Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Bit Parts” — Conrad’s review
This week we’re told, The answer to this week’s contest crossword is a two-word candy brand. There are four themers with parenthetical numbers for clues:
TURINSRIVER is PO, which is (2) letters long. The other “parts” fell quickly. PERCHEDATOP is ON (2). THATFEMALES is HERS (4). FUNNYPERSON could be either WAG (3) or WIT (3). In grid order, WAG forms the nonsense string WAGHERSPOON, leaving WIT:
- FUNNYPERSON: WIT (3)
- THATFEMALES: HERS (4)
- TURINSRIVER: PO (2)
- PERCHEDATOP: ON (2)
The meta mechanism assembles “parts” (Pieces) of Reese WITHERSPOON, leading to our meta solution REESE’S PIECES, a “two-word candy brand.” Pretty neat that the puzzle title performed double duty, since “bit parts” also points to acting.
Reese’s Pieces were popularized by the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The production company behind E.T. initially wanted E.T to eat M&Ms, but was rebuffed by Mars, Inc. in one of the greatest marketing misfires of all time. Hershey, Inc. wisely agreed to plan B, allowing E.T. to eat Reese’s Pieces, and sales went to the moon.
I’ll leave you with Bits and Pieces, a Dave Clark Five song covered by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on the album I Love Rock’n Roll. Here’s Joan Jett’s live version, performed during Dave Clark Five’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I actually guessed this before I solved the puzzle. I had to look up Turin’s River, as ARNO was not working, in fact the 2 letter river was the key to confirming what the numbers in parentheses meant. And I had trouble punctuating THAT FEMALE’S in order to see “hers.” But I did figure it all out. So a satisfying solve.
I got Witherspoon easily enough. But, showing my age, had no idea what John Witherspoon had to do with candy so googled “witherspoon candy”. Oh, that Witherspoon!