Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sunday, March 9 - Patrick Berry

I read in one of my New York Times crossword books that Patrick Berry makes his living constructing crossword puzzles. In fact, at the time he was the only constructor who did so...maybe he still is.

There are some out there who don't appreciate this kind of cleverness...who think it's more a gimmick than a theme. I just marvel at the level of intelligence it takes to construct a puzzle like this.

I didn't find the puzzle difficult to do, once I figured out how to do the SPLITS AND MERGERS. What may be difficult, though, is describing it. Maybe it will just flow once I start.

24A: "Over my dead body!" / Alert [split]. The answer appearing at 24A...not if I can help it...splits with 25D...the answer for the second part of the clue (notification).

26A: Exchange words? / New beginning [merger]. Translate merges with 5D for clean slate.

39A: Annoying obligations / "No need to check" [split]. Impositions splits at 41D...I'm positive.

42A: 1980s "NBC News Overnight" anchor / Feared insect [merger]. Ellerbee merges with killer bee at 31D.

59A: Black hole's boundary / Despite the fact that [split]. Event horizon splits at 61D with even though. I wasn't familiar with the first answer, but the second one was a gimme.

70A: Double sugar / Travel freely? [merger]. Disaccharide merges at 56D with hitch a ride. I had to make up the first answer...didn't know it, but it seemed to make sense.

86A: Commuter's source of entertainment / Actor John or David [split]. Car radio splits with 88D...Carradine.

90A: Martini ingredient / Delta site [merger]. Dry vermouth merges with 79D...river mouth.

103A: Franz Liszt, e.g. / Didn't go straight, maybe [split]. Hungarian splits at 104D...hung a right. I had the right idea here, but I was trying to make it go left.

106A: "Come back now, y'hear?" / Park employee [merger]. Don't be a stranger merges at 85D...forest ranger.

Well, I hope that flowed.

In many of the theme answers, one half was fairly obvious. If that hadn't been the case, this would have been a bear to solve. None of the fill was extremely difficult, though...most everything could be deciphered easily enough.

Favorites...whether for clues or answers...include:

1A: Upper end of a soprano's range (high C). Nice tie-in with 8D: Scale's range (octave).

19A: Basketballer nicknamed the Diesel (O'Neal).

23A: Concave button (innie). When I had my gall bladder removed, I pointed out to the surgeon that I had a perfect innie. I also mentioned that I had been a medical malpractice paralegal. I think I may have freaked him out, but my belly button was left intact. Not everyone is so lucky, I guess. A plastic surgeon's website has this to say. "Thrust into the spotlight by the popularity of low-rise jeans, belly rings and midriff-baring celebrities, the itty bitty belly button is getting a lot of attention from plastic surgeons, who are reporting an increase in the number of umbilicoplasties they're performing."

55A: Get down (boogie).

62A: Group migration (Diaspora). Originally, the dispersion of the Jews after the Babylonian exile...but it can be any scattering of people with a common origin, background, beliefs, etc.

65A: Author of the "Earth's Children" series (Auel). Her name has been in the puzzle before, and I always forget the order of the vowels. That also happened with 76D: __ bourguignon (boeuf). Here's Julia Child's version of it.

68A: A little cross? (plus sign).

97A: Fictional blue humanoid (Smurf).

98A: Aggressive patriot (jingo)...learned this from a previous puzzle.

110A: TV journalist Van Susteren (Greta).

1D: __ polloi (hoi).

3D: Patrician (genteel).

6D: Keen producers (banshees). Assuming that keen = cool, I couldn't figure that out for the longest time. Wrong...keen = wail.

12D: Gap filler? (denims). The ? told me it didn't have anything to do with caulk.

16D: #1 hit for Marty Robbins (El Paso).

27D: Modern political acronym (NIMBY)...Not In My Back Yard.

39D: Adult insect (imago). Why do I always forget this word? I think I've seen it several times, but I still drew a blank today. Speaking of things that I still fall for occasionally...44D: Complete (A to Z) eluded me again today.

49D: It's clipped at both ends (stogie).

53D: Earthly paradise of Celtic legend (Avalon).

54D: Caviar source (beluga).

81D: 1953 3-D film starring Fernando Lamas (Sangaree)...have heard of him, but haven't heard of the film.

90D: Himalayan cedar (deodar).

91D: __ Quimby, girl of children's lit (Ramona) of our favorites.

92D: Chinese province bordering Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar (Yunnan).

That's it for tonight. I'm off to bed to lose my hour of sleep. Don't forget to set your clocks ahead.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G


Anonymous said...

Amazing piece of work by PBerry. Trip Payne and Merle Reagle also are full time puzzlemakers I believe.

DONALD said...

Don't touch that bellybutton!
Great story!

I'm linking you under "Oh, help!" because I just wore out trying to explain this gimmick -- you did such a fine commentary!

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy turning to your blog for your comments on the NY Times Sun. puzzle -- about the theme and how the answers fit. Thank you for maintaining the site. I still don't love Shortz ad puzzle editor, but you give it all a positive spin which is most appreciated. I like the other puzzles on the Sunday Times puzzle page. How about some comments on them? Or do you know where to find such comments?

Anonymous said...

That was a fun Sunday puzzle. I had to leave it and come back 5 times to finish.

How are you feeling, Linda? I know you were sick last week. Hope you had a great Sunday!

Linda G said...

Thanks, anonymous 10:16...I'm sure my book was out of date.

Donald, I should probably clarify...that isn't a picture of me. Glad you enjoyed the story.

anonymous 9:34, check out the links in the sidebar. Orange at Diary of a Crossword Fiend does multiple puzzles, including the second NYT Sunday puzzle (I think). Donald at The New York Times Crossword in Gothic does the Sunday Acrostic.

If I were a faster solver, I'd consider blogging other puzzles. As it is, this takes me anywhere from an hour to two and a half hours, depending on the difficulty level...either of the puzzle itself or of describing the theme ; )

jimd, I'm getting there...thanks. It's tough to stay healthy when you work around hundreds of people every many of them aren't in good health.