Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Four-Letter Words”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upSo I’m afraid this might be a short post, if I am forced to excise any of the four-letter words which are the subject of this week’s WSJ contest puzzle. But, with that caveat, let’s begin. We’re looking for a two-word phrase, which notably may or may not be made up of four-letter words.
Only one obvious theme entry this week and it is gobbledygook:
- 35a. [This puzzle’s offensive answer (censored)], DFRLKFMG – well, unless letters were added when encoded, the original answer wasn’t a four-letter word to begin with. So why censor it?
The grid is interesting in that that central answer is the longest across entry, but there are two 10-letter down entries, TEARJERKER and DEL SHANNON, which aren’t all that related to each other, unless you consider this:
But back to the four-letter words. There are eight of them in the grid:
They all notably have an “is” in the middle, and we have the makings of our “acrostic-like” letter substitution scheme. Using them to swap out the letters in the middle entry, we get CHEAP SHOT, which is a two-word phrase and our meta answer. The answer feels a little unsatisfactory to me in that there seems no connection between it and the puzzle title, unless I’m missing something. Also, I’ve seen this technique before (and I believe from this same constructor), so I was a bit let down by that as well. But, it’s an impressive effort all the same.
Something I learned from this puzzle: that the [Cheetah mascot of Cheetos] had a name, and it’s the alliterative CHESTER. Also, that old gramophone records were made of SHELLAC. Until next week.