WSJ Contest — Friday, September 8, 2023

Grid: untimed; Meta: one hour 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Oh, and One More Thing…” — Conrad’s writeup.

This week we’re looking for a five-letter word. There were five theme entries with clues ending with “oh, and one more thing…”:

  • MARYLAND: Big Ten school (oh, and one more thing…)
  • KENNYLOGGINS: “We Are the World” singer who was half of a famous duo (oh, and one more thing…)
  • TOPSPINLOBS: Tactics used against players who rush the net (oh, and one more thing…)
  • RANCHOMIRAGE: Coachella Valley resort city (oh, and one more thing…)
  • UTAHJAZZ: NBA team in a Four Corners state (oh, and one more thing…)

Two techniques I have learned over the years helped me solve this one. The first is noting odd grid fill: I spotted SIXON [clued as, “___ my head…” (counting lyric from “Schoolhouse Rock”)]. NIXON/NAT would have been much cleaner and I knew SIXON had to be relevant. The 2nd technique is spotting vague clues that could have alternate answers, and all five theme clues were vague. I checked the list of singers who appeared in “We are the World,” looked for members of other famous duos, spotted Paul SIMON (of Simon & Garfunkel fame), and I had the rabbit: each theme entry had an alternate answer that mapped back to the grid with one letter swapped. Here they are in mapped grid order:

WSJ Contest – 09.10.23 – Solution

WSJ Contest – 09.10.23 – Solution

  • [Tactics used against players who rush the net]: Passing Sho(t)s -> SHO(E)S
  • [“We Are the World” singer who was half of a famous duo]: Paul Si(m)on -> SI(X)ON
  • [Coachella Valley resort city]: Palm S(p)rings -> S(T)RINGS
  • [Big Ten school]: Pennsylvania Sta(t)e -> STA(R)E
  • NBA team in a Four Corners state: Phoenix S(u)ns -> S(A)NS

The mapped letters spell EXTRA, our contest solution. It took me some time to nail this one down: I spotted SIMON/SIXON and SPRINGS/STRINGS first and spun my wheels for a while. I wondered if I was chasing a phantom rabbit but SIXON kept me locked in. SUNS/SANS fell next. That gave me .XT.A and I knew the answer had to be EXTRA. I started backsolving the missing E and A and struggled until l I noticed that each alternate answer contained two words beginning with PS (as in: one more thing you add to the end of a letter). After lots of Googling I finally spotted Pennsylvania STATE/STARE, and Passing SHOTS/SHOES.

This meta felt a bit rough around the edges. I got it and PS definitely helped, but I kept wondering if I was missing some confirming factor beyond PS. But the answer is a 100%-er, so it all works. Solvers: let me know if I missed anything and as always: please share your thoughts.


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27 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, September 8, 2023

  1. Seth Cohen says:

    Similar solving experience to you. Got held up looking at a list of Big 10 schools and finding nothing, until I finally realized that the words in the grid were the second words of phrases that all start with P. Penn State, Phoenix Suns, etc. But why P? Cause it’s after O, as in “Oh”, and then the “one more thing” is the P?

  2. Eric H says:

    I got nowhere with it beyond identifying the five theme answers (which was not at all difficult).

    I never made sense of the “oh, and one more thing” hint.

    SIXON didn’t strike me as particularly odd fill, though I have never seen it before. I’m too old for “Schoolhouse Rock!,” but I’m willing to believe that for people for whom it was a big deal, “SIX ON my head” is a well-known phrase.

    More than any other meta I have tried to solve in recent months, this one seems like a “read my mind” type of puzzle. Seeing how it works, it makes sense, but I would never have gotten there on my own.

  3. Barry says:

    If I win the mug, I will take it to Palm Spring, while listening to Paul Simon, on my way to a Phoenix Suns game, all for the purpose of showing off. You are all invited, but bring your own mugs. You would be welcome to admire mine. I will then send it to my cousin, who introduced me to the joy and frustration of crosswords.

  4. Joella says:

    Didn’t bother with this one.
    P.S. Sailing from Sète, France to Valencia, Spain today.

  5. Luther says:

    Thought OH, (and one more thing) was hinting at state abbreviations.
    The I saw them in the long answers.
    MAry LA ND
    kenNY loggINs
    top spIN
    rancho MIrage
    utah jAZz
    No way I would ever think of PASSING SHOTS for TOPSPIN LOBS.
    This was way over my head.

  6. Rachel says:

    I got it but only bc my totally square peg in round hole method got me 80%. I thought the OH was in the first word and then the second word (one more thing) was in the puzzle. So OHio state, HOt springs, OverHead shots, pHOenix suns. But the only OH that worked for the singer was jOHn Oates. Which could have been Tejas. Then I realized that none of the others were anagrammed. And it had to be extra/sixon …. So it had to be Paul Simon, which really had me baffled 😂

  7. River Sol says:

    Missed PS hint. Five letters to five themed answers seemed likely. Title led me to think each compound noun theme might have a third word to connect at the end…only managed to find UTAH “JAZZ STRINGS”

    Here are five letters just because: GO PSU!!!

  8. Jeff says:

    I got the answer from the EX—A but can’t accept that STATE is a Big Ten school. Didn’t get the PS angle. A bit underwhelmed.

  9. MichelleQ+(onaquest) says:

    I got obsessed with the alternative answers having to have the same number of letters as the grid entries. Eg passing shot (not shots, I ignored that). Why?? Even though it all fell down on Utah Jazz, if not before. Thought SIXON was odd but didn’t make the connection. Home work: work on spotting patterns…

  10. Simon says:

    I had SIT ON my head so I never had a chance. I did think that alternative choices could be an option but just didn’t feel like looking up the Big Ten schools. And you’d have to know something about tennis to get Passing Shots. Personally, I think having Penn State doesn’t really scan with Maryland. Is it Univ of Maryland? I have no idea, but that’s the point. This meta required going out of the grid for info and that’s not my idea of a fun time. Pass.

  11. Nancy lobb says:

    I was working from the PS clue, PS being what you say if you’re writing a letter and think of “one more thing.” I ended up doing lots of googling to find the right answers. Guess I don’t know NBA teams, tennis shots, the Coachella valley, Big Ten schools or singers in We are the world.
    After me, Mr G will need a vacation!!
    pS I still loved the puzzle as always.

  12. Phat Sajak says:

    Oh… *slaps head* P.S.

    In my notes, I had “Ohio State” and “drop shots.” It still worked. Still got EXTRA, but the “one more thing” seemed kind of arbitrary.

    Now I see it wasn’t.

  13. Garrett says:

    This meta was too much of a paradigm shift for me.

  14. jbeck says:

    I got overly spun on the specifics of the title “Oh, and One More Thing”.

    See, a MIRAGE is connected to an OASIS, which is O + ASIS, which is one letter off from ASIA at 69-A.

    Of course, it all falls apart after that!

  15. Jon says:

    I was almost there. Saw the SANS/SUNS and STRINGS/SPRINGS but because I couldn’t find Palm for Palm Springs, I thought just using one of the words of an alternate answer was weak & not something the constructor would do. I overlooked that Suns was the Phoenix Suns, another P.S. I completely missed that pattern. And for whatever reason I had tunnel vision that the alternative answer for Kenny Loggins was going to be Messina, his partner, rather than looking for another We Are the World singer associated with a duo. So two brain lapses that allowed me to get too frustrated w/ this meta and abandon it late Saturday. Though perhaps it was for the best because “passing shots” is rough.

  16. Richard K says:

    I did get all five of the key words and the meta, but I thought for a while it was a little loose. (Why not Michigan State and Denver Nuggets?) I never even noticed that all five alternate answers had initials PS ! Just another reminder that no matter how much I figure out, Matt has one more level of cool stuff up his sleeve!

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