Heavy and Clumsy / FRI 9-13-13 /Ikura or Tobiko / Dark side / Old-fashioned respirator

Friday, September 13, 2013

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

Word of the Day: LANOLIN (Stuff used to soften baseball mitts)
For breastfeeding mothers. Soothes and protect[s] dry, cracked skin. Breastfeeding cream is hypoallergenic and completely natural. It is recommended for the treatment of sore nipples. (cvs.com)
• • •

Or, rather, in this clue's context, it's an agent for breaking in one's baseball glove, lubricating the tense virgin leather so it can drape more intimately about the flesh of the hand. But whether applied to mitts or tits, lanolin is a wax secreted by sheep and found in their coats.

Hi, this is Ben Tausig, guest-blogging for Rex, who tonight is watching the worst movie ever made. You might know me as editor of the famous American Values Club xword (formerly in The Onion), a weekly indie puzzle available here. Sometimes I write puzzles, too. Hi.

But not this one. Today's crossword, a 66-word affair, was constructed by the estimable Patrick Berry, who as ever puts on a clinic in puzzle making. (Patrick is estimable like Rafael Nadal; that is, he's really a legend but we soft-pedal because he's active). Speaking of oiled, rippling Spanish athletes' torsos (we were, weren't we?), the torso of this grid is a muscular semi-stack of seven entries, including 29A: RUMORHASIT, 40A: COINPURSES, and 34: LANDLINES (clued elegantly as "Cell alternatives"), with the awkwardly adjectival 35A: FOURLETTER the only sign of flab. And through that dense set runs a 15D: METEORITE and an 24D: IRONLUNG, the latter of which was my favorite entry in the puzzle and among the quickest long pieces to fall. The clue for 21D: TARTNESS, "Crab apple's quality," evoked Edna Crabapple, a literary name in the classic tradition that it took me years to grasp.

From a construction standpoint, the middle was almost certainly the most difficult section for Berry to fill. That region and its tributaries comprise roughly two-thirds of the grid's total mass. With wide-mouthed entries to the northeast and southwest, there's nowhere to hide when you're working a chunk like this. The northwest and southeast, on the other hand, are relatively enclosed, but no less pristine for being so. Speaking of the southeast, not to brag or anything, but I'm a big Greek salad guy, and 37D: OREGANO ("Greek salad ingredient") was a pleasant "a ha" moment after running through the more substantial ingredients mentally--feta, cucumber, black olives, iceberg lettuce, red onion, tomato. I once made a crossword that was also a recipe, and I think it was one of my worst.

Here's fattoush, which is sort of similar to a Greek salad, from Yotam Ottolenghi:

As an editor accustomed to quick turnarounds, it was moderately disappointing to see a clue for 53A: NOTREDAME set in 1935, when just the other night my wife and I (U-M alums both) watched the Wolverines roll over the Irish for the final time at the Big House; Notre Dame is sorta-joining the ACC, which constrains their schedule and means no more annual game against my alma mater--the end of a very long rivalry. There's topical gold in those hills. I likewise wanted 5D: PRIDE to say something about Anderson Cooper or the demise of DOMA; alas.

But a Berry puzzle doesn't much need glitter. The open spaces (and what they're filled with) shine plenty bright.

  • 51D: LAO — Lao is one of my favorite scripts. I can read it, sort of; the below says "Lao alphabet."

  • 12D: LAVORIS —Absolutely no idea what this is, but presumably it's real and refreshing.
  • 23A: GLUTEI — As in, the plural of gluteus. I'd personally be concerned that the unfamiliar plural wouldn't bear the load of a ? clue, but such is Friday. "Muscles in twerking" would also suffice. There's also "What bums sit on," if it's not too insensitive.
  • 14A: LASERBEAM — Great answer with a stretchy clue in "Reading light for an audiobook?" I was gearing up for an incredible payoff when I first read the clue, expecting a reference to some kind of book with content that would make for a short (and thus light) audiobook. A picture book or something? None came.
L'shana tova, friends. 

Signed, Ben Tausig, cutpurse of Crossworld. 


okanaganer 12:43 AM  

Tripped up by 1A "Holding" = CLAMPING which made 4d "Hill house" = MENATE. Sounds like a plausible obscure Roman term I've never heard of for a Villa on a Hilla.

Today "School door sign" = BOYS, yesterday "School door sign" = GIRLS. Methinks Will wrote those clues after setting the puzzle schedule?

Angle Carpi Malts 12:49 AM  

My only hang up was: is it PRIdE? PRIcE? PRImE? PRIzE?
Decided NORAD made the most sense.

For me, Patrick Berry continues to be the anti-Scrabble guy…not a JQWZ in sight.

I mean, I was solving this during Wheel of Fortune which seemed appropriate when I was working on the EASTERN, TARTNESS, SHIER, TASS, LETT, GATE area it struck me again why the puzzle is so smooth but doesn’t make me feel peppy.

I realize the brilliance is in the clues, but my Aha!s were closer to “oh, yeah right”s.)

Visually, the structure of one atop another atop another atop another tho is growing on me.

Excited when I got the ?B? in DIane Sawyer's employer, bec that narrowed it down to ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS!

NEAL DeGrasse Tyson is gonna bum again that he didn’t make the puzzle.

Steve J 12:52 AM  

Liked this GOBS. Lots of great fill, lots of great cluing. I also loved the clue for LASERBEAM, and the clue/answer combos in the center were fantastic (aside from 35A/FOURLETTER, although I'll take that kind of thing as opposed to more-common phonetic clue/answer pairings).

Got a little hung up in the SW, where I ran through RICOH and CANON before getting to EPSON at 57A (the CANON misstep was especially devilish, as the last two letters crossed correctly and led me to think I was on the right path). Got it sorted when I realized that, while I can never remember what kind of carriage is which, I'm really confident none of them are called CHAISc.

On top of the solid fill and cluing, what I really like about this one is that there were only a couple words/terms that I had no clue about once I saw them (SCLERA and LAVORIS - although I somehow pulled that out of some deep, dark recesses of my brain; I must have encountered it in crosswords before). That's unusual on a Friday, and I think it's a key part of what makes this a really excellent puzzle.

Ben Tausig 12:55 AM  

You thought Wordsworth wrote a poem comparing PRIZE to a whizzing rocket? Like after he won that big Lynyrd Skynyrd mirror he was so excited he ran home and penned "Ode to the Weight Guessing Booth"?

mathguy 1:02 AM  

Got most of the puzzle quickly but stalled in SW corner. I had CHA??? for "Carriage with a folding hood." It took me quite a while to guess CHAISE but then the rest of the corner fell into place. Only four cute clues for me led by
"Amendment to an amendment" for STET.

jae 1:15 AM  

Either I've suddenly gotten much better in the last couple of days or this was very easy.  I'll write yesterday's off to SPARROW and ADA (I've seen versions of the "tube" clue before)  being gimmes and putting DAWG in off the W and DACHA in off the D.  But this one was pretty much read the clue write the answer.  My only erasures were GLUTEs for GLUTEI and UNDERwent for GONE.   I have no idea who NEAL Boortz is, probably because I only listen to Rock and Roll Oldies radio, but I noticed him only after I'd filled in the rest of NW. 

That said, this was a very smooth grid with just a hint of zip... RUMOR HAS IT, CON ARTISTS, LUNK...so, liked it but way too easy for a Fri.

wreck 1:19 AM  

As a newbie, I was thrilled to solve a Friday puzzle 10 minutes faster than a themed Thursday. 35 minutes w/no google help. I'm seeing the puns and "play on words" much easier! Agree with "okanaganer" - "sign on a school door" was an immediate gimme!

Pandora B. Ox 1:48 AM  

Fantastic themeless -- but I don't get the answer LASER BEAM. Can someone explain it, please?

Anoa Bob 1:48 AM  

Tausig @12:55, your comment wins the "prize" in the "Most Supercilious and Mean-Spirited" category.

jae 2:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 2:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 2:58 AM  

@Pandora -- Audio books that aren't streamed are typically on CDs which are "read" with lasers. Now if it was say the late 1980s or so your audio book would have been on a cassette tape and no lasers would have been required, and streaming would be a WOE.

chefwen 2:59 AM  

Do you think the wine that I sprayed whilst reading the write-up is going to hurt my new computer? Very funny!

I guess it was pretty easy as I was able to finish. Not my usual Friday outcome. Mr. ESPN helped me out at 2D with miNk oIl. NOT! Well the N and the I worked, nice try Jon. Got a little hung up finishing the SW corner, but got 'er done.

Thank you Mr. Berry, love your puzzles!

Pandora B. Ox 3:22 AM  

@jae -- thank you. that is a great clue then. i forgot all about audiobooks on CDs. all of mine are downloaded to my iPad, or streamed.

DVDs and CDs seem like such antique technology now. you could almost have to clue it, "bygone reading light ..."

loren muse smith 4:14 AM  

This puzzle has only one, *one* person's name – NEAL. OK – maybe EPSON was named after a guy, but still.


My guys who showed up by the truckload were, mysteriously, "foremen," and I was vaguely wondering how I never knew there could be GOBS of them. Sheesh.

@Steve J – FOUR LETTER was my favorite clue/fill!

Two cool things:

CO_ _ _ _ _S_S:
Your day is now complete.

Excellent puz, Patrick Barry. I never give up on yours and always manage to finish'em because I trust you and your clues.

John Child 5:50 AM  

I would love to do a Patrick Barry puzzle every week. Two would be better. Or three...

The wonderful thing is that however hard or easy, there's never a "WTF is that" moment.

Beautiful and a pleasure.

August West 6:17 AM  

Like @acme, enjoyed some cute uh huh (as opposed to aha) moments. Much like @jae, my experience was "pretty much read the clue write the answer." Liked INANIMATE, FOUL TIP, OIL PANS and FIREMEN clues the most. Finished in quick Tuesday time. Way, way too easy for a Friday.

Ted Cole 6:18 AM  

Figured I was off to the races, and ready to put in "neatsfoot oil".
Wrong on both counts.6163

optionsgeek 7:08 AM  

More of an easy for me this time out. Clueing was straight forward. The only medium-ish part was SW corner where it took awhile to see CHAISE, ITALY, OILPANS, SINAI, etc. A very nice, well-constructed puzzle as we expect from PB.

Ben Tausig 7:29 AM  

Long as I get my Skynyrd mirror, man.

Glimmerglass 7:42 AM  

@John Child. I did do two PB puzzles this week, today's NYT and Wednesday his Fireball contest puzzle (solved the puzzle, but no idea about the contest word). If you love PB, look into the Fireballs. PB is just the best.

Gareth Bain 8:11 AM  

It is interesting to compare and contrast Jeff and Andrea's comments on Patrick Berry's constructing. They both point out his use of the same design technique, while coming to opposite conclusions.

Usually, I'm in Jeff's corner in that I find Patrick Berry excels at finding un-Scrabbly yet still pizzazz-y answers, but today I'm on Andrea's side of the fence. The puzzle was certainly technically superlative, but I didn't find it particularly exciting.

joho 8:41 AM  

This was easy until it wasn't in the SW. I could only come up with FOULhIt. I quickly wrote in Ghana and that was the end of me.

I can't remember the last time I didn't finish a PB. I'm blaming it on this being Friday the 13th.

Back to work with Adele's "RUMORHASIT" playing in my brain ...

Questinia 9:00 AM  

Patrick needs to do a puzzle a week. He just has to, I mean he should have no choice, like I mean, he needs to be forced to make us puzzle pies every day. It is providential he make us puzzle pies twice a day and three times on Sundays.

More Patrick Berry Puzzle Pies!!

Silken glide till I hit the SW where yin saved me. Cause Patrick always saves me. He never lets me down. Siiiigh, Mr. Berry. You da man.....

jberg 9:07 AM  

I wanted MaTErnITy for "depression creator" at 15D, having observed that phenomenon from time to time (though never UNDERGONE it personally). Also, for some reason, zInc before TILE (confusing bars with roofs?), and cAlORIS (does that exist?) before LAVORIS. Otherwise, easy but fun.

I don't know @Ben, or if he has a long-standing feud with @Acme, but I took that comment as more "wallowing in the goofiness of the image" than "mean spirited." Sometimes when you think of something like that you just have to write it down.

ghulam abid 9:25 AM  

Every thing will be Free, Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers, Twitter Tweets, Twitter Re-Tweets, Twitter Favorites, Google Plus Followers, StumbleUpon Followers, Youtube Views, Youtube Likes, Youtube Subsribes, Pinterest Followers, Pinterest Likes, Pinterest PinIt, Free Website Visitors.
Just Join now and Free Increase your Social Media Networks.

chefbea 9:27 AM  

Easiest Friday in a while. Did have to google a bit. Noticed the Girls yesterday and Boys today...and didn't we just have Lett??

Rex Parker 9:27 AM  

Today it is clear that most people comment without really reading the write-up. I've sort of known this for a long time, but on a day when someone else writes so beautifully and hardly a soul acknowledges it, it stands out. I wish I had the energy / talent to write so entertainingly and thoughtfully about puzzles every day. Thanks, Ben.


retired_chemist 9:28 AM  

Nice and easy. One of my faster Fridays. Thought the fill and cluing both were actually pretty good. Sort of a vocabulary quiz, my favorite kind of puzzle.

Didn't like the clue for GRAYEST. Calls for BLACKEST or DARKEST as the answer.

Thanks, Mr. Berry.

Ben Tausig 9:29 AM  

@Rex Thanks, I greatly appreciate that.

@jberg Correct, we don't have a feud (nor a relationship of any kind). I did just like the image.

dk 9:52 AM  

@chefwen, if what you use for the wine works let me know as I need to get Stumptown's Hairrasier blend out of my keyboard.

Ben, despite Rex telling us your words are pearls before swine (squeal), what a great write up. I in fact known you from your roles in such films as....

We used mink oil and 3 in one oil on our rippling torsos..... i mean baseball gloves. So I was stymied in the Northwest for some whiles. The rest of the puzzle fell like the winsome verbiage from Ben's pen.

Please note Stetson was purchased by Resistol and now all cowboy hats are the product of a nice Jewish family from New Yawk.

🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 Stars) Most excellent.

d(hulking brute of xwords)k

Susan McConnell 10:01 AM  

Puzzle was a delightful experience, and a delight to look at. Also a delight: FATTOUSH! Yum!

Z 10:06 AM  

@Rex Parker and @Ben Tausig - I always read the blog though I rarely comment on it except for those rare times (yesterday) when I disagree with something. Today's was a fine complement to a fine puzzle.

FOUR LETTER words was my first entry into the puzzle. Was I worried? No. As @LMS says, you can trust the cluing when it is PB. I worked my way up to the NE and then down to the SE then the SW. The NW gave me fits. As is always the case with Mr. Berry, I look at it post solve and wonder why I didn't get it sooner.

@Anoa Bob, where does GLUTEI fit in your POC hierarchy?

Carola 10:15 AM  

@Ben - I loved your write up (and truly, that was going to be the first thing I said, even before reading @Rex above) - especially the rippling torso part, but also the insights into the construction.

Found it an easy Friday - that is, after gratefully encountering the LETT after ??? over the first 7 Across clues. LETT got me TARTNESS, and after that the Acrosses and Downs just kept cooperating all the way to the end. A pleasure thoughout. Liked the nice surprise of the Wordsworth quote.

Loved LAVORIS. In high school my friends and I kept little bottles of it in our purses and nipped during basketball games (for the alcohol), which we considered quite daring and racy. Small-town Wisconsin.

lawprof 10:41 AM  

Me? I personally used Glovolium. A little can of Glov'um lasted an entire childhood.

Steve J 10:45 AM  

I always read the main blog, but don't always comment back on it (or do so in small ways, such as saying I also liked something the writeup called out).

@Loren: Over on xwordinfo, Shortz also mentions FOURLETTER had his favorite clue.

I just don't like that type of cluing, where you're simply describing the answer via some mechanical feature of the word(s), rather than through topicality, shared meaning, reference to knowledge, etc. That (and previously) said, I'll take this approach over a simple phonetic-style clue (e.g., "City section?"/SHORTI) any day. In the end, it's just personal preference. Most everyone has things that commonly appear that they don't care for (sports references, proper names, circles, pangrams, etc.).

ahecht 10:53 AM  

I had egypt for 55 across, which led to an entirely plausible surrey for 40 down. Took me a while to get over that one.

jae 11:12 AM  

Hey, I also always read the blog, and Ben's write up was quite chuckle provoking...Edna, twerking, breasts, oiled torsos... But, didn't really see much to react to except the medium rating. My bad though for not acknowledging a fine write up. And BTW, this weeks AV puzzle was tricky and fun. If you haven't signed up for it you should.

Evan 11:13 AM  

Rex, I never read your blog. And I every time I sub-blog for you, I don't read what I write either. I just look at them purty pictures, cough out a word salad, and hope it makes sense.

Seriously though, I probably don't say it enough, but thanks for taking on the blogging task every single day. Can't begin to say how much better a solver and constructor I've become because of it.

Good stuff, Ben. [Muscles in twerking] would have been, hands-down (asses down?), the Clue of the Year.

As for the puzzle itself: Sweet. Sweet and smooth. I'm with you, @jae -- I thought this was easy for a Friday. But then, I'm usually on Patrick's wavelength in a way that I'm not with other themeless guys.

And I come down on the side of less-Scrabbly-is-better-if-the-fill-is-great. If all of those 9- and 10-letter words were contrived things like ASSESSORS and RESTRINGS and STRIATIONS and STUTTERERS, then that would be boring, done for no purpose except to make the fill fit. When they're all fresh, lively phrases, then I don't see a problem.

In case anyone hasn't seen it, here's what Patrick wrote to Jeff Chen about themeless puzzles: "I find it easier to comment on the construction of themed puzzles, since those tend to stick in my mind a little better. Themeless construction is almost like meditation — you go into a trance, then come out again when the grid's full."

Dude's like a boss.

Mel Ott 11:21 AM  

LANOLIN? Really? We used neatsfoot oil. And we didn't rub it on our tits. (Except maybe Larry C. - you never knew about him.)

John V 11:26 AM  

I think Jeff Chen quote of PB, that themeless construction is almost like a meditation, pretty well captures what it is like solving a PB themeless. A thing of beauty, 'twas.

Beautiful write-up, Ben, as noted by OFL.

John V 11:32 AM  

To add: felt pretty easy, but a PB puzzle sort of always feels like that. I cannot recall getting skunked by one of his; they are simply "get-able"

Zeke 11:37 AM  

@Rex - Sometimes the writeup inspires silence on the part of commenters, today being an example. I had a long post all ready to go, focussing on the leather like hands of a rancher, burned by rawhide, scarred by barbed-wire fence, scorched by branding irons. Hands that for 51 weeks of the year are insensate.

Until that one glorious week when it's sheep-shearing time. When you run your hands through the sheep's coat, slathering it in lanolin. After the first few your hands, and with it your heart, become soft again, and you're thankful for the sheep. Then you notice how adorable they are when shorn, they're free of grime, their muscles ripple as they run away. Then...

But, one reads the write-up and feels ashamed.

mac 11:42 AM  

Medium Friday for me, at one point I didn't think I would finish the NE. Ended up with a mistake Lovoris / borox, just didn't know the products.

Also write-overs at glutes and underwent, and for some reason I had a hard time seeing con artist.

I always read the write-up, although I have to admit I don't often click the links - there often are other people in the room. Ben's piece today was beautifully written. He also included my current favorite chef's recipe - I'm working my way through "Jerusalem". We've never had so much yogurt in the fridge. Now I need to google cutpurse.

Good puzzle day!

Evan 11:51 AM  

Should also add -- Ben's bonus puzzle for the AV Club this week? I haven't laughed that hard solving a crossword in....probably ever. Do it if you haven't already!

tptsteve 12:05 PM  

Great write-up, particularly the part about UM rolling over the Domers. This puzzle fell easily-- except the NW-- where I refused to abandon minkoil for 2D. So I guess in the final analysis, the puzzle won. C'est la vie. Allez bleu.

Arby 12:36 PM  

So Ben - which, in your opinion, is the worst movie ever made? My daughters forced "Sharknado" on me just last week, which beats "Plan 9 From Outer Space" by a wide margin, I must say.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 12:43 PM  

fave fillins: STET and STET SONS. There's yer family-style puz, right there. Always thoroughly enjoy a Patrick "Back Off Dude, FriPuz Is Mine" Berry grid experience. @Q's got it about right, I reckon: PB Pie every Fri.

Tausig spoutin Lao every Fri would be pretty bodacious, too. Kid does the bullets. Twerk muscles. har.

Hey, tho. Can't just casually mention 4-Oh watchin the "worst movie ever made", with no followup. Does the Benmeister hate-watch flicks? What movie is this, that's so bad that 4-Oh would take a pass on the blog to go watch? Semicurious masked dudes everywhere need to know.

Top worst ***shlock*** movies ever made...
* Manos Hands of Fate (legendary. Made by a Texas used car salesman. Lead actor killed self, soon after.)
* Plan 9 from Outer Space (inspired by Plan BS discussions)
* Feast 3: The Happy Finish (to be fair, the first two Feast movies were outstandin)
* Redneck Zombies (I gotta assume this is what Rex watched, since I recommended it to him, once)
* Peter Rottentail (from the always unreliable Sub Rosa studios, who prided themselves in usin video tape direct to DVD delivery system)
* Surf Nazis Must Die (don't be sucked in by the tantilizin title)
* Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (Billy Bob Thornton debut. Must be seen to be believed)

syndy 12:49 PM  

I also always Read the Blog but have purposely not commented on the comments.(be careful what you ask for-you might get it!)Ben are you calling EDNA a TART? is that fair? I also had Egypt as my world heritage site-then again as my suez site!! PB as usual foregoes the glittery bells and whistles for solid worth and foresquare cluing!Bravo!

Lewis 12:50 PM  

Loved the clues for CONARTISTS and COINPURSES. Loved this solid solid puzzle, with the care that PB puts into his cluing and keeping within the bounds of most peoples' knowledge.

Made me laugh, Tausig, plus some good knowledge thrown in.

@questinia -- PBPPs forever!

I like that the two baseball answers are stacked atop each other, probably a coincidence. And I love the cross of INANIMATE and SENATE.

Ben Tausig 12:56 PM  

The consensus worst movie, and the one I was referring to, is Plan 9. I would probably vote for Troll 2, though.

And I second Evan's suggestion that you solve my Something Different bonus puzzle that dropped this week.

Joe The Juggler 12:58 PM  

By my criteria* it was an "easy" Friday.

My Friday criteria:

1) I finished it
2) in under 30 minutes (20:something)

The first criterion by itself makes it a "medium" or easier.

Ray J 1:02 PM  

I must have made a bazillion Greek salads as a teenager working in the kitchen of a Mediterranean restaurant. My hands were constantly pickled from the feta cheese brine. I wish I’d had a sheep to rub back then.

Anyone know how Edna Crabapple is a “literary name in the classic tradition”? Please help, I’m at sea over here.

@Acme – Mr. deGrasse Tyson spells his name with an I (I didn’t know that, I checked). I’ve never heard of Boortz but apparently Shortz has.

Great puzzle, great write-up and great comments. I love this place.

jazzmanchgo 1:09 PM  

Thought CLASPING was CLAMPING, so ended up with MENA_E where SENA_E should have been, and couldn't figure out a way out of it (never heard of GLUTEI); ended up with only that one cross undone.

wordie 1:12 PM  

Ben, awesome write up, I am amazed at your fluidity and humor! I was fortunately not drinking anything while reading it so my iPod is safe.

Thanks, Evan, for the tip on the AV puzzle. I'll have to go google that.

I really liked the puzzle, but did not find it too easy, though I am often on PB's wavelength. I felt very clever putting in led screen for 14 A, oh well, a couple letters helped with the downs. I also had a hard time seeing con artists for 33A, partly bc I had tarsi for 33D, despite it seeming not quite (not at all) right, and spelling shier shyer. I used to be such a great speller, but that skill is declining, which is disturbing.

So many great comments on the blog today, I really enjoy coming here! Every time.

Ben Tausig 1:14 PM  

@Ray I just meant that her name is very literal.

M and A also 1:23 PM  

@Ben Tausig: Pretty good choice, and certainly #2 on my list, so to speak. Hard to beat Ed Wood with a stick. I had seen the Troll feature, too -- but had suppressed all memory thereof. Never caught the Sharknado one, but I want that.

Speakin of Syfy channeling, tho... Be sure to catch its "Bigfoot" offerin. 2012 flick, about a gigantic sasquatch dude. Highlight hasta be old bigfoot drop-kickin Alice Cooper.

But I digress.
So, 4-Oh blew us off for Plan 9. Classic.


KarenSampsonHudson 1:27 PM  

We'll miss Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium, and we expect someday the rivalry will be renewed on an annual basis.

Z 1:45 PM  

@M&A - The question is, "Did 4-Oh blow us off for small screen or big screen?" Big screen I could forgive, but if it was for an edited for TV version he has some 'splainin' to do.

Acme 1:46 PM  

@rayJ 1:02pm
Sorry, that was a bit of a private joke directed at DR. Neil... He's touchy over the "a vs i" spelling and longs to be a full answer in a NYT puzzle...

As for @Ben saying we have no relationship at all...tell that to our lovechild Lynyrd!

Steve J 1:48 PM  

@jae: I echo the recommendation for the AV xword. Most weeks, it's my favorite puzzle of the week (Ben's own puzzles - they go by the name Ink Well in my crossword app - are usually excellent, too). Ben's wit shown in today's writeup comes through in the puzzles, and the typical roster of constructors shares that irreverent wit as well. You would definitely see a clue like "Muscles in twerking" there, and I personally think the puzzles are better with a little bit of sass.

Bird 1:58 PM  

Wasn’t easy, but I did it. SW was last to fall changing EGYPT to SINAI and CANON to EPSON. I enjoyed this solve – a very good puzzle where the crossings helped tremendously.

I can hardly make out 58A as it evolved from GUN BELTS to HOLSTERS to STETSONS.

Personal nit: I use LINSEED OIL to soften my mitt. Didn’t know LANOLIN was an option, but I’ll look into it as the former tends to add a little weight to the leather.

Hindsight nit: Didn’t notice the STET / STESON crossing – two demerits.

Thank you Mr. Berry.

@Ben – great write-up.


Plan BS From Outer Space 2:07 PM  

@Z... Not to mention that 4-Oh may have blown off a Patrick Berry puz solve, for Plan 9. Now, there's yer headline.

I can't help but wonder if MST3K ever covered Plan 9. Don't rightly think so; probably too easy apickins. Know they did an episode watchin Manos; what a hoot. If 4-Oh blew us off for a new MST3K version of Plan 9, all should definitely be forgiven.

Otherwise, I be "hate-readin" the blog writeup, for a while. har.


ahimsa 2:25 PM  

@Rex, here's another commenter who always reads the write-ups (I do often skip the videos, and have to skim the comments) even though I don't often comment about it.

Even when I have a completely different opinion about the day's puzzle I always appreciate the hard work it takes to keep this blog going. So, thanks for creating this space.

Thanks also to @Ben for today's puzzle write-up. And Go Blue! M Club Supports You! (I'm married to a Michigan alum)

Okay, on to the puzzle. Either this was easy for a Friday or it happened to be on my wavelength. I couldn't see the first three across answers but then I started on the downs and filled in CLING TO, LANOLIN, AS A RULE, and SENATE. One, two, three, just like that. It felt pretty freaky. That made the NW very easy. The rest was my more usual slow but steady pace.

One hitch was thinking that GLUTEI was GLUTEs, a slang word I've heard at the gym. That S caused a bit of problem. But, eventually, everything worked out *in the end*. :-) (multiple bad puns there)

I laughed/groaned at "Car collecters?" for OIL PANS. I even had OIL-ANS and still had to run the alphabet to get it. Obviously I don't know my ALPs, either, since Dom meant nothing to me.

Wondering 2:35 PM  

Do constructors have and follow there own policy on plurals? Will PB always use "I" for anatomy, Latin, etc.?

Or are the plural letters (s? i? ae?) selected during construction?

MetaRex 2:35 PM  

Ohgod this was beautiful...

Glad to be stupid enough to guess LAO and YIN right away and then have ITALY emerge slowly w/ the crosses :)

Is antiphony/assonance/whatever, like the LANOLIN/LAVORIS COINPURSE/CON ARTIST combo noted by lms or the RENATO/RENT TO combo a little while back, a good thang or a flaw? Usually the latter, methinks...

MetaRex 2:37 PM  

Meant to say "the former" a moment ago...oh well

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

Mel Ott and bird are both right,
lanolin is marginal at best and probably just plain wrong.
Anybody else have a problem with oil pan as a collecttor? Typically collectors ( in the world of machinery) are used to, well, colllect something which is a byproduct (often a condensate). In cars, oil pans arent collecting anything, they're reservoirs and their contents are constantly being drwn on. As i say, typically collectors are ggathering, in effect, refuse--stuff that will sit or collect, but certainly wont be reused.

Z 3:52 PM  

Oh, look, a website dedicated to baseball gloves explaining the reasons to prefer LANOLIN to neatsfoot for your glove and leather bound books.

Anonymous 4:19 PM  


Do a little more research. The fact is Major Leaguers started using shaving cream ( with lanolin) to clean their gloves. Neets foot oil and mink oil both remain superior at preserving leather. Sure, both of those things darken leather. All ballplayers know this. ( as do automobile restorers)Almost none care.

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

Why be so flippant @Z?

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

Anon 4:33


Z's post wasnt just flippant and gratuitous, but I, believe, incorrect. I've worked in and around MLB for a pretty long while. MLBers have different needs than rec players, but nevertheless, many still use neets foot oil. And even more have clubhouse attendants, equipment guys and others use neets foot for them.

Z 5:09 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 5:12 PM  

Your proof is a link to a website wich itself has no bona fides. That's not proof; at best it's suggestive.
In any event, even if it were prrof, is that reason for discourtsey?

Anonymous 5:15 PM  


Why have you removed your rude post?

Z 5:17 PM  

Clue: "Stuff used to soften baseball mitts."

Anonymous post: "lanolin is marginal at best, and probably just plain wrong."

My post disproves Anonymous statement with an actual link to an actual site dedicated to baseball gloves. Note: no reference to what Major Leaguers use in clue nor any support for claims in anonymous rejoinder.

As to the reason for my flippancy, make anonymous absolute statements that are easily disproved and what else would one expect. But really, I've been wrong before when I thought I found an error, too. QTIP.

Now I've exceeded the three post limit, so I'm outta here.

Anonymous 5:23 PM  


I've made no error. That I haven't, and can't proove a fact to your satisfaction is of little consequence to me. Your rudeness? That's another matter. So scurry away if you like, but your bad behaivior remains plain for all to see.

COsmartcookie 5:34 PM  

@Ben Tausig, thanks for the extremely entertaining & pithy write up today!
@Rex Parker, I'm another one who always reads your blog, and always enjoys your clever and sometimes borderline naughty commentary, whether I agree with you or not. My NYT puzzle solving experience isn't complete without seeing how you weighed in on that day's offering. And it's definitely made me a better solver.

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

Did ant one else try LCD or LEDscreen for reading light for an audiobook? Seemed to make sense, but alas...

mac 7:38 PM  

The weirdest thing is that I got lanolin without crosses. Where did that come from?

JFe 8:22 PM  

@Rex, I read your write-ups every day. Why else would I come to your blog?

Try to ignore the LOOK-AT-ME commentators.

@Ben, when I read the mitts and tits, I thought, "This is Rex?" Your write-up...everything Rex said.

Loved the puzzle!


jFe 8:48 PM  

"Your write-up every day"

Ann Heil 9:03 PM  

Well, I always read the write up and loved this one. I must say that if lanolin had been clued in relation to breast feeding it would have been a gimme for me. What a godsend.

And any guest blogger from U of M is a friend of mine. Grew up in the shadow of the Big House wearing maize and blue and picked up my Chem E degree there.

As to the puzzle, it was very easy for except for totally blowing the GRAYER YOU cross. I had GRAVER with After VOU, thinking it was a slangy "After vous."

Anonymous 10:27 PM  

Thanks for giving my husband a reason to live. The onion crossword is still available. Had no idea.

Susan Stewart 12:54 AM  

Steve, I don't get FOUR LETTER. Pls explain.

Not Steve 9:18 AM  

@Susan Stewart - count the letters in each word in the clue.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

They are four letter words. Like man can be six foot tall.

Merlin 11:42 PM  

Hi, overall I liked this puzzle (I am not great at doing them, especially not Thurs-Sun, but I have fun trying), and I thought 4-letter was a clever clue, as it seems quite a few here did, but I wanted to point out that there's an error: "from" has five letters (unless there is a version out there other than the PDF I printed, but I can't think of what other 4 letter word could have filled the function of "from") ... I guessed "four letter" at first but then the error sent me looking for something else until it was unavoidable ... liked the puzzle, just thought I would point that out

Huh? 9:03 AM  

1 - F
2 - R
3 - O
4 - M


spacecraft 11:27 AM  

@acme: Please tell Prof. Tyson that he has fans out there. Few, such as he and Prof. Kako, can make edgy science even remotely understandable to us doofuses (doofi?). They ignite our imagination such that, for a while, we too feel like geniuses (genii?).

Heck, who knows? Maybe one of us will be inspired to get off our GLUTEI and give our puny human knowledge a shove forward.

I certainly felt like a genius today: a Berry 66-worder in under 30? Gotta almost call that "easy." Entries just seemed to suggest themselves after only two or three letters. The solution seemed to spread like wildfire across that white expanse. Started in the NE with BORAX/EXEUNT, got RUMORHASIT off the -SIT, then IRONLUNG off just the R...see what I mean?

I had to guess a little in the SW; could not figure an ending for FOUL___ that wasn't FOURLETTER. Ball? Play? Finally hit on TIP, and was done. Take THAT, Neil and Michio! So I make it, let's say, easy-medium. You go, PB!

Waxy in Montreal 2:47 PM  

Agree with those who found this very easy, especially for a Friday. Took a while to spell LAVORIS properly and to parse the GRAYEST/YOU intersection but otherwise seemed more of a Tuesday or Wednesday-like puzzle.

Are LETT & fourLETTer both permissible as answers in the same grid?

One of my grandfather's most treasured moments was seeing the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show in Worcestershire as it barnstormed through the UK. No word on whether he and Calamity Jane were wearing their STETSONS.

Dirigonzo 3:36 PM  

I always read the blog and at least skim the comments before I post - it seems rude not to. Today I knew immediately upon reading "...mitts and tits..." that it was not Rex writing. Totally different style but still a great write-up - thank you, Ben, for today (five weeks ago) and Rex for every day.

Speaking of the comments the prime-time crowd seems to have been racier and more feisty than usual, perhaps due to the fact that the grid contained FOURLETTER words?

I too finished more quickly than is usual for a Friday (when finishing at all is often questionable) but I attribute the fact to the smoothness of the clues rather than an easy grid. I finished in the SW which finally opened up when I changed RAntS to RAvES and the FIREMEN arrived, and there at last was OFT. I don't make Greek Salad often so OREvANO seemed reasonably ethnic and left me with my OFT-repeated scenario of OWS.

Isn't NORAD the outfit that tracks Santa's travels on their radar every year?

Solving in Seattle 4:20 PM  

Get your mitts off those tits!
I, too, always read the blog, and today's was outstanding. Come back soon, Ben, as I always enjoy a good laugh.

@Anon, you must forgive @Z if you think he was a little snarky. 5 weeks ago he was foretelling that his Detroit Tigers are having to go back to Boston on the verge of losing the ALCS.

UTERI a few days ago, and now GLUTEI. Aren't they both used in twerking?

Liked SENATE crossing GLUTEI, too.

A "GIRLS" school sign a few days ago, now a "BOYS" sign. Thankfully a coed school.

My printer was a ricOh before it was an EPSON.

NORAD headquarters was where I spent most of my active duty in the USAF. Fond memories of Colorado Springs.

Solving in Seattle 4:23 PM  


Capcha: otelivis. Dyslexic Ode to Elvis?

DMG 4:50 PM  

Who knew people could get so excited about baseball gloves! My aha came from 17A. I was thinking along the lines of "in a rut", so when the first part turned up INANI____
I was stuck, seeing "in an i_ate". Couldn't hack it at all until IBM showed up and let me complete the puzzle!

@Spacecraft: I trust your list includes the wonderful Brian Greene who is able to lead me to believe I have a small grasp on string theory, though the effect is only temporary! If you haven,t seen it, check out his recent (July?) Smithsonian article on the Higgs Boson.

Z 4:59 PM  

@SiS - All part of Leyland's plan to not have the boys sitting around losing their edge before the World Series.

I also need to take my own advice and not get into it with anonymice.

I hear the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL and the Sounders are favored in the MLS. I am still wondering, though, who will stop the rain and when King Felix will get some help.

Solving in Seattle 5:46 PM  

@Z, the Hawks are real, unlike the Mariners. They'll make to the World Series about the time it doesn't rain around here. And Felix really is as nice as he is good on the mound. Class guy.

Go Tigers.

Dirigonzo 9:04 PM  

Today's (syndicated) blogger will be on NPR on Sunday - worth checking out, I think:click here for more info.

rain forest 12:35 AM  

Way late today, ergo no one will read this, so let me cut loose!

@Rex - What are you talking about? Come on! Everyone reads your post every day. Do you really want everyone to say, everyday, nice job, Rex? Ben did a nice job today--way to go, Ben!

I have on many an occasion stated that I very much admire your dedication to this blog, and to your passion. I'm not going to do that every day, and I reserve my right to state that I disagree with you whenever I do.

@Acme - who really cares whether there are "scrabbly letters" in the puzzle? I much prefer a puzzle like today's to one which has junk fill with a bunch of J's, K's, X's, etc. Stick to your positivism about constructing, and get off your scrabble kick.

@retirec chemist - keep being you.

@Diri - love you here in Syndiland, but just so you know, I only do the NYT xword, and I am not interested in blogs, stories about constructors and solving, other crossword sites, or whatever. Unlike with Rex, and many here, it is not my passion.

@M&A - You have it about right, in my opinion.

Really liked the puzzle, unscrabbly as it may have been. Sensuous write-up, Ben. Nice commentary, some of you, and bad commentary, the rest of you. You're my hero, Rex. See you tomorrow.

LiveAndLetLive 12:38 PM  

@Rainy Disposition - hey, man, @Dirigonzo was only trying to be informative. If you're not into the wider crossword world, why not simply ignore his post instead of the negativity? Or as we say in the BC woods where I live, "Chill, bro".

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