Classical guitarist Segovia / SUN 12-8-13 / Actor Jack of oaters / English film festival city / Political title of 1930s-40s / Biblical priest of Shiloh / Youngest of Chekhov's Three Sisters
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Easy
- 20A: Red wine drinker's paradise? (SANGRIA / SHANGRI-LA)
- 22A: Employee at the Ron Paul archive? (LIBERTARIAN / LIBRARIAN) — so the theme appears a bit inconsistent from the outset. First the longer part comes second in the answer phrase, then the longer part comes first…)
- 24A: Pitch that fixes everything? (CURE-ALL / CURVEBALL)
- 26A: Dollar bill featuring a portrait of Duran Duran's lead singer? (SIMON LE BON / SIMOLEON)
- 47A: The one puppy that can read? (LITERATE / LITTERMATE)
- 53A: Creator of perfect whirlpools? (MAELSTROM / MAESTRO)
- 83A: Minor-league championship flag? (PENNY ANTE / PENNANT)
- 86A: Alienate a New Jersey city? (ESTRANGE / EAST ORANGE)
- 109A: Begat a soft place to sleep? (FATHERED / FEATHER BED)
- 113A: "Charge!," to Duracells? (BATTERY / BATTLE CRY)
- 117A: Satisfying finale coming to pass? (HAPPY ENDING / HAPPENING)
- 119A: Labeled idiotic? (BRANDED / BRAIN-DEAD)
John Bull is a national personification of the United Kingdom in general, and England in particular, especially in political cartoons and similar graphic works. He is usually depicted as a stout, middle-aged, country dwelling, jolly, matter-of-fact man. (wikipedia)
• • •
EERO at 41A and ELAM at 107A (!), everything is remarkably … real. EEK is as ugly as it gets, and that's just not that ugly. Again, the most impressive thing about this guy's work is the understated polish of it all. This is a grid that has been crafted. Too often we see decent theme coupled with Whatever Works-type fill. Not here. The theme is not a mind-blower, but the solving experience was definitely pleasurable. Just wish it had been a bit longer.
Unless there is some pattern I can't perceive, this theme has a bit of weirdness to it with the longer word in the imagined answers sometimes coming first, sometimes coming second. It hardly mattered, solving-wise. Most of the time I didn't really put the full phrase together as I was solving. It was enough to get the long answer and see that the circle-less answer also made a word. In fact, I didn't really grasp that the full version + two-outs version (or vice versa) made coherent answers to the theme clues until after I was done. Seeing the connection between the two made for a nice little revelation. I think this puzzle would make a nice, accessible introduction to Sunday puzzles for a novice solver. You don't need a lot of arcane crossword knowledge. The theme is kind of funny. The whole thing falls on the easy side. You could have fun solving this with your family. Perhaps a precocious 13-year-old. Whatever you got.
The Curious History of the Crossword (Race Point Publishing, 2013). It's a comprehensive history of the crossword from 1913 to the present, and it is remarkably informative (and funny) when it comes to discussing the development of the puzzle in the Internet Age—specifically, how technology has changed the production, dissemination, and solving of crosswords in recent years. There may even be a bit in there about crossword blogs. Best of all, it contains 100 puzzles representing a great cross-section of constructors from the past century. It's the best history of the crossword I know of, and easily the best book I've read about crosswords since Matt Gaffney's Gridlock (also worth your time).
Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest," where each week's crossword is a metapuzzle—once you complete the grid, you need to find the answer to some question, which is in some way hidden in or suggested by elements in the grid (see Matt's "Introduction to Meta Crossword Puzzles," here). Now Matt has launched a Kickstarter campaign (already very close to making its funding) in order to bring you "Murder by Meta," a multi-puzzle, meta-puzzle murder mystery (a mega meta murder mystery, if you will), which is scheduled to drop in March 2014. Just $10 to get in on the fun. All the info you'll need, including a handy-dandy and fairly hilarious video, can be found at the "Murder by Meta" Kickstarter page, here.
Enjoy your Sunday,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Ooh, I forgot to post this reader letter. Now seems as good a day as any, since it concerns Patrick Berry:
I don't have many friends that can appreciate how cool, in a geeky way, this story is, so here goes :
I was doing the Friday Times puzzle during happy hour at my favorite Athens GA watering hole when who should walk in but Times puzzle author Patrick Berry. I'd met him at a party about a year ago, and was in the process of making the standard "Hey, if I need a hint, I'm coming to you" joke when I looked at my puzzle and realized that he was the author of the very puzzle I was working on ! (11/22/13). Got to be one of the weirdest coincidences of my life. I finished the puzzle and got him to autograph it - his friends seemed impressed with this rock-star treatment - and then I proceeded to tell the story to everyone I knew, until at some point my friend Greg spilled a beer all over my precious artifact. Which kind of makes the story better, in a way.
At least the beer stains don't show up in the image.
Thanks for your blog, I appreciate it most when you're angry at the same clues I am. Some of them make steam come from my eyepits.