Grid: 8 minutes; meta answer: 5 seconds; meta mechanism: an hour
Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Golden Years” — Conrad’s review.
This week we’re looking for a 10-letter celebrity in the news. “Golden” Girl Betty White was the obvious answer: now to find the mechanism. There were five long theme entries, all referencing a famous person:
- [17a: She sang “What Are We Doin’ in Love” with Kenny Rogers]: DOTTIEWEST
- [23a: “SNL” Emmy nominee in 2021]: BOWENYANG
- [36a: “Only Murders in the Building” actor]: MARTINSHORT
- [49a: “Harvest Moon” singer]: NEILYOUNG
- [56a: “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star]: CHARLIEDAY
I tried to backsolve for a while, searching the grid for “B”, “W”, etc., but no signal appeared. So I had dinner and returned to the meta. (B)EAST jumped out (antonym of WEST, plus one letter) and I had the mechanism. Each last name mapped to an antonym in the grid:
- WEST -> (B)EAST
- YANG -> (L)YIN
- SHORT -> (A)TALL
- YOUNG -> (C)OLD
- DAY -> (K)NIGHT
The initial letters spell BLACK, an antonym of WHITE, leading to our contest solution BETTY WHITE. We’ll end with a cover of The Golden Girls theme song Thank You For Being a Friend by Lake Street Dive.
Found the meta pretty fast but spent too much time looking for ways that Betty would show up on the grid too.
Found Black, leading to White, but never found a way to confirm “Betty”…..didn’t think one is supposed to “guess” the second part of the meta. Not a good meta.
The title confirms Betty.
No it doesn’t confirm Betty. “Golden Years”…..Golden is for 50 year anniversaries.
Yes it does. Neener neener.
There was a relatively obscure tv show that no one remembers these days called “golden girls.” You should google it, if you can get your head out of your rear end long enough to look at a screen.
It’s also got TI
BE in the grid if you are very observant. Not so black and white.
I wonder if there’s an additional confirmation of BETTY that most of us have missed. What does the “years” of the title signify, for instance? It felt unsatisfying to discard BARRY and VANNA just because I haven’t read anything about them lately.
You don’t need to confirm Betty. Each themer had a last name that was used for an opposite name. You get BLACK. Opposite is White so you know it is someone with a last name of White with a 5 letter first name. That is enough to solve along with the title. Like the others I knew it was her and had to figure out the mechanism. Very nice meta and tribute
Could have been SHAUN White (many Olympic GOLD medals)….in the news recently because of upcoming Olympic Games, or VANNA White.
Yep, Vanna White is ALL OVER the news these days. Nothing gets by you!
Not Shaun. All the themers, and Betty White, have two-syllable first names.
Does Neil Young pronounce his first name with 2 syllables?
I haven’t asked him, but I do. The “ei” is a diphthong, isn’t it? This may be one of those regional things, but how is “Neil” pronounced as a single syllable?
Hmm – that’s two syllables for me too. I’m going to blame regionalism (mine). But I’m not backing down about Neil Young.
SE corner clue clinched it for me
65A Square paving stone (SETT)
Betty White was on Hollywood Squares
Her presence on Match Game is what got “Betty” for me.
Unlike all you other smarty-pantses, I didn’t figure out in advance that the answer would be Betty White. But I got the mechanism pretty quickly, except that at first I had LONG as the opposite of short. The title of the puzzle assured me that Betty W was the right answer.
Little late here – Thanks Conrad for posting that captivating “Thank You for Being a Friend” by Lake Street Dive. It’s worth a listen.