Paul Coulter’s Fireball contest puzzle, “Left-Right Symmetry”—Amy’s write-up
I’m not sure that anyone on Team Fiend figured out the contest answer this time. Now that we see the explanation in Peter’s email, it all seems much more obvious:
- 17a. Culpable [S, left], IN THE WRONG. Add the S in the brackets to the left word of that answer, and you get SIN THE WRONG. That provides “left-right symmetry” of a sort in the phrase, as sin and wrong can be synonymous.
- 25a. Cycle of prosperity followed by rapid decline [S, left], BOOM AND BUST. Add the S not to the far left, but to the middle of the left word, and you get bosom and bust.
- 43a. Improbable, as a story [R, left], COCK AND BULL. Crock and bull.
- 58a. Turn in [M, right], HIT THE SACK. Hit, smack.
So it’s a neat find/observation on Paul’s part, that these phrases are a letter off from containing a pair of synonyms.
The next step is figuring out the answer to the meta prompt: “What answer to the clue ‘Sylvester Stallone film [C, left]’ could have been a theme entry in this puzzle?” Joon’s wishing he’d sent in Over the Top as a hail-Mary answer, since it’s a three-word Stallone flick to go with these four three-word themers. Add the C, you get cover and top.
- 40a. [“Hairspray,” for example], MASS NOUN. The quotation marks tricked me.
- 35d. [“Being ___” (2015 documentary)], EVEL. I thought the year was too recent for Being Elmo and it was (that one was 2011). We await Being Ella, Being Etta, Being Elie, Being Elia, Being Eero, and so on.
- 33d. [A Jesus during part of Paul VI’s papacy], ALOU. Paul VI died in 1978, and ballplayer Jesus Alou was around then. Dang, I don’t even remember that papacy. Had zero idea who was pope before Chicago and my grandma got excited about the new guy from Poland.
A crossword proofreader questioned whether 1a. [TV mail-order company that gives a lot of bang for the buck?], ACME is acceptable. Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner started out as filmic antagonists before they moved from the big screen to the small. Since I never saw Looney Tunes at the cinema, it felt fine to me. What say you?
when i looked at Mr. S’s filmography i was debating between TANGO AND CASH and OVER THE TOP until i figured out what the brackets were doing.
Interesting that Team Fiend found this one hard, as I’ve been flaming out on metas right, left, and center lately, but this one jumped right out at me. Nice job by Paul also for finding a set—Stallone movies—with several possibilities that fit the three-word pattern, to deter guessing.