WSJ Contest — Friday, August 30, 2019

grid: 8 minutes; meta: same-ish  


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?

WSJ Contest - 8.30.19 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 8.30.19 – Solution

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:


… 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.

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

9 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, August 30, 2019

  1. lauraBfan says:

    Did we short ourselves on meds today? lol. JK.

  2. Tom Wilson says:

    Your call for civility is by no means misplaced, but I took “short” much more literally. A chat room is a place for LOL, OMG and BRB … like the puzzle’s longer answers, curtailed messages we don’t generally use IRL.

  3. JohnH says:

    I don’t get the nastiness and defensiveness, especially in a supposed plea for civility. (Hmm, ugly echoes of a certain political debate.) What’s wrong with stating what one likes or dislikes about a puzzle? That’s part of why we’re here, and maybe writers and editors can enjoy the likes and learn from the dislikes.

    The connection to free is utterly specious. When we say we hated a book or movie, how much of that is really about having spent money on it? Has the NYT invited unmerited hatred by charging for its puzzles?

    With a little luck, we can do better than just vote things up and down based on our particular tastes and knowledge area, sticking to fair description and insights. But it’s the same in good critical writing, too.

  4. Scott says:

    I got this one. But I was a little unsatisfied about why to use the word EAT rather than, say, HAVEN. Other than the fact that obviously CHATROOM works. Nice puzzle nevertheless.

  5. Silverskiesdean says:

    I don’t disagree with your post. In fact, I think the ones that charge, i.e. Matt Gaffney charge too little for what they do. However, aren’t we preaching to the choir on this site.

  6. Toby says:

    I completely agree with you, Laura. I’m in awe at the skill it must take to make puzzles and find a lot of the online criticism way out of proportion.

Comments are closed.