Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “On Occasion” — Conrad’s review.
This week we’re looking for a phrase of eight letters. There are four thematic long across entries:
- [17a: Admiral, for one]: FLAGOFFICER
- [26a: Momentous]: EARTHSHATTERING
- [44a: Its main settlement is Flying Fish Cove]: CHRISTMASISLAND
- [60a: V constituent]: CANADAGOOSE
Remember last week when I kept trying meta-crosswordy tricks such as mapping numbers back to the grid? Well, I was a week off. This week each themer references a holiday, and the month and day of each holiday map to grid entries:
- FLAG Day: 6/14 – maps to I/T
- EARTH Day: 4/22 – maps to S/A
- CHRISTMAS Day: 12/25 – maps to D/A
- CANADA Day: 7/1 – maps to T/E
That spells our contest solution ITSADATE.
CHRISTMAS is in the grid and we’re less than two weeks out, so I’ll end with a Christmas song. I’ve had a top 10 holiday mix for a long time, including classics such as The Kinks’ Father Christmas and the Fleet Foxes’ White Winter Hymnal. I wasn’t sure if another song could break into my personal top 10, but Bob Dylan’s cover of Must Be Santa definitely did. Check it out if you haven’t heard it yet: it’s a hoot.
I saw the four days immediately but had no idea what to do next.
Drat. I was totally flummoxed on this. Not mad at it though. Great meta.
Seems so obvious now – I saw the holidays and mapped to the dates, but didn’t think to do the months as well.
Randomly scanning the completed grid, I noticed the word DAY in the bottom left corner – that was my in to solving the meta.
I found precisely 4 instances of the letters “on.” Due to the title and the amount of letters being 8 assumed it had to be related to that.
Oops. I saw DAY TIMES in the grid – 8 letters. :(
I did not know there was a Canada day. I’m familiar with Christmas Island, so the day did not occur to me. If that did not trigger the thought, neither would the other two.