WSJ Contest – May 4, 2018

untimed (Evad) 


Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Perfect Position”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 5/4/18 – “Perfect Position”

First off, thanks to Laura for subbing for me while I was running up, down and through the streets of Nashville for their annual Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon. It was a wonderful day and definitely a city I’ll want to return to (and perhaps spend less time on my feet). Anyway, let’s see if I can slip back into my old role here chez Fiend.

This week we’re in search of a four-letter verb. And with four very obvious theme answers, I’m assuming (for now) that each will provide a letter to that verb.

  • 17a. [Shipper’s business], FREIGHT HANDLING – I wonder if anyone in the shipping business would refer to what they do with this awkward phrase
  • 26a. [Acoustician’s concern], NOISE CONDITIONS – yikes, this phrase seems even more alien to my ear
  • 44a. [1959 play with a title from a Langston Hughes poem], A RAISIN IN THE SUN – finally, something that I recognize! I’m more familiar with the movie starring Sidney Poitier than the poem “Harlem,” also known as “A Dream Deferred.”
  • 57a. [Apply increased pressure], TIGHTEN THE SCREW – my ear wants screws in the plural here (how many screws typically must be tightened in a torture device to apply pressure?)

No tell here

So the ordinal numbers jumped out pretty quickly to me, but the big question then becomes what are these four positions referring to? My first thought was to consider their position in the alphabet, but HBIJ doesn’t seem to lead to anything promising. How about considering the positions in each respective theme answer? That leads to HONE, which is a four-letter verb, can also mean “to perfect” (leading to the title) and has a nice number (albeit cardinal) imbedded within. So I’m going with that.

Wasn’t a big fan of this meta (assuming I got it right, and not missing another layer), the ordinals were pretty obvious and having them point to their theme entries seemed a bit disappointing to me. If the 15-letter phrases had a bit more zip, I might’ve been more inclined to like this idea a bit better, but I do understand it’s hard to find common phrases with such a restrictive set of consecutive letters.

Some interesting clues were the unusual [Lickspittle] for TOADY and [Grind gauge] for DRIP, the latter I’m still baffled by. Is this a plumbing term?

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8 Responses to WSJ Contest – May 4, 2018

  1. Mike W says:

    I thought that Drip for Grind gauge was referring to coffee.

  2. Bill says:

    Grind gauge would be the result of selecting a setting on a commercial or non-commercial burr-type coffee grinder. Drip (v. perc or, say, espresso or fine) would be a predefined setting on the selector and the coarseness or fineness of the result would, in a sense I suppose, be the “gauge” of the resulting “grind,” where drip is for an automatic drip coffeemaker.

  3. Matthew G. says:

    I sent in HONE as well and I’m assuming it is correct because to hone something is to perfect it, and so the answer explains the title of the puzzle in more than one way.

  4. JohnH says:

    I got this answer pretty quickly once I was done with the fill, but the fill not at all quickly.

  5. Scott says:

    I got HONE quickly but then debates with myself on whether it was correct. I liked the puzzle but didn’t get the usual “click” when solved.

  6. Scott says:

    I sont think the Edit feature is working…

    • Matthew G. says:

      Are you on the mobile site? The edit feature on Fiend does not work for me when I’m on the mobile site. It works on the desktop site. That’s been the case for me for a long time.

  7. Garrett says:

    I ordered them


    because of the Perfect Position title and got SENT

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