THURSDAY, Nov. 27, 2008 - Patrick Berry (Dr. _____, 1990s TV therapist / Naively optimistic muppet / Spicy biscuit served at English teas)
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Recycling" - theme clues end with phrase "with recycling?," which indicates that second half of said answer is simply the first half of said answer "recycled" (i.e. anagrammed)
This theme was very easy to pick up, and must have been inspired by the discovery that the marquee Down answer - STUCK ONE'S NECK OUT - had the same letters in its second half as it did in its first. Notice that the puzzle had to be lengthened by one row in order to accommodate that answer's 16 letters. Very cool little adjustment. Notice also the really elegant symmetry. Since all the theme answers are Downs, and the "recycled" parts all come at the end, the circled squares (they are circled online - perhaps they are shaded in the paper version) do not have rotational symmetry - BUT they occur in rotationally symmetrical answers, and symmetrical pairs of answer each possess the same number of circled (shaded?) squares, e.g. five in 3D and five in 33D, four in 10D and four in 41D, etc. TEAMMATE and BEST BETS were not that inspired, but the others were very interesting revelations. The non-theme fill is virtually wince-free. Patrick Berry remains (in my mind) one of the 5 best constructors walking the planet. Highly imaginative, but also meticulous. Love to see his name on puzzles.
- 3D: Digestive system parts with recycling? (intes/tines)
- 5D: Most promising options with recycling? (best / bets)
- 7D: Took a risk with recycling? (stuck one / s neck out)
- 10D: Come back with recycling? (reap / PEAR)
- 33D: Livery blacksmith with recycling? (horse / SHOER)
- 41D: Imposition on drinking with recycling? (lega / LAGE)
- 43D: Sporting colleague with recycling? (team / MATE)
Love the placement of OPALS (22A: Export of 18-Across) directly under AUSTRALIA (18A: Country that has won the most Cricket World Cups). Usually here/there clues are set apart from one another and rarely, very rarely, are they parallel and contiguous. I also love the colorful pairing of ASIA MINOR (61A: Location of two of the classical Seven Wonders) and GINGER NUT (65A: Spicy biscuit served at English teas). I like that the clue sets ASIA MINOR in the past (since I think of it as a dated term). I also like that my eyes kept scanning the clue as "Location of two classics by Stevie Wonder." I told my wife "I've never heard of GINGER NUT." She said "you had GINGER NUT ice cream in New Zealand." She's probably right.
- 23A: Day trader's wish (fast buck) - great, lively phrase. Love that it intersects another great, lively phrase (STICK ONE'S NECK OUT) at the "K"!
- 36A: Dynasty in which Confucianism became dominant (Han) - much more highbrow than the clue I would have used (HAN Solo)
- 45A: Org. with a National Historic Landmark building in lower Manhattan (NYSE) - It's a landmark, alright. It's not marking anything very good at the moment.
- 51A: Danger for small craft (wake) - I call "WAVE" on many of you. Some of you. Admit it! Some of you had WAVE here, at first, if not to the bitter end. The cross, 48D: Kind of run (ski), was so plain and ambiguous that it wasn't necessarily much help. WAVE will seem so right to some people that they'll just be left wondering what the hell SVI can be.
- 52A: Contemporary of Kepler (Brahe) - why his name has stuck in my head, I don't know.
- 54A: Formula formulators (chemists) - I like this answer, in that it is both rare (in the grid) and ordinary (in real life, esp. in Britain). There's something sort of quaint and charming about it.
- 59A: Prince _____, Eddie Murphy's role in "Coming to America" (Akeem) - this May have been the first word I put in the grid...
- 68A: Dr. _____, 1990s TV therapist (Katz) - HA ha. Animated! And likely Obscure to many of you. Late 90s Comedy Central. Squigglevision:
- 1D: Symbol seen on viola music (C clef) - Didn't know this, but like the "CC" opening.
- 2D: 1944 film noir by Preminger ("Laura") - One of the reasons the term "film noir" was invented.
- 9D: Upscale office decor (art) - how about [Any office's decor]? I mean, my dentist has ERTE on the wall, my doctor, some ugly photography and water colors. No Degas or RODIN (28D: "The Age of Bronze" artist), but still, ART.
- 12D: Craft union of old (guild) - craft GUILDs were a big deal in Medieval England. I will spare you the lecture.
- 25D: Victorian gents' accessories (canes) - wife had CAPES, which is a great wrong answer. Unfortunately, "Zero IN OP" is not a known phrase.
- 38D: Naively optimistic Muppet (Ernie) - neither wife nor I think of ERNIE as "naive." "Today, on Sesame Street, Bert has to stop ERNIE from sending money to a 'Nigerian prince.'"
- 52D: So-called "king of herbs" (basil) - "So-called?" By whom, the herb itself? I was imagining some guy named Herb going "Hey, you know what they call me down at the plant? The King of Herbs, that's what they call me? Oh I'm a real big shot down there." Real King of Herbs = Herb Tarlek. He had good sports jackets:
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Oh, yeah: Happy Thanksgiving