Fireball Meta

puzzle 10:47; meta 5 minutes (Matt) 


Matt here, blogging Patrick Berry’s Fireball meta from Wednesday (whose deadline just passed).

Our title is “Multiple Choice,” and PB1 asks us: What common question do solvers of this puzzle need to ask themselves?

Tough solve for me of 10:47. Lots of tough, vague cluing like [Soft shoe] for CROC and [Flat part] for room. If you broke 10 minutes, pat(rick) yourself on the back.

Existence/location of theme entries was not obvious. Longest entries in the grid are two 9’s and two 8’s, all of which did indeed turn out to be theme but you didn’t know that until after.

I got this pretty quickly from my first freescan of the grid, since the odd clue for 3-Down strongly hinted to me we were looking at a Schrodinger meta: [Red thing to eat] for BEEF? That’s odd — could also have been a BEET. Aha! T for F, “Multiple Choice” title, common question…I bet there will be other squares that can take a T or F both ways, and that our answer will be “True or False.”

And so it was:

3-D [Red thing to eat] = BEEF or BEET crossing 20-A [Put off] = DEFERRED or DETERRED

31-A [Vampire repellent] = HOLY WATER or HOLY WAFER. I had to look this one up, but the vampire literature confirms that those bloodsuckers do not like holy wafers one bit.
Crosses 32-D [___ irons] = TIRE or FIRE.

39-A [What a blow to the head might cause] = CONFUSION or CONTUSION. Crosses 40-D [Parts of some splashy amusement park rides] = FUNNELS or TUNNELS. I can’t really picture the funnels, but it’s smooth enough that I didn’t notice anything during my solve, so mission accomplished.

50-A [Without a permanent home] = ROOFLESS or ROOTLESS. Not familiar with “roofless,” but it makes sense, and the German word for “homeless” translates to “roofless” (“dachlos”). Crosses 44-D [What a jug may hold] = LITERS or LIFERS. I guess “jug” is slang for “prison,” though I’m not familiar with this one.

So our meta answer is indeed “TRUE OR FALSE?“. I liked but didn’t love this meta, as joon occasionally says about mine. HOLY WAFER / HOLY WATER was the big standout, but some of the others were a bit strained or unfamiliar. It’s not easy to come up with multiple Schrodinger answers for two specific letters like this, though, and the themers were natural enough that if not for my eye landing upon the BEET possibility quickly I might’ve struggled with it for a while. We haven’t seen many Schrodingers lately, so that was nice as well.

Also notice the necessary-but-elegant touch that these four spaces are the only F’s and T’s in the grid. Might’ve been confusing if he hadn’t done that, but required some fancy stepping.

Berry fun solve, 4.30 stars.

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2 Responses to Fireball Meta

  1. Garrett says:

    I had a very tough time with the SW. Did not know EYDIE or RUDGE, and I did not get the sense of the [Correct by hand?] joke. I guessed incorrectly that the [possible jug contents] could be “liquor” and that really hosed me. By the time I had the grid done (without googling anything) I was pretty mentally fatigued.

    The only thing I was able to notice was BEET for BEEF. I’ve never seen a holy wafer used in a vampire movie, and no way was I going to connect LIFER with a jug. CONTUSION seemed so correct I did not even think about another possibility.

    Woosh — the sound of this one going right over my head.

  2. Papa John says:

    Across Lite shows all the T/F spaces as F being the correct fill, so it’s 3D BEEF, 32D FIRE, 40D FUNNELS and 44D LIFERS. How is the solver supposed to know which is correct? I was expecting those spaces to be rebuses.

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