Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Look Inside”—Laura’s review
This week, we are informed that “the answer to this week’s contest crossword is an 11-letter answer.” Okayyy, that’s a little recursive? Is there something to that?
I made short work of the grid, and noted that the center entry …
- [35a: Reserved]: SELF-CONTAINED
… was likely important. What does self-contained mean in the context of this puzzle? I thought, maybe there are letters “contained” by the letter I? or other letters “contain” the letter I (i.e. the “self’). Meh. I then set the puzzle aside for two days. Not feeling inspired, I asked Austin for the tiniest nudge, and he mentioned that the clues had a role to play. Was that where I was to “look inside”?
Ah! I knew some of those clues were weird. The first one I noticed was:
- [47d: Weapons of our medieval ancestors]: LANCES
(Not all of “our” ancestors likely hailed from medieval Europe, but that’s neither here nor there.) Then, because I just happened to be messaging with my friend Ken Stern, I noticed:
- [23a: Area of a two-master near the rudder]: STERN
Essentially, we need to “look inside” the clues to find their clued entries SELF-CONTAINED within them, like so:
[4a: Another word for a scalawag]: RASCAL
[17a: Stadium personage]: UMP
[23a: Area of a two-master near the rudder]: STERN
[26a: Any of the multitudes of the addlepated]: SOFTHEAD
[46a: Fire in the blood]: IRE
[51a: Made amends for what one did]: ATONED
[52a: Pitcher’s position in the lineup, typically]: NINTH
[10d: Idea that terrifies thanatophobes]: DEATH
[34d: “Season of Glass” singer]: ONO
[47d: Weapons of our medieval ancestors]: LANCES
[58d: You shouldn’t believe it]: LIE
Those all spell out RUSSIAN DOLL, which is our 11-letter answer. Also known as a matryoshka (Russian for “little matron”) doll, a RUSSIAN DOLL is also SELF-CONTAINED, in that it contains increasingly smaller versions of itself.
This was fun! But as Nadia Volvokov says, “Fun is for suckers.”