WSJ Contest — Friday, May 2, 2019

Grid: not long; Meta: a little longer 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Going in All Directions”—Laura’s review

Last week I referenced a possibly apocryphal Metasolving 101, and enough people thought it was or wanted it to be a real thing that we* are for real working on it, and your patience is graciously requested until it is finished.

*we = Team Fiend, plus whichever of my usual Metasolving buddies whom I can rope into contributing by plying them with beer and hints

WSJ Contest - 5.2.19 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 5.2.19 – Solution

This week we are being asked to find a motion. Ohh … kay … that seems rather specific. There doesn’t seem to be much going on in the grid, theme-wise, so, as we shall learn soon from Metasolving 101 (see what I did there), it’s likely that we need to find something orthographic, i.e. having to do with the letter placement in the grid (that’s how I’m defining orthographic today).

There’s a big hint right there in the center:

  • [39a: Golfer Michelle]: WIE


  • [27d: Jelly bean flavor]: ANISE

such that the letters N, E, S, and W, the initials of the four cardinal directions (north, east, south, and west), form a circle, proceeding clockwise, around the letter I. This seemed like a breakthrough but I had a little bit of a cognitive burp at this point; I nosed around the grid for a bit until I noticed that there are six other instances of the four cardinal directions extant in the grid (hence, I assume, the title “Going in All Directions”). If you take the center letters of each of the “compasses” in the grid, you spell out the word EDDYING, which indeed is a motion, and this week’s contest answer.

I thought this was nicely done! Had the title been “Going Around in Circles,” I wonder if it would’ve been easier? A couple folks in the solving group had to check in the ol’ dictionary to see if EDDYING, spelt thus, was truly a word. It is somewhat unusual, but familiar to me due to an interesting quick of geography, in that there is a town in upstate New York called, and spelt interestingly, Fishs Eddy (and the namesake for a Manhattan housewares shop), that we used to drive by on our way to the Finger Lakes, and it sounded so weird that I happened to have once done a little research on the word eddy and also, it inspired the variant plural fishs to become somewhat of a running joke in our household. (“What’s for dinner, Laura?” “Fishs.” “What sort of fishs?” “Salmon, with creamed spinachs on the side.”)

I second a motion.

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5 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, May 2, 2019

  1. Seth says:

    I think “Going Around in Circles” would have made it harder for me, because that title doesn’t hint at all to the cardinal directions. Sure, they’re encircling the letters we’re looking for, but I don’t think of NESW as going around in a circle; they just represent four directions separately. “Going in All Directions” immediately brought to mind the cardinal directions for me. Still had to think for a while to figure out how to use that idea correctly though!

  2. Bunny Zukowski says:

    Didn’t get the answer this week, but I know Fishs Eddy well. In the old days no one knew that place unless you fished or hunted or just rode around upstate NY.

  3. Amy L says:

    There’s an Upper Black Eddy in Pennsylvania, also an unusual name.

    I agree with Seth. I don’t think of a circle when I see the NESW. In my mind, it’s a plus sign with the letters at the ends of the lines. But the puzzle still works and the title led me to the answer.

  4. Neal says:

    The answer to 18 Down (EAST) got me thinking of directions in a cardinal manner, but when the rest of the grid didn’t offer up WEST, NORTH or SOUTH I thought maybe I’d gone down the wrong road, but I finally sussed it out: a rare achievement for me!

  5. Barttels says:

    I don’t understand how anyone could rate this puzzle less than a 5. Maybe 4.5 if you want to be stingy.

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