Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “State of the Union Addresses” – Jenni’s writeup
I was out of town last week, visiting friends. I solved the puzzle, but it seemed rude to keep staring at my computer to try and figure out the meta. Thanks to Erin for rescuing me. Peter asks “What two-word phrase is hinted at by this puzzle?”
Our theme answers are clued straight – no wordplay.
- 20a [Coroner’s case-closing conclusion] gives us some alliteration for entertainment. The answer is NATURAL DEATH.
- 26a [1937 Clifford Odets play] is GOLDEN BOY.
- 36a [Army officer] is FIRST LIEUTENANT.
- 45a [Chin down] is a little bit of wordplay, actually. It’s PEACH FUZZ.
- 51a [Colonial uprising of 1772] is the PINE TREE RIOT.
The title of the puzzle is “State of the Union Addresses.” Erin grew up in Delaware, so she noticed FIRST in 36a and realized it was state nicknames. The NATURAL State is Arkansas; the GOLDEN State is California; the FIRST State is, of course, Delaware; the PEACH State is Georgia and the PINE TREE State is Maine. Those are the states; the addresses are the official USPS abbreviations: AR CA DE GA ME. ARCADE GAME is a two-word phrase. Ta-da!
A few other things:
- 2d [What might be used to cut the cord?] is referring to a cord of wood, and the answer is AXE. Winter is coming.
- 10d [Climbing injury] is ROPE BURN. Alternate clue: what happened to Jenni every time they made us climb those @$*(% ropes in gym class.
- 38d [Reward for a boxer, say] is about the dog breed; the answer is TREAT.
- The Trademark Peter Gordon Very Long Clue is 47d [“That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true, and our happiness is assured,” according to Ambrose Bierce.] That would be the FUTURE.
- 62a [Author of the children’s book “If Roast Beef Could Fly”] is LENO.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard of the PINE TREE RIOT. It’s fascinating. In 1722, the New Hampshire Royal Court passed a law that forbade the harvesting of “any white pine tree of the growth of 12 inches of diameter” so the best wood could be kept for timber for the Royal Navy. The law wasn’t really enforced until 1766, and in 1772, following arrests for violation of the law, townspeople of Weare assaulted the Sheriff. This was before the Boston Tea Party. Really interesting. (I read about it here).