FRIDAY, Oct. 17, 2008 - Patrick Berry (Topmost optic in a microscope / Offbeat Parisian tourist sites / Milky and iridescent)
Friday, October 17, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Patrick Berry is a fabulous constructor, generally, but this is my least favorite PB1 puzzle of all time. Yes, it's exceedingly difficult to fill in roughly 6x7 chunks of open space, and the puzzle has just one 3-letter word and NO 4-letter words - amazing technical accomplishments. But again, as I have before, I have to ask WHY!? When the resulting fill is compromised, over and over and over, what is the point? First - you knew it was coming, so here it is: all the words that end -ER or -ERS
- GASPER (7A: Coffin nail)
- STARKERS (20A: In the buff) - what in the world is this?
- TILTERS (22A: Joust participants) - yay, medievalism
- SPEEDOMETERS (23A: They offer rates for automobiles) - great clue. I always want to spell this SPEDOMOETERS ...
- OLD-TIMER (40A: Veteran)
- PAST MASTERS (16D: People of much experience) - in other words, OLDTIMERs.
- SOONER (45A: Nickname for a cheater in the Oklahoma land rush of 1889) - cool. Word origins!
- STICKER (9D: Price holder)
- PACKERS (10D: Winner over the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI)
- ETHERS (11D: Organic compounds used as solvents) - didn't know there was more than one.
- COWER (38D: Behave cravenly)
- SOLDIER (26D: Servant in a cause)
- SEWERS (37D: Offbeat Parisian tourist sites)
Then, there are the !?!?!? words like - well, several of the -ER words: STARKERS!?! GASPER? Then there's EASELED (6D: Like paintings in progress). WEASELED, yes, EASELED, ugh. MALABO (1D: Equatorial Guinea's capital) and MALAYA (35D: Singapore lies just off its tip) were very and semi-mysterious to me, respectively, but they were delicious in that they were interesting-looking, and clearly valid answers.
Here's an interesting fact about this puzzle - it was planned as a Saturday. My test-solving copy is clearly marked 10/18/08, so I have no idea if the puzzle marked for today (10/17/08) has been moved to tomorrow or what? We'll see.
- 16A: Sherlock Holmes story not by Conan Doyle, e.g. (pastiche) - in America, we call this "fan fiction." I know the word PASTICHE, but I don't know what it has to do with this clue. I think of PASTICHE as an assemblage of materials from different sources. Apparently it also means "imitation."
- 17A: About whom Churchill purportedly said "A modest man who has much to be modest about" (Attlee) - first, awesome quote. Second, great great fake-out, in that I had HITLER here for a long time, and HITLER and ATTLEE ... have some things in common. Namely, three consecutive letters. I know the idea of HITLER as "modest" may seem odd, but ... that's why I went with HITLER. I was expecting the unexpected.
- 19A: Of the north wind (boreal) - yay, medievalism (that's how I learned it, anyway - all that windy stuff, like "Zephyrus" and what not, comes from Chaucer as far as I'm concerned)
- 21A: Curacao flavoring (orange) - blatant pandering to a certain blogger
- 35A: Bitingly sarcastic (mordant) - a fantabulous word.
- 38A: Skin soother (calamine) - had CALOMINE ... but I didn't know what PROTTLE was supposed to be (27D: Meaningless talk - PRATTLE)
- 41A: Plant family that includes hibiscus (mallow) - slight trouble figuring this one out, as I screwed up a cross for a while - had DELETES for DECODES (34D: Uses a key, perhaps)
- 44A: Topmost optic in a microscope (eye lens) - very literal, kind of boring, but hey, at least we get a Scrabble letter worth more than 1 point. Yay for Y.
- 3D: It deserves to be condemned (rat trap) - you know what especially deserves to be condemned? The TATTIEST (14D: Showing the most wear and tear) RAT TRAP.
- 7D: Integration that exceeds the sum of its parts (gestalt) - "Integration" threw me quite badly. Was thinking mathematics. The NE seems clearly the roughest (in every sense) part of this grid.
- 8D: Semitic fertility goddess (Astarte) - she was part of the STAR rebus puzzle from five weeks ago yesterday (I know because she was the most popular search term)
- 4D: Town that Wild Bill Hickok was marshal of (Abilene) - guessed from crosses. I like how Western this puzzle is, with ABILENE and SOONER and ARNESS (47A: James in many westerns). I always do a double-take on "Hickok" - that -OK ending looks all kinds of wrong. Rhymes with Springbok?
- 29D: Closet hangings (raiment) - very nice trick with the non-s plural RAIMENT
- 30D: Los Angeles County's _____ Beach (Hermosa) - means "beautiful"; took me a while to get it. Being from CA helps, because even if you've never been to said beach (and I haven't) the names of places are in the air so much that they become familiar.
- 33D: Milky and iridescent (opaline) - great adjective. Strangely reminding me of this song - "Opelousas" by Maria McKee (written by Victoria Williams); video's kind of bad, but I really like the song.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Peter Gordon tells me that the Sun Crossword is "up and running" at cruciverb.com, so head over and check it out.