Circus performer Kelly / SUN 4-6-14 / 1986 girl's-name song by Boston / DuPont trademark of 1941 / Dual-sport athlete Sanders / Indonesian tourist haven
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
- 23A: Clumsy pharmacist, at times? (MEDICINE DROPPER)
- 28A: Dressage rider, at times? (COLT REVOLVER)
- 47A: Old-fashioned barber, at times? (FOAM RUBBER)
- 54A: Inexperienced shucker, at times? (OYSTER CRACKER)
- 65A: No-limit Texas hold'em player, at times? (ALL BETTER)
- 74A: Farmer, at times? (CHICKEN TENDER)
- 84A: Sleeping sunbather, at times? (BACK BURNER)
- 103A: Dieter, at times? (SNACK COUNTER)
- 110A: Person getting out of a tub, at times? (BATHROOM SLIPPER)
Word of the Day: MONOSKI (14D: Snowboard relative) —
nˈmonoˌskier n ˈmonoˌskiing n (thefreedictionary.com)
1. (Skiing) a wide ski on which the skier stands with both feet
• • •
I had this weird experience solving where I noticed that the times posted at the NYT applet seemed to be running high. This made my brain think "uh oh, a tough Patrick Berry," and right away, within the first couple minutes, I found myself running slow and getting kind of frustrated. Then I remembered something I'd read recently about an experiment where people who were told beforehand that a problem was easy found it easier than those who were told it was hard. That is, people were primed to believe something, and that affected their experience of that thing. So mid-solve, I consciously told myself—you were primed. You are struggling and getting frustrated because you believe this is a tough puzzle. Forget what you believe. Just solve the puzzle. It's just a puzzle. And through purely willed confidence, I took off and solved this thing in slightly below-average time (just over 10 for me). I have learned that I am overly sensitive to frustration when solving—I can feel myself getting annoyed and self-critical, which saps my speed and also weirdly blinds me. I get in bad ruts, fail to read clues properly (or at all), keep things in I should tear out, etc. I don't think everyone is as emotionally volatile as I am when solving, and that is undoubtedly a good thing. I think the trick is to proceed with confidence and self-assuredness and a level head, even when the puzzle is kicking your ass sideways.
I have never heard the phrase TRICK UP before (88D: Dress in fancy duds). TRICK OUT, I think I've heard. Also never ever heard COCKERS. I'm sure it's real. I've just not heard it. I don't know many cocker spaniels, though, so this is perhaps not surprising. Anyway, the TRICK UP / COCKERS area in the SW gave me a little trouble, is what I'm trying to say, but only a little. Had a conversation about my wife's MAORI middle name (Ataahua) at dinner with friends earlier tonight, so that answer was personally timely (14A: Indigenous people known for their tattoos). I like to the ZOOT / OOZES crossing—something about the two Os going toward the Z, and then the two Os going away from the Z at a right angle. Looks cool. Clue on IAMB is fantastic (31D: One of four in "As I Was Going to St. Ives"). I was like "There were LAMBs in that rhyme? … oh … IAMB … OH! Wow, yes. that is true." I was less thrilled at being forced to remember "AMANDA," a song which always sounds 10 years older than it actually is. 1986!? How is that possible? (20A: 1986 girl's-name song by Boston)
Puzzle of the Week (last week's edition) — I missed last week because I was all the way on the other side of the country at a memorial service for my step-siblings' father (I was also visiting my own father). Sorry to give last week short shrift, since it feature amazing work by (once again) Erik Agard (some of the clues in his "Themeless 18" are just unreal—crazy good) and Andy Kravis (whose "Unlucky in Love" is a lot of fun and has a great revealer). Winner, though, was Peter Broda for a vowelless puzzle ("Vowelless #9") that just was something close to perfect. I have three words written on it, in various places: "awesome" "killer" and "wow." So you should do that puzzle.
Puzzle of the Week (this week's edition) — it was a good week. Trip Payne's Cuckoo Crossword (for Fireball Crosswords) was tough and entertaining and made me laugh over and over (Cuckoos are very wide-open grids filled with a Ton of totally made-up, ridiculous phrases, magnificently and absurdly clued in a way that makes them—miraculously, despite all their made-upedness, doable). Patrick Blindauer's April puzzle is a parody puzzle (find it here, under "Play"). Specifically, a parody of this NYT puzzle from last month. I didn't realize it was a parody at first, and thought "ah, that's pretty good." Then I found out about the parody angle, which revealed another hidden level to the puzzle. Really spectacular. But my winner this week is one of the best NYT puzzles of the year—a holiday puzzle done right: Andrew Reynolds' April Fool's Day puzzle. I was traveling when it came out, so didn't get around to solving it til the 3rd or so, but I'd already heard murmurs about how good it was. I opened it and was like "hmmm, circles … I don't know." Then I solved it. It's brilliant while also being simple, elegant, and utterly solvable. It's rare that you get a fancy trick puzzle that is also so accessible. I just loved it. So it wins this week.
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. Happy birthday to my sister, who does not do crosswords.