WSJ Contest — Friday, December 11, 2020

Grid: 6ish; Meta: half that if even  


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Risky Business”—Laura’s review

This week, the answer is a precarious thing to do. Is it … WORK IN ACADEMIA? No? Sure feels that way lately.

No obvi themers but there is that grid-spanning marquee entry smack-dab in the center:

  • [35a: Contributor to the 2008 financial crisis]: SUBPRIME LENDING

I was 1000% sure I’d seen this somewhere before — and I had, in a Gaffney meta a few years ago. I thought, hey why not see if it’s the same gimmick? Turns out, it was indeed the same gimmick: look for the “subprime” squares (i.e. the squares under the prime-numbered squares) in the grid to spell out the answer:

WSJ Contest - 12.11.20 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 12.11.20 – Solution

… which is, LIVE ON BORROWED TIME, which is certainly a precarious thing to do, and our answer.

The other interesting coincidence regarding this puzzle is that on Friday, this appeared in the day’s Learned League questions:

As if I didn’t know the answer, but I do wonder how many people solved the WSJ Contest on Thursday afternoon and found their memories conveniently jogged on Friday’s match day?


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12 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, December 11, 2020

  1. Frank DeSimone says:

    18 is not a prime number. Hence you lose an “O” from your solution.
    How about this? Separate the “RI” from risky business. Look for all ri’s down and across and use letters after the I to get “Lion Tamer”, a truly risky business.

    • Joella D Hultgren says:

      Agree. 18 is not a prime number. The next prime number is 19, giving an “O”.

    • Thomas says:

      Across and down RI’s (and arbitrary anagramming) only gets you LO TAME. There’s a diagonal RIR, but opening it up to wordsearch-style would also give an extra O, T, and two A’s. There’s no RII or RIN in any direction.

  2. Isaac Mayo says:

    An error in the diagram above … the first “O” in BORROWED should be under square 19, not 18. Otherwise great review

  3. pannonica says:

    Has anyone yet mentioned that 18 isn’t a prime number but 19 is?

  4. sharkicicles says:

    Did you know that 19 is a prime number but 18 is NOT!???!!!111one

  5. David Roll says:

    Often there is a lot of breast-beating in the comments about clues/fills that some think are not appropriate. Usually, I don’t pay any attention. But I am surprised that others, like myself, did not find “Karen” to be offensive. Isn’t this bullying? Late night television (Colbert particularly) promoted this. I know several Karens and they are not “entitled white women.” Besides, the women’s name was Amy if I recall correctly.

    • Joella D Hultgren says:

      I thought 63A was offensive. I also know several Karens, who are kind, thoughtful, pleasant, educated, and who don’t deserve this racial slur. There are plenty of clues that could have been used for 63A instead: female half of the Carpenters, for example. As for late night television, maybe I’ll start a new meme: offensive late night jerk = Colbert.

  6. Mary Ellen Price says:

    I didn’t get this one. I was a strong math student when I was young, because math problems were basically fun number puzzles, but now I’ve forgotten most of what I once knew.

    Was anyone else misdirected by 10D,” Clue heading,” with “ACROSS” as answer? During WSJ’s Live Event this past summer, it was mentioned that puzzle-related clues are usually sure to be meta-significant … so unfortunately I wasted time pondering it.

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