Campaign election analyst Silver / 10-22-11 / Strip since 1961 that's printed in black white / Narrative set in Bronze Age / Role for Young

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: The solution of the week-long metapuzzle 

Word of the Day: GUYS (40A: Insults playfully) —
tr.v., guyed, guy·ing, guys.
To hold up to ridicule; mock.
• • •
"CROSS" WORDS CONTEST week! All the puzzles this week, from Monday to Saturday, have been created by one person, Patrick Berry. Have your solutions handy, because the Saturday puzzle conceals a meta-challenge involving the solution grids of all six. When you have the answer to the meta-challenge, mail it to: Please do not post your answers here on the blog and please do not mail them to me! Only answers e-mailed to the above address will be considered. Twenty-five correct solvers, chosen at random, whose entries are received by 6:00 p.m. E.T. Sunday, Oct. 23, will receive copies of “Will Shortz Picks His Favorite Puzzles: 101 of the Top Crosswords From The New York Times.” Only one entry per person, please. The answer and winners’ names will appear on Friday, Oct. 28, at
• • •

Hard to evaluate a puzzle like this, which is essentially a decoder ring. Never did like instructions in my answer grid, but at least today there's a reasonable-sized payoff.

In the interest of ... I don't know what ... the integrity of the contest? Whatever the reason, I think I won't reveal the solution to the metapuzzle. I will, however, reveal the instructions provided in this puzzle, as they are the only thing that could pass for a "theme" today:

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Find contest's meta-answer by reading THE FIRST LETTERS of these clues.
  • 42A: Solvers must FILL EVERY CIRCLE in the grids to determine the grids' proper order.
If you are really trying to avoid spoilers, I would suggest you stay away from the comments section today. But then, if you were avoiding spoilers, you probably wouldn't be reading this sentence right now. At any rate, I'll reveal the meta-answer on Monday, after the contest entry window has closed.

About the grid: Biggest surprise was finding out that NATE Silver is crossworthy (13A: Campaign/election analyst ___ Silver). Good for him. I follow him on Twitter and find his statistical analyses of politics fascinating. I was surprised to find that A-ROD has only been A-ROD since '99 (16A: Nickname since 1999), even though he broke into the league (first full season) in '96. Slapped my head when I *finally* figured out what 12D: Second or sixth in a series was (ADAMS). I was thinking "ALEPH ... is first in a series ... so ... what?" Toughest part for me by far was everything around GUYS (new meaning of the word, for me) and esp. "SPY VS. SPY" (35D: Strip since 1961 that's printed in black and white) which looks *insane* in the grid. I worked and reworked that area a bunch because I was convinced that the letter sequences I was getting for that answer must be wrong. Just now noticing that that elusive [Kite part] was a BEAK. So, you know, *that* kind of "kite." I had TAIL there, at first, of course ... hmm, *that* kind of "kite" also has a tail. Couldn't process what was meant by [Astronomical appearance]—so much so that the "P" in PHASE ended up being the very last thing I put in the grid. Seven PINES???? (29A: Seven ___ (Civil War battle site)) Could've been VINES or TINES or MINES, as far as I was concerned.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Masked and Anonymous 12:13 AM  

@31: Har. Interestin' video choices, you scamp.

Hats off to PB. Great series of puzs, each of which had to jump thru an amazing set of hoops to get us to here. Now, off to win me a book.

CoffeeLvr 12:13 AM  

Since I see there are no other comments yet, there is no danger of a spoiler. I am glad to know @Rex has sussed out the solution to the meta-challenge, because I have not . . . yet!

I thought this was very easy for a Saturday puzzle; I was stumped by the use of GUY as a verb, and appreciate it as WOTD.

Alex 12:13 AM  

I've been enjoying following along with your commentary as I did the puzzles this week - the first time in years that I've done the NYT crossword consistently.

Got the meta-solution - but without figuring out what the second clue meant! I guessed the leader as soon as I read the clue and just unscrambled the letters to confirm it.

foodie 12:15 AM  

Either I'm hallucinating, or there was at one point a David Quarfoot puzzle on the NY Times page as the Across Lite version and the Patrick Berry was in PDF, same split as yesterday. I went to Diary of a Crossword Fiend to see what was up with that and saw this note:

NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD CONTEST ALERT: The puzzle you want is not posted in Across Lite at the usual place. You can print the PDF, get the Across Lite file at (thanks to Jim Horne), or solve in the Java applet.

But now, the Across lite has it... Curiouser and Curiouser!

The puzzle itself was easy. The rest, I'm working on...

Rex Parker 12:24 AM  

I'm impressed, Alex. If I hadn't (finally) figured out that second part (which you should do, it's super cute and theme-relevant), I'd have been totally lost.


Tobias Duncan 12:33 AM  

Foodie you are not crazy and I am dumb enough to have gone several min into that other puzzle before checking the constructor.Will is screwing with the stupid people on purpose.
The meta clues mean nothing to me so far. I am tired and going to bed so I can hit it with a clear head in the morning.
Solved this on paper because I thought I had to after getting the wrong puzzle in A lite. Sharpened my pencil and printed very neatly.It helped quite a bit.

North Beach 12:47 AM  

Loved this whole week and loved the final Meta. I'm entered! By doing this puzzle, I also think I've completed the initial secret code section of my CIA application! If the powers that be haven't tapped Mr Berry for code making or code breaking then I give up. Thank you so much, PB, for shakin' things up.

Anonymous 12:52 AM  

Yeah, I didn't understand the "fill the circles" bit either, but it was easy to figure out without it.

foodie 12:56 AM  

Got it. Very cool, and I agree with Rex that it's fun to figure out the whole set of instructions. Layers upon layers of delight!

Genius, I say!

hazel 1:01 AM  

@rex - I agree - the second part added another layer of mind-bogglyness to the complete and utter brilliance of thiis bundle of puzzles.

Thank you so much Patrick Berry and Will Shortz for this unique and really memorable week in Puzzlevania (thanks @Howard B for using that term 4! years ago, which I just discovered tonight!)

well said, @north beach and @foodie!

that is officially enough exuberance out of me for one day!

Anonymous 1:15 AM  

Wow, it took me long enough to get.... now besides the circle clue was there anything to some of the repeat clues... especially the one that seems thematic in the first and last puzzles?

Tobias Duncan 1:26 AM  

Wow this was crazy cool.
I have a feeling Mr.Berry constructed this last winter while watching a certain very cool TV show...

Anonymous 1:42 AM  

Long time lurker here. I have never commented before because I was 6 weeks behind until I recently subscribed to the puzzle. I wonder if anyone else remembers a Sunday puzzle with the same kinda thing going on with the circles? That one got me but I got this one. Hope this isn't TMI.

Left Coaster

jae 3:06 AM  

Easy-Medium here. I too fell for TAIL and DELACROIX took some work/crosses. After trying what turned out to be not the right way to parse the meta-theme clues, I finally stumbled on what I hope is the meta answer. So, I may be entered? Damn clever, but more straight forward than I expected.

Unknown 4:04 AM  

In reviewing this week's puzzles, I noticed Monday's clue for 1-across. Touché, Mr Berry.

thursdaysd 4:06 AM  

Today's puzzle was pretty easy, but needed to be for people who can't usually cope with Saturday (e.g. me). Needed the second clue to solve the meta, and then was seriously, seriously impressed with the construction!

Aaron Riccio 4:17 AM  

@anonymous -- When I submitted my answer to the paper, I mentioned the same thing (about an old Sunday puzzle); in fact, I still have that "crossword" on my desk. It's a treasured trophy, whereas these Berry puzzles were just polished gems.

Anonymous 5:37 AM  

Figured the answer without understanding the second clue and some quote research. (I'm not really Times smahht.) Then the second clue hit me after a while. Funny how some of us can't see it right away. Kinda' demonstrative of how we have a tendency to view things in certain/hardened ways.

Bob Bishopric 7:59 AM  

Wow. That was an incredible feat. Really enjoyed this series. Got the quote before I figured out the circle bit. But then went back and to get it.

r.alphbunker 7:59 AM  

Wow! I bet that PB can herd cats also! I am really in awe at how many things he got to work together in these puzzles!

The first leader I thought of was George Washington but George evidently was the strong silent type. However, side B of Lou Monte's 1962 song "Pepino the Italian Mouse" was "What Did Washington Say (When He Crossed The Delaware)". You can look it up!

Thank you Patrick Berry!

Glimmerglass 8:30 AM  

Got it. Thanks, PB. Great week of puzzles, but I was a bit disappointed that Saturday's was so easy. I'd set aside the morning for it and the meta-challenge. Took me less time for both than a usual Saturday. I look forward to Rex's Monday blog, where he will deconstruct the meta.

The Bard 8:31 AM  

King Henry IV, part I > Act I, scene III

KING HENRY IV: My blood hath been too cold and temperate,
Unapt to stir at these indignities,
And you have found me; for accordingly
You tread upon my patience: but be sure
I will from henceforth rather be myself,
Mighty and to be fear'd, than my condition;
Which hath been smooth as oil, soft as young down,
And therefore lost that title of respect
Which the proud soul ne'er pays but to the proud.

Blue Stater 8:34 AM  

Rex, you left me hanging. How *is* "second or sixth in a series" ADAMS?

Couldn't do the meta-puzzle (I don't care for that sort of thing anyway) because TimesReader, as it does about once a month or so, failed to deliver the Friday puzzle. Most annoying. Anyone else have the same problem, either Friday or over time?

Leslie 8:46 AM  

Oh. My. God. Patrick Berry is amazing!!

1. The cleverness of each daily puzzle.

2. The "circle" placement all along, which he planned in advance . . .

3. to be an integral part of the metapuzzle's big reveal.

How much do I love this week's series?? Berry is the king. He needs an Elvis-like spangly sequined King costume to wear to future puzzle conventions.

pauer 8:54 AM  

@Blue Stater: think heads of States.

This was brilliant, as expected from the master. Sorta wish I had studied the grids closer before trying the meta to see if I could have spotted the pattern (I'll bet some NPLers got it without this puzzle at all). Filled in the top theme answer today from the clue alone, but needed the bottom one to show me the light. We've seen these components before, but never working in TANDEM so beautifully. Bravo!

JasK 9:00 AM  

I've been living in sydicate land for years and this is the first week I have gotten the puzzle on-line in real time. What a great week to start. Figured out the meta-challenge with a little help and am entered for the prize!

@Blue Stater: 2 and 6: John and John Quincy

Z 9:19 AM  

@pauer and @JasK - Thanks. It only took the clue, RP and your comments for the light to go on.

I have a meta-answer, but feel like I might be missing something, so am going to puzzle over the grids a little more before I enter.

@RP-agree with M&A. Har.

Chip Hilton 9:24 AM  

Thanks for a great week, P.B.

I thought today was an extremely easy Saturday puzzle and the meta-challenge was fun to de-code. Really, no clues or fill to dispute.

The Friday puzzle was my personal head-spinner.


ahecht 10:02 AM  

Wow, what an amazing week. I think in all I got 9 puzzles out of the past six days (the regular puzzles, the extra non-PB puzzles that showed up in Across Lite early today and yesterday, and the meta-puzzle).

My only beef with this puzzle was that a few answers felt like the clue was very forced (which I'm sure it was, given the cluing constraints). Especially PEA, which I've never seen as part of a shepherd's pie (corn, yes, but not PEAs).

Z 10:15 AM  

I've done some more puzzling over the grids and I'm really impressed that there isn't a single RRN in the whole week.

@Ahecht - I prefer corn (peas are proof that god has a sense of humor) but have seen Shepherd's Pie made with either.

Orange 10:22 AM  

I hadn't done the circles part, just sorted the puzzles and extracted the answer. Just went back and did that, and that is where the big "wow" hits.

Z 10:24 AM  

OK. Glad I did a little more puzzling.

WOW. Speechless.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Okay, that was just incredibly clever. I was already impressed without the visual element of the second clue.

Loved this!

evil doug 10:32 AM  

As I feared: Tuesday falls on Saturday this week.

If you want to create meta-challenges, they shouldn't come at the expense of the real reason we come here: The crossword, the crossword, the crossword.

I'm a little surprised Michael hasn't slammed this gimmick the way he normally would when the ego displayed by the creator's little pictures/symbols/gadgetry overwhelms the integrity of the crossword's clues and answers.


chefbea 10:35 AM  

Easy puzzle and got the directions right away. Still cant figure out the answer but I have all day.

I puts both peas and carrots in shepherd's pie

Bassetwrangler 10:36 AM  

Slowed down by a stronger recollection of Skip Young as Wally on Ozzie and Harriet than Robert Young as Marcus Welby (never watched it).

jesser 10:43 AM  

Easy puzzle. I don't see any circles. I'm certain I'll have my wow moment when My King (Rex) reveals it. Until then, I'm happy with a week's worth of PB puzzles, my favorite of which was either Thursday or Friday, depending on what minute you ask me. And now, I have to clean the house. I will be descended upon by lesbians this afternoon, because two got married in Canada and I have agreed to host the local reception. I am happy to host the party, but somehow fearful that one of these women is going to hand me my ass in a sling on my very own pool table. (That was a metaphor, not a fantasy.) Happy Saturday!!

Peter Sattler 11:04 AM  

I have no words about the meta-puzzle, other than "WOW." To see all those pieces -- from the daily themes, to the final answer, and even the "ordering" clues -- all fall into place visually, conceptually, and thematically was such a neat experience.

Thank you, Mr. B., for week of crossing crossed crosswords!

SethG 11:04 AM  

Um, Patrick Berry is kinda amazing.

quilter1 11:20 AM  

Liked this puzzle, too, but haven't worked on the meta solution yet. As @chefbea said, got all day.

Never seen shepherd's pie with corn either.

Stan 11:24 AM  

A real tour-de-force, as everyone is saying (or tactfully not saying). Thanks for a great week, Patrick!

@jesser, LOL.

David 11:24 AM  

Wow, that was fun. Yeah, it was a much easier Saturday than usual but I really enjoyed the buildup over the week and the aha of deciphering the meta.

I'm not sure if I could've solved the meta without following both sets of instructions, I'll never know, so congrats to those who did. It sure made it easier for me!

Kurt 11:24 AM  


While I understand and usually agree with your point, I think that there are times for an exception. This was one of those times. And as @Orange said, the circles were the aha moment.

Smartly conceived and brilliantly executed as only PB can do. Lots of entertainment value this week.

Thanks Patrick and Will.

Tobias Duncan 11:26 AM  

I was just looking at the prize on Amazon.It goes for over 40 bucks brand new, pretty impressive for a softcover.Of course you can pick up a used one in "acceptable"condition with the following disclaimer for only $1.34 !

Reading copy. May have damage to cover, notes, underlining, highlighting, but all text legible.

r.alphbunker 11:40 AM  

@evil doug
I like being surprised by the unexpected. Thank you.

North Beach 11:40 AM  

OMG, I just got another level of the meta after re-reading Rex calling the second part "super cute and theme-relevant". This may be missed by online solvers until the reveal. Oh, I see Leslie and Anon got it.

Preat: pretty neat

OldCarFudd 11:47 AM  

Unbe-freakin'-lievable! What kind of mind can dream this up? What a week!

Larry I in L.A. 11:57 AM  

I am in awe and find it hard to believe that some of us are picking nits.

Granted, by itself this was much easier than the typical Saturday head-scratcher, but just think of the constraints that Mr. Berry had to operate under in service to the "meta" (and hoping that I'm being oblique enough to not "spoil" anything):

1) Nearly 50 squares that simply HAD to be certain letters;

2) strictly limited use of a fairly common letter;

3) two 15-letter answers to unveil the path to the meta-solution; and

4) the need for every clue in a particular puzzle to be presented in a specific way.

Despite these restrictions, we got six workable puzzles (perhaps one that was a bit of a slog), several terrific clue/answer combos, a fun rebus, a challenging "wrap-around" gimmick, an acceptable level of crossword-ese, and finally a payoff that worked on multiple levels.

To borrow from a recent (probably not PB) puzzle:


Mel Ott 11:58 AM  

What a great week of puzzling! pretty easy Saturday, but of course we have other issues going on here, and I'm fine with that.

When I got the meta I was even more appreciative of the construction challenges faced by Mr. Perry all week. Well done, Sir.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:05 PM  

Amazing, indeed.

I solved and sent in the meta before coming to the blog so I couldn't be influenced.

I will be quite interested to see from the Times the total number of submitted answers. Might be a hint as to the number of semi-serious solvers.

600 12:18 PM  

Well, same as @Alex. Still cannot figure out the second instruction, though, so I figure I might have missed something. I can't find any !@# circles to fill!

(I'm pretty sure @thursdayd is right about that second clue, and that by not getting it, I probably missed part of the answer. But, anyway, right or wrong, I entered.)

@North Beach--I'm an online solver; you say it might be impossible for us to see the circles until the reveal. Should I stop looking?)

Thanks to Blue Stater, pauer, and JasK for asking and answering about 12D. Now I get it!

Thanks, @jesser, for admitting you can't see any circles either. And as for your fantasies and metaphors--BIG laugh. Thanks for that too.

I have loved this week. LOVED this week! I agree that the puzzles were mostly easy to medium, not as challenging as some weeks, but they were clever and great fun and I hope they presage more such tour-de-forces to come.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Keep looking

600 12:22 PM  

Well, now that Larry in LA says that nearly 60 squares HAD to be certain letters, I KNOW I missed something. I also hope I'm not giving anything away when I say my answer required only 24.

I still can't find those damn circles.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Keep loooking

North Beach 12:34 PM  

@600: I did not say "it might be impossible.....". I am an online solver too.
Keep looking.

600 12:47 PM  

@North Beach--I stand corrected. That's what I get for reading what I want you to say (I'm getting dizzy looking for these things--I need someone to tell me it can't be done) instead of what you said.

Anyway, @North Beach and @Anonymous--Thanks for the encouragement; I'm still looking. IF I find the circles--and that's a big IF--you'll probably hear the celebration wherever you are . . . because this is three and out.

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

When you see it, it will be an oho experience!

N○am D. Elkies 12:53 PM  

W○w - for all the reas○ns Larry in LA enumerated. Like several other s○lvers, I guessed s○me ○f what was g○ing ○n early en○ugh that I c○uld fill in a few squares in this grid ○ut ○f ○rder. I didn't guess the answer entirely at first ○nly because the sec○nd part's ○riginal f○rm c○uld have w○rked t○○! But the ○ne PB ch○se has better w○rd breaks f○r this purp○se.


P.S. And it was plenty hard en○ugh f○r a Saturday puzzle, thank y○u very much...

Smitty 1:15 PM  

ok i get some of what some of you are hinting about, but if i have to wait til monday i'll be like that guy in A Beautiful Mind by then,

DocRoss 1:23 PM  


Anonymous 1:26 PM  

Still trying to unscramble the corners. The "circle" clue is brilliant. I was stumped at first, but then I thought to myself, "what are the only 'circles' I see within these square grids?" Then it all fit together!

Norm 1:32 PM  

A tremendous set of puzzles. Thank you, Mr. Berry. As we went through the week, I kept looking for things -- and saw nothing. After finishing today's puzzle, I was still baffled. And, then came the aha! moment. Such fun. (Captcha is "resee" which seems kind of appropriate ...)

Jet City Gambler 1:36 PM  

16A is just plain wrong. A-Rod came up to the big leagues in '95, halfway through the season. Even back then people were calling him "A-Rod." This is from the Seattle Times in Oct '96:

"Edgar Martinez, the 1995 AL batting champion, said he gave Rodriguez advice throughout the season when A-Rod asked, which was often. That's not to say that Martinez takes credit for helping Rodriguez win the batting title."

And here's Edgar with The Double, the hit in the 95 ALCS that saved baseball in Seattle. Who's on deck and at the plate whenn Junior scores? A-Rod.

Masked and Anonymous II 1:37 PM  

Finally got my contest entry submitted. The Email was actin' up all last night. Sorry, 31 -- I was gonna will you my used Yugo prize, if I'da had the earliest correct answer.

This week's U-counts: 777223. Once again, sorry, 31, that I advised you to count those for the contest. You probably lost valuable time.

Did you at least get an entry into the contest? It's really a pretty neat prize book. I checked 'er out yesterday at the Barnes & Nobel. It's all different from the earlier version of the Shortzmeister favorites book. Better'n a Yugo, even.

foodie 1:51 PM  

I hope somebody of great personal means is reading this comment, and agrees with me... I've been thinking all week, and now I am convinced: Puzzle construction is a unique and creative art form that deserves a substantive prize. I hope someone creates one- I mean one that awards the winner a medal and prize in the many thousands of dollars. My analogy is to the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which began in 1979 after noticing that this aspect of human creativity, that requires a unique talent and vision and enhances our lives, is not rewarded by the Nobel Prizes. So, this became the Nobel Prize of Architecture. Well... here's what our "development" specialists call "a giving opportunity" (love the euphemisms!).

As, I was explaining the denouement of this whole week to puzzle husband, I thought of an additional feature of one of the puzzles that resonates with the solution! Wow, again.

I really hope that Patrick Berry will tell us sometime next week how he came up with the overall plan and how he orchestrated its execution.

@Jesser, very funny. You're having an interesting week! Be strong!

P.S Do you all know about Patrick Berry's Crossword book? I'm getting a few for holiday giving... I am trying to convert some of the younger people in the family to the dark side.

treedweller 1:52 PM  

I join Larry I's STANDING O.

I admit sheepishly that I was not able to figure any of it out until I took advantage of the clues here.

Oh, the tangents I followed until that moment of discovery.

CoffeeLvr 1:54 PM  

@TobiasDuncan, I had the same thought about a TV show I enjoyed a lot; too bad it wasn't continued.

@BobKerfuffle, yes, I hope the Times lets us know how many entries are sent in. NPR does every Sunday morning.

I got it, will refrain from commenting today, except to say, wow, wow, wow.

A couple of things about this Saturday puzzle per se: I had to look up SHOED (post solve) to see that it is an acceptable alternative to SHOD. Liked STONEWALL, PANELIST, TANDEM. I am surprised no one has expressed dismay over AAAA batteries. They are a real size, but hard to find. I use them in penlights.

For me, the best part of this week of meta-challenge puzzles is that it took me back to solving on paper, so I could save the grids. I am finding that I am smarter on paper than online, maybe just because it prevents using Check to cheat or Google to quickly look up something. I am going to re-think the balance between use of paper and toner and solving more intelligently. Maybe I will solve Th/Fri/Sat/Sun on paper, and just do the easiest ones on line.

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Rex, you are really funny. It took me much longer to decode the second clue than the meta answer. I agree with your description but I vaguely recall that the last time this techniques was employed you were highly critical. Mr. Berry can do no wrong in your eyes...and mine.

Alex 2:02 PM  

Oho! Laid out the puzzles and just saw the light re: the second clue. Super-cute and on theme indeed!

jae 2:02 PM  

Ok, actually much less straight forward than I expected. Seems I only had part of it. So, let me add to the chorus of wows!

joho 2:21 PM  

@foodie... there absolutely should be a prize to recognize this kind of genius!

Patrick Berry, I am a fledging constructor and I'm thinking that I, and perhaps some others are thinking the same thing, should just shoot myself. However, on the other hand, this display of brilliance just wants me to be better. You are an inspiration!

And, thank you Will Shortz, for this incredible week.

I hope I win a book!

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

we got circles but no pleasure cause we solved it w/o circles.
no aha moment {meh} but agree construction must have been difficult.

puzzlecrone 2:25 PM  

The second part would have fit in the original language--but as soon as you solve the first name, it's all over.

PETER 2:31 PM  


600 2:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
acme 2:44 PM  

Did it without the circles, as I still don't understand that part.
I hope I'm eligible!

re: today's puzzle...
Got off to a rough start as I had iNAPT/ital!

Biggest challenge was the 39A "Role for Young" clue.
Gig? Robert? Loretta? Cy? Sean? Young MC?
Thank god I'm in my fifties!
(Never thought I'd feel that way!)

Chip Hilton 2:48 PM  

I came on here earlier to commend the week long brilliance of the contest and to state that I had solved the challenge. And I did, but the 'fill every circle' clue escaped me so I had to do some unscrambling. After an active day of yard maintenance, I came back in and sat down for a second look. It took me about 10 minutes, but I now get it and my appreciation of Mr. Berry's construction has climbed to an even higher plateau.

What a mind!

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

Oh. My God. My partner and I really enjoyed the puzzles this week. Patrick Berry deserves high praise. This was really fun. It took us to a while to figure out the circles. Definitely an Aha moment.

Lewis 3:13 PM  

A couple of people who have given clues here are spoiling the aha moments for those who would otherwise have solved it without the help. Please don't give anything away -- it's selfish!

Definitely the easiest Saturday I've ever done, though not a walk in the park. Patrick, I came into today with excitement and anticipation -- created by your brilliance -- and you didn't disappoint, no, you amazed. It was a magnificent finish to a supremely enjoyable week of solving. Thank you thank you thank you!

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

So, the circles seemed like the easier part for me to solve. Although I found a hidden answer within the puzzles given the order that the circles provided, it doesn't make sense when combined with the first letters clue given. ARGH, I'm going to have to keep staring at these grids.

Z 3:42 PM  

@Lewis - Maybe you missed this, "If you are really trying to avoid spoilers, I would suggest you stay away from the comments section today. But then, if you were avoiding spoilers, you probably wouldn't be reading this sentence right now."

@600 - I see you removed your 4th post. Now I'm going to feel guilty for my 4th.

mitchs 3:56 PM  

Only got the second clue after coming here. How cool is this? Thank you PB, MG, and BEQ. Metas rule!

Samantha 4:04 PM  

Completely baffled by this whole meta thing. Oh well. Had fun with the puzzles, anyway.

mac 4:20 PM  

Sorry to say, but Rex has a lot of 'splaining to do on Monday....

Stan 4:20 PM  

@Anon 3:26 -- You are so almost there! Just keep trying different theories.

joho 4:37 PM  

@PETER ... very funny! At least this time we weren't disappointed when we broke the code.

Lewis 4:43 PM  

@Z -- you're right, I did read that then forgot about it in the excitement...

Two Ponies 5:12 PM  

I laughed out loud at the aha moment of discovering the meaning of the second clue. I agree that Patrick deserves an award for putting together such layered complexity while keeping it so enjoyable.
This week has been a wow.

jberg 5:26 PM  

I solved this one fairly quickly this morning (I do it in the actual paper and don't time myself), got the meta answer from the first theme clue and sent it in - then had to leave for a day of meeting prospective students and their families. I looked for circles, but despaired.

I only got back about 5 PM, and decided to do the equivalent of running the alphabet - and aha! AS @Rex said, that ratched up my enjoyment of this great sequence of puzzles about 200%. Thank you Patrick Berry!

A little more crosswordese and strained words in this one than the rest of the week - but given the constraints, I didn't mind!

Anonymous 5:46 PM  

Did the puzzle this morning - fun enough.

Did the meta this afternoon and am impressed beyond belief. I'm no constructor, so my opinion is maybe meaningless, but I can't imagine having worked with all those constraints through a series of six puzzles. Totally worth the pay off.

Kudos to Mr. Berry!

Mark A. 6:03 PM  


Finally had my aha moment and got down to business.

The scope of Mr. Berry's accomplishment cannot be understated. What a puzzling stud.

Anonymous 6:20 PM  

Blue Sister

Adams was the 2nd and 6th president of the US.

skua76 7:17 PM  

I too am duly impressed. AHA!

Thanks to PB and Will! And I too am looking forward to seeing the NYT stats on how many folks submitted well as Rex's writeup on the meta. Hope I win the book!

michael 7:26 PM  

Solved today's puzzle (easy for a Saturday), solved the meta puzzle, entered the contest, still clueless about the circles. Looking forward to seeing what this is all about....I have a feeling it's visual. If so, no surprise that I'm not getting it.

AV 7:33 PM  

Short note to all those who did the puzzle but did not bother with the meta: "Go back to the puzzles and solve the meta, dammit!"

This is the reason we do puzzles, to come across such beauts once in a while.

I will also posit that this level of meta-puzzling will not come our way in a long long time.

And when the next meta- does come together, it will be constructed by a PB! ;-)

Edward Martin Cifelli 7:43 PM  

7:40 PM. Finally!!

Magnificent. A joy. And proof positive I have too much time on my hands! Kudos to PB.


Doc John 7:44 PM  

Brilliant. Say what you will about the individual puzzles (nothing negative from my perspective), the piece as a whole worked very well.
Plus, the symmetrical placing of the extra clues really drove it home.
I love when puzzles have extra dimensions like this. Hope we see more like this.

Lindsay 8:04 PM  

This reminds me of the time I had an MRI and the doctor told me I was brain dead.

chefbea 8:21 PM  

Tired of trying to figure out the meta!!! Time to watch baseball. Go Cards!!!!!

Dirigonzo 8:32 PM  

I won't see the Monday - Friday puzzles for 5 weeks, when they show up in syndication, so the awesomeness of the series wasn't apparent to me but this was still pretty terrific as a stand-alone puzzle. And since I finished it in under a couple of hours the "easy for a Saturday" comments didn't surprise me.

The "solving on paper vs solving on-line" debate continues to crop up here -a reading of the 10/22/2006 post on this blog will provide some insight into our host's early thinking on this topic and illustrate how the times have changed since then!

Ulrich 8:45 PM  

@puzzlecrone: That's what I tried, too, initially, not even bothering to find the circles--that was one of the side pleasures in this whole thing (can't be more specific lest being called a spoiler)

@foodie: re. Pritzker Prize--there's one lesson such efforts can learn from that endeavor: As soon as a decision is announced, there will be people up in arms, as I have been for a good portion of the Pritzker winners, starting with that ***expletive deleted*** Philip Johnson...

Tobias Duncan 8:56 PM  

@Ulrich But but but... he wears those cool glasses... like I.M Pei wears ...

Ljfbos 8:56 PM  

Solved the meta-challenge as a word jumble earlier, but after staring at the grids for the past couple of hours, finally saw the circles. Wouldn't be able to get to sleep without figuring this out! What a fun week of challenge!

chefwen 9:01 PM  

Well it took me long enough but I FINALLY got it. Phew, now I can get on with Sunday's puzzle.

Hope I win a book, piiick meeee!

Ulrich 9:47 PM  

PS: Once I got the circles and understood their meaning w.r.t the meta-answer, I felt like I felt when I had watched the Buffalo Bills win a playoff game in which they were trailing, at some time, by 32 points: I lived to see it!

@Tobias: He copied those from LeCorbusier--meh!

foodie 10:03 PM  

Ulrich, you're back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

swimslikeafish 10:31 PM  

Patrick Berry, you are to die for! Thanks!

Anonymous 11:31 PM  

Just laughed long and hard when I got Sunday's 8D.

Fred 12:13 AM  

Said @Evil: "If you want to create meta-challenges, they shouldn't come at the expense of the real reason we come here: The crossword, the crossword, the crossword."

Evil, perhaps you should just speak for yourself, as it seems that practically no one was disappointed with today's puzzle except you. Yours was a bit of a presumptuous statement to make, now wasn't it? But I guess you can't help it, being so dang evil and all.

stuckintx 12:32 AM  

Ack! This is so smart! I've been doing the NYT puzzle daily for a couple of decades (got hooked during my grad school days at NYU), but I'm still just woefully inept. Bravo for a beautiful and completely satisfying reveal that took me forever to figure out!

Julie 1:40 AM  

Sooooo excited!! I got it. I'm so not that smart, but finally four years of you-know-what in high school (Thank you Dr. Howard, Lowell High, 1962!) paid off. Incredibly gratifying. Still not sure about the part two of the clue, but will lie in bed thinking about it.

operapianist 2:21 AM  

Maybe I'm just speaking for myself here, but I think I'm the only one who patiently waited for the "circles" to pop out before going the "ovaltine" route. Needless to say, I went to bed frustrated but woke up literally 5 minutes ago and yelled "OMIGOD!", scared the (#*)@# out of my partner, and dutifully solved and submitted. Totally worth the wait on this one!! Hats off to Mr PB.

Chip Hilton 11:35 AM  

All these comments: almost as much fun as the challenge. And that is saying a good deal.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Et tu, Brute?

Thanks PB!

Frankie9999 6:09 PM  

Finally got the meta puzzle after printing out all the Across Lite puzzles (much easier to "see" it that way), and now it is 6:07. Oh well.

Gene 9:26 PM  

Like many others, got the answer and submitted, but couldn't figure out the second clue (circles). Finally came here, and got it after reading about half the comments. Definitely a "Wow"!

Detour 9:38 PM  

@Peter: your ovaltine comment was as elusive as those circles at first. Just reread it. Good one!

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

This will probably never be read as I get the crossword 5 weeks later. However, what a drag! and not fair! The puzzle in today's Des Moines Register, I finally found out, was a re-run of one from October 13, 2007!! After enjoying PB's puzzles all week, this was a real bummer!

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Syndication Land gets hosed. I got halfway through the puzzle in this morning's paper and was trying to figure out how the solution in any way involved the previous five puzzles...finally checked the byline and it's by the wrong Barry (C. Silk).

Too bummed to finish.

(ironically, the grid pattern features two cross patterns).


pauer 11:37 AM  

Hey, syndication land. Sorry you didn't get the final Berry puzzle today, even though the contest's over. Here's the PDF (subscription req): and here's the Across Lite file (subscription req):

And all of the answer grids from earlier in the week (in case you didn't save them) are available here (scroll down a bit and look on the right):

Hope that helps.

Jen in CA 12:12 PM  

Is there any way to get the right puzzle without a subscription to the NYT Premium site?

pauer 12:18 PM  

Looks like Jim Horne still has the Across Lite file posted.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

San Diego paper carried Barry Silk's puzzle from 10/13/2007; I don't usually mind being a syndy solver but felt disappointed after enjoying Berry's terrific puzzles all week, but no finale. Checked bottom of blog to find more of you shut out.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

I realize this is a contest that ended five weeks ago, but surely this could have been handled in such a way that we syndication solvers could have enjoyed the challenge as well. Like a simple disclaimer stating that the contest has ended.

That said, omniart's comment above piqued my interest. No delivery of my local paper on Monday any more, so I didn't have Monday's clues to refer to. I went to XWORD INFO to see Monday's 1a clue, and of course the solution to the meta puzzle became quite apparent when I saw the full grid.

Brilliantly constructed week. Perhaps my horrible short term memory will allow me to enjoy the entire set when it is published in a crossword book some time in the (not necessarily too distant) future.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

To Syndication Solvers, go to the NYT site and you can solve in Across Lite without being a subscriber.

Red Valerian 2:01 PM  

@Anonymous 1:12pm or anybody else... syndi-solver here (duh), and I'm trying very hard not to have the puzzle spoiled for me. So, I just zipped down to the bottom of the comments section. I've downloaded and installed the Across Lite software, but I don't see how to get this puzzle from the NYT site.

I'm sorry if this is just obvious (or if Rex has explained above). But it's quite a letdown to have assembled beside me a small stack of all five crosswords, then to open today's paper and see a Barry Silk. I mean, nothing at all wrong with Barry Silk! In fact, I liked the puzzle, though it was on the easy side for me for a Saturday.

Aaaaaaaaaanyhow, help anybody?

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

From the hinterland ....west coast of Canada 5 weeks later...on American Thanksgiving weekend I am thankful for..
-talented puzzle constructors like Patrick Berry
-@Rex for hosting this blog -and the many comment contributers -you have added much enjoyment to the puzzle experience
-@pauer for solving my dilemma when I found the wrong puzzle in today's paper

Thank you for a fantastic week!

Delmartian 2:40 PM  

Another frustrated west coaster. Tried all the hints I could find in the comments, but my IPad Safari could,t download the suggested xword site and I couldn,t find thus suggested free download on Wordplay. I wonder, Rex, if you could print the clues on Monday? They sound like fun. After something close to 60 years of doing NYT puzzles, I hate to miss out on this one!

Red Valerian 2:59 PM  

Just for other late folks like me (too afraid of spoilers to look around), here's a link in @pauer's message just a few messages above. It worked for me (though I don't have time to do the puzzle right now).

Thanks @pauer. And thanks @Anonymous 2:25pm for mentioning @pauer's post.

Waxy in Montreal 3:48 PM  

For syndisolvers looking for Rex's discussion of the Barry C. Silk puzzle from 10/13/2007, it's at -

Thought I'd solved this puzzle before...

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

I am a syndicted puzzle user. This is supposed to be for 10-22-2011. But it is not anything like the 10-22-2011 puzzle in my DMN the first clue is ten letters "Classic sports lineup".

The first clue on this site is only 4 letters answer "USSR"

What is going on?

Red Valerian 5:20 PM  

@Anonymous 5:09pm. Look two comments above yourself (so to speak).

Thanks, everybody--got it (access to the puzzle), got it (finished the puzzle--easy), got it (the second clue), and got it! (the first clue--finally, after a little snooping in the comments ;-)

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant... though perhaps the puzzle should have run in a different month...

Dirigonzo 6:59 PM  

I solve the M - F puzzles in syndication but since my local paper doesn't publish the Sat puz I have to buy the NYT and solve in real time, so I did the *correct* Saturday puzzle 5 weeks ago. It was well worth the wait to experience the full awesomeness of the meta puzzle clues. I never would have figured out the "circle" part if not for the comments today, but like others have said, if at first you don't succeed keep trying because it it definitely worth the "AHA" moment when you see it.

As a reward for our hard work all week, let's enjoy a little RPDTNYTCP on this date 5 years ago:
So this is what 37 feels like ... huh. Interesting."
- "Solving time: 30 flat"
- "A few preliminary notes: traffic to this site hit a record high yesterday as a surge of returning visitors coming back from Thanksgiving vacation (I assume) dovetailed with a tidal wave of solvers around the world trying to find the answer to a single clue from six weeks ago, the answer to which was POG. Seriously. 500+ unique visitors looking for one little three-letter word. I love the apparent randomness of it all: who knew that that clue would send hundreds to their computers?"
- "A Manny Nosowsky crossword for my birthday!? Oh, you shouldn't have. It's beautiful. And it fits! And look, it's full of some of my favorite words"
- "I just learned the term "crunchword puzzle" last night, actually, while reading Matt Gaffney's Gridlock (which is an informative and entertaining book on the world of crossword construction, by the way). I had done many crunchword puzzles before - I just didn't know that that's what you called them."
- " The correct OYSTER BED is not a phrase I can visualize. Do they sleep together? Are they farmed in beds?"
- Neither I nor my apple-loving wife (nearly wrote "wife-loving apple") knew what (the hell) this was. Until I looked it up just now, I was willing to be that the answer wasn't STAYMAN, but ST. AYMAN. Yet it is STAYMAN, a variety of Virginia apple, it seems. Sounds like something a hippie would say to his dog."
- The 13 comments included this from Rex in reply to @Howard B: "It sickens me that you are younger than I. Is that wrong? I was happily imagining you as an affable, 50-something man. Nobody is allowed to be younger than I!"

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, REX! (Sorry to shout but it must be hard to hear from this far away in time.)

Canadian loser 9:40 PM  

this wasn't the puzzle we got in syndication. too bad.

Jen in CA 10:24 PM  

My computer apparently can't open .puz files. Would someone be able to scan and upload a .pdf file for us syndi solvers? We would greatly appreciate it :)

Red Valerian 11:25 PM  

@Jen in CA, and others: you need Across Lite. I found a link to it at the NYT site. (Maybe this is why they didn't print the right puzzle in syndi-land--solving on-line was actually quite nice (and I like the sound of pen on paper), and now I want a subscription!)

Anyhow, try this: Across Lite

If that doesn't work, copy and paste:

By the way, I did try to scan and save as a .pdf, but my new operating system and old printer/scanner out-witted me.

Good luck!

NowWhat 12:14 AM  

My thanks to the 5 weeks later Anonymous 10:18 am blogger for his post. I searched the XWord Info Calendar of Solutions for 2011 and 2010 and gave up on finding the Barry C. Silk puzzle the Fort Worth Star-Telegram labeled as a 1022 puzzle. I never would have found the solution without your comment.


Jen in CA 12:22 AM  

@Red Valerian, you're my hero. It's now 9:15 on saturday night and I finally get to do the puzzle I've been waiting for all week! Which is pretty funny, because I rarely attempt Saturday puzzles. I've tried to avoid spoilers, so we'll see how it goes. I printed it out so I can work on it in bed, but I might try solving online in the future.

Thanks again to everyone who for your help today.

Anonymous 3:11 AM  

akpeds 11/26 in syndication outpost

I am just posting without looking at the blog at all, (though it is tempting) because the Anchorage Daily News carried a different puzzle today, oh NO! After all the anticipation. I am going to try to get a blank copy of the actual puzzle and metapuzzle instructions by emailing them tomorrow.
I think the puzzle I did (and kept wondering, what is the trick? What is the "meta"?) was the same puzzle people were talking about yesterday, by Barry Silk, that some people found on their iPads Friday (10/21). Which I thank him for, but kind of wish I'd noticed his name on it before I did the whole puzzle looking for some kind of deeper meaning.
Anyway, real reason I'm posting is that I read yesterday that today is Rex's birthday. If so, happy happy birthday and thanks for your writeups for our "tribe".

Jennifer in CA 10:29 AM  

@Anonymous 3:11, no spoilers here at the bottom of the page, just frustrated syndi solvers. Scroll up to @Red Valerian 2:59 and 11:25 for links to the metapuzzle.

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