WSJ Contest — Friday, July 8, 2022

Grid: 15 minutes; meta: 30 more 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Countdown” — Conrad’s writeup.

Greetings from London, on my first trip outside of the US/Canada since the before times. This week we’re looking an astronomical term. There were four long theme entries:

  • [They’re performed with glucose meters]: BLOODSUGARTESTS
  • [Brothers Grimm tale made into a Muppets TV special]: THEFROGPRINCE
  • [College paper since 1878]: YALEDAILYNEWS
  • [Manet painting of a woman holding a guitar]: THESTREETSINGER
Nebra Sky Disk

Nebra Sky Disk

The central horizontal entry (LIFTOFF, clued as ‘Word following “3…2…1…”‘) served as a hint. I was busy running around London with my wife and friends before starting work on Monday. I can highly recommend the Stonehenge Exhibit at the British Museum; here’s a meta-relevant photo of the Nebra Sky Disk.

I was busy having fun and didn’t solve the grid until late Sunday afternoon. I took two passes at the meta, set it aside, asked my solving pal Gideon a hint so I could write this up for Fiend, hopped in the elevator to get something to eat, and lightning struck. Have you ever determined the meta mechanism without having the puzzle in front of you, and then returned to find out that you were correct? That’s a great feeling.

WSJ Contest – 07.08.22 – Solution

WSJ Contest – 07.08.22 – Solution

Each long theme entry is comprised of three words, and you “lift” the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st letter “off” from each word:


The letters spell OUTER PLANETS, our contest solution. Is everyone ready for the debut of the first photos from the James Webb Space Telescope at 10:30 EDT tomorrow? We’ll end with David Bowie’s Space Oddity.


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7 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, July 8, 2022

  1. Charles Wagoneer says:

    These solutions are just getting more and more random by the week.

    • Dean Silverberg says:

      What do you mean by “random”?

    • Billy Boy says:

      Actually, I thought this and last week were as direct and transparent as any in some time, especially last week

      But yes, they are quite varied, I am constantly impressed at the variations Shenk uses, and of course they are independent

  2. Neal says:

    Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. This week: Splat!
    After the relative ease of last week’s meta, I had a sinking suspicion that the pendulum was going to swing back and be a toughie this week. Devoted more hours to it than I’d like to admit. Never got it.
    Great puzzle!

  3. Sharkicicles says:

    I was convinced that “liftoff” meant we were supposed to look for words in the grid heading up, that is in reverse. Never got out of that rabbit hole.

  4. Mike says:

    The key letters that were to be “lifted off” the long horizontal answers were not circled, and they did not have any other demarcation rule hinted at by any of the clues. Too cute by half and unsatisfying.

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