WSJ Contest — Friday, January 14, 2022

Grid: 8 minutes; meta answer: 5 seconds; meta mechanism: an hour 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Golden Years” — Conrad’s review.

Betty White in 1954

Betty White in 1954

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 
WSJ Contest – 1.14.22 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 1.14.22 – Solution

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.

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20 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, January 14, 2022

  1. Harry` says:

    Found the meta pretty fast but spent too much time looking for ways that Betty would show up on the grid too.

  2. JD Hultgren says:

    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.

  3. Barry says:

    It’s also got TI
    BE in the grid if you are very observant. Not so black and white.

  4. Michael in Chelsea says:

    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.

  5. Neil B says:

    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

  6. Alex says:

    SE corner clue clinched it for me

    65A Square paving stone (SETT)

    Betty White was on Hollywood Squares

  7. David L says:

    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.

  8. Crotchety Doug says:

    Little late here – Thanks Conrad for posting that captivating “Thank You for Being a Friend” by Lake Street Dive. It’s worth a listen.

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