Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sunday, August 6, 2017, Patrick Berry


Oh, my. What an amazing set of puzzles from Thursday through Sunday this week. I feel spoiled. How can the rest of the month live up to this first week? Will it all be downhill from here? I'll try not to be pessimistic!

Patrick Berry presents us with a set of silly puns based on types of ships. As always, the criteria for whether these types of themes work are as follows:

1. The original phrase is common and well accepted.
2. The pun is unexpected and fits well in the altered phrase.
3. The new phrase is clued in an amusing and clever fashion.

In this puzzle, the seven theme answers are split up as follows:


  • 111A: Cargo vessel full of iPads? (APPLEFREIGHTER). The original phrase, "apple fritter," is fine. The pun misses on pronunciation, and the clue is only okay.
  • 100A: Luxury vessel with a pair of decks, both of which need swabbing? (DIRTYDOUBLECRUISER). This one only fails on the pun, where "cruiser" for "crosser" is just not that great.
Pretty good

  • 66A: Fishing vessel that can pull only half a net behind it? (SEMITRAWLER). Definitely amusing clue, and an unexpected pun. I ding it slightly because it's such a short original phrase, that the switch doesn't quite have the oomph I look for.
  • 24A: Sailing vessels that Cap'n Crunch might commandeer? (GALLEONSOFMILK). This one is right on the border with the previous category, but I loved it when we figured it out.
  • 31A: Heavily armored vessels getting married? (WARSHIPSATTHEALTAR). This is downright silly. I love the pun, I love the clue, and it made me laugh out loud when we got it. This was the first theme answer completed today.
  • 54A: Kids' game in which small vessels attack each other? (ROCKEMSOCKEMROWBOATS). This is my favorite by far. It might be the perfect punny theme answer. It hits on all three criteria.
  • 76A: Recreational vessel that's never left the harbor? (AINTSEENNOTHINGYACHT). Or maybe this one is my favorite. The clue is ludicrous, the answer describes it perfectly, and it's an outstanding pun. You could quibble that the original phrase should be "you ain't seen nothing yet," but who wants to quibble?
Top notch. Horace, Frannie, and I collaboratively solved today, so a lot of the fill went by without my personal participation. I liked 53A: Split, e.g. (SUNDAE) as a very nice vague clue. Otherwise, I noted no answers that I actively disliked, so I call this a winner.

Oh, 1A: "Cease!" on the seas (AVAST). I'll give it a B+ for the sneaky theme material.

As a last note, we solved this with pen and paper. I was the only one who had to correct letters I'd put in, which may speak to a certain gung-ho nature to solving that I've noted before. More amusingly, in composing this blog, I keep on trying to get the clue to an answer by touching the grid with my finger. Nothing seems to happen. The technology must be on the fritz.

- Colum


  1. 25:14
    I guess I'd better comment on this one, since most of our typical commenters seem to already be spoken for in the group solve.

    I also thought this was good fun, and agree on the quality of each of the themers.

    Frankly I was concerned at first because there are so many nautical terms I don't know, but I was pleased that Mr. Berry used things I actually know like YACHT and ROWBOAT.

    Only prickly spots for me were the very odd-looking NUMEROUNO and the pun entry CURB crossing some guy named BOORTZ. Fortunately I worked these out.

  2. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who had that problem, Colum, unless you're joking about touching the paper. I did that a lot when I was writing reviews from Maine, where many of the puzzles were solved on paper. So frustrating! When will the print version of the Times catch up with the times?! :)

  3. 41:31
    NUMEROUNO looks very odd, agreeing with Mr. Berman. I'd never heard of BOORTZ, and needed to guess on the "R," but it was the only letter that made sense. I, too, solved this on paper. I only ever use POLECAT, by the way, in a crossword. Nice to see GRACIE in there; I listen to their radio show on Sirius every now and again. I love a nautical theme, and this was a great one. I liked WARSHIPSATTHEALTAR the best, but as Colum points out, there were a few that came close. Can we still say SCALPS?