Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “The Play’s the Thing” — Conrad’s review
This week we’re told, The answer to this week’s contest crossword is a word from Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy. There are six themers:
- [18a: Be a little spooked by]: FINDUNCANNY
- [24a: Bishops move along them]: DIAGONALS
- [32a: Pigment used in green paint]: CHROMEOXIDE
- [44a: Never to suffer harm]: INVIOLATELY
- [54a: Gets ready to smooch]: PUCKERSUP
- [64a: credit unions]: MEMBEROWNED
I spotted DUNCAN right away, and I was off the the races. Each themer contains a character from a Shakespeare play. The initials of those characters spelled DIRVPB, so there had to be a 2nd step to the meta, which is the titles of the plays those characters appeared in:
- FINDUNCANNY – DUNCAN – MacBeth
- DIAGONALS – IAGO – Othello
- CHROMEOXIDE – ROMEO – Romeo and Juliet
- INVIOLATELY – VIOLA – Twelfth Night
- PUCKERSUP – PUCK – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- MEMBEROWNED – BEROWNE – Love’s Labour’s Lost
The first letter of each play spells the word MORTAL (from Hamlet’s soliloquy), our meta answer.
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,Must give us pause—there’s the respectThat makes calamity of so long life.
I thought it was a clean two-step meta. It took me awhile to spot BEROWNE (don’t tell my undergrad English professors: I’ll be a laughing stock), but MORTA… meant the meta answer had to be MORTAL, and Love’s Labour’s Lost is the only Shakespeare play that starts with an “L”, so that was easy to sort out.