Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Getting Up to Code”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upThis week we’re looking for a major US city. Five long acrosses (all noticeably 3-word phrases) seem to point us in this direction:
- 17a. [One way to love somebody], LIKE A SISTER – I wonder if an alternate clue might be [Nun-esque]?
- 23a. [Triple-checking], MAKING CERTAIN OF – I imagine it’s more common to use “sure” than “certain,” but this works too
- 35a. [Utterly fails to be competitive, electorally], GETS NO VOTES – it would have to be a very small election in which one candidate gets absolutely no votes whatsoever. One would assume he or she would at least vote for him/herself, no?
- 49a. [“Riffing off your idea…”], ALONG THESE LINES – I wanted “those” before “these” as the “your” in the clue implies something away from you
- 56a. [Like summer camps and some cereals], JUST FOR KIDS – too bad “just for kicks” ([How some things are done]) wouldn’t fit, which seems to me a more common phrase. I’m not sure I would want my kid eating a lot of glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) though.
So what’s going on here? Well the title mentions a code, and with each phrase three words, I first tried to see if I took the first letter of each of these words, would these 3-letter codes mean anything? Well, indeed they do: they are US airports (the “getting up” part of the title) as listed (with their cities) below:
- LAS – McCarran International in Las Vegas, NV
- MCO – Orlando International, FL
- GNV – Gainesville Regional, FL
- ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, GA
- JFK – John F. Kennedy International in New York, NY
Some are named after their city and some not, so I thought the city names would be a more consistent path to the meta solution. Taking the first letter of each in turn, we have LOGAN, the name of the airport I have used more than any other, located along the harbor of Boston, Massachusetts. Since we’re looking for a city, that’s what I submitted.
I found this one pretty easy, let me know how you fared in the comments. I wish the thematic material were more solid as “stand alone” phrases–but I enjoyed how a solver had to take an extra step from the name of an airport to the city it was located in at the end of the solve. A few extra bits and pieces:
- 44d. [Noise from a nanny], MAAING – we had a recent discussion if goats say “maa” or “baa”; as someone who is raising them, I’m in the “maa” camp. We have a particular noisy one who “maas” all day–good thing our neighbors aren’t too close to our property!
- I hadn’t heard of the animated Johnny Depp flick, RANGO. Am I missing something special?
- Funny to see MERV Griffin in the fill–his legacy lives on with both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune as early evening TV staples
- I prefer EN VOGUE‘s Free Your Mind to Hold On, but both bring back some fun memories
I finally solved it. In retrospect, it was easy, but then they always are once you find the path. (File under “DUH”). What threw me was the title and the word “UP.” Typically when I see something like that in a puzzle title I take it as an instruction to look above the theme answers in the grid for a hint to the solution, or sometimes the answer outright. This time it was a very time-consuming red herring. Or did I miss something? I suppose you could look at “UP” and think of the sky/airplanes, but I didn’t make the connection.
Another clever puzzle.
Only airport in the list I’ve never been to is Gainesville’s. I’ve been to Orlando enough to know that the airport code comes from McCoy Air Force Base and not Mickey’s Corporate Office. Pretty easy and consecutive WSJ Gaffney metas with a similar gimmick (first letter of movie boat names vs first letter of major cities served by airports).
Good thing Matt said a “major” city! My first thought at getting LOGAN was Logan, Utah, despite having flown in and out of Boston many, many times during my college years (fifty-plus years ago.) On reflection, Boston seemed a more major city.
From the WSJ page comments, others found this easy as well as Dave. I didn’t get it. I, too, was thrown by “code” and “up,” but also by not knowing the airports. I did think of first initials of words in the long answers, but dismissed that as soon as I looked at the first two or three. Maybe if I’d persisted to think of JFK I’d have thought to Google, little as I like doing so.
I was convinced code in the title referred to zip code, expecting to find one number from each theme answer that when combined would put me in the middle of a major city. I never got away from that line of thinking, and hence never got the correct answer.
I started that way too. Luckily, I had written down the initials of each of the three words and I finally noticed JFK, then I saw ATL right above it, so I could switch tactics and go with airport codes.
The only thing I took issue with, as a native NY’er, is that JFK airport is technically in Queens, NY and not in New York, NY which we think of as Manhattan. This threw me a bit but then I realized we needed the “N” and went along with it.
Very neatly done.
I’m fine thinking of just the name of the city, which is New York. It’s Dave’s choice to list the locations like postal addresses including the state, not the puzzle’s. Then, too, if you are going postal, it wouldn’t be Queens anyway. Its addresses go by something larger than a neighborhood but smaller than the borough. For example, when I lived in Sunnyside, my address ended Long Island City, NY.
Anyhow, a shame that LAS, MCO, and GNV had me thinking that the initials couldn’t possibly mean anything, but that’s just how it was for me.
I spent so much time on the MGWCC that I ran out of time on this one. It’s clever. A couple of comments…
“Hold On” group. Sheesh! Look at this list of songs with that title: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hold_On
Ikea is embedded in LIKEASISTER.
Also never heard of RANGO
Didn’t realize you could refer to Fred Astaire as a “hoofer.” Got it now!
Almost went for WHORL on 22D before I checked cross clues
Never heard of a doughnut being referred to as a SINKER