Wolverine's alias in X-Men / SAT 7-16-11 / Chinese tree considered living fossil / Sponsor old radio's Little Orphan Annie / Target of mealybug

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: MINORITE (44A: Follower of St. Francis) —

The official Latin name of the Orders of Friars Minor is the Ordo Fratrum Minorum. St. Francis thus referred to his followers as "Fraticelli", meaning "Little Brothers". Franciscan brothers are informally called friars or the Minorites. The modern organization of the Friars Minor now comprises three separate branches: the 'Friars Minor' (OFM); the 'Friars Minor Conventual' (OFM Conv), and the 'Friars Minor Capuchin' (OFM Cap). (wikipedia)
• • •

When I finished this one, I thought, "Wow, nice, easy 70-worder from Patrick Berry." But then I counted: 64 words. 64!? How does anyone get such an astonishingly smooth grid with so low a word count? The grid doesn't shout its level of difficulty at you, but a. those NE and SW corners are huge, and b. there's not a bad entry in the puzzle. Not one. I repeat: not one. Not a single clunker. This is the kind of puzzle that makes even accomplished constructors just shake their heads in amazement. And yet it's probably just about average for Patrick Berry. I'm out of superlatives for this guy.

Thought the puzzle would play hard when I could only stab pathetically at the NW, but then I hit SLED (22A: One drawn to igloos), which led immediately to SHOP (22D: Class of tools?) and LONE (23D: Isolated), which led to ON LEAVE (32A: Not working), PEOPLE (34A: Its first issue featured Mia Farrow on the cover), and then HAVE NO IDEA (24D: Be completely clueless), all in pretty short order. Had trouble with SPOT TEST (not a concept I'm that familiar with) (50: Unscientific means of getting results) and MINORITE (which is embarrassing, as part of my dissertation was about fraternal orders) (44A: Follower of St. Francis), but pieced it all together thanks primarily to SMUSH (39D: Flatten). Floated out of there and up to FLETCHER (English Ph.D. comes in handy, for once) (35A: Shakespeare's collaborator on "The Two Noble Kinsmen"). Got the TREE part of ORANGE TREE (8D: Target of a mealybug), and then BRUISER (33A: Big ox), which allowed me access to that very easy SE corner. The NE corner then stood dauntingly before me, but I had an ace in the HOLE (CARD) (25A: It's shown to a caller)—not only have I seen "A Christmas Story" a billion times, but I've even used "Be sure to drink your OVALTINE" (the message Ralphie discovers using his Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring) on this blog (at least once) to make fun of hidden message puzzles (17A: Sponsor of old radio's "Little Orphan Annie"). With OVALTINE a big fat gimme, I got PAVING (7D: Covering a lot), and then everything came together from there. Then it was back, finally, to that pesky NW, where ANKLE DEEP came easily (4D: Like the water in inflatable kiddie pools, typically). DONATELLO was just a guess off the -ELLO (3D: Famous relief worker?). Piece of cake from there on out.

  • 1A: Mechanisms not meant to be handled (PEDALS) — Nice, literal clue.
  • 7A: I.B.M. processor type found in Nintendo's Wii (POWER PC) — thought this would be something super-techie, but turns out it's just the processor from my mid-'90s Mac.
  • 16A: Chinese tree considered a living fossil (GINKGO)GINGKO is how I would've spelled it. Speaking of living fossils, [insert joke about some old person here].
  • 20A: A, in the hexadecimal number system (TEN) — if you say so. No idea how / why this is right.
  • 39A: Like some short-lived romances (SHIPBOARD) — love that this answer sits under IN LOVE (36A: One way to fall). Only wish CAPTAIN STUBING or CHARO were somewhere nearby.

  • 49A: His statue once graced the Cortile del Belvedere (APOLLO) — never saw the clue. Blew through the corner too fast.
  • 51A: Literary character fathered by an incubus (MERLIN) — this reminds me that I probably better get my Arthurian Lit syllabus sorted out soon. Classes start again in just six weeks and my books aren't even ordered (typical)
  • 1D: Litter producers, in two different senses (PIGS) — I get the piglet sense, but ... how else do they produce "litter?" Oh, it's a different meaning of PIG? Like ... a slob?
  • 5D: Wolverine's alias in "X-Men" (LOGAN) — I don't really read Marvel comics, or see the movies, but somehow my gut knew this. I say "my gut" and not "I" because "I" didn't trust it. Gut: "LOGAN!" Me: "Pfft, what do you know?"
  • 6D: "He who meanly admires mean things," per Thackeray (SNOB) — another case of gut being right and brain overriding (initially).
  • 13D: Political rival of Pericles (CLEON) — I wanted this to be CREON. Isn't CREON somebody? (Yes, ruler of Thebes, major character in "Antigone") CLEON sounds like a handyman or landlord.
  • 47D: Pearl S. Buck's sequel to "The Good Earth" ("SONS") — whoa. Just as well I never saw this clue. No idea!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. if you are a Google or Blogger engineer or understand how Google's search engine algorithms work, could you give me a holler (at my posted email address). I am having issues with how Google is treating my site the past few days, and I have No idea why (other search engines=no problems). [To be specific, pages for individual days, which are normally what show up when people do clue searches, have either disappeared or been seriously downgraded (well out of sight) in search rank—weird, as Google *owns* Blogger ...] Thx.


foodie 12:22 AM  

Take what Rex did, starting with SLED and moving on from there, put it in slow motion, and that would be me. It really was amazingly similar, along with some of the same thoughts, e.g. admiring IN LOVE atop SHIPBOARD.

One thought that may have been original to me: Instead of MINRORITE, I kept thinking MARONITE... it was hard to suppress, as it was much more familiar.

The combination of answers of middle length (no 15mers but also very few trios) makes for a unique solving experience-- a satisfying unfolding, with no huge breakthroughs, but also no frustrating dead ends.

What's remarkable is how this was done without relying on obscure factoids. Basically, the puzzle says: think, and you can complete me.

Elegant work!

bucksix 12:33 AM  

The hexadecimal number system is based on 16 rather than 10. So to represent values from 10 through 15 we use the letters a through f.

Noam D. Elkies 12:38 AM  

Hexadecimal = base 16, so we run out of digits after reaching 9. The digits 20A:TEN, eleven, ..., fifteen are conventionally denoted A,B,...,F (or a,b,...,f). Google 3735928559 if you dare.


jae 12:44 AM  

Great grid! Just what a Sat. should be. SE was on the easy side but the North was on the tough side of Med. so, Med. over all for me. I too had spelling problems with GINKGO and needed some input from my bride to get it fixed. I don't think I've seen a grid as free of clunkers as this on. Even BLVD seems OK. I mean it's not RTE, or AVE., or RDS, .... Pretty amazing!

I skip M-W 2:23 AM  

Yes, very good puzzle, but left me struggling for quite a while in NE and SW. Had Solon before Cr/leon, smash before smush, snap test before spot test, which in my view is not necessarily unscientific. Ovaltine and parasail took a long time, as I thought the latter was going to be the name of a fly casting type of fly. Forest and blvd, did lead to Fletcher. Ten was one of the few gimmes, but "have no idea" was also. Had robots before pedals, but then put in sows before pigs.
so challenging , but very satisfying when finished correctly.

andrea calibrate michaels 2:35 AM  

Had sybaRITES before MINORITES, could I have been MORE wrong??? And of course ST Francis is my idol and patron saint of my town...so, boo.

I also thought Gloria might be a Hyena (to go with sYbarite) which accidentally gave me SHIPBOARD, as I had crASH/cardBOARD romances!!!
I thought it might be something I'd never heard of, but I should know better than that, it's Patrick Berry!

And my final dumb error was SkALAB
(I tried SkyLAB, but I knew DONATELLO had to be right) but never recovered from SkALAB. My usual one square error!
SkALAB are man-made habitats made by Rastafarians.

Ditto on GINgkO...and whatever mealybugs are just the word alone makes my skin crawl.

jae 2:38 AM  

That should have been "as this one."

John Fletcher 6:31 AM  

The Two Noble Kinsmen
Act I, Scene 1

PALAMON: Your advice
Is cried up with example. What strange ruins
Since first we went to school may we perceive
Walking in Thebes? Scars and bare weeds
The gain o'th' martialist who did propound
To his bold ends honor and golden ingots,
Which though he won, he had not; and now flirted
By peace for whom he fought. Who then shall offer
To Mars's so-scorned altar? I do bleed….
When such I meet, and wish great Juno would
Resume her ancient fit of jealousy
To get the soldier work, that peace might purge
For her repletion and retain anew
Her charitable heart, now hard and harsher
Than strife or war could be.

Alfred Mosher Butts 7:39 AM  

Scrabble Sign will be back, near Community United Methodist Church, former site of Lollapuzzoola .

dk 7:49 AM  

Oflate for TODATE and scilab for SEALAB even thou I have been to Both Fort ERIE and Henry.

Otherwise a solid Saturday. One thing that made this one go well was I just wrote in what I thought with little or no second guessing. HANGERSON and ANKLEDEEP are 2 examples. I had no crosses I just trusted my puzzle sense and trusted that Mr. Berry would not toss in a "clunker."

What Rex said for the puzzle itself and so.... drum roll.

**** (4 Stars) No walk out here. For those who track such things (ok I know I am the only one) this is the third 4 star rating in a row. Must be the full moon.

No BS 8:02 AM  

Well, OK, undeniably a great puzzle, but is Smush really a word? I had Smash and Apgrades. Figured this was some teaching software for late adolescent overachievers. Oh well. I did it quick, even if with a wrong square.

Leslie 8:12 AM  

"No BS," I was thinking of SMUSH, too, but in the sense of "Oh, please let it be SMUSH!! Pretty, pretty please!" I love it when puzzles have words like that.

I, too, reversed the K and G in GINKGO, but that was also my first fill. Was really scared of 1A and 2A, but then they turned out to be not so hard to answer once I had PIGS and OVALTINE.

Had BULLOCK instead of BRUISER, but that was a quick fix when I realized it couldn't go with TEES and ERRS.

CALIBRATE's just a good word. In the language, not really hard, but not often seen, either.

Nancy in PA 8:26 AM  

Surely I'm not the only one who took "follower of St. Francis" literally and wrote "of Assisi." Well, it worked until FOREST made it impossible. This is just a lovely lovely puzzle. I think HANGERSON is my favorite.

Glimmerglass 8:30 AM  

Excellent Saturday puzzle, accurate review. I had one letter wrong. Can't spell GINKGO and my Marvel Comics experience predates the X-Men. So I had ginkho and Lohan (maybe I was thinking of Lindsey). Otherwise, challenging but doable. Perfect for a Saturday.

optionsgeek 8:43 AM  

I'm not a Google engineer, but I recall a kerfuffle a couple two-tree (Chicagoese, google it) months back when Google changed it's algos. Something to do with adding search terms at the top of the page. It was meant to punish some low-grade content bucket shops that were pumping out the page views by simply sprinkling search term across their pages with little else. You might want to check up on that.

David L 8:57 AM  

Very nice -- I thought it was going to be hard, but once I got started I cruised along, quadrant by quadrant, and ended up with a easy/medium time.

Don't know HOLECARD (poker??), but one I really don't understand is SPOTTEST. If you google "spot test" you come up with a whole bunch of references to chemical/biological/allergenic testing methods that seem very scientific indeed. CSI like, in fact. So I don't know what the SPOT TEST in this puzzle refers to.

evil doug 9:25 AM  

Banya (reading): Why do they call it Ovaltine? The mug is round. The jar is round. They should call it Roundtine. That's gold, Jerry! Gold!

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Given the clue --- "Unscientific means of getting results" --- it seems likely that "spot test" is being interpreted (incorrectly) as synonymous with "spot check."

Answers.com defines spot test as "the addition of a drop of reagent to a drop or two of sample solution to obtain distinctive colors or precipitates; used in qualitative analysis."

Whereas "spot check" is "an inspection or investigation that is carried out at random or limited to a few instances."

Anyway, I much prefer my initial answer "coin toss," which kept me from getting the southwest for quite a while . . .

chefbea 9:54 AM  

Hand up for smash

Hand up for of assisi

and I wanted 41 down to be aspic!!

Roxie 9:54 AM  

NE corner ruined me. I had Ovaltine, Raided, Pinto, Orange tree and hangers-on, but wrote bolted out instead of walked out. That gave me the reasonable hinted to instead of linked to. Put roving instead of paving and figured the Wii pc must have been named after someone. Had no idea about sailing or Goldwyn. Torosail and Toland seemed wrong but ran out of time. Now off to yoga to put it out of my mind.

Aaron Abrams 9:55 AM  

A milestone for me: my first ever completed Saturday, without a single wrong square, without a single google or hint from the app. Woohoo! Worthy of a hello to this blog, of which I'm a (long-invisible) fan.

chefbea 9:57 AM  

@evil doug check this out


David 10:25 AM  

wonderful puzzle - a few months ago before I found this blog I knew nothing of any of the constructors, now I get very excited when I see Patrick Berry's name up top. For me his puzzles are like drinking great Belgian beers - just huge waves of satisfaction as you enjoy the experience of solving.

Only 2 3-letter answers, one of which has taught me something about a hexidecimal number system, the other was almost a writeover (thought about LOO for LAV). All the 8, 9 and 10 letter groupings were terrific. Favorite answers were HOLECARD, SHIPBOARD/INLOVE, ANKLEDEEP and HANGERSON.

One quick writeover, SMUSH for SMASH.

joho 11:10 AM  

Lots to do this morning so I was happy to complete the puzzle in good time and was on my way to the computer when the power went out. So I went out for a powerwalk. Here I am much later to chime in with my LOVE for this puzzle!

I too, had GINgkO at first. SMaSH before the much more fun SMUSH. And errors in the end. I never changed SkyLAB. So I had the very wrong ERIk and DONyTELLO!

Patrick Berry, nobody does it like you!

Congratulations, @Aaron Abrams, you should be very proud of yourself. Speak up more often!

dk 11:14 AM  

We shall create a new order: The Roundtine. St. E. Doug will be our patron. Somehow we will work SMUSH into our motto.

Tobias Duncan 11:21 AM  

Was about to agree with anon 9:47
but Websters says its fine...http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spot%20test

David L 11:21 AM  

@anon 9:47: I think you are correct about the confusion between spot test and spot check.

David L 11:24 AM  

@ Tobias: Simultaneous posting! Thanks for the MW reference -- but that definition doesn't imply anything about the tests themselves being unscientific.

Sparky 11:53 AM  

2 mistakes GINKhO like @ Glimmerglass and SMaSH since aPGRADES made sense to me. I was really pleased with this puzzle. Solving went so well. Now I understand why from reading @Rex and others. This week I have printed it out at night and solved late. It's gone very well. Perhaps my brain works better late. I think the NOUTURN puzz, which ticked me off, taught me to think more sidewise with clues and that helps. In any event, it's been a good week. I have Sunday already and am tempted to give it a run. Good weekend everyone. Thanks.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

What the heck is a "hole card?"

syndy 12:51 PM  

GINGHO-SOLON-SKYLAB-ATTILA-LEMUR? made this one not so easy!Never heard of FLETCHER or the TWO NOBLES! (can't wait to explore)Completed grid is so smooth WHAT WAS the hangup?BERRY's the Boss

Stan 1:11 PM  

Beautifully done, I redundantly add. What a good week!

@Aaron Abrams: Good for you! This took us forever (at first) with lots of discussion though no Googles.

I used to work at 34A. The Mia Farrow issue is very rare and valuable. Look at how classy it seemed in 1974, before the whole culture schussed down the slope of idiotic celebrity worship.

Matthew G. 1:33 PM  

A smooth, satisfying solve, and one of my two or three fastest Saturday times. Only Patrick Berry can make a puzzle that is this Saturday-easy but also so fresh and engaging.

Proudest moment of the solve: guessing DONATELLO off of just the T. Loved that clue. Contra Rex, the clue for TEN was the biggest gimme of the puzzle for me and TEN was my first grid entry.

The only thing that kept me from setting a personal Saturday record was the SW, where I tried RHINO instead of HIPPO and SPIT TEST instead of SPOT TEST, and was unfamiliar with the term MINORITE. It all eventually clicked, though.

@Anon 12:23 pm: a HOLE CARD, in poker, is a card that you keep face down and hidden from your opponents. But when your bet is called, you have to reveal it.

Tupelo Slim 1:46 PM  

Anon @12:23, a HOLE CARD in various poker games is a card that is dealt face down to a player, and only he or she knows what it is. The remaining cards are dealt face up for all to see.

The challenge is to figure out what each player has "in the hole", rate their overall hand's strength, and bet accordingly.

jackj 2:29 PM  

Patrick Berry shows us again why he is the best!

The only piece of the puzzle which was slightly troubling came at divining the answer as SMASH, SMUSH, or CRUSH at 39 down. When you eliminate CHIPBOARD as not being remotely romantic, that makes one choose SMUSH or APGRADES; no contest.

GINKGO trees are wonderful and the 50 foot beauty next to my house is an absolute treasure. When planting a ginkgo, one must determine whether it is a male or female specimen. Ginkgoes of the female persuasion bear fruit which rivals the dreaded “corpse flower” for foul aroma. The only saving grace (?) is that the ginkgo’s odor is of vomit, not rotting flesh. Caveat emptor- Buy from a nursery, don’t plant from seed.

@Aaron Abrams- Way to go! Don’t be a stranger.

Chip Hilton 2:33 PM  

Alt. clue for 13d: Jones of '69 Mets (I'm looking for a way to avoid one of 2 errors today. The crossing of POWERPC and CLEON did me in. And like @Glimmerglass, I went with GINKHO and LOHAN.) In all, a very impressive puzzle, beautifully clued throughout.

hazel 3:31 PM  

there were lots and lots of things i did not know in this puzzle, and some of these things crossed each other - so no amount of thinking could get me out of the jam i was in. i had to call in a reliever, who helped me finish the game, even though we (technically) lost. i had FROMTHEHOSE and NOTTOODEEP before I eventually penciled in ANKLEDEEP off of the freaking K in GINGKO, which I Annoyingly needed help with. just an example of one of the many places i erred and re-erred.

still a beautiful puzzle.

600 4:10 PM  

Coming here today has not made me feel good. This puzzle was a hard, hard slog for me, in fact defeated me--by that I mean I had to Google three times to finish. I've seen Christmas Story, but forgot Ovaltine, had nothing else to try after "of Assisi," and didn't know anything about Gloria in Madagascar. Crosses didn't help, and so . . . Google.

Even Google was no help on HOLECARD. Thank goodness someone else has asked and answered. Hurrah one more time for this blog, even if today it made me feel pretty stupid to come here and find Rex's rating "Easy/Medium" and most others glowing about what a neat solve it was.

Anonymous 5:57 PM  

When you purchase many cleansers, the advice on the packaging often tells you to do a "spot test". For a carpet cleaner, for instance, you would find an out-of-the-way section of carpet, spray on the cleanser, and see if it causes discoloration etc. If it seems safe, you could then use the product on a conspicuous area of carpet. Rather unscientific, I'd say.

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

Many dictionaries list gingko and ginkgo as alternate spellings. This is often a problem in puzzles--not knowing which way to go if you don't know the crosses.

r.alphbunker 8:13 PM  

Its been a tough week at work. Three hours of sleep last night. Feeling tired when I started the puzzle but exhilarated at the end. PB is amazing! Had to google PEOPLE to finish the NW.

cody.riggs 9:36 PM  

Wow. What a breath of fresh air after yesterday. Just lovely. Agree w/Rex 100%...and only TWO 3-letter words...and they were instantly gettable! This was probably my fastest Saturday time ever, BTW. Normally I'd feel cheated by that, but c'mon...this was delightful.

Portland, Ore.

cody.riggs 9:40 PM  

Oh, and favorite answer (except all the rest!): SMUSH. I have Never seen that word spelt out before. Love it!

mac 10:20 PM  

Fantastic puzzle!
For a moment I had "hanged" for 24A, swinging, say....

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

@600 -- you're not alone. Two separate sittings and one google. Oh well. There's always tomorrow.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

I don't do Saturday puzzles! Too hard; but managed to get 3/4's of this one, minus the NE corner.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

It is days like today that I just let my jaw drop in amazement at the intelligence of others. Easy-medium? EASY-MEDIUM???? I saw one entry in this whole grid that I could put in: TESS. Not another single word could I divine anywhere. Challenging would be too tame a rating for me. Try Impossible. There was just nothing I could do. I thought, maybe, the answer to 34a might be PEOPLE, but wasn't sure, and couldn't verify that from any of the crosses. Patrick, I'd love to join the rest of these folks in complimenting an evidently great grid, but it just flew way, WAY over this cuckoo's nest.

captcha=sconr: Bernie Madoff's pleasure boat.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

Nice puzzle. Any words/phrases I didn't know or didn't know how to spell were eventually uncovered with crosses.

Had OF ASISSI causing problems at 44a for quite a while before it dawned on me that the word 'of' was in the clue and shouldn't be part of the answer.

Also in SW, hand up for SMASH/APGRADES briefly. If "Apgrade" isn't a word yet it will be soon. I finally decided that SMASH doesn't really mean flatten and switched to the U.

Only error in the end was at 45a not considering the plural and instead spelling MOTIF with two F's. As a result I thought 47d would be FINS, until APPOLO appeared, so I adjusted to FONS. I don't know what FONS are but I know that authors make up words all the time so what the hell. If I had a gun to my head and my life depended on a perfect solve I suppose I would have double-checked my answers and eventually changed that F to an S, but as this has been a typically uneventful Saturday morning no such threats were made.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

The Wikipedia article posted above fails to mention that Ovaltine used to come in crystal from. At some point they switched from crystals to powder. Yeah, it dissolves better in milk now, but I kind of miss those crunchy spoonfuls at the end of the glass.

captcha: napsomen. I saw them open for Eek-a-Mouse back in the '80s.

Waxy in Montreal 9:33 PM  

Initial entries of CRUSH for SMUSH, UPLOADED for UPGRADES & LEFTEARLY for WALKEDOUT certainly slowed things down for me as well as never having heard of FLETCHER as a Shakespearean collaborator. On the other hand, as a onetime programmer on a hex-based UNIVAC mainframe, TEN was a gimme as was POLAND having recently watched a TV bio of Sam Goldwyn. And by any calibration, this puzzle rates a TEN - thanks Patrick Berry!

Captcha=KEDLE, what Polly put on when she has a really bad cold?

Andrew 3:19 PM  

To tell the truth, I was a bit disappointed by this puzzle. It was just *way* to easy. The Saturday puzzle is normally a tough slog for me, requiring at least 2 hours over multiple sessions. This one took me 15 minutes max, sending me off to the recycling to look for Friday's (hopefully) tougher puzzle.

Carl Kaun 2:33 PM  

OK, so I use the syndicated feature, and I'm not the greatest solver in the world, but I found this puzzle impossibly difficult. And usually I can track Rex's performance, albeit in a less timely manner. Even knowing 'ginkgo' and using google to look up some answers, I could not find a way to get traction on this puzzle. The name of the IBM processor in the Wii is the Broadway, mealybugs infect citrus trees in general, pintos are not generally thought to be many-colored, green acres are more likely to be fields than forests, etc. & etc. Grrr, I'm just angry about this one.

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