WSJ Contest – January 19, 2018

untimed (Evad) 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Marking Time”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 1/19/18 – “Marking Time”

We have five theme movies and from these we are looking for a star who shares something in common with the movie names. I’m far from a movie buff, so this one is definitely outside my meta wheelhouse. So what are these five movies?

  • 18a. [*1971 movie about a college basketball player, directed by Jack Nicholson], DRIVE HE SAID – I started with WREVE HE SAID, with EDWARD instead EDDARD and IRENA before IRINA. Not only am I movie-challenged, I’m personality-challenged! This one stars William Tepper and Karen Black.
  • 23a. [*2006 rom-com that takes place in Chicago], THE BREAK-UP – another I’ve not seen,
    stars Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn.
  • 38a. [*1990 Coen brothers drama], MILLER‘S CROSSING – stars Gabriel Byrne and Albert Finney
  • 50a. [*2008 film nominated for Best Picture], FROST/NIXON – starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen
  • 59a. [*1986 comedy that takes place in the village of Santo Poco], ¡THREE AMIGOS! – another movie name where there’s unusual punctuation! This one stars Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short

I’m pretty confident what ties these movies together (with a strong hint from the title) is that each has a word that can precede TIME. MILLER TIME is my favorite of the bunch. FROST TIME is ambiguous–living in Vermont, you’d think it would be something I would be familiar with. Also THREE-TIME could be any number, so I am a bit nervous about this assumption.

Anyway, if I’m on the right path, then I’m looking for a star whose (probably last) name can precede TIME as well. SHORT-TIME seems to work, so I’m submitting Martin Short as my meta answer and hoping for the best. This meta felt a bit uneven to me, I guess from those last 2 theme entries which weren’t as solid “-time” phrases as the first three. 1 Across’s [No and Oz] had me thinking of elements before DRS, even though NO is a compound (nitrous oxide). I learned that actress Joan FONTAINE was born in Tokyo, and with further research, that she was the younger sister of Olivia de Havilland. Finally, I pondered how Romans answered questions like “Are you going to the Senate today?” if they had “no single word for ‘yes’.” Did they have a phrase like “That is quite so” instead?

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15 Responses to WSJ Contest – January 19, 2018

  1. Tyrpmom says:

    You have the meta device in your write-up. The movies all have punctuation marks that in order spell CHASE. Comma, hyphen, apostrophe, slash and exclamation mark. Chevy Chase was in Three Amigos!

    • Jon says:

      Oh man, that’s devilishly clever. 5/5 even though I didn’t get it.

      • Evad says:

        I agree, Miller Time was just too good to resist for me. I also missed the comma in the first movie name, so I didn’t see the punctuation marks in all of them.

  2. j b says:

    I guessed Martin Short too, but now, seeing the punctuation, I see it’s Chevy CHASE. (C)omma, (H)yphen, (A)postrophe, (S)lash, (E)xclamation


  3. Bill Katz says:

    Actually NO is nitric oxide. N2O is nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and nitrogen dioxide is NO2.

  4. Neil b says:

    Very good. i was also thinking time but could not get all of the theme answers to fit

  5. Scott says:

    Very clever meta but I failed to get it.

  6. Lorraine says:

    Oh man. I saw that the movies all had punctuation marks and looked at the casts of all the movies but there were two actors with punctuation marks in their names (Vincent D’Onofrio and Ann-Margret, both in The Break-Up) not one, so that ended that line of reasoning. I never thought to try something as simple as looking at the first letters of the punctuation marks…doh.

    • Dan Seidman says:

      That’s what I thought too — Ann-Margret seemed like the most likely answer to me.

      • Katie M. says:

        I saw the punctuation marks. I looked at the casts and saw D’Onofrio, Ann-Margret, and J.E. Freeman. I submitted J.E. Freeman because the apostrophe and hyphen were already used, and the period wasn’t.

  7. Mark says:

    I stayed up, Marking Time, until THREE AM igos, but to no avail.

    • Evad says:

      I noticed that as well! I was wondering if for the others Roman numerals might be involved instead!

      • Katie M. says:

        I looked at Roman numerals for a while because MCI was the center down answer, and all the theme answers started with years.

  8. JakaB says:

    I got the punctuation marks right away but grossly overthought the whole thing. It was simpler, way simpler than what I was trying to parse.

  9. Garrett says:

    I followed Evad’s logic as well, except that on one you could have either BREAK Time or UP Time (not that I thought it mattered much).

    But as the last one did not have a pairing like that I figured that THREE AM was a time, and we were to add TIME to an actor’s name, so I also came up with Short Time.

    The punctuation thing is pretty clever.

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