Cockney pal of Mary Poppins / FRI 11-23-12 / Blowgun dart poison / Kylver Stone letter / Leaf bisectors / Evan's best friend in Superbad / Mythological lyrist / TV character who said KO instead of OK

Friday, November 23, 2012

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: RHYTHM STICK (4D: Elementary school percussion instrument) —
a small wooden stick used, especially by a child, as a simple percussive instrument inlearning the rudiments of musical rhythm. (

• • •

This is a fine grid, but I just couldn't find the Love. I struggled quite a bit, and the payoffs rarely seemed worth it. Also, I've simply never heard of a RHYTHM STICK (except in the Ian Dury song, posted above) or a DAYMARE (28D: Fight when it's light?) and I don't know who BERT is (48A: Cockney pal of Mary Poppins) and have only barely heard of MIDRIBS (probably in some other crossword) (35A: Leaf bisectors). Seeing the full phrases AT A LOW EBB and FROM A TO Z failed to excite me, and there's nothing else very 'zazzy in either of those corners.  I think the NW is the nicest area by far. The rest is just fine, but lacks that Berryesque sparkle I know and love, though there are some fantastic clues. I especially liked 17A: Kids whose parents fight? for ARMY BRATS (that struggle *did* have a payoff) and 6D: One raise in Amish country for BARN (the second thing I put in the grid, right after TUBE).

On the other hand, some clues didn't do much for me. Found the Oprah quote irritating for a number of reasons—I like my maxims classical, or at least, you know, accurate. Who in the world can remember [Evan's best friend in "Superbad"]. I saw that movie. I know that SETH Rogen was in it, but ... that's not what's being asked here. People remember character names from "Superbad"? That seems unlikely. Oh, no. Sorry. McLovin'. That name, I remember. But SETH? Not so much. Of all things ORION is known for, I'm guessing walking on water is down the list (55A: He could walk on water, in myth). What kind of a horn is an ALTO HORN? (53A: Instruments also known as mellophones) Never heard of it, and thus clearly never heard of mellophones. How in the world is there a dutch cheese in queso relleno? So many things about this puzzle are at least mildly grimace-inducing.

  • 10A: Biblical prophet who railed against idolatry (MICAH) — no idea. All from crosses.
  • 15A: Big-eyed toy (CHIHUAHUA) — dog angle came easily to me, as I watched part of that dog show on NBC today (an ugly, prissy dog won, as usual).
  • 26A: Minor-league team of Toledo (MUDHENS) — "M*A*S*H" to the rescue (at least I think that's how I know this)
  • 34A: 1960s-'70s dance partner of Nureyev (FONTEYN) — figured this was Joan. It's Margot. This shows what I know. I had the -EYN ending and the rest was easy. 
  • 57A: Musician/radio host Steven Van ___ (ZANDT) — from the E Street Band. And "The Sopranos."
  • 11D: Org. that disarmed in 2005 (I.R.A.) — watched John Huston's "The Dead" (1987) earlier this evening, so Ireland was on my mind, even though that movie is based on a Joyce story and has zero to do with the I.R.A. ... oh, no, wait, I think there was some mention of republicanism. Pre-I.R.A. (movie was set in 1900s), but related.
  • 40D: Blowgun dart poison (CURARE) — this is a pretty old-school crossword answer. Maybe I know it from somewhere else, but really, what are the odds?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Pete 12:18 AM  

As an expression of my gratitude for this site, I just erased my diatribe about the Oprah quote and another about how stupid Alec Baldwin is. The Alec Baldwin thing was because today I heard him say something stupider than the Oprah quote.

jackj 12:24 AM  

Wait, we’re just getting started and Patrick Berry is telling us to STARTBACK. Huh? But, like good troopers we continue on and as ever the trip is well worth our while.

It doesn’t take long for us to discover one of those trademark bits of brilliance we expect from Patrick and ARMYBRATS, clued as “Kids whose parents fight?”, fits nicely. Along the same lines we are asked about “Piece keepers” and once we remember the spelling is “piece” not “peace” we can say “Wow!” to another beauty as we are reminded that HOLSTERS do indeed hold “pieces”.

It was the luck of the draw as to how one dealt with the proper names and having KASDAN, FONTEYN, MUDHENS, HOWE, BERT and ERSKINE as knowns certainly helped the cause for this solver.

Not cottoning to DAYMARE, thinking the tyro drummer would be using a RHYTHMSTONE and drawing blanks on ORION and the Steve Van ZANDT entry made the lower left section the only area to fight back, but when SOAPOPERA showed itself it was wrap it up and call it a day.

We can be ever grateful that this holiday ended with vintage Berry for dessert!

Thanks, Patrick.

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

"but I just couldn't find the Love"

My feeling exactly. Not an enjoyable puzzle, with a few good clues/answers like EGGSHELLS.

jae 1:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 1:11 AM  

Have to agree. It's OK, but where is the zippy stuff you expect from PB. ARMYBRATS, MORK, ZANDT...and that's about it. Had ALTOsaxeS before HORNS and coRN before BARN, but over all found this one on the easy side. Knowing all the names helped.

@Rex --BERT was a chimney sweep played by Dick VanDyke in the Disney movie.

Chili relleno = Jack
Queso relleno = EDAM. It's a Yucatan dish.

Academy Catalonia Micahs 3:59 AM  

Bizarrely my fave thing in the puzzle was PANARAB, (which started out as sAhARAn) because it ended in a B...
And like SHIV from this week, it's tough to end in V or B.

Amazed how long it took me to get BERT. I KNEW it was Dick Van Dyke character, the chimneysweep, but ENRY. Or ARRY was mindblocking me from BERT...yet how many times have I seen thebfilm or listened to the record? Granted 40 years ago, but at least 20 times.

Never heard of RHYTHMSTICK either...but RHYTHM is a great word to stump folks in hangman.

PB continues to be too sportsy for have to start with STARTBACK, a term I've never heard and get MUDHENS and know HOWE (I was close with Hull, I think? Right? Is there a Bobby Hull in Hockey?) blech.

But Margot FONTEYN was throwing me a bone, as was KASDAN which would be tough, my guess, for nonfilm lovers...tho i think of him more as Big Chill.

EGGSHELLS is great...and I like them at the very bottom of thebgrid, like PB wasn't afraid to walk on them.

dk 6:37 AM  

We had rhythm blocks that we hit with drum sticks... Not the turkey ones .

Had Hull for HOWE and KASDiN.

Used Tanite along with bullets for the Barbie picnic. Another new event was skeet-Barbie.

Hike to Arches today to ward off turkey stupor and counteract an excess of pecan pie (thanks Colette). Alas no shopping.

*** (3 Stars) I will avoid my never ending saga of Bert and Ernie - watch Its a Wonderful Life for another clue.

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

I couldn't get off the word mobsters sted of holsters for 14D, which made NE corner undoable.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

I dunno. I think the term "white trash" is inherently offensive, akin to any other negative racial/cultural/socioeconomic epithet. Pretty disappointed to see it used so casually here, as if it's just a fun, sparkly term.

Z 8:00 AM  

@Academy Catalonia Micahs- There is a Bobby Hull, but Gordie HOWE is Mr. Hockey. So you were close. And you can take some measure of schadenfreude in the knowledge that START BACK is not an actual sports term, it just describes what a quarterback in football does after the ball is hiked, so even sport fans may be slowed at the start.

PB, I think, suffers from the high bar he has set for himself. Having to do this on the computer this morning, I braved embarrassment by playing against the clock because of the constructor. My time is high because of an error at SCAr/rEST that took me 6 minutes to find, and I still have a time that isn't too bad for me on a Friday. Smooth and doable, even with all the proper names. There was enough everywhere to REASON OUT names like SETH and FONTEYN.

A fine Friday in my book. Now I'm off to spend my day not shopping.

Glimmerglass 8:19 AM  

Patrick Berry is the best! His puzzles always drive me nuts, but then when I finally work through all the twists and turns, I'm delighted to have made the journey. I've just resubscribed to his Fireball puzzles. One cavil today: here in New England, eggshells are brown.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

At the end of a hike in the woods you start back home.

C. Ross Word 9:03 AM  

Fun Friday workout. Like @acme, I had incorrect answer to 37A at first. I had the letters xANAxxx and filled in fANAtic. Glad my answer was wrong! Regarding Ian Dury, I always recall hearing his outrageous opening rant in the song "Plaistow Patricia" from his 1978 album "New Boots and Panties.". Warning: not at all for the easily, or even normally, offended.

jberg 9:15 AM  

I'm with @anonymous 8:26 - START BACK is whak @DK will do after getting to Arches - nothing to do with football, where the QP might also throw a quick pass or dive over the line - and would probably not "call" anything even if moving back.

My big problem was remembering that Little Steven has a D in his name; also Moses before MICAH, and oH OH before UH OH. But pretty easy Friday.

Remember, this is Buy-Nothing Day! But I can't do it, as we are out of cat food.

evil doug 9:18 AM  

Got Mudhens straight away, and 'tomtoMdrums' fit nicely/wrongly.

With 'Aha' wanted -----cAmp for the end of a hike. Built? Erect? (Ooooh: Rhythm stick=A male member when practicing calendar-based birth control.)

Don't know what mellophones are, but a-toh-r-s led me to 'autoharps' for a while---don't know what they are, either. Think I've seen a credit for George Martin playing mellophone on some Beatles songs.

Interesting that Seth Rogen is in Superbad, but Jonah Hill plays the character named Seth.

Bobby Hull was "The Golden Jet". Blond hair flowing from one of hockey's fastest stars---until he went bald....

Steven Van Zandt's radio show is the terrific Underground Garage on SiriusXM. Once you try satellite radio, you'll never go back.

'At a low ebb': Nine letters, four words. I think I'm against that---I'll chew it over. But 'ebb' is a good word.

Dutch cheese in a Mexican dish? Who knew? Good trivia.

Yeah, how dare Oprah weigh in on racism? What does she know? Straighten her out, Michael....


Dan'l Boone 9:32 AM  

I don't know about the specific space/time continuum you all live in, but if I'm on a hike and I start back, I'm pretty much at the mid-point of my hike, not at the end.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:37 AM  

Ancient joke loosely connected to 1 A:

How far can you walk into the woods?

Half way. After that you are walking out.

Having BURT before BERT and FONTEIN before FONTEYN made getting DAYMARE a bit of a struggle.

Milford 9:49 AM  

Fun Friday puzzle where the entire north fell quite quickly, but the south took some detangling.

Like some have mentioned, I didn't take 1A as sports-related, just turning around on the trail to hike home. Kinda cool it works both ways.

Liked the clues for SPAR, BARN, and EGGSHELLS. BERT was a gimme, as that movie played endlessly in our house when my oldest was little.

No shopping here either. Enjoying laziness with family.

Lindsay 9:51 AM  

I was sailing along until the SW. Then I dropped in OPEC without any crosses, and that C, combined with the M of MUDHENS led me to conclude that 4D was RHYTHM(m)araCa. I didn't notice that the two words were sharing an "m", and in the meantime decided that the TV character saying "K.O." must be dORa, which crossed neatly with the terminal A of MaraCa.

Eventually sorted it out.

Imfromjersey 9:56 AM  

I liked it! Had ABYSS before ANNUL for 45D. Like that he had both MADE and EDAM.

Shamik 9:57 AM  

Wanted SETUPCAMP for 1A, but then not everyone's hike is backpacking.

@Anonymous 7:51: "White trash?" is a very acceptable clue having nothing to do with the pejorative phrase. It's a matter of taking two words at their meaning and not making more of it. In the Victorian era piano legs had coverings on them. You see what you want to see.

Carola 10:00 AM  

UNCERTAIN what to say - started out strong and had fun traversing the stretch from Oregon to Virginia, but could not SUSTAIN the pace once I reached the MIDRIBS. Struggled to REASON OUT the SE, and had a lot of trouble in the SW Downs. Satisfying to finish, but feel fairly BEATEN up.

Favorite AHA moment was getting AT A LOW EBB - took a loooong time to see it as four words. Also laughed when I got PANTLEG, after expecting some arcane anatomical structure to be covering the SHIN. Fond memories of BERT, from reading Mary Poppins to my kids. Now to go find out about ORION and his walking on water.

orangeblossomspecial 10:11 AM  

Only a few seconds into 'Jolly Holiday', Mary refers to 48A Bert, then sings an entire verse to him later.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

How racist to assume that Mexicans should not be allowed to use Dutch cheese.

Loren Muse Smith 10:38 AM  

This played more like a hard Saturday for me. I broke down and googled ZANDT, and then I flew through the rest. No idea why that bit of cheating helped with the NE, but I “finished” after that.

“About face” (?!?) before START BACK
“farm” before BARN
“knit” before CLOT
mysteriously, “allohorns” before ALTOHORNS (which I never corrected – “lag” seemed fine for “graffitize,” whatever that is).

I agree with Evil -who ever knew that EDAM was featured in a Mexican dish?!! Rick Bayless, maybe? And Chefbea and Chefwen? Certainly not this not-inspired-cook solver.

Highlight for me – fellow Tar Heel ERSKINE sharing the grid with UNC(ertain)! Had to be deliberate. ;-)

L’Academie Francaise tickles me. The French apparently are not allowed to say toast or weekend.

For a while I was flirting with a b-b-q take on “pit/spit.” Hey – it makes sense, right?

Count me among those who refuse to shop today.

As usual, thanks, Patrick. Always a pleasure!

Sandy K 10:40 AM  

Wanted to love it - it is Patrick Berry, after all..

REASONED OUT that it did have some KEEN clues for ARMY BRATS, SOAP OPERA,
CHIHUAHUA, BARN, HOLSTERS, and yes, RHYTHM STICKS are used in school esp by the little ones. The upper grades had more sophisticated instruments.

Could not SUSTAIN the love for MIDRIBS, ALTO HORNS and DAYMARE?

Was UNCERTAIN why In the Mafia=MADE,
but hubby informs me that Joe Pesci in "Goodfellas" couldn't be MADE? Whatever.

Yeah, but... 10:45 AM  

@Shamik: Umm...baloney. If "White trash?" is supposed to be taken literally with no reference to the pejorative, why the question mark? Question marks are employed by clues specifically to play on their alternative meanings, a device that obligates the solver to ponder that alternative.

Are you honestly suggesting that the constructor/Will didn't intend this?

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Growing up in northern Minnesota, we played with Lummi Sticks in second grade. I assume these are the same as RHYTHM STICKS. Apparently these are of native American origin. Anyone?

Lindsay 11:09 AM  

@Loren's comment re: the French ACADEMY reminds me that today's NYT business section has an article headlined "Crackdown In Quebec: 'Le Gap' Won't Do".

Apparently the province and Best Buy (Meilleur Achat?) are at loggerheads.

Not Offended 11:11 AM  

"White trash" is definitely a pejorative, but it is different than pejoratives based on ethnicity, gender, or other biological characteristics that are the basis of discrimination. Indeed, the term has the connotation of a false, racially based, sense of superiority towards minorities. Nevertheless, not appropriate for polite company in my book and, like all pejoratives, dehumanizing.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Well, it is definitely at least a little bit based on ethnicity.

I work with lots of white kids who would be offended by that term, having been referred to as "white trash" their whole lives because they live in a trailer, don't have much money, don't have clean clothes, don't have expensive shoes, can't read well, etc.

lawprof 11:36 AM  

Never heard of a DAYMARE (28D), so when it fell into place, I thought this might be a (rare) themed Friday puzzle in which the first word of a common phrase was changed to its opposite and clued "?". (Boy, that last sentence was hard to punctuate).

So I went through all of the ?-clues searching for wacky phrases, finding none, and that held me up for a bit.

Ultimately finished with a probably-faster-than-normal Friday time. One write-over: CLOg/CLOT (25A). Fun, satisfying puzzle.

mac 11:40 AM  

Not the best PB puzzle, but I still enjoyed it and found it easy-medium.

I raised a roof instead of a barn, found mad hens in Toledo and was really surprised about Edam in a Mexican dish. Must be because, like Jack, it's mild and melts easily.

Made - in the Mafia was something I learned today. We do have white eggs in New England, but we prefer brown ones and are sometimes dumb enough to pay more for them...

Hey, I'm in Manhattan and got a big coupon burning a hole in my pocket!

Two Ponies 11:46 AM  

I liked this one better than Rex.
Max Klinger saved me with Mud Hens. I couldn't believe they were real.

Everybody knows that racist remarks are just fine ... as long as the target is white.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Hard to believe that "white trash" was not used with the pejorative reference in mind. It is otherwise a ridiculous random clue.

Interesting how some such references are okay and others would never be allowed. The pejorative use is highly offensive, but I'm from the camp that doesn't find offense in crossword use of any word. I love language, though some of it I wouldn't use out loud.

I had it marked as an excellent clue, along with those for ARMY BRAT and HOLSTERS, and SCABS.

SCABS could be iffy for some. Unions may consider SCABS to be an enemy, but they are usually people low on society's ladder and take great personal risks (from the 'civilized' union people) for a chance to move up a rung or two.

John V 12:00 PM  

Big time DNF. Way too many proper names/pop culture, much noted by @Rex for me to have a chance at this one. I'm supposed to know what Oprah thinks? Really? I'd have a better chance if the quote were from Imus.

Did not feel like a PB puzzle, to me. NE and SW corners in particular, were my undoing. No joy in Mudville, or Rowayton, for that matter.

syndy 12:04 PM  

I loved This one FROMATOZ and am going to blame "White Trash" on Will!DAYMARES are worse than nightmares-be thankful if you've never had one!@Loren Muse Smith-Allohorn that weird thing on top of the dinosaurs head?You know the one I mean.

Lewis 12:10 PM  

@acme -- I struggled to get BERT as well, and I've listened to that record as many times as you. Then I remembered the song lyrics, "It's a jolly holiday with you, Bert", and got it. When I was a kid, I thought the words were "It's a jolly holiday with Hubert"...

I disagree with the meh reviews. This was for me far better than a workmanlike puzzle, giving me smiles, aha's, and a smooth, enjoyable experience, as I've grown to expect and love from PB.

@ED -- I liked your racism/Oprah comment.

Boss Hogg 12:28 PM  

Actually, we prefer the term "Appalachian-Americans."

Donald 1:05 PM  

How were the Utes involved in the Black Hawk War, fought mostly in Illinois and Wisconsin in 1832? The Utes originated in Colorado and, obviously, Utah.

Wikipedia 1:11 PM  

The Black Hawk War, or Black Hawk's War, from 1865 to 1872, is the name of the estimated 150 military engagements between Mormon settlers in the Four Corners region and members of the Ute, Paiute, Apache and Navajo tribes, led by a local Ute chief, Antonga Black Hawk. The conflict resulted in the abandonment of some 70 settlements and postponed Mormon expansion in the region.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

OK I totally give up on the rating system. I am convinced that some puzzles are just easier for different people. I literally finished this puzzle in 20 minutes with no write overs and have struggled mightily with some easy mediums, only snag was AT LOW EBB. Because ai wanted it to be stairwell as soon as the W showed up Oh well. I guess that's what makes thi so much fun every Friday and Saturday

skua76 1:17 PM  

@donald, I wondered about the Black Hawk War myself, as I've spent a lot of time in that part of Illinois. But I just now looked, apparently there was another one in 1865-72 in Utah and Colorado.

My puzzle fail today, OpuS et Ballades at 21A. But it was otherwise easy; I did know the MUDHENS from my time growing up in Ohio.

OISK 1:28 PM  

Took me a while, but this was a really enjoyable Friday for me, even if I never heard of Seth, or Zandt. Having played in a concert band, I am familiar with alto horns, and for me, Mudhens and Howe ( I even remember his Wonder Bread commercial) were gimmees. I really liked this puzzle. Difficult, but fair, and I love the clue for "eggshells" Thanks again, Mr. Berry!

Masked and Anonymudhens 2:11 PM  

Wow. Came here expecting the usual meta-Berry gushing from our host. But meta curve ball. Thought fill was pretty good, tho clearly meta-B's commendable attention to U-count (7) may have complicated grid matters just a teeny weeny metamite.

Fresh entries abound. Almost all are gettable, tho, via creative parsing. Only 68 words. Liked the [Go door to door, possibly] = CAROL clue, for some reason. Wanted SCULK or HAVENOBLADDERCONTROL, but what the hey. themelessthUmbsUp.

Just like I always say, folks here are real smart. Smart enough to stay the DAYMARE away from stores today. Good call. Kinda like dustin'. Me, I've always considered furniture dust a sorta protective layer.

Gareth Bain 3:23 PM  

Wait... so 'Mericans do know who Ian Dury and the Blockheads are? Now I really have no idea why DURY has never occured in a grid. Bert's Australian cockney accent is infamous I thought! Had never heard of Margot but eventually guessed FONTEYN thanks to Joan, who I know only as someone mentioned in the lyrics of "Does this Bus Stop 82nd Street!

Merle 3:23 PM  

Seems to be about what our social sensibilities are and what we know or don't know.

Social sensibilities: White trash is an ethnic slur. It is offensive. Yo, we don't call any human being trssh! Were scabs enemies of unions, or just desperate and/or ignorant? Corporate bosses were the enemies of unions! "The copper bosses killed you, Joe, they shot you, Joe, says I, takes more than guns to kill a man, says Joe, I didn't die" -- the Ballad of Joe Hill. Had no problem with the Oprah quote. Actually, it made sense to me -- unfortunately. Unfortunately because no one should have to be twice as good as someone else who is recognized and acknowledged in order to be recognized and acknowledged. Oprah is telling it like it is. What is the objection?

What we know or don't know -- I am 70 years old, used rhythm sticks in grade school, and my own kids used rhythm sticks in school and at home. They usually could be found in a rhythm instrument set for children, with a triangle and other stuff. Micah, Erato, Orion -- not usual clues for usual answers, but easy to figure out. Midribs is a gimme for anyone who has tried to learn how to identify trees. Catalonia is another gimme -- for me. Why not Edam cheese in a Mexican dish? We don't have to be Swiss, and in Switzerland, to order a ham and Swiss sandwich -- in a NYC deli! Edam, Fontina, whatever cheese works. Altohorns, mellophones -- familiar enough. As familiar as a Moog. Would never have known Mud Hens, or Kasdan. Figured out Erskine, Howe, and Zandt, even though I didn't know them. Figured out Mork, even though I didn't watch the show and didn't know he said K.O.

Enough already. Okay puzzle, not exciting, not annoying. Found it medium, like Rex did, even though Rex and I don't seem to share a knowledge base outside of general shared knowledge. Now, for the robot challenge....

Tom 3:29 PM  

FYI, mellophones are played in marching bands in place of French horns. They look like large cornets (different shape than trumpets). Generally not used in other bands because of the superior tone of a French horn.

Really? 3:33 PM  

Language lesson for Shamik --
When two words like "white trash" are put together in a new meaning like egg shells, the phrase is not innocuous nor innocent. White trash is a recognizable phrase with a definite meaning, definite connotations. The known meaning stays in a reader's awareness. And if you don't get it, I can think of a number of two-word phrases to describe your sensitivity and cultural awareness that could be parsed as innocuous and innocent if a second definition of those two words also were a possibility. Parse that.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

My sympathies go out to Rex and all the others who never had the pleasure of standing on the back of the fifth grade band banging on the rhythm sticks.

Z 4:17 PM  

@Gareth Bain - This American's knowledge of Ian Dury and the Blockheads pretty much ends with Hit me with your Rhythm Stick which appeared on a Stiff compilation album I owned back when I owned vinyl albums. The album included Elvis Costello in all his angry young man glory. I may just have to go see if the Stiff catalog is available on iTunes™.

Doc John 4:35 PM  

Best use of RHYTHM STICKs- beginning of "Magic Bus."

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

Agree with @Merle. "White trash" is a racial slur. The more I think about it, I'm blown away that it was allowed in the puzzle.

chefwen 4:54 PM  

@loren muse smith - I did not know Edam was used in Mexican cooking. Mexican not being one of my favorites. Here's what Rick B. has to say. "Among my other favorite melting cheeses are the real Edam cheese you can buy in Yucatan (it's availability is an international trade quirk of fate) and an aged mozzarella like cheese with a rich butter center made in Chiapas.

The stuff I learn through this blog is amazing.

Had to span this one over two days, yesterday being just a tad bit busy.

Favorite clue and answer were the ARMY BRATS.

Anonymous 6:17 PM  

i pitch a tent or set up tent at the end of a hike so i started badly instead of back.white trash is certainly perjorative and i was surprised to see it despite the "pun." it didn't quite whitewash it. i remember rhythm sticks, tamborines, triangles in kindergarten. at my age doing the puzzle for me is a race between forgeting things i knew from my parents' time and my ability to learn and retain what the kids of today know. oy!

acme 9:11 PM  

It's odd, I've only heard the term "White Trash" being used by friends/white folks referring to themselves jokingly growing up as "total trailer/white trash".
I guess hand sheepishly up (as I loved the EGGSHELLS clue) not realizing how pejorative it was considered.
Now I see, esp from the person who pointed out no human should be called "Trash"
Lesson learned...

Re: Hike STARTBACK...remain unconvinced it isn't some obscure football term! But if it isn't it isn't. I have to withdraw 83% of my original comment.

cheeseguy 9:39 PM  

It is amazing to listen to everyone on here go nuts over "supposed" sports clues and lack of political correctness. Perhaps some of you need to broaden your horizons a little. I know very little about theatre, foreign languages, and many other topics -- all of which abound in nearly every puzzle. Take it as an opportunity to learn something new and get off the "I am so above sports" rants.

As for white trash -- get over it -- the clue was great.

sanfranman59 10:00 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 7:08, 6:46, 1.05, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 8:18, 8:57, 0.93, 37%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:11, 11:49, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium
Thu 17:02, 18:47, 0.91, 34%, Easy-Medium
Fri 20:40, 24:21, 0.85, 25%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:09, 3:41, 1.13, 91%, Challenging
Tue 4:41, 4:41, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Wed 6:49, 5:57, 1.14, 85%, Challenging
Thu 9:57, 9:23, 1.06, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 11:47, 12:10, 0.97, 48%, Medium

Online Crossword Puzzles 12:48 AM  

That was really amazing..thanks

Yeah, but... 7:30 AM  

@cheeseguy: thanks for clearing everything up for us. Thank god there are sensible people like you who have it all figured out and can keep the rest of us in check.

The sad thing about the "White trash?" clue is that it's really not even that great. Sorry, it's just not.

Horace S. Patoot 10:27 AM  

I don't think of an Afghan as a shaggy dog. Long-haired, yes, but shaggy?

Dirigonzo 6:18 PM  

Here in my little corner of syndiland this Friday puzzle appeared in the Thursday paper and I, not noticing the mistake, went right ahead and solved as a Thursday puzzle and I thought it was a pretty good one (despite all the offense taken by many of the prime time commenters). I often get on PB's wavelength early and today was no exception - ARMYBRATS went in off just the A in SCABS (which I always thought was a mildly offensive term in itself) and the rest was trademark Berry workmanship. Good stuff but I want my Thursday puzzle, dammit!

Spacecraft 11:17 AM  

Well, I enjoyed it. Call me a Berryite, I guess. Enough difficulty--especially clue-wise--to engage plenty of axons & dendrites, but still solvable, a solid medium. My only writeover, and biggest hangup, was ProARAB.

I agree that "Call an end to a hike" is a strange clue for STARTBACK, but that no sports reference exists. I suppose the scout leader--probably an overworked and out-of-shape dad--would say "This is far enough, boys; let's STARTBACK." As has already been pointed out, however, that's not the end of the hike. You still have to kike BACK to the START. Poor guy.

I knew the "white trash" thing would wake the hornets. This is the Age of Taking Offense, wherein every possible slight is automatically given full weight. I know what he (or they? PB? WS? Both??) tried to do: misdirect as a Friday clue is supposed to do. The wording was...unfortunate. I certainly wouldn't read into it any intention to offend.

Lots of little AHA! moments. For a while I was thinking PATELLA for the shin cover, though that's inaccurate enough to prevent my inking it in. Then when I REASONed OUT EGGSHELLS I got it: it's not part of the anatomy, it's just clothes. Then 34d gave me fits; I even had FROMATO_ and failed to parse it for a bit. That was a bigger AHA!

A Patrick Berry puzzle is like oil for the prevention of brain rust.
He's our own OPEC. Keep producing, friend.

rondo 12:46 PM  

Nice to see comments from syndiland. Very few over the years I have been monitoring.

DMGrandma 2:19 PM  

Fun puzzle, but the proper names and quotes did me in. Loved ARMYBRAT as I am (was?) one. But a minor league team, a radio guy who I now learn is on something called Sirius- heard of it, don't know how one accesses it. When I played an "instrument" in the '30's, it was sandblocks, sandpaper covered wood that you rubbed together- how I wished to be old enough to play the triangle! So RHYTHM... crossing FONTEYN was no help. Not offended by the EGGSHELLS clue. It only made me try to think of the things we are required to put in the white paper recycling bin- which certainly doesn't include foodstuffs! In the long run I got everything except some of the SW, and I thank the constructor for a challenging start to my day.

Waxy in Montreal 4:09 PM  

What I enjoy most about a Patrick Berry crossword is that even if you aren't familiar with some of his answers you can usually discern them from their crosses. For me, today's unknowns included KASDAN, ALTOHORNS, MIDRIBS, DAYMARE, ZANDT and RHYTHMSTICK yet I'd almost rate this as an EASY solve, especially for a Friday.

I won't comment on my province's equivalent of the ACADEMY known as the Office québécois de la langue française other than to mention that its employees responsible for ensuring the purity of French are commonly known among non-francophones as tongue troopers or the language police. 'Nuff said.

Red Valerian 5:29 PM  

@Waxy--how's the snow??? I see clearing is in the forecast....


Liked the puzzle well enough. I don't think of cherries as having stones (unlike say, peaches) but the answer was gettable. My only write-over was the E in BERT, as it started of -RR-, as I was thinking 'arRy.

I agree with those who said that 1A (Call an end to a hike) was not a sports clue.

So, it's been five weeks since Black Friday, eh? That charming custom has made its way north. Bah humbug on it, and on Boxing "Week" sales. I'm a reluctant shopper.

Though if I could get my hands on some of them skeet-Barbies...

Waxy in Montreal 5:53 PM  

@Red, thanks for asking. Lotsa snow for sure but we're coping well. Some travel concerns but very few power failures. The major "negative" has been a slowdown in Boxing Week sales which, like you, I have no problem with.

Dirigonzo 6:53 PM  

As much as I enjoy PB's puzzles I'm not doing the same one two days in a row which is what my local paper seems to want me to do. A strongly worded letter to the editior will issue.

@Rondo - a little syndi-community has formed in Rexville with an ever-changing (and a few constant) cast of characters sharing our thoughts on the puzzle and whatever else may be on our minds. I hope you'll join in from time to time.

A different point of view 10:18 PM  

Re: white trash

From what I've read about this term it is both classist and racist (but perhaps in a different way than you might think). Implicit in the term is the idea that all non-white people are trash but there are already specific slurs reserved for them. The lower class and/or poor whites are called "white trash" to contrast them with the other kinds of trash. Notice that terms like "black trash" or "indian trash" - different words are used.

Trom 12:14 PM  

You didn't know Dick Van Dyke's character in Mary Poppins? That just means you are ignorant, not that it was a bad clue. And apparently you are a heathen, because it wouldn't be that hard to look up Micah in a Bible.

You say you like your maxims classical...but have no clue about a classical movie like Mary Poppins? Again...ignorant. And just because you haven't a musical bone in your body doesn't take anything away from an Alto Horn.

All in all, I doubt I'll ever look at your blog again, as it's just a showcase for your own attempts to distract from your ignorance.

Trom 12:19 PM  

Who wouldn't know Mr. Hockey was Gordie Howe? WOW.

Trom 12:33 PM  

@ Spacecraft why would you assume that a scout leader is out of shape? From a comment like that, you are obviously ignorant of the scouting movement, and likely couldn't handle actual scouting activities.

Z 3:55 PM  

@TROM - Anyone else you want to insult? And you might want to look up classical.

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