Author: Patrick Berry
Let me tell you, a 62-word puzzle is not easy to fill. But Patrick Berry is one of the most well-respected constructors around and he often produces relatively-low-word-count themeless puzzles. This one's marquee area is the center, where staggered stacks of 10-, 11-, 11-, 11-, and 10-letter words interweave. That's 106 letters for 10 words, for a local average of 10.6 letters per word. Impressive. Even more so if they all sparkle... let's take a look.
- I think three of the fills are excellent:
- 31a: Swale's sire (SEATTLE SLEW). One of the race horses that people tend to know the name of, even if they're not into horse racing.
- 33a: Create a brat, according to a saying (SPARE THE ROD). Wonderful, evocative phrase.
- 27d: Cod pieces? (FISH STICKS). Hands down my favorite clue/answer pair in the entire puzzle.
- 26a: Alcohol needed for driving? (ANTIFREEZE). Very nice clue here.
- 29a: Element #99 (EINSTEINIUM). I got this just from the E_N... at the beginning.
- 35a: Some Urdu speakers (PAKISTANIS).
- 14d: Artie Shaw, for one (CLARINETIST). Gimme for me.
- 19d: Sharp (PENETRATING).
- 6d: Automatic sound (RAT-A-TAT-TAT). I've previously expressed my general dislike for RAT-A-TAT, which shows up a little too often. Interestingly, I actually prefer this longer version by a smidgen.
- 16d: Ability to deliver? (FERTILENESS). I know it's in the dictionary, but don't most people say FERTILITY? Is there a difference? It just feels awkward to me.
Five are good:
And two feel like they're only there because nothing else fit:
That's really the meat of the puzzle.
- 1a: Stick of gum? (ERASER). I know I've seen this clue before, and I still needed some crossings to get the answer. I think it's because I rarely refer to a gum eraser.
- 13a: Peter who spent years in Chicago (CETERA). Not just the city, but the band of the same name.
- 14a: Island chain between Madagascar and Mozambique (COMOROS). Toughie if you're not up on your geography. It was vaguely familiar to me, once I hit a few crossings.
- 15a: One way to serve café (AU LAIT). Gimme.
- 16a: Plantain named for its seeds, which resemble small insects (FLEAWORT). Never heard of it, but easy enough to figure out after a few letters.
- 17a: Virusoid's makeup (RNA).
- 18a: Peninsula overlooking Massachusetts Bay (CAPE ANN).
- 21a: Sunroof feature (TINT). For some reason, my first thought was TILT.
- 23a: Nunavut, e.g.: Abbr. (TERR). A Canadian territory comprising a vast part of what once was northern Quebec.
- 24a: By ___ of (via) (DINT). Tough one for me. I've heard of dint as a verb meaning to dent, but I don't recall seeing it in this context.
- 43a: Author of "D.H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study" (Anaïs NIN).
- 44a: Like Illuminati members (DEISTIC). The Illuminati were central to Dan Brown's novel "Angels and Demons", which I actually liked better than the more-popular "The Da Vinci Code". It's a good summer read.
- 50a: New Hampshire town whose Daily Sun was the first newspaper to publish sudoku in English (CONWAY). I'm from New Hampshire, and I needed crossings to figure this one out. And I've never heard of Conway's Daily Sun. It's not a major publication, even in-state.
- 1d: Game similar to whist (ÉCARTÉ).
- 3d: Site of the first Tomb Raider game's climactic finale (ATLANTIS). Never played the game, but it's a reasonable answer.
- 4d: It's very fishy (SEA). Cute, I guess.
- 7d: Last name of the "No Country for Old Men" directors (COEN). I still need to see this film. It's on my list.
- 11d: Broadway lyricist Hart (LORENZ).
- 12d: Dead giveaway? (ESTATE). Good clue.
- 24d: Brand of pain reliever (DEMEROL).
- 32d: Eroded (WORE AWAY). Went with WORE DOWN to start.
- 35d: Copyists (PENMEN). This is the mascot of Southern New Hampshire University (formerly New Hampshire College).
- 44d: "Lovers Who Wander" singer (DION). I had the DI-- and guessed DIDO, but it didn't fit for long.
- 49d: Pavement warning (SLO). Hunh? I don't recall ever seeing a "SLO" sign. It's always SLOW. Is sign paint really expensive in NYC, or what? Or is there something else going on here that I'm not seeing. The only SLO I know is SLO-MO.
Suns of Bitches:
- 5d: 1992 N.L. Rookie of the Year Karros (ERIC). There's no N.L. in Red Sox Nation. :)
- 10d: Former 49ers quarterback John (BRODIE). Before my time.
The beauty of this puzzle, for me, is that even though there were some difficult clues, there were no guesses. Everything made sense when I was done, and I had a good time getting there. That's what I want in a puzzle.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.