WSJ Contest – April 14, 2017

untimed (Evad) 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “College Search”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 4/14/17 – “College Search”

Many of my nieces and nephews are currently engaged in a college search, so this week’s contest puzzle seems aptly timed. Specifically, we are looking for an American college. So let’s get out our applications and begin the search.

We have four obvious theme entries (but also a tantalizing bonus one at 56a. [State in two parts], MICHIGAN):

  • 17a. [Negatively affect the company’s revenue stream?], HURT GROSS, the surface sense of this entry hurts me too!
  • 29a. [Pet deer on the grounds of an investment bank?], GOLDMAN HART, I’m not certain many outside of the crosswording community know that a “hart” refers to a deer (I think of the male persuasion) and here, GOLDMAN shares the sense of the eponymous company in the clue, which seems like a demerit to me.
  • 46a. [Reveal a secret to Duvall or Winters?], TELL SHELLEY, a bit of an improvement, but SHELLEY refers to a name (albeit a first name) in the clue.
  • 62a. [Water supply for a magician with a one-named partner?], PENN WELLS, oof, PENN refers to another person (I thought at first it was referring to the college) and I sure would’ve liked a possessive there at the beginning of the theme phrase to avoid too much wackiness.

The second oldest institution of higher education in the US

So from whence does all this wackiness derive? Well, the first word in each theme entry is the last name of a famous William (I had to look up Goldman’s first name) and the second is a famous Mary (I had to refresh my SNL memory to come up with Mary Gross), so we have the college of William & Mary, our meta solution.

I wish there had been more play with the last names involved in the theme entries, and I found the surface sense of them a bit too wacky for my tastes, but, as always, YMMV. I found TRIPTYCH to be an interesting entry; the artist Hieronymus Bosch comes to mind, who must’ve inspired the animations featured in Monty Python outtakes. I found the clue for SCREEN, namely [Crosswords may be solved on one], aptly meta, as I rarely solve on paper these days. Finally, the clue [Xi’s language] isn’t referring to the present Chinese leader Xi Jinping (who likely speaks Mandarin as his native tongue), but to the Greek letter Xi.

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9 Responses to WSJ Contest – April 14, 2017

  1. JohnH says:

    Never in a million years. I suppose I should have caught onto something from Penn, Tell, and Shelley, but I was staring at all those nonsense entries for which I had no association at all. I was looking for a pattern, with none to be had.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    I liked this one quite a lot. I wonder how many people submitted Williams. It was my first thought since I used to play soccer against them in my college years. A quick Wikipedia search produced a William for all eight names. But using the latter name in each theme answer, the Williams were all fairly obscure, then I quickly noticed it could be Mary Wells and Mary Shelley. Mary Gross and Mary Hart work, too, though in a lesser way.

    • Amy L says:

      I almost went with Williams too. Then I realized there were more famous Marys than Williams with the second set of names. I didn’t check to see if the first set could be Marys until now:
      Mary Beth Hurt (actress, was married to William)
      Mary Goldman (actress, known for “This Movie Sucks”)
      After that, no results–not even a Mary in the Penn family.

      • Dave C says:

        I played soccer against Williams in my college years as well! After Googling a few of the Williams that didn’t feel right and not getting any sense of confirmation, I abandoned my initial Williams College answer, and then Mary Gross jumped out at me (very familiar with her SNL work)

  3. Kaille says:

    I was too quick on the trigger and submitted Williams after doing a successful Wikipedia search for William + surnames in the grid. The fact that some of the names were obscure didn’t stop me. Mary Shelley briefly caught my eye, but I paid it no mind. Had I been the least bit attentive, I would have noticed all of the Marys right off the bat, but I was too distracted by all of the Williams. I blew what should have been a gimme!

  4. Glenn (the other one) says:

    Had this one – just not in a “show your work” kind of way. So didn’t submit…ANYHOO, as Bruce Haight would say…

  5. Bunella says:

    I failed on the MGWCC but for some reason, this one fell right into place for me once i realized I was looking for first names.

    Good one, easy for old people like me.

  6. Bob says:

    I went down the completely wrong path. I noticed Greek down in the SW corner, and then found alpha, iota, eta and chi in the middle of Michigan, and figured there was some connection between the Greek letters and the presence of fraternities and sororities on american college campuses. I pursued that line of thinking for too long and never really tried anything else. As it turns out, I think I would have had to spend hours before I would have made the connections with Williams and Marys, so it’s all good.

  7. Brian Thomas says:

    Lucked out and got the meta with William TELL and Mary SHELLEY – was wondering why the clue for 46A didn’t reference Mary Shelley, and instead referenced two that I haven’t heard of. Everything clicked right there after looking at too many Triptychs and things having to do with Michigan. Fun puzzle!

    Also really enjoyed the east portion, with ALTIMA [Noted Japanese model] and REAGAN [Bush picker] next to each other.

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