Grid: quarter-hour; meta: slept on it
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Jolly Old St. Nick” — Conrad’s writeup.
Merry Christmas! This week we’re on the lookout for a phrase related to Santa. There had been 5 starred theme entries:
- 17A [*In a safe house, say]: HIDINGOUT
- 21A [*Lifts]: RAISESUP
- 39A [*One who’s kept]: CAPTIVE
- 53A [*Souped-up car]: DRAGSTER
- 62A [*Invites guests for celebrating]: HASAPARTY
I scanned the themers and their clues, and nothing jumped out at me. I re-scanned the grid and seen LAUGH at 9a (clued as “Sound from Saint Nick”), which needed to be thematic. I believed “HO” can be a greater reply, so I scanned the grid for HOs and didn’t discover something. I seen ISTS and STS (whereas working a Saint/St. angle) so I looked for different STs within the grid. It seems I had by accident stumbled into a part of the answer, however for the improper motive.
I slept on it and revisited “HO.” I checked the theme entry clues once more and seen they had been all pretty obscure. That’s a standard meta mechanism that was just lately utilized by Matt Gaffney’s wonderful MGWCC meta final week. When you see constantly obscure clues for theme entries: attempt to apply them elsewhere. DRAGSTER (“Souped-up car”) was my entry to the rabbit gap: I believed HOTROD can be an excellent alternate reply. I searched the grid for for HOT, discovered nothing, after which looked for ROD. There is was TROD, which turned HOTROD as soon as I added a “HO.” The remainder of the meta fell shortly:
- (HO)LEDUP -> HIDINGOUT
- (HO)ISTS -> RAISESUP
- (HO)STAGE -> CAPTIVE
- (HO)TROD -> DRAGSTER
- (HO)STS -> HASAPARTY
The first letter of the unique “HO” entries spell LISTS, our contest answer. Another enjoyable meta by Mike, with an amazing “aha” second. Readers: let me know the way you made out, and in the event you managed to seek out Saint Nick.