Joe Btfsplk's creator / FRI 12-17-10 / Cryptogram playwright 1995 / Popular name for tolnaftate / Word on Harry Powell's left fingers Night Hunter

Friday, December 17, 2010

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: BURETTES (24D: Liquid dispensers in laboratories) —

A burette (also buret) is a vertical cylindrical piece of laboratory glassware with a volumetric graduation on its full length and a precision tap, or stopcock, on the bottom. It is used to dispense known amounts of a liquid reagent in experiments for which such precision is necessary, such as a titration experiment. Burettes are extremely accurate - a 50 cm3 burette has a tolerance of 0.1 cm3 (class B) or 0.06 cm3 (class A). // Burettes measure from the top since they are used to measure liquids dispensed out the bottom. The difference between starting and final volume is the amount dispensed. (wikipedia)

• • •

[Dear syndicated solvers—It's pledge week here at the Rex Parker site (thru Saturday) —read my pitch for donations in the opening paragraphs of this past Sunday's write-up, here ... and thanks for your faithful readership (and the many kind messages I've received so far)]

This is pretty beautiful, especially considering how much damned white space there is in the middle of the grid. Tiered 13s transected by a 15 and two 8s. Oh, and two 10s. So much to hold in place, and yet it all works beautifully. I mean, I didn't know BURETTES, but I'm going to write that off to science-ignorance and not the word's obscurity. There's something quaintly old-fashioned about the long answers. People talking on their WALKIE TALKIES (33A: Staples of old police work) while riding MOTOR SCOOTERS (29A: Noisy vehicles) on the way to their PAROLE HEARINGs (32A: Meeting in which one person is anxious to leave — great clue). Where PENCIL SHARPENERS (7D: Means of getting the lead out) are being used, for some reason. Also, EGG TEETH (51A: Aids in breaking shells)? That must be something from the olden days, right? Right? Why have I never heard of them? Ohhhhh ... HA ha ha, that's because they aren't for cooks. Dear lord, I was way off on this one: "In some egg-laying animals, the egg tooth is a small, sharp, cranial protuberance used by offspring to break or tear through the egg's surface during hatching. It is present in most birds and reptiles, and similar structures exist in monotremes, Eleutherodactyl frogs, and spiders" (wikipedia).

Started out guessing LAG (1A: Progress too slowly) and LATTE (1D: Milky drink) ... and it worked. Amazing. Also, I have no idea where Alfred Krupp was born, but five letters starting with "E"—that's gonna be ESSEN (most common German place name in the crossword). Took a weird route after nailing down that NW corner. Got PENCIL SHARPENER easily, and then started building the S and SE off of it. So NW and SE were done first, and then I started shading in the middle. SW and NE corners with last—former wasn't too hard, latter was somewhat harder but not too bad. Beat myself for not remembering ELLSBERG (12D: Analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers). Forget what I had in there—MOSSBERG? Maybe? Ugh. Stupid. Anyway, rest of that corner was easy enough for me to get over that hump without much grief. Last square was "B" in BURETTES / BIRD (24A: Frequent flier).

Biggest mystery of the day (for me): how in the world did I know Dumbarton OAKS (31D: Dumbarton ___ Conference (1944 meeting that laid the groundwork for the U.N.)). OK, so I spelled it OCHS, but still, how did that name get in my head, when I couldn't tell you a thing about that Conference? Otherwise, no other mysteries. Just a lovely grid, with clever, if slightly easier-than-usual, clues. A pleasant Friday—my favorite Friday in a good long while.

  • 4A: Joe Btfsplk's creator (CAPP) — Some weird name's creator in four letters is Often Al CAPP. Guessing CAPP here helped me change ESP to PSI (6D: Clairvoyance and such)
  • 28A: "The Cryptogram" playwright, 1995 (MAMET) — another playwright for the crossword pantheon. The date gave this one away. That, and the first "M," which I already had (from the super gimme MORISSETTE28A: Canadian singer with a 1995 album that went 16x platinum).
  • 17A: Popular name for tolnaftate (TINACTIN) — fast actin'! Didn't know it, but guessed it off the TIN-.
  • 36A: Welsh word in a Pennsylvania college name (BRYN) — too easy. Unless you don't have any crosses, then I guess you could've gone with MAWR.
  • 52A: Arthur who wrote "The Symbolist Movement in Literature" (SYMONS) — wow, that's pretty obscure. I barely recognize that name, and I studied literature for a Long time. I would've gone with the still obscure but somewhat more interesting (to me) [British crime fiction writer and scholar Julian].
  • 54A: 1950 film noir ("D.O.A.") — Gimme. Only one film noir I know of in three letters.

  • 9D: Embroidery expert (LIAR) — figurative meaning of "embroidery." Nice.
  • 15D: Word on Harry Powell's left fingers in "Night of the Hunter" (HATE) — Love the old-time crime movie feel of this grid, with "D.O.A." and "Night of the Hunter" and the WALKIE TALKIES and what not. Very cool.
  • 32D: Three-time N.B.A. Coach of the Year (PAT RILEY) — Full name! Nice. He's now president of the Miami Heat, I think. He was coach of the Lakers during the great Lakers-Celtics rivalry of the '80s. Man, I hated that guy.
  • 39D: Slush Puppie alternative (ICEE) — I used to love Coke slushies. I used to love 7-11 in general. Would ride my bike there and get candy and baseball cards when I was in elementary school. Then when I was a bit older, would go to Round Table Pizza around the corner and play Donkey Kong for hours on end while listening to Joan Jett's "I Love Rock & Roll" on the juke box. Good times.

  • 47A: 1969 bed-in participant (ONO) — again, too easy.
  • 49D: Roman I (EGO) — pronoun "I" = EGO. I stupidly had UNO.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Arthur 12:11 AM  

Between having multiple instances of conflicting "I absolutely know this" crosses (CAPP/ESP, etc), refusing to believe there is anthing other than a pipette, and listening to Jon Stewart destroy Fox/Republicans (it's good what he did, just saddening that it was necessary), it hasn't been a pleasant evening.

I'm also incredulous that MALAYALAM is the actual name, not something someone made up just to make an palindrome

retired_chemist 12:37 AM  

What Rex said, except I found it more medium than easy. But I did finish.

Hand up for PIPETTES. BURETTES came late in the game.

Slapped in LAG, CAPP, ETAIL, CSI, ROSE, SIBS, MAMET, and UVULA. Amazingly all stood the test of time. Alternated between BRYN and MAWR for a while.

All the long answers came rather slowly, but the revelation of each was pure pleasure.

Enjoyed the solve a lot. Thanks, Mr. Berry.

molsonf - a Molsons sounds good and I for sure wouldn't give it an f.

Orange 1:12 AM  

And it's not a pangram! Why, it's only got 21 different letters in it. The emphasis is on rock-solid fill and an absence of lousy crossings, so pangram be damned. Blows my mind that, as John Farmer reported a couple days ago, none of Berry's 133 NYT puzzles is a pangram. One can argue convincingly that Berry is the single best constructor working today—if he doesn't give a rat's wazoo about pangrams, why should we?

I dunno about this "easy" malarkey. Took me a fairly Saturdayish amount of time. Rex, you must've been in the zone.

chefwen 1:22 AM  

Loved this, as I do all Patrick Berry puzzles and anytime I can finish a Friday with little angst and without pulling out tufts of hair (kitty boy hates when I do that) is a great day for me. Y'all know I'm kidding, right?

Had ALIbi at 2D which sort of messed me up in that corner for a tad bit. Had to Google ELLSBERG but that was it. All the long answers just seemed to come to me with a few crosses. As Rex said, best Friday in a long time. Fingers crossed for a not too brutal Saturday.

Thank you Patrick, I thing I have done enough of your puzzles to call you by your first name.

capcha - dings. A few too many on my semi-new car.

chefwen 1:24 AM  

@Patrick - think not thing, DOH!

andrea carluvula michaels 2:01 AM  

@Oh Ms Orange, let it go!
Pangrams can be the extra dollop of elegance to some constructors!
It's a style choice.
Actually, today's was just short an FJQWXZ of a pangram! :)

Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the fact it WAS Patrick Berry and then maybe I wouldn't have tried MAWR first (knowing he just wanted a W) or SIsqo for SIMBA!

I also learned the hard way that MORISSETTE has the same amount of letters as CELINEDION! :(

Hand up for pipETTES, and I envisioned EGGTongs as those fancy-schmancy things you would crack an egg in an EGGcup with.

I don't know what Black OPS are.

Totally different experience again to @Rex today as ELLSBERG was my first entry...and just moments after reading the Nixon rantings in by back-issue pile of the NYT.

Shockingly, I got PATRILEY without crosses bec I was just reading about how he managed to trademark the word THREEPEAT and now all athletes are trying to trademark their own slogans.

ONO is not only reappearing daily, she seems to be in the same position in the puzzles!

I'm not a 10 yr old boy, but UVULA continues to sound dirty to me.
I wanted Adam's AppLe.

mariaseig 2:13 AM  

Daniel ELLSBERG was on Stephen Colbert last Thursday talking about Julian Assange. I would never have remembered him without having seen that show. I was so excited that I had such an early gimme, that this puzzle flew until I, too, got locked into pipETTES. Finished, but would not call it easy. Happy Friday to ALL!

Rube 2:34 AM  

HTG several times in order to finish. Some of these clues were beyond my vocabulary/knowledge base. ELLSBERG was a gimme, MALAYALAM was not.

Loved PENCILSHARPENER, hated TINACTIN... talk about obscure.

@Chefwen, won't be on island until next Monday afternoon. Just too much to do to wait until AM.

I skip M-W 3:30 AM  

Not too bad time for me. I read Symons' book about 50 years ago, and his name came up right away. Then Malayalam was a gimme. On the other hand, I blanked on Ellsberg for a bit even though I've met him and seen his name often lately. In SE had lassi (indian drink I think) before more obvious latte came to mind. Tried crackers for shells, but when I saw egg, knew eggteeth, though that ruined "first". Had apple instead of uvula for awhile. Tress should have been a gimme, but needed a couple of crosses.
clue for tinactin might just as well have been "consumer product ingredient." I doubt very many people would recognize tolnaftate.

ArtLvr 3:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 4:21 AM  

@ Andrea, black OPS include secret undercover actions like those you aren't supposed to leak on wikileaks.

Like everyone else, I loved the puzzle even if the SE was a tad rough. I put in ICEE and took it out a couple of times until the SIMBA and MORISSETTE finally appeared. I even tried Duds before RAGS. The trickiest in there were the Roman I, EGO, and the EGG TEETH -- because they don't come in sets, so one expects an Egg tooth that Aids one verbally, not a plural noun. Kudos to Patrick Berry!

Beatrix Farrand, the most noted woman pioneer of American landscape design, is best known for her enduring projects at the huge Bliss family estate in Georgetown, DUMBARTON OAKS, which was later donated as collections plus research library for the nation, administered by Harvard trustees. Her gardens for the Wilsons in their time at the White House were later often changed by other occupants, Kennedys and Johnsons and the Obamas among them. J P Morgan had her design the grounds at his Morgan Library in NYC, and when her husband was appointed first director of the Huntington Library she was awarded several commissions nearby in southern California while she commuted back east as well. Her long and distinguished career ended at her death in 1959, age 87...


jae 4:29 AM  

Easy-Medium for me. Top half easy, bottom medium. Only misstep was OUT for OPS. @mariaseig -- I also saw the ELLSBERG interview on Colbert which made 12d easier, but I'm old enough to have been there at the time.

Delightful puzzle, EGGTEETH, MEANIE, TINACTIN, WALKIETALKIES, ... just delightful!

r.alphbunker 5:11 AM  

Wonderful puzzle. Had AIDE for caddy. I wonder if there has ever been a puzzle where every clue was commented by by at least one person. That would be a sort of pangram.

davko 5:17 AM  

Overall, an elegant piece of work with some clever ruses. Really enjoyed LIAR for "embroidery expert," though it gave me fits in the NE corner, because I had a hard time parting with TIER (as in one that ties).

Do I detect a veiled tribute to David Mamet's work here? No fan of Glengarry Glen Ross could forget the play's famous catchphrase "Coffee is for closers." And maybe it's a stretch, but "Black Ops" was a code term for compromised security invoked by the Special Ops team featured in The Unit -- a TV series co-created (and often written) by none other than Mr. Mamet.

Is anyone else marveling at creativity now required to clue the ever-so-utile Ms. Ono? Last week, she's a denizen of the neighborhood adjoining Strawberry Fields (she kept that pad at the Dakota?); this week, she's the participant in a bed-in. Woe to the next constructor in need of two O's for a 3-letter filler.

Evgeny 6:16 AM  

Has anyone noticed the correlation between Rex's liking a puzzle and the commenters having generally favorable opinions of it? when Rex criticized it, then one can be sure most of the commenters have painfully slogged through or were bored to death by it as well. Been observing it for quite some time.

Had unO before EGO as well; no stupid mistake imo - on a friday Roman could mean modern Rome...

Rex Parker 6:57 AM  

@Orange, I did it in 8-something (Easy-Medium), but I was half-watching TV, so I adjusted the rating accordingly. I was on verge of calling "Easy-Medium" (probably more accurate). Whatevs.

Thankfully, I was done with puzzle and write-up before I played "The Daily Show" ... wouldn't have been able to think straight, write clearly, see clearly after that. Last show of the year, and it was jaw-dropping. Inspiring and sickening at same time. How is this relevant to the puzzle? Well, MEANIE and RESISTS come to mind. Also, RUIN.

Rex Parker 7:05 AM  


Thank you for your scientific study of how right I am :)

There's probably some amount of groupthink going on in any comments section. Natural instinct (see Jaron Lanier's *amazing* book You Are Not A Gadgedt, where he discusses precisely this phenomenon in Comments sections). But that's offset by the self-styled contrarians who would disagree w/ me if I said the sky was blue.

Of course I only ever notice when feedback *disagrees* with me (exc. when it comes from someone on my DNR list), so I have no clear perspective on this issue.

Also, manifestly, objectively, today's is a great puzzle.


Falconer 7:14 AM  

Great puzzle, easy going, lots of clues for people of a certain age to use as toeholds, such as the gimme ELLSBERG. Learned something about EGGTEETH and thought "micro wave" was a clever clue for ripple.

Anytime I can finish a Friday in 20 minutes w/ no googling puts me in a great mood for the whole day. The only negative was to come here and see it called "Easy." Was hoping to see that I at least cruised through a "medium." Ah well. Thanks Patrick.

foodie 7:24 AM  

Rex, you made me very curious and now I have to go watch my taped Daily Show from last night.

Quick & Dirty Index puts this baby squarely in the middle range, but I can imagine how it might come easy to some because of the long answers. Once you get a couple the whole thing practically emerges.

That wide open center is really gorgeous. Even though it was not an easy solve for me, I was shaking my head in awe every step of the way.

That Harley-Davidson image is amazing! Don't see too many powder puff blue Harleys with sweater clad riders nowadays... Oh, I see that their MOTOR SCOOTERS lasted only for 5 years. No idea! The things you learn in Rexland.

foodie 7:30 AM  

@Evgeny and Rex, I thought DK was actually tracking this phenomenon on this blog systematically. Don't know if it's still ongoing.

Because I am aware of the likelihood of being influenced, I try to step back for a second before reading Rex and probe how I feel/think about it. But I also try to keep an open mind and am happy to be influenced by Rex, and other commenters who have more perspective and experience than I do. I love the variety of opinions, including what people value about the style, the design, the trade-offs.

A DNR list!

joho 8:39 AM  

I just love looking at MALAYALAM.

Another old-time mention here was the ORKIN Man.

@andrea carluvula and @I skip M-W said ... I too, wanted apple and paca but changed it to UVULA/ VOLE.

This was truly a lovely puzzle, thank you, Patrick Berry! As Tiny Tim said, "More, please!"

Orange 8:43 AM  

@Andrea: The problem with the UVULA is that it looks far too much like the VULVA. From the standpoint of the letters in it, that is—the three similarly shaped U/Vs plus an L and A—not anatomically. Not unless there's been a malformation.

I gotta remember that NYT article from last week, the one that said your brain works better when it's happy. Need to have a laugh before starting the puzzle, not a grumble!

CaseAce 8:44 AM  

The most note-worthy and overlooked fact regarding the weird little Capp character, BTFSPLK, was that there were no vowels in his name.
T'was fitting to see that the EGO landed at the very base of this puzzle...D.O.A!

Evgeny 9:00 AM  

@Rex: that's about as much science as i can come up with, so, you're welcome :-D
didn't know the issue has been discussed here before. i liked the puzzle very much, btw, and don't care if this opinion is influenced or not :-)

mitchs 9:00 AM  

@Evgeny: I agree. With Rex about this puzzle. And with what @Foodie said.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Roman I = one, Roman II = two, etc.
Lucky it wasn't some bible quote. Oh right, that would have been Romans.
@andrea...Uvula is almost an anagram of vulva.
I'm old enuf to remember Joe Bftsplk and the cloud over his head, which predated Pigpen of Peanuts. And Ellsberg. And DOA. And CBERs.

mmorgan 9:25 AM  

This is how Fridays have been for me lately: nothing, nothing, nothing... PAROLE HEARING!! nothing, nothing... WEBCAM! WALKIE TALKIES!... nothing... etc.

Almost HTG a few times but I resisted. Much struggle, and much reward. Every time I got a long answer, it was heaven!

Had pURETTES for a long time -- it just sounded better -- but I finally accepted that pIRD wouldn't work. And I had a see-saw with BRYN and MAWR for awhile (36A).

Also first had APPLE for UVULA (26A). Seemed more "punny."

Lucky guess on SYMONS (52A), especially because I don't know any coaches (32D).

Oh. I just realized 15D is NOT about Harry Potter! (It was a lucky guess anyway.)

Ended up with two errors. Had TINACToN (didn't know what that is, and I didn't know why PSI is "Clairvoyance and such" (6D) -- I had ESP for a long time. (Just looked it up -- never heard of PSI power). And I had EGGTEETs for 51A (no comment!), while confused about ALPsA.

Considering how close I came to DNF with many blank squares, I'm thrilled to end up with just two mess-ups.

(Damn - @Rex says it's "easy." Ah well.)

Great puzzle! Must go watch Jon Stewart now..

Ulrich 9:38 AM  

What totally spoiled the puzzle for me was that I found that stupid burg in the Ruhrpott being used to the gazillionth time as the clue for ESSEN. Come on, on a Friday or Saturday, we could have a clue like "Dinner for Ulrich". Now, that would have made my day! But as it stands, I hated, hated the puzzle!!!!
Footnote for those who forgot their German: "essen", the verb, means "to eat", and "Essen", the noun, means "meal".

nanpilla 9:41 AM  

Of course 40d was my favorite clue.
Why yes, I do!

This was a medium for me - just what a Friday should be. Hard, but gettable, lots of Aha moments. Thank you very much, Patrick!

David L 10:01 AM  

Agree with all the deserved praise, also the easy-medium rating for most of us.

Rex's gimmes -- MORISETTE and DOA -- were ones I had to infer through crosses. But on the other hand I got BURETTES pretty quickly, having put in a lot of lab time in years gone by.

@Ulrich -- I knew the ESSEN-Krupps connection from watching too many WWII documentaries -- but the name makes me wonder, do Germans think it's odd to have a town called EAT, or do the town and the verb exist in separate parts of the brain and not interfere with each other, so to speak?

OldCarFudd 10:12 AM  

A most excellent puzzle, but by no means anywhere near easy for me. I ended up with one letter wrong.

I've never heard of tinactin. (My spell checker just said it's not a word.) What does it do?

When I first started playing with early cars, some of the guys in the club called me Joe Btfsplk (spell checker doesn't like that either) because I couldn't seem to walk by a car, even a parked one, without something going wrong with it. I'm improving, but the name has stuck.

quilter1 10:14 AM  

Excellent puzzle but between the stuff I knew and the stuff I was ignorant of and had to wait for crosses to reveal, and then the stuff that was just out of range, like ELLSBERG, it was more medium for me.
Thanks for the DOA trailer. A good suspenseful film as was Night of the Hunter--grandma and brave kids defeat psycho killer.

CaseAce 10:45 AM  

I dare say, Ducks, 'Tis gosh awfully good of Sweetie pie Patrick, to offer-up this Berry Berry good Friday puz to sink our collective egg teeth wot?

retired_chemist 10:47 AM  

Tolnaftate (Tinactin) is an antifungal used for athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm.

Breakfast, anyone?

captcha lardo - I'll take that personally.

Tony from Charm City 10:50 AM  

I found this a bit easy for a Friday, partly because a lot of my first-instinct answers were correct, such as OPS and TRESS. I also had the good fortune to actually visit Villa Hugel, one-time home of the Krupps in ESSEN when my wife was in nearby Bohum, Germany for a conference two years ago and I got to tag along. I even toured a mine shaft that is now a museum.

I always assumed EGO was of Greek origin because the greek word for "I" is also EGO.

JaxInL.A. 10:54 AM  

Total blow out. Mr. Berry's elegant construction and beautiful cluing show his great skill, but knowledge beyond my ken and a brain too tired to figure out the many many double or obscure meanings meant a big DNF for me. Had to come here to see just about everything. Urg. Here's to a good night sleep and better luck tomorrow.

CaseAce 10:55 AM  

Sorry, Gary Trudeau, but Al Capp, In MHO, was the greatest comic strip cartoonist of all! His societal views of his generation were without peer and his cast of cornball colorful characters were prize winnin and shit grinnin!

Two Ponies 11:00 AM  

Patrick Berry on a Friday! Joy.
I am surprised that Malayalan was not the WOTD. I certainly is mine.
Figuring that it might be a palindrome helped me get the Symons person that I do not know.
Doing the NYT puzzles regularly also kept me away from Black Lab because of the lab thingie clue, right?
Re: the groupthink of agreeing with Rex, I usually have formed my opinion of a puzzle before I dial up the blog.
I hope I'm not on the DNR list although I have one of my own so I understand.

mmorgan 11:06 AM  

Loved Al Capp's work. His personality (met him once at a concert he emceed in RI) and his right-wing politics in the 60s... not so much.

william e emba 11:13 AM  

I somehow managed to find this one way challenging. I mean, I had LAG/LATTE/ESSEN/GENTS right off the start, and took forever and then some to get ALIAS and then finish the NW.

And even knowing CAPP/PSI didn't speed things up. And knowing EGGTEETH and DOA and BLUTO didn't speed things up. And remembering Daniel ELLSBERG (the hard way, folks, I don't watch TV) didn't speed things up.

Aaargh, did I struggle for no good reason. I mean, I think the reason I got ICEE was because we had it two months ago. I'm pretty sure the only reason I knew it was ONO for the "bed-in" was because I remembered the reason Rex got blocked way back when. And filling in the palindrome helped.

On the other hand, after I finished, I Googled TINACTIN. Ugh. I'm soooo glad I've never heard of that stuff!

Matthew G. 11:19 AM  

Another great puzzle in a great week. Will is picking winners right now.

Surprised that several people found the SE hardest. It was the only part of the puzzle I got through without some serious head-against-the-wall-banging. MORISSETTE, SIMBA and BLUTO were all gimmes. Hardest for me was the NE, where I thought of SIBS immediately but resisted it because there was nothing in the clue to suggest a shortened form of a word, and drove myself crazy trying to remember ELLSBERG, who I'd just read about recently but couldn't quite summon up.

Re: the clue for PAROLE HEARING: brilliant. Clues for TATTOO and PENCIL SHARPENER were great too. I had a moment of just hilarious self-misdirection with the latter, and though I'm tempted to share it here, I'm going to keep it to myself because my error gave me a great idea I may use myself as I hone my nascent constructing work.

@Rex, the ad slogan is "Tough Actin' Tinactin," not "Fast Actin' Tinactin." Made famous by boom!, John Madden, among others.

@Evgeny, well, is your point that Rex is good at reviewing crossword puzzles? He is. I may agree with him more often than some, as I'm reasonably close to his age and have somewhat similar interests, so I am at least inclined to share his tastes. He's like me but with much better crossword skills. Not afraid to disagree with him, though -- boy did I ever _hate_ the Rockefeller Christmas Tree puzzle a couple weeks ago.

retired_chemist 11:20 AM  

@ CaseAce - loved Al Capp's work. Loved Walt Kelly's (Pogo, all you young'uns) even more.

dk 11:22 AM  

@evengy, about 18 months ago I collected the data to prove your point. Please note the more experienced solvers tend to agree with Rex and the newer ones tend to disagree. The data also points to the constructor and the day of the week as influencers, but our lord and master accounts for most of the variance.

Tuesday puzzle tend to suffer our wrath more often than others. I did not include Sunday puzzles as I am arbitrary and capricious. Now, as I am a nerd, I am comparing our posts to a similar set of chess posts.

I am in the pipette group. *** (3 Stars)

Rex Parker 11:25 AM  

@dk, are you publishing that data or what? I'd love to know more...


Tobias Duncan 11:27 AM  

Eerie eerie eerie! Nearly identical solving experience as Rex(not time-wise Im sure)with Mossberg and such, all the way down to ICEE and his anecdote.I used to spend summers with my cousin in Del Mar Ca and nearly every day we would skateboard down to the Seven Eleven for coke(mixed with cherry) slushies then zip over to the strip mall with the Round Table Pizza to play ... Joust and snicker dismissively at the dorks playing Donkey Kong.
The Seven Eleven/Round Table Pizza combo must be a California staple eh?

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Maybe I'm just having a stupid day, but can someone please explain 6D - Clairvoyance and such...PSI?

dk 11:48 AM  


I will send it to you in a week or so. I need to write the results up so they can be understood by anyone other than @sethg.

The sword study has been on the back burner since I got a real job as opposed to my overpaid position as a layabout consultant.

The findings are consistent with other studies done on expert/high performing teams. Yes it is true we are representative of a high performing team... or a street gang -- you pick.


EB from yesterday -- See the BBC series Wire in Blood, then click on my little picture and ask away.

dk 11:49 AM  

that would be xword study

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

What a friggin mess! No way could I do this last night slopping up my Makers, so I had to wait until morning when the cobwebs were thinner. This puzzle is an excellent example of something you can stare at until tears well up in your eyes and still not see anything but a box filled with a lot of little boxes.

Oh, there were a couple of gimmies all right. Like ELLSBERG. Hell, I read the entire majority opinion and all the other opinions in the Times on why it was okay to leak classified documents to the NY Times and Washington Post. I imagine Wikileaks has the majority opinion papering its virtual walls. Prior restraint, free speech and all the rest…blah, blah, blah…. And Dumbarton OAKS rose from my gray matter like a bubbling sulfur pit. RESISTS and PAT RILEY were the last easy ones. The rest was blank and remained blank until my coffee and my second piece of coffee cake. Nothing like overloading your brain with sugar to kick-start it! Voila! COCONUT OIL came out of nowhere and when I finally got LAGS the NE fell like the Prussians before Napoleon’s army and allowed me PENCIL SHARPENER. Of course, the NE is easier if you suffer from jock itch and athlete’s foot. But the rest still looked like the mouth of a hockey player who forgot his mouth guard.

CLOSER led me to nowhere, so back to the SW where RISE and RUIN showed up. Then I can’t explain why PAROLE HEARING occurred to me. It’s like playing Wheel of Fortune. Shazam! WALKIE TALKIES magically appeared. I used to own a pair so when we took two cars to the Outer Banks, we could talk (B.C. – Before Cells). ORKIN and WEBCAM seemed obvious and the SW was mine at last.

What is that third long one in the middle? Noisy vehicles? With MOLE came MOTOR SCOOTERS and the middle was complete.

But the NE and the SE remained, like two pincers squeezing my brain. RIPPLE and EASELS finished the NE, changing OIL to OPS.

Only one corner remained, but it was a total blank. Don’t know Canadian singers from a Singer sewing machine. Is the N the beginning of NEATEN UP with EGO and RAGS crossing? A Google or two should wind this up, but where is the satisfaction in that? Of course, Mr. HP is always willing to give a reveal, but why is the NY Times making cheating acceptable? Is there a singer named MORISSETTE? I’m sure I recall seeing a ROSE on some greeting card. What kind of movie in 1950? I remember the Korean War started and the Cold War had begun, and there was that movie about Eve and Hollywood going for an Oscar. Wasn’t Stalag 17 then? Loved that movie with William Holden and the dancing scene. POW? Don’t know a Slush Puppie. Is it a drink or a shoe? NEATEN UP AND POW equals BRUNO for the comic bully. Time for a HP Check because I’m running out of time and BRUNO is only partly right, as is POW. How can that be? How can I come up with two crosses that are right where they cross but not otherwise? Oh, yes, now I remember, it’s BLUTO in Popeye, not Bruno. And the Check shows it’s not MOLE, so it must be VOLE, a creature that was always invading my basement in Bethesda, Maryland. King? Disney? Lion King? SIMBA, yes. ICEE? The rest came fast: MANED AND ALPHA and Mr. Happy Pencil in that order.

Congratulations, Mr. Berry. You didn’t make my day, but you didn’t ruin it either.

Now it’s time to go to Tyrant-a-saurus Rex to see how obtuse I am....

Obtuse John

Lindsay 12:03 PM  

This struck me as a more than ordinary struggle, but looking at the completed grid, I'm not sure why. Maybe my brain is just cloudy today.

Writeovers at 41D Slug(g)o/Bluto and 3D girls/gents.

Enjoyed the clue/answer at 45A as I spent yesterday redrafting the recall provisions of our local government. Which may explain the viscous charactar of my thought this morning.

jyp0625 12:09 PM  

This is one of the most elegant and enjoyable puzzles that I solved in a long, long time (and yes I formed my opinion before reading Rex's comments).

Unlike Rex and the expert commenters I needed a heavy dose of Googling to complete the puzzle. It took me north of two hours to do this but it was pure pleasure nonetheless.

Thank you Mr. Barry.

David 12:12 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
archaeoprof 12:16 PM  

Fun, fun, but definitely NOT easy for me.

ELLSBERG took me way back.

How long before "Assange" appears in a crossword?

davko 12:18 PM  

@ David L, bear in mind, the German word Essen can also mean "a meal." Agreed, that still rings odd, but do New Yorkers feel any weirder about a town in their state called Bath?

Van55 12:19 PM  

For some reason this one was WAY out of my wheelhouse, so I DNF.

CAPP was a gimme for me, but I thought to myself, "if Mr. Berry is cluing a cartoonist who passed away in 1979 with a non-central character from the comic strip, this is going to be a tough one."

I wasn't wrong from my point of view. Looking at the solution, though, I can't say that the puzzle was even remotely unfair, and I greatly appreciate both the construction and the fill. Not because Rex says so, but despite that he does. :-)

Van from the DNR list.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

@Anon 11:34 - If you got to wiki to look up PSI you'll find one of usages refers to parapsychology.

'Twas news to me too.

Ulrich 12:43 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 12:45 PM  

@DavidL: The historical associations are so strong that they overrule any other: the former steelworks; the Krupp Family and their Villa Hügel; the Folkwangmuseum; and, most importantly, of course, Helmut [der Boss] Rahn of the soccer club Rot-Weiß Essen, who scored the winning goal against Hungary in the 1954 World Cup Final.

And no, Essen does not mean "a meal" (that would be "ein Essen"); as I said in my first comment, it simply means "meal".

Can't resist: inesser is my captcha (someone who eats in--"Esser" means "eater")

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Is there a name for this near-synchronicity: BRYN today, MAWR yesterday? Ah, I've got it: "coincidence."

SethG 12:47 PM  

I have a strongly favorable opinion of this puzzle.

7thecow 12:52 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle but DNF. VOLE was a gimme because my pasture is crwling with them. Googled 38A, have never seen "The Lion King", guessed SIMBA and the SE fell quickly. Hung up on 52A SY_ONS and then the light bulb came on! 29D is a palindrome-D'oh. Finished but no MHP. My mistake was I absolutely knew I had a tube of TENACTIN in the bathroom and ALEAS could be cover from the wind-except that would be ALEE. Why does your brain hang on to those first impressions? I'm getting better at looking at clues from a different angle but there's usually one that I can only see in one dimension.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

@davko said...

@David L, bear in mind, the German word Essen can also mean "a meal." Agreed, that still rings odd, but do New Yorkers feel any weirder about a town in their state called Bath?


The name of ESSEN seems to have nothing to do with food (, but "Bath" (or specifically the city in England after which it is named) has a great deal to do with baths (because of nearby hot springs --,_Somerset).

mmorgan 1:07 PM  

@dk, will you make the raw data available? Sounds like it would be fin to play with!

davko 1:17 PM  

@Ulrich, yes, thanks for the correction -- I didn't mean to include the article. By the way, ESSEN could also translate as "food," but it's all moot, given the word (as we've learned) is a corruption, anyway.

chaos1 1:18 PM  

Great Puzzle ! PB does it again !

This one was definitely Friday worthy, but I wouldn't say it was easy. I guess it depends on your knowledge base. MORISSETTE went in immediately. 16x platinum hit was a dead give away. I was wondering weather Rex would put up the video of her biggest hit, but doubted he would want to go there. More on Alanis later.

I had a lot of mistakes the first time through the grid, but they all worked themselves out eventually. I ended up with two blank squares. 1A crossing 6D, and 52A crossing 29D. I was never a fan of LIL ABNER, but figured CAPP had to be right. Problem was, I wanted ESP for 6D. Can someone please explain what PSI stands for ? I'm too lazy to look it up. Didn't know 52A. I just kept punching in letters, till MHP popped up and scared the bejusus out of me ! It was only then, that I realized MALAYALAM was spelled the same in both directions. What an idiot !

Back to Alanis Morissette. I've enclosed a link below, for her first hit single.
" You Oughta Know " is the ultimate break-up song, and lends new meaning to the old axiom stating " Hell Hath No Greater Fury, Than A Women Scorned ! "

One caveat ! Many of my fellow bloggers here, will most likely be offended by the song. It contains written lyrics on the video, and there is profanity. That being said, it provides a noteworthy glimpse into the culture differences between baby boomers, their children and their grand children. Here's the link. Sorry if it does not come up as a click and play, but for those who are interested, you can " cut and paste " it, into the address bar. I tested it, and it works

@ andrea carluvula micheals 1:24AM I am a ten year old boy, at least in my mind. Puerile thought processes not withstanding, I too often wondered why the word uvula seemed somewhat salacious. Thanks to Orange@ 8:43AM, it's all perfectly clear now. An anagram. Isn't it funny, how the mind subliminally sees what it want to see?

chaos1 1:24 PM  

Sorry, but the link seems to have gotten lost in cyber-space. Here it is:

mmorgan 1:24 PM  

@archaeoprof -- see today's Village Voice puzzle!!!

Jet City Gambler 1:28 PM  

Call of Duty: Black Ops FTW!

"Coffee is for closers." What a great role for Alec Baldwin. Didn't David Mamet write Glengarry Glen Ross as well?

syndy 1:46 PM  

Agree with sethg

syndy 1:51 PM  

Also-feel those who tend not to agree with rex migrate on to other blogs-we come back because we mostly do agree but Ive never noticed any pandering to rex.People seem quite able and willing to disagree when neccessary

Ruth 2:04 PM  

Malapop! I wanted PAROLE for 45A "a term may end with one", didn't work out, then there's PAROLE HEARING and Bob's your uncle.
Loved Walt Kelly, but I miss Bill Watterson and Calvin the most.
Pipette first.

Shamik 2:22 PM  

First thing I do after completing the puzzle is check my time against those on the NYT site. I know when I'm off my game by how far out of whack I am to my general area of finishing. Way off my game today! Yeesh! And not even taking Percocet at the moment. I wonder what it is that causes some days to be way off of one's usual abilities. Found this one to be a delightful medium-challenging

Single Natick moment for me was that Russian basketball coach: PATRILEI/SIMONS. I wanted the Italian basketball coach: PATRILEO, but just didn't think there was a Mr. SOMONS. Go figure.

Loved EGGTEETH and the other longer answers. Great Friday puzzle even if I'm off my game.

Ingshor: the Swedish basketball coach

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

I'm glad I'm not the only one who had, HAD to have Celine Dion in there until the bitter end. Grat puzzle.

acme 4:22 PM  

thank's been interesting to note all the Black + 3 letter words:
LAB, OIL, OPS, (TOP, ROT, POT, EYE) so those kinds of clues, altho maddening for me, sometimes gives rise to new puzzle ideas.

wow, PAROLE is a huge malapop! Again there were myriad terms for what kind of term...and that clothing clue was no help...I even tried toGa before RAGS!
His puzzles are nice nice workouts, I can actually feel my complete mental breakdown being warded off for a few more days!

I would think there would be way too many factors involved to track something like that...bec people might partially agree, or mildly, or be influenced by Rex or not (some shockingly aren't even reading him first, which seems rude and beside the whole point of the blog!) whereas others might not weigh in due to shyness, time constraint, not wanting to insult Rex or the constructor, (or the converse) or don't have time or someone's already expressed what they wanted to say, and on and even if someone said "Folks tend to agree with Rex" to have that in anyway be akin to saying he influenced that seems like a really really far reach bec of so many factors.
eg I had very few comments on my puzzle last week and I will never know if folks are away, didn't do it, didn't like it and so didn't want to say, felt @rex had covered it, didn't have nits to pick, whatever...and I'll never know. It's the dog that didn't bark.

sanfranman59 4:30 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 23:39, 26:16, 0.90, 33%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 12:14, 12:52, 0.95, 48%, Medium

Megan P 4:43 PM  

Rex, maybe you remembered Dumbarton Oaks because of the Stravinsky piece.

ruth 4:43 PM  

@Andrea, I loved your puzzle last week! Didn't comment because, as you said, some of us tend not to chime in when it would seem repetitious. And it seemed the commentary all in all was very favorable, so--who needs more gushing sycophants? Answer: ya can't get enough of a good thing.
yes, had seen combined-football-team names as a theme before, but I thought yours were clever(er). And there you have it.

CaseAce 6:36 PM  

Since the majority of us solvers immediately thought of Celine Dion, as the Canadian songbird Patrick B had in mind for us and Not Alanis Morissette, did anyone stop to consider Anne Murray, as a possible option...I surely did, as she's easily one of my all-time faves, on either side of the border!

U. Vula 7:13 PM  

I tried [Black TEA] and [Black SEA] first. I also tried ONE for [Roman I]; seemed too easy for a Friday, and it was.

And that is one evil clue for PSI. Which reminds me: I heard a new abbr. today: PTSD.

Anonymous 8:42 PM  

Where is Jim? I thought the ELLSBERG would bring out the best in him. Must have gone the way of Nate.

Does anyone here realize how many French Canadians' names end in ETTE? And does anyone here realize that France is the only country with a cabinet office responsible for maintaining the purity of French? Thought of Neil Sedaka before MORISSETTE but the trouble is he was born in Brooklyn. Now if we could only cede Brooklyn to Canada that would work.

George NYC 9:22 PM  


Anonymous 9:56 PM  

Rex rated this Easy. My question who, besides Rex, was it Easy for? I'm starting to think that Rex is playing with his UVULA too much....

r.alphbunker 10:13 PM  

How many crossword puzzles do you have to solve before you are an experienced solver?

Sfingi 10:16 PM  

Sure enough. Just because the LA was easy, didn't mean the NYT would be.

HTG for PAT RILEY, SIMBA, MORISSETTE, CIA, SYMONS, MAMET, none of which I knew even after. The only thing I knew about MORISSETTE was she doesn't understand irony.

When done, looked up EGG TEETH and saw many cute little chicks and turtles. Also looked up BLACK OPS
(I wanted BLACK lab) It's a stupid video game.

ELLSBERG was the Assange of his day. I'll have to check out that Colbert show.

There is no lead in pencils.

When I worked at MDS, I refused to work on a fix for KRUPPS because I considered them Nazis who survived the war very well(I'm old). At my good-bye party another programmer said, "Remember when you wouldn't do that fix cuz the guy was a Kraut?" I guess he didn't get it. Why do I bother?

OISK 10:37 PM  

Nice puzzle. Where I often disagree with Rex is on the pop culture references. I am a chemist (burette) who speaks German (Essen), but I was nearly stumped by Morissette, Simba, and icee. (none of these mean anything to me, although I figured out who Simba must have been once I got Bluto. I originally had "Simon" - Paul Simon, Carly Simon, seemed like a good guess.)

Have no idea what a "Bed-in" was, either. Very well constructed, but SE corner was no fun for me. Loved the three clues in the NE corner though!

mac 10:47 PM  

Fantastic puzzle! Easy-medium for me today, just as someone before mentioned, got some long answers without crosses and was on my way. wonderful clues, just a total pleasure. My favorite word and new thing to learn was egg teeth! Never heard of Tinactin, thank goodness.

Having lived in Ardmore for 10 months, Bryn Mawr was a gimme, just not which part. Hand up for pipettes and Celine Dion, although I thought of Morissette and also Anne Murray. Whatever happened to her? Beautiful voice.

Too little, too late, but that's the season.....

michael 11:24 PM  

It seems that Ellsberg was either a gimme (as it was for me) or obscure. Must be an age-related clue. Fame fades quickly, even though Ellsberg is still alive. I actually know Ellsberg as a writer about risk and uncertainty as well as from the Pentagon Papers.

Stan 1:03 AM  

Coming in late, but let me just add my voice to the choir of praise for this puzzle. Excellent, and lots of fun.

I filled in Arthur Symons and Dan Ellsberg and D.O.A. immediately but then it became a real puzzle. BRYN or MAWR? LOVE or HATE? How could Celine Dion not be right???

Anyway, thanks to the constructor (and editor).

Anonymous 7:04 AM  

I guess being old sometimes helps--I remember Sabu from old movies on TV. He was a little tiny man in action movies where he played young Indian (as in from India) characters. He was the only "single name" actor I can remember--really, he was billed only as "Sabu"--no last name.

CaseAce 11:44 AM  

Anon, Sabu, actually did have a last was Tage, hard to take, I know!

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

CaseAce--according to David Thomson, Sabu's actual last name was Dastagir.

NotalwaysrightBill 3:50 PM  

Syndi-late paper solver.

(Snicker) @acme said UVULA . . . .

Natick at SATIE X MAMET (which I guessed right at but didn't KNOW). The rest fell; took plenty of work, but they fell.

Knew BURETTES from being a tech for a few years in a petrolab.

MALAYALAM is a wholly new term for me: the things ya learn . . . .

Like how BLUTO is the twin brother of BRUTUS ("Hey Olive: Howsabout a little kiss?" (Shelley Duvall was SOOOO good as Ms. Oyl!)), though he didn't start off being so. Or even that Popeye began life as a comic strip character rather than in an animated cartoon. Let's see, '32 to now = 79 years, eh? "I'm strong to the finich, 'cause I eats me spinach . . . ." Been a long time filling in some of these blank little squares in my life (Brutus and/or Bluto? what's the deal? now I know).

Tolnaftate is the active ingredient in quite a number of over-the-counter fungicides. I have a little tube of CHATTEAU brand cream here, for example, that I use to self-vet my dogs with when they get an obvious fungal infection.

Hardest solves for me tend to be proper names of the sort who-did-what-when, about which I usually don't give a rat/mouse/mole/vole/paca's kiester, so that they're often out of my wheelhouse.

@Ulrich: now you should try to explain the difference between essen and fressen.


NotalwaysrightBill 4:18 PM  

@Ulrich again:

Wondering whether how much we do or don't align with Rex determines if, as verbivores, we tend to essen or fressen (LOL).

Cary in Boulder 4:31 PM  

To nobody still reading this, re: Essen, Bath, etc. Here in Colorado there's a town named, for no good reason that I can tell, HYGIENE.

Waxy in Montreal 6:53 PM  

@Cary - according to Google, "This community's name stems from a time when it had a sanitarium to work with tuberculosis patients."

Now in the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador here in Alanis Morissette's native land, you'll find both the community of Come-by-Chance as well as Conception Bay. Go figure.

This must have been the easiest Friday in a long, long time. Didn't even have to boot the computer, let alone resort to Google. So pleased that I'll invent a neologism for the occasion by uvulating in public.

Stan 7:49 PM  

@Cary in Boulder (and other syndicated solvers): Many (most?) people who post on Rex's blog check the little box which delivers all subsequent comments to their email inboxes. So don't feel alone in the electronic darkness -- people are reading! It's a little tricky to answer, though, which is why most replies to syndicated comments come from other syndicated commenters.

lodsf 1:00 PM  

Syndicated (and catching up on the weekend) solver.
I found Evengy’s post that many/ most commenters agree with Rex interesting as earlier this week (January 2011) I recommended this blog to a friend with the caveat to “be sure to read the comments as they often give a different view of the puzzle…”.
DNF today’s Friday puzzle. (On Fridays I’m usually counting correct answers not mistakes, unfortunately.)

Nullifidian 7:29 PM  

Another syndicated solver here playing catch-up. Yesterday I was busy enjoying my last (week)day of freedom before the semester starts on Monday.

Today I decided to do the puzzle while listening to Jeremy Irons reading Lolita. Delightful.

My gimme was 25D: "'Vexations' composer", which I knew to be Erik SATIE. The A in SATIE gave me MAMET (as I'm a combination classical music and theatre nut) and it was only then that I got MORISSETTE, despite the fact that I was fifteen when her CD was released. That and Daniel ELLSBERG (about whom I'd just watched the excellent documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America) gave me much of the east side of the crossword, and I didn't bother coming to the NW until the very last.

D.O.A. is one of my favorite noirs, and SIMBA (38A: "'I Just Can't Wait to be King' singer") I got from a somewhat less pleasant association. When I was 12, I went to Parker, AZ with a youth band, and the kids in the car insisted on playing The Lion King soundtrack almost all the way from San Diego to the middle of Arizona. I put on my headphones and drowned it out by listening to piano music by Charles Ives, orchestral and chamber music by Edgard Varèse, and orchestral music by Iannis Xenakis. Still, enough filtered through that I can remember all of the songs and much of the words.

I liked 9D: "Embroidery expert" being used to clue LIAR, although I've met some liars who were shockingly inexpert and just didn't care. Hell, we saw one of them as a VP candidate in 2008. Who on earth would think "All of them" is a plausible answer to a question about how many newspapers one reads?

Nullifidian 7:38 PM  

I forgot to mention that modern music gave me another answer, in a roundabout way. Robert Woods Bliss commissioned a chamber concerto from Igor Stravinsky for his thirtieth wedding anniversary. It's called the Concerto in E-flat, but its nickname is the "Dumbarton OAKS", after the Bliss estate. It's this same estate which served as the meeting place for and lent its name to the Dumbarton Oaks Conference.

Dirigonzo 12:15 PM  

It's Sunday, 5 weeks and 2 days after this puzzle originally appeared but I still have to come here to express my appreciation for everything about it, and to claim victory for having finished with no help and no errors (although the cross at MAMET/SATIE was a total guess.) Thanks to PB and WS for a wonderful mental workout.
@WIM - "Uvulating in public" HA!
@RP - I hope your "pledge week" was a smashing success.

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