Sleep in British slang / FRI 8-19-11 / 1984 film starring Tom Selleck as a jewel thief / Company behind 1960s yo-yo craze / Wild West show headgear

Friday, August 19, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: DOSS (22D: Sleep, in British slang) —

Chiefly British Slang.
  1. Sleep; rest.
  2. A crude or makeshift bed.
intr.v., dossed, doss·ing, doss·es.
To go to bed, especially in a crude or makeshift bed; sleep.

[Perhaps alteration of dorse, back, from Latin dorsum.]

• • •

I do love a Friday Patrick Berry puzzle. I know it will (probably) be easy enough that my focus will be on appreciating it rather than cursing it for its brutality. Actually, I rarely find Berry puzzles brutal, mainly because I know that in the end, the grid will be populated almost entirely by real words, names, and phrases, and very little forced or seemingly made-up baloney. But Fridays are a nice difficulty level at which to enjoy the Berry artistry. Today's puzzle started out Very easy, then became less so, finally ending (in the NE) in not-at-all easy. For reasons I don't completely understand myself, I've been compiling a giant playlist on Spotify composed entirely of Top 40 hits from 1978-1980. A formative musical era for me. I listened to lots and lots and lots of Pop and Rock radio–my primary entertainment at a time when we had no cable TV, and obviously no internet, no VCR (let alone DVD player or DVR). We got our first video game console some time in that period, but I was still years away from a Walkman, years away from seeing MTV for the first time. So: radio. This is a roundabout way of saying "ESCAPE" was a flat-out gimme (1A: Actual title of the 1979 #1 hit known as "The Piña Colada Song"). I'd heard it some time in the past week while putting together my playlist. I actually think Rupert Holmes's other hit, "Him," is a superior song (perhaps because I *am* into yoga), but "ESCAPE" is obviously legendary. From there, the NW fell like a "Jersey Shore" cast member.

SW was kind of hard to get into, but I finally used REMET and UNLIT to get FLAMENCO (49A: Foot-stomping music), and then things weren't too bad down there. Not sure why I know MRS. SMITH (36A: Lady famous for piemaking), but I confirmed her with ECHO, and then the SE proved the easiest corner of all (down in about 30 seconds). Toughest section by far was the NE. It was so tough that I had trouble even after getting Every Single Short (5-ltr) Down *and* ADAM WEST (7A: "Family Guy" mayor, or the actor providing his voice) and DOOLITTLE (22A: Higgins's pupil in elocution). Thank god I knew ADAM WEST, by the way. Dumb luck I've watched "Family Guy" enough to know that bit of pop culture trivia (on which this puzzle relies awfully heavily; witness "ESCAPE," ADAM WEST, BORG (44A: "Star Trek: First Contact" villains, with "the"), and one of the reasons the NE was so damned tough: the long-forgotten (by me) "LASSITER" (18A: 1984 film starring Tom Selleck as a jewel thief). Guessed ALL GONE, and then finally tipped the puzzle over by getting the elusive GLOSSIES. Never ever heard of DOSS—would've helped a lot (22D: Sleep in British slang).

  • 34A: Ignoring copyrights, say (PIRATIC) — PIRATING ... PIRATING ... fit, damn it!

  • 46A: Girl's name meaning "messenger of God" (ANGELINE) — I'm guessing ANGELINA means the same thing? Needed a METEORS strike to fix that one (36D: Falling rocks)
  • 53A: Wild West show headgear (STETSONS) — given all those common letters, I should've guessed this would grace the bottom of the grid, but I was looking for something much more elaborate / specialized at first.
  • 54A: Place to sit, ironically (STANDS) — one of several great clues. See also 10D: Old-fashioned letter opener (MESSIEURS) and 27D: Like Lincoln before his presidency (BEARDLESS).
  • 6D: Newton-meter fractions (ERGS) — you tend to learn ERG very early on in your crossword education. Or you used to. ERG has really dropped off the map in the Shortz Era. Or so it seems.
  • 12D: Weird Al Yankovic's first Billboard hit ("EAT IT") — another pop culture gimme. I would've guessed "Like a Surgeon."

  • 26D: Outlaw Kelly of Australian legend (NED) — My fourth-favorite NED, right after Flanders, Beatty, and Rorem.
  • 29D: 1950s-'70s senator Ervin (SAM) — Before my time, but I learned him from crosswords (probably via ERVIN, actually).
  • 38D: Company behind the 1960s yo-yo craze (DUNCAN) — should've known this. Instead, couldn't get DANNON out of my head. "Maybe they made yo-yos as well as yogurt ..."
  • 45D: "No good ___ plot can be sensible ...": W. H. Auden ("OPERA") — my favorite OPERA-related clue of all time. Of All Time.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Matthew G. 12:14 AM  

Smooth like melting butter. I don't think any themeless in the NYT has ever put up less resistance. I count exactly one difficult entry in the grid: LASSITER, of which I've never heard. Everything else was a peach, even for someone like myself who is always foundering on pop-culture entries. How does Patrick Berry do it?

duaneu 12:20 AM  

I think this had to be my fastest Friday ever.

Gill I. P. 12:33 AM  

I echo @REX and @Matthew G.
I really enjoyed this puzzle. The only complaint I have is that it was over too soon.
Didn't know ADAM WEST, LASSITER or SENDAK but all gettable with crosses.
Not too sure I understand LOADER 15A)as a dump truck filler.
Loved PIRATIC - it sounds so exotic...
I think of a LAP DOG as a cute little critter- not some creepy bobblehead.
MRS SMITH pies make my teeth hurt.
DUNCAN brings back memories. I had a white one studded with diamonds. I never could "walk the dog" though.
All in all a FIVE STAR puzzle for moi.
Gracias Mr. Berry.

Larry 12:33 AM  

I was going to suggest that you might want to raise NED Kelly's rating, but reading Wikipedia's entry for him, I think you should move him down because
a) He was just a murderous thug, and
b) That whole article is incomprehensible. I know it was probably written by an Aussie, but c'mon man

CoffeeLvr 12:36 AM  

Agree, super clue for OPERA.

The DJ played ESCAPE at a wedding reception I attended a couple of weeks ago. The twenty-somethings at the table were befuddled or bemused at the first part of the song, one even said "is this something you want to hear at your wedding?" We parents said, "just wait."

Great puzzle, although a big fat DNF.

syndy 12:42 AM  

The loader is the bulldozer-like vehicle that fills the dump truck up!I did want to work JEANNE D'ARC into 47 across !MY grandfather and Sam ervin were good friends so I mostly remember him from that!MONSIEUR BERRY shows how crunchy smooth can be! both thumbs up!

retired_chemist 12:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 12:47 AM  

Not MY fastest Friday by a long shot. When I had done one full pass through the acrosses I had three answers. I kept at it and, slowly, answers appeared. Stuff I only dimly knew (LASSITER, ADAM WEST, MRS. SMITH) got tried and - mirabile dictu - they were right! A few of those and the grid started to come together.

And there were the ones I should have got a lot faster - CAPRICORN, e.g. MOON BASE was slow to appear because 23D was GNUS. COMPLAINT: strictly, only quadrupeds can trot. Emus are bipeds. I know, the term is used figuratively for bipeds, but it still irks me because trotters is far from necessary in the clue and is misleading.

Fishing hooks were BARBS, which slowed down the SW.

About the only answer I didn't like was PIRATIC. Just ugly.

Thanks, Mr. Berry.

thursdaysd 12:57 AM  

After yesterday's failure I was thrilled to finish a Friday with no help at all, and an Easy-Medium is a step up. Admittedly it was a TUSSLE, with plenty of writeovers: lastONE to ALLGONE, dorothea to ANGELINE, lureS to GAFFS, and my last entry, entreATED to LITIGATED. I also spent a long time wondering if the Christmas-born was some take-off on unicorn!

ESCAPE, ADAMWEST, LASSITER, MRSSMITH, BORG and more were all unknowns, but since I grew up in England I knew DOSS, and since I've lived in NC a long time I knew SAM Ervin, and RUSS Feingold seems fairly recent. I wanted bluegrass instead of FLAMENCO, and PIRATIng, but no room... Liked the clue for STANDS, and interested to learn that tuning forks are STEEL and not something more exotic.

jae 1:44 AM  

Very smooth easy-medium for me. Nice puzzle Mr. Berry

angelina carla moonbase 2:19 AM  

Odd, the answers seemed either a pop culture specific thing, or very straightforward. Not getting the love for this, other than it's Patrick Berry. Is someone becoming a LAPDOG?

Too easy, no writeovers (except the same ANGELINa thing @Rex mentioned, and a half second on REhEAT). Not one AHA moment :(

Added to the soup = STIRREDIN

It all felt like that to me :(
What else could it have been?

Half a weak smile for "Place to sit, ironically" = STANDS.
TONGUE rudely put out.

Pretty grid, tho.

retired_chemist 2:21 AM  

Given the L from DOOLITTLE, I made my tuning forks from METAL.

Welly 3:06 AM  

To me dossing always meant hanging around, doing nothing. Enjoyed the puzzle.

mac 5:14 AM  

Very fast, but enjoyable PB puzzle. Found a mistake, though: Dungan/Flamengo. For the British nap I wanted something kip(p).

At the wedding we were at last weekend, "Honesty" by Billy Joel was played right after the vows/signatures....

Smitty 7:22 AM  

Agree it was easy mediumish but the NW was the slowest for me, having GRAVEL for LOADER didn't help. I'm really embarrassed to say I stared at ...ICORN for as long as I did (AN UNICORN?), seeing as I am a Capricorn born on Christmas Eve.

shrub5 7:36 AM  

Aarrr! Had trouble coming up with the ending for PIRAT__. I had PIRATed but wasn't happy with that part of speech. Broke down and used the dictionary.

Did a lot of guessing on this that turned out right! DOSS/MOONBASE was the last to be filled in, right after I got BEARDLESS. I thought of EttA before ELLA -- eventually saw that tAPDOG was wrong (but funny.)

The rest of the puzzle was relatively easy with crosses to the rescue all over the place, just the way I like it.

Gill I. P. 8:16 AM  

@angelina carla moonbase.
I actually thought that @REX too wouldn't be liking this puzzle because it was devoid of the usual zinger, pop, crackle for a typical Friday.
When I don't throw a crossword down in total frustration, then I find a aha moment. Mainly, AHA, I finally finished a Friday.
A puzzle filled with proper names I've never heard of or obscure book titles and surnames of singers in the 50's, frustrate me no end.
In the same vein, I really dislike Monday puzzles that belong in Tuesday or Wednesday. Case in point is throwing in words like BillMazerosky and Worlitzerorgan.
I can get these but I see the frustrated look on our daughter's face( she just started doing NYT puzzles). She'll just say "this is too damn hard" and toss it on the couch and walk away. OUCH !
Having said all that, I can't wait for Saturday's to eat me alive and spit me out on a loader.

evil doug 8:20 AM  


Is your period key broken?


Lippman: And anyway, I was just reading your final edit, um, there seems to be an inordinate number of exclamation points.

Elaine: Well, I felt that the writing lacked certain emotion and intensity.

Lippman: Oh, "It was a damp and chilly afternoon, so I decided to put on my sweatshirt!"

Elaine: Right, well...

Lippman: You put an exclamation point after sweatshirt?

Elaine: That's--that's correct, I-I felt that the character doesn't like to be ch-ch-chilly...

Lippman: I see. "I pulled the lever on the machine, but the Clark bar didn't come out!" Exclamation point?

Elaine: Well, yeah, you know how frustrating that can be when you keep putting quarters and quarters in to machine and then *prrt* nothing comes out...

Lippman: Get rid of the exclamation points...


The best Doolittle is Jimmy!

Mark 8:40 AM  

Who says "remet"?

John V 9:09 AM  

Finshed as my South-bound number 4 pulled into Brooklyn Bridge. One of my fastest Fridays by a good bit.

Hand up for thinking PIRATIC felt forced. Also had to fiddle a bit to get ANGELINE.

Didn't get here yesterday, but just wanted to say that it was the most fun DNF (just barely) that I can recall. LOVED the creative rebus. Missed ICEMAKER, got the rest.

dk 9:12 AM  

Everyone know top quality is 4 stars Tom argued absolutely.

I wear a Resistol.. but they now own Stetson so I guess it is the same.

Resistance is futile. Prepare to be assimilated was my opening line to Acme... guess what she rudely put out as her demure response.

LOL moment was staring at ALLGONE and thing that does not look right I want ALLOUT.. that along with trying to fit infringement into the space reserved for PIRATIC... guess I will go sit in the STANDS.

**** (4 Stars)


jesser 9:17 AM  

I had the most trouble in the SW corner, although I have no writeovers there. Weird.

In the SE corner, which fell first, I had colDTO at 50A and movIES at 52A, but the BORG helped me find my way out of the mess fairly quickly.

At 22D, I thought that since we call sleep 'catching some zees' on this side of the pond, the Brits likely said 'catching some zedS.' I was wrong. Liza DOOLITTLE helped me out of it, although DOSS is one weird-ass word for sleep.

I was stuck in the NW for the longest time trying to figure out 3D. This baffled me. And I AM ONE (Jan. 18, not Christmas Day). D'oh!

At 34D, I had _re_ and thought, for the longest time, 'wREn?. The somewhat ugly PIRATIC eventually emerged, and then the Y on PREY pointed me toward GUARD DUTY and the SW fell from there.

All in all, a lovely solving experience. I have REMET Patrick Berry, and I like his style!

jackj 9:24 AM  

If Cole Porter were around, after he did today's puzzle, he undoubtedly would have added a verse to "You're the Top"--

You're Maurice SENDAK,
The pie-making MRSSMITH,
You're pickled TONGUE,
A streaking METEOR,
You're Patrick,
You're the top!

Over the top, I know, but Patrick Berry can do that to happy solvers.

Trotsky 9:25 AM  


Perhaps the EMU was dancing the Turkey Trot? Fox Trot?


archaeoprof 9:36 AM  

Had never heard the real name of that Pina Colada song before.

What's the real name of that song about "sometimes when we touch the honesty's too much"?

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

As is often the case, Rex and I have altogether different gimmes. For example, I don't know or care about post-sixties pop music so "Escape" only emerged from the crosses. "Loader" wasn't obvious to me and and is, I think, a lousy word. On the other hand, I immediately got "Lassiter," "glossies," and "doss."(I happen to know a lot about movies, magazines-- I edited a couple-- and Brit slang. As for "piratic," give me a break! Obvious moral: One good solver's gimmes can be another good solvers got-mes. And vice versa. I solved this one without help in about ten minutes of effort separated by several time-outs totaling another ten. Unlike Rex, I didn't enjoy the experience. I"d call this one "Medium" both in difficulty and quality.

JC66 9:49 AM  

Why is/are PREY 'small' game? It seems to me that many hunted animals are pretty big.

JC66 9:51 AM  

I meant 'little' game.

D.K. Goodwin 10:07 AM  

You mean Abe was openly gay before he was elected? Gee, I never knew that!

Ruth 10:07 AM  

Sam Ervin is permanently cross-worthy because of his role in the Watergate hearings, not just the useful combination of letters in his name. He seemed like a pretty cool guy.

Peter Sattler 10:08 AM  

Absolutely fun! Not a groan to be had from this 80s teen, even when I hit that series of four or five punning clues in a row (30D - 36D).

Lindsay 10:09 AM  

I have a salty acquaintance who uses the word PIRATIC, so that went down fine with me. My *the*answer*won't*fit fist-shaking TUSSLE came when I wanted FInESTkind where FIVE STAR belonged. Though I believe "finestkind" is regarded as a regionalism, I wouldn't know about that as I never leave the region ....

Have a good weekend everyone.

Zach 10:21 AM  

My type of puzzle. Any educated guess which was wrong (e.g. ANGELICA instead of ANGELINE) was quickly corrected by crosses.

I hope that next time I see BEARDLESS in a puzzle it is clued as such: "There are two types of people who go around _____; boys and women, and I am neither."

Matthew G. 10:24 AM  

@acme: Hmm, I thought there were some good a-ha moments here: CAPRICORN, BEARDLESS, LITIGATED, MESSIEURS, and MOONBASE, to name a few. When it flows this smoothly, each individual moment is perhaps less of an a-ha, but the fun comes from so many good clues in rapid succession. At least if you're someone whose favorite thing about crosswords is inventive cluing, which I am. And the other thing is that even though I'm usually a pop-culture-clue-hater, I somehow had zero trouble with any of the pop culture stuff today (aside from the megaobscure LASSITER, a 30-year-old film that seems to have made little impression even when it was released, from what I can gather). And that's exactly what I'm marveling at. Patrick has a knack for making even obscure stuff feel inferable.

@John V: We commute to the same spot every day ... perhaps our paths will cross in City Hall Park one day.

@archaeoprof: That song's simply called "Sometimes When We Touch." Dan Hill, 1977.

On the copy of Pina Colada song I have on my iPod (stop judging me, you're judging me, stop it), it is actually titled "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)."

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

what about ned ryerson?

Two Ponies 10:47 AM  

When I first glanced at this grid I thought it might be trouble. Then I saw Patrick Berry's name and said "I can do this". I was right and had so much fun.
I did have to nearly read the clue for 24D out loud because it seemed awkward but everything else was enjoyable.
Like @mac, I was expecting kip for doss. I don't recall hearing that.
I did hear dosh a lot, meaning money.
Wow, Andrea didn't like this and called Rex a lapdog? Do I sense a tussle coming on?

John V 10:53 AM  

@Matthew G: I stay on for two more stops, get off at Wall Street, work at 120 Broadway.

thursdaysd 11:08 AM  

My Concise OED flags DOSS as "not US" and slang:

"Bed in doss house or common lodging house; (v.i.) sleep in this; ... [18th c. dorse f. LL dorsum back; cf dial hoss for horse]"

Interesting to see that "dossier" is also derived from a word for back, but French, not Latin ("so called from label on back").

Mel Ott 11:11 AM  

For most of the puzzle I agree with @Rex's Easy-Medium rating, but the NW was a bear for me.

Started with ELLA and ERGS, but I wanted TOADIE for 17A. Switched to ETTA and ????. The corner finally fell when I got CAPRICORN off the -ICOR-. Switch back to ELLA and ERGS. Aha - LAPDOG.

A good Friday puzzle. A nice workout for my old grey matter.

Moonchild 11:31 AM  

Lots of fun today.
Big fun of the Borg episodes. Scary creatures.
@ Coffelvr, funny wedding reception story.
I could not believe that I knew Escape. I spent the 80's in headphones waiting for the music on the radio to go away.

quilter1 11:31 AM  

Also had gnus trotting. Saw lots of loaders during the sewer work this summer. Had unwinds before unreels. Pirates before piratic. Lots of these little errors slowed my progress, but I finished, so a good Friday. I always enjoy a Berry puzzle.

Moonchild 11:32 AM  

Thats big FAN.
Where did I put my glasses?

JaxInL.A. 11:38 AM  

I'm still basking in the glow of doing a Patrick Berry Friday puzzle in just over 20 minutes. I agree with @Angelina Carla that I had no big AHA! moments. On the other hand, I did have lots of smaller (and still satisfying) oho moments. I really enjoyed it.

retired_chemist 11:41 AM  

Apparently on @quilter1's wavelength today - also had UNWINDS.

joho 11:43 AM  

This was difficult for me due to the NE. I finally got it but it took forever. Not letting go of MonSIEURS for too long didn't help.
The rest of the puzzle fell pretty easily so I guess this is really one of those Easy-Challenging ratings for me.

My favorite wrong answer was pEnniLESS for BEARDLESS.

Janet 12:01 PM  

Yay! The first in a long time when I have finished a Friday puzzle all by myself, without electronic assistance (in which case, of course, I can't really say I "finished" the puzzle at all!).

Doolittle, doss and Ned were all right up my alley!

@Larry: Read the fabulous Peter Carey's "True History of the Kelly Gang" for another take on this aussie icon.

@John V: both hands waving up in the air for the down right nasty piratic.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Rex, what you said at the outset is an elegant endorsement in which I whole-heartedly concur.

syndy 12:12 PM  

@EVIL DOUG I am still working on EN dash and EM dash and was planning on working my way down the keyboard later but,for you,I will apply myself to all punctuation; each in it's own place.

One more thing 12:39 PM  


Don't forget that elusive "space bar" ;)


Robb 12:54 PM  

First time I was able to finish a Friday!
Unlike Rex, I thought NE was OK, had it long before SE. Had heaard of ADAMWEST and LASSITER, so that helped.
Does anybody have a quibble with the answer MESSIEURS being plural and no indication of that in the clue?
SW was screwed up because I was intent on blinDDaTe vs. GUARDUTY. Also wrote in maize before I got AGAVE.
SE was toughest for me... probably because of PIRATIC vs. PIRATed or PIRATes.. had trouble getting to LITIGATE, which way my key for finishing.

jackj 1:08 PM  


I don't think "finest kind" is familiar outside New England and, even more limiting, it might not be known beyond maritime New England.

Great phrase, though!

efrex 1:23 PM  

Looked at the clue for 1A and thought: "Nothnagel or Berry; either way, I'm gonna enjoy this one." What a relief after three days of DNFs thanks to weird fill issues. The usual number of writeovers for a Friday puzzle (gotta make guesses, or you'll never get anywhere - finally got a mechanical pencil with a good eraser; helps immeasurably during the post-Wednesday period): UNWINDS and UNBEARDED before UNREELS and BEARDLESS, ETTA before ELLA, BALLOT before DIALOG. On the other hand, got ESCAPE, EATIT, ABSOLUTISM, and DUNCAN with no crosses, and that LIBERATEd a great deal of the grid. Took a while on the SW, but once STETSONS came to mind, life became just peachy.

Only LASSITER I know of is Timothy Omundson's character in "Psych," so that was a toughie; otherwise, just kept chugging through this one. Berry, Berry nice!

GenJoneser 1:28 PM  

@Rex Thanks for the RP song. This is another good one I think (from 1986) though people tend to forget RP composed it:

Unfortunately the story attached to it is rather sad. RP wrote it around the same time his daughter died suddenly from a brain tumor at age 10.

My mother, an educator, had the pleasure of working with RP when he spoke to her class about musical theater writing, specifically "Edwin Drood." She has a poster from "Drood" he autographed saying "How much greater value is the work of a teacher than any other profession?" A prized possession in our family.

GenJoneser 1:31 PM  

oh and 3 cheers for "Stumblin In" Haven't thought of it in years!

KarenSampsonHudson 1:41 PM  

Loved the Auden quote...

Stan 1:52 PM  

Crisp, clean puzzle, with some very snappy clues. Well done!

Do I detect a lurking "Cowboys and Aliens" theme?

Lindsay: My wife (@Arundel) recognized 'Finest Kind' as a phrase but I know it only as a boat out of Perkins Cove. We're both 'from away'.

Chip Hilton 2:05 PM  

Who switched the Thursday and Friday puzzles this week? After yesterday's tussle, this fell quite smoothly.

For me, it was all about 20, 22, and 24-Across. DOOLITTLE and GLOSSIES got the ball rolling but TONGUE, for some reason, was last to fall. I blame DOSS, DIALOG, and MESSIEURS for failing to appear and provide the needed crosses.

I agree on the great Auden clue and overall quality of the construction.

archaeoprof 2:21 PM  

@Matthew G: thanks. Honestly didn't know that. Really can't stand that song. They play it in the weight room at the Y here. That song, in the weight room??

David 2:51 PM  

Great, first I have Escape in my head for a couple of hours today, and now after reading the blog and comments I can't get Him out of my head. Oy....

I got Escape from remembering the endless "credits" on one of those K-tel type '70's mega collection infomercials. From there, it was yet another wonderfully smooth Patrick Berry solving experience. I really like how Matthew G. put it - the AHA moments, of which there are always many, come from the natural trials and tribulations of attacking a challenging puzzle. And always makes it so rewarding when it's completed.

Today's solve was very unique - I did it on the golf course!! I wasn't playing due to recent neck fusion surgery (I did hit some putts), but basically clipped it on the steering wheel and worked on it in between driving, tending the pin, and watching my family (who I'm visiting) play. Finished on the 8th fairway....

Sparky 3:17 PM  

In the first scene of Blowup, David Hemmings has been photographing unfortunates in a doss house. Then he goes to the fashion shoot. And that's how I learned that word.

DNF. Empty spaces on the East side. First entries DOOLITTLE, SENDAK. Filled in SW with one glitch at ANGELINa. Wanted Sara Lee, should have known MRSSMITH--(em dash): every Thanksgiving for years at my sister's house.

A bit tough for me but still enjoyable. Here's to the weekend.

sanfranman59 3:39 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 20:05, 25:51, 0.78, 14%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 10:01, 12:48, 0.78, 18%, Easy

You Know What Would be Great? 3:40 PM  

... indicating the clue # or grid locations in your comments.

From a "community", (I think some call it Rexville), that gets up in arms when a Monday puzzle is too esoteric for "newbies", such comments as "@earlier commenter, I agree as I [also] had 'whatever' as my first try" is pretty opaque when one is staring at what you call a DNF.

{Yes, I can exit comments, go back to Rex's blog, and try to find a match, but still]

"On the other hand, got ESCAPE, EATIT, ABSOLUTISM, and DUNCAN with no crosses, and that LIBERATEd a great deal of the grid." is not far behind.

I'll leave it at that.

I.M. Newhere

Two Ponies 4:06 PM  

@ I.M. Newhere,
I'm don't know what you are trying to say.

william e emba 4:39 PM  

Unlike everyone else, I have never heard of "The Piña Colada Song" or its actual title. Checking it out just now, it evoked zero memories, and after about a minute I gave it up as too boring.

So unlike the rest of you, I was thinking it was the nickname for some Spanish song whose title no one can remember, and by the time I was looking at -SCAPE crossed with "-LLA in Berlin", I was thinking, huh? ULLA? No, she's Swedish. It didn't take long for ELLA to come to mind, and I had to stare at ESCAPE a bit to realize it was English.

Other than that, the puzzle was medium-easy. I did want to put Liza or Eliza in to start Higgins's pupil, at which point I blanked out on her last name to finish the entries. Since the clue didn't say Henry, I was just being dumb.

For those who remember the discussion about the film short Men in Black we had two days ago on Wednesday, it was very nice to hear the same three doctors being paged on the "Like a Surgeon" clip Rex provided (right at the beginning, as Weird Al is about to enter the ICU).

acme 4:47 PM  

@Two Ponies,
I think you are slightly misreading stuff a bit today...
IM Nowhere was trying to say s/he needed to know what clue # we are referring to to make the discussion easier to follow.
(And I was kiddingly referring to @MatthewG -the first poster last night- the notorious pop culture-hater- as the LAPDOG, not @Rex...tho if there is to be a TUSSLE, I'll take on all comers!)

Matthew G. 5:24 PM  

@acme: I, too, thought you were referring to Rex, not me. But since you were referring to me, I'll just reiterate that what I said was true: I usually find pop-culture clues hard and less fun than other kinds of clues, but with this particular puzzle that was not the case. If something that is normally a problem proves not to be in a given puzzle, I can only put that down to the constructor's talents, which is not at all the same thing as giving a notable constructor a free pass for something I'd criticize in someone else.

This puzzle was my fastest Friday time ever, and sanfranman's numbers bear out that I was far from the only person who had that experience. And as Rex says, Patrick Berry's grids tend toward uncommon clarity. So it seems pretty clear that Patrick Berry does have a knack for making pop culture more inferrable, but without stinting on witty clues. If that makes me a LAPDOG, woof.

Two Ponies 5:43 PM  

Thanks Andrea and Matthew G
I think I'm back on track now

acme 6:05 PM  

The puzzle was fine, you are fine, I love dogs, lap and large...I was just trying to make a little tie-in joke while expressing my own dissatisfaction with not being wowed by the puzzle.
Patrick Berry is a genius so expectations run high on this end!
Ach! Back to bed where I should have stayed today! ;)

@Two ponies,
Pot here! I too misread!
I wrote I M NOWHERE and s/he is

skua76 7:41 PM  

Some end of week puzzles go easily, this one did version of pop culture apparently didn't match Patrick's. I knew DOSS but my NE was seriously impaired by putting in BALLOT for 8D. Didn't help that I didn't know crosses LASSITER or ADAM WEST. Still fun, along with the comments here.
I just sent off my abysmal scores for the Lollapuzzoola puzzles, I hope everyone else did too (and I hope they're cussed and discussed somewhere).

mskeels64 9:46 PM  

I am always surprised by what Rex does not know. Seems like a nodding acquaintance with British lit would yield a "doss house." And not to have at least seen recordings of the Watergate hearings when Senator Sam Ervin was such a towering figure; it's like basic American history. Oh well...

Shipping News 4:42 AM  

Somali pirates had threatened to kill a Danish family whose yacht has been seized by them in the Indian Ocean if there is any attempt to rescue the family. On board were also two deck hands, both Danes, helping the family sail from the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.Somalia Piracy Solution

Anonymous 9:11 PM  

Syndisolver. And unfortunately it looks like the local paper, perhaps taking Chip Hilton's comment to heart, ran Friday's puzzle (this one) in Thursday's (today's) paper and printed Thursday's answer beneath it. Assuming they switched, my tomorrow is ruined.

Hand up for ANGELIca. Which became ANGELINa before becoming ANGELINE.

NW was the last to fall. Wanted GRAVEL but I couldn't fathom a live album by a 13-year-old IGGY Pop.

Shout out to me at 47d. And 3d.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

My fastest Friday ever. That's because I did the same puzzle in yesterday's paper. That's right, this entire puzzle was a 47a (I guess we missed our Thursday this week). Anyone know where I can do the 8/18 crossword on line?

midj 1:23 PM  

From syndication land--- My first Friday finish!!! (Exclamation points intended) Thanks, Rex, for this forum where I've learned to look at crosswords from so many different directions. And thanks, also, to your commenters who teach me something new (and not always crosswordese) every day.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

A weird misalignment caused me great grief in the NE. After the gimme DOOLITTLE, I guessed on ABSOLUTISM for 9d. But somehow, when I started writing it in, I discovered that I had misspelled my first entry DOOLLTTLE, and had lined up my next entry with the wrong L! Hmmm, a six-letter word ending in U...wait a sec. I'm short one...aww, fudge! So from then on I had to hold the pen over those letters so I could think. It does not behoove one to handicap himself thus when attempting a Patrick Berry. People ask, why don't you just use a pencil? I just stare back.
I did manage to finish this with no Google help and none but the above writeover. Still I would not call it easy at all. At every turn, in every nook and cranny I had to do some tough brainwork to get it done. But one major gimme was BORG (they don't call me Spacecraft for nothing)--and right on top of it is RIO, where I play in the WSOP!
Had to sing through the Holmes number and think about it, till the title hit me. "Come with me and...;" "Where we'll plan our..."
It's stuff like this that adds to my puzzling enjoyment.
Only one :( and that's REMET. You MEET someone for the first time, after that, well, "We've met." But that just makes an A+ a straight A. (I am certain Mr. Berry felt HORRID about this word, and really tried hard to excise it. I can infer that from all the rest of his words.)

Dirigonzo 8:52 PM  

Am I the only one to detect a mini-"Lord's Prayer" theme at 16a "Deliver (us from evil)" and 21a "(forgive us our) Trespasses"?

Joe in Montreal 9:02 PM  

I know, syndication, but: ANGELINE is a form of ANGEL which is from Greek ANGELLOS and means "messenger", not "messenger of God". I guessed Angelin(a/e) early on and dismissed it. It shouldn't be possible to overthink a Friday clue.
Liked OPERA - had COMIC first.

Anonymous 2:01 AM  

@Dirigonzo 8:52 PM
I didn't catch that, but I did find the cross of SIN with "born on Christmas day" interesting. You've also got the biblical ADAM (yes, Batman was in the Bible).

By the way, I have to say how much respect I have for Adam West for his role in Family Guy. He and Shatner are two guys who could have easily gone full blown egomaniac, and instead have endeared themselves to generations with their ability to laugh at themselves.

For the record, I still think West was the best Batman. That series got it right; the darkness of the film series misses the point.

"I've seen Burt Ward steal scenes from this guy" - Dennis Miller on Adam West.

Uric Salt 9:56 AM  

DUNCAN brings back memories. I had a white one studded with diamonds. I never could "walk the dog" though.

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