WSJ Contest — Friday, August 2, 2019

grid: 8 minutes, meta: immediately  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Chain Gang”—Laura’s review

Coming soon! Lollapuzzoola, the best crossword tournament to occur on a Saturday in August (Saturday, August 17, to be exact) is sold out of regular table seats, but you can still register for a “clipboard seat” (I think this means you sit in a chair and bring your own clipboard) here, where you can also sign up to solve at home for slightly less of a financial outlay. Speaking of solving at home, since that’s how most of us solve (I’m also partial to solving at bars; it’s a great way to guard against being hit upon), you can still get this year’s Boswords puzzles to solve at home (Fun Facts: 22.2% of Boswords constructors are Fiend bloggers; 100% of Fiend bloggers who cover weekly metapuzzle contests are Boswords constructors).

WSJ Contest - 8.2.2019 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 8.2.2019 – Solution

Oh yeah, the puzzle! We’re looking for an American fast-food chain.

  • [17a: Person in charge of keeping everyone’s morale up?]: SPIRIT CHIEF
  • [25a: Someone who’s always trying to outdo you on Instagram?]: SELFIE RIVAL
  • [38a: Place to store your throwable weaponry?]: SPEAR CELLAR
  • [53a: Demand that the singer of “Tik Tok” laugh at your joke?]: GUFFAW KESHA (note: she no longer styles herself Ke$ha)
  • [62a: “Has anyone seen Ms. Cyrus?”]: WHERE’S MILEY

As I was finishing this grid with its nonsense-y themers, I suspected the meta mechanism might have something to do with female pop stars … SPEARs, KESHA, MILEY … but no. With a metapuzzle, after a grid solve, I’ll often print just the filled grid to get the ol’ brain juices a-boiling … and I needn’t’ve bothered, as it jumped out at me immediately:


The pop stars alluded to in the three last themers were a nice misdirect, but what we were really looking for is the last names of five people named GUY:

Guy RITCHIE, British director and ex-husband of Madonna
Guy FIERI, restauranteur and food show host
Guy PEARCE, Australian actor (of Memento) whom I always mix up with Australian actor Hugo Weaving (of The Matrix and Lord of the Rings)
Guy FAWKES, 1570-1606, instigator of the Gunpowder Plot (“Remember, remember, the fifth of November…”)
Guy SMILEY, Muppet and “everybody’s favorite game show host” on Sesame Street

Count ’em: one, two, three, four, five guys named GUY. Our American fast-food restaurant is: FIVE GUYS, headquartered in Matt Gaffney’s resident state of Virginia, and recently the fastest growing restaurant chain in the US (there’s likely one near you).

Cookie Monster is not a particularly gracious game show contestant:

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17 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, August 2, 2019

  1. Tom says:

    Five Guys vs. In-N-Out… go!

    • Qatsi says:

      I’d argue they’re not quite in the same league with each other – you’ll pay about twice as much for a meal at Five Guys compared to In-N-Out, but at the same time, you’re getting about twice as much food. So part of the decision comes down to how much you want to spend and how hungry you are.

      Having said that, the Cajun Fries at Five Guys rock.

      • LauraB says:

        I love In-N-Out, but they aren’t (yet) national. No locations east of Dallas or north of Medford, OR.

      • JohnBeck says:

        I’m with Qatsi.

        There’s a 5Guys in my neighborhood – I’ve gone twice.
        There’s an In-N-Out in my neighborhood – I’ve gone 100s of times.

    • Billy Boy says:

      Five Guys?

      -three visits, three upset stomachs. In-N-Out has been (With all the expansion, I really don’t know) the acme of fresh, in fact the only Iceberg Lettuce I will eat. 3×3 Animal style? Pretty good for $5.

      I’m not the guy to endorse Five Guys.

  2. JohnH says:

    I see on the WSJ puzzle page that a record number of people were finding this quick and easy, and here LauraB calls it immediate. I’m afraid this just wasn’t in my realm. I did search for hidden words after FAWKES struck me, but all I could see was something like ITCH and SMILE as unrelated common nouns. I recognize none of the other four.

    For that matter I’ve never heard of FIVE GUYS either. I guess it hasn’t penetrated the NYC market. (Not that New Yorkers can’t do better than chain fast food anyhow.) Oh, well, win some, lose some.

    • pannonica says:

      Just consulted their website. Dozens in the NYC area, nearly 20 in Manhattan alone. So I guess that means it hasn’t penetrated your consciousness.

      • JohnH says:

        Thanks. I see now that I must have passed one in walking distance from here without even realizing it was part of a national chain. It’s hard to explain if you don’t live here, but the whole consciousness has to be different. It’s one of dozens of lunch takeout places within just a few block radius, overshadowed by a more popular Cuban takeout and fiery Korean food. It’s not a destination spot, like a mall, or isolated like a roadside stop. By zoning law, in fact, it actually can’t stand out in look.

        Again, it’s hard to explain. We do have a few Olive Gardens, but they are known for depending on tourists who appreciate something familiar amid the ever so many Italian and other local restaurants. There’s a Papa Johns not far from here, but I’m not sure who finds it attractive when there’s pizza on every block and people in person or in print debate over the latest discovery. There’s a KFC but three-quarters of a mile away, so not within lunch distance, and anyway two closer chicken restaurants boast of the hottest and widest variety of sauces, not to mention beer. There’s just one iHOP south of Harlem, so I know it mostly from an old jingle. And I’m sure there are many more chains that haven’t made it here at all.

        Dunkin Donuts definitely has caught on, as cheaper and more fun than Starbucks. So has MacDonalds with the appeal to kids as a kind of playground. But that’s about it.

  3. Mary Flaminio says:

    I saw 5 male names (Ben, Bob, Roger, Ritchie and Rod). 5 Guys! Did Matt give us a backdoor?

  4. Norm H says:

    Fun puzzle. I guess “Ski side to side, Brigitte!” —> SLALOMBARDOT didn’t make the cut.

    In-N-Out over Five Guys every time.

  5. Jim Schooler says:

    Fieri was the GUY that jumped out at me first. Very apropos.

  6. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Laura. Our Five Guys here in Staunton moved to the next town over a few years ago. They give you far too many fries.

    • Fred T Wilcox III says:

      You order a small portion of fries and they nearly fill the paper bag! Yes, I’m exaggerating but you (should) get the idea.

  7. Jeff says:

    A no doubt 5* week one

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