WSJ Contest — Friday, May 22, 2020

Grid: 6ish; Meta: 2ish  


Peter Gordon & Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “One False Note”—Laura’s review

This week we’re looking for a country singer.

WSJ Contest - 5.22.20 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 5.22.20 – Solution

Here are some themers:

  • [18a: Shots of muscular men]: BEEFCAKE
  • [20a: Talked issues]: DEBATED
  • [28a: Declined to take part]: BEGGED OFF
  • [39a: Earth’s lowest lake]: DEAD SEA
  • [48a: Shameless, like a lie]: BALD FACED
  • [58a: Poking a hive with a stick, say]: BAD IDEA
  • [61a: “Personal Witness: Israel Through My Eyes” writer]: ABBA EBAN

First observation: All the letters in the themers, except for one in each themer, are musical notes. Like so:


Second observation, to solve the puzzle: The non-musical-note letters spell out K. T. OSLIN, a country music singer of the 1980s (I think? I don’t remember any big hits past then, and I kinda only knew her name because OSLIN appears in the occasional grid). That’s all I have!

Check out the styles in this video:



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8 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, May 22, 2020

  1. Jeff G. says:

    Excellent meta! “Every good boy does fine” to the rescue.

  2. Scott says:

    Never heard of her but got the answer nevertheless.

  3. Silverskiesdean says:

    Don’t forget:
    “Good boys do fine always” another Bass-ic mnemonic to know.

  4. David Roll says:

    As usual, I didn’t get the meta–who the hell is K.T. Oslin? Of all the country singers she has got to be the most obscure. Speaking of obscure, it would be difficult to find any more so than “madlib,” “Qdoba”, and “niobe,” particularly when the last two intersected. I have lived in three different regions of the U.S. and have never seen or heard of “Qdoba” and likewise, even though I have a Ph.D. in chemistry, niobe was completely foreign to me.

    As the saying goes, which apparently applies to me, “We are all ignorant of different things.”

    • Garrett says:

      KT Oslin is pretty well known for ‘80s/‘90s Country. Worldwide, Oslin has sold about 5 million albums. As of 2019, she had a net worth of $68 million.

      Niobe should be familiar to anyone who has been doing crosswords extensively, but perhaps the clueing was too vague, which is classic Peter Gordon (of the Fireball puzzles).

    • Ed says:

      You have to be of a certain age to relate to Mad Libs. One of Mad Libs’ creators was Roger Price who used to do a comic feature called Droodles. Very clever and lots of fun.

  5. Fred says:

    Every good boy deserves fudge!

  6. Mike says:

    Every one is mentioning the “every good boy….” aspect but I remembered from elementary school music that those were the 5 lines, and the 4 spaces between them were FACE. Immediately seeing that as part of the 48A themer got me the answer in no time…

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