Peter Gordon’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “French Twist”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upHappy Mother’s Day weekend, everyone! Today, we’re looking for a popular Mother’s Day gift, namely a candy. So let’s begin the hunt!
Three theme entries and a revealer can be identified:
- 17a. [Like a scorcher (5)], HOT AS BLUE BLAZES – I wanted “hot as a blue streak” here
- 26a. [Niece of John F. Kennedy (6)], MARIA SHRIVER – and ex-wife of the “Governator”
- 45a. [Outfield walls closer than usual to home (7)], SHORT PORCHES – I’m not a huge baseball fan, but big enough in my day that I’m surprised not to be familiar with this term. I’m not sure how close is “usual,” so I wonder how close these have to be to be considered “short.” And why a “porch”?
- 59a. [What the parenthetical numbers tell you to use in a novel way], LEFT-MOST LETTERS – the unusual word “novel” here got my Spidey Sense thinking of book titles (as it turns out, appropriately)
So the first revelation is to realize that the numbers in parentheses refer to that number of letters in each theme entry, starting from the left. So we have HOTAS, MARIAS and SHORTPO respectively. So in what “novel” way should we use them? Well, anagramming letters isn’t particularly novel, but that’s usually my first line of attack when I don’t recognize them as words on their own. I started with the longest of the three (thinking it would have the fewest number of valid combinations) and threw it into my trusty anagram solver. One entry caught my eye, the proper name PORTHOS. Hmmm, wasn’t he a character in a novel? Of course, Alexandar Dumas’s The Three Musketeers.
Looking at the other two entries, they anagram to the other two musketeers, ATHOS and ARAMIS. And, indeed, this novel name is also a type of candy so we have our meta answer.
Pretty straightforward meta this week; I liked how Maria S. worked in particular, although I wish the third theme entry were a bit more common (perhaps it is in your household, so YMMV). Definitely a foodie vibe to the long downs: we have an interesting meal of PITA BREAD, TOSTITOS and LIGHT BEER. Throw in the remaining TEASER AD and you have a Super Bowl party! I also enjoyed the double-A action of TEA ACT smack dab in the middle of the grid.
See you next week!