Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Hot Spell” – Jenni’s writeup
I honestly didn’t try the meta – I solved the puzzle on Wednesday and then forgot all about it until just now. Thanks to Peter for sending the solution out so I would remember to blog it and understand what to write about!
Peter asks “What country is hinted at by this puzzle?” I did accurately identify the theme answers:
- 18a [Makes comfortable] is PUTS AT EASE.
- 23a [Shout of surprise] is JEEZ LOUISE. I have seen varying spellings for the first word of this phrase; this is the one I like best.
- 37a [Smarten up] is GET WISE. This phrase is not quite in the language to my ear.
- 50a [Like things] are PEAS IN A POD.
- 59a [Exotic activity] is STRIPTEASE. Are strippers still called “exotic dancers?”
So most of the theme answers have a word that ends in the “-eeze” sound. I got that far. The next step is noticing that each of those sounds (plus one more) is the plural of a letter: EASE = E’s, JEEZ = G’s, WISE = Y’s, PEAS = P’s, and TEASE = T’s. Put them all together and they spell EGYPT. Nice.
A few other things:
- 5d [Land east of Chosen] is NIPPON. This is a transliteration of the name the Japanese give their country, sometimes also rendered “Nihon.” “Japan” comes from Portuguese and Dutch, the first European nations to trade with Japan. I know “Nippon” from an e e cummings poem.
- 11d [When Summer Olympics are held] are LEAP YEARS. Most of the time. A year has to be divisible by both four and 400, so 1900 was not a leap year. The Olympics were held that year. 2000 was a leap year. Technically, I suppose, the 1900 Olympics were not the “Summer Olympics” since the Winter Olympics weren’t held until 1924.
- 33d [Weak heart] is TWO. I have no idea what this means. It’s not the center of the word “weak.” What I am missing?
- 31d [Part of some school uniforms] is CLIP-ON TIE. Really? Poor kids. Or adults, I guess.
- 44d [“___ locked? I can’t get in!” (end of a knock-knock joke)] is, of course, ISADORA. ETA: No, it’s not. Peter points out that it’s ISADORE, which of course makes 67A ELSE and 54d DANTE. I did the puzzle before it was unlocked and, um, didn’t check it very well.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that ATLAS was Prometheus’s brother. I suppose I might have known that at some point, but it vanished in the myths of memory.