WSJ Contest – Friday, October 6, 2017

untimed (Evad) 


Peter Gordon’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “State My Name”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 10/6/17 – “State My Name”

This week, our guest constructor is Peter Gordon, editor of the very popular Fireball Crosswords. (You should sign up if you are not a subscriber already…go ahead, I’ll wait here for you…) Peter asks us to find a best-selling book. Let’s look at the five famous people clued as theme entries in this puzzle:

    • 17a. [Musician mentioned in the theme song to “All in the Family”], GLENN MILLER – see Archie and Edith’s rendition below. Glenn was born in Clarina, IA.
    • 24a. [He played the title character in “Saving Private Ryan”], MATT DAMON – born in our fair city of Cambridge, MA
    • 30a. [Author who sometimes used the pen name Richard Bachman], STEPHEN KING – I read here that he chose a pseudonym as to publish more than one book a year (not to oversaturate the market), and the Bachman part comes from Bachman-Turner Overdrive. He was born (and I think still lives in) Portland, ME
    • 40. [Writer of “The Call of Cthulhu”], H.P. LOVECRAFT – get thee hither if you have interest in how this was pronounced by the author, born in Providence, RI
    • 51. [Most followed person on Twitter], KATY PERRY – anyone have an idea why?
      This “California Girl” was born in Santa Barbara, CA


So we have a musician, an actor, two authors and a singer. Oh, and one more theme entry:

  • 57a. [What you might need to research to solve this contest crossword], BIRTH PLACES – I’d say that’s pretty much a requirement for this one!

So where were each of them born? The states are listed above. Read from top to bottom (using the two-letter state codes), we have I Am America, the best-selling novel by Stephen Colbert.

Fun meta, but I wonder if these five particular individuals were chosen for any particular connection to Mr. Colbert? They obviously couldn’t have all appeared on his show, as Mr. Miller went MIA in 1944. And I’m afraid those who don’t like to do much research to get a meta solution (I’m not particularly in that number, although I do admire those that require little or none of that) will not be happy with this one.

Speaking of MIA, I generally think of 1-Across’s AWOL as a description of a GI, not the GI him- or herself (implied by the clue [Missing GI]). Other entries of note (nice, given the constraints of six theme entries) were ARM-IN-ARM, YELP REVIEW, and TIKI BAR.

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9 Responses to WSJ Contest – Friday, October 6, 2017

  1. Scott says:

    Easy meta but fun nevertheless.

  2. Justin says:

    I presume this was chosen because of what happens when you take the one step further and look at the final authors birthplace…

    • Evad says:

      Do you mean Colbert being from DC? Not sure how that works back to the people chosen as theme entries.

      • mrbreen says:

        Colbert is a pretty famous son of South Carolina (granted, I’m a big fan). I took this to be the thematic tie-in to the mechanism as well.

  3. JohnH says:

    I got the fill without help even though I didn’t know the Lovecraft title or have clear associations with Katy Perry. I also don’t remember having heard of the book (although I guess I must have). But easy answer, given the broad hint of the last themed entry plus the title.

  4. Norm H says:

    Nice construction, but I wish it had run without the instructions, which made it a no-brainer. Just clue BIRTHPLACES generically, and let solvers figure it out for themselves. The title would have still been a strong hint.

    • JohnH says:

      That’s a great idea. If BIRTH and PLACE could have fit into shorter symmetric entries, maybe even better, but that’d leave what to do with the remaining long entry, and anyway would have been an incredible setter’s feat.

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