September 10, 2005

Patrick Berry managed to vex from the start, with "much-used engine" cluing GOOGLE at 1A. As an EDITOR myself, of course I appreciated the clue, "correctional worker?" Those are just two of a slew of creative clues. And then there was plenty of fill that doesn't show up often (VITAMIN A, EARLDOM, AFRIKAANS, HOOTENANNY, MAE WEST). It's certainly unusual to have 21-letter entries that aren't part of the theme, and then the theme itself is unusually asymmetrical. (I really should look at the title on Sundays while I'm solving—that would have speeded things up a little).

The spot that gave me the most trouble was the southern NW section, where I keyed in BUSTER (the shoe dog) instead of NIPPER (the RCA dog, was he?) and LUBES for LARDS.

Does Will do this every year? Wait until it's September and back-to-school time, and throw all these tough assignments at everyone?

Nit note: Vic Fleming has reminded me that 75A—"Drank some coffee, say, with 'up'" for SOBERED—presents a common but dangerously inaccurate misconception. Drinking caffeine, getting some fresh air, or taking a shower do nothing to help the liver metabolize alcohol. The only way to sober up is to wait enough hours for one's body to eliminate the alcohol. Vic, a judge who hears a lot of DUI cases, points out that what coffee does is help keep the drunk awake to drive drunk longer.

NYT 13:57