Grid: 10 minutes; meta: 10 more
Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Some Real Duds in There” — Conrad’s review.
This week we’re told: The answer to this week’s contest crossword is a Best Picture-nominated film of the past 10 years. There are six long (and unusual) theme entries:
- [18a: Cookware for making midnight snacks?]: PAJAMAPANS
- [23a: Kind of people who choose to live in the North Atlantic?]: BERMUDASORTS
- [35a: Campfire playlet set in a field?]: GRASSSKIT
- [41a: Thinks oneself better than actor Lowe?]: JUDGESROB
- [47a: Aniston and Psaki with their own lines of clothing?]: DESIGNERJENS
- [53a: Piece of fruit made from cocoons?]: SILKBANANA
Adding one letter to the 2nd word of each themer forms a piece of clothing:
- PAJAMA PAN(T)S
- BERMUDA S(H)HORTS
- GRASS SKI(R)T
- JUDGES ROB(E)
- DESIGNER JE(A)NS
- SILK BAN(D)ANA
The missing letters form THREAD and some quick googling shows that our meta solution PHANTOM THREAD was nominated for best picture in 2017 (The Shape of Water won the award). We’ll end with Missing by Everything But The Girl.
I got THREAD right away, of course, but I did have to Google to get the name of the movie. Nice puzzle.
The more common current American spelling of 37 D is “Sacagawea” as in the one dollar Sacagawea coin. Using that spelling, I had 47 A as DESIGNER GENS. The addition of an E makes that DESIGNER GENES, and the added letters to the puzzle THREE D, and the only film which met that clue was HUGO.
OK, not quite as tight as one expects, but it sure looked good!
A straightforward theme for a change and a real gift to the sorry likes of me. Still, it didn’t come right away at all and required extra knowledge. I get THREAD immediately, but then nothing. I’m so used to extra moves in the game, sometimes more than one, moves that feel deducible to others but to me more arbitrary, so I sat on this waiting to see if for once inspiration would strike. After a day, I finally gave in and Googled, and sure enough, a movie.
Put “Thread” into IMDB and the rest was easy, even though I had never heard of the movie.
I pulled a Matt-Gaffney-Week-1-meta solve à la Joon Pahk, and I tried to solve the meta without seeing the prompt. I came up with PULL(ING) THE THREAD. But PHANTOM THREAD was what I went with after checking the prompt
Too easy (for once). Took me ~10 seconds and I usually struggle with these.
I think it was gettable as a guess that made sense because THREAD was “phantom.” Ephemeral — not easily seen, until you suss it out. I think you could have waded through the nominees and found it, or you could have guessed. I guessed and googled “ unseen thread oscar nominee” without the quotes and Phantom Thread on Wikipedia was the very first hit. That was a lock for me.