EIGHTYEIGHT ("Number of days it takes Mercury to orbit the sun") is quite a bit fewer than 365. In Mercury years, I would AGEOUT of just about everything. :) And speaking of other planets, I looked up "Richard III" in "The Reader's Guide" not 15 minutes before starting the puzzle this morning. The play was mentioned in the current book of the sci-fi series "The Expanse" that I'm reading (it's very good, btw), so I thought I'd refresh my mind on its plot. "The Reader's Guide" entry couldn't be said to have helped me with the answer in the puzzle - which was ACT ("III, e.g., in 'Richard III'" - nice misdirection!) - but I thought it was an odd coincidence. Later, still influenced by my leisure reading perhaps, I tried "nebula" in the southwest for "Annual genre writing award" (AGATHA). I can only guess how much faster my solve time would have been if I had been reading a mystery. :)
|Scanning tunneling microscope image showing the individual atoms making up this gold (100) surface.|
Looking at the finished puzzle, I thought 1A looked nice and weird with the double A followed by the double L (NBAALLSTAR). When I started the puzzle, I didn't know the answer immediately, but I was pretty sure from the get-go that we weren't talking about a court of law here. There were a number of such fun attempts to misdirect the unsuspecting solver with clues like "Cheap cab, perhaps" for HOUSERED - this one beingg a little easier to spot maybe because there is no such thing as a cheap taxi cab. :) Also "Campers gear chain for REI, "Correction for a wild pitch" for AUTOTUNE, and "They may be used in a pinch" for HERBS - I tried HandS at first.
In other clue types I liked "Composition test" for ASSAY, ONTO for "More than suspicious of," and TIGHTEN for "Turn right, say" was also good. But my favorite today was the old standby "The old you?" (THOU) - that never gets old. I wonder if I'll ever accrue enough Earth years to AGEOUT of enjoying that old chestnut.