WSJ Contest – April 21, 2017

untimed (Evad) 


Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Quartets”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 4/21/17 – “Quartets”

Travel weekend for me, so apologies in advance for a short post. This week we’re looking for a TV program from the past. The only obvious theme entry is the center grid-spanning 15:

  • [Colorful language (and where you’ll discover a helpful question)], FOUR LETTER WORDS

One might think that the two other long acrosses, TIN PAN ALLEY and DAMN YANKEES, had something to do with the theme as well, but it turns out that the four letter words we are looking for are not in the grid at all, which notably has no four-letter entries (save the somewhat distracting FOUR and DAMN in longer entries). Instead, we’re looking for four-letter words in the clues. Reading them from top to bottom, you get the the following “helpful” question:

What game show uses bids that rely upon each note from some song?

Well, being a child of the 70s, I immediately thought of the game show whose title is appropriately made up of 3 four-letter words, NAME THAT TUNE. Et voila!

Fun meta that seems to be a new take on a phrase that has shown up in a few metas in recent memory. My only head-scratcher was the clue for [“Hiroshmia Mon Amour” director], Alain RESNAIS. Have never heard of him or his movie. Am I missing something worthwhile?

Until next week.

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9 Responses to WSJ Contest – April 21, 2017

  1. Glenn (the other one) says:

    >which notably has no four-letter entries

    Actually, I didn’t even look in the direction of the clues, because notably the grid is chock full of four letter words. No doubt, quite purposefully.

    • Evad says:

      Well, I can’t say if they were purposeful (meant to distract from looking at the clues), but I did notice a few five-letter entries which were pluralized four-letter words as well. Those didn’t seem to bother me as much as the two I called out from the longer acrosses.

      • Glenn (the other one) says:

        I forget how many precisely, but I found 15-20 entries in which exactly four letters were used (for instance, 1, 2, and 3 down). It’d be a handy way to hide something for a meta. But since it didn’t make any sense, I figured I just wasn’t interpreting it right. And I was (I took 37A too literally, since I didn’t actually SEE very many four-letter entries).

        Just how these things go.

    • JohnH says:

      I got hung up on the four-letter words, first with the longest entries (damn, yank, anal, male) and then when that didn’t pan out (nothing in “two person”) with shorter entries (moan, race, newt, east, less, all even before you get to the five-letter words ending in S). Can’t say I’d have got the answer even if I had found the question in the clues, given what I know of TV, but oh well.

      I almost never get the answer. I’m convinced I’ll never be on Shenk’s and Gaffney’s wavelength. I’ve of course compared these contests to getting someone’s sense of humor. I’m a pretty good problem solver, I guess, from years of work and of studying hard science and of reading overly abstruse books and of cryptic puzzles), but somehow that kind of keeping at it never helps. Nor does setting the puzzle aside. When I pick it up again, nothing. I just get the joke almost right off or don’t. Not sure if I’ll ever change my ways.

  2. Eric Conrad says:

    My wife loved this one because she solved her first meta. I had the question from the four–letter clue words written out in Notepad, started to ponder which show was referenced, and she glanced over and yelled, “Name that Tune!”

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    I thought this was a fun meta. When I also noticed the lack of four letter words in the fill, the first place I looked was in the clues. Mike pulled this off with finesse, I think.

  4. Scott says:

    The title of the puzzle is also very clever with its double meaning.

  5. JohnH says:

    BTW, Renais wasn’t hard for me. I’ve seen the movie, and he was once a widely respected director for what was then the avant-garde. There’s a touch of an age of theater of the absurd, but mostly languorous movies in which people stand around breathing heavily while thinking about the meaning of life. His most popular was Last Year at Marienbad.

  6. Thomas says:

    A lot of the 5-letter entries have 4 distinct letters with one repeated — ORION, ROGER, many many more. I spent some time looking at those before I eventually turned to the clues.

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