Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Think of a Number…” — Conrad’s writeup.
We’re looking for a 12-letter phrase this week. I saw the theme quickly: lots of ONEs and TENs in the grid. I spotted BETWEEN (clued as ‘Word that often follows “Think of a number…”‘) and then… forgot about it for a while. I had four ONEs and four TENs, and thought I needed four more numbers to make twelve. I saw ONE in NONEED, but that was it. I re-scanned the grid, spotted BETWEEN again, and realized that the horizontal ONEs and TENS were parallel with each other, leaving three letters in between.
The sandwiched letters spell STATELOTTERY, our contest solution. Impressive construction by Mike. I suppose you could quibble about the stray down ONE, but the answer is a 100% lock, so… why bother. I ended with Wire‘s Three Girl Rhumba (opening line: Think of a number…) for Matt‘s Elastica-themed May 20th WSJ Meta. Then I solved this meta (think of a number). My wife and I went to the Sagamore Hill last night and they played… Wire’s Three Girl Rhumba (think of a number). First time I’ve heard it in the wild since 1980-something. Here’s the story of Lyndon, Sagamore Hill’s stolen Canada lynx. Happy to report that Lyndon is back.
The universe is clearly telling me to violate my unwritten rule of never ending with the same song twice. Think of a number.
For some reason I just happened to notice the ONE at the top left and the TEN at the bottom right first and was convinced there was a diagonal 12-letter phrase between the two. It then took a minute or two to see the other ONEs and TENs and find the letters between. And of course the state lottery usually involves choosing a number, so there’s that too.
Huge rabbit hole…the number of double letters in the grid. Never escaped it.
I saw all the ONEs and TENs in the grid, and fortunately circled them (I solve tougher puzzles on paper.) The first twelve letter phrase I thought of was “From one to ten”, but that seemed incomplete. I had noticed BETWEEN while solving, so when I looked again at the whole grid, I saw how ONE and TEN were paired with letters between them, and the penny dropped. Thanks for an easier meta, Mr. Shenk.