Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Short Stories”—Laura’s review
This week we’re looking for a place where people might get short with each other. I’m reasonably short (5′ 0″), so I get short with people everywhere. Ohhhh, metaphorically short, like impatient and/or angry. Okay, let’s get shorty:
- [17a: “Bingo!” if someone’s getting short]: U GUESSED IT
- [29a: “Honestly,” if someone’s getting short]: TRUTH B TOLD
- [45a: “What’s new?” if someone’s getting short]: HOW R THINGS
- [60a: “I can’t explain it,” if someone’s getting short]: DON’T ASK ME Y
Let’s start with the obvious: words that sound like letters and also contain that letter within them are reduced to those letters. Namely:
- YOU == U
- BE == B
- ARE == R
- WHY == Y
I’d wager that at this point, some folks called it quits and anagrammed those letters to BURY, and submitted that. I mean, Y not? Maybe the grave is a place where you’d get short? Arguable. But no — let’s keep working. I flailed a bit here, looking for other abbreviated words (LOTTA, AMMO, IMAC, METH, APP, ANAT) but no. A brief nudge from a solving bud was all it look. Y not look for the letters that are missing?
Fantastic missing letters and where to find them:
- YO, missing from YOU == [12d: Florence who created Tara for “Gone With the Wind”]: YOCH (I’d’ve used [Middle English velar fricative: var.])
- E, missing from BE == [20a: Snack on]: EAT
- AE, missing from ARE == [57d: Inflatable mattress brand]: AERO
- WH, missing from Y == [52d: “With ___ am I speaking?”]: WHOM
Take one more step to line up the leftover letters from those entries (outlined in red in the grid), and you get, in order of the original themers to whom they correspond:
CH AT RO OM == CHAT ROOM
… which is a place where people might get [metaphorically] short [namely, angry and/or impatient] with each other. If you might all just indulge me for a moment, in this metaphorical chat room of a blog post: I am getting increasingly short, shorter than I am IRL, with the nastiness and pointless snark of much crossword criticism on the interwebs. I mean, really — most puzzles, including this contest from the Wall Street Journal, are FREE. In fact, many of the puzzles that we review on this site can be had for free, or for comparatively little money. (The most expensive puzzle subscription, a year of the New York Times crossword via the app, is $39.99 per year, which works out to $0.11 per day. Oh no! I didn’t like the puzzle! I wasted eleven cents today, which I could’ve spent on, I dunno, 2% of a Pumpkin Spice Latte!) Here at the Fiend we review about five puzzles a day, on average, and there are tons more to be had FOR FREE from constructors who publish them on their blogs. Just for you. For free. So you don’t like today’s puzzle. Guess what? Tomorrow there will be five more. Maybe you’ll like one of them. Maybe not. In any case, guess what else? Every single one of those puzzles was constructed by a real, live, living and breathing person who also exists in this world with you. What are you doing to make the crossword community — which includes you — a kinder, more welcoming, and more inclusive place, for constructors, for solvers, for all?
What am I doing? I’m sending you a [31d: “Whole ___ Love” (Led Zeppelin classic)]: LOTTA.