WSJ Contest – Friday, March 3, 2017

untimed (Evad) 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Go Down for the Count”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 3/3/17 – “Go Down for the Count”

So 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.

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18 Responses to WSJ Contest – Friday, March 3, 2017

  1. Eric M says:

    Noted that the second part of each theme entry shared the name of an animal, but used in a non-animal sense.

    Submitted “The Boxer”, which not only completed the theme but worked with the title.

    • PJ Ward says:

      I submitted The Boxer but didn’t love it because a Boxer is a breed of dog while the theme answers are more general. The non-animal usage got me.

    • bunella says:

      Like PJ I also submitted the Boxer. I’m sorry but I didn’t like this meta at all.

      Thought down for the count referred to the boxing ring.

    • Amy L says:

      I did the exact same thing, but was troubled because there were other possibilities: “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay,” “By the Time I get to Phoenix,” and “I Believe I Can Fly.”

      Someday I’ll learn that when that happens, I have to start looking elsewhere for the answer.

  2. Jeff M says:

    Had White Rabbit for much of same reason…

  3. Eric Conrad says:

    I had rock lobster (partial guess, I missed the legs connection), but got pushed off because of this:

    Take the across number of each theme clue and add them all up: 17+23+40+50+63 == 193

    Song #193 (2010 list update) is Free Bird. Seemed too big of a coincidence to ignore (with 10 or so obvious animal songs out of 500).

    Note there are two lists: the 2004 original, and the 2010 update. Didn’t matter for the actual meta. Here’s the 2010:'s_500_greatest_songs_of_all_time_(2010_edition)

    Awesome meta, despite the fact that I fell off the track.

  4. Michael Zierdt says:

    I had the animal, but ended up with Beast of Burden

  5. Sally says:

    I knew this one would get a lot of arguments, although I find the solution is inarguable. Many ways, however, to be misled. And a fair amount of – excuse the pun – legwork to get the answer.

  6. Scott says:

    I liked this puzzle. Of course, the next animal is the equatorial blue nosed spider monkey which has twelve legs.

  7. Garrett says:

    Interesting using the progression of the number of legs!

  8. Scott says:

    I submitted “I wanna be your dog” by the Stooges because it was the only song that ended with an animal and was 15 letters in length. The theme entries were 11 letters, 12 letters, 15 letters, 12 letters and 11 letters. The 6th theme entry would need to be 15 letters long to maintain consistency.

    • Evad says:

      My understanding of how these metas work when the constructor is looking for an additional theme entry, it doesn’t have to complete the set from a length perspective, but I do think that it should be no longer than the size of the grid.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      That’s what I submitted, also, but for a different reason. As others have noted, one reading of the theme suggested we were looking for a final word that could be an animal, but was being used in a different sense. That’s the only one I found that met both criteria. I considered Dock of the Bay and By the Time I get to Phoenix like Amy L, but decided Bay as an animal is more a horse color than a kind of horse like Morgan or Clydesdale, and Phoenix isn’t a real animal. I didn’t think of Boxer, but it’s a breed, not a species or subspecies. I’m not suggesting “I Wanna be your Dog” is a good alternate answer. I was pressed for time and didn’t give this more than a few minutes, so I failed to consider the title. Nice job as usual, Matt.

  9. Steve Beard says:

    HEY!! I have an animal bone to pick on this one! If you look down for the count and add all five of the animal fill entries by their number on the grid, you have (python) 17 across, (turkey) 23 across, (bear) 40, (fly) 50 and (tick) 63. That totals to 193. Number 193 on the Rolling Stone Most is my answer… Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” Didn’t anyone else come up with that? How about a little “extra credit”??

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