Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “I Spy” — Conrad’s review.
This week we’re looking for a proper name. There are 10 thematic clues/grid entries:
- [10d: “I spy something red.” “Is it ___ up in the night sky?” “No.”]: MARS
- [32d: “Is it the ___ in that vase?” “No, but you’re getting close.”]; ROSES
- [16a: “I spy something green.” “Is it that ___ necklace?” “No.”]: JADE
- [17a: “Is it the ___ in that field?” “No, but you’re getting close.”]: GRASS
- [29d: “I spy something white.” “Is it the ___ raining on us?” “No.”]: CLOUD
- [60d: “Is it the ___ on the ground?” “No, but you’re getting close.”]: SNOW
- [41a: “I spy something yellow.” “Is it the ___ shining down on us?” “No.”]: SUN
- [42a: “Is it that ___ driving down the street?” “No, but you’re getting close.”]: CAB
- [66a: “I spy something blue.” “Is it the ___ I’m wearing?” “No.”]: JEANS
- [70a: “Is it the fish on that Disney poster?” “No, but you’re getting close.”]: DORY
I found two (dead) rabbit holes that I spent days exploring:
- EATSUP/CATSUP (red)
- TOILAT/TOILET (white)
And this one:
- SEEDLINGS are green
- VISHNU is blue
- NILLA wafers are yellow(ish). Alternatively: (VA)NILLA (white)
All died out. My initial Hail Mary guess was WALDO, but then I second guessed myself with the Disney-themed DORY, plus SNOW White, and the Little Red Riding Hood-themed HOWL/(I)WERE wolf-ish intersection near the red entries, so I leaned towards Brothers GRIMM.
I spun my wheels for a long time, and I decided to team up with a solving friend. He valiantly tried to drag me across the finish line, sending multiple nudges, but I was too tired to locate the signal as the Fiend deadline loomed. I didn’t want to post three DNFs in a row, so he kindly agreed to share his notes so I could share his solution with you (I do not submit for the mug when I get nudges, and I was well past that).
The key to the contest solution is words that can be formed by spanning black squares that are “close” to the themers:
- Green: T(WAS ABI)DE: WASABI
- Red: SL(AP PLE)AT: APPLE
- Yellow: L(OL EO)S: OLEO
- White: MIS(DO VE)IN: DOVE
- Blue: NIL(LA KE)NT: LAKE
That (when anagrammed) spells our contest solution WALDO, my initial (unsent) Hail Mary. I know Matt doesn’t require anagramming as a meta mechanism, so I am missing that piece of the mechanism. Solvers: please let me know what I missed on the mechanism front.
1D (TOJO) happens to be a Hoodoo Gurus (one of my favorite underrated bands) song, written about Cyclone Tracy. I’ll end with this piece of 1980s pop perfection from their same debut album: I Want You Back.