Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Go Down for the Count”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upSo today we’re looking for a song on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list that would have made a good sixth theme entry. With my list handy, let’s (spoiler alert!) dive in, shall we?
There are six obvious theme (our longest across) entries:
- 17a. [Idle group], MONTY PYTHON – that’s E. Idle we’re talking about here
- 23a. [National capital since 1923], ANKARA, TURKEY – replacing Constantinople/Istanbul
- 40a. [Suffered], HAD A CROSS TO BEAR
- 50a. [It doesn’t work with two outs], SACRIFICE FLY – baseball season starts in a month, no?
- 63a .[Market watcher’s differential], CLOSING TICK – I think this is whether the final trade of the equity was up or down in that trading session
I first thought to consider collective names of animals (with the push from the word “count” in the title), and was encouraged that a group of pythons is called a pop, which is another entry in the grid (but not a “down” entry as I was also expecting). From this page, groups of turkeys are “rafters” or “gangs”; bears are “sloth” or “sleuth”; flies are “business”; and I couldn’t find a reference for ticks, thinking they may be rather antisocial and don’t travel in groups. These other terms were not in the grid as far as I could tell.
Then I considered the “down” in the title to be a directional to “look down” from these animals’ perspective toward their feet. So how many legs does each creature have?
- Pythons – zero legs (although a picture of vestigial legs here)
- Turkeys – two legs
- Bears – four legs
- Flies – six legs
- Ticks – eight legs
A nice progression there, so that led me to the question, what animal has ten legs? These are called “decapods” and include the crab and lobster. Being a child of the late 70’s, that lobster led me to our meta solution: The B-52’s Rock Lobster.
Cute meta! I was very happy to be reminded of my college days with this one. I like the way Matt chose phrases where the ending animal was pretty well hidden (all but python had a non-animal sense, and I’m not even sure of where the British comedians got their name!) Seemed like a few more abbrs. in this one, likely due to the strain of holding up 6 theme entries in a 15×15 grid. AMBS over TELE and INTS were the most notable of these. Also not a big fan of the partials A BAR and FAMERS. Other than that, I enjoyed the spunky FEISTY, the often pejorative THINK PIECE and finally, KIMCHI as it reminded me of my own contest puzzle at the end of last year.