24 actress Cuthbert / SAT 3-10-12 / 1940s-50s tough guy Dennis / Burning Giraffes in Yellow painter / Madrigal syllables / Ancient Mycenaean stronghold / Jelly Roll Bix 1994 history early jazz / Crumbled ingredient dirt pudding / TV golf analyst won three Masters

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium





THEME: none

Word of the Day: SPOT PASS (14D: Part of a timing pattern on a football field) —

n.
A pass directed to a predetermined place on a playing area so that the receiving player arrives at the same time as the pass. (freedictionary.com)
• • •

Humiliating train wreck for me. This puzzle should've been Easy—was Easy, for most of the time. Sometimes Medium, but mostly Easy. And yet I got flattened by it. Well, by one tiny, 4x4 section of it—specifically, the NE corner. Total embarrassment that I could not not not come up with the TAG in TAG SALES (13D: Subjects of many notices stapled to telephone poles). The term is not native to ... my people. We call them "yard sales" or "garage sales." I've never heard anyone refer to a TAG SALE before in my life. But—BUT—I know the term exists. I've seen it before. And—EVENTUALLY—my brain supplied it. But only after a horrid freefall that consumed easily as much time as it took me to complete the entire rest of the grid. Also embarrassing—I watch a lot of pro football, and have followed the game off and on since I was about 8. I cannot remember ever hearing / seeing the term SPOT PASS. I threw every kind of PASS I could up there—nothing. I don't quite understand how a SPOT PASS is different from any pass where the receiver catches it while running. Presumably, yes, you want ball and player to be in the same place at the same time. But again, I'm sure this is something, like TAG SALES, I should've known and just didn't. Also completely forgot what O.S.S. stood for. Organization of ... some kind of States? No. Office of Strategic Services, an intelligence agency formed during WWII (11D: When the O.S.S. was formed). But when you don't know that, and your answer ends in "I"—then the only reasonable answer is (yes) a Roman numeral. I know O.S.S. was 20th-century, and so, for many minutes, it was an agency formed in MCMI. That's right: 1901. Stop the presses, rewrite the history books. Turns out the O.S.S. was formed by Teddy Roosevelt. Ugh. The only thing that saved me was the lucky drifting of TAG to the forefront of my brain. That "G" instantly gave me IAGO (18A: "But men are men; the best sometimes forget" speaker), and then everything fell into place. WITS came out of the woodwork, and then all that remained was CRAP. Literally. That's the answer I had sitting at 16A: Stop shooting (WRAP) until the bitter end. Thus I remember very little about solving this baby. Just the slow-motion face-plant at the end.



Bullets:
  • 21A: "Jelly Roll, Bix and ___" (1994 history of early jazz) (HOAGY) — Carmichael, whom I always get confused with Fatty Arbuckle, for no other reason than that they sound like discarded WB cartoon character names.
  • 2D: Robert who won Oscars for both writing and directing "Kramer vs. Kramer" (BENTON) — never heard of him. I'm more of a Thomas Hart BENTON man, myself.
  • 37A: She bests Sherlock in "A Scandal in Bohemia" (IRENE) — Adler, whom I know from many a crossword puzzle. This was one of several gimmes that made the vast majority of the grid easy to move through. See also ELISHA (1D: "24" actress Cuthbert) and ORESTEIA (32D: Aeschylus trilogy).
  • 44A: TV golf analyst who won three Masters (FALDO) — Nick, whose name I know only from hearing it accidentally and repeatedly in my sports-obsessed youth (see my above embarrassment at not knowing what is apparently basic football terminology).
  • 55A: Terrible #2s (SORE LOSERS) — Would've kept BORN LOSERS if that hadn't resulted in ridiculous crosses.

  • 3D: 1942 invasion site (BATAAN) — keeping with our WWII theme ... 
  • 28D: 1940s-'50s tough-guy portrayer Dennis (O'KEEFE) — I'm sure I've seen him, but I've never heard the name before, as far as I know. I'm more of a Michael O'KEEFE man, myself.
  • 45D: Ancient Mycenaean stronghold (ARGOS) — whence "Argives," i.e. one of the collective terms for the Greeks in "The Iliad."
  • 34D: Mineral found in igneous rock (PYROXENE) — if you say so. I had PYROXITE for a bit.
  • 33D: "The Week at War" airer (CNN) — never heard of it. But then I probably haven't heard of 90% of their programming. They've got the "Situation Room," right? And that British guy who took over for Larry King? Piers Plowman, I think. Anything else ... ? Probably. But not so's you'd notice. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

102 comments:

pk 1:07 AM  

My heart was all aflutter (is that a word?) when my first guess for 1A went in and was correct. On a Saturday? Then the same thing happened for 15A and 17A and I thought I had died and gone to Monday.

Hit the same bumps as @Rex in the NE. My people are a way aways from Rex's people, and we don't have tag sales either. No idea what that means. There are tags on items for sale in department stores, as well as in garages, yards, estates, etc. One of y'all kids knows the origin of this phrase.

Only other "huh" was Letter Box Format - inferrable (is that a word?) from crosses, but don't know what it is.

kg 2:21 AM  

Wow, I often DNF Saturdays and this one took me 12 minutes. Just about the easiest Saturday I can remember. That said, totally agree with Rex: never heard of tag sales -- what part of the country uses that term? And spot pass? Didn't ring a bell, and I've watched more football than I care to admit.

Greg Charles 2:54 AM  

Yeah, letterbox isn't used much now that everything is letterbox, I.e., movie ratio. Back, oh, nigh on to five or ten years ago we'd buy movies on silver disc called DVDs and we'd have to choose between the full screen or letterbox editions.

Interlined got to me though. Lines, linea, lined? I kept toggling through them. Lined seemed least likely.

Tuning Spork 3:11 AM  

Well, I've always known them as TAG SALES. Connecticut guy, here. So maybe it's a northeastern thing?

jae 3:17 AM  

Medium for me.

Knew TAGSALE from my bride's New England relatives. Maybe that's the region of origin?

Mini golf theme with FALDO, WEDGE, and mulligan.

Erasures: IRANCON(f**k, it won't fit), LETITALONE, WILE for WITS which had LOSTPETS on my telephone pole briefly, BATTAN, PYROXIDE, ... anyway that's why medium.

r.alphbunker 3:31 AM  

Tried various lost animals (cat, dog, pet) before deciding it was some kind of a sale. Took a while to get tag.

If you try googling tag sale under images, the first signs displayed are yard sales. A tag sale sign on a telephone pole was way down the list.

I skip M-W 4:56 AM  

I thought of Elisha as a male name; never watched 24, so that section was much harder than NE, where spot pass (no more obscure to me than most other passes) just filled itself in. Liked combo of ebb and flow and give or take, though they foiled me for awhile.

Had vaguely heard of Faldo, but took a long time to remember him. I thought of lab rat as term like gym rat at first.

Not sure why the "?" for Quick affair, though I suppose there are names for quicker ones.

Evgeny 5:21 AM  

So the northeastern TAGSALES is placed in the NE section. Wouldn't that be a nice theme? Take regional expressions and put them into appropriate parts of the puzzle?

Anonymous 5:56 AM  

I don't know...I grew up in Massachusetts and I always knew them as yard sales. I have seen the term in Florida however.

imsdave 6:24 AM  

Be careful when you hit your WEDGE out of the sandtrap, that your ball doesn't RIM out of the cup (and no, I'm not going to let that go).

Also in CT, and as Tuning Spork said, we call them TAG SALES.

icildexi flamp 7:08 AM  

An example of a SPOT PASS is one where the receiver runs down the field with his back to the quarterback, a pass is launched toward a spot to the right of the receiver, the receiver cuts to the right and turns his head to find the ball arriving.

Sue McC 7:43 AM  

Easy peasy, except for PYROXENE and INTERLINED, which needed a little help from crosses. Fun, new (for me, anyway) OREO clue.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

Vaguely remembered the term TAGSALES but didn't know what context those words were used in.
Growing up in Wisconsin we commonly use the term BUBBLER to refer to a DRINKING FOUNTAIN. I'd like to see that in a puzzle!

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Well, this is probably a big faux pas, but I just did yesterday's puzzle a day late, was completely mystified by one clue/answer, and don't think I saw any comments about it. If anyone's interested, please check yesterday's comments.

ERS 8:19 AM  

yesterday while putting during my golf round , I had a "rim" out, so I took a "did over" and made the putt. Amazing how many times you sink the putt when you get a "did over". I'm not leaving it alone either.

jackj 8:24 AM  

Will Shortz must be suffering from ACPTitis which can cause a loss of focus on the matter at hand.

If ever a puzzle was meant to be a fluid Friday, not a Saturday poser, today’s Berry was it. It was a much easier and quicker solve than yesterday’s puzzle yet, fortunately, still and all, the Berry elegance and wit shine through, just not quite as brightly as usual in this faux-Saturday.

My only hang-up, (a very temporary one), came at 17 across which started out as INTERLACED but quickly was replaced with INTERLINED when LOCGAGO didn’t comport to any Latin phrase of my knowledge.

The two 15’s were perfectly adequate but unexciting, even seeming to have a whiff of pro forma-ism to them, but the puzzle did come to a ringing conclusion in the lower right as GIVEORTAKE and SORELOSERS made for a tasty Dagwood sandwich with ONENIGHTER as the filling.

Thanks, Patrick. Your puzzles are always fun to solve, even when they trigger a bout of technical grousing (and you did pass the golfer’s acid test with your “mulligan” answer).

evil doug 8:34 AM  

Elisha Cuthbert played the ever-annoying Kim Bauer---Jack's busy-body daughter---in "24". Like Jack didn't have enough to deal with fighting various terrorists and traitors---he had to fend off his moron daughter nipping at his soul. In her defense, however: She's hot.

I was glad 'terrible #2s" didn't get into diarrhea issues....

'Avenge' is a cool word---and concept. Had to love the original 'Avengers'---Patrick Macnee as Steed and particularly Diana Rigg as Emma Peel....

Wedge begets the much more entertaining 'wedgie'---or 'binder' as we often called it....

Sorry to see 'oreo' celebrating a belated birthday....

Poor Astros. First game I took my kids to was Astros against the Reds in 1989. In the first frame the Reds got 16 hits and 14 runs. 6-year-old son Jim: "Is it always like this, Dad?" [My kids will also tell you we took them to a 1990 Padres-Reds twin-bill in San Diego, at which Roseanne Barr infamously butchered the National Anthem while grabbing her crotch and spitting. Lucky she got away with her life in that big Navy town; I think most of the sailors were at the library that day....]

Evil

SethG 8:39 AM  

The last time the NYTimes sports section mentioned a SPOT PASS was in 1963, but they were quoting someone who'd played much longer ago. 1945, it appeared in a write-up then...

I had SPILLING, which kinda works, so I tried OWESTEIA. I really wish I'd been right.

AnnieD 9:01 AM  

I'm from CT and call it tag sale.

Enjoyed the puzz muchly and found it on par with yesterday's. My struggle was the top of the SW corner. I was thinking this week at war was an WWII era news reel so put in RKO which crossed nicely with "You have been punked". And it took forever to recall Irene from Sherlock Holmes...though I could picture her so well, glaring at Basil Rathbone. So eventually the pieces fell into place. The rest was enjoyably paced and more solvable than I feared when I saw a Patrick Berry Saturday.

Sir Hillary 9:03 AM  

Felt like an easy Friday. Zero write-overs, first time ever on a Saturday. Typical PB quality. With the exception of SPOTPASS, every entry made sense to me. TAGSALES is a common term to me. Lots of sports references, which are fat pitches over the plate. That said, was thrown off by the brilliant 10D clue until the very end.

Interesting clue at 38D...are lab rats typically ALBINO?

As for SPOTPASS, I have been playing or watching football for 40 years, and never have I heard that term. But there it is, so I have learned something new.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

I don't waste my time with Patrick Berry's stupid clues.

The Bard 9:09 AM  

Othello > Act II, scene III

IAGO: Touch me not so near:
I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth
Than it should do offence to Michael Cassio;
Yet, I persuade myself, to speak the truth
Shall nothing wrong him. Thus it is, general.
Montano and myself being in speech,
There comes a fellow crying out for help:
And Cassio following him with determined sword,
To execute upon him. Sir, this gentleman
Steps in to Cassio, and entreats his pause:
Myself the crying fellow did pursue,
Lest by his clamour--as it so fell out--
The town might fall in fright: he, swift of foot,
Outran my purpose; and I return'd the rather
For that I heard the clink and fall of swords,
And Cassio high in oath; which till to-night
I ne'er might say before. When I came back--
For this was brief--I found them close together,
At blow and thrust; even as again they were
When you yourself did part them.
More of this matter cannot I report:
But men are men; the best sometimes forget:
Though Cassio did some little wrong to him,
As men in rage strike those that wish them best,
Yet surely Cassio, I believe, received
From him that fled some strange indignity,
Which patience could not pass.

OTHELLO: I know, Iago,
Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter,
Making it light to Cassio. Cassio, I love thee
But never more be officer of mine.

joho 9:12 AM  

This was so much easier that yesterday I couldn't believe it was our Saturday offering.

@pk, when you'd watch a movie in LETTERBOXFORMAT you'd see black bars above and below the picture which was shrunk to show how the director shot it and wanted it to be viewed. If you watched it full screen you were missing parts of each frame.

@jae, I liked the mini golf theme and was so happy to see all terms were legit. @imsdave, you shouldn't let RIM go, I can't either! Anyone who watches golf on TV should know Nick Faldo. While I'm riveted, it's like watching paint dry for many I hear.

I always enjoy a Patrick Berry puzzle regardless of which day it runs ... his PROWESSS is unrivaled.

@Rex, great writeup especially your description of your battle in the NE.

orangeblossomspecial 9:14 AM  

Hoagy Carmichael, the pride of Indiana University. Author of numerous homespun lyrics.

I have one record of him singing Huggin' and Chalkin':

Gee, but ain't it fun to have a girl so big and fat
That when you go to hug 'er, you don't know where you're at
You have to take a piece of chalk in your hand
And hug a while and chalk a mark to see where you began

One day I was huggin' and chalkin' and chalkin' and huggin' away
When I met another fellow with some chalk in his hand
Comin' around the other way, round the mountain
Comin' around the other way!

You can find it on youtube. I don't think Hoagy did the lyrics on this, however.

Wade 9:14 AM  

In a DVD and whiskey binge several years ago, I watched the first and part of the second season of 24. (I used to be a regular around here, back before that whooping crane thing and I had to go away for awhile. They're really cracking down on that stuff, especially if it's a second offense.) All I remember about the show is Bauer's idiot daughter getting caught in a cougar trap. She was just wandering along in some woods and somehow walks right into a plain-as-day cougar trap. That propelled the plot for a few episodes--something about a bomb ticking in the President's briefcase and, oh, yeah, Jack, you'll also need to deal with your daughter in the cougar trap. I remembered the actress's name, but incorrectly, so I wound up with SOAGY, an error I didn't catch.

SPOT PASS is also not a term I could come up with easily and still doesn't ring any bells. Same with TAG SALE. I'm remembering the phrase, from a TV commercial, "JC Penny Tag Sale!" or maybe a "white tag" sale, which I also don't know what is either, but anyway it wasn't in anybody's yard or in my wheelhouse, but I don't know what a wheelhouse is either or if I even have one. I got the OSS-WWII connection immediately, but I went for WILE instead of WITS for a long time.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

As a hobby, my wife and I do daily puzzles together. When we put our heads together, we usually finish without online help. As such, we found this one easy. Is this cheating?
GS

Charles and Mary Lamb 9:24 AM  

lago, pretending a great reluctance to accuse Cassio, but, as it were, forced into it by Othello, who insisted to know the truth, gave an account of the whole matter (leaving out his own share in it, which Cassio was too far gone to remember) in such a manner, as while he seemed to make Cassio's offence less, did indeed make it appear greater than it was. The result was, that Othello, who was a strict observer of discipline, was compelled to take away Cassio's place of lieutenant from him.

orangeblossomspecial 9:32 AM  

@Anonymous. My take on LECH is that it is an abbreviated form for LECHer. So 'Not a good looker' is a description of a LECHer.

Kurt 9:36 AM  

I'm surprised at the reaction to SPOT PASS. Maybe my memory is failing me (I know. It happens.), but I swear I hear the term on almost every Sunday during the NFL season. This was a write-in answer after the SPO, which came pretty quickly after WWII and IRANGATE.

quilter1 9:38 AM  

My first entry was IRENE. Then lost pets at 13D. It fit, it made sense and it was wrong. I've normally heard TAG SALES to refer to estate sales. My NE was the last to fall, too, and I very much enjoyed the solve.

John V 9:43 AM  

Medium here. As noted, in CT they are TAGSALES. Didn't know PB made it to Fairfield County. Esp liked 34a Superior Facility, 10a One held in a trap, was freakin' brilliant. INTERLINED seemed to be leaning a tad toward the neologism end of things, but, whatever. Initially had WILL @ 11a.

I don't know. Maybe all that flying is helping my solving. Last two weeks seem to have been over all much easier than normal. Maybe the killers will surface in Brooklyn, which sorry to miss, of course.

chefbea 9:50 AM  

Just came back from Yard Sailing which I do every Sat. morning here in NC. In Ct I went Tag Sailing.

Loved the crumbled ingredient in dirt pudding.!!! Wouldn't put grated chees on it though.

We have a picture in our guest room of a night stand. The title of the picture...."one night stand"

Z 9:51 AM  

Looking at the finished grid I have no idea why, but this just kicked me around, and then kicked me again while I was down.

Let's see, lost pets for 13D, pencil stub for the terrible #2s, ONEroundER for my quickie, never watched 24 and or Kramer vs. Kramer. So, I'd like to complain about TAGSALES and SPOTPASS and INTERLINED and DIDOVER, but really it was just one of those days for me.

Jp 10:03 AM  

I got excited seeing Patrick Berry's name from the get go. So I knew I would have fun. Had O'NEALS, TALES and SHOCKER before I had to start googling. Just too many names for me to know or remember. But once I got a few names things star to unravel. NW corner was the first to be conquered followed by SW and SE. Never heard of SWILLING but I guess such a word exists.
Not to compare myself to Rex but I had the same experience as Rex in the NE corner. But I did it in the end the P in WRAP being the last letter entered.
For me being able to complete Saturday with or without Google is a big accomplishment.
So this would have to be rated as easy.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

So what is the distinguishing characteristic of a TAG SALE? When people want to get rid of stuff they've accumulated over the years, they sometimes try to make money and sell the stuff. The sale might be in their yard, or if they don't have a yard (as in urban areas) they might just have the sale on a sidewalk. If they are willing to bargain the selling price, it would not be a tag sale. If they set a price in advance, they write the asking price on a tag and affix the tag to the object. So hagglers should stay away from tag sales. At least that's the theory, I think.

chefbea 10:20 AM  

You always haggle...whether a tag sale, garage sale, or yard sale.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

This one was way too easy. No sweat, and no challenge. Coupled with yesterday's romp (although I didn't get Hegira) it was a boring weekend. Back to yardwork.

Wood 10:42 AM  

To my surprise, a record Saturday for me. Puzzle remained largely blank during the first pass through the Across clues... never a good sign. But got some toeholds and things just started to fall into place. I think I got LETTERBOX FORMAT off of one crossing O. NE was tricky as we all agree... wanted a RRN for 11D but realized that would have to be 1901, which seemed unlikely. I knew 13D was some kind of sale and YARD and GARAGE didn't fit, so thought it must be TAG... though we don't have those here in MN either. (Neither do we have bubblers, in spite of being right next to Wisconsin. We both drink pop though).

Wanted dull pencils or something excreta-related for 55A... had SORE___ and thought, would Will really have gone there? Alas, no.

cyberclops 10:47 AM  

Fatty and Hoagy confusion? Just remember Fatty was indeed fat and Hoagy Carmichael was used in the first Bond book to describe James Bond as (been awhile but I think I'm close to the quote) thin and not very attractive - much like Hoagy Carmichael.

Tita 10:52 AM  

@pk - love "thought I had died and gone to Monday"!

NE was dicey. but not only have I heard of TAGSALES, I have held too many. ("TAG" is short and visible on the signs I have to plaster on all those telephone poles and take down later.)
But UGH - I hate hate hate doing them.

That's why I had lostpetS (which I've done too, but had more success with!), and that crossed with WIle at 11A.

Lots of pop names clustered together into nasty Natick-fest in NW. I did finally get those - it was the OKEEFE/FALDO Natick that DNF'd me.

Except for that "F", gettable in 2 sittings, so overall happy with my solve!

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Easiest Saturday I can remember. I suspect that maybe I just might have beat Rex Crossword on this one; if so, that would probably be lifetime first and quite possibly only.

Tita 10:53 AM  

Oh - can I plant Lamb's TALES next to the Lamb's ears in my garden?

Matthew G. 10:57 AM  

My second-best Saturday time ever—and I think the best was also a Berry. This was decidedly easier than yesterday's puzzle. I think something about seeing PB's byline gives me added confidence that my intuitive guesses will be correct, and I proceed more boldly.

I personally say "yard sales" or "garage sales," but TAG SALES is not unfamiliar. I've lived all up and down the east coast, from as far north as Vermont to as far south as Florida, so I really can't say where I picked up each term.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

@Tita - Don't plant them next to one another, the Lambs ears go in the front of the garden, the Lambs tails in the rear.

DJG 11:14 AM  

Concerning SPOTPASS, I go to a sports bar and watch almost every NFL game of the week, every week of the season, every season (yes, I have a problem). I've never heard this term, and had much difficulty with it.

In fact, I think my love of football strangely worked against me in this instance. My brain wouldn't accept something I hadn't heard before. For the non-football fan it's all something they hadn't heard before, so they wouldn't have this problem.

Badir 11:16 AM  

This was a record Saturday for me by over half a minute. I got IRANGATE right away, which gave me IAGO, so then TAG SALE didn't bother me, and with WRAP, WWII, and WITS, SPOT PASS wasn't a problem, either. The only correction I had to make was to PYROXitE. I did ponder FLIENTIER for a few seconds. But otherwise. Wheelhouse. Mine. In.

Rookie 11:19 AM  

The puzzle was great fun, but the comments were even better. I laughed out loud more than once this morning. Thanks to all of you for a wonderful start to my Saturday morning. I'm supposed to be at my French conversation group this morning but just couldn't put this aside.

Some days I just love you all! I'm still smiling.

davko 11:23 AM  
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davko 11:24 AM  
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Two Ponies 11:25 AM  

Patrick Berry on a Sat. What a gift.
@Evgeny, I like that idea. Is your last name Malcolm?
@ evil doug, I loved the Avengers too. May have been the genesis of my Anglophilia. Still laughing at the sailors in the library.
Hmm, spell checker is telling me that Every word in my post iswrong.

David 11:27 AM  

A 5th (or 6th?) hand-up for knowing TAG SALES from growing up in CT (Fairfield County, Ridgefield then Westport). After yesterday's beaut, of which I finished with an error at DO-PASTERS vs DOPE-STERS, I completely shattered my best Saturday time and finished just inside of 10 minutes.

Perfect way to start when 1D is a gimme, the eternal damsel in distress Kim Bauer, which in turn creates a 10 letter gimme off of the E (EBB AND FLOW). Everything else just FLOWed from there, no hangups....

Cheerio 11:28 AM  

Yes, so easy for a Saturday. But otherwise OK. Smooth, but I am a tiny bit annoyed at having to learn still more about Charles Lamb, when he's not even being evoked for Elia!

davko 11:28 AM  
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Rex Parker 11:29 AM  

Wade! The comments section just isn't the same ...

davko 11:31 AM  

@ icildexi I've seen this type pass implemented with increasing frequency in the NFL, and delighted to know there's a term for it... though have never heard it used amongst analysts!

Very satisfying puzzle and a fairly fluid solve for me, with the exception of the SE, especially at 55A, where I somehow got fixated on "Noreaster" as some kind of category 2 storm. I always marvel how often my troublesome spots are at variance with Rex's, as the NE was, by my WITS, a piece of cake.

Snickered upon seeing FALDO (44A) crossed with the definition for mulligan (36D); hope nothing was implied by that.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

I played high school football, never heard the term spot pass until a few years later, when I was playing in an organized 2-hand touch league. On a kickoff or punt, the man receiving the ball is allowed to attempt a forward pass as long as he doesn't first attempt to start a return, just catches the ball, and takes one step into his throw. That was known league-wide as a spot pass. I also watch alot of football, mostly the world champion New York Giants, and it seems to me what the clue and many of the commenters here are describing is most often referred to as a timing pattern in the NFL.

Charley 11:55 AM  

While I finished this pretty easily, I have several quarrels. Indeed, I have been a football fan for over 50 years and I have never heard the term "spot pass". Button hook, yes. The Reagan era scandal is always referred to as Iran Contra, never Irangate. And what the heck is "letterbox format?

Rudy 12:17 PM  

@evil

Oh, how I wished too that in the puzz state I was in that 55a was Diarrheas.But SORELOSERS seems somewhat close.

And what about 48d "Pointed in a way" and why did the British meaning of TART spring to my mind? Oh, well.

Me evil for a day.

Mel Ott 12:23 PM  

It took a long time for me to get 1A even as I sat here watching the EBB AND FLOW in the tidal pool in back of my home.

No puzzle is easy for me when the first 3 downs are proper names crossing 2 other proper names.

Stared at 21A for a long time asking who the hell is SOAGY. Oh, it's HOAGY. Don't think of him as 'early jazz'. I remember him on B&W TV in the 50's playing 'Stardust' on the piano with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth. Must be getting old.

I know it's thrown to a SPOT, but in my experience it's always been called a TIMING PASS, not a SPOT PASS. Of course there are many things that happen outside my experience, so I supose somebody called it that sometime someplace.

Ulrich 12:23 PM  

@Evgeny: I, too, like your idea, even if the puzzle would be unsolvable for me.

...and I'm still waiting for an answer to @IskipM-W's (the braggart) question: Why is there a "?" at the end of the clue for 53A? Did I miss it?

Chip Hilton 12:24 PM  

CTer here, so TAGSALE a given, once I got rid off the lost cats and dogs. SPOTPASS gave me some trouble, but it wasn't totally unfamiliar. Like Rex, it was MCMI and CRAP (dice reference?) at first. So, in summary, all about the Northeast.

As for the rest, enjoyable Berry treat.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Re: Yesterday's comments . . . I would never have known who Sally Rand was if I were not an Ogden Nash fan. He wrote "Sally Rand, needs an extra hand."

John V 12:36 PM  

@Ulrich re: question mark. I saw it and was looking for indirection, e.g. quick of a fingernail bed. The answer, IMHO, did not tie with the question mark.

evil doug 12:49 PM  

From the "Savvy Male" website (no, I am not he):

"Affairs are not one night stands. Cheating can be a one night stand, a short lived infraction, or a habit. Affairs usually begin with emotional bonding, then proceed to physical intimacy. Affairs of the heart usually start as friendships, progress to emotionally connected, then develop a chemistry. Somewhere between friendship and emotionally connected, something dangerous occurs and the individuals develop a common bond."

So perhaps since the pre-entanglement (ooh, like the sound of that!) requirements of an affair are not technically met with the one-night stand, the question mark was employed.

Evil?

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

This puzzle was too easy for a Saturday. It was also way too boring. All O's and E's in the grid. An occasional R thrown in to challenge us with OREO.

Ollie North 1:21 PM  

Here's Stan Smith explaining Iran-gate, for all you young kids out there.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

BARREL for BEAKER; isn't it the most obvious cylindrical vessel with a flat bottom?

Looking for a terrible #2 with something like "projectile diarrhea".

Masked and Anonymos 2:11 PM  

Thoght the pz was as easy as dirt (pdding). NE was actally my first area to fall, and a qick conqest, at that. Makes me feel like nmber 30 for a day.

Overall, a real fn SatPz; never meta PB pz I Didn't like, thogh. Gotta go thmbsp. Bt... vagely left me wanting something more...

[0 for 2. Snort.]

Evgeny 2:16 PM  

@ Two Ponies: No, my last name's not Malcolm, not even Malkin. Is the Malcolm person somebody famous?

Ulrich 2:30 PM  

@ED: Since when is a drink together not enough to qualify as pre-entanglement?

Seriously, thx for the enlightenment...

Lewis 2:45 PM  

Speaking of Patrick Berry, anyone here think like me that the "Answer Grids for "Cross" Words Contest Week" box on the NYT puzzle page will make it to the six month mark?

JenCT 2:51 PM  

Tons of writeovers for me.

Lots of TAG SALES in our CT neighborhood; the silly running joke in my family when we pass either a Yard, Tag, or Garage sale is, "No thanks, we already have one."

Even geologist hubby guessed PYROXite.

I took hardwood cuttings of FIGS last time I was in Brooklyn; they'll be ready to plant outside when it warms up a bit.

Bird 2:57 PM  

Wow, first time in a long time I finished a Saturday puzzle. SHOCKER. I was slowed down in the NE corner as I had LOST for 13D and waiting for crosses to see if the pet was a cat or dog. When I got GAP for 23A my first thought was LOSTAPES? But TRALA told me it was some kind of sale and TAG was the only one that fit. A yard sale is a garage sale is a tag sale, with the first 2 the most common on Long Island. And that SPOTPASS – the term is valid, but I don’t recall hearing it used. I do hear, “That pass was spot on”, but not “The quarterback made a perfect SPOT PASS to the corner of the endzone”. I also made the same mistake as Rex for 11D naturally assuming it was a Roman numeral so plunked down MSML.

I liked the clue for 43A. I miss my LPs; I’ll have to pull them out of storage one day and show the kids. I do have to admit though MPEG files are very convenient – everything on the Mac and multiple Airport Express stations hooked up to speakers.

I know dirt cake (28A), but I guess PB knows dirt pudding. And “You have been . . .” coulda been anything.

My double captcha etsit onngen anagrams into testing none. Yeah, right.

jae 5:06 PM  

Elisha is a lot less annoying on the new ( second season) "smart" sitcom "Happy Endings." It's worth a look.

Sparky 5:20 PM  

WWII and WRAP my first entries. Knew IRENE; had FRan before FRED. At first saw little; chipped away and it came bit by bit : NW, SW, NE. Chosen before WARNED. Then had to put it aside for a couple of hours. Finished. I suppose my sub conscious was solving. There is just something I like about Patrick Berry.

Great write up today, Rex. Love Annie Lennox and Hoagy Charmichael. To Have and Have Not, in which he sings (Bacall too), was on TV recently.

Dr W 6:14 PM  

Had same problem with upper right too. If you're well-versed in movie-TV activity the whole puzzle is a walkover.

sanfranman59 6:17 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 7:58, 6:50, 1.17, 95%, Challenging
(8th highest median solve time of 141 Mondays)
Tue 8:10, 8:51, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium
Wed 12:02, 11:50, 1.02, 59%, Medium
Thu 11:47, 18:56, 0.62, 1%, Easy
(2nd lowest median solve time of 141 Thursdays)
Fri 24:56, 25:09, 0.99, 49%, Medium
Sat 19:20, 29:39, 0.65, 2%, Easy
(3rd lowest median solve time of 133 Saturdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:13, 3:40, 1.16, 94%, Challenging
(10th highest median solve time of 141 Mondays)
Tue 4:17, 4:34, 0.94, 33%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:39, 5:52, 0.96, 44%, Medium
Thu 5:46, 9:16, 0.62, 1%, Easy
(2nd lowest median solve time of 141 Thursdays)
Fri 13:14, 12:27, 1.06, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 9:40, 16:52, 0.57, 2%, Easy
(2nd lowest median solve time of 132 Saturdays)

Anonymous 6:21 PM  

So, what does one do when, as I did today, see a flower of such surpassing allure, one which the petals in their main looked soft as down, but its edges, well they progressed in a seemingly endless refinement of softness, to the point where I wanted, but dared not, take a magnifying glass to see if the refinement continued, dared not because the possibility that it was endless was as disturbing as the notion that it stopped would have been disappointing. What do you do when seeing such a thing, knowing you shouldn't touch it, but every cell of your body screams that you must. When, finally daring to touch it, you realized that your hands, after 37 years as a stone mason, could not know that softness, or any softness at all. That the first thing that's touched your soul in years is inaccessible to you?
What the fuck do you do then?

evil doug 6:24 PM  

You take a breath and add a few periods.

Evil

michael 6:34 PM  

"Tag sale" seems a bit unfair if you're not from New England (or perhaps the East coast). I knew it only because I've spent some time in New England. They're "yard sales" in most of the places I've lived.

Like others, I started with with "lost cats," "lost dogs," and "lost pets."

lawprof 6:36 PM  

O'Neil? O'Neal? O'Niel? Shaq? Tatum? Ryan? Eugene? Can't ever keep them straight.

That nine-square 3X3 in the N.E. had me completely stumped, so I put it down, went for a couple hour bike ride, came back and finished pretty quickly. What happens in the brain when it goes away for a while? Seems to keep churning on its own when you're not watching.

Martin M. Solomon 6:43 PM  

11 Down When OSS was formed , in Roman numerals was MCMXDI (1941).

So formed by FDR (Franklin, not Theodore, Roosevelt).

Dirigonzo 7:08 PM  

Golf is not my game so I didn't see the brilliance of the 10d clue for WEDGE until I came here. And since golf is not my game I never watch it, and I thought Pyrex, the heat resistant glassware, might be named for the mineral found in igneous rocks so the resulting FALDe seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

Don't forget to set your clocks ahead tonight - DST begins a 2:00AM Sunday!

John V 7:08 PM  

@lawprof. Many years ago, my first piano teacher told me, while tackling Bach, "Put it aside and let it grow", when stuck. That's just the way it is, one of the brain's mysteries, I suppose.

Two Ponies 7:30 PM  

@ Evgeny, If you're still out there, I misspelled the last name. I meant Malkin. Sorry for the confusion (on my part).
@ Anon 6:21, That's some sort of scary post.

loren muse smith 7:31 PM  

@Sparky - WRAP and WWII were my first two, too, followed by TAGSALE, IRANGATE. . .unlike most here, I dispatched the NE and then came to a grinding halt with all the proper nouns. I thought this was a lot harder than ya'll are saying! ORESTEIA, ARGOS, HOAGY, ELISHA - not at all accessible to me. But that's ok, because it was a just-right Saturday for me. Thanks, Patrick.

Scott 9:25 PM  

I had the exact same experience, cleared everything but the NE corner with ease (which almost never happens for me on a Saturday) but got stuck on the end. I also figured 11 down had to be Roman numerals with the I ending.

TrudyJ 10:56 PM  

I'd love to know if I'm the only Canadian doing this puzzle who got off on the wrong foot immediately by confidently putting in DIEPPE at 3-down. Though technically, I know, Dieppe wasn't an invasion, more of an unsuccessful practice run, but that's immediately where my mind went with 1942, invasion, 6 letters. Then I had to remind myself that this is an American puzzle and you folks were fighting a whole other war at the time.

Anonymous 11:44 PM  

@Matthew G - Please help me. One time you go to great lengths to argue that speed does not matter and today you say:

"My second-best Saturday time ever—and I think the best was also a Berry."

That is why I like you so much.

@Evil Doug - How do you know so much about having an affair?

That's not why I like you so much....

JFC

Dave 11:23 PM  

Had a short plane flight and thought I'd keep myself amused with a Saturday puzzle (I often run a week or so behind!). Turned out that I finished the thing between boarding and waiting for the plane to take off!

Didn't like Spot Pass (and I'm a big football fan), Tag Sale is well known to me as an Ohioan. Everything else just fell into place without effort. Unusual for me on a Saturday.

Spacecraft 11:21 AM  

There was one entry I DIDOVER--and that was it! My first gimme was FALDO, so when I saw "Took a mulligan on" I naturally filled in REDROVE. As, "I 'REDROVE' #17 because a bird flew in front of me." It's only an example, purists; there are no mulligans for any reason. Anyway, this stalled me quite a bit in that sector, till out of curiosity I counted the letters in LETTERBOXFORMAT and it fit--and yielded ALBINO. Totally did not know PYROXENE, but inferred it from the prefix and crosses.

It is interesting that OFL rates this "easy-medium," even though he was clearly "challenged" in one section. So was I--though a different section--but I'd say it averaged out to a straight medium. And that's only because some parts did seem to fall in with minimal effort; e+m+c = m. Einstein ain't got nothin' on me!

Hand up for the TAGSALES confusion; garage or yard, yeah. No tags. We used stickers. And on 10d: I should've guessed WEDGE sooner, in keeping with the golf theme. At 21a I first thought of SATCH, till the crosses forbade. Totally forgot about Robert BENTON, my last entry. Had the clue been "Playmate Barbi," I'd have had another gimme, which might have knocked it down to an easy-medium. Nah. Not Berry.

Lola505 1:02 PM  

Yes, this was an easy, but I thought well-crafted puzzle, containing some seldom seen, interesting words which made it fun.

Mr. Berry's golf terms are spot-on (still smarting from yesterday's RIM out): FALDO, DIDOVER, and even FOIL ("stymie" being a term for one's ball blocking another's putt, predating marking one's ball on the green).

Enjoyable!

Solving in Seattle 1:45 PM  

The NW (where I live, BTW) was Monday. Then I moved over to battle the NE. I grappled, I fought, I chewed on 13D and 14D like a dog on a bone, but had never heard of TAGSALE or SPOTPASS. I, like Rex, finally realized the OSS was founded in WWII (I knew that), and finally, bloodied and almost beaten, WRAPped up the section.

Moved on to quickly finish the rest of the puz. Nice mini golf theme, Mr. Berry. No RIM shot for you. FALDO a nice addition. David Feherty said of Faldo when he wasn't in the announcers booth during golf tournament "Oh, he's attending the birth of his next wife."

@evil, thanks for the visual on 55A.

@dirigonzo, did I see you in the primetimers?

capcha: sevie. I'm not lying. He was one of the great ones.

Red Valerian 2:03 PM  

Enjoyed this a lot, though it took me a while to get going. Had ornerIER for 7D, then FeIsTIER before finally seeing FLINTIER.

No TAGSALES around here, but the term was in my noodle somehow.

I, too, wondered about the question mark for 53A's clue (Quick affair?) Interesting explanation, @ED.

Anyhow, I really enjoyed it, and finished without googling, which makes me glad, even though it's apparently a very easy puzzle for a Saturday.

@SIS--apparently, @Dirigonzo is sneaking around. I usually think that seeing his name (or yours or @Spacecraft, @Lola505, @Waxy...) means that I've reached Syndi-land. Is this a ONENIGHTER? I wonder if he's about to desert us, following @Deb :-{ how do you feel about sad-faces, @Dirigonzo?}

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

Pretty easy going except for 47a and the SE, where I had GIVE OR TAKE and ONE NIGHTERS in my head, but couldn't put it all together until DID OVER came to me. Then FOIL and FORGO brought about FORMAT and I guessed that LETTERBOX must be the format in question. Never heard of it.

Happy to have gotten through that, I went back to the NW, which I had left open, and went ahead with ELISHA, ANNE and HOAGY for the names. And because those worked out so well I figured the opposing phrase I had in my head must also be correct, so it was SouNDING AGAINST. Apologies to Mr. Benton and Mrs. Invasion Site

Agree with Charlie up there: Iran-Gate? Nobody ever said that. Iran Contra, or the Iran Contra scandal or the Iran Contra affair. But never Iran-gate.

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

rub it on your cheek

DMGrandma 6:03 PM  

Ended up with one Natik. Never heard of Faldo or the mineral, so ended with an "i" where the " o " belonged . Otherwise a good puzzle for me, though it took a while to give up lost whatever for tag sales.
To @Solomon, 1941 would be MCMLI.
Also hope Dirgonzo doesn't desert us syndies, I, too, see his tag as a sign we've reached a new day. Wonder if we could get Rex to add some kind od a date indicator somewhere ?

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

Wrong, Grandma. You have written in Roman numerals, 1951. Signed, Caesar Disgustus.

DMGrandma 7:40 PM  

Meant MCMXLI

Anonymous 7:55 PM  

You're forgiven, Gram. I'm just an old Grandpa foolin with ya. I'm quite surprised anyone read my comment it being 4:55 P.M, PDT - from San Diego. I'm sure you know your stuff. Please forgive ME.

Waxy in Montreal 7:58 PM  

Here's what Wiki has to say about the Reagan era scandal -
"The Iran–Contra affair (Persian: ایران-کنترا‎, Spanish: caso Irán-Contra), also referred to as Irangate, Contragate or Iran-Contra-Gate, was a political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986." So, Irangate seems to be a perfectly valid answer.

Agree with many about how easy this puzzle was. Was able to complete it in a couple of hours even while "terrible two" twin grandsons ran roughshod over Mrs. Waxy and me.

Sure @Diri's sydi-absence is temporary. I imagine he's out there battlin' the neap tides fishin' for scrod off the Maine shore or carvin' scrimshaw on whalebone or whatever...

Anonymous 8:11 PM  

Waxy @7:58 You are correct, Sir. I'm pretty sure Mr. Berry does a thorough research before he puts on his Obfuscation Cap. As to Mr. Anonymous @ 4:55 PDT (San Diego) the Roman numerals could also read as follows MCMXXXXI. But DMG's is the preferred. And now to feed the neighbor"s cats.

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