Grid: 10 minutes; meta: 5 more
Matt Gaffneys Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Happy Together” — Conrad’s review.
This week Matt tells us, The answer to this week’s contest crossword, which is five letters long, is something I hope you’ll feel when you’ve solved this. There are five long theme entries, each in “this and that” form:
- [16a: Choose-your-own]: MIXANDMATCH
- [23a: Still very much with us]: ALIVEANDWELL
- [40a: Next-level exciting]: BIGGERANDBETTER
- [50a: College student’s concern]: ROOMANDBOARD
- [63a: Fly off the handle]: RANTANDRAVE
The first letter of each word on either side of the ANDs maps back to the clues of other grid entries. Here they are, in grid order of the mapped entries:
- (B)ARQS: Root beer rival of Dad’s and Hires -> A&W
- (L)EAVE: Time off, in the military -> R&R
- (I)NN: Comfy place for the night -> B&B
- (S)KA: Genre in a record store -> R&B
- (S)KOR: Piece of chocolate candy -> M&M
The mapped entries spell BLISS, our contest solution. Another precision WSJ meta from Matt, with a no-doubt answer. I was really tempted to end with Set Adrift on Memory Bliss again, but I used that for Matt’s last WSJ meta answer. ROXY Music is in the grid, so I’ll end with 10000 Maniacs (fronted by Mary Ramsey) covering More Than This.
Wouldn’t DANDY be a fun, though incorrect answer, as in fine and dandy? Bliss, of course, is even better, and clearly correct.
I went down the dandy rabbit hole and spent close to an hour trying to back into it. I was convinced the letters “and” would be part of the solution, but I couldn’t find a path to add D and Y. The turning point was seeing A and W which was my initial answer to 1A.
This one was just about at my pay-grade. I did go momentarily astray when I mapped RoomAndBoard to Rent because I thought the hint. Monopoly Money, didn’t fit this answer. So I ended up with SBIRL, which made no sense until I saw my error. I thought SBISL was an anagram for Bliss (Mix And Match?) and didn’t realize until after I submitted my answer that the mapped answers arranged in grid order confirmed my submission.
I put an asterisk on my hand-printed trophy mug for this one! Time to buy another Sharpie.
The same thing happened to me. I don’t know why I picked rent for that one when I didn’t do it for the others. But I quickly realized the error and felt the hoped-for BLISS.
I was in the vicinity of the solution and then after talking it over with my wife she mentioned A&W Root Beer which gave me the nudge I needed.
Also: not sure if this was an intentional red herring, but the string “and” appears exactly 5 times in the clues! Almost went down that rabbit hole…