Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “What Not to Do”—Laura’s review
This week, we’re looking for a ten-letter word describing the theme entries. Here are the theme entries — all of which seem appropriate for our socially distant times:
- [17a: Parent’s reprimand]: DON’T START WITH ME
- [21a: Warning at a contentious political rally]: DON’T TOUCH ME
- [38a: With 54-Across, Grammy-winning song by the Police]: DON’T STAND
- [54a: See 38-Across]: SO CLOSE TO ME
- [59a: Common outburst from Judge Judy]: DON’T INTERRUPT ME
I noticed right away that there were other entries in the grid that had the letters ME, and figured that the themers, even though they began with DON’T, were instructions as to what to do. What I assumed were the first and last portions of the meta answer seemed pretty clear:
DON’T START WITH ME == [10a: Staff note]: MEMO … starts with ME
DON’T INTERRUPT ME == [69a: Stuart Little, e.g.]: MOUSE … OUS interrupts ME
I knew I was looking for a ten-letter word that began with MO and ended with OUS. Not MONSTROUS? Not quite.
Okay, at this point I was frustrated and decided to backsolve, so I did a regex search and figured the answer was likely MONOTONOUS. But how did I get there? Friend Austin gave me a nudge:
DON’T TOUCH ME — [37a: “She Believes ___” (Kenny Rogers* hit): IN ME … the letters N, O, and T “touch” ME
DON’T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME == [41d: Abbr. in black church names]: AME (i.e. African Methodist Episcopal) … the letters ON “stand so close” to ME
Yep: MO-NOT-ON-OUS. That’s a ten-letter word that describes the theme entries because it’s a bit MONOTONOUS, I suppose, to keep telling people DON’T.
*Kenny Rogers (August 21, 1938 – March 20, 2020).