WSJ Contest — Friday, August 14, 2020

Grid: 7:30; Meta: half that  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “You Need Glasses”—Laura’s review

Quick question for the dozen or so people who actually read these posts: Would you be interested if I live-solved a metapuzzle (or a couple of them) on Twitch? A few people with whom I was hanging in the virtual Lollapuzzoola hallway made the suggestion. There are folks who live-solve standard crosswords and cryptics, but I don’t know of anyone currently solving metas. We’d have to figure something out so as not to spoil the contest — maybe I’d take a break from blogging for a week or two (yesssss!) and then live-solve a few at a time, post-deadline. If you’re interested in experiencing my devastating wit and intellect in real time via the internet, say so in the comments.

Speaking of encountering me in real time, I am co-teaching with Jesse Lansner a class about Making Crossword Puzzles this Thursday, August 20, at 7pm EDT. Sign up via the link. It’s free.

Oh, the puzzle! That’s why you’re here. The answer is a liqueur. Yum!

There were no standout themers (and by that I mean long entries likely to hold information relevant to the meta) and the grid was divided into four quadrants. So it seemed likely that we were looking for letter patterns rather than referential meaning. After solving, I generally print out the grid to see if I notice anything — and there it was: a repeated string of letters: EMBL or UMBL. Looking around a bit, I saw that part of those strings formed the bottom of the same set of letters, repeated four times in the grid, once in each quadrant, like so:

WSJ Contest - 8.14.20 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 8.14.20 – Solution

Those letters spell out (and make the shape of a) TUMBLER, which is something you might put some liqueur in, depending on which drink you mix. (And hence the title, since You Need Glasses to hold your liqueur, and a TUMBLER is a sort of glass.) If you take the letters inside each TUMBLER, in grid order of their originating entries, you get AN IS ET TE, or ANISETTE, which is a liqueur and our answer.

Also the letters ANISETTE are encrypted in ALANIS MORISSETTE. The concert where I had 10th-row tickets to see her (and Liz Phair, and Garbage) was postponed to September 2021. Those tickets were expensive — I’m broke but I’m happy I bought them.


This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, August 14, 2020

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Laura, and if you live-solved metas on Twitch I would definitely watch!

  2. jefe says:

    My in was TUMID – it wouldn’t be hard to rework the corner using Humid instead. Then I noticed the 4 (really 5) TUMs, most of which right-angled to TUMBLE, then I saw the TUMBLERs in their tumbler shape. Fun meta!

    • Tim Mitchell says:

      Same with me. TUMID was such an odd word, and easily replaceable. I wonder if that was intentional on Matt’s part to give us a nudge. If the word was TUMOR or TUMMY, I don’t know if I would have seen the pattern as easily.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        IIRC there was a possibility with TUMOR but that’s just such a buzzkill of an entry.

        • Andrew Bradburn says:

          Thanks Matt, I appreciate this.

          There have been times I have solved a crossword, and wondered, did THAT word have to be in here? Ugh. On one hand, words are words, but crosswords are a pastime and a way to get away from the rest of the world and all its problems for a while.

  3. Vic says:

    Would love to watch live-solving the meta on Twitch. Let me know when.

  4. BrainBoggler says:

    Saw the multiple TUMs but was too rigid to stray from the straight path to notice the TUMBLER formation — very clever construction! Yes, Laura, I would definitely watch a live-solve of a Meta — would be both entertaining and educational for me. Thanks.

  5. Marion Shields says:

    Would definitely like to watch solving the meta live.

  6. Jon Forsythe says:

    1. I’d definitely watch a solve of a meta on Twitch (after the deadline, of course, & after solving it myself). Perhaps I could glean tips on how to fill in a grid faster. How anyone is able to fill in a grid faster than 10 minutes astounds me, but I think most of you crossword convention types can do it around 5 minutes.

    2. For this meta, I had thought the order was going to be the order they appear in the grid, so I had ISANTEET for awhile. It wasn’t until I put it into an anagram solver that I saw the answer.

    3. I too spent a bunch of money on the Morissette (& Liz Phair & Garbage) concert. Hoping that everything will be in order by then.

  7. Meg says:

    I don’t know what Twitch is (I assume a video sharing website), but I would enjoy seeing a solve live.

  8. Mary Roque Flaminio says:

    I’m in on the live meta solve. Loved this puzzle.

  9. sps says:

    Count me in, Laura!

  10. Bob B says:

    My absolute (Absolut?) favorite kind of meta — the “hiding in plain sight” variety. No googling required. Just a clever idea and the grid-making skills to pull it off. It reminds me of a previous favorite, the Cadillac Eldorado “circle the block” meta from a few years back. Thanks, Matt!

  11. Russ says:

    I would definitely watch. Thanks

  12. Mister G. says:

    I’m pretty sure there are way more than a dozen folks who read and enjoy this write-up regularly. Although I do have to admit it is depressing to see you solve the meta in 8 minutes when it takes me three days or I don’t solve it at all. This time I caught on to all the “umble”’s on the third day, fortunately.

  13. Meg says:

    I would love to watch a live-solve! Who is the other Meg?

  14. bunella says:

    I would love to watch also but unfamiliar with Twitch.

  15. Hector says:

    ^^^ Me too. Still trying to figure out MySpace, and Tom has not been answering my messages.

    If instead of four TUMBLERS we had TUMBLER, LOWBALL, SNIFTER, and . . . (well maybe there’s the catch? some other seven-letter glass), I am curious how much harder this would have played.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Much tougher. Interesting idea which I hadn’t considered.

    • TMart says:

      When I found the first tumbler, I thought I’d be looking for other types of glasses as well. It did play a little easier with four tumblers.

  16. Joanne says:

    Live-solving metas seems awfully gutsy to me. Sometimes metas jump out at me right away; sometimes I have to put them down and come back to them; and sometimes they elude me entirely. Many epiphanies come to me as I’m doing mundane things like brushing my teeth or drifting off to sleep. I’d have to practically turn my life into The Truman Show to live-solve some metas. But thanks to your devastating wit and intellect, what would be a high-wire act for me will probably be a walk in the park for you. Let me know when I should get my popcorn ready.

  17. austin says:

    The rabbit hole I went way too far down was thinking that “YOU NEED GLASSES” meant eyeglasses, and I went around looking for double letters. Turns out there were A LOT of clues this week with double letters (27 clues containing 35 different sets of double letters)

    Once I thought of the other kind of glasses it all made sense.

    • Matt Savoie says:

      I was here too. I definitely thought double vision with alcohol had something to do with the answer.

  18. Mary Ellen Price says:

    I’d watch a live solve!

  19. Pam says:

    Thanks for the Alanis reference. I am taking a break from employment and can honestly say I’m broke but I’m happy.

  20. Matt Savoie says:

    I would watch you solve the meta too. (I’d do the class tomorrow too, but already had plans when I first saw it. Which is weird, what are plans even anymore?)

Comments are closed.