Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Opposite Day”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upRather unusual instructions this week for our meta solution; we’re looking for a word that does not describe this week’s contest. Well, that could be pretty much anything–let’s hope that word isn’t easy! Five theme answers seem to be involved as well as five other shorter words that have two numbers in parentheses after their clues. Let’s begin with the longer entries:
- 17a. [A celebrity may secretly desire one], NORMAL LIFE – who is to say what is normal these days?
- 26a. [“Awesome!”], COOL BEANS – an awesome phrase in my book, if a bit dated
- 35a. [Debater’s weapon], LOGICAL ARGUMENT – I was on my high school’s forensic team for much of my junior and senior years; one year the topic concerned scarce world resources. I remember our cases involved protein sources other than meat, the tropical legume known as a winged bean was one of my favorites.
- 48a. [Longtime Cubs supporters, e.g.], LOYAL FANS – that loyalty paid off in 2016 with a World Series win!
- 57a. [Stuff in a barrel, maybe], TOXIC WASTE – why does this video come to mind?
The five shorter entries are: BLIP, BALI, SIDES, NONOS and MUNI. So with a strong hint from the title, I started to think of opposites of the words in the longer entries. WARM is the opposite of COLD, DEATH for LIFE, SALUTARY for TOXIC, etc., but these seemed a bit imprecise. Speaking of im-precise, though, it got me thinking that these first words could be negated by putting a prefix in front of them–ABNORMAL, UNCOOL,
ILLOGICAL, DISLOYAL, and NONTOXIC.
Then, if you look at the five shorter entries, you can find these prefixes hidden within. The next problem, though, was how do you use those prefixes and the enumerations to come up with the meta solution? Well, on “Opposite Day,” it’s appropriate to do just the opposite, and use the letters left over from each of these shorter words, leaving 2 letters in each case. Put them in that numeric order, you get IMPOSSIBLE, which, at least for this solver, does NOT describe the puzzle.
Other bits I enjoyed: the crossing of [Glasses, humorously] for SPEX and [Photos, amusingly], for PIX at that X. EVANESCE is a nice word, as well as the “Swedish mini-theme” of ABBA and IKEA.
Since this is opposite day, I’ll say that I really hated this one. =8*)