Fireball Contest — October 30, 2019

Grid: 13:17; Meta: not immediate but pretty quick after figuring out the deal  


Peter Gordon’s Fireball contest, “Go Figure” — Laura’s review

Fireball Contest - 10.30.19 - Contest

Fireball Contest – 10.30.19 – Contest

Peter asks, “what five-letter word is hinted at by this puzzle?”

  • [19a: Olive oil is a big part of it]: MEDITERRANEAN DIET
  • [32a: Governors might declare them after natural disasters]: STATES OF EMERGENCY
  • [45a: Their 8,019-game no-hitter drought was chronicled on]: NEW YORK METS
  • [61a: Setting for the Cheryl Strayed book “Wild”]: PACIFIC CREST TRAIL
  • [74a: HBO series in which Steve Buscemi played Nucky Thompson]: BOARDWALK EMPIRE

And then we have as the last across entry: [84a: $35 for Park Place, in Monopoly]: RENT.

With that closer, I knew it had something to do with Monopoly, as MEDITERRANEAN, STATES, NEW YORK, PACIFIC, and BOARDWALK are all properties in the game. But I didn’t see the next step right away, so I put it aside until the next day when I was Twitter-DM-ing with a solving pal, and then the very act of saying, “yeah I can see that it has something to do with Monopoly, and there’s that last entry with the rent on Park Place, and … oh!”

Look up the rents — without houses or hotels — on the properties hinted at in the themers (either grab the little deed cards if you have the game at home, or use the Monopoly wiki for reference):


Then, index those numbers to squares in the grid: 2 = T, 10 = O, 16 = K, 26 = E, 50 = N. That hints at (or, y’know, spells) the five-letter word TOKEN, which is our answer. In 2017, Monopoly dropped the thimble, the boot, and the wheelbarrow from its token array, replacing them with a dinosaur, duck, and penguin. With all due respect to cute animals, some argued that the Great Token Shift betrayed the game’s origins as a critique of capitalism.

Other stuff (i.e. that I had to look up):

  • [24a: Renminbi] — the renminbi or YUAN is the official currency of China.
  • [37a: Balabushka product]: CUE. George Balabushka was a Russian-born immigrant to the U.S. who crafted custom pool cues.
  • [10d: Singer-songwriter Alan with the 1977 #1 hit “Undercover Angel”]: O’DAY. His #1 hit and one-hit wonder is now commonly included in “Yacht Rock” compilations; another single, “Started Out Dancing, Ended Up Making Love” didn’t get much play despite describing a very common occurrence in the 1970s. Listen to “Undercover Angel” on YouTube, and the algorithm will generate a playlist of soft, smooth hits for the rest of the afternoon. Tom Breihan’s excellent series on Stereogum, “The Number Ones,” which is blogging every song that hit #1 on the Billboard Top 100 from its inception until whenever he catches up to now, is currently up to June 1977, so we can expect a post on “Undercover Angel” fairly soon.


This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Fireball Contest — October 30, 2019

  1. Garrett says:

    Dang, that’s clever!

Comments are closed.