Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Now That’s a Gift!” — Conrad’s review.
This week we’re looking for a word related to Christmas. There were six starred theme entries:
- [16a: *Howlers of horror]: WEREWOLVES
- [23a: *Cotton candy]: SPUNSUGAR
- [26a: *Site for a two-person lumber task]: SAWPIT
- [43a: *Continued speaking]: WENTON
- [45a: *Longtime Saints quarterback]: DREWBREES
- [55a: *Beheld]: LAIDEYESON
I didn’t spot the theme right away. Mike often uses the center or final across entry as an additional hint, which he did here: PRESENT (37a), tying to the title. I noticed the past tense verb WERE in WEREWOLVES, which mapped t0 the present tense verb ARE in (C)ARE, and the rest came together quickly:
- WERE -> 62a: (C)ARE
- SPUN -> 61a: SP(A)IN
- SAW -> 15a SE(R)E
- WENT -> 65a: GO(O)
- DREW -> 45d: DRAW(L)
- LAID -> (S)LAY
The leftover letters in the present tense entries spell CAROLS, our contest solution. Solvers: let me know what you thought of the meta. I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays; I’m looking forward to 2022.
It can’t be worse than 2021. Here’s to hoping. My adopted state of Maine is in the grid, so we’ll end with this gem from Patty Griffin.