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
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.
Each long theme entry is comprised of three words, and you “lift” the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st letter “off” from each word:
- BL[O]OD S[U]GAR [T]ESTS
- TH[E] F[R]OG [P]RINCE
- YA[L]E D[A]ILY [N]EWS
- TH[E] S[T]REET [S]INGER
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.