WSJ Contest — Friday, October 28, 2022

Grid: 15 minutes; meta: got a nudge 


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

This week we’re looking for a five-letter word related to Halloween. There were five starred theme entries:

  • 1A [*Deck material]: TEAK
  • 20A [*Baked Alaska layer]: MERINGUE
  • 35A [*Mock]: TEASE
  • 47A [*Touched tenderly]: CARESSED
  • 60A [*Garamond or Goudy Old Style, e.g.]: FONT

    WSJ Contest – 10.28.22 - solution

    WSJ Contest – 10.28.22 – solution

I spun my wheels for a while, and found no traction  on the meta. I asked a friend for a nudge on Sunday, and I finally found the rabbit hole: the five themers phonetically match other clues when started by “BOO”:

  • BOO TEAK (Boutique): Place to shop ->MART
  • BOO FONT (Bouffant): Puffy hairstyle -> AFRO
  • BOO MERINGUE (Boomerang): Weapon thrown by Aboriginal Australians -> SPEAR
  • BOO CARESSED (Bucharest): Capital of a nation on the Black Sea -> KYIV
  • BOO TEASE (Booties): Soft footwear -> SOCKS

The mapped grid entries spell MASKS, our contest solution. In hindsight: I saw the clue for SPEAR and thought, “That should be boomerang,” but I didn’t pursue that rabbit any further. I also didn’t think to try pronunciation (and should have). A clean meta, and 100%-er once you spotted the mechanism. Readers: please let me know how you made out on this spooky puzzle.


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9 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, October 28, 2022

  1. jefe says:

    oh that’s clever

  2. MichelleQ+(onaquest) says:

    What a great meta. I’m almost starting to like not getting the difficult ones and then getting the joy of the big reveal on Monday morning…

    • EP says:

      Welcome to my world, Michelle, that’s become the norm for me. Not all (tough) metas bring any joy, though, but this one certainly does.

  3. J. Frazier says:

    I used SPINOFF rather than SPEAR for BOOMERANG….

    Good Puzzle..

  4. Jeff M says:

    10 stars

  5. Neal says:

    This meta is boo-tiful.
    Didn’t get it.
    Not mad.
    Happy Halloween!

  6. Simon says:

    Ingenious! While I wrote Boo on the margin I did not connect it to Teak etc. my stumble block was thinking it had to be “Trick or Treat” — as in switching them for each other. Probably been done before. And thinking that In Fear might be the trick also had me shoving letters into FEAR. Talk about Boo Boos! Anyway grateful for this forum to learn the actual solution.

  7. Eric H says:

    I didn’t get the meta, but I’m glad to see that I didn’t miss a more obvious theme to the puzzle.

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