Max of video game fame — FRIDAY, Jul. 24 2009 — Sinatra 1982 collaborative jazz album / Local regional boy scout gathering / Diagonally set spar

Friday, July 24, 2009

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: CAMPOREE (29D: Local or regional Boy Scout gathering) — A camporee is a local or regional gathering of Scouting units for a period of camping and common activities. Similar to a camporee, a jamboree occurs less often and draws units from the entire nation or world. (wikipedia)

Hey, it's the greatest constructor on the planet. That's a hard title to live up to day in day out. I liked this puzzle a lot as I worked my way through the top, but then somewhat less by the time I hit the bottom. It's got a lovely, smooth, swirly quality that I kind of like. Then again, it kind of reminds me of an intestine. It's even got a BUTT (24A: You might grind it out) at one end (the wrong end ... sorry, I never know where my mind is going to go when I start typing). My main problem with this grid is its heavy reliance on proper nouns, particularly names. And I'm a name-lover, generally. But they're clogging up the NE something awful — DAN'L is one of those answers I accept as occasionally inevitable in high-caliber grid, but it's super-sub-optimal (23A: "Young _____ Boone" (short-lived 1970s TV series)). GUSTAVE Courbet is famous enough (11D: French painter Courbet), but the TURNER guy is a mystery to me (13D: Pulitzer-winning historian Frederick Jackson _____). The main point here is that normally you don't want to logjam proper nouns, as the "knowitoryadon't"-ness of names can really make a puzzle undoable if you're not careful.

In the case of the NE name logjam, there was nothing offensive. But warning lights went off. In the SW, however, I let out a YELP and then censors had to BLEEP me a little as I filled in the answer SYMS (35D: "_____ by Sinatra" (1982 collaborative jazz album)), an unfamiliar and dubious-looking name. I checked and rechecked those crosses, and finally decided it had to be right, no matter how nuts it looked. Turns out the SYMS in "SYMS by Sinatra" is Sylvia SYMS. She's the singer. Sinatra's the conductor! Interesting. The "Y" from YELP was the last letter I put in this section, though the "P" was slightly suspect too, as CAMPOREE was new to me. So uncertain was I of this word that I wondered for a second whether there weren't such things as YELB and JANTABILE (that would have given me JAMBOREE, a word I recognize) (29A: Musical direction that means "lyrical" in Italian => CANTABILE).

After taking the SPIRAL STAIRCASE (43A: It gets you up and around) across the southern portion of the grid, I figured I'd make short work of that last little bit in the SE. I figured wrong. First I had to wrestle with two names I didn't know, PAXTON (42A: Folk singer Tom with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award) and PAYNE (34D: Max of video game fame). The latter was at least a little familiar to me, the former not at all. Worked my way to the tippy top of this puzzle's tail and ended up with TUP as a [Snooping aid]. Made no sense to me. At this point, I checked all the crosses ... and decided they were all rock solid. Rock Solid. Now, this is where having your brain *fully* turned on can help you. If you had to organize words or phrases into categories, it's very easy to see how you (I) might group [Maximally] and UTMOST together. They sound very much related. Problem 1, they are not the same part of speech (adverb vs. adj./noun). Problem 2 ... well problem 2 is that TUP is just BLEEPing wrong. If the clue had been about the reproductive habits of sheep, then maybe. But [snooping aid]? No.

My favorite part of this stupid mistake is my initial solution: Change the "T" to a "C." [Snooping aid] = CUP, as in the CUP you hold to your ear and press to the door when you want to hear what's happening on the other side. Does that even work? I saw it on an episode of "Growing Pains" once. This gave me CARTARS, which then sent me searching for ways I could turn CARTARS into [Medieval conquerors]. Changed BARMY (39A: Foolish, in British slang) to BALMY: CALTARS! OK, now we're getting ... somewhere. A few moments later and I was like "screw it," it must be TUP. I then emailed fellow blogger Orange and asked what the hell was going on with 32A: Snooping aid. Her answer: "wiretap." Me: "Oh ... but ... ohhhhhhhhh ... TAP ... I see ... now. 'AT MOST.' Yeah, that makes sense." The end. I thought the puzzle overall was on the easy side, but at this point in my solving career, failure is failure is failure. Still, overall, thumbs up for the puzzle.


  • 16A: Bloomer after whom bloomers are named (Amelia) — more names! I got this with a cross or two, though if pressed I couldn't tell you who the hell she is. Aha, a 19th-century woman's rights and temperance advocate. Wife (19c. American historian) will surely laugh at me for not knowing that. And she will be right to do so.
  • 30A: Actor who debuted in "Kung Fu: The Movie" (Brandon Lee) — more names. This name was far better known 16 years ago, when BRANDON LEE, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died on the set of what would become his most famous movie, "The Crow." Accidental shooting due to prop gun malfunction (brought on by negligence, I'm guessing).

  • 35A: Activities at punk rock concerts (slam dances) — forerunners of mosh pits.
  • 48A: Words from one who won't settle ("See you in court!") — nice that this crosses SUE (45D: Good name for a trial lawyer).
  • 3D: Diagonally set spar (sprit) — I learned SPRIT from crosswords. This is how I learned most nautical words I know.
  • 7D: Spike's former name (TNN) — yes, Spike is a TV station. I get TNT and TNN badly confused.
  • 9D: Bibliog. equivalent of "ditto" (ibid.) — wow, "bibliog." sure is ugly. Sounds like a name from Tolkien. Like a hobbit-orc hybrid.
  • 15D: Fish that can move equally well forward and backward (eels) — that clue really sounds like it wants a singular answer. But no!
  • 22D: Fluid dynamics phenomenon (eddies) — the "S"-shape of the grid and the swirliness of EDDIES and the SPIRAL STAIRCASE are all working together to produce a kind of deliciously dizzying subtheme. "EELS in the EDDIES" = #rejectedhorrormovies.
  • 25D: Convertible carriage (landau) — another crossword pick-up for me. Crosswords are the only places where carriages still exist. Look out for surrey and hansom.
  • 36D: Reaganomics recommendation (tax cut) — More evidence the NYT is a leftist paper: this answer intersects BARMY.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. my write-up of today's L.A. Times puzzle is here.


bigredanalyst 8:27 AM  

I thought this was a very solid Friday puzzle; very difficult to establish a toe-hold but relatively easy once you get going. That seems typical for a Berry puzzle.

Nothing particular noteworthy about the cluing, IMO.

Just a pleasant diversion on a Friday morning.

Thanks Patrick!

treedweller 8:32 AM  

I finished this one in less than 20 minutes, so I'd have to say "Easy". I've only finished a handful of Fridays period, and most of those took 40 minutes or more.

I did not have a problem with the names, despite not knowing TURNER or GUSTAVE or BRANDONLEE. I was just more willing to guess for some reason, and got lucky.

I tried "jamboree," too, but when the time came I knew CAMPOREE from my days as a scout. I also tried "surrey" for LANDAU a long time. I have no idea if they are actually convertible--I only know about them because of "Oklahoma."

My biggest leap of faith was HASHEDOVER. I've heard of hashing things out, but wasn't convinced they could be hashed over. Once the crosses started falling, I knew I had it. My biggest WTF was SYMS. I meant to look that up, but forgot--thanks for the explanation, Rex.

imsdave 8:39 AM  

@treedweller - glad it was a romp for you - very tough for me today. I finished, in 40 minutes of so but I had to Julie to do it (my wife, she knows art and gave me Gustave). I'm going to guess that everone tried jamboree before CAMPOREE as it was fairly easy to get to the REE part.

Excellent work (as always) Mr. Berry.

Off to NYC to see my good rexmates, greene and mac, and a show or two.

joho 8:40 AM  

Loved SPIRALSTAIRCASE. Hated that I didn't know CANTABILE so left in JAMBOREE as CAMPOREE is Greek to me. I knew SYMS and also knew it had to be YELP but couldn't resolve the "B." So ... not a perfect Friday for me, but a most enjoyable experience regardless.

Thanks, Patrick Berry, your puzzles always ENHANCE my day.

archaeoprof 8:43 AM  

Great write-up, Rex. The puzzle felt just like you described it.

I tried CUP, too, and spent several minutes time trying to convince myself there really were medieval conquerors called "Caltars." It sure sounds medieval...

Today I'm off to a lake in northern Ontario for ten days -- off grid. Only downside is no puzzles. How to survive?

See you a week from Monday.

retired_chemist 8:52 AM  

Slow slog for me. Well done to treedweller!

Agree with the high proper noun usage, which certainly added to my MAX PAYNE (whom I have never heard of). Not knowing SLAM DANCES and SYMS, plus sticking too long with JAMBOREE, plus ditto for REPLIED @ 31D, made the SW my last corner - ended up googling for SLAM to break up the logjam.

AMANDA instead of AMELIA (16A) slowed me down in the NW.

CANTABILE sounds like it should be "singable" literally.

Sara 9:05 AM  

I'm not trying to be mean here, and heaven knows I'm scared to death of you, Rex, but I haven't taken a history course since high school 30 years ago, and TURNER was still a gimme. He's really, really big.

edith b 9:12 AM  

I worked from the Midlands into the NE and the back end of GOVERNMENTISSUE gave me a solid base from which to work. Once my mind was in Spy mode - after getting WEB and CAM - TAP was easy to recognize and my experience in the the South was the same as in the North - the back end of the answers is where I got my foothold.

Once I saw CASE and COURT, the rest fell pretty quickly. I had the same problem with CAMPOREE/JAMBOREE as everyone else but I recognized CANTABLE from my music training and that settled the HASH of CAMPOREE.

I think that every budding young feminist would recognize AMELIA from the clue as I did when I was young and am presenting infomation of this kind to my granddaughter as I think it is very important.

Bob Blake 9:20 AM  

Rex, your observation about BARMY crossing Reagonomics was side-splitting. Wonderful!

I'm an old '60's folkie so Tom PAXTON was a gimme and I also note it crosses TAXCUT as well. Tom would be very amused. Check out the Tom Paxton song that's also cited at Wordplay today, it's great:

Orange 9:22 AM  

@Sara, I was an honor student in high school, which ended 25 years ago for me, and I'd never heard of Turner. We had standard high school textbooks, and I'll bet Turner's bit about westward expansion wouldn't have merited more than a paragraph. Maybe I went to a lousy school, but we didn't pick up the names of any historians. (P.S. Don't be scared of Rex! Beneath the noir picture is a softie.)

dk 9:34 AM  

Had HaggleOVER

Knew whim-wham was NOVELTY but had letto instead of RELET, tune instead of BUTT,misspelled OMELET... blah blah blah. The Northwest passage entailed cannibalism with GARBS and SPRIT coming to the rescue.

Like @Sara and @treedweller I had no problem with the names. I even have a Tom Paxton CD/ALbum. I wanted Max to be Headroom but it did not fit etc.

A Berry puzzle like an Acme is always a pleasure to pen.

Off to the Apostle Islands for a week so you will not have my post to COMPLAINABOUT.

Susan 9:41 AM  

I didn't know camporee either but I knew it couldn't be jamboree because I was so confident about cantabile. I think it's the first thing I put in the grid, actually.

I didn't know Amelia Bloomer without crosses, although it seemed vaguely familiar from my days as a budding feminist.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

I made those same mistakes, except I had MAPS and MALTARS.

You may know Tom Paxton's "The Last Thing On My Mind," which is a great song and has been widely covered. He also wrote "Goin' to the Zoo."

PlantieBea 9:45 AM  

TURNER added to the swirliness of the theme for me. Loved that the grid looked like the top view of a spiral staircase. Thanks Mr. Berry for this excellent Friday puzzle.

My two boys are Boy Scouts. Camporee is a very familiar term around here. I did consider Jamboree, but CAMPOREEs are much more common scout events around here.

Loved seeing CANTABILE and DESCENDANTS. I was just discussing the latter and the family genealogy with a distant cousin last night.

Yesterday I spent five hours at the auto dealer while having my vehicle serviced. During some of that time, I slogged through a popular national paper's crossword, provided, along with movies junk food, by the dealer. BLAH, BLECH, PFUI! The answers had no spice and the cluing was no fun. Give me a DOG puzzle from the NYT any day instead of that.

dk 9:59 AM  

@shamik from yesterday. Nope not pulling your leg. Email if you want the details.

@planetbea, when I was in scouts only two from each troop got to go to the Jamboree at Pedimont(sp?) I think. What I remember about CAMPOREEs is it raining when we set-up and took down camp and how heavy and smelly the old canvas tents could be. I contrast that with the gear we have today.

JC66 10:03 AM  

Tom PAXTON was huge for me in the 60's when I first learned to play the guitar (badly).

@ twangster

Here's a link to That Was the Last Thing On My Mind.

Elaine 10:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:26 AM  

I made all the same mistakes Rex did. I thought it was challenging. Thus, by the transitive property of crossword rating.....

I'm just sayin'.. If you were challenged (and clearly you were...)

Glitch 10:26 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:28 AM  

And Tartars? Back to school for me..

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

After yesterday's which was excrutiating, whipped thru this in
no time completing the bottom first.

I,too have never heard of camporee.
Nice way to start a Friday.

PlantieBea 10:34 AM  

@dk The camping equipment has certainly improved, but that rain can still plague the scouts. Camporees in this area, held twice each year, are multitroop events with troop competitions (fun, scout created) built in. Nobody from our sons' troop has ever attended a Jamboree. They're more interested in getting to one of the high adventure camps like Northern Tier or Sea Base.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

glitch -- wikipedia's account of brandon lee's death is different from yours

Anne 10:46 AM  

I would have bet there was nosuchthing as a camporee and so let me complainabout that. I slowly made my way through the middle, the top and finally to the bottom where I spent most of my time trying to get jamboree to fit because I could not believe it wasn't right and would not leave it. Barmy!

Thank you, JC66, that was beautiful. It's the first time I heard it by the writer.

Rex Parker 10:47 AM  

@glitch, backs up wikipedia. Not shot in temple by self. Shot in torso by another actor. Among other differences.

Minimal fact-checking is greatly appreciated.


fikink 10:47 AM  

Having been a history major gave me TARTARS fairly quickly, and Tom Paxton is still on vinyl in the basement. But my last fill turned out to be KEEBLER of all things!
Note to self: spend more time with children!

fikink 10:50 AM  

@glitch, believe it was a soap opera star who held the prop gun to his head as a joke, but I am too lazy to research it.

JaneW 10:56 AM  

This one was an "easy" for me -- meaning only one Google necessary. Why? ONLY ONE SPORTS ANSWER, Pistons, which was the only proper name I didn't have tucked somewhere in the brain cells. I think it might be an age thing -- if you're over 60 you probably remember Tom Paxton pretty well, and as edith b said, feminism gave more currency to the name Amelia Bloomer. Turner took a few seconds more, but yeah, remembered from high school and college.

Needed Pistons to get Peke, which should have been a gimme, because "dog" did not cross my mind; I kept thing "Did the Chinese invent the yoyo?"

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

How do you see 'spiral staircase' and not think of this song:

Brendan Emmett Quigley 11:07 AM  

SPIRAL STAIRCASE will always make me think of Pavement. That's all.

Solid PB stuff. More please!

Two Ponies 11:07 AM  

Solving this puzzle correctly in an average Friday time is a testimony to daily solving and visiting this blog. I feel so good to be tuned in with Mr. Berry today.
My first entries were Peke and Keebler. How? Why? Who knows.
It took awhile after that to gain any traction but like treedweller I went with some leaps of faith that paid off. Very nice tight puzzle with no groaning fill.
@ dk, Once again I'm on your wavelength with Max Headroom.
I seem to know landau from the days of cars with vinyl roofs that were fake convertible tops called landau roofs.
I'm green with envy for those venturing out to Ontario and the Apostle Islands. Take lots of bug repellant!

Susan 11:08 AM  

@twangster, I had MAP at MALTARS too! Sounds like, you know, from Malta or something, right? It was just plausible enough to hang me up for a good while.

If it matters, the guy who shot himself with the prop gun was John-Eric Hexum (1957 - 1984). He had soap-opera looks but he was on a regular show called Cover Up that was canceled after one season. I googled, but sadly I knew a lot of that. I should really free up some of those brain cells.

Ulrich 11:09 AM  

In spite of the plethora of names I didn't know, I got all of them, eventually, through crosses. The S for SYMS was my last square to fill--like, Rex, I checked and rechecked everything gazillion times before deciding that it was the most plausible option--of course, had I known what a slam dance was, I would've never gotten into this pickle in the first place.

As usual, guessing long answers with almost no crosses greatly helps in filling a grid such as today's--especially, I got SEE YOU IN COURT just from the U in SUE and the R in TARTARS. The latter are familiar to all Germans who remember the days when "steak tartare" was a staple in bars--raw, high-quality ground beef that you spiced yourself with a raw egg, capers, parsley, salt, pepper etc and them piled on a crusty bun--fantastic with a cold Pilsener and no longer available, I think.

The clue for IBID. is definitely wrong: ibidem is a Latin adverb meaning "in the same place", NOT simply "the same".

Crosscan 11:13 AM  

Great puzzle. Nothing to COMPLAIN ABOUT.

Helpful tip - It takes less time to Google than to type "too lazy to Google".

Glitch 11:14 AM  

Mea Culpa,

Brandon Lee indeed killed by Prop Master's error on prepping gun.

Jon- Erik Hexum died by self inflicted gunshot to temple with "blanks".

I've removed my earlier post.


XMAN 11:18 AM  

I wondered about j starting an Italian word. It wasn't until I had BRANDONLEE (couryesy of Uncle Google) that I got out of that jam.

Lots of BLEEPS along the way, but fun, fun, fun.

PurpleGuy 11:27 AM  

Good Friday puzzle ! ThanksMr.Berry for a wonderful construction.
Had many of the same problems as Rex.
The top and middle came fairly quick, but I crashed and burned at the bottom !
Starred in a production of "Spiral Staircase" here in Phoenix, and still could not get it in the puzzle.

Thanks, RTex, for a great write up. Always enjoy reading this blog. Am getting more comfortable at commenting, too.

Denise 11:29 AM  

I thought all the females would know AMELIA -- we are so grateful.

I didn't know most of the names, but figured them out.

I liked this puzzle a lot because it was challenging and, at the same time, doable.

PurpleGuy 11:30 AM  

My apologies, Rex.
Typing is obviously not my forte !

Ellen 11:32 AM  

This was in record speed territory for a Friday (4:35), but that didn't detract from its quality.

Like the other '60s folkies, I had no problem with Tom Paxton. In fact, I heard him recently at a Carnegie Hall tribute to Theodore Bikel.

chefbea 11:43 AM  

Fun puzzle but had to google for many of the proper names. I knew syms but not Amelia

@Ulrich - I use to love steak tartar Yumm

@DK have a great vacation. I will now google Apostle Islands. have no idea where they are

HudsonHawk 11:45 AM  

Tough, but doable. Nice work, PB. I fell into the UTMOST trap, which gave me BUG for 32A. Right idea, bad execution. I solved from South to North, and really labored in the midwest for some time. The first D in EDDIES led me to LINE DRIVES, and then things fell into place nicely.

fikink 11:51 AM  

@Crosscan, not the way I google!

SethG 12:17 PM  

Ulrich, not sure why "in the same place" vs "the same" makes the clue for IBID wrong...?

I also tried to fit YELB and JANTABILE, and DESCENDENTS for a while made PAXTON's 'P' hard to get from the cross. I spent some time staring at xxxUCxTMING. Also spent some time staring at KEExLxx. KEEBLER...used to be a client of mine.

Overall fun, and fairly quick for a Friday for me. Maybe because I knew the French?

Ulrich 12:25 PM  

@Ellen: I hate, hate you...

@SethG: In my way of thinking, "ditto" addresses content, "ibid" place--i.e. you would never use one instead of the other, which means, to me, that the substitution rule fails. Note also that neither is a more general version of the other--both function at the same level of granularity.

hazel 12:31 PM  

@Ulrich - Steak tartare alive (almost, anyway) and well in Beynac France - a couple of weeks ago one of our canoeing party ordered it, and it came complete with raw egg, salt, and pepper - no parsley or capers, though. What noone could figure out is how they could charge 15 Euro (give or take) for it - since it was just basically raw hamburger!! It seemed like a scam, and to me, really disgusting.

On the other hand, I once naievely ordered knackishe (sp?) in a Weinstube in Mainz, and was mortified to see that it was basically raw pork sausage. My husband took one for the team, and switched w/ me. He claimed he enjoyed it!

As to the puzzle, really loved the grid, and the puzzle too. A little bit heavy on my obscurity meter w/ some of the people (as previously noted by many) - but not enough to detract from the overall solve.

Danny 12:45 PM  

10 minutes to even get started, for me a really long time, and then the entire puzzle closed in 3. Once I got rolling it was a breeze, but it felt like I was never going anywhere. Fun puzzle though...especially after yesterday. I ended in the exact same spot as Rex, haggling with TAP/CUP/TARTARS/CAESARS/CASSARS. Knew they were wrong, but kept changing letters.

And there's a part of me that still thinks Brandon Lee was murdered, though that may be the adolescent in me who used to watch 'The Crow' every single day.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Tried Tom CHAPIN (Harrys brother) first before PAXTON. Good Friday, no such thing to complain about

ArtLvr 12:58 PM  

I did this one last night, rather fast for me for a Friday, and enjoyed the layout and most of the fill despite multiple names. My holding out for Claire as in Bloom was a blooper, but I finally got the Bloomer straightened out with AMELIA.

Rex's tale of his stuggles with Tup to confirm the Utmost was hilarious. I'm sure we can all relate to that sort of blind spot!


Andrew R 1:32 PM  

As a history student, Frederick Jackson TURNER was a refreshing gimme in what was a pretty easy puzzle for me. Turner's 1893 "Frontier Thesis" posited that the American nation had been shaped due to westward movement and a conquering of the frontier. The 1890 census was the first to conclude that a frontier "line" was no longer visible, and Turner's thesis would become even more influential considering the decade or so after Turner's thesis was first presented: the Spanish-American War and subsequent colonization of Puerto Rico and Guam and the Philippines were seen as an extension of westward expansion (not to mention the Panama Canal adventure); since the continent had been conquered, Americans looked elsewhere to expand, and Roosevelt's Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine in the early twentieth century reflected what Turner had posited a decade previous. Turner's thesis is still debated today and remains one of the seminal historiographical works of any era.

Thanks, Patrick Berry, for making me refresh myself as to the importance of this gentleman.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:33 PM  

Good Friday puzzle for me. The longer I look at the grid, and read comments on the spiral nature of the answers, the more impressed I become. I am male, but AMELIA and TURNER were my entry points.

Just two write-overs: had End UPAS instead of End USER, and BALMY, a BARMY mistake.

@dk - sounds like you are thinking of Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, but a trip there is called an expedition, of which there are dozens every year, as opposed to Jamborees which are held only every four years, and have never been at Philmont.

Clark 1:55 PM  

@dk -- Apostle Islands. Nowhere have I felt more right with the world than sitting on the shore of Lake Superior looking out into the early morning mist. Enjoy.

I knew the name Bloomer from a famous 1970 contracts case. Shirley MacLaine was supposed to star in a movie version of the musical Bloomer Girl. 20th Century Fox decided not to make the movie and tried to weasel out of its contract with Ms. MacLaine (which explicity provided that she would be paid whether or not they chose to make the movie). She prevailed in the end. Surprising to me that the studio litigated such a weak case, but it did go all the way to the California Supreme Court, and there was a dissenting opinion. Just shows that a lot of lawyers don't know their contract law. But, for all that, I couldn’t for the life of me remember Bloomer’s first name. Had to get it from crosses.

mac 1:56 PM  

Beautiful Friday puzzle, a real Berry. I also lucked out with some of the long answers, which of course makes an enormous difference. Some of the names were so completely unknown to me that I just let the letters fall and they were right! I spent the most time on the central part, Keebler, Peke, line drive..... Had to cobble it together much too slowly.

@Artlvr: I also thought of Claire Bloom, but then remembered Amelia.

I'm meeting Greene and imsdave and their wives later, in the theater district!

fergus 1:57 PM  

Someone recently mentioned that there was (essentially) no such thing as a J in Italian, so even though I'd dropped in the J, I was suspicious. Suspicious also of putting a LEMON in my Fruit Salad. Grinding a BURR, while I Mulled and Fussed over whether I should get up and check that box of Kleenex for a symbol of a tree.

Extended dry spell after whizzing through most of the top half. Then I RALLIED. Letting go of the legal oath led to BLEEPS, back to court, the lovely SPIRAL STAIRCASE, and done.

Only clunky Clue was Fast hits. I suppose it achieved its misdirection, though.

Melissa 2:06 PM  

rex your bullet for 36d: taxcut crosses barmy so nytimes leftist LMFAO awesome

Clark 2:21 PM  

@Ulrich -- Seems to me that the way ibid is used bibliographically it is equivalent to ditto. I drop a footnote citing a source. In the next footnote I make the identical citation, I cite to the same place. Bibliographically it's a ditto. (I'm sure I'm not the only one who puts a ditto sign (") in my draft footnotes as shorthand for ibid.)

retired_chemist 2:22 PM  

@ fergus - I didn't see any misdirection in 25A Fast hits => LINE DRIVES. Am I missing something?

PurpleGuy 2:27 PM  

Enjoyed steak tartarre on the second levelof the Eiffel Tower during a choir concert tour of France.
I still make it during the hot summers here in Phoenix. Nice cool meal.
Was my mom's favorite,and she lived to a ripe 99.
Always made sure my meat was fresh. Knew the butcher.

still_learnin 2:27 PM  

A long slog for me. Like Rex, I got hung up with CUP/TAP and tried any number of combinations. I never did get TARTARS because I'd never heard of BARMY. I always thought the Brits were saying BALMY, not BARMY. Are these interchangeable? Have I been mis-hearing? Inquiring minds want to know.

chefwen 2:35 PM  

I am terrible with names so I sadly had to kiss my google free week goodbye. After a couple of "assists" the rest fell into place rather nicely.

@Ulrigh - when we lived in Wisconsin we would always have steak tartare on New Years Day. There they serve it on rye bread and called them Cannibal Sandwiches. I held off on topping it with raw egg and just added more raw onions.

Whenever I think of spiral staircases I think of falling down one and darn near killing myself. Bruises where I didn't know I had places. OUCH!

poc 2:37 PM  

I have to say this was one of the toughest puzzles I've seen in a long time, way beyond Medium even for a Friday. It didn't help that PISTONS, KEEBLER, CAMPOREE, SYMS, TURNER and GUSTAVE were all unknown to me.

However the fill was all very solid (except for GARBS; I'm not sure that really exists).

XMAN 3:03 PM  

Hey, poc: Think of it this way: They wore the distinctive garbs of serf and man and knight.

fikink 3:10 PM  

@poc, Xman - I thought the clue was a verb, as is GARBS. As in, "She garbs herself in black and talks of the death of the theatre."

mccoll 3:11 PM  

Pretty easy for a Friday. I took 40 minutes or so without any errors or googles.Homing in on the long answers really helped. GOVERNMENT ISSUE and SEE YOU IN COURT looked after the top and the bottom and BRANDON LEE got me through the middle. Most Brits will say balmy rather than barmy but TALTARS don't exist. So.... It's hard to believe that someone could finish this puzzle in under five minutes even on the computer. Enjoyable! Thanks PB and thanks Rex.

Shamik 3:29 PM  

What is it about doing this puzzle and being all kinds of happy that I finished the puzzle with one letter error (TUP/UTMOST)...and it was the same one Rex got and for all the same reasons? Still, a medium time for me on a Friday at 15:17.

Shamik 3:37 PM  

@Purple Guy: Steak tartare in Phoenix in the summer...please make sure your air conditioner is cranking cool! When I was a child in Stamford, would get fresh meat from the butcher and mix it just with some chopped onion, serve open-faced on rye bread and we just called them "tasty sandwiches." Didn't learn of steak tartare 'til I was an adult.

Doug 3:44 PM  

Ring Contents: Started with KOS, moved to MAT, then to HAT.

The whole middle was a big hole so my grid looked like a doughnut. YELP!

And just when I thought I had seen every clue for ULNA, yet another materializes.

grouchonyy 3:51 PM  

I'm shocked more people hadn't heard of the Turner thesis through any reasonable American History class. It is anything but obscure.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Tom Paxton in the puzzle, but ... it was the last thing on my mind ... as I first tried Tom Lehrer.

janie 4:13 PM  

tmi: until my senior year of college when i became (and graduated as) a theatre major, i was an american studies major. why?

one reason was that as a high-school junior we had to read (yes...) the turner thesis (the link will take you to an on-line copy of the complete text). i've always had a romantic notion of the american west and the frontier movement, and this fed into it.

so (yes) this was a gimme for me, too, in one beauty of a puzzle.

hope mac and greene and imsdave have a swell time at the theatre tonight!


andrea bleeps michaels 4:15 PM  

drat! Always one mistake.
I had BUNT for BUTT!!!
I thought it was a boy term for grinding some hit out in baseball
(as I originally put it LONGDRIVE)

I'm more of a fading feminist than a budding one so I had to get AMELIA one letter at a time!

I thought the SYMS thing was a ref to SIMS like when they spliced in modern folks singing with Frank as if they were real there I got a right answer for the wrong reason, which remains unnamed!

Maybe I'll call them SYMS bec they simulate right answers, but based on ignorance, creativity and wrongness but hunches. Hmmmm, that could be every answer I make!

Knowing there is no J really in Italian helped me get the asfarasi'mconcernedmadeupword CAMPOREE, obviously derived from JAMBOREE, so we are all recused.

So much overlapped in areas like the AN in hANsom and lANdau that it was hard to untie, or the aforementioned LoNg for LiNe, that it was twisty...

@jane W
I had YOYO till almost the end...YOYO MA, tho not a toy, per se, is probably the only amusement from China that is not lead-based and deadly when swallowed.

how cool you noticed how the grid reflected the view from the top of a spiralstaircase!

For the reasons you stated, IBID is not acceptable in Scrabble :( as it is really AD IBIDEM...
but IBID has been around a LONG time in crosswords.
Scrabble lesson: so IBIDEM is ok, as is IDEM, but not IBID. Go figure.

Ims Greene with envy of the fun you will have on your Bdway jaunt, but too busy packing for a week in the Apostle Islands. ;)

fergus 4:15 PM  

r_c -- First thought of Fast hits as songs that rise quickly on the charts, then something to do with boxing, then websites, since I already had DRIVES, golf? Then something along the lines of colorFAST; being on a Fast from food, a couple bong loads at speed, NASCAR, back to the Hit Parade. So, I felt the misdirection. Maybe because I'm a baseball purist and frozen ropes have never appeared to me as Fast hits. Sufficient explanation?

Mike 4:19 PM  

Made almost all the same mistakes as those mentioned here. Went down a wrong avenue for a while when I used PILEDRIVES in places of LINEDRIVES. I remember thinking "Pile drives aren't necessarily fast..." but filled it in anyway and went on my way.

Had other problems in the middle. Asked my wife for a toy from China, and she replied "All of them?"

retired_chemist 4:20 PM  

@ fergus - done and done. TYVM.

jae 4:22 PM  

I too found this on the easy side with the south more than a tad easier than the north. My last entries were first to change the B to P in JAMBOREE and then to change the J to C. Fine, fun puzzle, thank PB.

PhillySolver 4:28 PM  

Knew the TURNER clue ( one of very few fills after the first pass) from HS history also. We talked about it for an entire class and then had to answer an essay question on his theory. Later, I learned some of it didn't have much supporting evidence despite its apparent logic. I enjoyed the puzzle, but it did take awhile to finish it.

Steak tartare was a friend's favorite starter at a club in London. It was those couple of meals with him that now disqualifies me as a blood donor since a variety of diseases were attributed to raw beef in Britain in the 1990's. I prefer carpaccio today and trips to Italy are not complete without it.

Ulrich 4:30 PM  

To all fellow Tartars: My inability to predict which remark of mine will or will not draw a response has been confirmed, once again, by the responses to my mentioning steak tartare--I was sure that it would disappear into some blogger black hole.

A few additional remarks, as it is such a fascinating subject:) Price--it's expensive b/c it's supposed to be made from the choicest cut--not any old hamburger will do--real steak lovers, of course, are appalled--why ruin a perfect piece of meat? Ingredients: I forgot the onion, finely minced--definitely. And the egg was supposed to be mixed under with the rest of them.

@Andrea: Thx, it's good to be right, even if it may be for the wrong reason--have fun with the Apostles...

Horace Greeley 4:42 PM  

Ashamed to say I didn't know Turner. Made a quick scan of his work, and was left in awe. An entire thesis dedicated to the point that people will go after Free Stuff! Perhaps even risk life and limb! People who've got plenty of stuff are less likely to risk life and limb for free stuff than people who are lacking! How could I have missed this?

poc 5:05 PM  

@fikink and @Xman: you both make cogent points.

@mccoll: both balmy and barmy are used. I wouldn't care to say which is more common. In Ireland we have a delicious bread called barm brack, where "barm" is the froth formed on fermenting alcohol. I suspect the term for "mentally frothy" derives from the same source.

Sandy 5:07 PM  

Amelia was the first thing I wrote in.

Tap was the last. Rex stood by and watched interestedly while I figured it out.

I have a PhD in history, so have heard of Turner, but also teach HS history in NY, and am not at all surprised that some people haven't heard of him. He was a long time ago and the field of western history has gone in many different (and more interesting) directions since, including to question to very concept of "frontier."

CK 5:13 PM  

A couple vague thoughts - I know I have seen some iteration of this SPIRALSTAIRCASE clue somewhere as a "favorite." Something like, 'You have to go around it to get up' or something. Sound familiar? Secondly, SLAMDANCES does not cut it for me. Sounds like something that was organized in the late 80s-early 90s with chaperones. I have been among people 'slamdancing' but never described (a?) slamdance as an activity I was involved in. Finally, to your point of BRANDON LEE's death, there was a special on one of the "educational" channels (TLC, Disc, etc.) once that traced the path of the bullet throughout its existence and basically showed how it came to be in a gun mistakenly. Interesting.

CK 5:15 PM  

Oh, and Patrick Berry makes my life worth living.

Two Ponies 5:20 PM  

@ Horace Greeley - Good one!
As one who likes a steak so rare it's barely dead I really must give tartare a go. I'll make my own from my favorite butcher but is the grind coarser than hamburger (I hope)?

Ulrich 5:31 PM  

@Two ponies: I don't think the coarseness matters that much: When you're done with mushing all ingredients together, the texture will probably resemble raw kibbee in a way--another raw ground meat dish I adored before I developed pronounced meat allergies.

Three and out...

PurpleGuy 5:54 PM  

All this talk about steak tartare made me go to my butcher for it. Just had it for a nice lunch(yes there is a 3 hour time difference in Phoenix).

@Chefwen- my dad used to put ground steak on rye bread with Wostershire sauce,onions, mustard,etc.and calledit a Cannibal Sandwich. I thought it was his own name for it. Anice memory from growing up on L.I. in NY.

@Shamik- with the temperatures we've been having, of course the air is really cranked up !

PlantieBea 6:10 PM  

@chefwen, purple guy: I grew up in Wisconsin, and we too called steak tartare on bread a cannibal sandwich. My parents used to make them by grinding up beef tenderloin with a bit of olive oil and salt, and maybe a touch of lemon (?). This was spooned onto small bread rounds and topped with chopped onion. Pretty yummy as I remember it, although it's a dish I haven't eaten in years.

fergus 6:26 PM  

That Vertigo staircase was a good observation, as I looked at the grid from afar.

r_c -- TYVM? Is that some text code common knowledge? I read the current Wired this morning about current tech etiquette, and felt quite the fuddy-duddy.

On the other hand I can sing the KEEBLER cookie jingle.

JannieB 7:07 PM  

Loved this puzzle - the grid was amazing, the fill was lots of fun. I like proper names in my puzzles - they usually give me a toehold when I'm staring a large expanses of white. Amelia, Peke and d'etre and Dan'l opened the entire northern hemisphere for me. The south was more of a struggle but Sue and Brandon again came to my rescue.

Really a great solving experience. Thanks!

SethG 7:14 PM  

@CK, Will Shortz' all-time favorite clue was "It turns into a different story".

There's a KEEBLER bit here.

@Ulrich, my dictionary says ditto is "a thing mentioned previously or above", and ibidem is "in the same place". Since the thing mentioned above in a bibliography is a place, I guess I don't see how these aren't substitutable. Good thing I rarely need to bibliog.

Oscar 7:34 PM  

Tough but fair. Solved it top, middle, bottom, FWIW. Put in CAVITY at 2D (and took it out) several times, and had PIRATES at 19D for far too long.

Is there anything Patrick Berry can't do?

treedweller 7:57 PM  

In the interest of full disclosure, I just noticed that my time was a couple of minutes and change over 20. Still really good for me, but not quite what I stated. I still don't know why I had an easy time when others struggled, but I'll take it where I can.

Glitch 8:20 PM  


TYVM = Thank You Very Much


PS @Rex - Researched this.

sillygoose 9:22 PM  

I did it! I finished my first Friday puzzle all by myself, no mistakes (in just over 30 minutes). Thanks Patrick Berry!

Thanks also to everyone who said I would get there eventually. This blog has helped me so much, both in solving ability and in enjoyment of the puzzle itself.

I had guessed Vandals for TARTARS which gave me Van for TAP (which made total sense at that moment), but at least that gave me the A for ATMOST. C in CAMPOREE last letter for me.

I knew the TNN-->Spike TV because my husband used to tease me for watching a show on "Spike Tv for Men" but now I've got him watching a sitcom on WE Tv for Women, ha ha.

fergus 9:29 PM  

I try to stay current, but at 51, I pretend to show awareness of the things that interest our youth culture. I'm not a fraud, as my 13 year-old son would attest, not because I don't Twitter but because we play different games.

OK, the essence is that symbols create language and characters are formed -- like Wired cunieform.

mac 9:38 PM  

@andrea: just imagining you with the apostles and LOL! Are you home now? How are the roommates?

Barmy is an English expression for loony, and balmy is not. I think balmy means the same as it does here.

I had a wonderful time with imsdave and his lovely, bright and very personable wife Julie, and with Greene, our site's Theatre expert. He is here for a week and he is going to see 9 shows! That's more than most locals see in 18 months! He is charming and witty, a lot of fun to be with. He and his family were going to "Hair", Dave and Julie were free(??!?) and I got on the train back to CT for dinner with Machusband and Macson.

Rex Parker 9:42 PM  


1. Having the quality or fragrance of balm; soothing.
2. Mild and pleasant: a balmy breeze.
3. Chiefly British Slang. Eccentric in behavior.

michael 9:54 PM  

I knew Turner well, but didn't know Gustave Coubert. Which just is one more example about how we all know different things. Still, I thought Turner was basic high school American history, but then it's been a long time since I was in high school.

Stan 10:06 PM  

Ah, defeated in the NW -- probably because I never doubted that UPN was the predecessor of Spike. But what a distinctive puzzle! No dreck whatsoever... Loved figuring out GOVERNMENTISSUE, PEKE, SEEYOUINCOURT, and BRANDONLEE.

Stan 10:40 PM  

Veering off topic, with 'Max Payne' as the excuse... There is a game called 'Portal' that I highly, highly recommend. Cannot hope to describe -- ask your kids.

XMAN 11:27 PM  

Yo, Rex! You cheated! You looked it up!

Robin 12:42 AM  

@Two Ponies
Peke and Keebler were my first two crackers, too - how random is that? not about to pretend I actually finished it without coming here for help, which leads me to
ya have to love Rex, be in awe of Rex, whatever, but not be scared to death of him - maybe you just need to be way older than he is, like me, to have this perspective. Rex makes my day fairly frequently.
Okay, I know that is all off-puzzle topic, but at least I got "See you in court" without ever seeing the clue for "Sue" even though I am a girl trial lawyer, so now I'm back on topic.
tempted to change my name to RTEX

John L. Welch 6:35 AM  

I don't like Patrick Barry's cluing. But this puzzle wasn't bad. Didn't have the usual wise-guy, obscure, show-offy clues that he usually uses, and he kept the inane, pop culture references to a minimum.

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