Fireball Contest – Wednesday, June 15, 2016

untimed (Ben)
Meta: 5 minutes, submitted incorrect answer 


Hi friends!  It’s Sunday evening and I’m covering this week’s Fireball meta for Jenni.  I love a metapuzzle, but admittedly can only figure out the MGWCC meta for weeks 1 and 2 on a regular basis.  Let’s take a look at how this week’s Fireball went:

Kelsey Dittmer Blakley’s Fireball Crossword and contest, “On the Radio” – Ben’s writeup

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 6.32.12 PM

On the Radio

Well, I knew what was going on with the puzzle, but I didn’t take things quite far enough to get the correct final answer.  Looking at the theme answers, we have the following:

  • 18A: Ballplayer whose uniform has pinstripes — NEW YORK YANKEE
  • 37A: Title character played by Tom Hanks in a 2007 film directed by Mike Nichols — CHARLIE WILSON
  • 55A: Best Director Oscar winner of 1939 — VICTOR FLEMING

It was easy to spot the NATO letters in the theme answers (which made sense, given the title “On The Radio”), but I also noticed that each of the theme answer clues had another NATO alphabet letter included – UNIFORM, MIKE, and OSCAR.  Scanning the rest of the clues gave another nice chunk of the alphabet: ALFA, ROMEO, KILO, QUEBEC, X-RAY, HOTEL, DELTA, TANGO, FOXTROT, SIERRA, ZULU, WHISKEY, and PAPA were all present.  This left just EGIJLN as far as NATO letters not in the puzzle, and EGIJLN isn’t a word, so I happily submitted “The NATO alphabet” as the meta answer and went on my merry way.

Of course, had I given things another look, I would have noticed that anagramming those letters gives you a JINGLE, which is another thing you could hear on the radio and is in fact the correct answer to the puzzle.

I liked this puzzle and the concept for the meta, although I would have loved an execution somehow that didn’t need an extra transposal of letters to get the final final answer.  That’s just me being picky, though.  The fill is generally solid and the final answer is clear and makes a lot of sense (even if I let it completely slip past me while solving)

A few other things:

  • I hate clues like 29A‘s “355% of CCC” (which is MLXV, BTW).  I get that it’s a clever way to get a roman numeral into the puzzle, but it often feels like a lot of extra work mentally to get to a piece of fill that’s pretty blah.
  • My favorite story about LINEAR A (45A, “Ancient Minoan writing system”) is that someone wrote a puzzle for the MIT Mystery Hunt using it, then checked out all the books on it from the MIT Library the weekend of the hunt.  Since this was before most of the hunt was run on the internet, this made solving that puzzle considerably harder, to say the least.
  • A NUTLOAF sounds like a sad roast alternative (46D).  I had a Tofurkey once, though, and that actually wasn’t that bad as far as those things go.

3.5/5 stars from me.


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2 Responses to Fireball Contest – Wednesday, June 15, 2016

  1. CC says:

    I too submitted the NATO alphabet, but having a ham radio ticket, I’ve heard it on the radio a million times, so it didn’t even occur to me to go down another level.

  2. austin says:

    in my attempt to find some way to tie the NATO alphabet to a solution (I didn’t see the anagram tho I did have the leftover letters), I noticed that all of the clues that had NATO words in them were symmetrical in the grid. I liked that.

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