Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Location Finder”—Laura’s review
This week, we’re looking for a five-letter word. Let’s get right to it.
- [17a: Words to a document signer]: INITIAL HERE
- [24a: Silver medalist’s position]: SECOND PLACE
- [36a: One’s 40s to 60s, roughly]: MIDDLE AGE
- [50a: John Lennon song off “Double Fantasy”]: CLEAN UP TIME
- [60a: Ominous words on a bill]: FINAL NOTICE
Seemed pretty obvi that the five letters of the answer were going to be extracted according to something suggested by the themers, in order — initial, second, middle, cleanup, final — but extracted from what? Not from the other words in the themers — if you take the first letters, you get HPATN. If you use the ordinal adjectives to index the other words, you get HLGME. So we’ve got to find something else … in the grid? Where?
It was at this location that I found myself stuck, so I sent up the flag for a hint. Was told:
“Themers are what you think the are. You probably tried to apply mechanism to themers to no effect. Look hard at the clues w/ themers in mind.”
And … more flailing, and another suggestion to examine the clues, with attention paid to the non-ordinal words in the themers, and … oh!
- [56a: He resides in Valhalla]: ODIN
- [69a: Placenta or pancreas, e.g.]: ORGAN
- [19a: Agency that monitors e-cigs]: FDA
- [14a: Timex alternative]: ROLEX
- [68a: Not Iceland’s nearest neighbor, by far]: QATAR
Then index those entries per the ordinal words in the themers:
… and you get ORDER, which is a five-letter word and our answer. Clever mechanism! I did like this quite a bit. I had previously thought the position of cleanup, in an order, was the last thing/person, but a little research revealed that the cleanup batter is generally the fourth in the lineup and not the last — whether ultimately the final, penultimate, or some other position would depend on the outcome.
It’d been a loooooong time since I’d listened to Double Fantasy all the way through, so here’s “Cleanup Time” for y’all: