Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Parting the Waters”—Laura’s review
This week we’re looking for a popular appetizer. As an appetizer to this post, I’ll just warn you that it’ll be a short one, since I’m fighting off the flu (yes, I got this year’s shot) and my kids are yelling from the next room about the Puppy Bowl.
Something seems fishy about these themers:
- [17a: Bivalve with a beautiful shell (4,6)]: BAY SCALLOP
- [25a: Rockfish family member (2,5)]: OCEAN PERCH
- [40a: Entree often billed as “Chilean” (5,6)]: SEA BASS
- [50a: Food source of East Africa (5,7)]: LAKE SALMON
- [59a: Thai delicacy often grilled (3,4)]: RIVER PRAWN
My first assumption was that the enumerations suggested either 1) two-word phrases that corresponded to the bodies of water in the themers (Q: Is there an OCEAN that’s 2 and 5 words? A: Nope); or 2) letter placement in some other corresponding answer/entry. And what does the title mean? I tried backsolving a bit from some popular seafood appetizers — ceviche, calimari, shrimp cocktail, raw oysters — but only succeeded in increasing my appetite.
Not finding myself getting anywhere, and feeling feverish, I put it away until the following afternoon, when Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest appeared in my in-box. What we all expected to be a difficult Week 5 turned out to be a relatively straightforward Week 2-ish (you’ll have to wait for Joon’s review on Tuesday), about which Matt has this to say: “If you want a tougher challenge, my WSJ meta today should do the trick.” You’re telling me!
At this point, Jesse* and I decided to set sail together, and after avoiding a few shoals and sea monsters, managed a successful crossing (okay, enough with the nautical puns!). I couldn’t stop seeing ERIE, which, if you solve many crosswords, you know as a popular lake, encrypted in [45a: Like “Jaws,” compared to “Juno”]: EERIER, and we thought maybe “Parting the Waters” meant that names of bodies of water were split somehow in the grid — which, turns out — they were:
[24d: Magnus Carlsen’s game]: CHESS + [51d: In a vertical position, as an anchor]:
APEAK = CHESAPEAKE (BAY)
[62d: Synagogue chest]: ARK + [22a: Danger for a hiker]: TICK = ARCTIC (OCEAN)
[65a: Ready for the shower]: BARE + [21a: Encircle]: RING = BERING (SEA)
[6a: Winter warmer]: SOUP + [45a: Like “Jaws,” compared to “Juno”]: EERIER =
(LAKE) SUPERIOR (this one made me LOL)
[54a: Shriek]: YELL + [42a: Be behind]: OWE = YELLOW (RIVER)
Then take the parenthetical enumerations from the themer clues to index the resulting names of bodies of water:
… spelling out SPRING ROLL, which is indeed a popular appetizer, and our answer. This was tough but rewarding!
I do love songs about the sea and sailing and shipwrecks, so in a way this puzzle was right in my wheelhouse. Here is Canadian post-punk band Headstones covering “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” while standing out on what I am assuming is the frozen surface of Lake Superior, which is very metal. Fellas, it’s been good to know you.
*… whom everyone should congratulate for placing Third at the Westport Library Crossword Tournament yesterday!