Fabulous singer / 8-31-12 / 1980s Meet Press host Marvin / Actress Rachel of Notebook / Oxygen-dependent organism / Gowns that are rarely worn out / Missal stand's place / Retro candy containers / Newsman something somebody doesn't want printed

Friday, August 31, 2012

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: none

Word of the Day: PEIGNOIRS (30D: Gowns that are rarely worn out) —

peignoir (pronounced: [pɛ.ɲwaːʁ]) is a long outer garment for women which is frequently sheer and made of chiffon or other translucent fabrics. The word comes from French peigner, to comb the hair (from Latin pectināre, from pectenpectin-, comb) describing a garment worn while brushing ones hair, originally referring to a dressing gown or bathrobe.
Very high-end peignoirs were occasionally sold with sheer long gloves and stockings made of the same material as the peignoir itself for wear to bed or on occasions where the wearer would be seen in her nightclothes; such as visiting or while sharing accommodations during travel. Contemporary peignoirs are usually sold with matching nightgownnegligee orpanties.
A peignoir is notably featured in the opening stanza of the poem "Sunday Morning" byWallace Stevens and in opening chapters of the novel Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, where it is described in the context of beach attire. In Fawlty Towers a flirtyFrenchwoman has the character name "Mrs. Peignoir". (wikipedia)
• • •

This is the kind of puzzle that makes people look at crosswords and think "hmmm, how hard can it be?" It's so smooth that it seems effortless. There's virtually nothing jarring or awkward here, **especially** when compared with other 64-word puzzles. But it's not just clean—it's lively and beautiful. A leaning short stack of *actual* *interesting* long words in the middle, crossed by more actual and occasionally *amazing* long stuff. When do you ever see stacks of answers this long where there isn't at least one clunker or groaner in the crosses? Virtually never. Maybe you don't like NOSEEUMS (21D: Small biters)—that answer always feels a little made up to me, as I've never seen it anywhere outside crosswords, but I've seen it, and it's legit. And anyway, it's overshadowed by lovely stuff like RUNS AFTER, KATIE COURIC (25D: Only person to guest-host "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno"), STORMTROOPERS, DISCOURAGES (the plainest answer in the bunch and it's Rock solid), and the especially awesome PEIGNOIRS (30D: Gowns that are rarely worn out), to say nothing of CRATCHIT (24D: Dickensian surname). This thing is a masterpiece, but not in a way that will be remembered because it's just too smooth—no stunts, no bells, no whistles, just craftsmanship from here to the moon. I don't think people appreciate how hard it is to make a 64-worder (or any puzzle) this solid, this unbumpy, this graceful. Sometimes I forget how good this guy is. He does something a little ordinary-seeming, something with a crack or a chip in it, and all of a sudden he seems quite human. But then he goes and makes something like this, and I remember, "Oh, right. He's Michael Jordan."


I was slightly slow out of the box as I know nothing about Rachel MCADAMS (1: Actress Rachel of "The Notebook"). "The Notebook" is very big with girls/ladies (if my students are to be believed), but largely because of one Mr. Ryan Gosling. Or so I assume. Speaking of whom, I just watched "Drive" yesterday and it was great if you like hard-boiled California neo-noir with a lot of violence and car chases and a dash of '80s style. Or if you like Bryan Cranston or Albert Brooks (who doesn't like Brooks?). I don't really know who KALB is, but I've seen him before and I had the -ALB, so bam (25A: 1980s "Meet the Press" host Marvin). Two old newsmen up there, with HEARST (8A: Newsman who famously defined news as "something somebody doesn't want printed") being the far more famous. I don't know BEULAH from "Pilgrim's Progress" (44A: Land of ___ (destination in "The Pilgrim's Progress"))—sounds like a pig's name. But I could infer it easily enough. Despite ignorance of several answers, there wasn't much that slowed me down. I wrote in IMPART for IMPUTE (16A: Ascribe), and that was a definite hang-up, but otherwise, no road bumps at all. A good (educated) guess at REBA helped (43D: "___ #1's" (2005 country music album)). My "secondary definition" sensor was working, as I handled the "Fabulous" in 37D: Fabulous singer (SIREN) with relative ease. Not many flat-out gimmes, but not many bears either.

Bullets:
  • 32A: They're written for two-part harmony (PEACE TREATIES) — now that is how you write a clue. A work of art. 
  • 33A: Amateur geologist's purchase (GEIGER COUNTER) — I thought these measured radiation?? Why would an "amateur geologist" be detecting nuclear radiation? Maybe there's some hobby I'm unaware of.
  • 42A: Fifth word of the lyrics to "American Pie" (AGO) — probably really tempting to put PIE in here, except ... PIE is in the clue, and PIE is the fifth word of the *chorus*, not the song.
  • 3D: Missal stand's place (ALTAR) — some fancy church equipment I know nothing about, but I knew it was churchy, so ALTAR was easy to suss out.
  • 5D: Last monarch of the House of Stuart (ANNE) — some trivia picked up during my grad school days is still hanging around my brain, apparently.
  • 41D: One beaten by an ape (CHEST) — "One" always makes me think "human being," so this was fun to struggle with at first, as I had to imagine apes (literal and metaphorical) pummeling assorted people. "Tarzan?"
I have to go see what all this "Clint-talking-to-an-empty-chair" business is all about. Good night.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

69 comments:

jae 12:07 AM  

Easy over all for me.  The top third  went very quickly while the middle and bottom took slightly more work, but not enough to move it up from easy.   It helped that 1a was a gimme even though I've never seen the Notebook.  Wanderlust, which I saw last night,  is more my cup of TEA.

Very solid Fri. from PB as you would expect.  A fair amount of zip with KATIECOURIC (I think I saw that show)' RATSNEST, MAFIA, STOOLIES, NOSEEUMS (I've only heard this on the east coast), STORMTROOPERS, MOE'S job, ...

Only erasure:  DISCOmforts for DISCOURAGES.

Unlike yesterday,  I don't see any iffy crosses.

@Rex -- If you like CA noir try Vanishing Point if you haven't already.

Liked it!  Nice mention of my grad school alma mater. 

syndy 1:13 AM  

It really helps if you get some seed entries-very early I had ATLANTIC avenue,MICAWBER,and PONZT scheme! So I had a lot of erasing to do.hey you want an omelet ya gotta break eggs! Rex,uranium is a rock before it is a fuel cell!

JFC 1:19 AM  

I do the puzzle. I come here. I read Rex. I agree. Then I think Rex needs to go into rehab. I know I do. HOMEEC? That's where I learned how to make grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches in a broiler. So I'm OK with that. But I come here so Rex can tell me why that sucks. Instead I get a complete meltdown by Rex, slobbering all over PB, why he deserves attributes, but not from Rex. I always expect greatness from PB but I expect more from Rex....

JFC

Richard 1:21 AM  

Agree on the degree of difficulty. My only trouble spot was in the middle, largely because I was too slow to correct my initial answer of RIOT for 43A because I liked the answer better than RITE. My other hangup was with 24A where a lot of answers fit with an ending P.

I also got to cute initially with 47D with HEP instead of TOM. In retrospect, I liked this answer even though it was wrong.

Tobias Duncan 1:42 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tobias Duncan 1:44 AM  

My bizarre childhood once again helped me through the grid. Like the kid in that joke whose mother locked him up in a room with only Shakespeare books to read, so my parents let me watch all the PBS I could stomach but no network TV. Carl Sagan, Louis Rukeyser, William F Buckley and Marvin Kalb were my constant companions.
I spent summers with grandparents on the RV circuit. I knew and used the word NOSEEUMS for quite some time before I figured out the joke.
Is that an old people thing or just a regional thing?

chefwen 2:46 AM  

Two early incorrect entries got me off to a unfortunate start. Clones before TRACES at 19A and sEaside before GET AWAY at 33D. That took a lot of unraveling. MIRTH helped me in the NW and YES MAN led me on the right path in the SW. After that, smooth sailing.

I know a dog named BEULAH, feisty little critter.

Thank you Rex for explaining why I liked this puzzle so much, and thank you Patrick for creating it.

Muscato 2:58 AM  

NOSEEUMS is certainly what we called them on the shores of Lake Erie when I was growing up, and such fun to have people like Mr. KALB and the CRATCHIT familly called to mind on a Friday morning (which is Saturday, essentially, in Arabia, where I spend my Friday mornings at the kitchen table).

I came to check what the verdict on this one was and am almost unduly pleased that it was exactly how I felt as I finished up this very elegant grid.

Anne clare moes 3:03 AM  

And thank @tobias i didn't get no see ums...
Parsed nose eums...wha?
I always find PB sort of churchy (RITE, ALTAR, ST CLARE) simpsony, star warsy with a little civil war thrown in.
But always gettable in the end.

Acme 3:09 AM  

Ps two interesting crosses: MAFIA/STOOLIES
MATTE/MATTER
and i liked the trivia about ILLINOIS Av and KATIECOURIC.

This inspires me to add an S and make a puzzle with Bob SCRATCHIT

Sir Hillary 7:43 AM  

As predictible as a great PB Friday puzzle is Rex's gushing over same. Totally spot on, in this case. The central leaning stack really is a work of art, crossed as it is by nine (!) words of eight letters or more.

I stared at this one for a bit before finding ILLINOIS and HOMEEC which begat STORMTROOPERS. Getting the spine entry so early was a huge help.

Never heard of BEULAH or EDDA, so that cross had me stumped until I got everything around it and assumed that E was the only letter that worked. Done.

Love the clue for ROADRAGE.

Aaron 7:48 AM  

In Georgia people definitely complain about the no-see-ums. Took me a while to figure it out when I moved there but I can attest to its common usage.

orangeblossomspecial 7:59 AM  

Poor Rex can't win. One day we vilify him for being mean and bitchy. The next day we criticize him for sucking up to the puzzle's author. Life's tough when you're a lead blogger, I guess.

We use the term 'No see ums' all the time. If you've ever tried to stay all night at the beach, you'll wonder what's biting you constantly. And you can't see 'em.

There are two famous hymns about Beulah Land:
1. Oh Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land; the theme used in the film Sergeant York.
2. Dwelling in Beulah Land.

Clue for 40D is Jerry Lee Lewis' 'Breathless'.

evil doug 8:16 AM  

I've been to the Noseeum. Interesting displays of Barbra Streisand, Karl Malden, Jimmy Durante, Sarah Jessica Parker, Charles DeGaulle, Owen Wilson, and Alf.

Looking back at the puzzle, I see some stuff I didn't know---Beulah, Clare, peignoirs---but the crosses must have all been cupcakes because I never had to slow down much.

I wonder if 'stormtroopers' has ever been clued with its original connotation? Star Wars---the coward's way out....

When I see 'road rage', I think of 'roid rage'. When I see 'roid rage', I think of hemorrhoids before steroids. Talk about a raging problem....

Garden-fresh clues on teacart, sardines, peace treaties, and stoolies.

Like Mike: Not tough, but a pleasant if short exercise. Mirthful.

Evil

loren muse smith 8:46 AM  

Once “finer” changed to NICER, “age” changed to AGO, “goes” changed to RUNS, and “amoeba” changed to AEROBE, things went more smoothly.

Flirted briefly, absurdly, with “Barack Obama” for KATIE COURIC off the first a and o. It fits, and I’m always dead to the world when Leno is on.

The terrifically-clued southeast was the last to fall for me. With a different constructor, I might have given up, but I kept saying, “No, this is Patrick Berry, so it’s gettable and fair.” I was right. I finished it with several smiles: CHEST, ROAD RAGE, TEA CART. . .

Ok. YESMAN. How fitting in a PB puzzle! Let the accusations fly. Everything Rex said about this – I’m no artist, writer, whatever, but I appreciate works that don’t scream “Look at me and how great and smart I am! – works where you appreciate the end in itself and not the craft. (Remember when we barely noticed that the only letter missing was an e?)

So I’ll be ridiculous here and compare crosswords to musical works. In high school I had two favorite piano recital pieces: Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. The concerto had lots of bells and whistles – difficult runs, trills, ffff chords, etc. I loved playing it the way I love solving a puzzle with circles and word ladders -Gorski’s War and Peace tour de force, eg. (I don’t really like this arrangement with only strings, but it showcases the piano part:)

http://youtu.be/aj-wKTNIdis

The Moonlight Sonata, with its quiet, subtle beauty I liked playing equally as much. Just like today’s puzzle – nothing flashy but beautiful.

http://youtu.be/Hu7hscHkfPw

Yep. I just compared Patrick Berry to Beethoven. I’ll duck for cover.

jackj 8:57 AM  

Puzzles from Patrick Berry are things to be savored; brilliantly clued, devoid of crosswordese and capable of being solved by using one’s wits, not one’s search tools and, again, today’s puzzle meets those standards.

Right from the start Patrick and I were on the same wavelength as I cleverly entered STOA, knowing full well that was the elegant clue he had in mind for “Hangout for Homer”, especially since the Monopoly property, ATLANTIC Avenue, confirmed it in the crossing.

Moving right along, after inserting MOES and ILLINOIS, our master constructor’s real genius began to show through, with at least ten clues whose answers are so clever that they merit being called “breathtaking”. PEACETREATIES, NOSEEUMS and ROADRAGE are particular standouts, (with the other seven having their own virtual asterisks for one to pick them out).

Proper names can be tricky but, from CRATCHIT to KATIECOURIC, BEULAH to MCADAMS, KALB to HEARST, there was nothing that couldn’t be sorted out, either through basic knowledge or friendly crosses and finally, when the last letter of the puzzle is filled in, there is a sense of accomplishment, a strong wish the solve could continue and an overwhelming feeling of awe for the constructor’s talent.

Thank you, Patrick.

Cathyat40 9:09 AM  

Bravo!

Peter Phillips 9:20 AM  

I feel that I should put this one in a frame and hang it over my desk. I keep staring at it in wonderment knowing that it cannot exist, but there it is.

Sir Hillary 9:29 AM  

jackj's absolutely correct comment about what today's constructor is showing us brings to mind one of my kids' favorite lines:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAC-EYonR6M

Lindsay 9:30 AM  

Spiffy puzzle, though I'm a tad disapppointed to find Ma ADAMS is wrong.

Carola 9:32 AM  

What a beautiful puzzle. I got off to a false start in the NW with "sport" for amusement and "tree" for decorated one. Getting nowhere with that, I went looking for friendlier territory and soon was on solid ground. The puzzle won me over with NOSEEUMS, and it was all pleasure after that.

I think the last time I wore a PEIGNOIR was on my honeymoon in 1967. Now it's a nightie from the Lands' End outlet - oh, I guess that's a PRIVATE MATTER.

STORM TROOPERS and PEACE TREATIES cross right in the middle, perhaps indicating "cancel each other out." As for the line "UNARM MAFIA" - if only! And the line "AEROBE SARDINES" reminds me why I never eat them.

Thank you, Patrick Berry. The start to my Friday could not have been NICER.

quilter1 9:42 AM  

Confirm honeymoon peignoir wearing forty-five years ago. Bitten by noseeums many times. Had a Sunday school teacher named Mrs. Beulah Fridlington and I would never dare leave off the Mrs.
The puzzle is indeed a thing of beauty.

joho 9:56 AM  

Just add me to all the admirers of this beauty. It's the superb combination of flawlessly smooth fill with unexpected, clever cluing that makes a PB puzzle so special. I loved that "Attractive feature" which could have been some mundane body part was TURNON.

Fantastic Friday!

Cheerio 10:20 AM  

What @jackj said - Awesome!

hazel 10:33 AM  

This ranks as one of my favorite puzzles in recent memory.

BUT, i am a geologist by training, and cannot imagine an amateur geologist purchasing a GEIGERCOUNTER - a ROCKHAMMER or a LOUPE/HANDLENS yes, GEIGERCOUNTER no. I'm thinking that's more likely to be purchased by an amateur terrorist or an Erin Brockovich type, not an (amateur) geologist!

I can avow that NOSEEUMS are a very real thing, and have been a part of many many camping trips!! They travel in clouds like gnats and when you're camping in places like the Okefonokee - that is on a raised platform in the middle of a swamp - the only escape is your hot hopefully seam-sealed tent!!

This puzzle just had it all going on, and was a delight to solve from start to finish.

chefbea 10:33 AM  

Fun puzzle but DNF. Too much to do today so had to give up and come here.

Loved the clue for home-ec. My head was in the sewer instead.

Sandy K 10:53 AM  

"A long, long time AGO" I would do a puzzle without appreciating the beauty of the cluing and the answers.

Thanks to PB and Rex, I know a masterpiece when I SEE UM!

Two Ponies 10:57 AM  

Seeing the clue for 1A made me groan because I knew it would be someone I had never heard of but getting a Patrick Berry Friday was such a gift that I soldiered on.
Very satisfying.
Lots of rock hounds in Nevada and I have seen Geiger counters being sold here so I didn't blink at the clue.
No-see-ums very familiar to me but that entry looks insane in the grid. Good one ED!

Gill I. P. 11:00 AM  

Good, fun puzzle. ILLINOIS got me started up there. Our son is always the first to land on it then just like Donald, dumps a million hotels and screws it up for the rest of us.
That SEWER got me again and so did the APE but ROADRAGE came to the rescue.
BEULAH is a fun word to say, HOMEEC is a yech.
My kinda Fri. Thanks PB

Smitty 11:07 AM  

Who could forget the saucy Mrs. PEIGNOIR who tried to seduce Basil Fawlty.

Milford 11:22 AM  

Began the puzzle last night, got DISCOURAGEd, but then tried anew this morning with a rested brain, and it felt like a whole different puzzle! Very nice to take to completion.

I know Rachel MCADAMS from "Mean Girls" - she's awesome as Regina of the Plastics.

Funny (for me) write-over was CHimp before CHEST. I was thinking the chimp beat out the ape in an evolutionary sense?

I really want to know why ILLINOIS is the most often landed square - is it a statistical thing? Or is it sought after strategically?

As a life-long Michigander, I've never heard the phrase NOSEEUMS, but I love the phrase, as described.

John V 11:54 AM  

Everything @Rex said, maybe with an exclation point added. NW a bit slow for me as Rachel McAdams is not on my radar, but that's just me. Certainly a perfect example of a great Friday puzzle.

So, what else to say? A classic PB opus. Thank, Patrick.

mikeametrics 11:55 AM  

I couldn't agree more-- fantastic puzzle!

One point of difference though-- switch NOSEEUMS for PEIGNOIR as the one questionable word.

If I remember correctly, Stephen King has used NOSEEUMS in a few books so it was on the tip of my tongue from the N

Rob C 12:21 PM  

@Milford - Did a bit of looking into the Illinois Av question. There's a lot of references to this fact out there, but I haven't found a sound explanation.

First, the clue is worded as property, so "take a card", jail, go, and some other spaces are excluded. The most landed on space is actually jail since there are so many cards and a space instructing to go there. Apparently there is a "Go to Illinois Av" card, so statistically, that would increase the odds. But there are also other "Go to...." cards for utilities, RRs, Boardwalk, so Illinois Av doesn't have an advantage on these properties. (Are utilities and RRs considered properties?)

Tried approaching the problem this way:since the most landed on space is jail and the most common dice roll is 7 (for 2 die), the most common property would be whatever is 7 after jail, which is a "Take a card" space. Illinois Av is 7 after this space, and when you add the "Go to Illinois Av" card to the mix, maybe???

Strategic reasons don't make sense as you can't determine where you land (unless there's a "go to any space" card - which I'm not sure of), but even if so, how could anyone determine where people actually move to if they get this card?

Apparently, there is a Scientific American article in the April 1996 issue with additional information in the August 1996 and April 1997 issues that discusses this. There are references to it out there, but I can't find the actual article. If anyone finds it, please let us know.

Boy, that's a lot of thinking about a game I haven't played for 20 yrs.

Oh yeah, great puzzle. Not sure if I liked the cluing or the fill better!

Rob C 12:25 PM  

Reading over my post again, it's obvious I live a sad, sad existence. Anyway, sorry for the rambling nature - I was sort of thinking "out loud"

Masked and Anonymo6Us 12:51 PM  

Wanted CONANOBRIEN at 25D.
Only scrabbliness in whole puz is a single K and W. Obviously, metaBerry was goin' for the sixpack of U's. As it should be. thUmbsUp.
Gotta wonder what the seed entries were. KATIECOURIC, mayhaps? PEIGNOIRS? The Star Wars dudes?
Anyhoo, 31 got it right today. Clean as a whistle.

Fave fillins: UNARMS, HOMEEC, ILLINOIS, MIRTH. All for totally different and totally indefensable reasons.

Fave clue: 41D's. One = CHEST (!) (@$*) (snort) (har) I feel strongly in so many ways, here.

Milford 1:13 PM  

@Rob C. - thanks for looking into the Illinois question! Who knew there would be articles written about this? After I posted it occurred to me that Illinois was possibly 7 after something (Jail, Go), so I like your 7 theory the best.

jberg 1:40 PM  

I've hear that crosswords are supposed to keep you mentally agile as you age, but I must have started too late (well, restarted - I did them in my 20s), as I couldn't remember Bob CRATCHIT. Without old Bob to help me, I decided there must be things called PEACE wREAThES -- maybe they had two parts, one for each contending party. (Good idea, someone should market these!) So I DNF, as I finally resorted to Google to see if there was someone named CRAwCHIT in Dickens. That turned up the right answer.

@Rex, I don't like NOSEEUMS either - as you've seen by now, they bite a lot! But it's a great entry. And @Tobias, if they're an old folks' thing, it's because the young'uns go to a rock-climbing gym instead of going out into the woods. (grump, grump!)

@Jackj, Homer was way earlier than the stoics, so I didn't fall for that one - but I couldn't remember the name of the bar, so I had to wait for the crosses.

That Queen ANNE clue was tricky, since the House of Stuart had a false ending when James II was thrown out- but it really couldn't be anything else.

I've never worn a PEIGNOIR, even on my honeymoon.

jae 1:46 PM  

@Rob C -- I don''t think RRs and Utils are considered properties in that you can't "build" on them and there is no "go to any square" card so, your 14 squares from Jail explanation makes sense. And, thanks for doing the work!

Masked and Anoseeumous 1:55 PM  

Friend in F-L-A says that NOSEEUMS will even eat the finish off cars, besides chewin' on people.

rosebud 2:11 PM  

I had ROADRACE in my grid, since a heat is a part of a race, but couldn't for the life of me figure out what EACER meant. I thought it was the low point of the puzzle, marring what was otherwise a fine construction, until I realized it was my error, not PBs.

Ruth 2:17 PM  

Ryan Gosling was great in "Lars and the Real Girl." I totally do not see him as a heartthrob. Having once been a girl, I usually can see some element of sexiness in whoever the current idols are, but his face is really pure character actor. More indies for you, Ryan.

edmcan 2:24 PM  

I really like this puzzled and agree with Rex. Thanks Mr. Berry for such an accessible puzzle! Given the examples we've had this week alone, it was a very straightforward solve.

jackj 2:24 PM  

Sir Hillary@9:29AM-

High fives for your child's sense of humor!

GLR 2:30 PM  

@ Rob C:

Took a look at the Scientific American articles, and your logic is pretty much on target. “Jail/Just Visiting” is occupied nearly twice as frequently as any other space – because you can land on it (Just Visiting) or be sent there, by landing on “Go To Jail,” by rolling doubles three times in a row, or by drawing a card. You have to roll doubles to get out of Jail (unless you buy your way out) – I think this also increases the probability of occupying the Jail square.

Illinois Ave. is 14 spaces from Jail, which increases your probability of landing there, and your probability is also increased due to a Chance card that sends you there. (Seven spaces from Jail is Community Chest – not a property.) There are also Chance cards that send you to St. Charles and Boardwalk. St. Charles though, is one square after Jail, so you can never land there when leaving Jail. Boardwalk is 29 squares from Jail, and you can land on Go To Jail in between.

According to the article, Illinois Ave. is the third most likely space to find yourself, overall – exceeded only by Jail/Just Visiting and Go.

(Probably more than you wanted to know!)

Masked and Avenuemous 2:42 PM  

I tend to land primarily on properties where my "friends" have erected hotels. QED.

Off now to talk to an empty chair, over thar in the corner, that Clint Eastwood is sittin' in...

Hugh 2:47 PM  

Loved this one, but as a solver both from and in the UK (with many years in the US under my belt) there are always some cultural hiccups to overcome - today that was 'noseeums' (don't think we have them here or maybe I just noseeum) and I fail to see what sewers have to do with home economics, perhaps someone can enlighten me.

Carola 2:55 PM  

@Hugh-
Think of learning to sew with needle and thread or with a sewing machine in Home Economics class in high school.

Rob C 3:37 PM  

@GLR - Interesting. Thanks.

sanfranman59 4:05 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Fri 18:37, 24:35, 0.76, 13%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 10:16, 12:12, 0.84, 27%, Easy-Medium

long suffering mets fan 4:34 PM  

Another Berry masterpiece -- the man stands alone in construction

Anybody else trying to start "American Pie" in their heads



Z 4:47 PM  

As is often the case for me and Mr. Berry, nothing on the first cruise through except KALB and AEROBE. But I tried WRITER and TOM and that whole corner filled. PRIVATE MATTER clicked off the P, then STORM TROOPERS before heading off to work.

Post work I picked up the puzzle and MCADAMS clicked immediately. From there it went by pretty quickly.

Everything fair, puzzly, and fresh. We want more.

Pete 4:55 PM  

I wear a PEIGNOIR just like Rex's picture almost every evening, lounging around the house.

Wait, you people really didn't need to know that.

dk 5:12 PM  

Acme is beautiful, the puzzle is just neat.

As kids we used to smoke a lot of wild rice and play Monopoly. I never knew about ILLINOIS, but now that i do. Screw my slumlord strategy with Baltic and Mediterranean.

If Clint talks to an empty chair::Then Romney is fit to lead us. Now there is a logic statement.

������ (#3stars) Do not know about the smooth bits but the puzzle was just fine.

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

@long suffering Mets fan

Someone quoted the first line of "American Pie".
Maybe if you read the previous comments, you wouldn't be suffering...

Sarah 7:01 PM  

Lovely puzzle. Stumped for a while by the fact that PEIGNOIR has the same number of letters as "negligee." Then got TINS and YESMAN and EDGER and thought "huh?" My fave clue was definitely "They're written for two-part harmony" (PEACETREATY). Not always true (Yalta, eg), but very sweet nonetheless.

hazel 7:39 PM  

@two ponies - now i'm curious. Where do you run into these rock hounds buying geiger counters? Ace? Home depot? Understand why professional geologists would be using them - but are there really lots of amateurs out there looking for uranium or contamination??

retired_chemist 7:50 PM  

What everybody said.

mac 8:20 PM  

Spot on, @Rex. Had a lot of fun with this one, but a few write-overs. Radar gun for road race and Atlantic for Illinois. Don't know why, I don't really know that game.

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

In Vermont we have and noseeums, and that is what we call them. In fact, I was bitten by one while doing the puzzle. They are very small and hard to see.

Tita 9:43 PM  

Noseeums drive us off the deck just during sunset on Cape Cod... We use alcohol to allow us to stay on the deck and watch yet another stunning display. Not for the bugs - for us...

Almost finished - NE corner eluded me, just cause I had goeSAFTER.

Well done, Mr. Berry.

sanfranman59 10:19 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 6:02, 6:49, 0.89, 7%, Easy
Tue 7:16, 8:56, 0.81, 5%, Easy (8th lowest median solve time of 166 Tuesdays)
Wed 12:56, 11:48, 1.10, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 15:19, 18:50, 0.81, 20%, Easy
Fri 18:43, 24:35, 0.76, 13%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:32, 3:41, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 3:58, 4:39, 0.85, 7%, Easy
Wed 6:54, 5:55, 1.17, 88%, Challenging
Thu 8:02, 9:21, 0.86, 27%, Easy-Medium
Fri 9:44, 12:12, 0.80, 18%, Easy

syndy 11:32 PM  

@JBERG MARY of WILLIAM AND MARY kept the stuart fires burning

Spacecraft 1:37 PM  

Wow, a Patrick Berry Friday that I slammed to the mat for a first-period pin! I concur, O fearless one: this guy is the (pre-scandal) Tiger Woods of crosswords.

I knew 14a was ILLINOIS Ave. from some earlier trivia question; it makes sense because there's a Chance card that sends you there.

My little mnemonic for 21d: they get inside your NOSE(eums).

Single letter writeover at ROADRAcE till I saw that "eacer" made no sense.

Tried out MICAWBER and HAVISHAM before a couple of crosses gave me CRATCHIT.

And yeah, I too thought a GEIGERCOUNTER might be more of a professional than an amateur purchase. But now I'm swatting at NOSEEUMS. I'm amazed: there isn't a single stinko piece of fill. Mr. Berry, you should teach a course in crossword making.

DMGrandma 3:04 PM  

I must've the only one who couldn't finish this great puzzle. The SE again! Couldn't think of COURIC, tho I knew it had to be that lady on the quiz show. Somehow got through school without reading PIlgrim's Progress, tho I remember high school friends grousing about it. And, I think of a CHEST as a "thing", not a "one". Otherwise thought it was a fun puzzle with a few challenges for this spelling impaired solver, but they worked themselves out. Happy weekend!

e

Dirigonzo 8:33 PM  

Ditto all the love already bestowed on this puzzle. As I look at my completed grid (very messy, lots of write-overs) I feel a personal connection to the puzzle because I drink my bourbon neat (37a) and I have a cousin EDDA (45d - last word I filled in). In fact, I think I'll give her a call right now as I haven't heard from her in a while.

Favorite clue: Take orders, possibly, for TENDBAR. Runners-up yielded PEACETREATIES and HOMEEC.

Prime time puzzle for me tomorrow - see you back here in syndiland on Sunday.

Ginger 8:34 PM  

Saw the by-line and thought 'This is going to be fun'. It was!

On my first pass, I noted clues to look up if need be. First entry was GEIGERCOUNTER, and worked on from there. Amazing (for me) I didn't need Google at all.

Particularly liked all the mis-direction in the clues, and all the AHA moments they caused. NOSEEUMS love me, they will follow me anywhere to have me for dinner. I remember when Katie hosted Leno's show. Lots of comments about her showing cleavage and legs; a much different image than when she anchored the news.

Thanks Rex, for the Neil Diamond, and agree with your comments on PB.

Ginger 8:39 PM  

@Diri I see we posted at virtually the same time. You might try your (neat) bourbon with a splash of dry vermouth. Really smooth.... In fact, think I'll do the same ;)

Dirigonzo 9:00 PM  

@Ginger - Thanks for the suggestion, I'll give it a try (although I can't imagine anything improving on Bourbon neat). Cheers!

While I'm here I'll mention that Jon Stewart's coverage of the "empty seat" incident referred to by the prime timers is a total riot. If you missed it there's a link in my blog post here: http://dirigonzo.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-old-man-and-seat.html
(You'll have to copy it into your browser - I can't do links)

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