Yiddish for connoisseur / FRI 12-9-11 / Victorious fleet commander at Actium / Country * 1936 Oscar-winning Disney short / Queen who becomes Senator in Star Wars saga

Friday, December 9, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty:Medium

THEME: none

 Word of the Day: In OMNIA paratus (9D: In ___ paratus) —
Latin: "Ready for anything" (motto of the U.S. Army's 18th Infantry Regiment)
• • •

A typically smooth and interesting Patrick Berry themeless puzzle. Would've skewed toward the Easy side were it not for the NE corner, which brought me to a complete if not screeching halt. Everything above the CRISIS in CRISIS MODE (20A: "The worst is upon us" mentality) was a blank. Neither the PAD in SCORE PAD nor the GAME in HOME GAME was helping me get the first parts of those phrases at first, and the missing crosses? A perfect storm of You Must Be Kidding. McGovern's 1972 running mate? 1936 Oscar-winning Disney short? Some Latin phrase I've never heard of? Yipes. I had that horrid, sickly feeling of Stuck. If I'd been able to spell AM*I*DALA (13D: Queen who becomes a senator in the "Star Wars" saga), I might have gotten myself out of this rut sooner, but no. I eventually got HOME GAME, and then completely guessed SHRIVER. Things came together from there. I probably lost only 30-45 seconds, but that's an Eternity in crossword time (for me). The rest of the puzzle never managed to halt my steady forward progress. I lucked out along the way—ALMOND JOY clue was Ridiculously easy, I know Dolly Parton's "JOLENE" and K.D. LANG's "Constant Craving" by heart, and LAVINIA and I are old friends. SW, like its symmetrical counterpart, was tough, but in a way I could fight through ... though I don't know what I'd have done without the EWOK (47D: Furry denizen of Endor), 'cause I had Nothing in that quadrant until that critter came along. "K" led to PASSKEYS led to HARLEY etc. etc. Long live the EWOK (I malign these creatures a lot, but I'll take a passel of EWOKs over a single queen AMIDALA any day).

An astonishing number of answers from Roman history today: its beginnings in LAVINIA (her marriage to Aeneas provides the mythical foundation for the civilization that would become Rome), its Golden Age glory in AGRIPPA (34D: Victorious fleet commander at Actium), and its 410 AD death knell in ALARIC (1A: Visigoth king who sacked Rome). Lots of music today too, with an especially interesting clue on MAMA CASS (36A: Pop singer born Ellen Naomi Cohen). Didn't know her given name. Also didn't know "CSI" forensic scientist Grissom (GIL). Not a fan of that franchise. I was a fan of "Twin Peaks," however, and Sherilyn FENN's name came back to me rather easily (48A: "Twin Peaks" actress Sherilyn). MAVEN does not sound Yiddish to my ears, so I was reluctant to put it in, even though it was the first word that came to mind (26A: Yiddish for "connoisseur"). The first word (or phrase, rather) that came to mind at 29D: Female impersonators use them was FAKE BOOBS. Later, when I had more of the crosses, I was almost convinced that the answer could be FALSE TITS. this made the actual (fine) answer something of a let-down.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Victor/Victoria French 12:15 AM  

NE for you, NW for me. I went with FLORIN for ALARIC for a long time. Wasn't there an emperor named Florin? What the hell's a Visigoth anyway? The O in Florin gave me "overtly" instead of "alertly" and I never did get CONCLAVE, thinking there was some sort of military thing and trying to get an NCO something out of that mess and blah blah blah whatever I just watched a video of "Best of Dogs Saying Grace" or something like that somebody posted on Facebook and should just go to bed and get some rest so I can be ready to wage another battle in the War on Christmas tomorrow. Didn't know MITTERRAND had two R's. Had WILBUR for OLIVIA on the first pass. Would have accepted a Carter Country clue for HARLEY.

r.alphbunker 12:24 AM  

No Googling. I now consider it disrespectful to Google a PB puzzle. They are well enough constructed that taking a break will get you unstuck.

I could picture McGovern's running mate and knew he headed the Peace Corp but the name didn't come until I got the V from the incorrect OLIVer.

Also I could hear the "sometimes you feel like a nut" jingle in my mind but the answer did not come until I entered the incorrect ArMOrDogs which was blatantly wrong but the A_MO.. leapt out at me for some reasons and from that I got the nut.

awiner 12:45 AM  

LAVINIA crossing ALARIC (and an obscure GIL too)? That NW corner was a disaster... the rest, smooth as expected.

jae 1:04 AM  

North in general was tough for me so Med.-Challlenging over all with SW on the easy side and SE Med. JOLENE was featured on a recent GLEE episode otherwise it would have been a WTF. GIL I knew, LAVINIA not so much. Fortunately ALARIC surfaced from the depths of crossword memories or I would have missed this one by one square. As expected, an excellent Fri. from PB, although I too was hoping for something a bit more interesting for 29d.

Anyone else try ONEONONES for 6d?

santafefran 1:35 AM  

Having just eaten a Halloween leftover mini-Almond Joy before starting the puzzle, that was a throw down.

Write-overs included
GUS before GIL

Hands up for MITTERAND which didn't fit.

Try as I might, I couldn't cram in CHURCHKEYS for PASSKEYS FALSIES wasn't long enough. Like our fearless leader, the NE corner was the last to fall.

Didn't like MISADDS and didn't know that CONCLAVES were private.

winkno--or you might be cited for sexual harrassment.

Adidas calico misadds 2:01 AM  

He's the best, but come on...super super nerdy, every other clue ancient history or a star wars character...
Take off patrick berry's name and i defy anyone not to think this was created by a 45 yr old man living in his parents' basement, despite making six figures a year at some IT job...
And dollars to doughnuts, FALSETtoS was a plant...
Since tits would be impossible, i actually considered teeth and ToeS before hitting the right (high) note.

It was weird, i knew ALARIC and LAVINIA and AGRIPPA without actually knowing who anybody actually was...

My hardest part was thinking Black Yelow and White might be mexICO.
and where DID MITTERRAND get that extry-R?

Oddly, JOLENE and KDLANG have been mashed up in my head, and it actually sounds good...

Eagleton was McGovern's original , right? Luckily it didn't fit. For you young uns, Sargent SHRIVER is Maria's dad,; he was married to Eunice who was one of JFK's sisters, indeed started the Peace Corps (and Eunice started the Special Olympics) and that's how Ahnold is peripherally related to the Kennedys. Flow chart to follow

retired_chemist 2:11 AM  

Medium-challenging here. Got very little until I hit the SW, where the downs gave me my toehold. Guessed ADIDAS correctly and forged northward. DETESTS and EGOMANIAC gave me MAMA CASS. Did not know her birth name.

Finally decided the pig was not WILBUR because I remembered Sargent SHRIVER* for sure. Non-puzzle wife patiently explained that, yes, OLIVIA was indeed another famous kid-lit pig.

By now I had enough of the SW to realize that MITTERRAND had two T's and two R's - had rejected him as probably a letter short on the first pass, like @Victor/Victoria and @santafefran. My versatile openers started as DEAR SIRS, but the downs soon blew that out of the water.

Knowing Crabtree and EVELYN somehow (mall osmosis I think), lucking out on INT as a guess, and having HAY FEVER got me some of the NW downs. LAVINIA was a blind guess, but that gave me ALARIC and CALICO and an almost complete puzzle.

Last square was the 27A/D K, from a guessed L in AMIDA_A and finally wising up that there was a good reason I had never heard of ED LANG singing Constant Craving. it was K. D. LANG.

A real workout, and of the type I enjoy. Mr. Berry, you never disappoint. Thank you.

*and, yes, @Adidas calico misadds, Thomas Eagleton was McGovern's first try at a veep nominee. Sad and bizarre story, that.

chefwen 2:56 AM  

Northwest was my sticking point also.
Didn't want to but had to Google ALARIC and LAVINIA, two totally unknowns to me. ALARIC over CALICO was kind of cute as they share so many letters, or am I just being weird?

Rest of the puzzle went smoothly with only one write over at 29D where I already had FA and plopped down FAke and was just waiting for the rest of it. EGEST spewed out and I was able to change the fake to FALSETTOS, not nearly as much fun as it could have been.

Another lovely evening spent with Mr. Berry. Thank you.

Don Byas 3:36 AM  

challenging in the NW
figured out ACEHIGH, EVELYN and GIL
unknown to me : LAVINIA and ALARIC

losing VP candidates:

08 Palin
04 Edwards
00 Lieberman
96 Kemp
92 Quayle
88 Benson
84 Ferraro
80 Mondale
76 Dole
68 Muskie
64 Miller
60 Lodge
56 Kefauver
52 Sparkman
48 Warren (future Chief Justice)
44 Bricker
40 McNary
36 Knox
32 Curtis

I skip M-W 3:51 AM  

Thanks @Don Byas for that entertaining list of VP losers.
Thlught I would speed through this in record time, after doing NW in a couple of minutes. NE much slower.
Made many of the same do-overs as everyone else, including the famed Ed Lang w/ the False tits. Falsettos struck me as v. clever.
Knew who longest serving Fr. Pres. was, so had to make spelling fit.
@Rex, who is the tennis player? Lavinia? Mama Cass? Olivia? Actually who is Olivia, for us kid lit deprived?

jae 4:45 AM  

@I skip -- That would be Pam SHRIVER. The pig I know via grandkids. You need to read the books out loud to truly appreciate them.

foodie 5:26 AM  

I can see that it's beautifully made but, ALAS, I did not love it. There were enough people for a surreal cocktail party, with JOLENE rubbing elbows with AGRIPPA, and LAVINIA chatting up SHRIVER, while MAMA CASS HITs ON ALARIC. EVELYN is out on the veranda sweet talking MITTERRAND. FENN rushes in just in time to watch AMIDALA, IN CRISIS MODE, having it out with ELLA, while Miss FENN and OLIVIA giggle in the corner... YE GODS! It's enough to make you want to RUN FOR IT (do you have your ADIDAS handy?)

And I'm really working hard to inhibit myself from saying that SADNESS is not the same as depression.

But with the total absence of crosswordese, and FALSETTOS and ALMOND JOY livening things up, you still have to admire it. Anyhow, I could never DETEST anything by Patrick Berry.

Today, we went to the top of the crossworthy Mauna Kea. What an amazing spot! You drive through the clouds and emerge to see the bluest, clearest skies ever, with the domes of 10 observatories shimmering around you. Puzzle husband, an amateur astronomer, was in heaven. Made the trek totally worth it.

Z 6:02 AM  

It is always a little scary/eerie when RP's write-up so closely reflects one's own solving experience.

Hand up for FAkeboobs, getting stuck on -----PAD and ----GAME and not knowing that MAVEN is Yiddish.

Hand up for wilbur before OLIVIA, but OMELET fixed that right away. I'd say that OLIVIA is probably much more famous in the under 10 crowd these days.

I was a bit embarrassed that AMIDALA, ALMONDJOY, and EWOK were so easy but that my Roman History was lacking. That is until I came here and @Adidas calico misadds pointed that this just means I'm not living in parents basement. Thank you for that reassurance.

Anonymous 6:40 AM  

I refuse to waste my time on Patric Barry puzzles. His clueing is the worst.

dk 7:21 AM  

err ahh Andrea ...err, is it bad to be a psychologist living in... never mind. To that end I found nothing nerdy in this puzzle just the usual arcane fill for a late week entry. Okay I admit AGRIPPA is dork paradise. Or pair-a-dice to a 35D.

Hooksup instead of TEAMSUP and thinking maybe my misspelled MITTERRAND's first initial was maybe K -- KNELT me time wise in the southwest. Couple that with pessimism as what I wanted for 20A. You get the picture: Slow and wobbly.

My saving grace was the fact that one of the free range cats who visits is CALICO so as I read 15A I said: "Say that reminds me of Sophia (misnamed male cat)."

I know you want to know how I solve -- see 11D for a short explaination.

*** (3 Stars) Thank you Mr. B.

Glad to read Rex has traded his cranky pants for wry humor.

Final note. KD Lang has one of the tightest back up bands I have seen/heard. Her band, albeit different in many ways, rivals Frank Zappa's. Ok, Ok see Andrea's living in a basement comment for the complete picture. I wonder if there is an on line SPOTWELD course...

gotta go.

exaudio 7:55 AM  

I'm old enough to remember Sargent Shriver, but too old to know any literary pigs besides Piglet and Wilbur, and my youngest child is 17, so Olivia must be fairly recent. I guess that cross was doable by both age groups, because the boomers can get the down clue and the young'uns will get the across, so everyone's happy.

SethG 8:09 AM  

NW definitely. Guessed right on the L.

A casino window's where you trade your money, right? SE was Tuesday easy.

Pam is actually related.

evil doug 8:22 AM  

Speaking of fake tits, I prefer Mounds. Dark, creamy---and no nuts.

Andrea: How come you didn't point out your shout-out?


joho 8:37 AM  

I loved KDLANG crossing MAMACASS, blending two beautiful voices, no FALSETTOS they.

Took me forever to see CALICO due to the extremely vague clue.

Like @Rex, I made steady progress until I hit the NE. I finally figured it out, though, and really enjoyed the satisfaction of finishing with no errors.

I always love a Patrick Berry puzzle and today was no exception.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Rex: Paraphrasing Senor Wences, "For you, medium; for me, easy." I finished this one quickly with just one initial spelling error (Amadala for Amidala). Often as not, the reverse is true: Puzzles you find easy I find medium and occasionally difficult. Your designations only reflect your experience informed by your particular body of knowledge. Sometimes some of us solvers know things you don't. Just as frequently we haven't a clue, so to speak, about things you call gimees.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Just a bit of pop culture: both Constant Craving and Jolene were featured on the same Glee episode a couple of weeks ago. Only reason I got Jolene.

Glimmerglass 8:43 AM  

Interesting that Rex's "stuck in the NE" was 30-45 seconds. I also had trouble with the NE (I got SCORE PAD from crosses, and I still don't buy the cluing), but my "stuck in the NE" was 15 minutes. Good, entertaining Friday puzzle for me. Nice mix of history and contemporary culture. Challenging (and I knew the history). I don't know the "Patrick Barry" that Anonymous 6:40 doesn't like, but I love Patrick Berry Puzzles!

quilter1 8:46 AM  

OLIVIA is a hoot. Love reading her to the grands. When I saw this was a Berry and knew I had to leave the house no later than 8:30 I thought, no way am I going to finish. But it went down smooth and quickly enough that I could come here and comment. I always enjoy Patrick's puzzles and this was hard enough for Friday and yet totally gettable.

@dk, check that cat again. My understanding is that all calicos are female. But I could be wrong.

mac 9:11 AM  

Easy medium for me, not because I knew Amidala, Alaric, Agrippa and Olivia well, but I just could piece it all together at a steady pace. The SW was my last area to come together, mainly because of "misadds" and spotweld. It didn't help that I spelled 35D better.

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, great start of the day!

Tita 9:16 AM  
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Tita 9:16 AM  
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nanpilla 9:24 AM  

This was one of my fastest Fridays ever. Even when I didn't know something, it was gettable from crosses.

I liked the


corner. Seemed like a mini-theme. Hands up for AMaDALA at first, too.

I don't think of cats as yellow - I always think orange, so that took me a while. I lost my sweet little calico, Marie, just a couple of weeks ago. She used to love to sit by me as I did the crossword every evening on the couch.

Jim 9:30 AM  

Heavy cycle? Yuck.

Tita 9:31 AM  

@r.alph - ArMOrDogs are my third favorite candybars!!

CASINo-->CASING (Yes, @SethG - my argument exactly) which meant I would NEVER see the K or L that I needed for KNELT.

SCripteD-->SCOREPAD - misdirect for a play's script?

Got FALSETTOS with just the F - thought this was a fabulous misdirect!

@retired- _NE_T was burned into my retinas as I gave up and went to sleep. It didn't help my internal inference engine any that I was looking for the singer _DLANo...
So that knasty K was the 2nd to last letter, which then forced me to fix CASINo. Done... Whew...

Thank you o newly dubbed Zenmaster of hinting, r.alph! You helped me save face - a subtle hint rather than a full-court google!!!

And thx to Mr. Berry.

Really? 9:32 AM  


My two [formerly] male calicos beg to differ.

edwords 9:35 AM  

First of all, there are a LOT of pigs in kid lit -- Wilbur, Babe, Olivia and others. Second, two misspells got me here -- both Mitterrand and Amidala. Third, I had FALSET on the Female impersonators and so badly wanted to complete ITS, but knew that couldn't be it -- how many times do you have that many letters and still be wrong (kudos to the constructor)? And fourth, my first instinct on the VEEP was Eagleton, then it took forever to remember Shriver, disproving the notion that no-one remembers who comes in second. If you were dropped off the ticket to a guy who then loses the vice-presidency, does that make you the most irrelevant major politician of all time?

Boaster 9:39 AM  

Liked the puzzle a lot but one quibble, I've never ever heard anyone say "Yegods" ... I've eard "Egads" maybe even "Eegads" but "Yegods"?

Lindsay 9:41 AM  

JOLENE! Yay! Also reminds me of Parton's "Coat of Many Colors" which is almost like CALICO!

Now I will stop with the exclamation points.

Flew flew flew through this until I hit the NE which I was staring at helplessly when the phone rang (Do I want to run for the state house? YE GODS. Apparently the dems are in CRISIS MODE). Came back from the phone and finished the puzzle off.

Like others, I can't spell MITTERRAND but as a bottom-up solver, my female impersonators were using stilETTOS.

@nanpilla --- my condolences on Marie

jackj 9:45 AM  

This puzzle was right in my wheelhouse and I worked it clockwise, beginning with back-up Veep candidate SHRIVER, through X-rated possibilities for 29 down until settling on FALSETTOS and then, filling in ALARIC and LAVINIA like they were old friends, to close the deal.

I've run out of laudatory adjectives in describing Patrick's puzzles and hope "Thank you" will suffice.

Jp 9:49 AM  

I love Patrick Berry puzzles. They are challenging to those with an encyclopedic mind. But they are also fun for someone like me who cannot or will not remember pop culture personalities. I can google for some of the clues and along the way discover gems like SCORE PAD, HOME GAME, RUN FOR IT, CRISIS MODE, HAY FEVER, EGOMANIAC to name a few.
So with google I solved the puzzle in under one hour. That would make this one easy and enjoyable.

GILL I. 9:50 AM  

Strange..When I finished a PB pretty quickly and no Googles for a Fri. I thought I should really like the puzzle. I slept on it, woke up, read @ Adidas Calico misadds and thought "What does she know that I don't?" Then I read @foodie and thought that would be some odd cocktail party, especially since some of the attendees are pretty dead. I guess It sort of sums up/up my take on this puzzle.
There are some words I did like: CRISIS MODE, OLIVIA (great name for a pig) LAVINIA and YE GODS which I thought was GADS. If you like really nice tea tins, Crabtree and EVELYN have some interesting Asian designs.
Oh, I really liked the clue for 41D and my favorite answer - HARLEY.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Depression is not SADNESS. Depression is walking through a mass of suffocating, overly warm fibreglass insulation. You can't get out of it, no matter what you do. You can't get comfortable. There is no relief.

David 10:11 AM  

@ Jim - yup.

Superb PB puzzle once again, and a Medium overall for me, though many parts of the North were challenging. Although I got AGRIPPA with only 2 crosses, LAVINIA and ALARIC were new to me and required all of the crosses. CRISISMODE was one of many outstanding entries, and gave me fits. I wanted AMIKALA and something ending in SMOKE going across, but finally nailed it when I got SHRIVER.

I think we had MITTERRAND not too long ago and I spelled it incorrectly then, so that was a nice 10 letter gimme today. Tons of great 8 letter stuff - SPOTWELD, HAYFEVER, MAMACASS (!!), RUNFORIT, HOMEGAME. Groaned at SCOREPAD, though.

After a thorny week all around today was wonderful, can't wait for tomorrow!

GenJoneser 10:15 AM  

@JAE Hand up for "ONEONONES" for a while.

Also NW my nemesis today, but really loved the puzzle as usual with PB puzzles for me.

I actually did remember MITTERRAND with two R's. Met him in the late 70's at an early European Parliament conference/dinner in England. He pretended not to know any English but chatted with me all through dinner via an interpreter. Then kissed my hand upon leaving.

Thanks everyone for indulging my memories here. Sometimes it helps when I'm feeling too old! A great Friday to all...

Tita 10:17 AM  

@Boaster - Only place I've heard Ye Gods was in The Music Man...
The mayor's teenage daughter says it repeatedly.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

i thought bug out meant to go crazy. please explain. thanks.

Matthew G. 10:21 AM  

Beautiful puzzle. Rex commented not long ago that one of the best Constructor/Day-of-the-Week combos is Berry/Friday. I have to agree. Is there anything to criticize here? I can't find it.

I zoomed through the NW and thought I might set a Friday record, and the NE didn't trouble me as it did Rex (AMIDALA was a gimme, and that D was huge because it gave me CRISIS MODE).

My big slow-down spot was the SW, for two reasons: (1) I was (incorrectly) certain that Francois MITTERRAND's surname had only one R, and therefore, despite thinking of him immediately, I refused to put him in until the crosses made it undeniable; and (2) I couldn't make sense of SPOT-WELD. I had SPOTWEL_ and I just stared. Then I saw the ?-style clue on {Screws up totally?} and realized MIS-ADDS had to be correct, but I kept looking at SPOTWEL_, thinking something had to be wrong. I finally gave in and put the D in, and it submitted. It took me several post-puzzle minutes of staring at SPOT-WELD to realize what it meant.

Got very lucky with JOLENE and with the Constant Craving clue. My wife is addicted to "Glee," so I just heard those songs recently on the show. Otherwise the SE would have been much tougher.

archaeoprof 10:25 AM  

What's not to like about a puzzle that includes both country music (JOLENE) and ancient Roman history (AGRIPPA, LAVINIA, ALARIC)??

Favorite clues: "removed from the can?" for PAROLE; "screws up totally?" for MISADDS.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

The NW was my downfall, having heard of both ALARIC and LAVINIA but not being able to guess them without crosses. I talked myself into "PREMIER" at 1D (First-rate) and, having R _ _ FEVER at 28 across, convinced myself that "Red fever" was a thing. Must be some horrible disease, even worse than the yellow variety! I allowed myself one three-letter Google -- what's the first name of the guy from CSI, which I don't watch -- and forced myself to erase "premier." I took down the rest from there.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Hands up with Rex on "FAKEBOOBS".
Easiest Friday in a while - I.e. finished

Pacha 10:32 AM  

You know, it's time to retire the phrase "dollars to doughnuts". Years ago, when doughnuts cost maybe 5 cents, it was a meaningful phrase, as in 20 to 1 odds. Now, with doughnuts at a minimum of $.85, frequently over $1, it doesn't have any meaning.

Maybe we could replace it with "Cup of Starubucks to a buck". That's approaching the original 20 to 1.

Cheerio 10:37 AM  

I love the cluing. I started doing the puzzle without looking at the constructor's name. Then I thought to myself, these are really great clues. I can't wait to see what "heavy cycle" turns out to be! So, I looked at the constructor's name and had an Aha moment. Anyway, very enjoyable, but I did google Shriver, omnia and Amidala at the end.

XWD 11:07 AM  

@acme: I protest. what's wrong with a 45-year old IT guy living in his parents' basement? Now if I could only construct a puzzle ....

hazel 11:21 AM  

Great friday puzzle. a little TLC, sunshine and water. Puzzle opened like a flower.

Would love to spend a month on CRETE.

JaxInL.A. 11:24 AM  

Calico cats are nearly always female. Male cats do (rarely) have calico (or the related tortoise shell) coloring, but such males are nearly always sterile because to have the coloring they have to have an extra X chromosome.

Olivia is a charming little pig, simply drawn.

I LOVED this puzzle not least because I did a PB Friday in under 40 minutes with no help at all. Elegant, smooth, clever, all the things we expect from PB. I like all the classical history stuff, though had to work hard for it.

Boy, yesterday I realized again that I do not have my finger on the pulse of popular culture. Didn't hear about the Alec Baldwin flap until late night after work. I can't get anyone to play Scrabble with me at home, so while I agree with @Andrea that it's much better with the feel of the tiles and an opponent breathing opposite you, the virtual Words with Friends lets me play and practice for the rare in person game.

Two Ponies 11:26 AM  

Very enjoyable despite all of those names.
Favorite clue - #1 fan.
@ dk, you are so right about both of those bands.
@ quilter1, I seem to recall some factoid re: male calicos being sterile?
When Dylan, my avatar, gets up in the morning with bed head he resembles an Ewok.

hazel 11:33 AM  

P.s. forgot to mention that i was siding with @quilter (and now @jax) on the calico issue. Won a bar bet once on it - which of course means "case closed."

i didn't know about Alec Baldwin business either. he sure is a great comic actor. Seems a little unhinged, though.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:01 PM  

@Anonymous, 10:20 AM - You could check out these classic M*A*S*H episodes:

Bug Out, Parts 1 and 2

Episode: 098 | Aired: September 21, 1976

Fearing an imminent attack by the Chinese, the 4077th repositions itself all except for Hawkeye, B.J., Radar and Hot Lips, who are midway through critical surgery.

Bug Out, Part 2 of 2

Episode: 099 | Aired: September 21, 1976

Fearing an imminent attack by the Chinese, the 4077th repositions itself all except for Hawkeye, B.J., Radar and Hot Lips, who are midway through critical surgery.

Heads up to all: Guest crossword by Andrew Ries at BEQ's site today.

Tita 12:12 PM  

@Jax - my sentiments exactly about WWF...
A trip to my Mom's is never complete without a game, although...

BANANAGRAMS is her new favorite...check it out! Very dynamic, versatile, and portable!!!

Oldactor 12:14 PM  

Alec Baldwin responds to his expulsion on Hufpo today. I'm a big fan.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

If male calicos are sterile, then the money @Really? spent to get those two male cats sterilized was wasted! Unscrupulous vet. Or perhaps there are reasons to have a male cat neutered other than it's ability to reproduce.

John V 12:25 PM  

Bit late to the party, but, whatever. Two puzzles for me. South easy, North -- tilt! Cross ALARIC with LAVINIA and CONCLAVES? AMIDALA? Really????

Kicking myself (ouch) for not getting SHRIVER, as I voted in that election, you know?

Anonymous 6:40 a.m. comment abt "Patric Barry" (sic) clues being the worst: not so. "Screws up totally?" "Join in one place." "Number one fan?" "Went down, in a way." These are world class, allowing some Natick elbow room in the North. Not that "Patric Barry" need my or anyone's defense, mind you.

Had COLIAS for 15A, Black, yellow and white, say, after I'd had colors.

quilter1 12:30 PM  

Re: calico cats, all mine have been females and at the shelter years ago, when I said I wanted a female cat the volunteer took me straight to a very sweet-natured calico and commented that all calico cats are female. I had no idea about sterile males. Have to look it up after I look up carpal tunnel surgery. Ouch.

Mel Ott 12:42 PM  

I've mentioned before that this is one of my least favorite grids because of the pinch points at squares 20, 29, etc. But this is a pretty solid puzzle. My slowdown was the AMIDALA/KNELT/KD LANG cross.

Eagleton was replaced by SHRIVER after his history of depression/shock treatments came to light. McGovern probably never had a chance in the Watergate election anyway. I actually went door to door for McGovern in the primaries.

Thanks @Bob K for the reminder of two great M*A*S*H episodes the day after reading "Col. Potter's" obituary. I have long felt that M*A*S*H was the best series ever been on TV.

Mel Ott 12:44 PM  

Strike the word 'been'.

H Ross Perot 12:59 PM  

@Don Byas - How could you have left off Vice Admiral James Stockdale for 1992, certainly one of the most notable loosing VP candidates of all time!

GillyMonster 1:14 PM  

Super fun puzzle (mostly)

The only star wars reference worse than ewoks is anything from the phantom menace, so thanks a lot PB. ;P

A conclave of female impersonators doing Dolly Parton, Mama Cass and kd Lang before speeding off on a Harley more than makes up for it, though.

Didn't really like "misadds" and got naticked by Lavinia / Alaric ... had an R in there for the longest time.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

P. Berry is not a god. In my opinion, some cluing did not match the fill and most clues were too obscure. Someone forced to leave home is not necessarily UPROOTED, he is EVICTED. MISADDS is not a word - but thanks to pols who MISSPOKE or MISREMEMBERED we can put MIS in front of a verb and it makes the error less severe (oops, sorry, I misspoke when I said he killed his wife). A HOMEGAME is ON your field. YEGODS??? Count me in for ONEONONES. And who remembers The Country COUSIN? I also stumbled a little with MITTERRAND when I though he only had one R in his name.


KR Munson 1:57 PM  

What everyone said. Fun puzzle for a Friday. Love the comments on FAKEBOOBS. I have to admit I was fixated on that too. :-)

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

"I was almost convinced that the answer could be FALSE TITS. this made the actual (fine) answer something of a let-down."

Rex's answer flashed through my mind, but I think the only TITS in a NYT puzzle are birds.

The following is biology and not xword related.
Speaking of gender all "normal" calico cats are female.
What's fascinating to me about this biological fact it makes visible the usually invisible state of "X mosaicism"
Female cats, like humans have 2 X chromosomes. Some genes, such as the ones controlling coat color are on the Y but not the X chromosome.
Some genes are on both chromosomes.
Males are XY, so their "dose" for Y only genes is 1. In order for females to get the correct dose, one X chromosome in each cell is "inactivated." Patches of fur that have the same activated X will have the same color. However if the 2 X's code for different colors, patch color will vary, producing a calico female cat.
A male calico cat can be produced if there is an extra chromosome: XXY. The Y will produce some some, but not all male characteristics, the two X's make the cat calico. I'm not sure of the details, but the mix of sex chromosomes results in sterility (I don't know if this is 100% of the time.)

Two Ponies 2:07 PM  

@ anon. 1:49,
I think if you are going post such scathingly critical remarks you should at least get a name.
P. Berry may not be a god (did anyone say he was?) but he is a very popular constructor and definately in my top three.

Anonymous 2:46 PM  

@ Two Ponies - I refuse to sign up to another account just so this blog can "see" me. I've got enough email accounts already. I can however sign my name to the end of the post.

Anyway, my comments are not scathing, just a critical opinion. And if you read the through the comments with everyone rushing to thank PB for a great puzzle, you would think he is a god. Especially after reading ACME's post about the constructor if you didn't know his name.

On a closing note - I enjoy Rex's blog because it entertains me. The posts are funny, educational and stir further discussion about topics. We may disagree on some things, but that's the beauty of living in the USA.


jberg 3:02 PM  

YE GODS! I read the blog on my iphone, tried to post, but it hung up - so I'll try to reproduce it here, typing on actual keys.

ALARIC has been a gimme for me since maybe 4th grade; I just thought it was so cool that he basically ended the Roman Empire (I mean, it lasted another half a millennium, but it wasn't the same). He makes CDX one of the few 'memorable' dates in history.

With that in place, the NW went right in - but there are only two ways out of that corner, and even though I got HAY FEVER, I was still stuck. I wanted HOME bAsE, and (even worse) F. mitterRAND. Those really held me up, but the crosses finally brought be back, especially the beautiful EGOMANIAC, HARLEY, SPOTWELD, HIT ON, & MAMA CASS. MISADDS was the last to make sense, but it's pretty clever if you allow that it's a word.

I solved it all without Google, but had to check afterward to see if there were really two Rs in old Francois's surname, and if anyone considers MISADD a real word (they do).

Slow but enjoyable.

Two Ponies 3:22 PM  

Fair enough @Bird

Navy vet 3:41 PM  

@H Ross Perot: Let's not forget that James Stockdale was notable not only as a "loosing" VP candidate, but also as a Medal of Honor winner who spent 7 years as a POW, mostly in leg irons in solitary confinement.

H Ross Perot 3:50 PM  

@Navy Vet - What else do you think I was getting at? He was certainly notable compared to the Potatoe Guy.

r.alphbunker 4:11 PM  

When you post you can select the Name/URL option instead of the Anonymous option. You can then type "Bird" as your name and leave the URL blank.

sanfranman59 4:33 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Fri 20:30, 25:29, 0.80, 16%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 10:23, 12:37, 0.82, 22%, Easy-Medium

Bird 4:54 PM  

@r.alphbuker - I did not know that, thanks.


Chip Hilton 5:14 PM  

@Bird - Hi. Sure beats Anonymous (and gives your criticism far greater strength).

I loved the clues for PASSKEYS, EGOMANIAC, HARLEY, and, of course, FALSETTOS. MISADDS, on the other hand, left me cold. Still, A Berry Berry fun Friday.

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

"Yegods" was the signature line of one of the female characters in The Music Man -- reading the word instantly brings that shrill voice to mind!

The Bard according to Zaneeta 7:39 PM  

Papa, please! It's 'Capulets' like you who make blood in the marketplace! Ye Gods!

The Music Man - 1962

-aka Tita

Acme 7:59 PM  

Dk, get AGRIPPA!

(not actually a propos to anything hewrote today, I just wanted to write that!)

No offense intended (well, maybe a tiny bit!)
But I'm sure had either of my parents actually HAD a basement, I might have very well ended up there myself...

Jenny 7:59 PM  

@r.alphbunker: Pleased to see somebody else remembers Oliver Pig. Not that he was helpful in this case, of course...

Anonymous 9:46 PM  

Anon @ 1:49 pm -- 1. It's a Friday puzzle and clues are supposed to be obscure. 2. We do not know if the clues are PB's or Will's. 3. PB is a god.

Cathelou 11:36 PM  

Luckily I thought Oliver was the pig in Charlotte's Web. Was enough to get me to Olivia, who somehow crept into my conscious despite my not having kids. Thrilled to finish a Friday PB in under half an hour. Wish I could get here more often & earlier but it's a rare week when I have time to solve every day, so I'm always behind.

@Aaron--thanks for the calico info -- really interesting. I'll tell our tortie all about it. Like she'll care.

Book of Eli 10:19 AM  

Was totally with Rex on FALSE TITS and was also a little sad when it turned into FALSETTOS. Had been so ready to be wildly impressed...

And @ Anonymous, I am glad someone else in driven nuts by Berry's clueing. Doesn't stop me from doing his puzzles, but guarantees me a few extra moments of sheer hacked-offedness!

apparentlyanovice 8:31 PM  

"I probably lost only 30-45 seconds, but that's an Eternity in crossword time (for me)."
That slays me. The NE corner took me TWO DAYS. So, I guess getting "stuck" is all relative.

Anonymous Ron 12:31 PM  

So many kow-tows to Patrick
Berry seem almost cult-like. And, yes, usually I enjoy his type puzzle BUT not this one. The only thing missing was his mother's maiden name. When I have to google arcane information, it's just not enjoyable. Better luck next time, Patrick. I aced the puzzle, with 3 googles. Not nice.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

Spacecraft here. @Bob Kerfuffle: the "Bug Out" M*A*S*H episodes were indeed hilarious. My favorite moment is when Frank is echoing all the announcements down the line, and Mulcahy starts his prayer: "Hear me, O Lord..."
"Hear me O Lord..." etc. Rollicking stuff.
I must be getting better at these; I managed to finish sans Googlation--but it took a couple hours. I, too, misspelled Amidala-but not with an "a." I had it set in my mind, somehow, that her name was AMYDALA. That made me hold off on the seemingly obvious DETESTS, for want of a -YT ending on the bug-out clue. Only when the rest of the corner (I FINALLY remembered the McGovern-SHRIVER ticket) fleshed out was I forced to change the Y to an I.
Hand up for two awesome voices crossing...I recall with fondness a pair of lyrics from "Creeque Alley":
"And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass."
"And everybody's gettin' fat except Mama Cass."
RIP, sweetheart.
Doggone it, I still think it's AMYDALA. And if it's not, it should be!

nessight: you know, that critter with the long neck.

Red Valerian 4:22 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle and Spacecraft--wouldn't have understood "bug out" without having seen M*A*S*H all those many years ago. I could picture Radar telling Hawkeye that they were going to have to bug out. All these years, I thought it was a military term.

Loved the puzzle, though did not finish because of two errors, which I could have corrected if I'd seen them. Plunked in OLIVer and didn't check the crosses. rats. But it was great fun (and no google).

@Anonymous 10:27-- red FEVER, eh? :-)

@Tita from a couple of days ago. Thanks! She (the dog in my avatar) is trying to stay warm. We were camping in Banff NP (in the Rockies) in late September in our Westfalia.

@nanpilla: sorry to hear about your cat. Lots of animal people (so to speak) on this blog.

Deb 7:03 PM  

Whenever calico cats are a topic of conversation, I have to butt in with a tale and a question.

The Tale: Sometime between 1981 and 1985 in a syndicated pet column in one of the Denver Post's extra Sunday sections, the author wrote about "cabbits," which according to him/her were a cross between a cat and a rabbit. This was a serious column, and because I had a calico cat that was shaped exactly like a rabbit, who who had a cotton tail and very rabbit-like rear legs (and she thumped them in warning!), and who was extremely skittish like a rabbit, I took it seriously. It wasn't until many years later when I mentioned having had a cabbit that someone pointed out that such a creature was impossible, and that the column must have run on April Fool's Day.

The question: Does anyone happen to recall that damned column?

As to the puzzle: I finished it easily with NO googling, so I loved it, of course!

Dirigonzo 8:41 PM  

@r.alphbunker said...
"No Googling. I now consider it disrespectful to Google a PB puzzle. They are well enough constructed that taking a break will get you unstuck." - Exactly right. Somehow SHRIVER and MITTERRAND crawled out from the deepest recesses of my brain (there's some pretty scary stuff down there)to get me started in their respective corners. Love how all the seemingly obscure clues make perfect sense when the light finally goes on.

@Tita (also from a couple of days ago) - yes, I ply the waters of Casco Bay, mostly just day-sailing wherever the breeze takes me. Not so much in January, though.

As to the continuing evolution of Rexville, several new commenters appeared in March 2007, many of them from syndication land, but no new "regulars" from recent times arrived.

Anonymous 10:34 PM  

Sorry Deb, never heard of a cabbit article, but it sounds like you did have a fine specimen, if that helps. I do remember a six letter childrens' literature pig, named Herman. He was heroically brave and hunted rattlesnakes. Great puzzle. Patrick Berry might be better than Prozac. Just when I was settling into the Latin/History/Current Events/Womens' Names mindset, here comes the sports. Cost me about forty-five seconds per square in the northeast. I, like many of the other horndogs out there, was almost disappointed when the high heels showed up. Happy weekend, go Niners.

Elmer Fudd 12:41 AM  

Kill the cwabbit!

Waxy in Montreal 12:55 AM  

After his death, the NYT published an article on William Safire by Ben Zimmer headed simply "The Maven, Nevermore". An excerpt - Though he jokingly anointed himself “Usage Dictator,” he was never comfortable with expectations that he play the part of language absolutist, handing down infallible decrees. “Maven” was a title more to his liking, a Yiddishism that he said contained its own “note of self-mockery.” (An incurable paronomasiac, he also enjoyed punning off the word, as in his 1993 collection of columns, “Quoth the Maven.”)

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