WSJ Contest – July 28, 2017

untimed (Evad) 


Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Staff I.D.”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 7/28/17 – “Staff I.D.”

Greetings, WSJ Contest solvers! This week we’re looking for a five-letter word. There are five starred clues as well, so it’s a pretty good bet we know where to look for hints:

  • [18a. *Social set?], TEA SERVICE
  • [23a. *Pretentious], LAH-DI-DAH
  • [37a. *Kin of phasers], RAY GUNS – I wonder if they are related to phasers on their father’s or mother’s side?
  • [48a. *Ham hocks, chtilins and the like], SOUL FOOD – while living in DC, we had ample opportunity to sample these along with collard greens and black-eyed peas
  • [56a. *1932 Spencer Tracy film], ME AND MY GAL
    a bit before my time, but a familiar enough title

I noticed pretty quickly that the highlighted words above are all homophones of the solfège notes of the scale (hence the musical “staff” in the title, not sure if the “I.D.” part refers to these short names given to notes). I can’t help but include the following (lyricist Oscar Hammerstein also noticed these names have common homophones as a mnemonic) at this point:

Assuming we’re in the key of C major, those notes are:

do – C
re – D
mi – E
fa – F
sol – G
la – A
ti – B

Putting the 5 theme notes together in order, we have

ti – B
la – A
re – D
sol – G
mi – E

Or, BADGE, a five-letter word which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with notes, but one of the few non-repeating five-letter words that can be spelled with just the letters A~G. I was a bit scared that these five notes play something recognizable (perhaps the NBC theme or something), but I don’t think so.

For bass clef fans

I’ll close with asking what the difference between an OCTAGON and an OCTANGLE is? The former seems a much more common description of the stop sign shape.

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4 Responses to WSJ Contest – July 28, 2017

  1. Amy L says:

    A badge is a Staff ID.

    I’ve never heard of octangle before.

  2. Sarah says:

    Guessed the answer at first by noting the answer was five letters, then noticing that a BADGE is five letters and could be a form of staff I.D. (fitting with 10-A), and also noticing that the letters of BADGE are all on a musical staff.

    It was days later thatI finally noticed what tied the five answers together. The many “ID”s in the grid kept me wondering for some time.

  3. pannonica says:

    Speaking of musical notes and BADGE, a bit of trivia is that the Cream “Badge” received that title because Eric Clapton misread co-writer George Harrison’s annotation indicating the bridge, and everyone decided it was a good name.

  4. Jeff M says:

    Wow..I thought this was great, as in five stars great. Surprised to see the hoi polloi feels differently.

Comments are closed.