WSJ Contest — Friday, June 3rd, 2022

Grid: 30 minutes; meta: needed a shove 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Be Transformed” — Conrad’s writeup.

We’re looking for a four-letter proper name this week. I’ve been writing up the WSJ meta for Fiend since March 2021, and this was the third I couldn’t solve solo. Not a bad run, all things considered. There were four themers:

  • [Feature of some intersections]: ALLWAYSTOPSIGNS
  • [Tina Turner, to childhood friends]: ANNIEMAEBULLOCK
  • [Controls proportionately]: HASANEQUALSAYIN
  • [Addition to steamed crabs, on the Chesapeake] OLDBAYSEASONING

I spotted WAY/MAE/SAY/BAY, and knew they had to be thematic (narrator voice: they were). ANNIEMAE should have been ANNAMAE (Matt clearly did that for a reason). I noticed BAE and PEI. I saw BEAU (which could be transformed to BE GOLD). And then… it was Sunday. I know I shouldn’t care about streaks, etc. (as my wife correctly points out), but I pressure myself to solve solo and explain the mechanism clearly. One out of two ain’t bad (here’s to optimism).

I teamed up with a friend for a group solve on Sunday and we had similar notes. Fun fact: KLEE is pronounced CLAY (rhymes with MAE). I got a nudge/shove from another solving friend with the deadline looming: the theme is pig latin. For example: ANNIEMAE becomes MANNY, mapping back to words in the clues.

WSJ Contest – 06.05.22 – Solution

WSJ Contest – 06.05.22 – Solution

  • EXEC: Wall St. figure -> ALLWAY
  • BOXManny Pacquiao knows how to do it -> ANNIEMAE 
  • ALIENS: Sequel starring Sigourney WeaverSEQUEL -> EQUALSAY
  • YOULIE: Bold accusation -> OLDBAY 

The mapped grid answers spell eBay, our contest solution. I try to end with a song that connects to the theme, but nothing’s coming to mind, so we’ll end with serendipity. I saw this tweet and realized that I’ve heard this song a million times growing up but never stopped to listen to the lyrics. So we’ll end with Iron and Wine‘s cover of Love Vigilantes.


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16 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, June 3rd, 2022

  1. Seth says:

    Hm. This hits on something I don’t love about some metas: the title here is absolutely no help. Yes, it makes sense once you’ve already solved it, but if you’ve solved it, you don’t need the title anymore. So what’s the point of the title?

    I saw the rhyming words pretty quickly, but there’s absolutely nothing to suggest pig latin — the solver is just expected to randomly come up with that (unless I’m missing some other hint?).

    I thought the rhyme scheme ABAA might have something to do with it (because it has “rhyme” in the clue, and because there’s only one B (“be” from the title) in the answer). I was also suspicious of 1 Across — why not CATNAP/ANA instead? I’ve never heard of INA Garten in my life (maybe she’s shown up in crosswords before? But no idea), and there are way more famous ANAs, which is a much more common name. With that weird choice of cross, plus the remarkably specific way CATNIP is clued, I thought there had to be something there. Alas.

    • Jonesy says:

      The title is great confirmation of the answer.

      Maybe you want the title always to be a hint, but I’m happy with some that are just related to the puzzle, especially in clever ways. different strokes.

  2. Bob says:

    This is one of those that I’m glad I didn’t spend more than about ten minutes trying to figure out. I think I could have spent ten hours and still not got it.

  3. Barry says:

    …or a lifetime

  4. Bob LaBlah says:

    I am hoping that some of those who did manage to solve this will reveal what insight lead them to realize the mechanism was Pig Latin. I recall seeing that recently in some other meta, so perhaps it was fresh on their mind. Or, as I often speculate, we have a few NSA cryptographers relaxing with the WSJ meta.

    • Gary C says:

      Got stuck in a rabbit hole because of ABAA at 58A, which led me to believe there’s something to do with WAY, MAE, SAY and BAY, got nowhere then realized they all end with -ay, and Pig Latin came to mind.

    • benchen71 says:

      As Gary C said, the themers all had a word that rhymed with -ay. That immediately suggested pig latin. Working backwards revealed words that I remembered seeing in the clues, particularly the one for ALIENS. Seeing those entries spelled a recognisable word, EBAY, was fun. Realising that EBAY was BE transformed using pig latin made me smile broadly.

    • MichelleQ (onaquest) says:

      I had never heard of Pig Latin until the Buzz Cut WSJ a few weeks ago. I looked it up then but clearly it went in one ear and out the other. I was nowhere with this one. V v clever meta, I realise I don’t have to get it to like it!

    • Andrew Bradburn says:

      I was stuck for a long time until the thought came to me to say the theme answers out loud. When I heard (as opposed to just reading) ALL WAY, ANNIE MAE, EQUAL SAY, OLD BAY, Pig Latin came to mind pretty quickly. In the future I will probably be saying entries out loud to see if a different part of my brain becomes engaged.

    • BarbaraK says:

      I didn’t actually get the pig latin connection until after I’d solved. I saw the ay words immediately and spent 3 days trying all different ways to transform them. Add letters; change letters. Translate, rotate, reflect. Use the direction-sounding words in their clues (intersect Ina and way for “in a way”; turn Mae B for “beam” – then it got even worse.) Looked at much other stuff in the grid and clues.

      Finally last night noticed that I could move the first letter of the ay words to the word before and remembered “Bold accusation” and that was that.

      Was surprised when eBay came up – saw the ay connection but was really expecting a mathematician or something (Did I mention BAY SE->Bayes). A bit later realized it was pig latin and saw how neatly the title fit.

    • TMart says:

      Given that the main connection between the four theme answers was that they rhymed, the natural thing to do was say them out loud. “Allway, AnnieMae, EqualSay, OldBay” – it just sounded like pig Latin.

  5. Holly says:

    The confirmation of the answer DOES come from the title “Be Transformed.” “Be” in Pig Latin is pronounced “e – bay.”

  6. Neal says:

    I was fairly stymied and then my 25 year old daughter came to visit. She spent a minute with the puzzle, asked why I’d jotted down WAY, MAE, SAY and BAY (as well as PEI and BAE), and before I could answer she said, have you tried Pig Latin?
    Such a smart kid.
    Such a smart puzzle.

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