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.