Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “How Hard Can It Be?” — Conrad’s writeup.
This week we’re looking for a five-letter adjective. There were five long theme entries. I spotted GYPSUM in CLINGYPSUMASCOT, and I had step one: each themer contained a mineral:
I tried to make sense of ATGDT, which lead nowhere. I checked the title and remembered that a DIAMOND is the hardest mineral, so Googled “mineral hardness scale,” and found this post describing the Mohs hardness scale. I mapped the numbers back to the grid and had the solution:
- APATITE: 5 -> R
- TALC: 1 -> O
- GYPSUM: 2 -> C
- DIAMOND: 10 -> K
- TOPAZ: 8 -> Y
The mapped letters spell ROCKY, our contest answer. I thought it was a straightforward two-step meta, constructed with signature precision by Mike. Solvers: let me know what you think. There aren’t many Beatles covers that surpass the original, but Richie Havens‘ version of Rocky Raccoon gives the original a run for its money.