Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Kicking Off the Fourth” – Jenni’s writeup
I figured out the trick to this puzzle when I solved it last Wednesday, and *finally* caught the answer to the meta this morning when I looked at it again. Ah, well, better late than never. The meta asks “What grid entry in this puzzle could have been the ninth theme answer in this puzzle?”
The theme answers all start with the fourth letter. If you read the first four letters backwards and then turn around again, they all make sense.
- 16a [Kitchen gadget] is a ATOPEELER. Start with the P, read right to left and then left to right, and you get POTATO PEELER.
- 20a [Popular roaster] turns KCORNISH into ROCK CORNISH. I’ve never heard anyone say ROCK CORNISH without adding HEN (usually GAME HEN).
- 26a [Cartoon character who wears just a bow tie] is BOOBEAR, which is actually BOO BOO BEAR, Yogi’s sidekick. Yogi himself wears a collar, a tie, and a hat.
- 28a [Speed] is NRUBBER, or BURN RUBBER. This is where I figured out the turnaround game.
- 49a [Course components] are EDISHES, or SIDE DISHES, not (thank heaven) food you order online.
- 53a [“Hubba hubba!”] is VAVOOM, or VA VA VOOM. I’ve also heard it VA VA VA VOOM. I guess it depends on the VA-ness of the subject.
- 59a [Basic loaf for novice bakers] is ANABREAD, which sounds like something I might see in the Nature’s Market section of the grocery store. It’s actually BANANA BREAD.
- 63a [Title for some deans] is YREVEREND. We’re talking deans of cathedrals here, they are sometimes referred to as VERY REVEREND.
So that’s eight. Where is the ninth potential theme answer hiding? 39d [Extinguishes] is SMOTHERS. If it were clued as [Half of a controversial 1960s comedy team], it could have been TOM SMOTHERS.
Very clever theme, very well executed, and lots of fun to solve. Eight (or nine) theme answers make for a lot of constraints in the grid; I don’t think the fill suffered much for it. It’s a really good puzzle.
A few other things:
- 5a [Diana of “Game of Thrones”] is RIGG, which I got from crossings because everything I know about GoT, I learned from crosswords.
- 10d [Soda with the slogan “It goes down good”] is the rarely seen MR PIBB.
- 12d [Advance man?] is MASHER, which I would really like to see clued exclusively as something you use on a potato. When men make unwanted sexual advances to women, it’s not funny or cute or anything else remotely recreational.
- 43d [Quays] are WHARFS. Google Ngrams tell me WHARVES has been used more often since 1840.
- 40d [Appropriate] confounded me. Since this is a contest puzzle, the solution wasn’t unlocked and I did a Google search to see if GLOMONTO was correct. It is and it isn’t; it’s not one word, it’s two. GLOM ONTO. Duh.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Henry Chadwick created the ERA stat in baseball.