Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “At Odds”—Laura’s review
This week, we’re looking for something people who are at odds often do.
When I, bleary-eyed after a full Thursday of Zoom meetings and half-assed homeschooling (“hey, it’s time for P.E. — go outside!”), opened a tab to the WSJ puzzle page around 4pm, some glitch prevented the web app from functioning correctly, and I just had to solve right there and then, so I printed this one out and thus you get to see my handwriting.
Looks like there are six themers:
- [17a: Longshoreman’s workplace]: CARGO DOCK
- [21a: Ringling Brothers Circus’s Jane Barnell, e.g.]: BEARDED LADY
- [34a: Labor leader?]: PREGNANCY
- [39a: Broke]: INSOLVENT
- [51a: Riotously merry]: SATURNALIAN
- [58a: Landing by a stream, say]: REELING IN
Step One: The title is “At Odds” — what’re the odds that if I took the odd letters of each themer, new, exciting words might result?
CARGO DOCK == CROOK
BEARDED LADY == BAD DAY
PREGNANCY == PENNY
INSOLVENT == ISLET
SATURNALIAN == STRAIN
REELING IN == REIGN
Step Two: Note that these new words are, in fact, clues to other entries in the puzzle:
- [11d: Crook]: BEND
- [13a: Bad day]: IDES (i.e. the IDES of March being a bad day for Julius Caesar; this puzzle was published around the Ides of May — did you have a bad day?)
- [27d: Penny]: CENT
- [64a: Islet]: KEY
- [57a: Strain]: EXERT
- [62a: Reign]: RULE
Step Three: The first letters of those entries (circled in my handwritten grid) spell BICKER, which is something people who are at odds often do, and our answer. Nice set of finds, nice connection of the title to the mechanism and to the thematic content of the answer. No bickering from me.
You need a video! Lemme just say that while I am a big Beach Boys fan (God only knows what I’d be without Pet Sounds), their gender-swapped version of [42d: Beach Boys song “___ Kissed Her”]: THEN I is a pale imitation of the original, “Then He Kissed Me” by the Crystals.
Ha! I was busy looking for the word “at” around the grid which led me nowhere and why I was stumped!
I prefer this cover. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htQ2tO3xMIU