Yes, once again, I am tasked with reviewing a meta. I at least had a vague idea what was going on this time, and I’m grateful to Erin for connecting the dots for me. I’m getting closer! I’ll get one soon! I will! Since there was apparently some distress about this last time, I will be clear: I really like metas. I just don’t do them well. Hey, I take tap dancing classes, too. I’m better at metas.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword and contest, “Side Dish” – Jenni’s writeup
Anyway. Peter asks us “What Muppet is hinted at by five Across answers in the puzzle?” I was sure of four of them – the longest ones. All the clues and answers are straightforward.
- 17a [Mixers, e.g.] = APPLIANCES.
- 21s [Speed] = CELERITY. There’s a word you don’t see every day (at least I don’t) so that’s where I started looked for meta clues.
- 55a [Empty things in math class] = NULL SETS.
- 60a [Where Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond] = SALAMASOND, which is a Dr. Suessism if ever I heard one, so also clearly a theme answer.
CELERITY…celery? Which is green? And the pond in SALAMASOND…so maybe Kermit? I couldn’t figure out what APPLIANCES and NULL SETS had to do with that, though, nor could I find the fifth answers. Erin pointed out that the fifth “theme” answer is 38a [“That’s possible] – MAYBE SO. The title comes into play here – “Side dishes” tells us to look at the sides of the answers, and there we find
Apples, celery, mayo and nuts are all part of a WALDORF salad. Waldorf, you may remember, is the crusty audience member who sits with his friend Statler and heckles the performers during The Muppet Show. Waldorf’s the one on the left.
(There’s a Muppet Wiki! Oh, frabjous day! See you later.)
OK, I’m back. I really liked this puzzle and the meta. The fill is solid and the meta is satisfying (see? I do like them. I do! I do!) I love Statler and Waldorf. They have the best lines, and they often get the last world. Plus Statler looks a little like my grandfather.
A few other things:
- 1a gives us one of Peter’s trademark original clues for a well-used crossword word. The word is ORCA and the clue is [What a code that begins with W56.2 indicates contact with in the International Classification of Diseases.] ICD-10 (the current edition of the International Classification of Diseases) has been a source of nearly endless mirth and certifiably endless angst since the US adopted it in 2015, finally catching up with the rest of the developed world. W56.2 is in the category of “Exposure to animate mechanical forces” and the guidelines caution us that this is not a complete code. ICD-10 requires coding for laterality and location as well as whether it’s an initial or subsequent encounter (with the patient, not with the orca.) You can now all print out a certificate for your CME credit.
- I have no idea who BRET Baier (12d) is and since he’s on Fox News, it will stay that way.
- Love the Graham Greene quote at 20a [ “_____ is only another word for freedom of thought.”] The answer is HERESY. This is the fill-in-the-blank clue that I think is worthwhile. I realize others may hate them, since few of us will know the quote; it was entirely gettable from crossings and context and it’s a wonderful quote.
- 25a [Potpourri piece] turned up in another crossword I did recently, with the same answer (PETAL.) Odd how that happens; I don’t remember seeing it before.
- 41a [A rival] plays both on the confusion created by the convention of starting clues with uppercase letters and the recent move of the ASTROS to the American League. OK, it was four years ago. Still feels recent to me. Whaddya mean, old?
- 46d gives another entertaining quote. [“Grapefruit-flavored embalming fluid”, according to John Oliver] is apparently FRESCA. My father loved Fresca. Then again, he also loved Dr. Browns Cel-Ray Tonic, which is (as the name implies) celery-flavored soda. I loved my dad; I don’t share his taste in sodas.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that AUDI is a [Sister brand of Bentley.]