Sorrowful 1954 Patti Page hit / WED 10-15-14 / Drifter of literature / Potent potable in Arsenic Old Lace / Astronaut Wally first person to go into space three times / Greece/Turkey separator
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Constructor: David Poole
Relative difficulty: Medium
- HUCKLE FINN (17A: *Drifter of literature)
- ELDER WINE (28A: *Potent potable in "Arsenic and Old Lace")
- STRAW BLONDE (33A: *Nicole Kidman, hairwise)
- RASP BERET (43A: *1985 Prince hit)
• • •
CHUCK BERRY as a verb phrase. The problem is that when you chuck the berries, nothing interesting happens. You just have meaningless phrases without BERRY in them. There's literally nothing interesting about them, or their clues. If you're going to serve up nonsense, at least give a wacky clue. Something? This manages to take a potentially great concept (turning CHUCK BERRY into a verb phrase) and paint it beige. Also, this puzzle made me look up HUCKLE, because man does that answer seem like an outlier (all the other berry-less theme answers seem to be composed of real words, whereas HUCKLE FINN, what the hell?). And it turns out HUCKLE is an actual word. Ish. Sort of. I mean, it is, but not one you've likely used ever. Or seen outside of berry contexts. But it's kind of a cool word. I'm going to use it now to refer to any orthopedic pain I might have. Hip pain is so pedestrian—I'm gonna tell people I have hucklealgia. To which people will respond either by saying "Uncle who?" or by quietly walking away.
SCHIRRA (1D: Astronaut Wally, the first person to go into space three times) seems like weak fill to me, in that "first person to go into space three times" doesn't feel like a thing. I'm sure it's a tremendous accomplishment—I haven't been into space even once—but lots of people have been into space, and "first to three" doesn't pass the crossworthy test, for me. Overall, the fill is not bad, but not remarkable either. If your grid is this theme-dependent, and the theme clunks this badly, well, that's a problem. But hey, I learned a few things. Beyond the meaning of "huckle," I learned that planes park in APRONs (seriously, did not know this) and that the big TOE is called "hallux" in Latin / medicalese. I'm not sure I'll remember any of that. Well, I'll remember huckle. I'll always have huckle. Don't you (ba dum dum da dum dum) forget about huckle. Etc.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld