Second Punic War general / FRI 10-19-12 / Old English spa town / Bygone computer brand / He went down in Valley of Elah / 1997 title role for Depp / Patriarch who died at age 950 / Former attorney general in Iraq Study Group / Purple territory on some maps / Director of Evil Dead trilogy

Friday, October 19, 2012

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy



THEME: none

Word of the Day: LANCIA (45D: Italian automaker) —
Lancia Automobiles S.p.A. (Italian pronunciation: [ˈlantʃa]) is an Italian automobile manufacturer founded in 1906 by Vincenzo Lancia and which became part of the Fiat Group in 1969. The company has a long history of producing distinctive cars and also has a strong rally heritage. Some modern Lancias are seen as presenting a more luxurious alternative to the models in the Fiat range upon which they are based. One of the firm's trademarks is the use of letters of the Greek alphabet as the names of its models.
• • •

Another lovely grid from Mr. Berry. Didn't have much time to enjoy it, though—finished in about 5 flat (and then spent 20 seconds or so tracking down a stupid typo). ISMS got me SURE and MOBILE, and the whole NW went down from there. Only place I had even a minor struggle was in trying to get into the SW via the answers that ended up being GOLIATH (39D: He went down in the Valley of Elah) and MUNCIE (43D: Indiana city nicknamed "Middletown, U.S.A."). Eventually just got into that section via the tail ends of WALNUT SHELLS and STILETTO HEELS. Oh, and I couldn't figure out what ---S AROUND was for a while (27D: Ponders the possibilities of). And I wanted Don Juan DE MARCO where I ended up getting Donnie BRASCO (9D: 1997 Title role for Depp). I wonder if there are any absolute non-cinephiles out there who got Naticked by the SAM RAIMI / BRASCO cross (15A: Director of the "Evil Dead" trilogy).


Not much to say about this one, big picture-wise. Fill is (mostly) ultra-smooth, which is impressive given how much damned white space there is. I'm gonna go straight to Bullets and then to Bed because after back-to-back root canals, followed by a full teaching day, I need rest. And Vicodin. But mostly rest.

Bullets:
  • 14A: Second Punic War general (SCIPIO) — I know this guy via a very circuitous, medievalist's route. Chaucer to Boethius to Macrobius to Cicero. Macrobius wrote a famous commentary on Cicero's Somnium Scipionis, or "Dream of SCIPIO," which was important in conveying classical ideas of Stoicism to a later Christian audience. 
  • 23A: Territory returned to France by the Treaty of Versailles (ALSACE) — not sure I *knew* this, but with a few crosses (and a lot of crossword experience), this answer bubbled up pretty fast. 
  • 42A: Old English spa town (EPSOM) — Eponym of the salts.
  • 44A: Tom Jones hit written by Paul Anka ("SHE'S A LADY") — musical interlude
  • 50D: Hill with a "slip face" (DUNE) — Absolutely stumped on this one. I thought maybe Hill was a person. ANITA? FAITH? HANK?
  • 25D: Springfield bar (MOE'S) — too easy. 
  • 11D: Phoebe portrayer on "Friends" (LISA) — as in Kudrow. She has a new(ish) show "Web Therapy," which I've been meaning to check out.
  • 3D: Quiet demanders (LIBRARIANS) — At first I thought "quiet" was an adjective here, and I was imagining some very soft-spoken kidnappers. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

83 comments:

Anonymous 12:24 AM  

I've been a nytimes xword addict nearly 20 years -- just coincidentally beginning about same time Will Shortz became the editor. My 20 years of xwording can be compared to a marriage. Some good days, some bad. Highs and lows. Thrilling or boring. plodding, exciting. You get the picture. Some constructors I like, some I don't like. Some are just pfft. But, I always LOVE a Patrick Berry puzzle. Wish I had the right words to explain why.

Anonymous 12:28 AM  

What fun for a Friday! The puzzle went down fast for me too. Getting several long-answer guesses correct set me off to the races.

I think it plays easy despite the low word count because it's just so smooth.

Sam Raimi crossing Brasco and Tach crossing Hawn were the last bits for me, since I'm not a movie or TV person and couldn't see the correct context for "Dash" right away.

Clark 2:32 AM  

I put down IRA instead of ARI, couldn't see SURE or TACH, didn't know HAWN or SCIPIO, but eventually I got it sorted out. No way I was going to DNF today.

Thanks for the good wishes you guys. I passed my defense. You're right @dk, I knew very well what my committee thought of my diss, but thanks for reminding me. They hit me with some very interesting questions. All in all, it was an enjoyable discussion of some very obscure stuff. And yes, @acme, it was way easier than a root canal. @Rex, I hope you are feeling better.

chefwen 3:05 AM  

Slow getting out of the gate, but after 14A got filled in with crosses and 15A was filled in by Uncle Google it was smooth sailing. 31A WONTON had me stymied for a while trying to think of a vegetable that began with a W. Ah so! WONTON one of my favorite things to eat, head slap moment.

How does anybody walk in STILETTOS HEELS?
I fear that I would end up with two broken ankles.

Thanks PB, another winner.

syndy 3:33 AM  

Only my lack of typing skills made me take longer than Rex.A real BARNSTORMER! Patrick Berry is always a pleasure I just wish it had been a sunday!

Accuse Car Mobiles 4:05 AM  

Congrats @Clark!!! I did the IRA/ARI thing too...

Of course it's smooth with nary a JKXZQF in sight and so many names. (I still suspect Others might not get this sort of unvarnished praise.)

Personally, i'd have been lost had I not known HAWN, SAMRAIMI , and the "Friends" characters (so I think folks love Patrick Berry the same way they liked Jerry Seinfeld ...because they get him.)

I mean, what if Lisa had had a much more obscure clue? I don't think there would be such universal love.
That's my theory...
and WALNUTS are crazy wrinkly. I remember a "Family Feud" question "Name a wrinkled food" and the guy said "scrambled eggs".

loren muse smith 5:57 AM  

@Clark – congratulations. What’s the field?

This was *not* an easy puzzle for me. I, too, had a popalam with “Ira” before ARI, sensing as I wrote it that something was amiss.

I fell for a lot of clever traps:

“lentil” off the NT
“esso” off the S
“ice. . .” off the I (in ISLAND)
“Jurassic” off the SSIC,
“pointy” off the I. . .

Briefly considered “mumbled” crossing ”mountaineers” for a while because I was just being stupid.

How ‘bout STILETTO HEELS crossing STOMPS and SHE’S A LADY over LUSHER TART (she’s no SAINT) sharing the grid with the disapproving LIBRARIAN!

Thanks, Patrick and Will. I waS ABLE to finish this after a small fight. Perfect Friday.

Mary Rose 7:00 AM  

I am fond of PB puzzles as well. Perhaps no theme, but a fun aha feeling when a long answer cleverly clued is revealed. My favorite was stiletto heels, but I never would consider wearing any.

Cato the Elder 7:20 AM  

Ceterum censeo Carthaginem delendam esse

Z 7:52 AM  

"Foul Play" was my toehold. Hand up for iRa, which led to milan instead of SABLE. I also thought STREAMLET would be some sort of -Lap for awhile, holding me up on STILETTO HEELS and BARNSTORMERS. But having HAWN and then MOES was enough to get most of the middle locked up and then the solve radiated out from there.

This may be IN BAD TASTE for Yankee fans, but BATS AROUND is exactly what the superior Tigers did to the Yanks this week. GOLIATH had a better chance in the Valley of Elah than the Yankee hitters did against the Tiger pitchers. All those images of a TESTY Girardi as his hitters did their LONG STOMPS back to the bench and SAT were a pleasure for Tiger fans.

Oh - the puzzle - Music, Movies, Classical History, Simpsons, Politics, the Bible, Modern History, Autos, everyday stuff, misdirects, nice long answers, crisp three letter answers (NIL, CAR, ARI, BOA, TBS, SAT); This is the epitome of a quality non-themed crossword puzzle.

joho 8:08 AM  

Easy and smooth Friday from Patrick Barry. Loved STILETTOHEELS crossing SHESALADY and @Loren's embellishments make the story bawdier!

Talk about timely: SCOUTTROOP. Also SWINGSTATE. Living in Ohio I can't wait for the negative ads to stop!!!!

BATSAROUND next to INBADTASTE is beautiful.

Congratulations, @Clark!

Sir Hillary 8:29 AM  

Great PB Friday, as we would expect.

Interesting that we have INBADTASTE, because there are a preponderance of food and drink items hidden among the entries. Anyone up for a lunch of WINGS, SALAD, NUTS and PIE, washed down with ADE over ICE? All from a guy named Berry!

Also a minor set of hidden BARNSTORMERS, or at least singers -- (Mel) TORME, (Janis) IAN and USHER.

Subliminally yours,
Sir Hillary

Airymom 8:29 AM  

Why do we love a PB puzzle--because sometimes it's so challenging (clues/theme)that we feel especially accomplished when we're able to finish. Other times, like today, it's not difficult, but the clues and answers are interesting/fun/unexpected that it makes for a great start to the morning. Even when he's frustrated me and I'm ready to break my pencils in half, I love a PB puzzle.

Interesting aside for 3D. At my neighborhood library they have now set up a quiet reading room in the back since the rest of the library is noisy. Maybe it's time to bring back the librarians who say "hush".

nebraska doug 8:30 AM  

Easily one of my fastest Fridays ever. But astounded with anyone who does it in five minutes! It probably takes me five minutes just to read the clues, much less think them and fill in the answers. I'm awed. I'll never be a speed solver.

Jim Walker 8:41 AM  

Congratulations @Dr. Clark

chefbea 9:02 AM  

Tough for me but finally finished with help. Busy moving

I have an island on wheels which I love and am not sure if it will work in the new house...might have to put it against a wall

Wanted something small for soup tidbit. Wontons are big

Use to have a Mercury sable many moons ago

JC66 9:26 AM  

As @ Jim Walker said...
Congratulations @Dr. Clark

dk 9:39 AM  

You go @Clark. I do not recommend going out to Tropical Mexico in Pamona and drinking untold shots of Tequila washed down with short beers followed by a nice NAP on the kitchen floor as the tile feels so nice and coooooollllll. Passing one's orals is hard work kinda like getting through root canal.

Mercury Blues follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr3Jp_aF1Ok

The puzzle! I got what I asked for smooth solid and challenging fill: Tinker bell lives!

Misspelling ALSACE, putting STILLETTOHEELS in the wrong column and having LIABLED instead of BABBLED slowed me down but it was all good as we say in the hood.

������ (3 Stars) Most excellent

Off to LA next week. I offered to take my new co-workers on a crime scene tour from my days as a Forensic Psychologist. Oddly the Bianchi/Buono auto shop site is not on their respective bucket lists.

Milford 9:43 AM  

Always amazing to me how little I fill in the first pass of a Friday puzzle, but I am beginning to learn that a Berry puzzle is doable if you relax and are patient!

Loved WALNUT SHELLS and SWING STATE. As @joho said, SCOUT TROOP seems timely, and as @Z noted, so does BATS AROUND! Too bad there wasn't a "rout" or a "sweep" in the puzzle!

Carola 9:52 AM  

A rare Friday when I can agree with Rex's "easy." Such a pleasure to solve - especially the three long downs in the center. Got my start with ISMS/SCIPIO and proceeded to fill in the grid in the shape of a backwards N.

BATS AROUND kinda goes with SWING STATE, too.

@loren and @Z - Love your TART scenario (too bad it wasn't "WaNTON") and game report.

@Clark - Congratulations!

wordie 9:53 AM  

Loved it, as I expect when I see the name of this constructor.

Help: how is TACH a dash part? Getting ready to slap my forehead . . . .

jackj 10:09 AM  

A twelve-letter answer for “Smooth as silk” would likely be looking for “Patrick Berry”.

Hard to believe but Patrick had twelve debut words in this puzzle, from STILETTOHEELS to BABBLED, BARNSTORMERS to LIBRARIANS, that had never before graced a Times puzzle, (at least during Will’s reign).

With almost 100,000 unique words used in Times puzzles since 1993 one is tempted to think like the Patent Office head at the turn of the 20th century (who declared “everything that can be invented has been invented”) and think “everything that can be included in a Times puzzle has been included in a Times puzzle”. Surprise.

There are winning clues at every turn, (as usual), so just to highlight three, BATSAROUND was a fun, if unexpected surprise, though it is very much in the language, “Personal letters” cluing INITIALS was fiendishly clever and then there is MOES-- priceless.

The hairiest bits in today’s puzzle for me were SCIPIO that thankfully emerged through the crosses thus sparing me the job of trying to find a way to fit in Hannibal and DUNE, clued as “Hill with a “slip face” was no help since the DUNE(s) I’m familiar with on East Coast beaches are hardly “hills” and “slip face” seems like a Saharan thing, not a barrier beach touch.

But, another beauty of a puzzle from old “Smooth as silk”!

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

I guess I am one of those absolute non-cinephiles, and from the write-up, apparently an uncultured slob for being so, who nearly got Naticked on Sam Raimi/Brasco, but "r" was the best guess. Let's have a conversation about something I'm an expert one day, so I can return the compliment.

joho 10:31 AM  

@wordie, a TACHometer is on the DASHboard of your car.

Carola 10:31 AM  

@wordie - I understood it as a TACHometer on a dashboard.

ArtO 10:35 AM  

Anyone else have a quibble with WONTON a "tidbit"? More like a big lump!

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

You shoulda taken better care of your teeth.

Edwords 10:45 AM  

Love Patrick Berry like everyone else. One of Rex's bullets also stumped me for a bit. Hill with a "slip face." I thought it must be a name, and had DU -- the only name that occurred to me was "DULE," which is an obscure name even to West Wing junkies like me (he played Charlie, the President's personal aide, and daughter's boyfriend). But I couldn't understand why his face was slippery! Pretty stupid.

Larry 10:53 AM  

@Wordie - A TACHometer is part of your car's dash.

@Anon 10:09 - Where's the insult in being a non-cinephile? I haven't been to a movie in over 25 years, and can't make myself get insulted in being called a non-cinephile.

Two Ponies 10:53 AM  

Big smile when I saw Patrick Berry's name. Both he and Barry Silk are my favorite late week constructors.
The SE was my slowest area. Biblical trivia makes me mad.
Way to go Clark!
Thanks @ jackj for the debut words.
I'm most surprised by stiletto heels. I feel I've see it before.
Also I never can remember if there are two L's or two T's.

quilter1 10:55 AM  

So fun as usual with Patrick Berry. Used to have a SABLE, haven't worn HEELS in decades. I didn't know LISA or BRASCO, but the crosses took care of my ignorance.
Congrats, @Clark. Be well, @Rex.

Susan McConnell 10:58 AM  

@Edwords I went with DUlE Hill first, too for the same reason.

Loved this fun Friday puzzle, especially with the appearance ny Tom Jones. I think I'll put together a playlist of him for a dinner party tomorrow night.

Read an interview with Stacy from What Not To Wear in the Courant today. She was asked about living in high heels (STILETTOS). I was shocked to read her response that some people actually get their feet anesthetized to endure the pain of wearing them. Good grief.

alpernm 11:01 AM  

Another wonderfully clued delight from Patrick who could have nearly repeated his 8D clue at 11D. Hang in there, Rex. Root canals will be old news by Monday.

Evan 11:02 AM  

Definitely an easy outing. My only write-over was DIES before DICE -- just a dumb mistake. I also didn't know that the thing you hang from the ceiling in a baby's room is called a MOBILE. I always assumed it was called....the thing you hang from the ceiling in a baby's room. That thing that sometimes has birds, or butterflies, or planes, or whatever.

It's weird that they gave so much information for the DURACELL clue, instead of simply "Battery brand" or something like that. Then again, I always associate the immortal pink bunny with Energizer, so it's fair game.

If I recall correctly, wasn't MUNCIE the name of the town from which Tim Robbins's character in The Hudsucker Proxy hails?....Yes, yes it is.

Well wishes aplenty! Happy belated, @acme. Congrats, @Clark. Feel better soon, @Rex.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:07 AM  

D'oh! Took me a full ten minutes after finishing the puzzle before the DASH/TACH connection hit me. Slight consolation that others stumbled a bit over it too.

I might have puzzled over the clue "Hill with a 'slip face'", except that I never saw it - the SE was all gimmes.

@Two Ponies - GOLIATH wasn't Biblical trivia to me, it was cinephile trivia, since it was fixed in my mind from the movie "In the Valley of Elah" (I think.)

Lindsay 11:07 AM  

Yes I'm an absolute non-cinephile, an out-and-out cinephobe, so stared at the B?asco/SAM?AIMI crossing for a good long time before settling on "r". Resultant BRASCO seemed so implausible that I wondered if ALSACE should be spelled with a second "s" (making BRASsO) but wrote out ALSAsE in the margin, and that looked even worse than BRASCO.

Problems in the NE compounded by never having heard of LISA, never having heard of TRIASSIC, and thinking the bygone computer brand might be oMeGA. But I guess that's a watch brand. Anyway, it eventually occured to me that BoBBLED should be BABBLED and I guessed my way to the end.

Otherwise, I liked the not-to-puzzling puzzle, SWING STATE and WALNUT SHELLS and all the rest.

Sorry to be so long winded. Haven't posted in weeks and making up for it now.

Inquiring Minds 11:13 AM  

So, why the choice of the Second Punic war rather than the Third Punic war cluing for SCIPIO? Does beating Hannibal trump crushing the Carthegian Empire?

Two Ponies 11:27 AM  

@ Bob K, Goliath was easy with the crosses but being asked in the SE to know how old Noah was irked me.
Am I really supposed to believe that?

WA 11:28 AM  

One of the easiest Thursdays followed by one of the easiest Fridays, I fear tomorrow.

And like the others, you must love barnstormers and Scipio. My only problem was with Ed Meese. I never associate a "win" with his name usually something than is down"ward."

Mel Ott 11:32 AM  

One of the reasons I like Mr. B's puzzles is he rarely crosses show biz or movie names like he did in the NE today. Guessed right at the M & the R in SAM RAIMI. His puzzles are so good that he's earned a pass for this one.

孫悟飯 11:45 AM  

壯陽,壯陽,壯陽,壯陽藥,壯陽藥,壯陽藥,壯陽藥品,壯陽藥品,壯陽藥品,高潮,犀利士,Cialis,威而鋼,Viagra,印度神油,蒼蠅水,金蒼蠅,陰莖增大,陰莖增大,陰莖增大,陰莖增長,陰莖增長,樂威壯,Levitra,持久液,持久,早洩,春藥,春藥,催情,催情藥,催情春藥,催情,催情藥,潮吹,潮吹女王,春藥,催情,催情,催情粉,樂威壯,威而鋼,犀利士,壯陽,壯陽,壯陽,壯陽藥,

Sandy K 11:51 AM  

Saw Patrick Berry and couldn't wait for cable guy to leave so I could dig in...

Altho it was easy-EDWIN MEESE-y, the clues and fill are always sooo interesting, eg. 55A not just battery brand, but more 'colorful' pink bunny clue.

Fave fill was STILETTO HEELS crossing SHE'S A LADY.

@Evan- Wanted energizer before DURACELL too.

@Clark- Congrats!

@Rex- Feel better soon!

Sparky 11:56 AM  

Finished with 3 Googles. Got SAMRAIMI on downs. Like SWINGSTATE and WALNUTSHELLS. Mispelled STILlETO. Never wore even 3 inch heels. At 5'9" was considered too tall. I've shrunk and schlub around im my comfy Merrells. Did not get TECH till came here.

A Patrick Berry is a pleasure to work on.

Well done @Dr.Clark. Glad you are mending @Dr.Rex. Happy weekend.

Sparky 12:00 PM  

Of course that's in my comfy Merrells. Sigh.

efrex 12:31 PM  

One more joining the Patrick Berry praise-fest (as usual). Thanks to those who explained TACH (native New Yawker, haven't driven worth a lick in 20 years).

Hand up as one considering DULE before DUNE. I never watched "West Wing," but the missus & I are big "Psych" fans.

The BRASCO/SAMRAIMI cross might be a tad unfair, but if I could suss it out, and I haven't seen a movie in the theater in ages, I guess it can't be too bad.

Fun, quick Friday solve. Only problem now: what am I gonna do on the train ride home?

Two Ponies 12:45 PM  

Yikes, a robot got through at 11:45. Not just any robot but an Asian one selling Cialis.
Can crosswords be constructed in Asian script?

John V 12:49 PM  

Not easy for me. Got snagged in West, not knowing Mr. Shapiro; wanted MOHEL for 16A, did'nt know HAWN, SCIPIO not in my ballpark blah, blah, blah.

Usually connect better with a PB puzzle, but will give credit to US Airways for getting me home at midnight with YET ANOTHER tire change problem, to have fried my puzzle synapses.

Thanks, @Rex, for the Billy Joel Stiletto imbed. I've always thought it one of his best, albeit obscure, works; love the entire 52nd Street album.

I've had two root canals in my life and completely emphasize with the situation. Glad to see you're back in stride.

Go Yanks! Oh, wait .... Grrrr.

Davis 12:50 PM  

Man, Patrick Berry really knows how to put together some solid fill. This was so clean that I didn't even notice how few black squares were present until Rex pointed it out.

My only complaint is that I wish I could have spent more time with this puzzle — this breezed by for a Friday, and for the first time since Monday I finished with no typos, Google-holes, or other oversights.

As for specific entries, I think LANCIA was the only new one on me. SCIPIO only took me a couple of crosses, thanks to five years of Latin in middle and high school. I am seriously impressed by how little crosswordese is in the grid; aside from ISMS, I don't see any fill that would seem weird to a normal (i.e., non-puzzling) person.

wordie 12:52 PM  

Thanks, @joho, @Carola, and @Larry re the TACH explanation!

acme 12:59 PM  

@two ponies
I could only think of "As old as Methusaleh", obviously too long...but I think, re trivia clues, they are meant just to be fresh cluing for a super common word; I don't think you are supposed to get the answer from the trivia itself.

Like, presumably you get NOAH almost entirely thru the crosses then retroactively go "hmmm, I didn't know he was so old, What's up with that?". It's the equivalent, maybe, of having named an obscure NOAH Wylie role other than ER, I'm guessing.

@jackj
That is astounding that there are twelve new words! Altho I would think any time you have 12-15 letter words in a nonthemeless that they would have a good chance to be new, becwhy would you ever have, for example, WALNUTSHELLS in a puzzle? I mean even if it were a theme answer, it might be questioned if it were a phrase or just a "thing" ( confession I had ???NUTSHELLS and put in PEA because, to me, that's more a commonly said "phrase" and even paused to think that I didn't think peanut shells were all that wrinkly....but at least they are more ubiquitous, like on barroom floors, etc.

(Not sure completely what I'm trying to say, except that I'm more surprised how many new words in one puzzle more than I'm surprised that something like WALNUTSHELLS has never been used.

I also think PB is so beloved because, at base, smart folks like tricky clues which lead to slaps on head, which can not exist in early early week puzzles, where frankly the joy maybe lies more for the constructor coming up with a theme than for the solver responding to a straightforward clue.

@Davis
Sorta a Catch-22, i agree with the crazy smoothness, (tho again, zero crunchy letters) but a nonpuzzling person wouldn't be doing a Friday puzzle to begin with...
And you also wouldn't want ISMS the first thing anyone would see in any puzzle!
So that's a construction vs solving tension...

@john v
I like your malaprop...(or spellcheck suggestion)...from now on, I'm going to "emphasize" with a situation!
(I think I already do!!!)

The Dentist 1:12 PM  

@anon 10:44

If you live long enough, you too are gonna need root canal or lose 'em!

Mighty Nisden 1:18 PM  

Finally after a year and a half of solving I finished a Friday! Big red letter day for me. Of course it was a Patrick Berry, he is so smooth.

Never heard of Hess before but got it on the crosses. I must be paying attention to something in the movie arts as SAMRAIMI just sounded correct and I went with it.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

@johnv

I love your first thought for 16A. The image of a mohel hanging around the nursery is both hilarious and a bit creepy

syndy 1:29 PM  

@inquiring minds...yes! beside Scipio Aemilianus was a dick. Africanus rules! Also congrats Dr Clark!

John V 1:43 PM  

Whoops. Spell check is sometimes not my friend. Have to send my MOHEL after it, is what I'm saying.

mac 1:46 PM  

Wonderful Berry puzzle as usual.

Had lien for writ, libeled for babbled, thought of Bath before Epsom and seriously wanted "Peoria" for Muncie, isn't that the Middle America town a lot of marketing people use for test markets? A lot of fun figuring out the right answers.

Congratulations, Clark!

jberg 1:50 PM  

Hand up for non-cinephile; but SAM RAIMI/BRASCO was just slighly more plausible than SAM lAIMI/BlASCO, so I finished correctly. Hand up for leNTil before WONTON, too - even though lentils are not tidbits at all, not even big ones.

Nice timing on the Boy Scout clue. Incredible that the BSA has banned gay men all these years, while tolerating and covering up pedophilia. I spent 6 years in scouting, and loved it - it's so sad to see the organization self-destructing.

My only other writeover was yArd before DASH (you know, one yard is part of a 100-yard dash).

@Non-evil (aka @Nebraska) Doug - you've inadvertently touched on the secret of speed solving: those folks don't read a lot of the definitions. I guess it would be fun in its own way, but I've never been tempted to try it - too much fun to savor the wordplay (if it's OK to mention a competitor here).

Bird 1:56 PM  

This was a good challenging puzzle that I enjoyed solving; thank you Mr. Berry. A few clues were very foreign to me, but crosses were gettable. Lots of fresh fill and great long answers. My favorite is 15D crossing 44A.

I did not know that about the pink bunny. Tried to fit Energizer, then Eveready. Crosses set me straight.

@Rex - Take some well deserved rest.

@Clark – Congrats Dr.!

@Z – I disagree that the Tigers pitching overwhelmed the Yankees hitters. Our bats were very quiet all post-season, which is not typical. The scores were also very close for most of the games - our guys just could not put the ball in play for some reason (2nd & 3rd with no outs then bases loaded with 1 out and we cannot score does not get the job done). Not taking away from opposing pitchers, but when you’re batting 0.056, something is terribly wrong.

TGIF!

John Towle 2:09 PM  

As the MLB announcers say after a great hit or catch: This one is "a thing of beauty". Not a Google in the bunch.

Best,

john

chefbea 2:19 PM  

@Mighty Nisden I thought everyone knew Hess. Their trucks are collectibles. Puzzle husband has several.

Mighty Nisden 3:26 PM  

@chefbea I googled Hess and the closest station to me is 1,930 miles away. LOL.

I don't ever remember having a Hess truck when I was a kid even though I had a mess of trucks. I'm not sure Hess made it out this far.

jae 4:08 PM  

Easy smooth fine Fri.

Congrats Dr. Clark.

Checked out a couple of episodes of Lisa's "Web Therapy" on Showtime and just couldn't get into it. Her character, unlike Phoebe, is not particularly likable.

sanfranman59 4:20 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 15:24, 24:25, 0.63, 4%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 7:58, 12:09, 0.66, 5%, Easy

30 minute egg 4:46 PM  

I hate it when I finally complete a Friday in under 30 minutes, thinking it is such an accomplishment then come here and discover how "easy" it is rated by @Rex and others.

BTW - That 5 minute time has got to be bogus. It takes that long just to read all the clues, nevermind all the shifting of your eyes back and forth from reading the clues and filling the grid. There is no way somebody can get the puzzle done that fast while "struggling" and not coming up with an answer "for a while" and being "absolutely stumped". I don't buy it.

jackj 5:22 PM  

acme@12:59PM wrote (in part)-

" I'm more surprised how many new words in one puzzle more than I'm surprised that something like WALNUTSHELLS has never been used."

My feeling, exactly.

The other thing to note is that too many "new" words are simply pluralizations of familiar, often clued words.

Of Patrick's 12 debut words, only 2 are plurals of previously used words, BASTER(S) was used once, by Liz Gorski on 12/24/96 and BAT(S)AROUND was also used but once in a 5/3/11 puzzle by Kevan Choset.

jae 5:25 PM  

@30 minute egg -- Try renting the movie "Wordplay" to see how it's done. Also, remember, when you solve online there is no "eye shifting", just typing.

Z 6:06 PM  

Anon@10:09 - I agree with @Larry. Opera gets me all the time, but I QTIP long ago when others find those kind of clues as gimmes. I'm not a complete non-cinephile, but I lucked out on SAM RAIMI because he is from the Detroit and gets frequent coverage in the local press. I always confuse Donnie BRASCO with Donnie Darko, but that wasn't an option today.

@Sandy K - Love "easy - EDWIN MEESEy"

@acme12:59 - Mondays and Fridays are two different genres of crossword puzzles. I love both, but I can certainly understand how some might prefer one or the other. I think the major commonality is that horrid fill can diminish an otherwise fine effort. Otherwise its like comparing Woody Allen to Quentin Tarentino.

@Bird - Just maybe the fact that the Yankees were facing a team that allowed the third lowest number of home runs in the league and struck out the most batters amongst playoff teams had a little something to do with the hitting woes of the not-so-mighty Yankees. It was over 40 years ago that I first heard that good pitching beats good hitting, especially in October.

@30 minute egg - you have joined a long line of disbelievers. Keep coming by and you too will join the believers some day.

Scipio Aemilianus 6:50 PM  

@Sydney - A dick? A dick? That punk Africanus only fought to a stalemate which lasted for 50 years, while I crushed, I say crushed, Carthage. I leveled their city, then poured salt over the entire area to prevent anything from ever flourishing there again. Further, by aquiring Tunesia I assured 200 years of prosperity for Rome by giving us access to Tunesian olive oil, the source of our greatest wealth.

Anonymous 10:20 PM  

For what it's worth: Middletown was not a nickname for Munciie. It was the pseudonym used by Robert and Helen Lynd in their classic books from the 1920s and 30s

syndy 11:07 PM  

@aemilianus yeah but he was defending the city! You were waging a trade war. Then went home and tiled the brothers Gracchi for daring to champion land reform!

Scipio Aemilianus 11:34 PM  

@sydny - Ok, I've been sworn to secrecy but I just won't be defamed by comparison to that punk Africanus, so the hell with a 2000 year old oath.

You know how he defeated Hannibal? The greatest success of what many consider to be the greatest military mind of all time? Africanus was the guy who first discovered that elephants are afraid of mice. Yup, that's the greatest military tactic of all time. Elephants are afraid of mice. Just round up a couple of hundred mice, have someone sneak into the holding pen for the elephants in the middle of the night, and let the mice loose. One elephant stampede later, you're the greatest general of all time. And, you've created a plot device for Loony Tunes for a couple of dozen episodes.

I, however, was the one who introduced the world to Tunisian olive oil. Seriously, find yourself a quart of unfiltered, first cold pressed Tunisian olive oil and your life will never be the same - It's a real eye opener.

sanfranman59 12:12 AM  

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 6:00, 6:47, 0.89, 6%, Easy
Tue 11:33, 8:58, 1.29, 98%, Challenging (5th highest median solve time of 173 Tuesdays)
Wed 12:14, 11:50, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 13:57, 18:48, 0.74, 11%, Easy
Fri 15:26, 24:25, 0.63, 4%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 172 Fridays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:41, 1.00, 53%, Medium
Tue 5:33, 4:40, 1.19, 92%, Challenging
Wed 6:37, 5:57, 1.11, 81%, Challenging
Thu 7:41, 9:22, 0.82, 21%, Easy-Medium
Fri 7:53, 12:09, 0.65, 5%, Easy (9th lowest median solve time of 171 Fridays)

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

Sorry to be off topic but for those who solve online using the iPad app, is there a generally accepted belief that the times that rule the leader board are posted by cheaters? While competition is not what drives me to solve, I do enjoy the measuring stick of seeing others' times and reading of their travails and successes. So, when I see a Saturday completion time of sub three minutes, I am baffled- am I that sheltered to think that this is impossible? I don' think I could even write/type that fast if I knew all the answers in advance. I will appreciate anyone's thoughts on this and I apologize if this is an old or tired discussion.

syndy 3:09 PM  

There is video out the of Rex and others solving.scary fast but he is an expert typist as well! If you can keep typing while glancing at the next clue...I think they take in key words and go with it.@ aemilianus don't be dissing the pater familias!

NM Robin 10:45 AM  

Completed this puzzle in about an hour. Don't actually time myself. Usually I can't complete a Friday puzzle so I knew this would be rated "easy".

@chefbea: I also drove a sable. Great car. But Hess gas stations are not in the West. Lived West of the the mighty Miss all my life.

@The Dentist: Disagree. My Dad never had a root canal and died with all this natural teeth. I hope to also.

Oh! the puzzle - loved it. Thanks Patrick Berry - very smooth.

Spacecraft 2:06 PM  

Black Friday here in syndiland--a perfect day to stay home and curl up with a good PB. Easy it was not. Sometimes I think you do the constructor a disservice by calling his work "easy," because I'm sure he/she wouldn't want to envision a horde of yawning solvers filling in their grids as fast as they can write. I believe Mr. Berry wants us to THINK. And that's what I had to do--plenty--to get this thing done with no errors and no help.

First writeover was my first entry: cBS. I don't do the late-night thing, but could have sworn Conan was there. Thus to TESTY and SHESALADY (Whoa-oa-oa). I generally try for shorter entries first, to get a leg up on the longer ones, but my eye fell on "Sharp-looking footwear" and I thought, oh man, you gave away the store with that one. Couldn't resist, eh, Patrick? Down went STILETTOHEELS and I had my (groan!) foothold.

Eventually corrected to TBS on account of 27d, then made another misprint with ARt, fancying that I remembered an Art Shapiro on the radio. Just the old brain tricking me. Eventually I had to admit there are no LIBRARtANS, so fixed that, my only other w/o.

One man's gimme is another's huh? I needed every cross for MOES. I've never been to any of the U.S. cities called Springfield.

rain forest 3:33 PM  

Yes, it WAS easy, but fun and stimulating. There's easy and boring, but then there's easy and entertaining (like Berry, Silk, Gorski, et al). I was only held up because of LISA, and HAWN, (was thinking HAHN for awhile). Somehow knew SCIPIO and SAM RAIMI, but still don't see why a STREAMLET is a short run. (Hey I'm going for a streamlet to the corner store). The SHE'S A LADY song is just too much misogynistic BABBLE. Well, so was Tom Jones.
Great puzzle, good week.

Ginger 5:29 PM  

This wasn't all that easy, but it finally overcame the triptophan, and Greatgrandkidhangover, to let me finish it. Perfect way to spend the morning after turkey day! I do not understand those who feel the need to rush to the mall. Hand up for wanting energizer and jurassic. Love the timliness of SWINGSTATE.

Great, interesting, fun workout. Thanks PB (keep-em coming!)

DMGrandma 5:36 PM  

Once again an "almost", sigh! Thwarted by having peaNUTSHELLS and not knowing the director or the Depp role. Also, it didn't help that, no matter how I spelled them, (two t's, two l's ?) I couldn't make those shoes fit what I had.
And with @Rainforest, I don't understand STREAMLET, I thought they were narrow, not short?? Even so I enjoyed working out the parts I got, and look forward to tomorrow. Turkey sandwiches tonight!

Dirigonzo 10:05 PM  

I initially wanted SCOUT to be the Good Samaritan type at 59a until he showed up with his TROOP at 2d. My Mercury started off as a comet, the soup tidbit was a nOodle and "Keeps from going too far was rEinsin. All easily straightened out by the croses to produce a fun Friday romp.

In re STREAMLET, most definitions seems to refer to a "small river", which I guess could be short, narrow or diminutive in some other way, but the crosses didn't leave much room for debate.

Anonyrat 8:08 AM  

@ acme 12:59 PM - "I also think PB is so beloved because, at base, smart folks like tricky clues which lead to slaps on head ..." Ding ding ding! Exactly! Liked this puzzle for just that reason. What I hate is puzzles (like those on Tuesday and Thursday of this week) which are not clever at all and rely, for upping the difficulty, on obscure foreign words or names.
@ Bird 1:56 PM - Money can't buy happiness - or a World Series title. Poor Steinbrenners (frowny face).
@ Z 6:06 PM - Better pitching, timely hitting, and good defense beats good pitching, eh? (No, not a Giants fan, hate them actually, but they do seem to have developed the blueprint for winning a World Series - pitching, timely hitting, good manager, and defense, rather than spending huge amounts of money on building an "All-star" team - i.e., good general manager who can put it all together.) Sadly, I'm a Rangers fan (quasi-all star team with a crack-head manager).
@ John V 12:49 PM - Mohel? - someone who performs a bris? That's so wrong, and funny, at the same time. If it makes you feel any better, I wanted "shit-kicker boots" for 15D.
@ 孫悟飯 11:45 AM - Chinese boner medicine robot scores!

Z 10:14 AM  

@Anonyrat - Tigers-Yankees was definitely a case of good pitching beating good hitting. You certainly couldn't accuse the Tigers of timely hitting or good defense in that series. Giants-Tigers was more a case of some defense and some hitting beating no defense and no hitting. One guy hitting way above what his career indicates he was likely to do didn't hurt.

Anonyrat 9:14 AM  

Z - Didn't watch this year, since the Rangers got eliminated in the new (bogus - I'm a traditionalist, at least when it comes to baseball)one-game playoff, so I can't really speak to what happened this year. But it continues to amaze me (not just in baseball, but basketball as well), how teams try to win by building offensive "all-star teams" when it's defense that wins championships. And in baseball, "defense," first and foremost, includes pitching. One reason I hate the Giants (and the A's) is the whole BALCO - BALCO stands for Bay Area Labs Co. - thing (see Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire). Both those teams had players suspended this year for steroid use. Those teams, especially the Giants, seem to have players who play extraordinarily well for them, but suck everywhere else they play (like Marco Escutaro). It just has to make you wonder.
That being said, it doesn't hurt to have a GM who can identify players who may not be all-stars, but who perform in the clutch, and a good coach. As a Rangers, and Sacramento Kings, fan, I've seen my teams lose because they've been outcoached (and because the GM didn't understand the difference between an all-star and a clutch player).

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