WSJ Contest – Friday, May 26, 2017

untimed (Evad) 


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

WSJ Contest – 5/26/17 – “Spare Parts”

Hope your Memorial Day weekend is going well–I’m writing this just before heading out to Burlington, VT for the Vermont City Marathon. It will be my fourth and hopefully a great day! But you’re here to read about puzzles, aren’t you? Today, we’re in search of a familiar kind of candy that would complete this puzzle’s theme. Rather specific, no? And experienced meta solvers will notice the word “complete” in those instructions–we’re looking for a set with a specific number of members and all but the last one (or, in this case, *SPOILER ALERT* two) can be found in the puzzle. So let’s start with the thematic material, all wackily clued this week:

  • 17a. [That totally dorky Supreme Court justice?], UNHIP BREYER – actually I find Justice Breyer one of the less dorkier of the nonet
  • 29a. [Person who convinces an entire people to change their minds?], TRIBE FLIPPER – I wonder if a Survivor reference would be appropriate here?
  • 46a. [Fawning agreement from an Austrian?], SMARMY JAWOHL – so I first read the clue as “Australian” and wondered if Jawohl was the name of a town or province there. (My German consists of numbers up to ten and pretty much nothing more, other than the lovely schadenfreude.)
  • 60a. [Thumbs-down on proposed graveside recitations?], ELEGY VETOES – let’s hope our increasingly militant society never gets to the point that we can’t express our profound grief over a lost one by their grave.

So, with a strong push from the title Spare Parts, I discovered the three-letter body parts inside each word of the two-word phrases. So with 8 of the presumably 10 three-letter body parts, I tried to come up with the missing 2. EAR came quickly to mind, but I confess having to go here to come up with GUM. (I gave Matt, Mike and the entire WSJ editorial staff the benefit of the doubt by avoiding CRASSER entries.)

So we’re looking for a familiar candy that follows the patterns of two words, one with EAR inside and the other with GUM. Well, GUM is a type of candy on its own, and SPEARMINT is a type of gum, so I’m going with that, even though the GUM isn’t “part” of another word. Hope I’m right!

As for the non-thematic material, I laughed a bit with only the ultimate G in place, I put in MOVING for [Mattress hassle], instead of BEDBUG. Guess I’ve lived through too many moves trying to get a mattress up or down a staircase! I’m not a big fan of C SHARPS in the plural, but enjoyed WOMANHOOD and GERONIMO tumbling down from the upper right.

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21 Responses to WSJ Contest – Friday, May 26, 2017

  1. I went with GUMMY BEARS.

    • J B says:

      I gotta think it’s GUMMY BEARS too, but I was an inch away from going with SPEARMINT GUM. GUMMY BEARS seem much more likely to be categorized as “candy” than SPEARMINT GUM.

    • Dave says:

      I chose GUMMY BEAR because in each of the other entries the body part was part of a larger word.

      • Evad says:

        I agree that’s a better (more consistent) solution and I would’ve gone with it had I not hit on the gum first.

  2. e.a. says:

    have a good marathon!

    dug this theme.

  3. Jeff G. says:

    I really wanted it to be Butterfinger, but it didn’t fit the pattern. Great meta!

    • Tony says:

      I also thought of Butterfinger, but I ignored it because it’s a brand of candy bar and not a type of candy, as well as not being two distinct words.

      • Jeff Mizrahi says:

        As a Butterfinger submitter, I’ll disagree with you guys…who is to say that a Tribeflipper isn’t one word? The number of words really shouldn’t matter; actually Butterfinger is elegant that it is only one word and fits the two body part theme pattern.

        As of ‘kind of candy’ v. ‘brand of candy’ this is just mincing words for me (and my three kids who have only referred to different [branded] candies as ‘kinds’ and not ‘brands’). I’m pretty sure the inventor of the Gummy Bear (I believe it was Haribo, the brand based in Germany) is the real deal and everything else is just an imitation gummy X.

        • BarbaraK says:

          Yeah, but one of the requirements was to _complete_ the theme. Using body parts with more than three letters expands the set to way beyond 10. The only 10 item complete set is three letter parts (and excludes slangy names).

  4. Scott says:

    I sent in PASSOVER CHARMS. Admittedly, it is not well known in the States.

  5. Tony says:

    I included my family in this because it was candy related. My 5 year old daughter said Gummy Bears and I paused and said “I think you’re right!” Her reaction was priceless. She was grinning from ear to ear.

  6. JohnH says:

    I thought of the right answer but wasn’t comfortable, because (as you say) it’s hard to think of gums as a pair of top and bottom gum. I figured on a theme of mismatched body parts, with each part half of a pair but placed with half of a different pair. I wanted something else but then don’t know the names of that many candies.

  7. TrojanMan says:

    I went with Sour Path Kids because they were all human body parts. Gummy bears made sense, but I felt it should be a human body and not a bear.

  8. Sam Levitin says:

    I submitted GUM, and didn’t even consider GUMMY BEAR, since I thought it was a brand. But when my son extracted GUMMY BEAR, I looked for contradictory evidence and saw PEAR containing EAR.

  9. RAD2626 says:

    I think Gummy Bears makes the most sense and fits the instructions the best although I am not sure why they are “spare parts”. I really liked the grid despite the randomness of the themers.

    Twenty-five years ago -when flying was more fun – on a transcontinental flight they gave a bottle of champagne to the first person who could name the ten three-letter body parts (five on the head, five on the body) (I lost) and later the first person to name the Seven Dwarfs (I won). I have known the ten body parts ever since. I have never needed them until now.

  10. Glenn (the other one) says:

    FWIW, “GUMMI BEARS” is the official answer as specified in the Tuesday PDF. It is further explained that as there are two words in each theme answer, each hiding a 3 letter body part, that the theme answer should have two words with 3 letter body parts. Hence “GUMmi BEARs” .

    IMO though, again another highly questionable meta (for a couple of reasons), which ended up being ultimately just a random guess, which could have been as easily made before doing the puzzle than after.

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