Visitor at beginning of Hobbit / FRI 12-23-11 / Albert's love in Bye Bye Birdie / Flower named for resemblance to turban / Blood shed on Mount Olympus / Murderer in PDQ Bach's spoof opera

Friday, December 23, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

 Word of the Day: MANDARIN COLLARS (14A: Nehru jackets have them) —
A mandarin collar is a short unfolded stand-up collar style on a shirt or jacket. Mandarin collars start at the neckline and typically rise vertically two to five centimeters. The style originated from Western interpretation of dresses worn by Mandarins in Imperial China. // The length along a mandarin collar is straight, with either straight or rounded edges at top of the centre front. The edges of the collar either barely meet at the centre front or overlap slightly. Overlapping mandarin collars are often a continuation of a shirt's placket and have a button on the collar to secure the two sides of the shirt together. (wikipedia)
• • •
[FOR MY READERS IN SYNDICATION: It's pledge week here at the Rex Parker site (thru Sat.) —read my pitch for donations in the opening paragraphs of Sunday's write-up, here ... and thanks for your faithful readership (and the many kind messages I've received so far)]

• • •
Fairly typical Berry puzzle—solid and smooth. Tiny passageways between puzzle segments made moving through the grid a bit difficult. Top section played pretty easy, but I couldn't get into the middle at all at first—no way PAGINATE was coming, and though I had POLLIWOG (9D: It grows older and then croaks), I also had ANDREO (!?), which I realized afterward was due to stupid ANDREA *Bocelli*. Botticelli's first name was SANDRO? I had no idea. That middle section was the last to fall. I had to reboot in the bottom section with AVER / VALETED (36D: Did Jeeves's job), but had a harder time down there than I did up top, in part because I had OLE instead of RAH at 50D: Stadium shout, in part because I misspelled the answer to 31D: Blood shed on Mount Olympus (ICHOR) at first (I merged it with the autumnal hue OCHRE to get ICHRE), and in part because I thought 46D: Cross (SORE) was ROOD. Once I finally *saw* the clue for MAURA (44D: Actress Tierney)—a gimme—I got MAPLES (44A: Trees sought by leaf peepers) and started to make good headway. Eventually swung back up into the middle via AMEND / SCHMO / SACRILEGE. The "G" in PAGINATE / GORES was the last thing to go in the grid.

Great morbid clue on RUSSIAN ROULETTE (47A: Game you can't lose twice). Horrible, unnecessarily morbid clue on RHESUS (32D: Popular test animal in medical research). Also a poor clue on SEXISTS (33D: They put half the world down)—a pretty simplistic representation of how sexism works. It's not some guy shouting "All women in the world are stupidheads." You can be sexist and not actively "put down" half the world. I get the idea, but the wording stinks. A few interesting trivia clues today, particularly 22A: Flower named for its resemblance to a turban (TULIP). Both P.D.Q. Bach and "Bye Bye Birdie" are generally outside my sphere of knowledge, so neither of those answers came easily (46A: Murderer in P.D.Q. Bach's spoof opera "A Little Nightmare Music" + 38D: Albert's love in "Bye Bye Birdie"). I did not know ANTs had castes, though I guessed the answer easily enough.

SACRILEGE strikes me as something much stronger than simply lifting a fiver (28A: Stealing from the collection plate, e.g.). OSIER (45A: Twig used in wickerwork) and ORLON (10D: Woollike acrylic fiber) are common crossword materials, and I got them both pretty easily (OSIER helped with the whole ICHRE / ICHOR thing). NCR went from being a stumper when I started this blog to a gimme today (49D: Manufacturer of bar code scanners). Thought [Seller of supplements] would have some trick to it, but no—it's just GNC, a store you can find in any mall, USA. Got a couple lucky breaks up top—I teach Virgil every year, so the obscurish MANTUA was not obscurish to me, and my wife and I just started reading "The Hobbit" aloud to one another in the evenings, so the GANDALF visitation is fresh in my mind (1D: Visitor at the beginning of "The Hobbit"). My nephew is going to be an extra in Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" (filming in NZ, out next December). Excitingish!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Pete 12:17 AM  

I thought I had stopped being resentful about things I'm expected to know to be successful at this. For some it's rap, for others it's sports, any pop culture, for others it's anything historic or classical. I've come to realize that all is fair game, and have started shouting in my head whenever someone complains about a category of clues to just read a friggin book, or pay attention to the world around you.

I thought.

There is no way in hell that I will accept having to know the difference between VALETED and BUTTLED. I'll extend that... I now refuse to recognize as acceptable puzzledom fill anything related to the landed gentry in England and/or their indentured servants.

retired_chemist 12:20 AM  

A fine puzzle.

I helped myself by a few lucky guesses: MISTS @ 14D, TULIP @ 22A, SCHMO @26D, ORLON @ 10D. Can't think of any other 5 letter acrylic fibers immediately, but I bet there are some. Also plunked down ICHOR @ 31D without a blink. One can do too many crosswords....

I hurt myself by a few answers in need of a writeover: BULLFROG @ 9D,BEE @ 27A, NEATO @ 41A, EVICTS @ 37D, and RABBIT @ 32D. So I eventually overwrote them and finished.

I like themeless puzzles and actually enjoy having huge swaths of white persist for a few minutes then get filled in quickly. Such is the story today.

Thank you, Mr. Berry.

Rex Parker 12:31 AM  

I am laughing so hard at BUTTLED right now.

Evan K. 12:31 AM  

See? Give Rex some Berries and he goes home happy.

I was expecting BUTTLED too. That said, I hit on several biggies: RUSSIAN ROULETTE was my first instinct right off its fantastic clue, and picked up on big helpers such as STOCKCARRACES, RHESUS, and NIAGARA.

retired_chemist 12:31 AM  

@ Pete - Jeeves was essentially a valet but on occasion did indeed buttle. No matter, you don't need to know the difference. You just need to know that either VALETED or BUTTLED fits. Kinda like my simpler choice of BEE or ANT @ 27A. Either is fine in a vacuum but only one fits the crosses.

I skip M-W 12:58 AM  

Very smooth easy filling puzzle. Decided at once that 1A probably ended in on, so Orlon led to Niagara, which meant ant and not bee.

@Retired chemist, hands up for Bullfrog before Polliwog.
@ rex, center was hardest, but Sandro was a gimme for me, as was tulip. didn't know ichor at first, but Che was a gimme and then remembered ichor, which led to hexapods. Salieri pretty much a gimme, from title, referring to Mozart's " a little night Music", though 35 years ago was quite into PDQ. You can overdose on him pretty easily though. The second T in Triton was my last fill.

jae 1:38 AM  

Top-medium, bottom-easy, middle-tough = Medium for me. Needed to write over HOOKEDON and ENDSUP for EVERTS. Liked the grid, liked the puzzle, so typical PB.

@ret_chem. Had exactly that thought as I "plunked down" ICHOR.

Tobias Duncan 2:38 AM  

I am pretty sure I read in someones bio here that they went to butler school. I wonder if they had to write an essay on buttling...
There is some sort of a Kipling joke in there somewhere(I wouldnt know Ive never buttled).
This one was pretty easy and smooth except for a few tough crosses.

addled carrace michaels 4:58 AM  

My POLLIWOG started off as a treefrOG. Ribbit.

I was explaining to someone at a party tonight how to do Fridays and Saturdays. I guaranteed him that clues were pretty deadon, so he should just "envision"...

Tried it myself and calmly got EARPIECE, NIAGRA, BRAVO, SAFE

Weird to finish quickly yet not understand half the clues.
What are leaf peepers? People who go to Vermont to see trees change?
HARTE? iCHOR? How come everyone but me knows ICHOR?

Actress Tierney is an under/over 50 clue...over would want Gene/Jean? Under 40 is MAURA. it would be fun to have a whole list of actor/actress last names andsee who answers what.
Like if you hear Douglas do you think Kirk or Michael? Keaton do you think Buster or Michael or Diane?

SethG 7:41 AM  

Puzzle started off with GOT HUNG UP ON and MADE A RUN FOR IT, and it's not even worth a remark. That's why PB is so good. Not all the answers shined, but for a low word-count puzzle this was both smooth and poppy.

JaxInL.A. 7:50 AM  

I started thinking I would not be able to find a toehold in this puzzle, but I resisted looking stuff up and just kept at it, letter by letter. Sometimes a plural S or a past-tense D can really can get you the crossing entry. Perhaps I "envisioned" like Andrea said. I finished a PB Friday in very good time, on my own, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Hooray!

I have never heard of ICHOR. Apparently it is the ethereal fluid that courses through Olympian veins, and is said to be golden in color. Or if you are human it might be a smelly watery seepage from a wound.

@Tobias, @dk and @sf fran, I hope you will post a photo of your fateful meet-up. Safe travels to all in the icy weather.

@Andrea, apropos of you post yesterday (my sister has the same name so it's easy for me to remember you, even beyond your fame here): my real moniker is Jacqueline Hamilton and anyone can reach me at jaxhamilton (at) gmail. I think your wit and skill at early-week puzzle construction clearly put you in the room with those I can rely on for a rewarding solving experience. We see all the time how hard it is to make a puzzle both fun and accessible. Thanks!

Smitty 7:55 AM  

@Rex - I'm with you on RHESUS.. I didn't even want to contemplate the clue and tried to just get it on crosses.

Couldn't get PAD A BILL (add numbers) or TADPOLES to work.

Glimmerglass 8:10 AM  

Also started with buLLfrOG. The middle section was really challenging. Tough clue for PAGINATE. Finally dredged WIDOW up, which gave me PINIONS and so SANDRO and PAGINATE. But a widow is not exactly an error in typesetting. Nobody sets type anymore. It's a section of text, from a single letter to a few lines that won't fit in the space available for the story. With modern software (e.g. QUARK) it's a signal that the text needs to be shortened or more space allotted, but it never shows up in the paper.

joho 8:22 AM  

The bottom was easier than the top for me and I finished in the NW.
Misspelling GANDoLF made the STATUE hard to see, but with SToTUE in place it became clear.

@addled carace michaels ... I, too, had treeFROG before POLLIWOG (which I love) ... we can't be the only ones?

Fantasic Friday, Patrick Berry, you never disappoint.

Old Timer 8:26 AM  


But when they DID set type, WIDOW was a no no. (It still is.)

"Nobody does it any more" is not a valid complaint.


Pete 8:40 AM  

I am truly embarassed to find out that buttle, hence buttled, is in fact a real word rather than nonsense I just made up. It ruins the premise of my core joke there.

Donkos 8:46 AM  

After becoming a regular reader of this blog, I now do something I never used to do - check out the author of the puzzle. I cringe a little whenever I see patrick berry in the byline But have to say this was a solidly constructed puzzle. Was able to get the middle and bottom but struggled in the north due to "frost" and wanted tea pot for 3 down.

Donkos 8:51 AM  

New crossword slang? BUTTLED - having picked the wrong answer from a pair of equally arcane choices?

Tobias Duncan 9:01 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jberg 9:05 AM  

You learn so much doing crosswords. For example, until today I never knew that the posSUm was a common lab animal. Oh, wait . . .

I also learned that POLLyWOGs are spelled with an I, but not until coming here - and although I had heard Botticelli's first name many times, I didn't remember that it wasn't SANDlO. So I finished with pOlES at 21A and learned a new word, PApyNATE, for 19A. Sob!

@Pete, buttled may be considered a real word now, but it started when someone else made your joke. I'm not sure VALETED is any more real, actually.

And @ACME, that's exactly what a leaf peeper is - it's a common usage here in New England, as leaf peeping is a major driver of fall tourism. Not so much in California, I guess!

retired_chemist 9:19 AM  

The online dictionary lists VALET and BUTTLE both as verbs.

Z 9:20 AM  

I really wanted perseverate at 1A, but GANDALF stopped me. North, south, east, and west all came easily enough, but I really stalled in Iowa. This despite having SANDRO and PINIONS filled in. Thinking that POLLfrOG might actually be a thing didn't help.

Odd Malapop for me today. Thought to myself "Botticelli" upon seeing the image on page C27. Nope, Andrea del Castagno. And then there is SANDRO in the grid.

No BS 9:28 AM  

Great puzzle, with a 20 minute span between "this is completely impossible" and successful completion.

So, Rex, are you saying Andrea Boccelli's work is not to your taste? Would you accept "stupid Virgil" from a student?

Just sayin' [sic]

Victor in Rochester 9:30 AM  

@jberg has identified a problem for me--completing the puzzle with wrong entries because of unknown words, and the wrong definition stays with me. Rex helps me avoid this problem. My geeky friends and I enjoy playing a version of the Dictionary Game in which we rotate the dictionary, the person with the dictionary chooses an obscure word, writes the definition on a card, and all the other players write an original "definition". Points are scored when someone chooses the definition you wrote. Big problem: remembering the new word and the real definition.

Tough puzzle today.

Ivan the Horrible 9:43 AM  

RUSSIANROULETTE is a really cool game!
I think it's on Facebook now, too. The great thing is you can play it alone or with up to five other people. It's especially fun when the sixth person has the last shot.

Loren Muse Smith 9:57 AM  

I had the same experience as No BS - "I'm never going to finish this" to "Ok it wasn't so bad." Finally got my toe hold with RON and then SCENT and then LOGIC.

So how would you pronounce VALETED?

Loren Muse Smith 10:02 AM  

I guess the "t" in VALETED is silent, as it is in "fileted." ??

jackj 10:11 AM  

When doing a tough crossword it has been my experience that, at some early point in the solving, one can confidently predict, "I now know I'll finish this puzzle with no outside help."

Today, for me, it came with the first answer I entered, SANDRO, and there was ne'er a doubt thereafter. (Of course, it helped that it was a solver-friendly Patrick Berry puzzle).

The only slowdown was self-inflicted at 51 across when -------ARRACES was sitting in the grid and my subconscious, weirdly, kept promoting CARAPACES, which made no sense at all and was finally buried under a double shot of STP when STOCKCARRACES filled in.

The three stars of this game were POLLIWOG, PAGINATE and SACRILEGE; elegance in abundance, again, from the master.

Matthew G. 10:26 AM  

Slightly tougher than the usual Berry Friday, mainly because of the middle section that Rex highlights. But very satisfying when finished.

When I first picked up the grid (I did this one on paper), I spotted the clue for RUSSIAN ROULETTE, which was a gimme with that clue, and then (believe it or not), my second entry was RHESUS, just off the U in RUSSIAN. I must be horrible and unnecessarily morbid.

Didn't know Virgil was born in MANTUA, but knew that city from Romeo and Juliet, so filled it in confidently after a couple of crosses.

PAGINATE took me for-ev-er to see. The last nine squares I filled were the nine topped off by the PAG in PAGINATE, inclusive:


dk 10:27 AM  

Andrea! Buttle! (insert x-mas chortle about here)

Shed blood at ICHOR. Not a flippen clue. The rest was solved in about one hour while in front of a crackling mesquite fire.

Off to get Stollen and more champagne - mon ami d'jour.

We of the dk clan have been beating to death the just sayin thing. Happy to see it still lives on here.

Stopped at the Dalton gang hideout on the way here. Going back I will stay in Dodge City. My mom went through a L. L'Amour phase so I am in good company as I don my black Resistol. It is interesting to me that the wild west is mostly Kansas.

*** (3 snowflakes) Big storms here in NM. Thank you Mr. Berry for a great Friday morning.

quilter1 10:31 AM  

My first entry was CHE and I filled in the whole bottom third from there, then the top half, but, boy, the middle was tough. I had conflATE before PAGINATE, could not conjure up PINIONS from my memory, despite knowing it. Also had bullfrOG before POLLIWOG. But in the end all was well.

I enjoy a challenge and this was a good use of my breakfast time.

archaeoprof 10:35 AM  

Had the same experience as many here. Tough at first, then it started moving.

Solved like a backward 6: across the top, down the east, across the bottom and back up to the center.

Was just reading some Virgil last night.

In high school I had to memorize the first seven lines of Virgil's Aeneid. Now when I can't sleep I recite them until I start to nod off. Try it: arma virumque cano Troiae qui primus ab oris... (you are getting sleepy)

@Rex: now we can be sure Peter Jackson's The Hobbit will be every bit as good as The Lord of the Rings.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

This was a tough one!
Are the people who do this kind of puzzles in 2 and 3 minutes for real?

Rex Parker 11:13 AM  

Call me when Bocelli changes Western Civilization.

Oldactor 11:15 AM  

@ACM: Douglas, I think Fairbanks or Melvin:)

Stan 11:26 AM  

Had TWAIN for HARTE for a long time at the top. Finally untangled by remembering a college roommate who was from Twain Harte, California.

POLLIWOG is an excellent word I haven't thought of in many years. Yes, 'leaf peepers' is the standard term for fall-foliage tourists. And peepers are also TREE FROGS. Something akin to a malapop here?

Thanks, Patrick.

Two Ponies 11:31 AM  

Lots of fun as usual from PB.
The paginates/gores had me stumped.
@ Tobias Duncan, I can't remember if it is in my profile but I did go to butler school. No one ever said buttled however.
@ dk, I was also surprised at all of the cowboy stuff in Kansas.

evil doug 11:41 AM  

Douglas? I think of Evil at a banquet or other formal occasion....

Had the ___us for the test animal, and wondered: Would they really do that to a walrus?

My favorite of the Everts is Chrissy. Marla is the hottest Maples. Don't much care for any of the Gores. Rosie Palm was my best friend when I went on two month TDY's in the Air Force....

I still don't believe that Sandro is for real. SandM is, or SandH Green Stamps. Don't play Scrabble, but I'd also challenge Mantua. And buttled. Tried to misspell GandOlf, like Joho, because I might be the only person here not to read that Hobbit stuff.

One of those most satisfying days when I was ready to give up on the flyover country and central California, but after a couple hours I brought her home like a crippled B-17---shot full of holes from my scratch-outs but ultimately mission accomplished.


Moonbeam Sunrise 11:41 AM  

My 15 month old son is named Western Civilization. I'd love for that Bocelli dude to come over and change his shitty diapers - anyone got his number?

syndy 11:43 AM  

My only writeovers were TWAIN/HARTE and HEXAPEDS but SCHME put that right.Bottom dropped fast followed by the top=middle earth was the last to go! WIDOW I'm taking on faith and that got me PAGINATE-finished in under 18 mins-I think the Main difference between Valeting and Buttling is that the Butler has subordinates.

Wood 11:45 AM  

The first thing I noticed about this puzzle was how pretty the grid was. All that white space, and an elegant swirl of black squares in the middle.

I am a relative newbie but I am still amazed at the ability to stack up long answers in a grid like this. And nary a crosswordese clunker to be found. I now understand why Patrick Berry is revered in this forum.

I was surprised how quickly things came to me -- but yes, PAGINATE was one of the last. TEAset hosed me up in NW for a good while too. Had heard of ICHOR but didn't know its origin -- gold god blood, that's flippin' cool.

Merry Xmas (or whatever you celebrate), everyone!

JenCT 11:50 AM  

BUTTLED could be my avatar yesterday...

This one was (mostly) out of my league - enjoyed the workout, but DNF (still typical for me on Fri. & Sat.)


Tyler Hinman wrote a thoughtful post at the end of Wednesday nights' comments, in case anyone missed it.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Another terrific puzzle by Patrick Berry...minus all those annoying Roman numerals and tons of crappy abbreviations.
I thought I got 100% til I realized I left Ochor instead of Ichor.

Anoa Bob 11:54 AM  

I wanted tadpole for 9D but it wouldn't fit so morphed it to POLLIWOG.

That center section is definitely a puzzle enclave.

Did a double take at 18A "Man of steel?". Haven't STATUEs been made of bronze since, well, since the Bronze Age? Steel rusts.

Recently read "Galileo's Daughter" so I knew 6D "Poor Clares member" (NUN) right away. Poor Clares, AKA Sisters of St. Clare, is an order similiar to the Franciscans. G's daughter Virginia was a member and many of her letters to her father are extant and form the book's motif. Wonderful read.

Jenny 12:23 PM  

Bertie Wooster says of Jeeves somewhere that he can "buttle with the best of them" if need be (or is that Peter Wimsey of Bunter? - should have googled it before starting on this comment).

@loren: Pretty sure the type of valet Jeeves and Bunter are is pronounced with a hard T.

Fun puzzle today. Started with GANDALF, finished by changing y to I in POLL*WOG - but not before much effort to fit some "poly" verb where PAGINATE belonged.

Jenny 12:25 PM  

Also: Got worried early on that 18A was becoming STAlin. Saved by TEACUP.

Sparky 12:28 PM  

Started with RUSSIANROULETTE, then CHE. MANDARIN COLLARS fell too. Can't believe I did that well on a Friday even though DNF. 4 words incomplete in center and had to Google SANDRO. Still a great Friday for me.

I'm baaack. I've been away for this long because when I arrived my phone co. told me "No port available. Seek elsewhere." Huh? I am finally set up.

There is a new Sparky on board. The one at 9:17 a.m. on 12/21 not me. Having trouble with Google asking me to sign in and start a blog when I already have a blog. So for now no atavar of the blond old woman.

Have missed the gang a lot. Sound the trumpets, strike the harp strings, light the candles each day and we'll all have a real good time.

kaby 12:54 PM  

Tough puzzle. For awhile I thought it was themed having something to do with the color orange. First, I GOTHUNGUPON MANDARINCOLLARS because I was not aware that all Nehru jackets had orange trim. And, by my LOGIC, TuliP could be TrumP, the guy who has, among many ODDDITIES, orange ORLON-looking hair and who WARRED with ROSIE who ADDLED him while he was in the THROES of a divorce from MAPLES who,in turn, was SORE at him for being a SEXIST SCHMO. BRAVO MAURA! (AKA Marla). And then I thought maybe the theme was actually about TrumP himself, which would have made it very difficult since _____HEADED could have been any number of things.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

got hung up on gothungupon and htg mantua but then smooth sailing. loved russian roulette and clue for indicts. widow??? what is that? but had it. learned ichors from the dictionary game but i do agree that one tends to remember the made up definition. love db's puzzles always.

Ambrose Bierce 1:02 PM  

@Moonbeam Sunrise - Never, ever, let me near Western Civilization. Just remember what I did to Justice.

CoffeeLvr 1:09 PM  

DNF, even after setting the puzzle down and a night's sleep. Like @Joho, I misspelled GANDoLF. I did not know Virgil's birthplace - had MAN?UA crossing S?oTUE and finally gave up and Googled. So one Natick and one adjacent square wrong.

Found the bottom very easy, the middle and very top medium. Had trouble spelling NIAGARA, big writeover with tierodS before PINIONS.

Have a great holiday weekend, all. I will probably skip or defer tomorrow's puzzle.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

correction PB's.

Rookie 1:23 PM  

I'm with Rex re sacrilege. It's a much more serious offense. Online dictionary says "gross irreverence toward a hallowed person, place, or thing." The nuns in grade school would have seen taking money as naughty, but definitely not sacriligeous!

So, my insertion of "pilfering" caused me oodles of trouble.

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

@Moonbeam Sunrise - It's really a chump move to name your child just so that he'd have the coolest death notice ever: "Death of Western Civilization is confirmed".

However, if his death occurred as part of an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardasians, the irony would be worth it.

r.alphbunker 1:25 PM  

The clue "Sticks" for GORES is Newmanesque in its slipperiness. "Mommy, Bobby gored me with a pen" generates a completely different response from a mother than "Mommy, Bobby stuck me with a pen".

increased prevented me from getting PAGINATE for a long time.

quilter1 1:45 PM  

Western Civilization aside, I've heard more stupid baby names over my hospital years than you could imagine. Then I took a gift tag from the angel tree at church and bought clothes for a 5 mo. old named...Comet. At least Western Civ could go by Wes.

The worst I've known: Michelob, Lexus, and, wait for it, Vagina. No lie. The mom was 15. We begged her not to do it, to no avail.

Udom Kachintorn, Dean of Faculty of Medicine 1:51 PM  

@Moonbeam - Your child has a namesake, currently here in Siriraj Medical center in Bangkok, suffering from a variety of STDs. His name was so unusual that our local paper ran an article about him, with the banner reading: อารยธรรมตะวันตกวางต่ำโดยโสเภณีไทย. Roughly translated, Western Civilization laid low by Thai prostitutes.

A Boy named Sue 1:59 PM  

@quilter1 - What a horrible thing to name your son.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Whenever I see Patrick Berry's name, I move on. Worst cluing of all. A waste of time.

Loren Muse Smith 2:25 PM  

@Quilter1 - Someone told me of a real baby name:


(pronounced tadasha)

Andrea (not bocelli ) michaels 2:42 PM  

This reminds me of one of my favorite Gandhi quotes when asked what he thought of Western Civilization and he said he thought it would be a good idea!

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

I wasn't able to finish this because of the top left, where I had WASHUNGUPON and little else.

Tita 2:57 PM  

This was back to my usual tough Friday solve. Needed puzzle husband (thx foodie for coining that) to break the puzzle wide open for me with SACRILEGE. (He was an altar boy. No more, though.)

Was delighted when I grokked that 9D was tadpole, sad when it wasn't, then even more delighted when it was POLLyWOG - my favorite clue/answer of the month!!

@Stan - peepers in our wetlands are our first sign of spring...

stonED for ADDLED
mEgAPODS - thinking of millipedes makes my itchy all over...

Took apart enough old British cars to now PINIONS with no crosses...
OldCarFuff - been meaning to thank you for all your car lore...

This was just like the old days, before downloading and printers at home made separate solving possible. Was fun co-colving back in our wild youth... ;)

(biodazzl - that BEAUT of a BUTTE from yesterday?)

Lewis 3:01 PM  

A relatively snark-free day here in Rexville. Is it the holiday season, or is it because Patrick Berry came to town?

Cheerio 4:26 PM  

@Jenny: yes, the full version is worth seeing, given other posts about valet vs. butler:

1963, P. G. Wodehouse, Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, chapter I:

Jeeves, of course, is a gentleman's gentleman, not a butler, but if the call comes, he can buttle with the best of them.

Jeffrey 5:37 PM  

I don't know what my parents were thinking. What kind of a name is Crosscan?

Tita 5:51 PM  

Hi Lewis...
Re: your dyslexic reading of my name
My niece couldn't say Tia Tereza, so I became Tita.

Only reason it is my Rexville persona is that I used it for the Christmas Village blog I started, and well, we all know how interconnected the intertubes are, so it carried over to here.

Hey - that blog needs some fresh blood - everyone go take a look to see what I ought to be working on instead of hanging out in Rexville.
It takes a Village
(Really geared to those who have to be nice to me cause they're family, but what the's Christmas...)

Tita 5:54 PM  

OldCarFudd - so sorry about Fuff!!
(Insert embarrassed emoticon here...)

quilter1 6:42 PM  

@loren muse smith: that's cute.

r.alphbunker 6:43 PM  

I thought Fuff was OldCarFudd's pet and I didn't understand what you were embarassed about.

Fluff is slang for a lady's fart but who has to apologize for that on a blog?

Then I found your first post and all became clear.

Anonymous 8:45 PM  

Can someone please explain why 'typesetting no-no" is widow.

Anonymous 9:11 PM  


Anonymous 9:20 PM  

@Anon 8:45 In typesetting, or printing of any sort, a Widow is when the last page of a document only contains a partial sentence, or when the copy doesn't all fit into the alloted space.

All modern document writing software automatically prevents widows by playing fast and loose with margins or line spacing to either compress the document into fewer pages, or expand the document to the point where a substantial portion appears on the last page.

Anonymous 10:14 PM  

@anonymous 9:20PM

Many Thanks!!

Tita 10:29 PM  

@Old Timer, Glimmer, Anon, et al...

Apropos WIDOW...Article in the grey lady about type & typesetting...
Types with Plenty of Character

I for one hope to get to see this exhibit.

sanfranman59 10:39 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:35, 6:50, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:39, 8:53, 1.09, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 12:19, 11:48, 1.04, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Thu no data (travel day)
Fri 21:10, 25:25, 0.83, 21%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:40, 1.01, 55%, Medium
Tue 4:58, 4:35, 1.09, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:08, 5:51, 1.05, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Thu no data (travel day)
Fri 11:00, 12:35, 0.87, 28%, Easy-Medium

Tita 10:44 PM  

@Anoa Bob...
Thank you! I knew NUN was the answer to 6D, but couldn't remember why I knew it...

I read that book a few years ago. Thanks for the memory!

mac 10:51 PM  

Paginate slew me. Never heard of it or the widow. I also had the bullfrog, and, like Tita, we have the peepers as harbingers of spring.

@Andrea (not Bocelli, please): how about the Barrymores?

May not have time for tomorrow's puzzle because of a big crowd in the evening, but I want to wish all of you a lovely last week of December 2011!

Rudy 11:01 PM  

PB is very good.

Was going great guns with RUSSIANROULETTE and GOTHUNGUPON but then got hung up on the middle (isn't CONFLATES good for 19a?). SANDRO and ICHOR came through by Googling.

Finally limped home with a riddled page. SACRILEGE came in last and elegantly.

OISK 11:20 PM  

Liked this puzzle very much. Just did not like the obscure (for me) clue for "widow" when there are so many cleverer, more creative possibilities: (you may not agree about my notion of "clever," but... "female mantis after mating", "she may have a peak" "survivor?"  )  there were so many possibilities that the very clever Mr. Berry might have used, that would have left me smiling instead of scratching my head.

But I am quibbling about one clue ! Really enjoyable puzzle, thanks.

NumbersGuy 12:00 AM  

the only reason i look at fri-sat puzzles is to come here and get my WTF moment. im a numbers guy not a words guy, so AHA isnt the best description after finding something rated easy-medium when i filled in a total of 4 words. but i did get the entire bottom half w/o G, which made this the easiest friday ever for me. one of my most enjoyable fridays for that reason. and finally getting a 15 w/o any crosses.

but that isnt my reason for writing. i wanted to thank rex for the 80s videos that are totally unrelated to the puzzle, except in an obscure way. today was especially relevant because when i went to see adam and the ants in high school, as one of my favorite bands at the time, there was this new band from the land of Men at Work that opened for them - and who also appeared in a puzzle or two recently. INXS.

next time we have the answer ADAM, i hope Will will shout out and make the clue "leader of the ants". let them stew over pixar references or entymology for a while and experience the frustration i do every week because i dont know everything that ever happened in the world.

pk 2:27 AM  

Wow. I thought this was a great puzzle, made even greater by the fact that my daughter is home for Christmas and solved more than half of it. If I were more tech savvy, I would post the picture I took of her and her Big Black Dog solving under the Christmas tree.

I went to Gandalf immediately and knew how to spell it. She went to Russian Roulette, which I never saw coming. We had a lot of fun handing it back and forth.

We lit the fourth Menorah candle tonight - Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas to all.

Scarlet Pimpernel 10:01 AM  

@ Pete - Oh, stop yer snarking. Did they not teach "Remains of the Day" in your HS English class? Never watched the movie, either, I take it. Valets deal with clothing (male clothing) exclusively - waterfall cravats, shining of Hessian boots and whatnot. Butlers, well, buttle, as we know. And don't smile much. However, I did when reading your comment! :)

xyz 11:49 AM  

I must improve my knee-jerks.

go back to school, I suppose?


xyz 12:06 PM  

Oh and yes ... Why is RHESUS "unnecessarily morbid"? There are far more ways that so-called Big Pharma are Phar Phar worse. Read up on it.

Mighty Nisden 7:02 PM  

As usual an impossible (for me) friday. I knew about the Poor Clares by the convent they had near my families vacation spot in Seacliff Beach CA.
Mad as heck that I couldn't figure out POLLIWOG. Oh well since I got half of it done without help I know I'm getting better!!

Anonymous 7:35 PM  

Spacecraft here. DNF today, but that wasn't Patrick's fault. After seeing thee completed grid I had to agree: no unfair clues. I just plain didn't know enough. Tried a couple of guesses: TWAIN for HARTE and DEIMOS for TRITON (you know, trying like hell to get through it without having to Google), and when they dead-ended I realized I'd wrestled with this all day, so just threw in.
Actress Tierney--but five letters, not four (Gene)! Oh wait, didn't I see the name MAURA somewhere? And then tried to fit GOLFTOURNAMENTS into 51a without success; you know, the Nationwide Tour, for pro-wannabes. Finally guessed AKA and NCR and was waffling between OLE and RAH when the --ANR--combo caught my eye and gave me the head-slapper at 47a (brilliant clue!). From there I managed to finish the south and SE, but though I got RHESUS I couldn't pick up anything else there in the SW. The center is still blank. Wanted TADPOLE so bad I nearly blacked out the extra square; knew POLLIWOG but had totally forgotten it.
A disappointment, to be sure--but hey: RUSSIANROULETTE was a get worthy of the day. This just shows that I'm still enrolled in Crossword Solving 101--and trying to pass a graduate course. I just look at this grid and feel like a 15-kyu playing go with a 10-dan.

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

Spacecraft PS. Please do not automatically assume that all lab animals are treated with no compassion. Medicine gets all the bad press while geese still get a food tube shoved down their gullets in the name of pate. If you've ever accepted that dish to eat, you have no PETA cred.

Dirigonzo 9:32 PM  

I needed all the crosses for 31a "Org. whose roots go back to the Civil War" (IRS), and I worked for them for 32 years!

Red Valerian 12:55 PM  

DNF, but had a good time. Had Tumult for 34A (violent upheaval, which should have been THROES) which slowed me down. Stuck with POLLfrOG... argh.

Read 32A as Popular test in animal medical research (inverting 'in' and 'animal'), which made me scratch my head.

Got 22A (flower named for its resemblance to a turban) on account of having recently been in Turkey, the birthplace of tulips.

@Dirigonzo: well, it's not as though you were working for them during the Civil War :-)

@DJ Stone, wherever you are. It's snowing. Was sure you'd want to know.

Loved, loved, loved that Adam and the Ants clip. Thanks, @Rex!

Captcha: glych... what my brain does from time to time.

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