Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Epiphany” — Conrad’s writeup.
This week we’re looking for a three-word phrase you might say when having an epiphany. I spotted most of the theme pretty quickly: the long across entries contained “AHA.” I initially missed the fact that the first and last horizontal entries also contained AHAs, which delayed my solve a bit. Here are the six theme entries:
- 1a: [Gag reflexes?]: H(AHA)S
- 17a: [Warren Buffett nickname]: SAGEOFOM(AHA)
- 30a: [Famed marble mausoleum]: THETAJM(AHA)L
- 47a: [1951 Peter Ustinov/Yvonne De Carlo comedy]: HOTELS(AHA)RA
- 64a: [Nancy Reagan presented him with the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award in 2000]: BILLYGR(AHA)M
- 72a: [Rodeo champion Larry]: M(AHA)N
Step two: focus on each AHA-containing word and then remove the AHA. Then map back to the grid. For example: HAHAS minus AHA becomes HS, which maps to 63a (HIS):
- H[AHA]S-> 63a H(I)S
- OM[AHA] -> 19a OM(S)
- M[AHA]L -. 51a M(E)L
- S[AHA]RA -> 39a S(E)RA
- GR[AHA]M -> 44a GR(I)M
- M[AHA]N -> 70a M(T)N
The spare letters in the mapped entries spell I SEE IT, our contest solution. After solving I discussed this meta with a friend who mentioned 28d (ENERO, clued as “When Epifanía is celebrated”). Epifanía is the Spanish word for Epiphany, which certainly seems thematic. I (thankfully) missed this when I solved the grid and found the theme, but I could see a lot of solvers delving deeply in that rabbit hole. It seems like a red herring to me, but I certainly could be missing something. Readers: let me know what you think, and please share your solving epiphanies.