Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Checks and Balances”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upGood morning, folks! We’re in search of a noun related to checks and balances. No obvious theme entries to speak of, except for perhaps two 10-letter across entries:
- 18a. [Like moisturizing sunscreens], DUAL PURPOSE – this reminds me of how you can’t find any toothpaste now that doesn’t whiten, freshen breath and fight cavities while being gentle to sensitive teeth and gums. Where’s our old crossword friend IPANA when you just want to brush your teeth? (It probably comes as no surprise that the book on my nightstand right now is A Man Called Ove.)
- 53a. [Hero of the Yom Kippur War], ARIEL SHARON
Not much linking those two entries, but I did notice when solving a whole lot of X’s and there are those two entries at the bottom right that seem promising:
- 63a. [Checks], XES
- 49d. [They’re balanced symmetrically for most crosswords], GRIDS – and here’s the balance
I first wondered if this particular grid was not symmetric, but a quick check confirmed that it was. Subsequently, I hit on the idea to look at the letters that are symmetrically opposed to each X, and I’ve highlighted them in the grid above. They spell out DEPOSIT, which has something to do with checks and bank account balances. In hindsight, I wish there were only the symmetry clue and not the XES one, as I think having both gave too much away. But given my meta solving track record of late, I don’t have a lot of ground to stand on.
As for the grid, I detected a bit of our recent political climate with the clue for LIES, i.e., [Alternative facts]. When I still thought DUAL PURPOSE might have some meta import, I thought perhaps I was in search of portmanteau words, such as PLEATHER, which comes to us from “plastic” and “leather.” (I figured SPORK and SKORT weren’t far behind.) MAD DOGS and Englishmen remind me more of Joe Cocker than Noël Coward, likely due to living through Woodstock in my formative teen years.