Deadbeat student at TV's Highland High / SUN 11-4-18 / Torch carrier's announcement / Shiny beetle disliked by fruit growers / Satine's profession in Moulin Rouge / German-Swiss author who won 1946 Nobel in Literature / Greek hero killed by giant scorpion

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (10:36)

THEME: none, somehow... ("UNTHEMED")

Word of the Day: Steve DITKO (37D: Steve who co-created Spider-Man)
Stephen J. Ditko[1] (/ˈdɪtk/; November 2, 1927 – c. June 29, 2018) was an American comics artistand writer best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of the Marvel Comics superheroes Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. [...] During the 1950s, Ditko also drew for Atlas Comics, a forerunner of Marvel Comics. He went on to contribute much significant work to Marvel. In 1966, after being the exclusive artist on The Amazing Spider-Man and the "Doctor Strange" feature in Strange Tales, Ditko left Marvel for reasons he never specified.
Ditko continued to work for Charlton and also DC Comics, including a revamp of the long-running character the Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating the Question, the CreeperShade the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove. Ditko also began contributing to small independent publishers, where he created Mr. A, a hero reflecting the influence of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. Ditko largely declined to give interviews, saying he preferred to communicate through his work.
Ditko was inducted into the comics industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990, and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994. (wikipedia)
• • •

This feels like a cop-out. The Sunday pile must've gotten dangerously low and so they picked up the Batphone (Patphone?) and were like "Help!" And of course, when one of the best constructors on the planet gives you a puzzle, it's gonna be very solid. Nothing to sneeze at. A very solid endeavor. But it pales next to a good themed Sunday (an admittedly hard genre to pull off) and it pales next to a themeless Fri or Sat, which are a. harder, and b. generally filled with more outstanding entries than this thing is. I'd put any random Patrick Berry 15x15 themeless up against this, any day. The only remarkable long entry I see here is "ARE WE DONE HERE?," which I love. Other stuff is perfectly fine, for the most part, but there's very little that seems new or daring or even interesting. AS BIG AS A HOUSE I kinda like, despite the fact that it's the kind of phrase that primarily gets used pejoratively. But entries like FOREST GREEN and WIRE RECORDERS doesn't evoke much of anything, and the rest of the (mostly fine) fill just seems like placeholder stuff. Maybe they're experimenting with the "Easier Themeless" genre? I dunno. But it's not really for me. Not bad. But a let-down. A punt.

["... where Mickey Mouse is 88-Across!"]

There weren't really any problem areas. I had a little trouble getting into the west from up above, despite PET SEMATARY's being a gimme. From below I was blocked by TDGARDEN, the name of which I'd forgotten (58A: Home arena of the Bruins and Celtics)—I had the -AR- and kept wanting something-ARENA (despite the fact that "arena" is in the clue). But once I found DITKO (a gimme for me—I'm teaching his work next week) and KATIE HOLMES (49A: Joey Potter's portrayer on "Dawon's Creek"), even that western section opened right up. A little further east, in the upper-middle of the grid, I had a little trouble dropping down from above because I had completely forgotten (if I ever knew them in the first place) every detail about BEAVIS's life. That clue—32D: Deadbeat student at TV's Highland High—meant absolutely nothing to me. LAWMEN, in that same general area, was also hard, in that it's a vague / quaint term as well as a plural that *doesn't* end in "S" (41D: Wearers of white hats). I have no idea what else to say about this puzzle. FIGEATER was weird? (19D: Shiny beetle disliked by fruit growers) There, I said that.

Hey, if you haven't yet backed the Kickstarter for "The Inkubator," you should get on that. "The Inkubator" will be an ongoing, 2x/month crossword made entirely by women—constructed, edited ... maybe even proofread, I don't know. But it's run by two very talented women—Laura Braunstein and Tracy Bennett—and I'm very excited to see the way they contribute to and challenge the norms of the crossword world. They've already totally crushed their fundraising goal, so this project is *going* to happen. Subscribe. Now. Ooh, better yet, subscribe AND buy subscriptions for friends & family, for the various end-of-year Holidays. I still haven't subscribed myself, because I am preternaturally lazy and procrastinative, but I think I'll fix that now.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Night Owl 12:08 AM  

I loved this . Bring on more Sunday themelesses. Thanks Will and Patrick.

Seth 12:31 AM  

Loved this. I agree that there weren't a ton of really dazzling stuff -- it would've been cool to see some totally new big grid-spanning entries, for example -- but it was really fun to grind through such a clean, pure grid. Wouldn't want this every Sunday, or even once a month, but a couple times a year would be great. Can you imagine all the crazy long stuff you could put in??

JOHN X 12:39 AM  

This was a great puzzle. I was amazed as I did a first pass through (acrosses first then downs although I know of the school of always do the downs first) and I had very few squares filled in. What few I had I would cheat over to the downs to see if I could get something but rarely any luck. But this puzzle was very fairly solveable but didn't give its secrets up without some effort. Outstanding.

mmorgan 12:42 AM  

Pretty much completely agreed with Rex on this. It was fine, but without the joys I usually get from a Patrick Berry (and I really don't mean that as anything but the mildest criticism).

DITKO was a gimme but BEAVIS was almost impossible for me, though it shouldn't have been. B&B were big when I was still teaching and I remember when I announced to my class of 300 that henceforth I would only give two grades: "cool" and "sucks."

I do think it's cool that PB got so many longish answers to be Sunday-level. Answers of that length on Friday or Saturday tend to be quite difficult. These were not easy-peasy but required appropriate (Sunday) effort.

Calman Snoffelevich 12:55 AM  

APTLY appears in the clue for 77D and also in the answer to 90D. Isn't that taboo?

Mike in Mountain View 1:01 AM  

This was so very Patrick Berry-ish, the smoothness, the everything-in-its-place-ness, the pitch-perfect cluing that entertains and sometimes teases but never makes the solver cry foul.

It was over a bit too fast.

If you want to know how he does it, go to and get his Crossword Constructor's Handbook, and then . . . well, you still won't be Patrick Berry, but you'll be pointed in the right direction.

Moly Shu 1:07 AM  

Bow Wow Wow, Dinosaur Jr., and Beavis. Fairly certain this is blog Nirvana. I was ROCKin OUT.
And I cry all night, do you wanna hold me, hold me tight?
Oh the puzzle? Pretty freakin great, DITKO (who?) notwithstanding.

TomAz 1:25 AM  

I think experimenting with Sunday themeless is a worthy idea. Why not? Though I saw the title "Unthemed" and wondered what clever play on words would ensue. I did not take it literally, at first.

This puzzle was fine, with some clever cluing here and there. "Party of 13?" and "Expired IDs?" I particularly liked. And "Trunk fastener?" too.

But I grumble at KATIE HOLMES (as clued) crossing both DITKO and BEAVIS. I actively resent being expected to know B-list TV actresses on TV shows I've never seen and don't want to see. That's TV Guide stuff, not NYT. Never heard of DITKO, and don't think my life is better for having heard it now. BEAVIS, I knew, but like Rex, I'd forgotten pretty much everything about him other than his laugh and mocking Geddy Lee's voice.

But, there's more. "Its shell doesn't crack" is flat out bad. A soft taco doesn't have a "shell"; it has a flour or corn tortilla, which is not a shell. If you don't know the difference, you have no business using tacos in your crossword. #$%&ing stupid, which is not at all what one expects from a PB puzzle.

FIGEATER? ok. WIRE RECORDERS? sure if you say so. Rex's hypothesis rings true.. Will called PB on short notice and asked what can you throw together in a few days? And we get this, mostly smooth, occasionally clever, but flawed puzzle.

puzzlehoarder 1:49 AM  

Go figure, I did this entire puzzle without once looking at or even thinking about the title. On printing it out I thought to myself how much it looked like an over grown Saturday puzzle. It solved like one too. Finally a Sunday puzzle where I didn't have to pretend it was themeless.

The cluing was great. I was actually getting hung up in places. After a break for SNL it all became clear but it was a lot more fun than the average PB1.

I hope this goes through. I've stopped coming here of late as my comments were no longer getting through. Hope we get more Sundays like this.

Anonymous 1:49 AM  

Can anyone explain why STATED is “express”? I mean, I got the answer - but would have expected STATE instead.

Dolgo 1:08 AM  

It was all pretty straightforward but there were some nice puns. We Shakespeare scholars appreciate them if they are well done.

Anonymous 1:38 AM  

Honestly, I'd take this over 99% of the Sundays I've seen. It's the first Sunday I've actually enjoyed in a very long time.

chefwen 1:48 AM  

I want my Sunday puzzle to be like a big Thursday with a gimmicks galore, this one just seemed be a tad bit boring. I need my AHA, I get it, this is going to ne fun. Oh well, the themeless likers will be happy.

I did get a good chuckle reading 19D Shiny beetle disliked by fruit growers, immediately followed by You should avoid feeding on them. Yeah, they’re probably real chewy.

I’ll take a rebus next Sunday please.

jae 3:04 AM  

Easy. Solid but @Rex a tad ho-.hum, liked it

ZenMonkey 3:08 AM  

If it's a Berry, I'm going to have a good time. There has rarely been an exception and this definitely wasn't one. I enjoy the way his mind works. A much-needed tonic after yesterday's toxic.

Joe Dipinto 3:53 AM  

The inclusion of FOREST GREEN made me hope there was a hidden crayon motif in the answers. Does Crayola have a color called CAYENNE PEPPER? Or SOFT TACO? Maybe BAR MITZVAH? (Nice cross with Ivanka). BOBS-FOR-APPLES sounds like one of those gagworthy names they've been bestowing on new colors of late (see: BLUETIFUL).

But no, guess not. Just a solid PB entry. I'll take it over the Star Wars crap. Oh wait, I know -- BERRY SORBET!

Egoldfinger 4:21 AM  

I liked this puzzle - nice stacking in NW and SE corners and solid fill throughout. I prefer themed on a Sunday but found this to be a worthwhile diversion.

Lewis 5:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 5:15 AM  

That is one gorgeous looking grid, and, despite a pair of 13-stacks, it is Berry-esque clean. Just looking at the filled in grid -- as with PB's puzzles in general -- puts me in a zen state. Even the cluing feels clean, spot on, with a lovely mix of easy, hard, and mostly just right for Sunday. My favorite answers were those that Rex liked -- ARE WE DONE HERE? and AS BIG AS A HOUSE. There's that lovely cross of I'M IN LOVE and AMOURS. And I got a kick out of the clue for PETER ("Pan resistant to aging"). Smooth and buttery overall, leaving me content and peaceful. An oasis in the storm.

Loren Muse Smith 5:46 AM  

Wow. Is this history being made here? A Sunday themeless. Hmm. For this themed puzzle-lover, it’s tough. But BUT, it’s Patrick Berry, and I have a little crush on him, so, okay.

I agree with Rex – ARE WE DONE HERE is great. The HERE adds haughty impatience and snark. Like This whole exercise has been beneath me and I have much more important and interesting things to do so…

MASKING TAPE – “painter’s roll” – not if you’re a badass painter with expensive paint and a Purdy brush. Don’t need no tape, buddy. My badass painter dad taught me this.

I was at a dinner party once when they served a little something to clear our pirates. I swear. That’s what the hostess said.

Who knew that Ringo’s real name was RICHARD? If I knew this at any point I’d forgotten. I just checked, and he has two sons, Zak and Jason. So no namesake. I always wonder about dads whose name is Richard who name their son Richard and then do the Big Richard Little Richard deal and what with the Richard nickname and all… well, you do the math.

56D – “unkind, as criticism” BARBED feels a little off. I think a barbed comment is one that sneaks up on the commentee later and bites. Like, I really admire that you’ve never been a slave to fashion, Loren. Ouch.

I loved the clue for 14A – what a crop top exposes. Hmm. Depends on your age. Try to pull it off over 40, and it probably exposes hopefulness. Add a pierced belly-button to the spectacle, and it exposes desperation. (So I guess I’ll be accused now of being ageist, but I wear crop tops to show off my pierced belly button all the time, and it gets awkward, honestly.)

In Ridgewood, NJ, my kids went to their share of modest, meaningful BAR MITZVAHs and had a great time. But there were also the over-the-top displays of wealth; my neighbor went to one where they took a stretch hummer to the Rainbow Room in Manhattan. Teenagers. In Charleston WV, the way the really rich families scream I’M RICH AND YOU’RE NOT SO NA NA NA is with their pre-prom dinners. My daughter went to one where the mom had rented a red carpet and three photographers to act like paparazzi as the guests walked into the mansion. The cavernous foyer had a huge table with gift baskets the size of small refrigerators for each teen. It was easy to find the right one because they all had embroidered beach bags and towels with the kid’s name. Half of me was horrified at the display and the other half was so grateful that my daughter could experience something so cool. She had a blast. And I need to be less snarky.

I love that PRETTY has become an adverb. So has awful. Language is wicked cool.

For me, the pretty excellent cluing made up for no theme. The clues for ONE WAY STREETS, BOBS FOR APPLES, MARKET, HIRERS, and BEERS were terrific.

Suzie Q 6:19 AM  

Wide expanses of white, no circles, no pictures to draw. Yes!
The only bummer was wondering what Rex would choose to spoil my fun.
True to form he found something. Fat shaming? Geez.
With only a few letters filled in TD Garden was Tiger Den for a few moments. Sounded like a sports nickname for an arena.
Thanks Mr. Berry. Good fun today.
Glad to have @LMS back. Hey, you made the grid at 25A!

chefbea 6:47 AM  

too tough for me...I like themed puzzles

Amy Yanni 6:55 AM  

Anyone else stumble by wanting Faygo instead of Fanta? I'm originally from Detroit, so perhaps that's why, although we were a Vernor's family. As for the puzzle, thoroughly enjoyed it. Much more appreciated than forced themes with awkward construction.

pmdm 7:13 AM  

Seems to me more and more PPP is creeping into Berry's puzzles. That's not a good thing, in my opinion. Other than than, a typical Berry puzzle, which speaks for itself.

As I was doing the puzzle yesterday, I thought that Mr Sharp would complain that there is no theme. After all, that does make the puzzle humorless (which some equate to boring). I aIso though he would lay the blame on Shortz, not Berry. would say that, for me, the amount of PPP made the solve a bit tedious. Patrick seems to shy away from themed puzzles, as well as easy puzzles. I'm not at all sure what that says.

As of when I am composing this comment, most of the already published comments give a thumbs up to the puzzle. I would predict that as day day goes on, a higher percentage of thumbs down will appear. We shall see.

On an unrelated topic, the 6 20th Century Fox Laurel and Hardy movies are released on DVD with audio commentary. At the end of the commentary for A Haunting We Will Go, the commentator mentions a certain city in Massachusetts by the name of Natick. Does that make the city famous enough for crossword puzzle inclusion?

Rainbow 7:32 AM  

I loved SOFT TACO, thought it was clever. Loved the entire puzzle, in fact.

Skippy 7:37 AM  

If puzzles were peanut butter, yesterday’s would’ve been crunchy and today’s would’ve been creamy. It’s nice to mix it up.

QuasiMojo 7:50 AM  

As someone who generally hates themed puzzles especially on Sundays, this was nirvana for me. Perhaps Rex doesn’t understand subtlety and grace and aesthetics. Patrick Berry is as smooth as a baby’s bottom which I admit is not pretty subtle.

I ended up ERROR FREE which is also a cause for celebration. I will admit that Toe Tags kind of made me wince. But it was clever. As was the Bar Mitzvah clue and the one for Laptop. Even the Ivanka one made me chuckle. I could have done without a reminder of Katie Holmes, former Mrs Tom Cruise, but she did appear in some movies, not just B-list TV. Liked her in The Ice Storm, which is about when I stopped going to movies at all. Too busy playing my reel-to-reel.

I’ll leave it to others to argue the finer points of taco shells; I’ve got a gecko on the ceiling that needs to be coaxed outside. Which reminds me. Here in Florida people drive the wrong way on One Way Streets all the time, often with disastrous results. Too often. People claim it’s because of drunk driving but I suspect staring at your iPhone instead of the road while driving plays a big part as well.

Thank you Mr. Barry for an awfully good Sunday puzzle.

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

I really wanted unthemed to somehow be a theme. Kept looking for opposites, or at first,
expected maybe the letters U N would be part of a rebus, but, nope. Good puzzle, though.

michiganman 7:54 AM  

I was excited when I realized this was actually unthemed. I had a great time and worked mainly in a clockwise pattern, finishing in the center west. I cockily entered "will that be all" for 21A as my first entry. Error became apparent soon. TOETAGS, BRIARS, BEAVIS, all the long fill were my favorites. My time was about 90 minutes and I loved every second. I would like 2 of these and 2 gimmicky puzzles per month. When there is a 5th Sunday it could be a rebus.

Brian 8:02 AM  

Couldda done without 53D

Hungry Mother 8:13 AM  

Super swift solved Sunday.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

What fun! Stress reliever before election! Highland High to me was the 2001? documentary...

Hungry Mother 8:19 AM  

@LMS: thanks for posting.

Mike Herlihy 8:25 AM  

@Anonymous 1:49AM

STATED can mean EXPRESS when they are adjectives, most commonly with the phrase "the express reason" / "the stated reason".

Roo Monster 8:34 AM  

Hey All !
If Will accepted some of my SunPuz submissions, he wouldn't have had to get PB1 to do one on the fly. :-)

Don't remember seeing an Unthemed SunPuz, but of course my memory is shot. Interesting idea. Really tough to fill cleanly. Liked the crazy, almost split in two grid.

Had a few writeovers, stomach-MIDRIFF, FASTings-FASTDAYS, wAiLS-BAWLS, IMINLinE-IMINLOVE, MORelY-MORLEY. But puz was overall on the easy side. It's amazing how a wrong letter can impede ones solve. Like MORelY, e.g.

Next time you need a SunPuz, Will, call me. :-) Har.


Teedmn 8:37 AM  

This wasn't a PB1 smoothie for me - I solved randomly and jumped around like a FLEA for over a minute and a half before anything went in; HESSE, of all things, was my first entry. Leaving things in for a looonnnnggg time, like wAiLS at 1D and Hair at 33A, didn't help. But I'm going to blame some awkward cluing too - "Express" = STATED and "Ran into in court" = FOULED seemed iffy to me. And there were the semi-diabolical ones like "You should avoid feeding on them" for FAST DAYS.

I like the idea of a themeless Sunday - definitely better than a lame theme in my book. Thanks, Patrick Berry.

TomAz 8:53 AM  

@Anonymous 1:49AM:

"Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this game, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, is prohibited."

kitshef 8:58 AM  

Apparently, I want a theme on Sundays, as after solving I went in search of the Washington Post Sunday puzzle – something I do maybe twice a year. Sure, this was a first-rate puzzle. But one I’ll have forgotten all about by Wednesday.

I did have a moment of confusion then amusement wondering how Sonny BONO had earned a knighthood.

@LMS – my landlord in London was named Richard Head. We would get prank calls about once a month.

@LMS2 - I see no barb in your hypothetical comment. Someone says that to me, I take it as pure compliment.

GILL I. 8:58 AM  

ARE WE DONE HERE should have been the theme.
I look forward to themed Sunday puzzles. Admittedly they have been pretty sad of late but still...give me something that will titillate my palate. Nothing did. Yes, very clean, very down to earth, easy yada yada but no eye candy at all. Nada.
I guess if you're Berry, you can pretty much do what you want and it will sell. You have the name, you're iconic and prolific, so, why not an "Unthemed" boring Sunday.
I learned one thing today: The US Naval Academy has a GOAT as its mascot.

Nancy 8:59 AM  

I liked it, but missed the theme. Also, it went by so fast I didn't even finish my coffee before it was done!

Nancy 9:20 AM  

So who needs a theme? Gorgeous grid, gorgeous cluing, lively fill. PB is such a pro. I loved the clues for TOE TAGS (24A); FAST DAYS (20D); BAR MITZVAH (56A); ONE WAY STREETS (94A), and plenty of others. Not an especially hard puzzle, but thinking was required throughout.

I did put a question mark next to the PRETTY as a synonym of "Very" clue (76A). I mean C'MON -- would you rather be a pretty good student or a very good student? A pretty good athlete or a very good athlete? Pretty pretty or very pretty? I rest my case.

I loved, loved, loved the BERRA quote (3D). Though I'd never heard it, I wrote the answer in immediately. Who else but BERRA coulda said something like that?

A really fun puzzle.

Junief 9:26 AM  

For the “express” purpose; the “stated” purpose. Now tell me: wasn’t the actual Colgate slogan, “It GUARDS your breath (what a toothpaste!) as it cleans your teeth?” Not “cleans” and “cleans?”

BarbieBarbie 9:26 AM  

Using pretty and awful as adverbs was practiced by my mother as well as by Mark Twain, so it’s not exciting or novel to run across that usage in the NYT. Which is kind of the way I felt about this puzzle. Yep, done. No cleverness or sussing-out required. Constructors vary in what they love about language, and Berry seems to be the kind who loves spelling and anagrams. I’m the other kind of solver, so a Berry puzzle is admirable the way the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is admirable- very skillful and accomplished; just, for me, not enjoyable. Looking forward to next Sunday.

Barry Frain 9:28 AM  

Compared to the usual excremental Sunday slog, this was a pleasure.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Dis a pointed 9:40 AM  

I feel so hollow without a theme and Thursday is so far away...

Michael 9:40 AM  

_____ purpose: express or STATED

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Thank you everyone who explained STATED.

Nancy 10:04 AM  

There seems to be another Nancy in blue at 8:59 today. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But always look for the lovely Central Park avatar if you want the original me.

EarlyRetired 10:12 AM  

What a nice palate cleanser after yesterday's nightmare. Always enjoy PB and, as most here seem to agree, this was no disappointment. Clean. No groaners. No excessive crosswordese. 14A MIDRIFF was our first entry (@LMS, love your take on the mid-riff belly ring desperation!). From there we enjoyed a quick fill down to the SW through those excellent 6 through 6 crosses. And back up through SENATE to HEAD SET. Chuckled at the standard OLE 82A that no crossword with a 3 letter space seems to be able to avoid. Also liked the interesting placement of DIRTY AMOURS at the OLE INN. Very trysty in that SW corner. And LOREN (25A) KISSing OSMOND on the TV SET makes me smile. Unfortunately the next line across gives us the SNAP of a BONE that got caught in the BRIAR patch. And finally a shout out to the SE where CAYENNE PEPPER crosses BEER. We once had pepper beer. Not a fan! But the puzzle today was good. Very nice. Agree that it was over too soon and we are themer fans so we missed that aspect. Came in well under our average time. @TomAz, re Katie Holmes, we've never seen KH in anything, but at least have heard her name and got it quickly from the crosses. But we agree, there are some shows we just refuse to watch and continue to have to get the crossword answers through crosses. We now know the character names of probably all Simpsons characters without ever having watched an episode. We usually love learning new facts and neat information from xwords, but these TV characters taking up space in my ageing brain is a regretful loss of space in the gray matter and the price we pay for xworld.

relicofthe60s 10:13 AM  

Geez, Rex is never satisfied. This seemed like a nice change of pace and a terrific puzzle. Evan Birnholtz does periodic themelesses in the Washington Post. I wonder if Rex dislikes those too.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

@TomAz - google "soft shell tacos" and they're all over the place. It's a thing. Get over yourself.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 10:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Butthead 10:24 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Roo Monster 10:33 AM  

@kitshef 8:58
We have an independent Limousine Company in town owned by one Richard Head. His car has played that read HEAD1, HEAD2, etc.
And he's a bid guy. Probably 6' 6" at least, so you call him Mr. Head.


Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Super. Themeless Sundays. The future.

Banana Diaquiri 10:41 AM  

tapeRECORDERS, until I couldn't gainsay BERRA any longer. then I remembered those old WWII spy movies.

legend has it that Sunday is a big Wednesday, yes? lots of ? clues, which is fine, but I'd guess the PPP value is rather high?

scaupnyc 10:48 AM  

Alfred for On the Take? Explain, please

'merican in Paris 10:53 AM  

Visiting my in-laws in north-central Florida, and will be helping with voting on Tuesday. (Mrs. 'mericans is on the other side of the pond.) Started this puzzle last night, but fell asleep after only filling in most of the NW, and then awoke at 4:00 AM. and finished the rest.

I agree with the consensus that this puzzle was a nice change, and it would be fun to have a great big themeless about twice a year. I counted up the squares, and this one had 386, which is more than twice as many as Saturday's had. It must have taken Mr. Berry a many, many hours to construct.

Many answers were easy for me to fill, but I got stuck on the WIRE part of WIRE RECORDERS, was thinking of the top of one's head instead of MIDRIFF, and wanted junEbugs or something like that instead of FIGEATER.

As for PPPs, I agree that the central west was tough. DITKO crossing KATIE HOLMES was almost a Natick. And, like some others, I had STATEs before STATED. Otherwise, I liked the fact that some proper nams, like OSMOND, were gettable but clued in a way that educated me on a bit of trivia.

Really liked CAYENNE PEPPER and MASKING TAPE. TOE TAGS was very well clued, and reminded me of one time when my father and I were out driving in the hills of eastern West Virginia, stopped to take in the view, and looked down and saw a TOE TAG attached to a lone TOEnail. Oh, the questions! Had the local morgue found a cheap way to dispose of dead bodies and feed the local carrion population at the same time? Or did the stiff just fall out of the back of the hearse when it hit a BIG pothole? We shall never know.

Question of the day: Did Giacomo (a.k.a. RICHARD) Casanova meet his PRETTY AMOURS in DIRTY OLE INNS?

Bonus question of the day: Would Nixon have stayed in office if he had MASKED the TAPEs of his RECORDERS?

Nampa Bob 10:55 AM  

Not easy at all, for me.
Thouroughly enjoyed it. The kind of Sunday morning puzzle I love. A two cupper... and I drink slowly. Also, a little time spent giving my dog a little attention... and some of the oatmeal cookie...

GHarris 10:57 AM  

When I see the name Patrick Berry I immediately know three things; the puzzle will be challenging,enjoyable and, ultimately, doable. Today was no exception. Bravo!

Banana Diaquiri 11:00 AM  


don't get mad: you've conflated 72 and 73.

not the first of last to do so. :(

CDilly52 11:23 AM  

I agree that his was very solvable and a nice big fat grid. And I enjoyed it. So hate on me for enjoying a Sunday that doesn’t take me all day to finish! And it included some very clever wordplay: “expired IDs,” “trunk fastener.” Liked it.

Joe Welling 11:40 AM  

I had FIGBORER for a long time before I finally gave it up and got FIGEATER from crosses.

I suspect the constructor followed a similar trajectory.

Adam Frank 11:40 AM  

As an older solver (TM), I knew RICHARD Starkey on the first pass, as well as the tag line for COLGATE toothpaste (and I remember Gleem), but never watched Dawson's Creek and had no idea that's where KATIE HOLMES started her career. Nor, as with @Rex, did I know anything about BEAVIS's life other than having watched it a few times in its first run. Maybe if he had clued it with "Cornholio"....

Loved the clue for TOE TAGS (Expired IDs?). Had ARE WE FINISHED before ARE WE DONE HERE, but Stan LEE set me straight.

Never heard of Steve DITKO, and I read a lot of Spider-Man in the 70s. We tended not to care who wrote or drew it, frankly.

A nice Sunday puzzle, but I kind of agree with OFL - kind of meh. But the best kind of meh. :)

sixtyni yogini 11:52 AM  

No theme = No fun.
Not fun on big puzzles.
Hoping that No Theme was a hint to some clever negative theme....

Masked and Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Pretty Different. Cool, but I vote for maybe don't do this again. Wouldn't want to have two SunPuzs with the same "dazzlin" title, after all.

No theme. Only 8 weejects, all non-desperate. Only 4 U's. U can sorta hear the winds howl, thru this ghostpuz.

But but ...Very well-filled grid, for what it set out to accomplish. Solvequest was easy-medium, as @RP opined. And mostly golf-clap enjoyable.

Thanx, Mr. Berry. Whose non-idea [har] was this, anyhoo? Have U considered makin a single SunPuz with two separate themes running around in it, to make up for this puppy? That might be different -- hence awful cool.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

JC66 12:02 PM  

@Nancy (NYC)

Not to worry. we know it's you from your posts.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

One of the most boring puzzles I've done in a long time.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  


Odd Sock 1:01 PM  

@ Roo, That's funny about Mr. Head. But really, if your last name is Head why would you name your son Richard?
Reminds me of "A Boy Named Sue".

I'm amazed at the folks who would rather have a theme today. I feel like they are rarely worth the pain they inflict just to make it work.

thefogman 1:29 PM  

I too would have preferred a theme today. I thought the title(Unthemed) was a clever joke - but alas there was no punch line. This is a rare occasion where Patrick Berry disappoints me. It was challenging, but I finished ERRORFREE.

Can somebody please explain 83A SENATE (Century in American politics)?

OffTheGrid 1:45 PM  

Sadly, the term century has come to mean any 100 things. In this case it means 100 senators in the US senate. Another example is a century bicycle tour-100 miles.

Banana Diaquiri 1:49 PM  

Can somebody please explain 83A SENATE (Century in American politics)?

well... there are 100 years in a century and the US Senate!!!

‘merican in Paris 2:04 PM  

@Odd Sock 1:01 PM.

Yes, why? When I lived in Tallahassee, in the 2nd half of the 1970s, there was a student registered at Half-Ass U (FSU) with the unfortunate name of Benjamin Dover. Both perfectly normal names, right? But shorten Benjamin to Ben ...

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Glad you explained the joke for us dummies.

Alexander 2:28 PM  

No rant about the inclusion of IVANKA Trump? Is this the real Rex?

Peter Meidlinger 3:37 PM  

Me, too.

patsypalooza 4:28 PM  

I really, really liked this one! First pass on the downs, nothing but LEE was an absolute gimme (never heard of DITKO, and didn’t take enough notice of the BERRA, which was obvious at second glance); I was looking at all that white space and getting PRETTY worried! Especially tickled by clues for TOETAGS and PETER, also BARMITZVAH (though like many of you I experienced an unpleasant twinge at the V word on the cross).

My favorite may have been “Calls from quarterbacks.” Recalled summer days out in the backyard with my brothers Bob and Steve, where one of us would be quarterback, one center, and one receiver, who took off from the line only after “hut one... hut two...(and the suspense we all felt waiting, ENRAPT to see whether the quarterback would choose to add “hut three” or go directly to “hike!”)” My instinct on seeing the clue was “huts,” but I second-guessed myself, briefly wondering whether actual quarterbacks used those words, or if HUTS were something my brothers and I had conjured up. Those were good afternoons.

(Oh: and for the life of me I thought it was T(he) GARDEN; never heard TD as a lead-in. I finally put in the D as the end to STATED, and shrugged. But then I thought about one of my favorite jokes, nostalgic now in the era of corporate stadium sponsorship (and since the stadium in question no longer exists): Q. Why is it so windy in Candlestick Park? A. Because of all the Giant fans.)


"Whereas what we have here? A bunch of FIGEATERs wearing towels on their heads, trying to find reverse in a Soviet tank. This is not a worthy fuckin' adversary."




"Locked-In Winner"


The Longshot From Lompoc

3 DAYS | 3 ACRES | 3,000 MEN

MONDAY, FEB 14, 1983

pabloinnh 5:12 PM  

Printed this one off, did a lot of Sunday stuff, and finally sat down with it with a great sense of PB anticipation, which was more than fulfilled. Sorry when I finished, as I was having such a good time. Definitely fits the New England saying, "smooth as a smelt".

Also fun to read so many thoughtful comments with so few instances of folks being offended by this or that. This is puzzle-making "the way they do it on the big jobs", as my brother-in-law might say. Bravo and bravissimo.

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

@Anonymous 10:15AM.. um, no. Just because other people are ignorant, does not excuse ignorance.

Z 6:03 PM  

I hear that next week @MAS will have quad stacks of grid spanners.

Georgia 6:28 PM  

On the take was 72A "dirty.". The great 9th century King was 73A "Alfred."

Katy 7:15 PM  

Couldn't figure out my error for the longest time, and had to come here for the answer. Apparently it's SEMATARY not SEMETERY so my clever guess for 58A TiGeRDEN was not correct. I mean, I know that neither Bruins nor Celtics are Tigers, but it seemed plausible (perhaps some other team plays there as well and couldn't be used in the clue because it would give it away). Never mind that STATEI makes no sense at all.....

Amy 7:47 PM  

Rarely get very far with themeless Friday or Saturday so appreciated and enjoyed this one.

Michael McCormick 10:17 PM  

Got it

Bourbon Street 10:23 PM  

No problem with RICHARD Starkey. My siblings and I were raised Roman Catholic. When my brother was making his confirmation back in the day he picked Richard as his confirmation name because it was Ringo’s real first name. Needless to say, he did not share his thoughts with our mother until after his confirmation!

kitshef 10:31 PM  

@Offthegrid - except that according to Merriam-Webster, 'century' meaning a group of 100 like things predates the meaning of a period of 100 years.

tom cho 10:28 AM  

I found this a bit difficult only because of the way I do my puzzles. I only enter a word if I have already filled in a letter. I love grids like this as the large blocks will often restrict me to 5-6 clues to figure out. The intersection of the large blocks left me stumped a couple times (e.g. FIGEATER and FASTDAY). I don't watch Dancing with the Stars. So the OSMOND, BRIARS (I forgot my Uncle Remus), BEFOGS, LEARNS, and HALVES. was a bit tough to get through because BEAVIS and ERRORFREE did not come to me immediately which did not help me with the across clues.

I'm a Gen Xer and a former comic book reader so most of the pop culture, including the Lee/Ditko clues, were fairly easy. I really enjoyed Will's clues like DESCENT (37A Ancestry), SENATE (83A Century in American politics), BOTANY (74D Field with lots of growth?), and PORTERS (45A Case workers?).

Overall, this was a fun, medium difficulty, puzzle for me and unthemed puzzles are always fun if the clues are well done and witty. This puzzle ticked most of my boxes and gave me a fun Monday morning.

And Rex, thanks for the 80's throwback. I had the biggest crush on Annabella Lwin as a young teen and the band got me into African guitar melodies right before Paul Simon with Graceland.

Unknown 2:36 AM  

Very disappointed. Figuring out the theme is one of my favorite part of the Sunday puzzles.

Unknown 8:01 PM  

I thought it was very difficult

lodsf 12:07 PM  

Put me in the group that wants a little fun — i. e. a clever theme — on Sunday. Puns, circles, whatever but something more than just filling in stuff. Worked at this awhile, got a lot of stuff, but too bored to finish. As someone above said, “next week rebus”!

Anonymous 10:28 PM  

Dull and easy and way below PB's best, but look at the positives. Not a single dubious or false clue. All proper nouns can be filled out by the surrounding context, as they should always be in crosswords. No specialized knowledge require and nobody is forced to share the maker's interests. Thus, technically flawless and a model for how puzzles ought to be.

spacecraft 11:44 AM  

I swear, it is impossible to please this man. I really don't get--don't think I've ever really gotten--this criticism about entries being "uninteresting," or why every single line has to be "exciting." They're words, dude. The "excitement" is seeing how they interlock, like, say, BARMITZVAH and AZTECS. Occasionally something will appear that triggers a memory; in that aspect the solving experience will be different for everybody. But I'm not going to fault a guy for putting FORESTGREEN (which almost begs you to say "paint" after it). It is what it is.

Clues were PRETTY (as opposed to "very," which is next up on the scale) CLOSE to accurate...well, one bothered me a little. Why would you call the BONE an "addition?" You just leave the meat on the BONE. The clue intimates that you separate the two--then throw the BONE in anyway! Doesn't make much SENSE.

Nice touch having a clue about Casino Royale next to BONDED. DOD is the full-named KATIEHOLMES. My opening gimmes were PETSEMATARY (I'm an avid King fan) and OCEANIA from Orwell. Those were PRETTY much all I needed. Smooth grids are generally easier than average; so it was with today's. Gee, I wonder why. Patrick, you've been away too long. Welcome back. Birdie.

rainforest 1:36 PM  

A themed Sunday puzzle with a zippy, creative theme competently and consistently executed is always a (rare) treat, but a themeless Sunday, also rare, but as well constructed as this one is, is delicious. There was nothing in the cluing or the answers themselves that interrupted the flow through this smoothness. Joy.

So, I loved this puzzle; what else is there to talk about? Oh yeah, hands up if you didn't like SESSIONS and IVANKA in the grid. Oh well, SESSIONS is gone, and IVANKA is still in her never never land. No biggie.

FOREST GREEN. What colour is a forest? Hmm.

Burma Shave 2:24 PM  


"AREWEDONEHERE yet?", is what IVANKA's dad STATED.


rondo 2:38 PM  

For about the last month the St. Paul Sunday Pioneer Press has listed Lynn Lempel as the constructor. So I didn't realize this was a PB puz until I got here. Makes sense since I was ERRORFREE.

I've PARASAILed several times. Fantastic!

OLE GOESAPE over PRETTY yeah baby KATIEHOLMES. Sven prefers CHER, Lars Ms. LOREN. OPENMINDED Lena has a thing for IVANKA.

Better than a bad gimmick. I'll take a PB Sun-puz anytime.

AnonymousPVX 2:39 PM  

I have to say that the themeless Sunday puzzle is a real treat. Instead of the tail wagging the dog, which all but the best themed puzzles seem to require, we get a very clean gimmick free grid. And I’m loving it.

Got the solve after some work, no giveaways....which is another knock on themed puzzles.....just fill in the clues.

I’ll take a puzzle like this any Sunday.

leftcoastTAM 5:25 PM  

IN TOTO, clever, smooth and fair; the long diagonal barrier cut the puzzle into HALVES, added to the time, and left the NE half easier than the NW half. Lots of good stuff here. Not a big fan of big Sunday puzzles, but am a fan of Patrick Berry. Rather enjoyed this one.

Diana, LIW 7:33 PM  

I've got a book on constructing by PB - Berry nice.

Great Sunday fun.

Diana, LIW

Carl 4:06 PM  

A little prescience.....Mr. Lee of 11D passed away today.

John Dice 1:05 PM  


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