Mat Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Water You Looking For?” — Conrad’s writeup.
Happy Juneteenth, everyone. This week we’re told, The answer to this week’s contest crossword is the two grid entries, totaling 10 letters, that would make a good fifth theme answer. There were four long horizontal themers:
- [Improve one’s yardwork skills?]: RAKEBETTER
- [Arrow holder for a very tall woman of myth?]: GIANTESSQUIVER
- [Shopping binge by Marx and Lenin?]: COMMUNISTSPREE
- [Donkey’s lunch that didn’t dry enough?]: VERDANTHAY
I spotted part of the theme quickly: VERDANT/green and COMMUNIST/red. The other two entries didn’t seem to match or imply colors, though. I poked around the edges of this puzzle for a bit and realized that Amazon is good description of a GIANTESS and QUIVER rhymes with River. I had the rabbit hole: each theme entry was comprised of a synonym and a rhyme, forming a well-known body of water:
- RAKE BETTER -> Lake Superior
- GIANTESS QUIVER -> Amazon River
- COMMUNIST SPREE -> Red Sea
- VERDANT HAY -> Green Bay
Next step: find a synonym and a rhyme in the grid, totaling 10 letters together. 1a and 43d form our contest solution COLD MOTION, matching the Arctic Ocean, a good fifth theme answer. We’ll end with CHVRCHES‘ wonderful cover of the Arctic Monkeys‘ Do I Wanna Know?
Got the rhyme/synonym theme fairly quickly, but was thrown briefly by the appearance of ACHE, rhyming with “lake” as a plausible body of water for the answer. Given that “lake” was already rhymed in the puzzle, I didn’t stay with it for too long, but still, its appearance strikes me as a possible oversight or bit of inelegance.
Just rhyming with the words in the theme entries, not fill. SPREE also rhymes with EMILY and YEMENI and LOKI, HAY rhymes with WNBA, etc. — not relevant since not in a theme entry.
I would have gotten that if I was serving a prison life sentence, lived at least another twenty years, and no one bothered me.
Ack, it was just rhymes, not change-a-letter! I saw Rake -> Lake and Quiver -> River, but didn’t see Hay -> Bay or make the synonym leap.
Got distracted by noRI-VERdanthay in the grid; figured it couldn’t be part of the meta but couldn’t suss out the actual connections.
I got lake, river, and bay right away, but I could not figure-out what to do with SPREE, because I was able to get these three with a single letter change for each, and I could not think of anything for this one.
Then it was Father’s day and I never could time to look at it again.
I gave up at the same point. I also had bay, river, and lake but “spree to sea” seemed a bit of stretch to me. It still does.
Congratulations to all who solved this puzzle.
Sure, rhyme-synonym. Unless it’s synonym-rhyme. Or maybe rhyme-rhyme or antonym-anagram. Dealers choice from phase of the moon? I don’t like the inconsistency of the dualing pattern mechanism. That torpedoed my efforts completely.
rhyme is with the body of water, nothing more
I think that, having observed the departure with one clue as rhyme-synonym, Jackie threw in the last two choices as a rhetorical device or, if you prefer, snark. Sort of like, “once you allow this, then . . . .” Maybe rude, but I do think the comment has a point, as it struck me, too.
Probably just my ignorance, but I also don’t think of “giantesses” as a good synonym. In many accounts, including the main online sources I checked, the Amazons were warriors who matched men in strength, not towered over them. Definitely just my ignorance, but it probably didn’t help me that I didn’t realize Green Bay is an actual waterway (an arm of one of the Great Lakes). I thought of it as only the city, home to Packers. Anyhow, a tough one.
You have to keep a flexible mind when solving metas. The reason that the body of water in (R/L) AKE SUPERIOR is differently placed than in the other three is obvious, clear, and logical.
Yes, Lake Superior is clear because we don’t know it as Superior Lake, but I think that the sticking point for some is that four of the five answers were Synonym-Rhyme and that one was Rhyme-Synonym, which to some folks is not obvious or logical. I didn’t solve it and have no beef because constructors really have free rein.
I answered “Idle Motion,” thinking of Pacific Ocean. Wondering if they’d count that.
I did the same. I have to admit IDLE isn’t the most exact synonym for PACIFIC, but with only a few oceans to choose from it seems to fit well enough.
I don’t see a way that IDLE is synonymous with PACIFIC.
Even Powerthesaurus, which lists its 93 closest synonyms for PACIFIC, does not include IDLE among them.
I answered ROGUE SPOON since they’re both rivers. Too simplistic for the WSJ apparently.
Wow, I’d trouble even following the answer here, much less getting it. Agree, too, with comments that its inconsistent (on, say, which change comes first). Also, fill really hard for me, but that’s another story.
I saw only one possibility, and it led nowhere. COMMUNIST SPREE had me thinking of Communist party, and GIANTESS QUIVER of giant squid. But how to make the change? It wasn’t quite anything like last week’s Pig Latin. I quickly gave up.
Ditto ditto ditto. These puzzles are getting too hard. Not fun anymore.
I thought it was just me, but that sure seems to be the case. Getting really frustrated.
It’s not inconsistent. The body of water is the rhyme in each theme entry.
Although I figured this meta out, many times Matt’s metas escape my reasoning. I appreciate his creativity in devising different methods for cloaking the meta (as evident in this week’s MGWCC puzzle). Kudos to him, Mike Shenk, and others who contribute to this weekly diversion!
I do my level best
Rising to the occasion
I didn’t come close to finding the meta this week, but I did find NEMO, presumably in the Water.
And don’t feed your equines (or bovines) wet hay.
I thought this one missed the mark. But I just want to say that what Matt Gaffney and Mike Schenk do, week in and week out, is remarkable. A 95%+ success rate on multi-level puzzles with this degree of complexity is impressive. I didn’t think this one worked to their typical standards, but I’m eagerly looking forward to the next one.
I also considered “idle” for Pacific, but discarded it and kept looking because it was close, but not a good enough synonym. COLD at 1-across was a better answer.
I also appreciate that Matt contributes some of his tougher metas to the WSJ sometimes – this was probably a week 2.5 to 3 level equivalent. Doing week 1 level puzzles in the WSJ gets pretty boring at times.
What about Geico spoon = blue lagoon?
Geico’s color is blue.
Geico is not a synonym for blue.
That’s why I used a burner email for that guess.
This one was pretty easy for me, and trust me, my meta average is bad. Got thrown for a minute by RAKEBETTER, but after quickly ruling out BETTER as a rhyme for a well-known body of water, RAKE/LAKE was obvious. MOTION/OCEAN made sense, and with the major hint of a total of ten letters, looking for a four-letter word was simple enough. First went for synonyms for Pacific, but that yielded nothing. But there was COLD, helpfully placed at the very start, and that was that. So at least for me, the puzzle was more than fair, and–as usual–clever, with an easy grid.