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