WSJ Contest — Friday, August 28, 2020

Grid: 7:30; Meta: 20  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “We’re in This Together”—Laura’s review

This week, Matt challenges us to find a well-known business magnate.

solution grid to WSJ 8.28.20

WSJ Contest – 8.28.20 – Solution

There’s a hint-y type clue at the very end:

  • [72a: Last part of some business names, or a hint regarding the first word of six clues]: AND CO

And … hmmm. At first I thought I was looking for partners (business or otherwise) of people mentioned in the clues — i.e. Martini & Rossi, Gilbert & Sullivan, etc. Or maybe entries with CO in them: CHACOS, ECO, etc. But no: turns out that an early error in filling the grid (i.e. GATES instead of ALLEN) led to the first step. We’re looking for CO-[role] for these folks. Namely, Co-Founder, Co-Host, Co-Defendant, etc. And who are these people?

  • [9a: Author of “The Communist Manifesto”]: MARX == Co-author: ENGELS
  • [13a: Founder of Microsoft]: ALLEN == Co-Founder: GATES
  • [37a: Host of “Live” for many years]: PHILBIN == Co-Host: RIPA
  • [46a: Defendant in a 1920s trial]: VANZETTI == Co-Defendant: SACCO
  • [67a: Creator of Black Panther and the X-Men]: KIRBY == Co-Creator: LEE
  • [7d: Pilot portrayer in “Sully”]: ECKHART == Co-Pilot portrayer: HANKS

The last one confused me — Tom Hanks played Pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Aaron Eckhart played Co-Pilot Jeff Skiles. So maybe it’s that the clues are meant to be read as [Co-whatever] and the extraction is the primary [whatever]? In any case, it works either way, although I stared for a while, unsure of what step to take next, until I got a nudge (from a Co-solver) suggesting that I take another look in the grid. And, lo, in a very Gaffneyesque fashion, there were six entries that contained all the letters in the “Co” entries, plus one extra letter:

  • [40a: Section of L.A.]: ANGELES = ENGELS + A
  • [49a: Reps]: AGENTS = GATES + N
  • [1a: Island south of Naples]: CAPRI = RIPA + C
  • [25a: Popular* sandals]: CHACOS = SACCO + H
    *they are indeed so popular that I am wearing a pair
  • [70a: Vogue rival]: ELLE = LEE + L
  • [54a: Martini specification]: SHAKEN = HANKS + E

ANCHEL? Ohhhh, in grid order those letters spell CHANEL, who is indeed a well-known business magnate, and her first name is COCO, which kinda fits with the theme mechanism. She was also — it has been well-documented — a well-known anti-Semite and a Nazi collaborator, so her AND CO were SS-Oberführer Walter Schellenberg and Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage, for and with whom she operated as a secret agent, intent on persuading Churchill to pursue a separate peace between Britain and Germany. There’s also evidence that she managed to use the German occupation of France (and its “Aryanization laws”) in her favor to eliminate Jewish rivals in the French perfume industry.

Just speaking personally, at this political moment I felt … not great … solving a metapuzzle (no matter how excellent the construction) where the answer was a notorious anti-Semite and Nazi collaborator. I can’t imagine any political moment, tbh, when I wouldn’t feel downright shitty being reminded of cultural figures who use their influence to further the power of fascists.

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

34 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, August 28, 2020

  1. Martin says:

    My only detour was looking for a GIFFORD+1, not a RIPA+1. I guess the wording of the clue implied an early cohost. But that didn’t take long. All told, it fell pretty quickly.

    • ant says:

      I also used GIFFORD as my co-host at first. With her, the initials of the five co-conspirators going across (Engels, Gates, Gifford, Sacco, and Lee) anagram to LEGGS – the 65A answer. Anyone else fall down this hole?

      • Jeff D says:

        Yep! Also got stuck on LEGGS for a little while.

        I eventually figured out the mechanism, but I ended up submitting LEHMAN because for whatever reason I noticed IMPAIR = RIPA + IM and if you assume the mechanism is “remove all instances of the letters of the name” instead of just one instance of each of them, that would leave an “M”, and those letters anagram to LEHMAN, which I thought made sense thematically since the firm was Lehman Brothers and all.

        Of course, that makes no sense at all (or else ELLE -> LEE + L would clearly be a problem), so I should have kept looking and found CAPRI. Oops!

      • Garrett says:

        Would easily have, had I not also had Hanks

      • max says:

        yes. i had ripa at first and then “corrected” it to gifford (wasn’t she there longer?). i was also confused by eckhart for pilot. never got to the grid.

  2. Sherman says:

    That was an incredibly well-constructed meta puzzle. Bravo Gaffney!

  3. Barney says:

    My finger slipped and I unintentionally left a rating of 3 instead of 5 as I intended. Laura perhaps could change it, or Matt in his mental addition. “Coco” was a cherry on top.

    As to her, the tale is as the Brits say a bit more nuanced.

    • austin says:

      Where’s the nuance? Being a Nazi collaborator for self-preservation reasons is still being a Nazi collaborator.

    • Gideon says:

      Kindly explain the nuance in trying to take over a Jewish-owned competitor by using Nazi aryanization laws?

  4. Thomas Burnakis says:

    Well, I for one loved the puzzle, even though I spent countless hours trying to make a word out of EGGSLH (yes I went with GIFFORD). Actually one of my friends came up with a great answer from that, J W HANES founder of Hanes hosiery the maker of LEGGS – pretty darn clever answer I think!

    Even when I switched to RIPA (after a dalliance with LEE, JOHNSON, and EPSTEIN) I got nada. Sooo frustrated I tossed it aside and went back later to the answer that plagued me, CHACOS, I never even heard of those, why would they be in a crossword…hey wait a minute that is SACCO with an H. The scales immediately fell from my eyes.

    If you are going for odd coincidences, the cast from the animated movie Coco recently did a public service announcement for kids to strengthen their resolve during all the lock-down and masking and sanitizing and it was called “We are all in this together”, very close to the meta puzzle title!

    Finally, I doubt there is any noted business person of the past (and most likely current and future) who has not done something we find abhorrent. Yes being a Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite is disgusting. However if we stay away from all possible controversy in choosing notable people or events for use in a Meta we will be let with Winnie-the-Pooh and good Lord he walks around half naked and is banned in China! So please folks, let’s not go looking for trouble where trouble doesn’t exist, this was a great Meta, composed by a master Meta constructor and brought a good deal of pleasure and amusement.

    • Mary Flaminio says:

      Excellent! Thanks for getting this message out. Everyone needs to relax. Find the good not the bad.

      • austin says:

        It is possible to find the good (Matt’s excellent construction) while also acknowledging the bad (Chanel’s Nazi collaboration). In fact, Laura did that in the above writeup!

        I don’t think we should paper over the bad things in the world and pretend they don’t exist.

    • austin says:

      Milne seems like a fine subject for a meta. From his wikipedia page: “Milne did not speak out much on the subject of religion, although he used religious terms to explain his decision, while remaining a pacifist, to join the British Home Guard: ‘In fighting Hitler,’ he wrote, ‘we are truly fighting the Devil, the Anti-Christ … Hitler was a crusader against God.'”

      • Tom says:

        Once again people’s desire to be strident trump their desire to enjoy things that are not intended to offend. I should know better than to post a plea for brightness. However, I will comment no more because this has turned dark.

        • austin says:

          Truly do not understand was is dark about that Milne quote. Fighting Hitler was a good thing! And recognizing the existential threat of Nazism and joining the fight (while being a pacifist!) is a good thing to remember in this political moment, imo.

  5. Tom says:

    Let me apologize, strident was neither the appropriate nor fair word. I let my own view color my comment, and for that I am sorry.

    • Barney says:

      Do we really want to politicize even crossword puzzles now? Notably this is NOT done on the blog site.

      • LauraB says:

        If you think this post constitutes “politiciz[ing] crossword puzzles,” what til you find out what else I do in the puzzle world!!

        • Tom says:

          Oh, I know what else you do and I think it a noble and necessary forum. If I were to come to your site I would fully expect, and probably join, your passions about political minimization of groups who should have (but often don’t) the same representation. However, it was the politicizing here, on a forum meant for fun, that seemed untoward. You already have a dais from which to expound so not every online opportunity has to be a chance to right the wrongs. I daresay you would not appreciate the opinions of all on the subjects you find entertaining, but then again they were not offered so you didn’t have to deal with them.

          • Conrad says:

            Calling out a notorious Nazi collaborator is “untoward”? Seriously?

          • I think that Amy and Co (heh) have been MORE than clear over the years that this site is meant for more than fun. It is a proudly anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti- plenty-of-other-things-I can’t-get-off-the-tip-of-my-tongue site.

            Laura’s commentary was wholly in line with the values of this site and its team. The mix of confidence and misguidedness in your statements professing otherwise is striking.

      • Tom says:

        Barney, is that the correct link? I tried to follow it and it did not seem to relate to the matter at hand?

        • Barney says:

          It’s the major blog site for meta puzzle discussion. The point was the virtual 100% absence of politics, by group consensus, aka shelter from the storm.

  6. David Roll says:

    Congrats to anyone who got the meta. Too tough for me–I used to get maybe one in three–I haven’t figured one out for several months. No fun anymore–I have quit wasting my time.

  7. Garrett says:

    The CO-whatever thing for the “Sully” clue confused me for a bit, too.

  8. Garrett says:

    Wow — I was just not able to make that leap to anagrams of the “co” meta entries plus one extra letter. I think I was already pretty mentally overloaded from banging my head against the MGWCC ?

    • jefe says:

      My way in to that was noticing that the co theme entries were all on one side of the grid, so there must’ve been other things hiding elsewhere.

  9. Garrett says:

    Wow — had no idea about the Chanel background ?

  10. Torridd says:

    Did anyone get confused with “in” as in We’re in this together? Coincidentally, there are six “ins” in the puzzle so I thought that maybe the magnate had to do with co-in (coins) Then I tried linking co with words in the answers and that got me nowhere. Then I searched for 6 companies that were answers but only saw three. Blah.

  11. Jon Forsythe says:

    Nazis are bad. Actively collaborating with them to harm Jewish companies in and around WWII is bad. Trying to have a politics-free zone so that you can go through life with blinders on to the world is ITSELF a political stance. I shows that your peace of mind matters more than the lives of others. Those lambasting Laura or others defending her, kindly get lost.

  12. Nancy lobb says:

    Laura is, of course, absolutely right. The Nazis were abhorrent.
    It is also fine for a group to decide not to discuss politics. Many families do this to keep the peace at family meals. There is no reason the muggles can’t have this rule…
    Crossword puzzles are supposed to be fun, not something to fight about!!

    • Craig says:

      I’ll go with what others have said: no one is criticizing Matt’s construction nor how well the crossword played, but declaring the criticism of his choice of crossword subject off-limits is tantamount to a blanket dismissal of any and all criticisms.

      I didn’t know that Chanel was a Nazi collaborator, so today I learned something, and that she was and is not worthy of veneration has to be stated.

      If you wish to blinker your reading, that’s your choice, but it gives succor to those who want the tacit spread of evil.

Comments are closed.