WSJ Contest — Friday, February 11, 2022

Grid: 8 minutes; meta: 15 more 


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

This week we’re looking for an eight-letter word. There were four long theme entries, each with two EARs:

  • [17a: Tarnishing the reputation of funnyman Harry?]: SMEARINGSHEARER
  • [27a: Quaint establishment owned by golfer Mark?]: OMEARASTEAROOM
  • [43a: Congressional testimony that’s downright depressing?]: DREARYHEARINGS
  • [57a: Convincing the squad leader to give back your primitive weapons?]: REEARNINGSPEARS
WSJ Contest – 2.13.22 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 2.13.22 – Solution

Speaking of things that go in one ear and out the other: I somehow missed 66a while solving, and looked for things above the EARs. I poked around the grid for a bit, finding no signal, and finally noticed EAR in the final horizontal spot, clued as “In one ___ and out the other (how a word may travel through someone’s brain–or through this puzzle grid).” That locked in the solution: the letters on the left and right side of each pair of ears spell MEMORIES, our contest solution.

We’ll end with P.M. Dawn’s Set Adrift On Memory Bliss, sampling Spandau Ballet’s True. It’s an amazing song that has been forgotten by modern streaming services.

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7 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, February 11, 2022

  1. JC says:

    I thought the grid was fun. I solved the meta quickly after I put printed the puzzle (in an environmentally friendly way) and highlighted all the “EAR”s. But I had a bit of doubt since I couldn’t see how the theme “Listen Up” helped.
    After this one I ran out and bought my own blank coffee mug and wrote “WSJ Puzzle Solver” on it with a Sharpie.

  2. Mister G. says:

    Last week I lamented trying to solve on my phone instead of printing the puzzle and solving on paper. This week I did solve on paper and discovered that the web page will not let me submit my solution without filling in the grid (presumably correctly), plus printing a filled grid prints out only the blank grid! So it looks like paper solvers always have to fill the grid twice (or perhaps take a screen shot of the filled grid). Of course there’s a good chance I’m not doing something correctly.

    • BarbaraK says:

      Your grid doesn’t have to be correct to submit, just completely filled. I’ve put A in every square just to get to the submit button.

      But I usually just use the email submission (from instructions in the PDF) method. Easy, no problems when there’s punctuation in the answer, and I can check my Sent folder if I can’t remember whether I already submitted.

      • Iggystan says:

        Since all you have to do is e-mail your answer in the title of said e-mail to, there’s no need to fill out the online grid.

        • Garrett says:

          That’s how I always do it. I’ve found solving online or in an app is a real issue in solving meta puzzles. Right when you click on the WSJ, on the new page it opens to is Download PDF, just before the solving pane opens. I click on that, and then print the PDF.

  3. Neal R says:

    I also missed the last horizontal clue somehow and spent a lot of time utterly stumped… finally reading that clue certainly helped!

    What I Learned This Week: SCALAR
    Looked it up afterwards, learned the definition, related my new-found knowledge to my wife, and as of today I’ve completely forgotten how to define it. Ah, getting older…

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