Peter Gordon’s Fireball contest, “Bon Mot” — Laura’s review
Peter asks, “What five-letter word is the final answer to this puzzle?” Je ne sais pas, mes amis, alors, allons-nous résoudre le puzzle? Our theme entries are associated with Paris, but for the most part are clued to avoid their association with Paris:
- [17a: Ship that ran aground in Wales in 1894]: EIFFEL TOWER. Also the wrought iron marvel that was built to be the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair.
- [26a: University whose library has a mural known as “Touchdown Jesus”]: NOTRE DAME. The university in South Bend, IN, is pronounced NO-ter DAYm, but the cathedral that dates from the 12th century is pronounced NO-truh DAHm.
- [39a: Districts of Paris]: ARRONDISSEMENTS. There are twenty.
- [49a: Subject of the film “La Vie en Rose”]: EDITH PIAF, 1915-1963.
- [59a: 2001 Best Picture Oscar nominee]: MOULIN ROUGE. The cabaret, unlike the film title, does not have an exclamation point.
The five-letter word we’re looking for can’t be PARIS, since that’s in the clue for ARRONDISSMENTS. But maybe that entry can illuminate our tour of the City of Light? Let’s see … <commences research> … the EIFFEL TOWER is in the 7th arrondissement; NOTRE-DAME de Paris is in the 4th; EDITH PIAF is … well, there’s an Edith Piaf Museum in the 11th, but she’s buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery, which is in the 20th; and the MOULIN ROUGE is in the 18th.
According to Metasolving 101, when you have a set of numbers, you should see if they correspond to something in the grid. So: 7 = I, 4 = O, 11 = A and 20 = A, and 18 = L. That gives us I O A/A L. IOLA? (“Her name was Iola, she was a showgirl, at the Copa, the Copacabana…” …nah.) Am I missing something? Our meta answer is five letters. Is there something else in the grid that’s in Paris? Perhaps the OPERA? Or … oh! [12d: With 54-Down, hit song for Nat King Cole]: MONA; [54d: See 12-Down]: LISA, which is in the Louvre, which is in the 1st arrondissement. 1 = V. C’est vrai! If we take the grid letters in numerical order (not in theme entry order) we have:
1 = V
4 = O
7 = I
18 = L
20 = A
C’est la solution! VOILÀ! … which means, literally, there it is, alluding to the place (i.e. arrondissement number) of all those Parisian landmarks. Peter was kind to solvers in that you could eventually get the correct answer by anagramming if you decided that Edith Piaf was in the Edith Piaf Museum rather than Père Lachaise Cemetery.
C’était un metapuzzle très amusant, and non, je ne regrette rien.
So who else made it to IOAL and got stuck?
I had IOAAL – taking 20 as the number of arrondissements (and 11th for Piaf with a big question mark). Obviously a dead end, so dropped that.
I have those letters writ large on my puzzle paper…and the numbers 4, 7, 11, and 18 circling the grid.