Peter Gordon’s Fireball contest puzzle, “Ordered Pairs” – Jenni’s write-up

Fireball 9:07 xword/contest DNF (Jenni) 


I think I’ve probably mentioned that I’m not good at metas. I’m never good at them, and when I’m as distracted and preoccupied as I’ve been lately I’m really not good at them. The contest question is “What brand of cookie could have been a theme answer in this puzzle?” The puzzle itself was easy and I identified the theme answers:

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 6.17.10 PM

  • Concern for an uninsured cancer patient – BIOPSY COST
  • Close to running out – ALMOST EMPTY
  • Gets a head start, eg – BEGINS FIRST
  • Temperature in Fahrenheit that is the same in Celsius – FORTY BELOW
  • “Dead Alive” and “Hostel”, for example – GORY FILMS

What do those have in common? I tried recombining answers – nope. I tried looking for hidden words that had something to do with cookies – nope. I tried looking for pairs of – anything. Nope. So I waited for the answer to land in my inbox. The trick is that each word in the theme answers has letters in alphabetical order, and the cookie that has the same property is CHIPS AHOY.


Again, I’m distracted and preoccupied and maybe it’s me. I am distinctly underwhelmed.

Other things:

  • I didn’t know that Dan UGGLA hit the last home run ever at Shea Stadium; it was pretty much a gimme for me anyway since I know he played second base for the Marlins.
  • Ambrose Bierce. Such a kidder. He shows up at 6A with a quote from the Devil’s Dictionary – “A temporary insanity curable by marriage.” The answer, of course, is LOVE.
  • 22a may have been my favorite clue/answer pair in the whole puzzle. “What is ____ ?????” (response by the “Jeopardy!”-playing robot Watson to the clue “Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest, for a World War II battle” in the category “U.S. Cities”) Watson’s answer was apparently TORONTO, which we humans know is not in the US. The correct answer for Jeopardy! was “Chicago” – O’Hare and Midway, respectively. This also wins the Peter Gordon Clue prize for wordiest and most complicated clue for a straightforward answer. This time it was worth it.
  • I forgot that General Alexander HAIG ran for President in 1988. I also initially misread the clue and thought it said 1868, which I thought was a little late for GRANT, and also he didn’t fit. (I was right – he died in 1885.)
  • Another 80s reference with ABSCAM at 5D, clued as the “Operation that inspired the movie ‘American Hustle’ “, for you young ones that don’t remember the hearings.
  • The “Damn Yankees” clue for LOLA doesn’t reference the most familiar song from that show, I presume because that includes her name. She also has “A Little Brains, A Little Talent.” Great show, even though I’m a Yankee fan.
  • Peter also gives us an unusual clue for that old standby OTOES – “Chiwere speakers.” I don’t know anything about the Chiwere language, but I’ve done a lot of crosswords and I knew we were looking for an American Indian tribe, so that wasn’t hard.

What I didn’t know before I did this crossword: see above about the Otoes speaking Chiwere.

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6 Responses to Peter Gordon’s Fireball contest puzzle, “Ordered Pairs” – Jenni’s write-up

  1. alex says:

    I don’t mean to be rude here, and I appreciate everyone who blogs here. But might it make more sense for someone who’s fairly into metas to blog the meta puzzles?

  2. Gerd Holstrom says:

    I don’t mean to be rude either, but I humbly disagree with alex, if only because the writeup was completely acceptable: it was thorough and covered the meta more than sufficiently. The fact that it’s written in a self-deprecating and humble manner only adds to the feeling of pride that solvers who COULD solve the meta experience. And conversely, people like me – who imo are pretty good at metas – don’t feel so bad when they don’t solve the meta. OOPS. I submitted OREO – because, um, crossword puzzles.


  3. Jenni Levy says:

    It’s not that I don’t like metas (which is how I read “not into them”). I’m bad at them. I still like to try them. If I were disdainful of the format, then I would agree with Alex and I’d step back from blogging them. As it is, I enjoy the challenge, I usually fail, and I’m honest about that. And when I find out the answer, sometimes I’m amazed and impressed and sometimes I think it’s a stretch. This is the latter.

    If you meant that someone should blog metas who is really good at them, then I misunderstood. And I still disagree. Humbly :)

    • Evad says:

      When I began writing daily commentaries of the CrosSynergy puzzles here on this blog, I always considered myself the outsider who is a solid C division (ACPT) solver not ashamed of posting times that were quadruple (or more) what the other bloggers here were capable of.

      I think it’s refreshing to read the commentaries of those who probably more solvers than not can relate to and I say, “Keep up the great work, Jenni!” I admire your honesty and humor.

  4. Beth says:

    I solved the meta at the grocery store when I saw a display of Chips Ahoy. It was satisfying to know I had figured it out. Most of the metas escape me!

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