Rock On

Thirty years of female-fronted power pop in one clue

Published December 10, 2023

12/15/23 Update: An earlier version of this article, incorrectly identified the capital of Pakistan as Kabul. It has been Islamabad since 1959. Questionist thanks reader, Cristina, for catching our error.

Hello everyone, it’s a new week, and I hope everything has been Thrice as nice! It’s been a busy week for me, as I’m now engaged! We’re very excited, and looking forward to the years to come. Always new things to solve, and we had a great week of puzzles, so let’s dive on in.

Clues you can use

Tuesday, Dec. 5 (USA Today, constructed by Amie Walker)

Meet Me at the Altar and Veruca Salt, for two = BANDS

A two-for-one clue, about two bands I’m not terribly familiar with, but now we learn together!

Meet Me at the Altar is a pop-punk band, made up of Edith Victoria, Téa Campbell, and Ada Juarez, who all met on YouTube. The group’s first hit was the 2021 song “Hit Like a Girl”, which is a banger! This March, they released their first studio album Past // Present // Future, and played the single “Say It (To My Face)” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Look for it on 2023 Best-Of lists. 

The Chicago-based alt-rock band Veruca Salt comprises Louise Post, Nina Gordon, Jim Shapiro, and Steve Lack. Named after the brat from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they first hit the charts in 1994 with “Seether,” from the album American Thighs; then broke up after their 1997 sophomore album, Eight Arms to Hold You, which included the excellent single “Volcano Girls.” The original line-up regrouped in 2012, and is still producing music and going on tour.

Wednesday, Dec. 6 (New York Times, constructed by Peter A. Collins and Bruce Haight)

Home to more than 20 million Pakistanis = KARACHI

The capital of Pakistan’s Sindh Province, Karachi is the twelfth-largest city on Earth, and the very largest with a Muslim majority – but it’s not the nation’s capital, which is Kabul Islamabad. Located on the Arabian Sea, Karachi is home to most of Pakistan’s banks, as well as the Mazar-e-Quaid, which is the final resting place of founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The birth city of Benazir Bhutto, and home of the Karachi Fashion Week and Karachi Literature Festival, the city aims to be a model for developing cities in South Asia and the Middle East.

Mazar-e-Quaid, Karachi // credit: Furqanlw

Sunday, Dec. 3 (The Atlantic, constructed by Caleb Madison)

Former Mad TV cast member who starred in Evolution and Drumline = ORLANDO JONES

When a South Carolinian pops up in a puzzle, I’m always glad to talk about it! Though born in Mobile, Orlando Jones moved to Mauldin, S.C. as a teenager, and would later enroll at the College of Charleston. Jones dropped out to pursue a career in Hollywood, and caught his big break as one of the first nine cast members of the Fox series MadTV. Indeed, Jones starred alongside David Duchovny and Nick Cannon, respectively, in the clued films, around the same time he was the “Make 7 Up Yours” guy. After a series of appearances on TV since, he’s known to modern audiences as Mr. Nancy on the Starz series American Gods, and as Mr. Eddie’s father on Abbott Elementary.

Grid mapping

A few crossword links with crosswords of different kinds.

In quality puzzles, the puzzle service Puzzmo has been purchased by Hearst Media. Launched earlier this year and partnered with the AVCX puzzle subscription, this puzzle package is now looking to compete with the New York Times puzzle set. Rising tides lift all boats, and more quality puzzling in the world means puzzles everywhere will improve! It’s an exciting time to be a solver.

In less-quality crossword news, CERN released an end-of-the-year crossword puzzle. As a big puzzle and science fan, it seems wild to me that an organization that houses some of the world’s best supercomputers could put out a flimsy crossword like this! Does the Large Hadron Collider need a wordplay expert on their payroll? Swiss scientists, I am available to write the first crossword to enter the multiverse.

And lastly, the radio station KPEL 96.5 in Lafayette, Louisiana took umbrage at a recent crossword where [Gumbo base] was clued as OKRA, instead of ROUX. After a rant, author Joe Cunningham featured a lot of Cajun cooking words including some great photos of JAMBALAYA and PRALINES. It’s always great when a mini-controversy like this can pop in puzzles.

Thanks for dropping by, and a holiday shopping tip: a book of crosswords is always a favorite for any relative or friend. There’s many great books out there, so feel free to help Santa out!

Chris King is a longtime crossword commentator, and the author of five published puzzle books. His column appears on Questionist every Sunday. 

2 thoughts on “Rock On

  1. Cristina Somolinos says:

    Islamabad is the Pakistani capital, not Kabul

  2. Diana Tenery says:

    You’re right! We’ve corrected the article. Thanks much.

Comments are closed.