Fireball Contest Puzzle – Thursday, September 14, 2017

Puzzle untimed (Jenni)
Meta: even more time, unmeasured  


For the contest, Peter asks “What dance move is hinted at by this puzzle?” Let’s see.

I didn’t find all the theme answers at first and so it took a while for me to figure out what was going on. Here’s the full set – I’ll spare you the story of my mental anguish. Each theme answer has a number hidden within.

  • 19a [Author of the book “Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!”] is JESSE VENTURA.
  • 21a [Hear] is GET WORD.
  • 33a [Either of a pair of cylinders in a wringer] is, apparently, a SQUEEZE ROLL.
  • 44a [Camera line named for a Greek goddess] is the CANON EOS.
  • 54a [Precolonial state of West Africa] is the BENIN EMPIRE.
  • 70a [Short-lived soda release of 1995] is PEPSI XL.
  • 73a [Toast a sub for?] has nothing to do with Quiznos. It’s BURN IN EFFIGY.

That gives us 7 2 0 1 9 6 9. Change the spacing a bit and you get 7/20/1969, the date when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. This became a dance known ’round the world in 1982 when Michael Jackson first did the MOONWALK on national television. Ta-da!

Erik, you know I love you, and I usually love your puzzles….I appreciate the feat of construction here – finding answers with the correct digits and sorting them into a grid in the proper order can’t have been easy. It wasn’t a whole lot of fun to solve, in part because SQUEEZE ROLL sounds completely contrived. Don’t yell at me; I’m sure it’s in a dictionary somewhere, but who among us has ever used a washer with a mangle and who knew the cylinders had a name other than “cylinder?” The others are at least in the language, although PEPSI XL is danged obscure.

The rest of the fill did not redeem the puzzle; the constraints of the theme answers require a lot of very short fill and that’s always a risk. I like the NW corner with AWW  and D’OH clued as [“Dang, that sucks”] and [“Dang, I messed up!”]. I was less fond of the SE corner with NIAJOB  and RMS, especially since NIA was clued with someone I never heard of. My bad, I’m sure you all knew who she was.

I did enjoy 37d [1930s Hollywood star who played the same role as his father], which turned out to be RIN TIN TIN JR.

What I did not know before I did this puzzle: see above re: RIN TIN TIN JRSQUEEZE ROLL  and PEPSI XL. I also did not know that Antonio Banderas appeared in an Almodovar film called MATADOR.

I leave you with, of course, the MOONWALK, and a reminder of the talent that was lost. The more I watch Emma grow as a dancer, the more I appreciate that Michael Jackson was one of the finest dancers of our generation. The relevant section starts at 5:35.

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5 Responses to Fireball Contest Puzzle – Thursday, September 14, 2017

  1. Joe says:

    The Benin Empire has the craziest flag I’ve ever seen:

  2. Good puzzle, albeit a little stiff for all the contrivances and Naticks (for me, especially in the right side) as mentioned in the original review. 3.5 for me.

  3. Evad says:

    One of my favorite aspects of this was to watch (many times) one of Erik’s favorite dance videos that Peter posted in his email–“earworm” warning, though.

  4. e.a. says:

    love you too, jenni, and i usually love your reviews….i loved this review! no yelling from me! thanks everyone for solving and peter for turning a flawed submission into a viable puzzle

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