WSJ Contest — Friday, January 25, 2019

6ish grid; no time at all meta (Laura) 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Four Characters in Search of a Movie”—Laura’s review

I’m very pleased to be reviewing this metapuzzle by Mike Shenk; I hope to solve many more by him in the future. For those looking for Raul Ellaray and his frequent cosolver Sally J. Reese, be assured that they may return if the need arises.

WSJ Contest - 1.25.19 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 1.25.19 – Solution

This week were looking for “a film of the 2010s.” Here in New Hampshire, the snow glows white on the mountain tonight as I solve this grid:

  • [17a: Recipe stored in an Atlanta vault]: COCACOLA FORMULA
  • [23a: Chef’s concoction named for Louis XIV’s chief steward]: BECHAMEL SAUCE
  • [42a: Chad, for one]: AFRICAN NATION
  • [55a: Caret rotated 90 degrees clockwise]: GREATER THAN SIGN

It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through this meta, to find the names of four characters hidden in the theme entries:

COCACOLA FORMULA = OLAF, the snowman in Disney’s 2013 film Frozen
BECHAMEL SAUCE = ELSA, Queen of Arendelle
AFRICAN NATION = ANNA, Elsa’s younger sister
GREATER THAN SIGN = HANS, a prince who is wooing Anna

Can’t hold it back anymore — there’s our answer! I’d give this 0.5 metaweeks on the Gaffney Scale — a nice, simple entry-level contest puzzle. Let the storm rage on!





This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, January 25, 2019

  1. Matthew G. says:

    Wow — was I overcomplicating things. I thought that the word “character” had something to do with accent marks. Coca-Cola has a hyphen in it, Béchamel has an acute accent, the African nation could have been Côte d’Ivoire, and of course the greater than sign is >. Spent some time exploring that avenue and never got back to it see the forest for the trees.

  2. Dan Seidman says:

    I like how each of the characters’ names has four characters.

  3. Mister G says:

    I haven’t seen a movie of any kind in over 20 years, just not my thing. That said, my neighbor did have an Olaf figurine on his lawn the past two Christmas seasons, and I learned it was from some movie called “Frozen”, but the chances of me making that association here were slim to none. I dunno, I suppose movies are fair game for a subject, but I wonder if there are a lot of other non-movie buffs out there.

    • Ben says:

      I haven’t seen Frozen, but I feel like the characters (and the song “Let It Go”) were pretty dominant in pop culture for a while. I’m actually impressed you managed to avoid the deluge! I only recognized ELSA at first, but from there it made sense that the game was to find four “characters,” making the names ANNA, HANS, and OLAF jump out.

  4. Ben says:

    One of the easier ones from Mike, but I won’t complain since it was a nice relaxing meta compared to some Fridays when I’m tearing my hair out. Plus, my fiancee who rarely does crosswords is strangely good at solving metas, so I’m always proud when I can figure one out without her help!

  5. JohnH says:

    Hidden answers crossing two-word phrases is no doubt the most straightforward contest approach, and there is only one step after that. So I could see why so many found this one incredibly easy or instantaneous.

    It was definitely hard for me because of a Disney movie. I outgrew those long ago and don’t have kids. So I’d have had to guess a lot and then surf the Web. But I’m not complaining. It’s just not for me. (Even range of “grown-up” movies in puzzles, NYT especially, run to cartoon action heroes that I also outgrew at age 8, but so that’s another issue entirely.)

    I got started on another wrong path. Bechamel is unusual, so I wondered what could justify its appearance, and I noted a resemblance to (Zoey) Deschanel. Another clue had a work kinda sorta close to (James) Caan. And they did appear together in a movie, only the other two theme entries refused to fit the pattern.

Comments are closed.