Ancient Hellenic healer / SUN 10-6-13 / Hindustan capital of old / Southernmost province of Spain / Genoese delicacy / Seinfeld called him Picasso of our profession
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
- 23A: Magic word that never loses its power? (PERMANENT PRESTO)
- 28A: 1970s Ford on the move? (ROLLING PINTO)
- 39A: Enthusiastic enjoyment of one's unhappiness? (GLOOMY GUSTO)
- 41A: The Josip Broz Memorial Trophy? (CUP OF TITO)
- 58A: Stingy snack vendor's special offer? (BUY ONE GET ONE FRITO)
- 75A: Big Apple cop who's looking to bust Popeye? (NYPD BLUTO)
- 77A: Learn all about the capital of Ecuador? (MASTER QUITO)
- 88A: Portino of Dante's "Inferno" that was wisely excised? (GARBAGE CANTO)
- 96A: Christmas decoration that automatically steers toward lovers? (GUIDED MISTLETOE)
Word of the Day: GAWP (88D: Stare stupidly) —
intr.v. Chiefly British, gawped, gawp·ing, gawps.
[Variant of obsolete galp, to gawk, gape, of unknown origin.]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/gawp#ixzz2gtNJu4dC
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WELSH came along and helped put all those 5-letter answers into place. To me, submarines and PO' BOYs are totally different things, so that didn't compute. 'NATCH—never say that, so 53D: "But of course!" was little help. Had SASSY for SAUCY (63A: Impertinent). Found the clue at 59D: Wine country surname completely cryptic. The country has a surname? Napa ... somebody? But it's just a winemaker's name, GALLO. And then SLATE for SHALE (72A: Rock used for flagstones). All those problems right in the center of the grid—that's where I made my last stand.
The grid is this oddly regular, semi-mesmerizing thing, with more 5-letter answers than I can ever remember seeing in a grid. Three big rivers of them running SW-to-NE (or vice versa). If you can keep up steady movement through them, those areas fall like dominoes. But hit a little hitch, and you can end up in real trouble. 5-letter answers are much much harder to get (on overage) with just one letter or no letters in place than 4-letter answers. Never got too hung up, but neither did I blaze through the puzzle the way I thought I would. Biggest screw-up: JUST DESSERT (37D: Fitting punishment). As in, [Brusque response to "Would you care for a salad or an entree?"].
Puzzle is creamily smooth and cute and easy. Theme answers manage to be pretty funny, though all Pintos are rolling (theoretically) and PERMANENT PRESTO makes no sense on any level, including wacky. I do like the idea of the GARBAGE CANTO, though, as well as the highly odd and seemingly parsimonious BUY ONE GET ONE FRITO. A breezy, likable Sunday affair. I have this weird feeling that this puzzle will play "Easy" for most solvers but "Medium" for speed solvers. It's easy, for sure, but somehow not built for speed speed. Real speed. Sprint speed. A certain vagueness in the cluing may be the reason. Some days, puzzles just play differently for different classes of solvers. I want to say "it's a mystery," but I'm sure someone somewhere has stats and / or data and / or a mathematical formula explaining why this should be.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld