from the jazz era musician Hoagy Carmichael, who I guess invented the term to mean “the tops.” Finally, I’ll end with what was my favorite clue, [Stole from a drag show] for BOA, which I think merits a question mark, given its play on the word “stole.”
Totally missed it. I kept seeing words that could end in “line,” like tow-, meal-, on-, sky-, and couldn’t get past that.
Again, I must be the only person in the world who regularly does crosswords in lowercase (it’s much faster that way). Even keeping that in mind, and looking I missed it, mostly because of all the other line-related words in the puzzle.
I got this one pretty quickly. It seems that when I get the metas (about 50%) it usually takes less than five minutes. When I don’t get them, I typically only spend about 15-20 minutes before moving on, and then when I see the answers I realize that I could have stared at it for 15-20 hours and not figured it out. It’s worked that way pretty much every time. What I’m learning is that it really is a you-see-it-or-you-don’t situation for me. Still, even when I don’t get the answers I love following up to see what the answer was. I’m always impressed with the cleverness of them, and with those who are able to get the answer.
Oh my God, I never saw “JON/IMIT/CH/ELL” (on “both sides” of center) either. Brilliant!
Oops… I never noticed it because it was in a different meta – Wow.