Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Two by Two”—Laura’s review
I’m back from Lollapuzzoola where I hung out with many fine folks from our puzzling subculture. (If you missed the fun, get the puzzles to solve at home!) Thanks Jim P. for ably steering the metaship in my absence.
This week we’re looking for an animal. I like animals! Right after Lolla I went on a family road trip and I still cannot figure out what compels people to announce, when you are driving down the road, that there are cows outstanding in the fields on either side of said road. “Cows!” Indeed. There are, indeed, cows.
- [17a: Capital quantity]: SUM OF MONEY. I keep wanting to parse that as [Anti-capitalist statement from a Japanese wrestler?]: SUMO: F MONEY!
- [21a: Loitered]: HUNG AROUND
- [36a: School in Logan]: UTAH STATE
- [41a: Contract conditions]: FINE PRINT
- [50a: “Stranger Things” monster]: DEMOGORGON
- [60a: Opera that includes the aria “Sempre libera”]: LA TRAVIATA
Lest I get lost in the Upside Down, I gave myself a limited time to figure this one out at first, and it paid off with a mechanism that’s arguably a Week 1.5 on the Gaffney Scale. Since the themers don’t have any referential connection, let’s see what orthographic pattern we might find. Taking the title, “Two by Two,” as a hint, we can look for things that might conceivably be two by two — and lo, in the themers those things doth dwell:
SUM OF MONEY
Each themer has a repeated two-letter sequence — two by two, get it? — and taking those sequences all in order, we get MOUNTAIN GOAT, which is an animal and our answer.
On the topic of Mountain Goats, here’s a recent live performance of a song that has brought me comfort during some spectacularly (and recently!) shitty times.
So elegant that not only are there pairs of letters but they are together and in the right order for the answer. No anagramming required. Another marvelously clever offering.