Early Windows underpinning / FRI 4-15-11 / 2007 film featuring heavily tattooed main character / But wait there's more company / One tenth microjoule

Friday, April 15, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TERRA ALBA (34D: Clay used by potters) —

  1. Finely pulverized gypsum used in making paper and paints and as a nutrient for growing yeast.
  2. Kaolin.

[New Latin : Latin terra, earth + Latin alba, feminine of albus, white.]

• • •

A couple of absolute puzzlers ("EASTERN PROMISES," TERRA ALBA) didn't slow me down here. Loads of gimmes and predominantly smooth, in-the-language fill made this one both very doable and very enjoyable. Only negative for me was CREATION SCIENCE. What the hell is that? Science? I don't think so. You can be a creationist, OK, but you do not get to have the word "SCIENCE" anywhere near you. Creationism is the opposite of "SCIENCE." Clue should have signaled the general ridiculousness of the concept. From wikipedia:
The scientific community states that Creation Science is a religious, not a scientific view, and that Creation science does not qualify as science because it lacks empirical support, supplies no tentative hypotheses, and resolves to describe natural history in terms of scientifically untestable supernatural causes.Creation science has been characterized as a pseudo-scientific attempt to map the Bible into scientific facts.

I can't fault the puzzle—CREATION SCIENCE is a ... thing, and the clue didn't take a stance on its validity. But yuck. Thankfully, though, as I say, the rest of the puzzle is delightful. Names like P.D. JAMES and JOSEY Wales and HERMIONE GRANGER helped me open this one up fairly easily. Actually, I refused to budge from 1A: "The Children of Men" author because I *knew* that I knew her, but couldn't remember her name—and man, was it irritating me. "Unexpected author ... normally writes in totally different genre ... you own books by her ... Gah!" Once I changed DAVID to PIETA, P.D. JAMES leapt straight to mind. Favorite moment of puzzle was a wrong answer—Off the initial "S" at 7D: Typical tabloid writers, I wrote in SLEAZE MERCHANTS. It fits. And it's awesome. Sadly, it's not right. I believe "EASTERN PROMISES" is a movie with that guy from "The Road" in it, possibly about ... something Russian. Yes, Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts, Russian mafia, etc.

Wanted DIG for PIT (18D: Mine), and "It's a SNAP" instead of "It's a SIGN" (20A). Just polished off the entire run of "Arrested Development," where one of the highlights was Scott BAIO playing lawyer Bob Loblaw. So much ridiculous name-based humor, which probably shouldn't have made me laugh as much as it did.

Final letter was the "B" in SUBPART / TERRA ALBA. Neither word wanted to be discovered.

  • 5D: Bully in "Calvin and Hobbes" (MOE) — Did not know. I've always liked the comic, but was in college when it was big, and I didn't read the funnies anymore at that point, so I don't know the strip as well as I might have had I been slightly younger (or a good deal younger—didn't get a local paper with comics in it again until my late 30s).
  • 46D: "But wait, there's more!" company (RONCO) — I don't remember anything they sold, but boy do I remember that slogan and the RONCO name. Oh, RONCO is Ron Popeil's co., the co. behind Mr. Microphone!

  • 51D: Where the 2003 true-life film "Touching the Void" is set (PERU) — Never heard of it. "True-life" strikes me as a weird qualifier. That's different from a documentary how? Hmm, it seems there is documentary footage (interviews) mixed in with reenactment performed by actors. Main question: why have any qualifier? Why not just "2003 film?"
  • 58A: Kind of jam in a sacher torte (APRICOT) — Something I learned recently. And then forgot. Until just now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

PS here's a new puzzle for you: "Ides of April" (.pdf or .puz version available here). Enjoy! (to see solution or make comments, please go here)

Ides of April


aaron 12:09 AM  

My fastest Friday ever! Makes up for yesterday. It helped that I saw EASTERN PROMISES recently (which, surprisingly, is a David Cronenberg movie, he of the ultra-gore) but all of the long answers seemed custom-written for me. Only POLICE SERGEANTS just sort of.. sat there. Very light on the before-my-time celebrities, which are always my downfall. I'll take ERASMUS (well, he's before my time too) and MOE (!) over some 60s actress any day.

operapianist 12:11 AM  

*Loved* this puzzle, possibly because it might be the first non-Google Fri I've finished...EVER. And in a shade under 20 mins. To quote an Arbesfeld Wed puzzle from mid-March: "I RULE"

Intersecting B was my last letter too. Wanted KKK for CSA originally, but figured that wouldn't pass the NYT eds. Threw down 3 of the 15s with nothing else in place-- a first as well.

Also had EEGS initally, thinking of the "deep shocks" of an electro-encephalograph. (Wrong--was thinking electro-shock trtmt instead.)

Congrats Mr Berry.

jae 12:19 AM  

Yes easy here too. Tried "It's a GIRL ," TERRACOTA (but I think I need 2 Ts), and DIG, but the rest was fast and smooth. @Rex, Jean Auel perhaps?? Pretty good FRi. but much easier than yesterday's.

Evan 12:21 AM  

Joining both aaron and operapianist in setting a personal record on a Friday puzzle. It would have been faster than my Thursday record too had it not been for putting in BANE at 52-Across....it seemed right for "Matter of contention," and I had no idea if 46-Down was RANCO or RONCO.

HERMIONEGRANGER was my big opening as well. SURGEONSGENERAL came easily to me because that was more-or-less the nickname of my intramural sports teams in grad school.

All in all, a very enjoyable puzzle, and it felt much simpler than yesterday's fare where the theme answers didn't exactly feel in the language.

syndy 12:29 AM  

WOOEE 26:11 patrick berry fri!!!(once again typing with one finger!)creation science does rate as an oyxmoron and is subpart a real thing-felt a little iffy but wow what a clean gorgeous puzzle!!

Evan 12:33 AM  

Also, Rex, just want to let you know that your puzzle seems to be missing a star in one of your clues, at 21-Across. Small typo but it didn't detract from the puzzle's quality (loved the inclusion of 57-Across).

Rex Parker 1:04 AM  


Wow. Two proofreaders missed that. I missed that. Thanks. Fixed it.


Robin 1:09 AM  

Those big swooping downs...and the big sweeping acrosses...wow...but then "creation science." Sorta killed the joy for me.

Evan 1:28 AM  

No problem, Rex. It's funny....not long ago I had applied for and came somewhat close to getting a puzzle editor job for Kappa Publishing, but they told me they didn't think I'd enjoy it that much since crossword puzzles weren't their main priority. Now I can say I've done some part-time proofreading for a well-known crossword blog.

That THAT, resume!

CoffeeLvr 1:34 AM  

Tried Christian Science, but it wouldn't fit. Left the SCIENCE in place, which helped with the eventual solve. I noted that the clue said field of study, not inquiry.

Agree with Rex on the WOD - ALBA filled itself in from the crosses, and it happily ended up being correct.

Like most sculpture, the PIETA must be seen to be fully appreciated. I understand that since I saw it in 1971 it is protected and less an intimate experience.

Thanks for the puzzle, Rex, I look forward to doing it in the morning, but I am yawning now.

blockhead 2:45 AM  

Just got back from seeing Source Code (****) and am thinking that CREATION SCIENCE could alternatively be seen as a tautology.

Had trouble with the SE because thought AJAR was DOOR. But a four-star puzzle if ever there was one.

Clark 3:03 AM  

This seemed like the easiest Friday ever, which is just fine with me. Usually I have trouble seeing the long answers, but not today. HERMIONE GRANGER is a great character. It was nice to see her in the puzzle. Props to Semi-Puzzle Partner for knowing ERASMUS right off the bat.

andrea cascading michaels 3:37 AM  

Look at the construction on those corners!!!

Hand up for dIg before PIT, and the B of ALBA being the last letter to go in.
(Is TERRA Jessica's sister?)

Still always freak whenever LAM appears in verb form.

Messiest part 44A, thought it was SHIPS which one would need two of to pass (in the night).

And SWAN had to be refolded into BOAT for the origami...

"Tuching the Void" we've actually discussed before but I don't remember in what context...it is an amazing story/film and should be added to queues...
PERU was the last thing to come to mind, tho...I just remember feeling like I was actually freezing to death watching it.

HERMIONE rang a bell, but didn't know one letter of GRANGER. My age is really beginning to take a toll.
(sigh) It's a SIGN!

Elaine2 5:34 AM  

Agree with all about EASY FRIDAY -- it's always fun when it happens, as many Fridays I am DNF.

Also agree about "creation science" -- boo!

Another hand up for that "B" being last -- never heard of a "subpart!"

Elaine2 5:36 AM  

forgot to add -- Thanks, Rex, for the "Ides of April." Fun extra!

PastelLady 6:02 AM  

Wish the NYT would adopt the nice font you used for this fun freebie, Rex. MUCH more readable when small! Thanks.

DJG 7:07 AM  

Great puzzle!

CD 7:12 AM  

Got HERMIONEGRANGER with no crossings and never stopped. I like feeling smart, but a little more trickiness would have been welcome. This seemed more like a themeless Wednesday.

Still, a very impressive grid with very little junk. Thanks, Mr. Berry!

mac 7:16 AM  

What a great puzzle! I had to scramble around a bit at first, then a few long answers were filled in and it opened up.

Good thing I knew Erasmus, that cam/Peru?subpart was my last area.

I saw Eastern Promises only because the movie a friend and I were going to see had started earlier. Fantastic film, glad I saw it.

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

I'm a lifelong atheist, but the comments on the term "creation science" seem really juvenile and prissy. Everyone is familiar with the term, so why does everyone think he has to chime in with his own philosophy on the subject? Just fill it in and move on.
Jesus... (It's just an eye-rolling expression of frustration; don't chime in with more juvenile comments.)

JaxInL.A. 8:11 AM  

Just thinking about the Bob Loblaw commercial in Arrested Development makes me laugh so hard my eyes water. I have no idea why. But that show has at least one really deep belly laugh per episode, and sometimes more. I wish it had run longer. Will Arnette has not found another role so perfectly suited to his talents. I'm so glad that having Scott BAIO in the grid prompted posting that clip. Is this your first time seeing Arrested Development, Rex?

I blazed thru most of this puzzle but foundered in the north because of a typo--I switched the R and the G in SURGEON and did not notice for ages. That made it hard to get EASTERN PROMISES, a movie I never heard of. Fixed most problems but ended with SUbPART/TERRA ALbA. It sound plausible.

Happy tax day, everyone, and good luck.

Captcha = geysmate: what you call a partner in a same-sex union between geysers?

Philly Puzzler 8:25 AM  

Finished in 11:30, unfortunately in my haste I had "suM part/terra alMa" but regardless was still the easiest Friday I've ever come across. Dropped in Eastern Promises (it's been a few years, but I love that movie) and Hermione Granger with no crosses, and after dinner mints fell off two letters. Unlike Rex, my sticking point was NW corner where I had no clue on Josey and PD James came to mind only very reluctantly.

PETER 8:29 AM  

I heard on NPR this morning that today is Emma Watson's 21st birthday. She's the HERMIONE GRANGER portrayer in the Harry Potter films. I hope she sees the puzzle.

lit.doc 8:38 AM  

Holy crap. Finished a Friday. In 25:14. Righteously intoxicated. Seven interlocked 15s, three of them in a block. Holy crap. What an astonishing grid. Even if Rex’s assessment and sanfranman’s stat’s judge it easy, as I expect they will, it is nonetheless a testimonial to the possibility of prowess progress. If Rex can move from the 44th (be gentle if my memory is, well, almost 60) to the 31st Greatest Crossworld Solver in the Word (just let it go), then why shouldn’t I someday get all the way through a third Saturday puzzle?

Only nails-on-a-blackboard moment was the oxymoronic 37A. Intending no offense to the august Mr. Berry, the answer was perfectly fine—astonishing, really, as befits any part of a 3x15 stack—but the bland neutrality of the clue seems intended either to legitimize the answer or to mollify the voluntarily insane. Worse, being both an atheist and well-read in theology, I was imagining actual seminary studies like redaction criticism or structural exegesis.

JaxInL.A. 8:49 AM  

Oops. Obviously I posted the right answer for the cross I missed., not my error. In fact I had an M at the crossing, figuring heart of the earth might make a good name for clay.

Apropos of Rex's Ides of April puzzle, and my earlier post wishing people a happy tax day, I checked up on April 15, which is NOT the deadline this year. 

(from a moneysite) "As you’re likely aware, income taxes are due on April 15th of each year. If April 15th happens to fall on a weekend or a federal holiday, then the filing deadline is pushed back to the next business day.

This year, however, April 15th falls on a Friday – a day which is neither a weekend, nor a federal holiday – and yet your income taxes are not due on that day. Instead, the filing deadline is April 18, 2011. What gives?

As it turns out, Washington, D.C. will be celebrating Emancipation Day on April 15th, 2011 – a day earlier than the usual 16th because that’s a Saturday. Emancipation Day marks the anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act by President Lincoln in 1862, which freed the slaves in the District of Columbia.

Emancipation Day was made an official public holiday in the District of Columbia back in 2005, and it was also responsible for pushing back the tax filing deadline from April 16 to April 17 in 2007."

Nancy in PA 9:09 AM  

I was slowed down by getting SURGEONS GENERAL and POLICESERGEANTS early on and assuming all the 15s would have military ranks in them. Also had It's a Wrap and It's a Pity before SIGN. Love reading all the other It's a ---'s here. I just put imaginary quotes around SCIENCE whenever it is used in this context. And like lit.doc, I am a longtime atheist with several degrees in theology. (We should get together and construct a puzzle with words like HERMENEUTICS and TELEOLOGY. Fun!)

fikink 9:30 AM  

An enjoyable easy Friday that got me up and out early this morning. Thanks, Patrick.

Thank you, Rex, for my tub freebie today. Oh, I am looking forward to it.

@JaxinLA, dealing with lawyers at the moment, I crack up merely at the name "Loblaw"

joho 9:53 AM  

Loved IWISH.

Fun Friday, thank you, Patrick Berry!

retired_chemist 9:59 AM  

Joining the FFE group (fastest Friday ever) by beating my previous best (remembered only approximately) by some 4(!) minutes. First single digit Friday for sure.

Offended by CREATION SCIENCE per se, but not as the crossword answer here.

SILICON was a gimme. Got TERRA ALBA from remembering HS Latin and a few crosses. Wanted POLICE LIEUTENANTS but it didn't fit. Last fill was Hermione's surname, all from crosses although after about 5 of them it HAD to be GRANGER, ignoring the possibility that it was something truly weird.

EASTERN PROMISES - a WTF, but the only one today. Did anyone else try SURGEON GENERALS? Only there for a few seconds because it screwed up crosses already in place.

Thank you, Mr. Berry. I will take PATRICKS' PUZZLE PANDEMONIUM with me this weekend and do a few in odd moments in honor of your splendid puzzle today.

jackj 10:01 AM  

On rare occasions we are blessed with Fri/Sat themeless puzzles which are above and beyond in solving fun and so user friendly that they make most people who finish feel like they're ready to win at the ACPT.

Who but the master, Patrick Berry, could fashion such a delight?

Nice to see the Baroness PDJAMES leading off. Over the years she has proven to be one of the more elegant of English language wordsmiths and even at 90 years of age she continues to ply her trade.

Of all the clever bits in this puzzle, my favorite is a 3 letter gem, "Speak on the record?", cluing RAP.

What a great way to kick off the weekend!

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

I work in international tax and I'll just point out that "subpart" is a word I use just about every day.

Also, I'm going to name my band "Sleaze Merchants."

JenCT 10:05 AM  

Anyone else spell JOSIE instead of JOSEY Wales? That held me up for a bit.

Saw the musical "Urinetown" last night - very funny, I highly recommend it.

Great puzzle.

quilter1 10:08 AM  

Well, I guess I'll just be juvenile and say that No, creationism is not science and also, the two creation stories in Genesis are not about how the world was made but about the relationship between God and the earth and all its inhabitants, including humans.

P.D.JAMES is a favorite of mine, but PIETA was my first entry. Big M signed the sash across her bosom. Also liked AERIALS, AFTERDINNERMINTS and APRICOTS.

Fun and clever, Thanks PB.
Also Thanks RP for the bonus puzzle. It will be my amusement while waiting for Mom at eye dr.

Tobias Duncan 10:14 AM  

Anon 7:47
You just made the classic "I'm an atheist but" statement. You guys are never actual atheists.Creation science is rightly challenged at every opportunity.

Rex I love you for calling out CREATIONSCIENCE , since you did it, I dont have to.
Since we have drifted this far, if you search around the net you will find a poster implying that the actress that plays HERMIONE is somehow related to Richard Dawkins.
The resemblance is uncanny...

chefbea 10:18 AM  

I agree..Easiest Friday for me. Had to google a bit but did finish.
Now on to the Ides of April

Stan 10:39 AM  

Really a fun puzzle!

Surgeons (and Attorneys) General are among my favorite job titles because they sound so weird pluralized.

Feeling old dept.: Didn't know the Hogwarts character but would have recognized either Hermione Gingold or Farley Granger, who I'm sure she was named after. Both classy actors unfamiliar to the Harry Potter generation.

Good to know the source of the Erasmus quote. It can't always be Shakespeare...

Two Ponies 10:41 AM  

Great fun today!
I know it was easy but I still felt proud to finish a Berry Friday.
It warms my heart to know there are so many atheists here.
You guys would like my car magnet.
It's a T Rex munching on a Jesus fish. I can't believe no one has yet to vandalize it or steal it.

Ulrich 10:46 AM  

All has been said--so let me chirp in on a lighter note. Emma Watson had the great fortune to grow from a cute teenager into an absolutely adorable woman, especially with her hair cut short.

And speaking of Hermione: I love the name in its English pronunciation. Here's Hermione in Racine's Andromache in a translation by Richard Wilbur, who renders the French Alexandrines in gorgeous iambic pentameters:

I loved you faithless; had you been faithful, how
Much more could I have loved you? Even now,
Hearing you speak the calm, cold words which kill
My hopes, it may be that I love you still.
My lord, if this must be, if Heaven grants
To other eyes than mine a brighter glance,
Marry her: I consent to it; but at least
Make me no witness to the wedding feast.
I speak to you for the last time, it may be:
Wait but one day. Tomorrow you'll be free...

retired_chemist 11:20 AM  

@ Two Ponies - where can I get one (or more) of those magnets? I see stocking stuffers galore.....

Two Ponies 11:31 AM  

@ r_c, Google Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and click on the shopping link. Other amusing items there as well.

Mel Ott 11:37 AM  

Easy but enjoyable Friday puzzle for me, largely because I got most of the long 15's off few crosses: SENSATIONALISTS, SURGEONS GENERAL, AFTER DINNER MINT, HERMIONE GRANGER, POLICE SERGEANTS. A lot of interesting stuff and very little crap fill.

CREATION SCIENCE is a clunker, but it actally makes a pretty good crossword phrase.

I really miss Calvin.

Arundel 11:39 AM  

Oh, yeah! I loved this one today - and yes, it's a sunny day. I'm beginning to think I'm going to start monitoring the meteorological coordinates of the puzzles I like. Or can finish. Or get the joke, should there be one.

My only issue was having Dayton slightly east of north, and confounding the spelling of a few other words that I otherwise knew. Phooey!

And I found T-Rex (plus a lot of other good ones) on http://evolvefish.com/fish/emblems.html

Sparky 11:44 AM  

So happy to finish in less time than yesterday which took forever.

Hand up @JenCT for JOSie at first. Also had It's a girl before SIGN and dig before PIT. The first 15 was AFTERDINNERMINT, then HERMIONIE but the last name took a while. I was expecting the Southern Cross to be a South American oil cartel or some such. Ah well,. if you keep at it the light dawns.

Great start to the weekend. Thanks Patrick Berry and @Rex for the extra puzzle. Have a good weekend one an all.

Gil.I.Pollas 11:53 AM  

I knew it wouldn't happen, but I was hopping Rex would rate this as damn hard since this was one of my fastest Fri. ever.
Really loved LAGOONS, CASCADING, PORTICO... visions of the tropics.
The PIETA in St Peter's Basilica is rightly protected. I think more than half the world would cry mightily if anything happened to it.
@operpianist: I was hoping you would have a contact. Was wondering if perhaps you knew my brother who was the director of the Mannes Camerata in the 90's. (sorry REX for this intrusion)

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

It took me a while to understand why rap is the answer to "Speak on the Record?" I get it now as a reference to the music genre of rap (but didn't rap develop after LPs were outmoded?), but it also evokes an FBI rap sheet (record of arrest and prosecution) even if this reference has nothing to do with speaking.

Oldactor 11:55 AM  

Another hand up for atheism.

PuzzleNut 11:55 AM  

Smooth all the way. Write-overs at Bird/BOAT, pIt/DIG and a misspelled HERMoniE.
@TwoPonies - Good thing you don't live in Houston. Wish I could sport one of those.
Any write-up with an Arrested Development clip is all right with me. I was laughing before I even played it.

mmorgan 11:57 AM  

Wow -- when I first looked at this grid, I thought it would be impossible, but everything fell very quickly (got SURGEONS GENERAL with just the U and an E) and I was able to easily get stuff I had no idea about (EASTERN PROMISES, APRICOT, SUBPART, TERRA ALBA, HERMIONE GRANGER, etc.).

I don't time myself but that was probably a Friday record for me -- which has nothing to do (I think) with the fact that I liked this one a lot.

Hand up for structural exegesis. (Just kidding.)

syndy 11:58 AM  

Just finished the LAT puzzle and it is also particularly fine today!

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

@JaxInL.A. 8:11 AM said...


Happy tax day, everyone, and good luck.


Maybe I shouldn't tell you this, but others needn't be panicked. Tax day is Monday, April 18, for no very good reason.


Captcha is "Hanatic" -- someone who spends too much (i.e., any) time watching the Faux News Channel.


retired_chemist 12:08 PM  

@ Two Ponies, Arundel - thanks, Sires now bookmarked.

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

@gil also wanted rex to rate this as damn hard! as i just about finished.thought i had but i put bane for bone as at least one other solver did. this was pretty straight forward and really satisfying. wanted it's a wrap for a minute.

archaeoprof 12:58 PM  

Loved this puzzle! wow, those long acrosses and downs.

I agree with @Anonymous 747am. CREATIONSCIENCE is in the language.

PuzzleNut 1:05 PM  

The real problem with CREATION SCIENCE, as @Anon 747 am and @arch point out, is that it IS in the language. If you repeat a lie enough times, people start thinking it might be true. A favorite ploy of many and a pox on our civilization.

Tobias Duncan 1:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
CoffeeLvr 1:37 PM  

Glad to see that so many of many fellows posters are like-minded. I was trying to remember how to spell exegesis last night, before the puzzle steered me toward SCIENCE. I would posit that most "non-believers" know more about theology than most believers. (Yes, I know, not believing is a form of belief, but you know where I am going.)

foodie 1:53 PM  

I belong to a group at my university called "The Scientific Club". The club is over 100 years old, and its members include humanists, musicians, poets and writers, as well as social and natural scientists. I remember being surprised at the usage of "Science" for naming it, and was told that the old meaning of science is "knowledge". In World English Dictionary, this meaning is the last one and is labeled "archaic". So, I'm guessing that it's this archaic usage that's being used in the phrase CREATION SCIENCE. But even the word "knowledge" is a stretch for this expression. It's a belief system, and I feel it would be good to distinguish what we know from what we believe we know-- and that includes in the context of the natural sciences.

That was my cerebral reaction. My gut reaction is exactly the same as Rex's. Thank you Rex for articulating it so eloquently.

Great puzzle!!!

Two Ponies 1:59 PM  

@ Tobias Duncan,Please don't discuss other puzzle answers here without a spoiler alert. Some of us haven't done it yet! Tsk tsk.

Claire 2:05 PM  

Bob Loblaw's Law Blog

Tobias Duncan 2:14 PM  

@ Two Ponies , did not even think about that,deepest apologies.Is it acceptable to talk about the questions?? If not
Spoiler alert!

I actually loved CREATIONSCIENCE (total gimme for me) in the grid, just wish it would have been clued a bit differently.
Love the ides puzzle! my buddy was in the 1994 sci fi movie so that was easy.Rummsie lives in Taos and is very pleasant in person.I have to say I really enjoyed the clueing in this puzzle.Words like bespectacled make my day.Puzzle felt really fresh, would have made a great Onion offering.

Doc John 2:21 PM  

I was also glad to see Rex call out CREATION SCIENCE. I think it would have worked better had it been clued something like: "Discipline supported by Ben Stein."
As for EASTERN PROMISES, don't be so quick to write it off just from its movie poster, Rex. It was actually a very good movie and not just a violent gangster shoot-em-up. Mr. Mortensen received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his role.

ksquare 2:42 PM  

to add to all the (It's a)s I thought "It's a BIRD-it's a plane- it's Superman...." Am i the only one that old?

quilter1 2:57 PM  

@Coffeelvr: sadly, your posit is true.If only everyone were thoughtful and curious about what they say they believe in we might have a more peaceful and tolerant world.
Today did NYT, finished Ides of April over lunch and then did LAT. Three excellent puzzles on one day. A happy girl here.

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

Me too! Actually finished before Saturday with only a few erasures & no cheating!

mac 3:13 PM  

Thanks for the Ides puzzle, Rex, very good!

@ret-chem: have to admit to a temporary surgeon generals....

jackj 3:20 PM  

Everything you always wanted to know about Creation Science but were afraid to ask:

“ [T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know.

We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. ”

—Former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

sanfranman59 3:22 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 16:32, 26:11, 0.63, 2%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 8:12, 12:54, 0.64, 3%, Easy

This makes two weeks in a row where the Friday solve times are at or below the Thursday solve times. And this time, they're substantially lower.

Shamik 4:29 PM  

Would have been my fastest Friday ever at 6:48....alas, it was the SUMPART and that damned TERRAALMA clay that slaughtered perfection. Still, it was an enjoyable puzzle with all those diverse 15'ers.

Flying spaghetti monster. 'nuf said.

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

Long crosses and downs seemed pretty perfunctory -- creation science the exception -- as gratifying as calesthenic romance. Prefer revelations more like multi-veiled dances and misted Apennines.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

Nice over-lunch puzzle but guessed wrong at the TerraAbla/SubPart cross.
Google "irreducible complexity" or "intelligent design" for more on creation science. I attended a pro/anti panel lecture at the Museum of Natural Hitory some years ago on the subject and was shocked at how hollow the intel design formulation was, and I'm open to a lot of hair-brained ideas!

chefwen 4:56 PM  

My brother, former ad man in Chicago, had two really cool cats that he named RONCO and Popeil.

Puzzle was pretty easy for me also, will fess up to two Googles to get my foot in the door, but after that it was a pretty smooth solve.

Dear Old Dad (Viennese) has been begging me for years to make him a 58A Sacher Torte, he is 91 years old, so I guess I better get on it.

Thanks for the bonus puzzle Rex, I'm off to do it now, then on to the LAT/

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

I completed this puzzle to the last letter which is a big deal for me for a Friday. In addition I was tantalizingly close to achieving this without any googling. Unfortunately I don't know who P.D. JAMES and JOSEY are. So I got stuck in the NW corner.
The construction of the puzzle is awesome. Have no idea who HERMIONE GRANGER is but I got all the letters from the down clues. Likewise I have no idea who ERASMUS is but got all the letters from the down clues as well. This I call a delightful construction with a minimum of crosswordese.
I would have to rate this puzzle as easy. Mr. Berry make more of these puzzles.

Doc John 5:37 PM  

Oh, and speaking of creation "science", I actually went to that Creation Museum in northern KY. I was in Cincinnati for another reason and just had to see it for myself. What a monument to rationalization! It was just room after room of dioramas without any real relics or research findings. Just a bunch of pseudoscience babble and carefully crafted wording to try to justify their point. Highlights included the model of the baby triceratops with a saddle and the plaque implying that incest was OK because "things were different back then." Whew!

jberg 5:51 PM  

I guess I am the only one who had SUPERINTENDENTS for 52A. POLICE SERGEANTS seems off to me - I mean, they are sergeants, and they are in the police, but the clue doesn's say POLICE CONSTABLE.

Still, I loved the puzzle - hard going until AFTER DINNER MINTS somehow popped into my consciousness. I read Harry Potter, but couldn't remember HERMIONE GRANGER until I had a lot of crosees.

I like CREATION SCIENCE; I thought it was valid misdirection. As someone pointed out, the clue didn't say it was science, and didn't say it was based on reality - said it was a "field of study" based on the bible. I was trying to fit in hemeneutics, or something about textual criticism, but it felt neat when I realized that creation science would fit.

Hand up for It's a GIRL.

Couldn't remember where 59A came from, guessed MAUGHAM until the crosses forced me into ERASMUS.

I enjoyed it a lot - finished just as my subway ride was ending, which was gratifying.

@Anonymous, one basic rap technique is to play an LP while scratching the needle back and forth across the disk rhythmically. I think that's what the "record" in 46A refers to.

JD 6:36 PM  

I'm also in the fastest Friday club. Would have been even quicker if not for JOSIE, SURGEONGENERALS/LINDZER/GINZU (man, was I on a roll...), and a complete inability to suss out POLICE.

Possibly the best puzzle of the year so far, if you ask me -- don't know that I've ever seen such spotless fill with such enjoyable main answers. Don't know why CREATIONSCIENCE is getting so much flack as a crossword entry; it may be terrible as a concept, but it's a perfectly cromulent 15-letter entry.

william e emba 6:45 PM  

The complaints about CREATION SCIENCE (from the crossword point of view) are completely off-base. This two-word phrase has become the standard name of the enterprise, and its inherent ridiculosity can't change that fact. Cuss out the fraudSTERs who remain hellbent on their religious con games if you want, but not Berry and Shortz. The clue, if anything, is point-blank clear that the subject matter is science-free.

As an example, one of the main efforts by the plaintiffs in the Dover trial a few years back was to establish that Intelligent Design is just a gussied-up Creation Science, hence inherently unconstitutional. They succeeded, and so with the Creation Science label firmly attached, Judge Jones could estop the movement cold. The cranks haven't given up, of course, but they have to engage in ever more fanciful doubletalk and hysterics.

donkos 7:36 PM  

I think the clue is misguided. There is a branch of creation science not related to Bible study - cosmology. I think a better clue might have been "Original Research?"

michael 8:07 PM  

I wonder if the Wednesday and Friday puzzles were accidentally switched this week.

Can't complain about the clue-answer combo for creation science (which ought to be about the big bang theory and/or reproduction)

John from Chicago 8:50 PM  

Is Rex trying to make saying CREATION SCIENCE politically incorrect? Laughable. Besides those who believe in the Bible over Darwin in terms of the presence of man will merely come up with another term to express their thoughts. Sometimes Rex can be funny. I suspect this is one of those times.

sanfranman59 10:04 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 5:29, 6:53, 0.80, 1%, Easy (fastest median solve time of 94 Mondays)
Tue 8:37, 8:57, 0.96, 46%, Medium
Wed 14:46, 11:46, 1.25, 94%, Challenging (7th highest median solve time of 93 Wednesdays)
Thu 22:18, 19:07, 1.17, 82%, Challenging
Fri 16:29, 26:11, 0.63, 2%, Easy (2nd lowest median solve time of 97 Fridays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 2:52, 3:41, 0.78, 1%, Easy (fastest median solve time of 94 Mondays)
Tue 4:17, 4:35, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Wed 7:02, 5:47, 1.22, 91%, Challenging (9th highest median solve time of 93 Wednesdays)
Thu 10:42, 9:13, 1.16, 80%, Challenging
Fri 7:58, 12:54, 0.62, 3%, Easy (3rd lowest median solve time of 96 Fridays)

Quite a roller coaster ride this week.

Juvenile and Prissy 1:52 AM  

I'm with Rex on the creation "science" issue. Unfortunately, it is in the language. Weird that creation science believers are following this blog. Maybe there's an app for that.

Tobias Duncan 4:11 AM  

@ Juvenile and Prissy I dont think anyone here supports creation science, I think that a few folks were defending its use in the puzzle. I happen to agree with them for the most part.Creation science is very much in the language especially on the net in places where people have ontological debates.I just wish the phrase would have been attached to an easily identifiable person like Ben Stein.The ID people grab credibility wherever they can and sometimes in the most unlikely places,so I always try to keep a close eye on them and engage and debunk whenever possible.

Anonymous 7:07 AM  

Lucky Rex, to get the right start today. For me, too many places where starting in the wrong direction with the wrong, but appropriate, word gave too many correct checking cross letters:


xxxx pRARIES
(praries being about as rural as you can get)

fARR and FAA crossing
pARR and PGA
(golfers clearly an approach shotgroup)

(looking for misdirection of the womens vs mens

Did he do that on purpose?

Brian in Texas 2:36 PM  

I worry about people who seem to be so repulsed by the mention of creation science. Creation science has been around for over 2000 years. The following quote is that old.

"Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although mankind knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images...."

As for me, I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

Y'all, listen up! There's a reason there's no overlap between Rexians and them that supports the creation fauxscience: ya need an IQ greater than yer shoe size to solve NYT crosswords. 'Nuff said.

- Tex Dinosaur

Lurking, Just Behind You 3:52 PM  

Two Thumbs UP for the puzzle today. I was as fast as I have ever been on a Friday.


Three Thumbs WAY Up (and 5 stars!) to

@JD for bringing the word CROMULENT into the conversation. RIGHT ON!

And here in syndication-land the puzzle ran on the 21st of May...or Rapture for those of the ilk that believe in Creation Science. As a social scientist, I hope to observe the Rapture (or its failure) from a calculated distance and enjoy it. OR perhaps enjoy the Rapture Looting or Rapture Orgy that they have been talking up here.....

Oh..and @Brian in Texas...good luck with that.

latio: Your Uncle from Santa Monica??

LongbeachLee 7:47 PM  

A I the only dummy that had to recover from surgeon generals?

Dirigonzo 9:01 PM  

Well that explains everything - appearently there is a glitch in the time-space continuum so yesterday was Friday (May 20 here in syndicationland, as I indicated in my comment yesterday) and today is Thursday. At least my puzzle solving experience, and apparently that of many prime-timers, would so indicate. Why @Lurking,JBY thinks it is Saturday 5/21 (Rapture Day) is beyond me but he/she probably knows something that I don't.

@LongbeachLee - nope, some of the prime-timers made that mistake, too (see comments above).

I'm really hoping that @NarB will chime in on the CREATIONSCIENCE debate.

Anonymous 11:29 PM  

I don't think I'd ever heard the term "creation science" before, but I got it right away from the first two and last two letters. I *loved* this one because it just made so much sense that creationists would want to call their efforts something like this. Of course, I may have seen the term before - who knows what evils lurk in the minds of men...

I agree with Stan that titles like Surgeon General (and "attorney at law", etc.) are great because their plurals sit in the mind in an interesting way.




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