Alex Eaton-Salner’s Fireball contest, “Split Ends” — Conrad’s writeup
This month, we are asked, What six-letter word is hinted at by this puzzle? There were five starred theme entries:
- 15A [*Entry-level worker, perhaps]: (RE)CENTGR(AD)
- 19A [*Dive into a pail, say?]: (EA)TLUN(CH)
- 35A [*Collection of cells producing the electrical signal that causes the heart to beat]: (SI)NUSNO(DE)
- 55A [*Marty McFly’s time-traveling pal in “Back to the Future”]: (DO)CBRO(WN)
- 60A [*Certain creamy soup]: (CL)AMBISQ(UE)
It took me a long time to complete the grid, but Fireball crosswords are famously… “hard. How hard? If you have to ask, too hard for you.” I finally managed to finish the grid, and spun my wheels for a long time. Not sure why in retrospect, this was a straightforward meta. I finally “split” the themers and looked at the first and last two letters of each, which formed the phrase READ EACH SIDE DOWN CLUE.
The side down clues were:
- 1d: (It)ems shot by Hiawat(ha)
- 11d: (Sa)ilor symbols tattooed on Pope(ye)
- 38d: (Ll)yod with an eponymous TV sh(ow)
- 49d: (Pe)ninsular pair straddling the 38th parall(el)
The first and last two letters of each side down clue spell “It has a yellow peel,” leading to BANANA, our contest solution.