SATURDAY, May 3, 2008 - Patrick Berry (GURU RESIDENCES)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: the theme is "holy @#$#$, there's a theme!? On a Saturday!?"; Say My Name! - six different instances where a letter is named in the Across, but functions normally in the Down.

Whoa ... Like many of you, I'm guessing, I stared at HONEY--, then HONEY-S, for a while, wondering what was happening to my beloved themeless Saturday puzzle. A rebus on a Saturday? Well, no. No. A different gimmick entirely. I went looking for more BEE/B's, and was helped out in my futile quest by a perfectly valid but utterly mistaken answer at 8D: Old symbols of royalty (asps). I wrote ORBS, giving me another "B" in nice mirror symmetry relation to the first. As I say, that didn't work out. But SPLIT PS soon followed, and I was off to the races. Well, I was off to the races, and then I hit the SW and got thrown from my horse. Several times. Then I finished the puzzle.

Theme answers:

  • 16A: Nectar collectors (honey Bs)
  • 17A: Soup vegetables (split Ps)
  • 33A: Cunning in a practical way (street Ys)
  • 38A: Recuperative drinks (herbal Ts)
  • 58A: Two, in a way (snake Is)
  • 60A: "Mutiny on the Bounty" locale (South Cs)

I love that the spoken letters are all plurals and all come as the last syllable in their respective answers. This puzzle is from Mars, but I love it. Leave it to Patrick Berry (last year's Constructor of the Year) to come up with something utterly original and unexpected.

When I, astonished at finding a theme in my Saturday puzzle, showed the puzzle to my wife, mid-way through, she said "oh, it's rebus ... you were just writing about the frequency of those ..." Or words to that effect. But I pointed out that this wasn't a rebus, as EMBEEAR, as far as I know, is not a word (6D: Hinder => EMBAR). Today's theme letters anagram to PB CITY, an imaginary city made out of peanut butter. Or BP CITY, a possibly non-imaginary city of the future created when, let's say, Detroit becomes so financially desperate that it sells its name to British Petroleum.

I woke up this morning to find that the reason I'd never heard of PANBALL was that it does not exist. The answer is PINBALL (3D: Game played on a sloping field), and I apparently don't know how to spell ORIGAMI (14A: Interestingly folded sheet) - is all ORIGAMI "interesting?"

So - the SW. My first and best mistake occurred when I confused "slate" the construction material with Slate the e-mag. With just the "T" in place at 32D: Slate alternative I wrote in TIME, and the "I" in TIME was confirmed by 35A: Some Ivy Leaguers (Elis). I can't even tell you how bad this messed up HERBAL TS. I had ---B-M-S ... and I knew I was looking for a spoken letter to boot. Oh, it was a mess. Made messier by another Wrong answer. I wrote in FOLLOWS at 38D: Doesn't deviate from (holds to), and, as with TIME, my wrong answer was confirmed by two crosses: 46A: Anita Baker's "Same _____ Love" ("Ole") and 50A: Morgan _____ (King Arthur's half-sister) (Le Fay). FOLLOWS (which was wrong) gave me LORD for 55A: Not-so-strong oath (darn), and again, the wrong answer was (say it with me) confirmed by two crosses. Ugh. So, that's the story of my SW. I eventually got out of it via one of my favorite words, which bubbled to the surface despite having a wrong letter in its first position the first time I looked at it: ORNERY (64A: Ill-tempered).


  • 8A: Painter _____ del Sarto (Andrea) - why does this remind me of poet Robert Browning?? Whoa, snap! It's the name of a Browning poem! Dang, that's some seriously Brit Lit II memory I've got there.
  • 15A: Guru residences (ashrams) - love this word, and it's appeared numerous times since I began blogging ... unlike a themed Saturday puzzle, which has never, not once, appeared in that time.
  • 18A: Friction reducer (lube) - uh ... I was very tentative here. This seems ... well. OK, I'm just going to leave this one alone.
  • 22A: Richard's love in "Bleak House" (Ada) - had the last "A" and wrote in ADA, though I've never read "Bleak House."
  • 25A: Uses a chaise longue (lolls) - this word strikes me as goofy. Perhaps it's the similarity to the word LOLLIPOP.
  • 28A: Film with the Oscar-nominated song "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" ("Yentl") - I have been laughing ever since I first saw this clue last night (seriously, in my sleep, laughing). I only wish i could find you the definitive version of this song, sung by Nelson Muntz on "The Simpsons." I can't even look at the title of this song without hearing his voice. Priceless. [Update: Thanks to reader Dan B. for finding THIS audio clip. Sweeeet]
  • 31A: Still O.K., financially (afloat) - great clue.
  • 42A: Right-leaning, you might say (italic) - oh ... might I?
  • 47A: Anthologized, e.g. (reran) - remarkably hard to uncover.
  • 52A: American _____ (Southwest plant) (aloe) - it was that or OTOE.
  • 63A: Painter tutored by Titian (El Greco) - another painter! Why is it that I know my (pre-20c) artists even worse than I know opera or classical music or Broadway, but they don't give me nearly as much trouble?
  • 65A: Like many Bedouins (Saharan) - wanted NOMADIC.
  • 1D: Fashion world exclamation (Ooh La La) - really? Do people really say this in the "fashion world" any more? Seems like this might have been true a half century ago... in cartoons ...
  • 9D: Goal-oriented grp. (NHL) - hmmm. Good, but I think I would have liked a "?" at the end of my clue here.
  • 10D: Needs a washer (drips) - damn, I left clothes in the washer overnight. UGH (61D: "What a nightmare!").
  • 26D: _____ Classical Library, 500+ volume series begun in 1911 (Loeb) - total gimme, as I have many volumes from this series on my bookshelves. They're like battle scars from grad school.
  • 27D: Amount expressed in K (salary) - I have never been so befuddled by a clue. I had SAL--Y and was thinking the clue was looking for something that K stood for, so I thought maybe there was some math term like SALADY or SALTRY that I just didn't know. And I imagined math people saying "that was easy - that's Kokorov's Konstant" or some such nonsense. This depressed me greatly, as "K" is by far my favorite letter and I was sure I knew all the things it stood for (a thousand, potassium, strikeouts, etc.).
  • 29D: Half-human "Star Trek: T.N.G." character (Troi) - neo-pantheonic. Not common, or even known, when I started doing puzzles, but now exceedingly common. Something similar happened to ENYA and DRE and ALERO, and is happening even as we speak to ALITO.
  • 36D: "Wine, Women and Song" composer (Strauss) - I wanted some Renaissance poet here.
  • 43D: Dead Sea Scrolls material (leather) - wanted PAPYRUS.
  • 44D: "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" author (Iacocca) - never can remember where the C's go in his name.
  • 45D: Where William (the Refrigerator) Perry played college football (Clemson) - no idea, but had the CLE-, and CLEMSON was the only U. I could think of that fit.
  • 48D: Cat burglars' no-nos (noises) - I had PRINTS, which I really, really liked.
  • 56D: "_____ makes suffering contagious": Nietzsche ("Pity") - this guy can be a downer.
  • 57D: First razor with a pivoting head (Atra) - very very common four-letter answer, that somehow befuddles large numbers of people every time it shows up (if my sitemeter search terms stats are at all accurate).
  • 59D: Poetic contraction (e'er) - it was that or O'ER. This puzzle had a lot of little gimmes like this, which took the edge off of this shockingly Themed Saturday puzzle.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


SandyB 8:09 AM  

After all the discussion on themes, they surprize us with this ! It was great fun !

PS I hope you weren't serious about the laundry and were only using that to illustrate the clues!

Rex Parker 8:12 AM  

Oh, no, I was quite serious. I'm headed to the basement to remedy the situation ... now.


Anonymous 8:21 AM  

wow I was braced for a Saturday Stumper and this felt more like a Thursday.

Guessed my way through most of it and got the theme once I got SOUTH (bounty locale) and knew it could be nothing but SEAS

THe "recouperative Drink" - I first thought Hair of the dog", but it wouldn't fit, so I went off on a "morning after" alcoholic binge with HERMOSAS

What are you recouperating from with Herbal Tea?

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

WhOOps I guess that should have been MIMOSAs. Doesn't hermosa mean cousin in spanish?

Maybe I need a cup of herbal Tea.

Wendy Laubach 8:35 AM  

I only wish I could listen to a youtube of the Simpsons version of "Papa, Can You Hear Me?", but something seems to be wrong with the site; I can't get on. "Yentl": A film that beats even "Nell" for preposterous earnestness.

I was trying "PAY IN" for "ante," and for some reason resisted "ALOE" even though it's the answer to every fourth clue lately, but anyway, that left me unable to see "STRAUSS," which I had to google in order to finish this puzzle. Otherwise pretty straightforward once I saw the gimmick. Before that, the "vegetable" and "clever" clues weren't sending me anywhere near "SPLITPS" or "STREETYS" -- but "HONEY Bs" broke it open.

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

Off to the races...fell off your horse - great references to the Kentucky Derby on this first Saturday in May.

Rex Parker 8:52 AM  

First Saturday in May means only one thing to me:

Free Comic Book Day!


Anonymous 9:06 AM  

I have to nominate this one for one of the easiest Saturday puzzles I've seen. I was also shocked to see a theme today, as one person already said, it felt like a Thursday puzzle.
A mistake? That said, a fun puzzle, it's nice to have a Saturday puzzle that doesn't make my brain hurt before I head off for my garage sales - yes, it's garage sale season again, and I couldn't be more excited! Spring is finally here.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Rex, you stroked a pet peeve transcribing the clue to 25A: It's not a chaise lounge, it's a chaise longue (long chair). It was correct in the puzzle, both online and in print. (And I'm not necessarily blaming you; the spell checker on a Mac sure complains about "longue"...)

Finished venting now. Thanks.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

It was smooth sailing for me, in part because of a couple of lucky gimmes. I knew the Fridge went to Clemson, because I'd read about his athletic exploits there. Apparently, we was an accomplished diver, which must have been quite a sight to see.

Ulrich 9:26 AM  

With Andrea del Sart a gimme, also from the Browning monologue, I was off to the races and did my fastest Saturday ever, even if I, too, had some problems in the SW.

Everyone interested in architecture or design should know the poem: It's the source of the famous dictum "less is more", most often attributed to the German-born architect Mies van der Rohe, who used it, but never said he invented it. The poem is actually a great reflection of an artist who knows he is good, but not great--I wonder why it rings a bell with me:-)

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Here is an easy way to remember the "C" placement in Iacocca --

Corporation (of)

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Guess I'll dissent and say I didn't dig this puzzle too much. Other than the gimmick, there didn't seem to be much going on in there, and once you've seen the gimmick (and this is my problem with rebuses and other tricks like that), that's kind of all you see. I mean, it gets distracting and also makes me a little paranoid; I start looking for the gimmick in every answer and am disappointed when it's not there. It's okay if it's a great gimmick, but this one was pretty pedestrian, and it wasn't repeated in the corresponding down answers. I didn't hate the puzzle, not at all, but it made me a little sad. Except for Wednesday, this week's puzzles have been pretty forgettable or regrettable.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Didn't even do the puzzle due to a late night and my inability to not read Rex's blog in the morning (double negative, I know, I apologize), but loved the commentary. That's one crazy theme!

Margaret 10:20 AM  

Whoo-hoo!! I wish you all could see me doing my "Stomp That Crossword Strut." By far, the best Saturday ever for me -- no googles and under 25 minutes! (That may not sound like much to the Speedy Gonzaleses of the group but, ay caramba!, it's great for me.)

When I downloaded the puzzle just before bed last night, I wasn't planning on working it right then, but to have it all ready for this morning. Then I saw Signor del Sarto and filled him in. Then the Ashrams jumped out at me and before I knew it I had all of the NE done including SPLIT P. Once I had the theme I had to keep going. Every time I started to get stuck, there was a gimme -- yentl, eleanor, le fay.

I love theme puzzles so I found this one really fun -- the record time is just the icing. (And it helps me get over my ICK-y performance on Thursday when it took me a ridiculous amount of time to figure out it was a rebus.)

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

I got a great chuckle out of Rex's repeated exclamations of shock over the Themed Saturday. And I was pleased to practice the little trick learned here, circling each theme square as it came up...

I was slowed down a tad by the plain crosses to those theme letters, but not for long. Think the anagram PB CITY means Patrick Berry's Turf, so he makes the rules!

I was just looking at ORIGAMI last night, so that was fun to see here, as was an ELEANOR spelled in the most common way since we had "Eleonora" not long ago... Highly amusing that "hock" turned out to be a horse's ANKLE on Derby Day!

All in all, a felicitous innovation -- thanks, PB.


jae 10:53 AM  

Echoing artlvr -- When is a rebus not a rebus? When you're in PB CITY. More later.

mac 10:54 AM  

Loved this puzzle, maybe because my name was hidden in it, but certainly because it was the fastest Saturday ever for me with no reference books or googling in site. Now what am I going to do this afternoon? Cooking, I guess, the stock pot is already on the
stove. Then prepare some mint juleps for the couple of minutes in front of the tv this evening. Hope nobody gets hurt this time....

Thank you Ulrich for the interesting tale of Browning/del Sarto/less is more. I love these tidbits I pick up on this blog.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

Innovative indeed, but I thought way easy for a Saturday (my probably fastest Saturday time ever of I won't say what because it wouldn't be very impressive) -
For 41D - SALT = Stinger?. Do we mean salt in the wound here? Not sure about that.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

I am definitely on Patrick Berry's wavelength. I still buy Games magazine mostly for his "Rows Gardens". When I cracked the theme I had YPTIC and was sure that the next two theme answers would include C and R, although this isn't a cryptic. I overthought that one too much and slowed me down, but I wish i had timed myself.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Rex, re: lube -- a very common and non-controversial term among grease monkeys and mechanics (even though the word conjures Bill Murray saying "Mrs. Lubner" for some reason).

and re: K -- don't forget degrees Kevlin (celsius scale for degrees above absolute zero). I Love "Kokorov's Konstant" -- sound's like something straight out of the Simpsons.

JannieB 11:13 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. Was jumping around all over the place looking for stuff I knew - Would have glommed onto the gimmick (I refuse to think of it as a theme, being that this is Sacred Saturday, after all) if I'd trusted myself more. Looked at the the SE with the 3 downs filled - couldn't conjure up any geographical name ending in HCS. The SW would have come sooner if I knew that Morgan was LeFay and not LaFey (which seems more reasonable given its for a female). Felt like my time was pretty reasonable and no googles - so all in all, a fun Saturday for me.

Ulrich 11:25 AM  

@bill from fl: is there a video of the Fridge jumping into the pool and splashing water over the entire campus?

jubjub 11:31 AM  

Wow, I can *never* do Saturday puzzles. I only looked at it this morning to procrastinate before cleaning my apartment (I'll get to it soon...). Got SPLITPS early. I'm also never aware of the rebus-y puzzles until I'm close to giving up. I usually forgot that rebus is an option.

I had the most trouble with the SNAKEIS answer. I ended up with SNAGOIS (ANGLE instead of ANKLE=hock and OER instead of EER=poetic preposition). I spent a long time trying to replace each letter in SNAGOIS with its name ... essnagois, senagois, snagoiess ...

@jim hamilton, I also spent time going back to my puzzle to verify that the clue was actually "chaise longue", not "chaise lounge". That is a great tidbit to add to my I'm-in-the-know vocabulary.

re Nelson singing "Papa, Can You Hear Me?", another Simpsons allusion I never got when first watching the show. Reminds me of the first time I saw Citizen Kane, when the Rosebud episode of the Simpsons was Far more famous to me. I must be cultured :).

I don't know that people in the fashion world say "ooh la la", but my 5th grade teacher when I lived in France said it all the time! I even once got a sing-songy "OOh la la la la la la". It was awesome!

ASSERTS next to ASSENTS made me think that one of them must be wrong, but apparently not.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Rex, it's a rebus.

"Asymmetrical, unidirectional rebus fu" notwithstanding, it would be perfectly appropriate to draw "B is for [picture of bee]" in the square if you have a sharp enough pencil. In fact "wise" would be the only challenge -- all other theme entries are nouns.

But your "y"s statement about Saturday rebuses on Thursday, was "almost certainly not," so you are in good shape either way.

Shamik 11:58 AM  

After reading the comments, I'm feeling less smug about the ease of today's puzzle. Guess a bunch of us found it breezier than most Saturdays. Woooohoooo anyway! My major break came early with splitps.

Rex Parker 12:08 PM  


You are wrong. If it doesn't work in the Down, you absolutely cannot draw a pic in the box. Hence, not rebus.


GlennCY 12:26 PM  

Don't need to go back 50 years for Ooh la la, just to the 70's and Sasoon Jeans. Was their ad campagn. Recently saw a group of NY Rangers singing the theme to this song for a 70's ad - very funny.

GlennCY 12:28 PM  

couldn't find the one I saw recently, but here is another -

jae 12:41 PM  

I also thought this was relatively easy for a Sat. but enjoyed it. I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out the rebus before SPLITPS gave me the theme. My problems were pretty much the same as Rex's. My Sat. solving approach thought TIME was perfect for 32d and I kept PAPYRUS for far too long. I also had PRO for ACE, OER, and LAFEY (briefly).

BTW Did anyone ever come up with a cogent explanation for PAVER yesterday?

Bill D 12:45 PM  

I didn't find this as easy as most of you. On Sat I usually work through the acrosses, then the downs, looking for stuff I know, unless I hit 1A right off. I wound up finding the theme (sort of) while working the lower SW. The "Mutiny on the Bounty" answer had to be SOUTH SEAS, so I put in SOUTH CC, as I had seen this trick in puzzles before. Then I went around the puzzle "fixing" or placing the rest of the affected answers, like SNAKE II and HONEY BB. This led to as much confusion as correction, but I eventually worked it out on the strength of STRAUSS. Did anyone else fall into Berry's trap twice? Like Rex, I had to chuck out "NOMADIC" & "PAPYRUS", and I also originally had "BLANKLY" for EMPTILY at 12D.

Wonderfully fun puzzle which stung me coming and going. Fortunately, aside from the conceit, most of the clues/answers were not Super Saturday stuff. I also thought a couple of modifers or question marks were strictly necessary in the clues "Fashion world exclamation", "Friction reducer", and "Knuckles under".

A couple bits of aviation trivia were brought to mind today. Enola Gay, of course; much lesser known is the name of the second A-bomber: Bock's Car. And Mutiny on the Bounty was written by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall who met in 1916 as members of the American volunteer unit, the "Lafayette Escadrille" (N.124 of the French Aviation Militaire), during The Great War. In 1917 it was calculated that the life expectancy of an Allied fighter pilot at the front was TWO WEEKS, so their survival to ultimately travel to Tahiti and write Mutiny is a tribute to their remarkable skill and amazing good luck.

I was once in a orchestra which played the theme music from the 1962 movie version of Mutiny on the Bounty, and it sticks out in my mind as one of the great movie soundtracks I ever played (Quo Vadis and How The West Was Won were others). As I recall, there were some notes marked an additional octave above the clef which I had to look up the fingering for...the soundtrack might be worth listening to with a real oboist actually hitting those high notes!

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Once I got the theme, lots of things fell into place. A good Saturday for me.

Can someone explain 41 down to me? Stinger? = salt I don't get it.

Several clues and answers that I found very clever, esp pinball and italics. Toilets was clever, but isn't there a NYT rule against references to toilets?

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

Didn't even catch the "longue" in the "chaise" clue. So glad you all pointed it out! I personally LOVE the word "LOLL".... two of my favorite incarnations being "lollygag" and "loblolly". Can't say why. Easily amused, I guess. Maybe the same reason I badly wanted "sneezes" to be the answer for "cat burglers' no-nos", even though it didn't fit. Oh, and the IACOCCA pneumonic is genius! Fun day.

Rock Rabbit

Leon 12:59 PM  

@jubjub - I also had snagois for the longest time.

I understand Y it is not a rebus, but the tutorials early in the week certainly helped to sniff out the Theme.

RP- ATRA was a gimmie thanks to you. Your continual parsing lessons also helped.

Salt stings when thrown on a wound.

miriam b 1:09 PM  

@addie loggins: It's a stretch, but I guess SALT in a wound or in your eye (shudder) could be a stinger.

This puzzle was sneaky, but fun. I got ANDREA first, then ELGRECO. Unaccountably, SPLITPS was next, and then I found myself looking over my shoulder, as it were, for more of the same.

Yes, the Iacocca mnemonic is clever. Did Lee make it up himself, I wonder?

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Can someone please explain the answer "toilets" in response to heads? It made me laugh but I resisted it for a long time...

I actually love the inversion of "chaise longue" into "chaise lounge". It makes sense, is more descriptive or at least more evocative, and it avoids the potential for mispronunciation. The first time I heard the word "lingerie" spoken in the US I really had trouble understanding what it was referring to. Lounge, Loll, Laze (which I had put in for a while), it all sounds perfect for the first Saturday in May..

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Glad you all did so well. Took me a good hour, with lot's of erasing, but no googling or errors. May have something to do with my being up since 4:30 a.m. yesterday and then working until 9 a.m. this morning on a database conversion. Really loved the layout of this one. Good night all.

imsdave (too tired to login)

fergus 1:21 PM  

How about a semi-rebus, or at least a horizontal one? And if it's definitively not a rebus, what shall today's puzzle be classified as?

Hermosa means pretty in Spanish. I was thinking Kelvin, too. OGEE's an arch as well as a molding? Here's STEAL better clued than the baseball datum. Which STRAUSS. A lot of Quennly ELEANORS. Storm and RAGE -- I was just reading King Lear the other night. And aren't Pride and Vanity two separate sins? Very reluctant to insert ENOLA on a Saturday

I cursed the Star Spangled Banner, with a very mild oath, for ruining my flawless grid, since I had to write o'er the O with an E. Only slightly ORNERY about that.

Anyone remember the Gilligan's Island episode where the girls formed a pop band called the HONEYBS? Special commendation for citing the title of their one and only song!

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

Being a sci-fi fan helped not only with TROI, but LEFAY as well (from Stargate SG-1).

Rex Parker 1:31 PM  

It's not even a horizontal rebus. You can't draw a picture of a "Y" (except the letter "Y" itself, I guess) or cram in letters to get a word, the way you can with rebuses. Doesn't work. When neither the picture method nor the cram-letters-in method works, and when Down answers refuse to participate, I don't know what you call it, but I know what you don't call it. You could, I suppose, call it a modified rebus - very modified.

I don't think every kind of puzzle merits a special name. This concept is not apt to appear often enough to need one.


Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Do not forget the answer and clue to 15 across. Why? Be patient, and you will know soon.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  


I'm not sure there's an official authority for what may or may not be called a rebus puzzle (so I guess you might as well claim the role), but some might argue that the "picture across and down" test is overly restrictive. Most dictionaries define "rebus" with some variation of a representation of words in the form of pictures or symbols, often in a puzzle.

"C" as a stand-in for "sea" is a rebus. This is a crossword puzzle that contains rebuses, with the unusual (but not uniquely so) aspect that the rebus elements (being letters) are to be interpreted only as letters in the down entries.

JannieB 2:00 PM  

@foodie - on a boat or ship the lavatory is called the head. Don't know the derivation.

dk 2:15 PM  

Of course you all know a BP station is where HONEYBS P.

kate 2:17 PM  

An easy Saturday for me, completed it correctly without to many stumped moments.

I never liked Star Trek TNG and have only seen it once or twice, but am well aware of Deanna TROI - we used to make fun of her "empathic" powers: "Oh, I feel great sadness coming from the planet where all the people are dying!"

Very fun puzzle, big thumbs up from me.

mrbreen 2:25 PM  

@foodie: HEAD is nautical slang for toilet. I would suspect this definition is included in any dictionary.

This whole rebus debate is a bit silly. It's not a rebus in any way, shape, or form. There are letters that, when spoken sound exactly like words and this puzzle employs a few of them.

Some more that could be used: S for ESS, J for Jay, F for EFF. Wordplay? Sure. Rebus? No way jose.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

Rex says, "I don't think every kind of puzzle merits a special name. This concept is not apt to appear often enough to need one."

Norm says, "I hope this concept never appears again." But, I realize I'm in the minority given the amount of approbation the theme received.

fergus 2:50 PM  

Coincidence? The golf columnist in today's Financial Times laid a CURATE'S EGG in describing the state of his game ... .

Never seen the term before and now it shows up in a week. Not a coincidence, of course, but an occurrence that happens frequently enough to warrant a name.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Hey, it's natural to want a word for this type of puzzle -- SO, it's not a exactly a rebus, but in analogy to anagram, pangram, etc. I'd call it an "inagram" to show there's a word in a letter. Haha.


Anonymous 3:14 PM  


It's a linguistic contagion that requires contact with the NYTimes puzzle.

Thanks mrbreen and jannieb for contributing to my continuing education. I got curious about the derivation and it apparently comes from the fact that on sailing ships, the toilets were placed at the head or bow of the ship, to essentially place them downwind, since most of the vessels could not go to weather.

Joon 3:33 PM  

i loved this puzzle, but in no way was it a saturday. for starters, there was a theme. (!) for another, it was just not hard. it's one thing to beat your personal best; but i finished this puzzle in under a quarter of my previous saturday best time, and under half of my previous friday best. if this had been a thursday, i would have broken my thursday record.

i think a lot of these clues just weren't saturday level. ENOLA, for instance--why give us [___ Gay]? i've seen [Paul Tibbets's mother], which is a much tougher but still fair clue. ELEANOR... why give us the second-most famous ELEANOR in history? it just seemed like a lot of these clues were tailored towards a mid-week level. maybe i was just on the right wavelength, but it looks from the other comments like i wasn't the only one.

i still don't get SALT. or for that matter, PAVER from yesterday.

mac 3:33 PM  

It would have been fun if Patrick Berry had sprinkled in a few numbers for this function. Like plus4s, just1s, deep6s, past10s.

chefbea 3:33 PM  

@nebraska doug - I too like tag sales. They are just beginning here in Ct - still a little chilly. My friends and I have a huge tag sale every june

chefbea 3:35 PM  

DK love your definition of a BP station. lol

PuzzleGirl 3:39 PM  

I loved this puzzle and am glad to see Rex's rating of medium. If he had rated it easy I probably wouldn't continue to think that I'm getting better at these things! As it stands, I'm pretty sure I am getting better. This was a weird week, though. I had a hard time on all the early-week puzzles and pretty much breezed through Friday and Saturday. Very Unusual for me.

Hey, guess what. On March 15, 1997, Sting hosted Saturday Night Live and guess who the musical guest was. Veruca Salt. Heh.

bill d: I don't think any of the clues you mentioned -- "fashion world exclamation," "friction reducer," and "knuckles under" -- require a question mark because no wordplay is involved in the answer.

Michael Chibnik 4:29 PM  

Well, I was going to write that this was really easy for a Saturday -- more like a Thursday (or a Sunday) in degree of difficulty. Then I saw that my comments were less than orginal. So I guess I'll just add to the chorus.

An enjoyable puzzle, yet somehow on Saturdays I look for something more like last week's (which I did miserably on).

Barbara Bolsen 4:35 PM  

John, I thnk Rex may have been avoiding discussing another kind of lube.

Did anyone have REDBULLS for restorative drink? Messed up my southwest, because I really really didn't want to give it up.

Barbara Bolsen 4:35 PM  

John, I thnk Rex may have been avoiding discussing another kind of lube.

Did anyone have REDBULLS for restorative drink? Messed up my southwest, because I really really didn't want to give it up.

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

Haha, thanks for your comment Miriam B -- helped me to see that I spelled mnemonic like a lung disease, Doktor Dork that I am! Also reminds me that I forgot to mention my amusement at yesterday's clue "NFL hurlers, " ICK!

Rock Rabbit

Unknown 4:41 PM  

Good afternoon...just back from a Continuing Education class in Princeton where the Spring trees and flowers were beautiful. I did the paper in ink with a colleague this morning and went through it very quickly. Had to fix lafay and had trouble in the NE. I had an error and couldn't think of emptily no matter how hard I starred off into space. Still finished in less than 15 minutes and like many others did better than usual, but I suspect next Saturday will even it out.

The use of a letter for a word is captured very well in a book I read to my grand daughter entitled "C D B" by William Steig. It is clever and uses many "letter codes", which is the term applied to using a letter for a word.

Bill D 4:42 PM  

@foodie - the way I understood it, the "head" was just the bow of the ship in bygone days. No toilets existed, per se. Usually there were masts and rigging to climb out on, over the open sea. You just "hung out" there and did your business. We had a discussion not long ago about how so many phrases came to us from the nautical. If those sailors of yore hadn't renamed everything today's puzzles wouldn't be half as much fun!

Margaret 4:43 PM  

@ Joon I checked out the Collective Noun website and found:

A lechery of priests
A lie of politicians
A litter of pigs
A luck of dice
A lump of toads

but not
A lot of pavers.

That said, since pavers pave parking lots, the noun fits.

I also found:
"A quaver of arias (-suggested by RP4-)"
which sounds like a suggestion from a crossworder for sure. Could it be our own RP???

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

Salt is a "stinger." Go into the ocean with a cut and see.

Paver is one of A LOT of workers. The wording is iffy, but my english teacher always tells me that "a lot" never means "many." A lot is a plot of land.

Bill D 4:49 PM  

@ Puzzlegirl - Not necessarily question marks, but some clarifier. ASSENTS might be "Knuckles under, in a way"; LUBE is a short and/or slang form, and I felt needed to be acknowledged as such; see RP on OOH LA LA. Maybe the lack of clarifiers is just tough Saturday cluing, but it seemed slipshod to me.

Doc John 5:20 PM  

Thanks for all the comments on my avatar. It is indeed Pernell Roberts. As for being a Cartwright, growing up I wanted to be Hoss, not Adam!

Sorry I didn't get back yesterday but left for the afternoon and evening to attend a Springsteen concert. He was great, as usual, and ended the concert with "Kitty's Back", my fave of all his songs.

I had to pick my way through this puzzle, as I do on most Saturdays, and only did finish it after putting it down for a while to go to lunch with my family. Upon my return, I picked it up again and almost immediately filled in the few remaining NE squares. (Last letter was the T in EMPTILY.)

I enjoyed the puzzle's gimmick (I hate to call it a gimmick, that sounds so belittling, but what else to call it, it's not really a theme because in my crossworld-view none of the main answers are related other than the coy spellings.) Anyway, rebus or not, it was fun and interesting.

Another K that expresses amounts would be Karats, as in the quality of gold, but I couldn't find any word that would work with that concept. I also thought of K as in kilobytes (the fill being "memory"- the S in LOLLS stopped that) but I also thought, nah they're even past M and on to G for that! Or even K in kilometers, like a 10K. But the SALARY answer was pretty cool.

I knew the Dead Sea Scrolls were made out of leather because I recently (heck, almost a year ago now, wow) saw them at a great exhibit in San Diego. Most amazing thing was that the printing on them was very small, about 10 point, I'd say.

Fave answers: a tie today- SNAKE IS and STREET YS

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

doc john
so, you offer bonus points for why you chose this particular avatar... beyond the obvious doctor connection, is it the bonanza history or is it because you like what Pernell Roberts did in terms of civil rights?

Thanks Bill d... I guess a head started as a strategically located virtual toilet at sea...

Doc John 5:56 PM  

@ foodie- well, those are good reasons, esp. the civil rights one, but not really the reasons I picked that pic.
The main reason is that my name is John and I'm an MD, hence Trapper John, MD (and I do go by that nickname). So why don't I use a pic of Wayne Rogers? There are other reasons but that one above is the biggest one and I won't bore you all with the rest!

Anonymous 6:04 PM  

Lovely - thank you Mr. Berry.

I worked this one while proctoring a final and barely finished within the two-hour time limit! (Think I struggled much more than my students).

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

I finished this puzzle 40% faster than my previous best Saturday time. I was expecting a lower rating from Rex than medium. I'd agree that it seemed a Thursday ranked puzzle. Keeping an open mind about gimmick puzzles helps.

I started with ORIGAMI and ASHRAMS and was off to the races. HONEY BS popped up pretty quickly.

According to the categories Amy lists in 'How to Conquer the NYT CwP' (p. 7) this would be a gimmick puzzle, a category that also includes rebus puzzles.

Anonymous 7:23 PM  

My avatar is the white, human-shaped blob to the left.

I picked it because 1. I didn't pick it. I'm just too lazy to change it and 2. I am a white, human-shaped blob to the left.

@PhillySolver: As I was reading the rebus debate, I kept thinking, "Christ, can someone get in touch with PhillySolver, so we can the name of history of this kind of puzzle!?"

Unknown 7:48 PM  

@ eli

Thanks for thinking of me. One of the fun trivia things I know is the Letter Code for airports and the Letter codes for world License plates. The more obscure the better for me. I always wonder why crossword constructors don't use them because they could open up a puzzle to so many fun words and create a challenge for the crossword community. I will list some of my favorites soon.

Bill D 8:10 PM  

Philly - do you study the world codes for aviation registration as well, like N for the USA and OH for Finland? Since they are mainly one or two characters they probably don't have much use in crosswords.

Anonymous 8:20 PM  

Docjohn, Hoss was from Texas. I'm just sayin'.

Anonymous 8:41 PM  

@puzzlegirl -- I completely agree about the relative difficulty about today's and yesterday's puzzles vs. earlier in the week. I had a lot of problems with Wed and Thur this week, but Fri and Sat were, comparatively, less taxing. I posted about this yesterday too, hoping someone would offer an explanation why an intermediate puzzler might have less trouble with Fridays than Thursdays, but no one took the bait. And I doubt anyone will even read this at this late hour... a discussion for another time perhaps.

Anonymous 8:54 PM  

John, as has been noted on Rex's blog and elsewhere, Thursdays in particular often (but by no means always) are characterized by some sort of trickery in the puzzle--rebuses, multiple letters in one square, "u-turns" among answers. Sometimes those are fun; I'm less amused (I'm actually more into the British-style cryptic crosswords, such as you see over here in the Atlantic and in Harpers, where that sort of playfulness is throughout the puzzle; in the American-style crossword, I prefer consistency of difficulty throughout the puzzle and no goofiness, and the isolated trickiness is more of a distraction, as I said in an earlier post.) As for your finding a Friday easier than a Thursday, I think if you keep doing the puzzle regularly you will come to expect to see gradations in difficulty with each day of the week, and will also come to be vaguely disgruntled when you find a Friday or Saturday easier than an earlier week puzzle. (But crossword puzzles have a subjective element along with the objective element, so it shouldn't be suprising that sometimes a Wednesday will throw you for a loop and you'll knock a Saturady out of the park.) I'd been doing the puzzle a long time before I even figured out that they were supposed to be harder as the week went on, but that was in the days before the internet, and also I'm not terribly bright.

I can't really speak to Sunday puzzles. I rarely do them. I don't know why. Maybe it's the slick paper of the Sunday magazine, but I think really it's that I like the classic 15 X 15 grid, and the Sunday feels sloppy and digressive.

Anonymous 9:12 PM  

Wade -- I actually like trickery and rebuses. I'm more likely to be able to finish a Thurs puzzle if there is some "distracting" trickery. It's that arcane knowledge that always throws me. Which is why it's weird that it is not uncommon for me to have less trouble with Fri than Thurs (even though there are times when an "easy" fri will take longer to complete than a "difficult" Thur). It just seems like there are ways to "puzzle" out a Friday, but sometimes if you don't know something on Thursday, well, tough luck. I dunno, just an observation that I don't have a good answer to (as a person who has been doing the NYTimes xword for about 10 years with varying degrees of regularity and success...).

Unknown 9:32 PM  

@ bill d

I don't follow the aviation codes, but you can write me on my email posted on my profile. Always glad to learn new things.

CXR happens to be the code for the Christmas Islands and I wonder if after this week's exchange if they are accused of taking Christ out of their car tags!

Bill from NJ 9:43 PM  

My last square filled in was *R* at the cross of SALARY/RERAN. I had an error at 32D (TILT), ran through the alphabet, finally saw the light, changed the *T* to an *E* and completed the puzzle.

When I saw PATRICK BERRY, I braced myself for the long-haul expecting obscure cluing and lots of unknown words but as I went forward, I found the simpler I thought, the better.

Does anyone recognize the acronym KISS?

I bogged down in the NE, failing to get both 12D and 15D and skipped into the SE where, anchored by a WWII airplane & THE FRIG's alma mater, I uncovered the theme, and fixed the NE.

The only real problem I had was in the NW but the theme gave the me *B* which helped to get HONEYBS and the puzzle fell.

I spent a little time trying to figure what the gimmick was. I had BPYTIC and thought I was missing a *C* and an *R* for some variation on PB CRYPTIC or some such, but I finally gave it up.

I didn't enjoy this one as much as other Saturdays, even the one's I didn't finish, for a curious reason: I steeled myself for a difficult puzzle and didn't get one.

PS I was thinking Magazine at 32D and finally came up with TILT. It wasn't until I read the comments that I was disabused of that particlur notion.

Orange 10:23 PM  

Anonymous 4:45's English teacher sounds like the worst kind of pedant—completely oblivious to reality. I don't suppose any of you academics with access to the OED can tell us just how long "a lot" has been used to mean "many"? I'm betting it's got a long and rich history.

mac 10:32 PM  

@wade: I agree with you, I do the Sunday puzzle but I don't like the way the paper has a glare when the light isn't good, and I haven't found the right pencil for it yet. It has to be a really dark one.

mac 10:35 PM  

@Orange, I think I was taught, in Holland, the difference between much and many this way. I think the rule went away at the same time the one about "the woman that" instead of "who" seemed to become acceptable. Still bugs me now.

Anonymous 10:41 PM  

@ bill from nj:

Keep It Simple Stupid

Doc John 11:00 PM  

@ wade: Well, let's look at it this way- when I was a kid, it was still cool to be from Texas! (But wasn't the Cartwright family from Nevada?)

Anonymous 11:11 PM  

A themed Saturday is very unusual but not entirely unprecedented: I recall one that had most of the black squares forming an S shape and a pair of 15-letter entries clued simply "S" and "'s"; there was also one (maybe a Friday?) that had two 15-letter entries each consisting of 5 three-letter words forming a plausible albeit Dr.Seussian sentence (like "mad dad had bad fad" but probably better). Are these hints enough to locate those puzzles in the archives?


fergus 11:19 PM  

My absolute favorite 'gimmick' was the one where an unclued, yet implied, THINK occurred outside the periphery of grid four times, each with a vague reference to 'thinking outside the box.' Two or three years ago ... Orange, or anyone, know how to locate that one?

Joon 11:52 PM  


i found one of them: david kahn's saturday puzzle from july 5, 2003. the theme answers you refer to were

[Why the dog caught a cold?] VETLETPETGETWET


[Why the parent gave the kid a spanking?] BADLADHADDADMAD

it's a strange-looking grid: lots of 4- and 5-letter words, but a significant number of 8s and 10s in addition to the two 15s.

can't find your "S" puzzle, though. i might need a little more help. do you remember what either of the long answers was?

(remarkably, BADLADHADDADMAD was also an answer in another puzzle from the same year, the wednesday, september 10, 2003 new york sun.)

Unknown 12:03 AM  

Wonder why the clue "lady purchased a stolen pan set" didn't make it? DOTGOTHOTPOTLOT

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

OOh lala was used by sassoon for their jeans ads in the 1980's.

Anonymous 12:40 AM  

Patrick Berry is just fantastic, and never fails to deliver. This was a great puzzle, but as so many of you have commented above, definitely belonged on a Thursday... either that, or it needed considerably tougher clues to deserve its weekend placement. I got through this in under 15 minutes which is certainly not a Saturday time for me!

Orange 1:19 AM  

Fergus, I blogged about that puzzle, and Jim has the grid.

fergus 2:25 AM  

Thanks Orange,

Maybe it wasn't quite as clever as I remember. I recalled the answers as free-standing, as well as extending to the THINKs outside the grid. Also, I don't remember the note, which in retrospect was too much of a giveaway. Nevertheless, as a Saturday April Fooler, it lived up to that special occasion. I wonder if there have been any other puzzles with answers located outside the grid?

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

Fun puzzle, though definitely an atypical Saturday.

I would like to have seen "QS", like the lines in England.

GlobalPittsburgh 10:21 AM  

This was my fastest Saturday puzzle ever.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

How about "Mind Your Z's and Cues" as a theme for this puzzle?

Mike the Wino 1:46 PM  

I liked the puzzle! That said, PhillySolver@4:41 reminded me of a ditty(?) from my childhood:

Mom: C D puppy?
Kid: M N O puppy!
Mom: O S M R! C M P N ?

impjb 4:14 PM  

Easy Schmeasy. It's nice to be thrown an occasional bone on a Saturday.

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