Victor Barocas’s Fireball Crossword, “Pentagrams” – Jenni’s writeup
There’s nothing Satanic about this puzzle. Thanks to Amy for help with the meta. The contest asks us to identify the Spanish city that could have been a theme answer. First, of course, we have to suss out the theme.
We have five theme answers (you’ll notice a pattern here) and each one has a familiar-looking group of five letters.
- 17a [Gatorade and Sprite, according to their ads] = THIRST QUENCHERS.
- 23a [Climactic scene in the Laurel and Hardy film “The Battle of the Century] = PIE FIGHT. Another fine mess, etc, etc.
- 38a [Author of “The Carrie Diaries”] = CANDACE BUSHNELL. This is the prequel to “Sex in the City” and could be called “Not Much Sex in Connecticut.”
- 54a [Dairy supply] = MILK JUGS. I had to get the crossing for J before I figured out it was “jugs.” I think of milk bottles or milk cartons or maybe milk pails.
- 60a [South American creatures with nonprehensile tails] are SQUIRREL MONKEYS, which is a fun answer all on its own.
Each five-letter set, which spans the two words of the answer, is a mixed-up alphabet sequence, so we are looking for a Spanish city that also has a mixed-up alphabet sequence. If we mentally flip the pages in a Spanish atlas, we’ll find PAMPLONA. This was blindingly obvious once it was pointed out to me. It’s been a long week.
A few other things:
- 3d [Sister brand of OpenTable] is PRICELINE. I’m really glad William Shatner doesn’t pop up when I’m making dinner reservations.
- 21a [Diamond on wax] is NEIL. I don’t think my seventeen-year-old would recognize this usage of “wax,” which was dated when I was seventeen. Cute clue, though.
- 35a [Tiger known for his swing] is a baseball clue, not a golf clue. The answer is COBB. Ty Cobb played for the Detroit Tigers.
- Our trademark Peter Gordon very long clue is found at 66a [Unit whose symbol includes two parallel lines that represent its stability], which isn’t even that long. The answer is EURO.
- 69a [He played James opposite Honor’s Pussy] is SEAN. I used to wince at the word “pussy.” Not anymore. Frequent exposure has extinguished that reaction. This clue doesn’t sound all that racy these days.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the movie “Popeye” was filmed on (in?) MALTA.