Sunday, October 16, 2011

Teen girl's close chum for short / MON 10-17-11 / Upscale marque owned by Toyota / Catch Groucho while fishing / Creator of game Missile Command

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: -KS to -X — sound / spelling changes result in wackiness

Word of the Day: Marque (46D: Upscale marque owned by Toyota) —
A model or brand of a manufactured product, especially an automobile.

[French, from Old French. See marquetry.]
• • •

"CROSS" WORDS CONTEST week! All the puzzles this week, from Monday to Saturday, have been created by one person, Patrick Berry. Have your solutions handy, because the Saturday puzzle conceals a meta-challenge involving the solution grids of all six. When you have the answer to the meta-challenge, mail it to: Please do not post your answers here on the blog and please do not mail them to me! Only answers e-mailed to the above address will be considered. Twenty-five correct solvers, chosen at random, whose entries are received by 6:00 p.m. E.T. Sunday, Oct. 23, will receive copies of “Will Shortz Picks His Favorite Puzzles: 101 of the Top Crosswords From The New York Times.” Only one entry per person, please. The answer and winners’ names will appear on Friday, Oct. 28, at

. . .

An entire week devoted to a meta-challenge contest and the big prize is ... a book of crosswords??? Come On. That is some seriously weak sauce right there. I'm already drowning in puzzles—there are like 20+ / week coming at me every week. Also, I subscribe to the NYT, so why do I want a book of old NYT puzzles that I probably already did? Sweeten the *$!&ing pot, people.

[Cross words]

That said, this puzzle ruled, and the rest of the week is bound to be pure awesome, as Patrick Berry can do no wrong. How this puzzle can have "?" theme clues, be chock full of fantabulous fill, and still clock in at a regular Monday time is beyond me. I've run out of superlatives for this guy. His name is now synonymous with all that is awesome about crosswords. So I'm likely to enjoy the hell out of this week even if I have no intention of even entering the contest.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Catch Groucho while fishing? (LAND MARX)
  • 22A: Blues player's instrument? (SAD SAX)
  • 29A: Cereal that doesn't really taste like anything? (BLANK CHEX)
  • 42A: Wildcat that can't sit still (HYPER LYNX) — the amount that I like this theme answer cannot be adequately measured. You'd need an instrument that goes beyond 11.
  • 51A: Levy paid by white-collar workers? (TIE TAX)
  • 52A: Formal wear for one's belly? (TUMMY TUX
I love puzzles with sassy, colloquial phrases, such as BFF (29D: Teen girl's close chum, for short) and "WHAT SAY..." (40D: "How about it?") So much fun. This puzzle had a lot of small plurals, which is close as I can come to levying criticism. Oh, and I really hate that spelling of AMUCK (5D: Rampaged => RAN AMUCK). I run AMOK or I don't run at all.

My only trouble spot was in the SAD SAX region. I read the clue and wrote in SAX as the *first* word. This made REDDEST stay hidden for a while (9D: Most sunburned). Otherwise, this was smooth. Smooth like good bourbon, not smooth like the abomination that is non-chunky peanut butter.

Good (Mon) day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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