Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014, Patrick Berry


We tend to enjoy a good Patrick Berry offering, and that's what this was. Not his greatest, but certainly good. The stutter-stepped 14s in the middle around the cutesy RENTMONEY (33A: Letter's capital?) looks very "Patrick Berry-ish" to us. Frannie uses the expression SEATOFTHEPANTS (30A: Based on instinct and guesswork) a lot, and SAVINGSANDLOAN (34A: Thrift) echo's "It's a Wonderful Life" nicely on this, Boxing Day. (See also: MRDEEDS (20A: Frank Capra title character.)

Some good thought in the clueing, as in - 14A: One who gets upset twice (SORELOSER), 39A: Page with many views (OPED), and the ridiculous stretch 57A: In the pit of one's stomach? (EATEN).

In the "things that went right in" category, I got ANGIE (18A: Love ballad from the 1973 album "Goats Head Soup") and Frannie got HERMES (48A: Caduceus carrier) and EMMA (15D: Miss Woodhouse of Highbury), of course. We both wanted FIVE (45A: Maximum on a hurricane wind scale) immediately, but didn't have the confidence to leave it in until we had a cross.

A few ARID (31D: Uninteresting) entries - ICIEST, OVATE, STEN - but SOFTSCIENCE (23D: Psychology or sociology) and INAMORATA (17A: Ladylove) are both great, and the "Hide/Hides" pair was good (PELT/VEILS). Overall, it's a clean, chunky-ish Friday puzzle. Looking at it now, it's hard to find concrete criticisms, but I guess we just expect miracles from Mr. Berry. Perhaps that's unfair. Especially on the day after Christmas.

Thumbs up!

- Horace


  1. Untimed, completed with my mother and my brother. This went remarkably fast for a Friday. I put "romano" in at 1D, but erased when I got to 22A (GENA). The NW filled very rapidly, and then my mother got GRAMOPHONES, which opened up the middle. I put MRsmith in for MRDEEDS, which meant that the NE was finished last. The rest put up barely a fight. NAVYSEALS and CHAPPELLE are a nice combination pair of 9-letter answers.The Xs in BORAX and XENON look nice opposite each other. A smooth grid and nice cluing, as expected of Mr. Berry (not the title character in a Frank Capra movie).

  2. PS, I knew CONKERS off the bat. Helps to have spent a year in a British school as a 10-year old. We played it all fall and into the winter.

  3. 50:22
    I needed nearly all of the crosses for CONKERS. I loved all of the "X" crossings: SOAPBOX/XENON, VIXEN/BORAX, and WESSEX/SAX. I had the "NO" of NOW, and the "ESSEX" of WESSEX for quite a while before I realized that 41A Trendy is NOW. I have never used the term LONGIES (28D Winter underwear, informally), but I was not STUNG by that answer. I quite enjoyed 37D Fabled characters? (ANIMALS), and the puzzle in general.