Bahla fort site / FRI 1-10-14 / Word puzzle popular since 1930s / Menelaus kingdom / Symbol of liberty in French Revolution / 1978 disco hit featuring warning don't fall in love / Body of water belatedly added to course of Erie Canal

Friday, January 10, 2014

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Lawrence KASDAN (7A: Lawrence who co-wrote "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi") —
Lawrence Edward Kasdan (born January 14, 1949) is an American film producerdirector, and screenwriter. He is best known as the co-writer of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes BackRaiders of the Lost Ark, and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Kasdan has been confirmed to be co-writer for the upcoming third trilogy of Star Wars.[1]
He is the father of directors Jake Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, and the father-in-law of musician Inara George. (wikipedia) (wait … there's someone named INARA???)
• • •

THE FRIDAY PUZZLE: This puzzle is so insanely well made that I'm going to make a point of finding all its faults. Otherwise, my review would just be me shaking my head in awe. So, here are the ways in which this puzzle sucks:
  • MACHOS? (35A: Domineering men). Really, a noun? The dude sang "Macho, macho man" … but he did also sing "I want to be a macho!" Damn it! OK, scratch #1.
  • IN A PET? No one has been IN A PET since the '50s, and even then no one liked it. The only person who can properly be said to be IN A PET is a vet, during surgery or perhaps certain routine examinations.
  • OATERS? What year is it? We're still pretending this is current!? [but even as I write this I'm noticing it's Right Beneath CRACK SHOT, which is so perfect … Damn it!]
  • EPPS and TERI are modern(ish) crosswordese and, despite being marginal and far apart from one another, together they nearly destroy the whole puzzle. 
  • Barry Manilow.
  • KRISS KROSS should clearly have been clued as the youthful rap group who pioneered the Backwards Clothes Movement of the early '90s. So what if they actually spell their name KRIS and not KRISS? I think my point is still valid. Actually, I just want to play this:

OK, enough of that. In reality, what you have here is a 64-worder that is so smooth that it almost seems unremarkable. There was nothing odd or tortured or alien, not even a decent candidate for Word of the Day. What did it have? A cavalcade of long answers, almost all of them perfectly in-the-language phrases, five of them Right Alongside One another. That center is so fat and so white and he drove CHEAT SHEETS (a fantastic answer) right through it!? Honestly, it's not fair. I guess the grid doesn't have many Scrabbly letters. You could knock it for that. But let me tell you, constructors revere this guy for a reason—his grids exhibit a high level of difficulty, but without pretension and (most importantly) with flawless execution. I can't find any real crap, even in the short stuff.  My only (genuine) complaint was that it was too easy. I was done in 4:38. Too smooth. I've seen more superficially dazzling themelesses, but I've never seen someone go under 68 words with such ease. Almost nonchalance. Most people's grids start to buckle somewhere, sometimes pretty badly, when you start to get down into those depths. But this thing isn't even breaking a sweat. Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:13 AM  
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jae 12:14 AM  

A fine easy-medium workman like* Fri.  for me.  No WOEs (I recognized KASDAN after some crosses), but several erasures Calm down for CHILL OUT, alpHaS for MACHOS (I suspect I'm not alone), haSP for WISP, and a PincH for SPLASH (I may not be alone there either).

Solid puzzle, liked it.

*workman like = not particularly zippy or crunchy.

Steve J 12:15 AM  
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Evan 12:16 AM  

I'll knock it for one other thing: the clue for 19-Across. ARMS running? That phrase doesn't Google well. I'm guessing it means gunrunning. I'm sure you can find the phrase in a news story here and there, but it sure ain't common.

But yeah, it's a really solid puzzle all around. I found it pretty easy too for a Friday.

You could replace MACHOS with NACHOS. I doubt many people would be crazy about the partial phrase ON AN or Judah's son ONAN, but then again....MACHOS.

Steve J 12:17 AM  

Awesome writeup. I look forward to all of the frothy anonymice complaining about how Rex is so negative and critical while not noticing the sarcasm truck running them over.

Awesome puzzle. It's always fun for me watching how themeless puzzles - when I'm clicking with them - start filling themselves in in waves. I started in the NE, worked through that fantastic center - those 10-letter downs are all very nice, and CRACK SHOT is excellent - down to the SW. I had some trouble in the NW and SE for a bit, but once I did figure things out, I was simply left wondering how I didn't see the obvious earlier. Easy-medium for me today.

Only possible NITS are MACHOS - I've never heard it used as a noun, and I don't think it's in the language - and, yes, IN A PET. But I've grudgingly come to accept that as simply a longish bit of crosswordese.

But those are quibbles that definitely do nothing to mar what is yet another excellent Berry themeless.

wreck 12:18 AM  

Patrick Berry and BEQ puzzles are my favorites! Great play on words and not a lot of esoteric mumbo jumbo.
This was was fun, but still challenging for me.

Keenan Mahoney 12:19 AM  

The first Friday I've ever filled without needing help! A big day, indeed. That could indicate this was super easy, but I'd like to agree with Rex that it was just really well made. Hurrah!

okanaganer 12:24 AM  

A fast Friday indeed... it felt like a Wednesday or so. I always appreciate when there are no goofy abbrev's. There are a couple here (ATMS, eg) but they are Rex likes to say, in the language, that I don't mind them at all. But yet again I had to flip a coin at a crossing of two phrases I have never heard before: HEEL TAP and TAPERS. I had HEEL TAB and TABERS. One of those weeks where I just can't finish clean!

Interesting that "Unsteady walker, maybe" could be TOT or SOT.

Not too sure that THENCEFORTH has actually been used since, say, MCCL or so.

Rex said "Barry Manilow" university in 1979, my dorm neighbor used to play COPACABANA at full volume.
I would like to be 19 again, but only if I don't have to listen to that again at 7 on a Saturday morning.

Garth 12:27 AM  

As I was knocking out the center of the puzzle, it started to glow, a rainbow emanated from it and I heard angels sing. But seriously, the middle of the puzzle seemed like a thing of beauty to me. Also enjoyed the experience of the complete lack of crosswordese*. I also enjoyed @Rex's tongue-in-cheek discussion of the puzzle's weaknesses**.

*Uh oh. I feel like the indoctrination has begun to take hold.

**Of course I NEVER would have realized this if @Steve J hadn't pointed it out...

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

I agree, great puzzle. I pity the poor guy who's up tomorrow.

Rex, I hope you are not likening Patrick Berry with Shelley's "Ozymandias" with that closing quote .

-Martin Ashwood-Smith

Anonymous 12:28 AM  

Easiest Friday I've ever done (and fastest at around 22m), but thoroughly enjoyable. Only quibble is the same as Evan's: ARMS running clunked for me.

Carola 12:32 AM  

What a pleasure. Not easy for me, but then, I got to enjoy it a bit longer. It was a treat to see those long downs in the center materialize. Besides CRACK SHOT, I also liked how OATERS was next to NAG, PREACHERS next to EDEN, SPLASH by ONEIDA LAKE, and the sound of the TRALEE-TRIPOLI line.

Do-overs: me, too, on haSP before WISP; also Smidge before SPLASH and Pud before PIE.

Anonymous 12:39 AM  

Excellent gridwork!

I did not care for the clue at
24-Across though. PIE is not a course ... dessert is a course.

retired_chemist 12:57 AM  

Splendid. Easy-medium. Just exactly enough bite.

I usually need lots of short answers that cross the longs to get traction. This one, not so much. The longs were clued spot on, and I got most of them with only a few crosses. The answers just kept unfolding with very little angst and a lot of pleasure.

NITS: Also unfamiliar with MACHO as a noun, but the dictionary wasn't. SIDE DISHES might be a pair, but one, and occasionally three, are also common. KASDAN is a bit obscure but the crosses are fair.

8D was aDO to start. TRIPOLI was Tunisia, which was indeed a Barbary State but not the right answer. PIGEONS came 100% from crosses but it is a WAY COOL answer.

Thank you, thank you, Mr. Berry. You da bomb.

rlt nyt 1:01 AM  

Loved it... Smashed my previous best time by finishing in under 12 with no errors... Loved the clever long answers and the fact that my brain seemed to be working tonight.

AliasZ 1:06 AM  
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Anonymous 1:20 AM  

Clean, with some great answers and cluing around the grid. That huge middle section filled so cleanly is to die for.

I agree that switching MACHOS to NACHOS might be a better choice, but that's about the only fill concern in the entire puzzle. GMEN, GIGA and OATERS may be slightly undesirable, but we see crap ten times as bad in most puzzles, so it's one of the smallest possible nips I could make. Reality is, entries like these are needed, and none of them are horrid.

Simply spectacular. Patrick Berry is the epitome of how to make a quality themeless puzzle.

AliasZ 1:20 AM  

The center white landmass looks like a football on a tee waiting for kickoff. Just squint, you'll see.

A fabulous puzzle from one of the MACHOS of Cruciverbia, the tiny country situated between TRALEE, TRIPOLI and SPARTA, flanked by OMAN and the USSR, and just West of EDEN. I always thought OMAN is an island.

I could act the sycophant for Patrick Berry's prowess, or reminisce about my days on COPACABANA beach in Rio, or offer a recipe or two for a couple of delicious SIDE DISHES, but I don't want to offend anyone's sensibilities. So I will just say good night.

Plus this note to all crossword constructors: bow your heads to the Master, the Sensei, the Dalai Lama of crosswords. And learn, grasshoppers. Learn.

Unknown 1:43 AM  

Good feeling during solve. Miraculous even. But I was disappointed with the disparities between my effort and the official soln. TsPERS/DICTs seemed like an appropriate Hebrew/Latin cross. hELL/haSP/aSAY fits the clues as well as the official soln. aSAY is nonresponsive, but so is WELL for " Not down with anything" so, well . . . WISP for lock of hair is pretty subtle.

SCRATCHeADS looked like SCRATCHhEADS to me, so seemed AOK for brainstorming. INAeET looked really weird, but so does INAPET. Is that a thing?

So while the puzzle also gave me the feeling that it was dragging me through under some supernatural steam, it left me about 7 fills short. But I don't feel abused at all. A was a joy to solve.

Benko 2:22 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Great flow to the solve. My favorite kind of puzzle, a good themeless with lots to like about the fill.
I also had hasp for WISP and compounded my error by crossing it with hale for WELL, which cost me a bit of time. Otherwise would have been under five minutes, which is fast for a Friday but not nearly my fastest. So not too easy, in my opinion. Just right.

Questinia 2:25 AM  

@ cascokid said ".... some supernatural steam"

There's something about the elegantly fleet circuit Mr. Berry establishes between the clue, one's brain, and the solution. Perhaps it's our collective unconscious... in chiffon.

@ lms~ Nokonomiyaki Hiroshima-style this time. Miss the dancing bonito flakes.

Accent Cardplayer Machos 3:37 AM  

that middle stack of 10, 11, 11, 11, 10 is breath-taking...

BATHPILLOW made me laugh at the Doris-Day-ness of it, with a little SPLASH on top.

COPACABANA earworm, Don't Falllll in lovvvvve.

My Ado and Grad messed up seeing TRdPOrI right away... second time this week! I had taken the Jeopardy! test and they had asked for the capital of Libya.
I wrote in Monrovia, panicked when I realized I had misread it as Liberia...had 8 seconds to undo, panicked again and wrote in BEIRUT.
And that was one of my less dumb mistakes!

Lots of synchronicity... just discussed OATERS in a game of Boggle moments before this puzzle; had held open an elevator door today telling the gal I had heard the pitter patter of her little feet coming; Friends are from Kerry, but I had assumed it was spelled TRALEigh, till I solved this puzzle.

Not sure how old-fashioned PRINTADS are as there is one right on the puzzle I printed out.

Most fun challenge was figuring out "La to la".

@Anon 12:39
Agree PIE is not a course... "SIDES who waits for it last!? Once you're over 21 you get to have PIE whenever you want!

Nice KrissKross video nostalgia. Are they both in their fifties now... or worse?

Danp 5:02 AM  

By 1980, it was "Disco Sucks", and "Manilow, Yuck!" But I don't think anyone ever thought of Manilow as a disco performer (despite the leisure suits).

Z 6:49 AM  

Speaking of disco - its baaAaack. Daft Punk and Arcade Fire both have popular disco albums out. My favorite was hearing some band that actually put "disco" in the album title deny that they had just put out a disco album (Oh - @Danp - Would you like the original disco version of COPACABANA? - Google it). Nothing says "music" like electronic drum machines. AmIRight? @Okanaganer, I feel your pain.

@MAS - OFL has never displayed an affinity for 19th century literature, much to many people's surprise, but you never know.

Beer Rating - New Holland's The Poet, an Oatmeal Stout: "Nutty, smoky aroma mixed with a nice ale smell. Dark chocolate, char taste. The finish is quite nice. Let this one warm up to near room temperature and the various flavors really come out."

baja 6:54 AM  

Easy peasy and a little too old fashioned even for an oldster like me. Had to laugh at thenceforth. My mom liked to throw hence whence and thence into sentences just to get me going - brought a smile.

Loren Muse Smith 7:20 AM  

@jae – me, too, for calm down, MACHOS went in with no hesitation. If I had a dime for every time someone told me to "calm down" or "slow down," well, heck - I could buy some property on ONEIDA LAKE. My husband and I can go to the mall. Can park the car. And I'm out of the car and into the side door of Macy's fondling and sniffing boots before he has even undone his seat belt.

@okanaganer – yep – TOT/sot pair has been added to my ever-growing Schrödinger arsenal. Next time you see a TOT teetering around, picture someone headed back to the keg at 1:30am. Same walk.

@AliasZ - PB is the Beethoven of constructor crossworld; I have every puzzle he was ever written taped up on my walls all over the place. And I took my Crosswords for Dummies book to the ACPT last year in hopes for a picture and an autograph. But NOOOOOOO (sing-song voice) He was either a no-show or disguised as a mere mortal. COPA CABANA – In high school, a group of us would ride together to basketball games in Monty W's car, playing that song at full volume while we chomped on, I swear, Tootsie Pops. (Little known secret – I could deftly palm a couple of extra grapes and chocolates and surreptitiously unwrap them and eat them while everyone just assumed I was still on my first.) Tater TOTs recipe – bite open Oreida bag at the top, rip it apart enough so you can dump the whole lot of'em (ignore "single layer" warning) on first cookie sheet you can wrestle out from that drawer under the oven. Start checking doneness 5 minutes in, even when they're still a little frozen. After you've tasted about sixteen, they should be done. So there, I've done the Sensibility Offending for you. No worries! Oh, and I squinted. I saw.

@Questinia – Excellent chiffon metaphor. How well said! The clue/answer for WISP was my chiffonest. (FWIW -@wreck, too – there's something about BEQ's clues and my brain that works like this metaphor, but I'd say his style is more lamé, with those metal threads little surprises that make me laugh.)

And hiroyaki! Wow. Where do you live?? That soba-added treat was something exotic I had only in Hiroshima - *never* anywhere else in Japan.

TALKED OVER – I've told you before that Dad and I discuss the Mon-Wed puzzles very early every morning. He's usually looking at his nearly-finished grid, and non-puzzling Mom is across the room on her pad reading the blog and looking at the finished grid. They're usually on speaker phone. Dad's hard-of hearing but has these spiffy new hearing aids that he got, I'm pretty sure, either for free or for next-to-nothing because he was in the Air Force. (Assurance here – I have permission from them to describe these conversations – they're both good sports.) Well, you can imagine how the dialogue goes...

Me: "No, Dad. It was D-I-C-T-A."
Dad: "TICCA?"
Me: "No, D as in dog." (And as I say this, he TALKs OVER, "BIDDA?"
Dad: "TIPPA?"
Mom: (shouts from far off) "DICTA!! Was it a pangram today?"

Ok, fair enough to Mom – she doesn't PLAY the pangram CARD much anymore (but she does mention NITS every now and then. "You didn't capitalize Big Mama and Big Daddy.") Anyway – I think we all cherish these conversations despite all the TALK OVERS. Dad has really grown as a solver – he's advanced from only attempting a Monday NYT with me when visiting me to buying his own subscription and usually making more headway than I expect. But you should hear all the &%$#$ when there are a lot of foreign phrases. . .YO TE AMO, Padre!

I bet stories about how puzzles, the NYT in particular, draw people closer are legion.

MURDER would be a better group name for PIGEONS. Yeah, I've been SPLASHed once or twice.

Patrick Berry on youtube - turn up your volume

Another joy, Patrick. I'll have my book again, just in case. . .

MetaRex 7:38 AM  

Sweet...should be grading papers and writing a conference paper but am v. curious to see what the numbers are for this one on the latest iteration of sparkle vs. gruel metric...gonna check that out.

Smooth solve by MRian standards...had ALPHAS and then ORAN/RACHOS...took a minute to find and fix...even w/o that glitch, still woulda had a time > 2x Rex...

Glimmerglass 7:46 AM  

1920s slang when something was really, really good was to say, "It's the berries." (strawberries?) I think we should resurrect this expression to refer to really, really good crossword puzzles. The argument for this is that Patrick Berry consistently gets As from Professor Parker, a notoriously hard marker.

Dorothy Biggs 7:59 AM  

The only thing that slowed me down was making it, or rather, *expecting* it, to be much harder than it was. Once I realized that I should not be afraid, the puzzle unfolded easily.

Interesting to see Rex and Jeff Chen rave so effusively about this puzzle. Crossword puzzles are like wine to me. There are very few wines I don't like, there are some I love, but often I only know a really "fine" wine when someone tells me about it. I may suspect that it is a better wine than most (I've tasted lots of wine), but until someone points it out, many of the nuances are lost on me. It isn't because I don't try to find those nuances, I just don't have the depth of training to find them on my own.

Same with this puzzle. I suspected it was really good in a very quiet way. But after Rex, JC, and WS pointed out its qualities, I could see it and truly appreciate it.

In the meantime, I'll continue to drink dreck and like it (I'm looking at you, Monday Puzzles and >$15 bottles of malbec) and enjoy it all.

Sometimes being a rube has its simple pleasures.

(OTOH...I can't stand to listen to mediocre performances of Mahler symphonies...but don't get me started...)

Sir Hillary 8:01 AM  

Patrick Berry is a hack and a wiseacre. Three pairs of cheater squares with no theme constraints? Inexcusable. And then rubbing it in our faces by having CHEATSHEETS as his central down entry? Arrogant as hell.

I have had just about enough of these constructors who create puzzles for their own amusement with no regard whatsoever for the solving experience.

MetaRex 8:20 AM  

For any of us interested in crucimetrics, the sparkle vs. gruel numbers for each answer and the puzz as a whole are here. Believe today's number will be a tough one for other puzzes to match.

cacjac 8:24 AM  

I'm in agreement with much of the above comments.
Only thing to add for those who also didn't like
ARMS running; why not use Arms race?

Unknown 8:34 AM  

Zoinks! I don't time myself, but this felt like my fastest Friday ever. I love Patrick Berry puzzles. His clues are fun and they all just seemed to click with me today. TRALEE - snap! MURDER - pow! And all those 10s and 11s - bing! bang! boom! Next thing I know, it's done. Fun! Yay me! Not really. Yay Mr. Berry!

And props to @Carola - your observations added to my enjoyment of this puzzle.

jburgs 8:50 AM  

I will defer to those who are more experienced than me when they speak of the beauty of this puzzle. But as I pump my left fist to the Macho Man video and type with my right hand I have to say that this was much too easy for a Friday. While I agree that there was some "zip", for me there was literally no "crunch." I don't keep track of my times but if I did I'm sure this would have played timewise like a Tuesday.

There are going to be more references to the crappiness of disco. But I will bet that if Beethoven watched the Macho man video or heard YMCA come on at his sister's wedding, he would not be able to resist the fun, campiness, and urge to dance, even before he went deaf. There really is a place for, as Strauss apparently said, "songs with a good beat that you can dance to!"
I have been beaten up by recent Friday puzzles but prefer those over today's.

RnRGhost57 9:17 AM  

"Machos" is a fairly common noun in Spanglish country.

Unknown 9:38 AM  

Easy. Probably better for a Wed or Thur, but a pleasant puzzle nevertheless.

TRALEE = NATICK. Can't believe Rex didn't call that out on his short list of nits. In fact, it's even more NATICK than NATICK is.

Loren Muse Smith 9:56 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 9:58 AM  

Hey, everyone - I got this. I'm waiting for bread to rise.

@Andrew Morton - TRALEE doesn't qualify as a Natick. See below from Rex' vocab list:

"NATICK PRINCIPLE — If you include a proper noun in your grid that you cannot reasonably expect more than 1/4 of the solving public to have heard of, you must cross that noun with reasonably common words and phrases or very common names."

Each down cross is quite gettable:

If CRUISE SHIP were instead ERIC STOLTZ, *that* would be more of a Natick.

Rex Parker 10:07 AM  

A NATICK is a cross, not a single answer.


Unknown 10:16 AM  

I'm trying to think of an amount of money that I WOULDN'T pay for a weekly Patrick Berry themeless puzzle, a la BEQ or Fireball.

And if he and a few of the other heavy hitters in themeless contruction-dom got together and started, say, a twice-weekly themeless puzzle service--man, I would Kickstart that mutha so hard.

Cheerio 10:20 AM  

@wreck The beautifully satisfying thing about Patrick Berry's puzzles is how you can finish them without help if you spend enough time. I guess that is what people mean by "smooth" but I couldn't really explain myself how this is. It may be something about the cluing not just the construction.

How did a MURDER of crows ever come to be?

Nancy 10:25 AM  

Easy puzzle. Much appreciated after yesterday's nightmare.

Milford 10:33 AM  

Fastest Friday ever! I actually thought this puzzle would get dinged for not being difficult enough.

I'll leave it to @Rex and others to describe why this puzzle was lovely and well-constructed, as I am in the same camp as @NCA Prez. But I guess what I can see is that this puzzle was full of stuff with which I was unfamiliar, yet I filled in easily. So I have to assume that is a great quality of construction.

Had GRab before GRIP, which led me to think that "common gathering in public square" was PaGE ONe. Couldn't quite get that one to make sense, then realized it was PIGEONS.

Loved SCRATCH PADS, but then again I am a compulsive list-maker.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:44 AM  

Fine puzzle, no question.

I had one reservation, which I thought would simply resolve into a faux objection: Why is 25 D ONEIDA LAKE instead of LAKE ONEIDA? As expected, the answer is simply, "According to Wikipedia, that is the correct name." But more than that, I learn that ONEIDA LAKE is the largest lake completely within New York State (never knew that!) and the all of the Finger Lakes are named after Indian tribes in the same fashion: xxx Lake, yyy Lake, etc.

@Cheerio - No explanation of derivations, but here is a link to Venereal terms for people and animals. (No need to be 31 A, SHY, in this case "venereal" derives from "venery", meaning "hunting."

Mohair Sam 10:59 AM  

Patrick Berry is so good at what he does. Another great puzzle.

Played difficult for us, although we did finish eventually. Never heard of KASDAN so we wasted tons of time trying to make APINCH work at 9d, and thought KRISSKROSS was done with "C". CRACKSHOT saved us there.

Insisted on nabobS for MACHOS so the middle took a while (I know, I know - but at least nabob is a full time noun). No problem with INAPET, have English friends who use it a lot. TRALEE was almost a gimme here - thinking @Andrew maybe felt naticked by the cross with TERI??

Learned that a group of crows is a MURDER in High School. Always thought that was super cool - and finally, 50 years later, the knowledge pays off!

mac 11:00 AM  

Beautiful puzzle! One that makes me feel good. The (paper) grid looks pristine, even though I had plenty of second thoughts: hasp/hale for wisp/well, calm down, a pinch, pageant for pigeons, heavy for needy.

Don't know if I've ever seen thenceforth before, henceforth i have.

The scratchpad brought to mind my son's beautiful new kitten.

mac 11:00 AM  
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Midj 11:07 AM  

My second ever Friday finish. And on the NYT applet, I was 105th fastest. UNHEARD of for me. I hover around the high 180's to low 220's most days. I agree with everyone that it was the smoothness that made it work. Also my age may have helped (53) as I feel a lot of this was just in my wheelhouse. I subscribe to several of the pay to play crossword services and would LOVE to join a Patrick Berry fan funded site.

Tita 11:58 AM  

Hah - @NCA Pres - you describe me to a T re: wines and puzzles.

Though you can get some wonderful Vinhos Verdes for a mere $8 in these parts!

Must be my fastest Friday ever. I only know it was fast because I went to bed at 11:15 after about 10 straight hours at video editing, after which my eyes and bones were far from SPRY, and FINISHED!! A normal Friday extends well into Friday evening, sometimes the whole week!

I Murdered the NW, and said - uh oh - I'm sure to crash elsewhere in this grid, but no! Now, it was a bit crunchy, with some great clueing to keep my brain working...

And @lms - while I new TRALEE right away (puz-spouse being Irish), I needed every cross for TERI. That maybe could be classified as a level 4 Natick on the Natick Scale.

Great stories, @lms and @Numinous from yesterday.

Post-googled for ELM as French Revolution symbol - fascinating topic! The French simply jumped on the ELM bandwagon, as it has been used as a political symbol for centuries, as it turns out.

Cheers, and thank you Mr. Berry.

Evan 12:23 PM  

Just thought I'd alert people if they haven't already seen it that @John V. and Jeff Chen co-constructed today's LAT puzzle -- it's very clever, too. Well done, gents.

Lewis 12:24 PM  

Hand up for INAPINCH. Also had GRAD for ALUM.

Not super easy for me, but it unfolded beautifully. How strong was this puzzle? It totally took the starch out of Rex's usual snitness. As we know, that is rare and wonderful.

I am not ready to concede PRINT ADS as old fashioned.

Tough Old Bird 12:38 PM  

Rex, some of your comments are so wrong. You mean, only what you know and care about counts? KrissKross indeed is a word puzzle -- so why does Patrick Berry have to clue 7D with a rap group's name that wouldn't fit the space? Really? And you think "in a pet" is too obscure, too 1950's, but Kris Kross is of major importance? Really? Oaters is also too dated for you? Is Shakespeare too dated for you? Well, yeah, Shakespeare is major literature -- how about novel by Samuel Richardson? Who? He wrote "Pamela" -- which some say was the first Western European novel -- didja read it? Is it great memorable literature? As great as Kris Kross's music? Old ain't uninteresting, Dawg. Oater has cultural/sociological/historical significance -- "westerns" compelled the American movie audience for decade after decade. An early 90's rap group is oh so current, but oaters are so outdated? Truth? Oh, by the way, Dawg, men are referred to as "machos" -- in English urban talk, macho may be an adjective, but it also is a noun. A bunch of machos hanging on the corner -- But is that too hip for you? If so, are acronyms okay. WIMPS and MACHOS are acronyms in physics -- and yo, Rex, they are offered as opposites. Consider the connotations -- machos are plural for macho men. Consider yourself corrected by a domineering woman! Yes, I'm in a pet about what you think is current, or not, or valid, or not.

R. Duke 12:49 PM  

Great puzzle! Confidently wrote in 'whiteboards' as my brainstorming session aids.

Angry Old Bird, una real hembra 12:49 PM  

RNR Ghost 57, yo! Que pasa? (My computer won't let me use an inverted question mark here!) All these ignorant people, Rex included, don't recognize machos? Whassup with that? It's the caviling, the nit-picking by people who prefer to flaunt their ignorance rather than find out more about the world than their puny little off the grid worlds allow, that gets to me. Okay, so I don't know something. Know what? I don't know the 1990's rap group Kris Kross. Know what? I didn't know the 1930's word puzzle either, but I had no problem figuring out the answer, and I have no problem with the fact that it was popular before I was born. So what? Anyway, RNR Ghost 57, thanks for showing up. I was feeling lonely among all the "there's no such thing as machos" comments. Anyone have trouble with the Milton Berle quip? Everyone doing the puzzle know who Milton Berle was? You know something else -- you don't have to have known who Uncle Miltie was, to figure out what the quip said anyway.

GILL I. 1:03 PM  

Hey @Vieja pajaro anojada: You need to CHILL OUT...
I think most of us have come to expect and appreciate Mr. Berry's puzzles Some are better than others but all pretty smooth nonetheless.
Well, this one bored me. I don't know exactly why but I just mechanically filled in the answers, - nothing surprised me - nada, zilch, zippo. Now, I loved seeing crows:MURDER...Everything I know about collective nouns I can thank @B Kerfuffle for....I'd love to see something like those in a crossword.

Nice Grid, PB Dude 1:05 PM  

Ode to a Macho-Ess Puz Constructioneer...

U can tell a macho ess, he has a funky grid,
His Georgia shirts and leather thenceforth on the kid.
Funky with his vocab, he's the king.
Call him Mister Machos, kiss his extra ess.
U can best believe that he's macho-ess.
Likes to be the leader, he never scrabble-**BLEEP** s.

Har! Har! Har, har har...
Macho, macho-ess.
I gotta be a macho-ess.
Macho, macho-ess.
I've gotta be a machos.

M&A cho s

s+e+s@b-a-r 1:08 PM  

Would like to argue for bringing In A Pet back: something so simmery and self-centered there that nothing else can quite evoke.

Carola 1:30 PM  

@Evan - Thanks for the tip about the L.A. Times puzzle and thanks to John V. and Jeff Chen for the fun.

Bird 1:33 PM  

Impossible without help. Having CACKLE at 15A, CRAPS TABLE at 2D and BATHING CAP at 45A probably didn’t help either. Tried to fit HENCEFORTH at 14D, but one letter short and didn’t occur to me to think it might need a T in front.

In the end it had a lot of zip and great answers.

But . . .

I don't like the POC MACHOS.

I don't think PRINT ADS are old-fashioned as people still read dead tree versions of newspapers and magazines.


Ellen S 1:38 PM  

Thank you @M&A, for that "delightfully incoherent" comment. And also for your explanation of Weejects the other day. If the Second City skit in the Chicago Art Institute is available on YouTube I'll post a link (Uptight girl meets stoned hippie who "explains" some of the artwork to her. It's a sequel to the bit where Severn Darden is leading a docent tour and at one abstract, someone -- Mina Kolb? -- pipes up "I don't like it," and Darden says, "Well, you're wrong!" But that's not you. You're just "delightfully incoherent." And I mean that in a good way.

And I know how that skit ends, unlike, apparently, @Rex's understanding of Ozymandias. Is Patrick Berry going to wind up forgotten, the only remnant being the vast and trunkless legs of a statue crumbling in the desert? Hope not!

I found the puzzle fun once I CHEATed my way into it. I had to look up TRIPOLI! I could die of embarrassment. My favorite part of early US History is when we went to war against the Barbarians from the Barbara Coast who were messing with our shipping. Millions (hah!) for Defense, not one cent for tribute and all that. Every time I look it up in WIkipedia I see that I'm misremembering important parts, but I like my version. The USS Philadelphia sailed into Tripoli Harbor and miscalculated the tides, so it ran aground on a sandbar and the crew and ship were captured by the Tripolitanians (Kukla, Fran and Ollie). The Naval Stephen Decatur, commanding the USS Intrepid disguised as a merchant ship, entered the harbor and got close enough to the Philadelphia to capture it and set it on fire so the Tripolitans couldn't use it or its cannon. Decatur was much lauded for this bold attack, but the best part of the story is, the Philadelphia had been designed by and originally commanded by Decatur's father, Stephen Decatur, Sr., who (if memory serves, which it doesn't) resigned his commission "to spend more time with his family."

The very best part is, if I hadn't had to look up TRIPOLI, I wouldn't have learned that the US "Barbary Wars" were just a little blip in the history of the area. The Barbary pirates (not all of them Berbers; some disaffected Europeans joined them), working for the Ottoman Empire, had been marauding up and down the coast of Europe since the early 16th century, from the northern Mediterranean all the way to Iceland, stealing, among other things about 1.25 million Christians to be sold into slavery in the Middle East. About the same time as the Christians had been stealing well over 12 million Africans (many of them Muslim) to be sold into slavery in the new world.

So there you are.

Ummm - I wanted HAVEAGOAT instead of CHILLOUT. Disappointed when it didn't fit.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 1:44 PM  

@Evan - yep. La Times puz was Big Time primo good. Had trouble findin the old U-know-what for a while. Thought it'd fallen in another one of them crack dealies, or somesuch. Well, yeh, sorta... ...anyhoo, nice ahar moment.

But, I digress.

Heck, without THENCEFORTH, this here NYT puz is ONE I'DA LAKED almost as much.

M&A cho ess

Sandy K 1:54 PM  

O MAN, there's nothing like Patrick Berry KRISS KROSSING ONEIDA LAKE and HEELTAP with BATH PILLOW.

HENCEFORTH, I SAY, I will never forget THENCEFORTH...

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Why the issue with pie as a course? For its definition of "course", the American Heritage dictionary uses the example: "The first course was a delicious soup." So "The last course was pie" seems in the language.

Rob C 2:10 PM  

Easy Fri. for me. Only hangup was my 3D was initially vegaS strIP. The 3 common letters it has with CRUISE SHIP made it a tad difficult for me to see the error, but when enough obvious crosses didn't work, the correct answer appeared.

Brookboy 2:40 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, as did so many others, but it didn't leave me in a state of ecstasy. I thought it was solid, straightforward and nicely clued. Maybe that's enough to cause so much praise. Mind you, I'm not knocking the puzzle at all, but I am a bit surprised by all the praise.

Pretty fast finish (for me) for a Friday. It helped that I got TRALEE (13A) and MURDER (15A) right away.

Thank you, Mr. Berry, for an enjoyable chunk of time on a rainy Friday here in Brooklyn.

Brookgirl 2:57 PM  

I agree with @Brookboy's assessment.

Benko 3:06 PM  

@Ellen S: I always remember the Marines' anthem: "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of TRIPOLI." First time I heard about the pirate wars.
@Brookboy: Patrick Berry always gets a lot of praise by virtue of his name, but I liked this one before I saw he constructed it. It is enough that it was so solid and smooth compared to the last however many puzzles...can't remember the last NYT that was so solid and smooth, actually.
@Gill I.P.: But who here doesn't enjoy a good rant? I think she may have a point about Kris Kross not being as culturally relevant as those of us of a certain age remember them to be.

ANON B 3:08 PM  

As Senor Wences used to say,"For
you,easy, for me, deefeecult".
At least the Capchas are getting

OISK 3:20 PM  

Very nice puzzle, but not nearly as difficult as yesterday's. I seem to be one of the very few who cannot hum or sing "Copacabana," although I had a faint recollection that there was a song with that name. I had a problem with "cheat sheets." We always referred to "crib sheets," but only used "cribs" (in the sense of cheating) as a verb .

Both Tripoli and Tralee are celebrated in song; there is a "Rose of Tralee" festival in Ireland in the summer, so both of those were easy for me. (some may find it surprising that I know the song "rose of Tralee," but NOT "Copacabana" )

Thanks, Patrick, once again.

Questinia 3:28 PM  

A flimsy lock

Therein lies a bit of the specialness of le maître Berry. He's economical, poetic even, and elicits interpretations which can be similarly economical and poetic.
He also makes one feel good about one's solving skills.
And he makes me want to assume the Samba position.

@lms, I lived in the East Village of NYC until 2011. Part of the neighborhood is becoming a "Little Japan" I still work in Manhattan and try to get from the West Village to the East for my hiroyaki fix.

Steve J 3:31 PM  

@Angry Old Bird: Ah, there's the misplaced histrionics I knew would come and I knew I would enjoy.

Unless, of course, you're upping the satirical ante, in which case, bravo.

donkos 3:54 PM  

When I first saw Patrick Berry in the byline, I cringed. But when I finally completed the grid I had to smile - it was challenging enough that I had to work at it but not so challenging that I needed google. For me, that is the definition of a perfect puzzle!

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

Macho y hembra. Male and female.

Mark 4:19 PM  

PRINTADS are "old-fashioned promotions?" If I were Will Shortz I'd stay away from the advertising staff in the NYT cafeteria today.

sanfranman59 4:31 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Fri 16:01, 19:17, 0.83, 19%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 8:43, 11:12, 0.78, 14%, Easy

sanfranman59 4:32 PM  
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dk 4:51 PM  

@loren….. nice SCRATCHPAD

🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 Stars) A Parlement of Foules

retired_chemist 4:53 PM  

@ Steve J and AOB; I was betting satire from the get-go.

What is it with these easy-to-read numerical captchas? Why would they be hard for bots to deal with?

Last Silver MandAcho Ess 4:57 PM  

@Ellen-- har. I'll take that epithet and run with it. Only regret is I couldn't do @Q's music notes, and the entire Village People song woulda run on a bit long for polite puz society commentary, so I hadta just sample a few chursh stanzas. Still and all, really love that old song and today's smoooooth little FriPuz.

M&A & cho(osin) (to digr)ess

joho 6:04 PM  

Like the best actors who you never see acting, you never see Patrick Berry constructing so I now nominate him for the Academy Award. Or in this case, a Golden Oryx.

Lovely, lovely puzzle. One of your best write-ups ever, @Rex!

@Anonymous Accent Cardplayer Machos, @Lewis, @Bird and @Mark ... my only nit about the entire puzzle was that clue for PRINTAD. There is nothing old-fashioned about them. In fact, many are the most cutting edge pages you'll see in a magazine.

Unknown 6:33 PM  

I am being told that INAPET is a contraction on "in a petulant state." So, There it is.

LaneB 7:45 PM  

Well, WELL, and easy Friday. It must have been because I was able to finish while taking care of the Hi,mane Society dogs. Only thing that caused a temporary glitch was writing in cornholder instead of CHEATSHEET for the "crib"clue.. It seemed there were lots of multi-word answers today. No big deal, however. I also used Algiers as a Barbary State rather than TRIPOLI but soon figured out that it couldn't be right what with NITS.

My week will be a success if I can complete Saturday'seven though I failed yesterday's SanAndreas Fault edition miserably.

GILL I. 8:08 PM  

Ok, so I've been hornswoggled by the @old bird.

August West 8:37 PM  
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August West 8:40 PM  

Typically smooth PB, with some really fantastic stuff. That offset stack of five long downs through and girding the center is just awesome. Still, although comparatively bereft of the junk fill so readily defended by your average crossword makers, this one didn't impress me as much as some of Mr. Berry's offerings. Didn't like MACHOS or ARMS running, and I now remember that I meant to include INAPET in response to Rex's recent Facebook inquiry seeking solvers' most hated crosswordese.

I got held up DICTA, as its legal definition is the exact opposite of the clue and, so, it just *couldn't be* correct. That was my problem, though.

Would've finished under 5:00, but for not realizing I'd misspelled KASDeN and, flying as I was, failed to see that an eLUM cross just didn't jibe with its overt clue. Took me nearly a minute to spot the error, so a 5:53 technical DNF here, albeit highly enjoyable along the way.

sanfranman59 10:04 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 6:54, 6:22, 1.08, 81%, Challenging
Tue 8:02, 8:12, 0.98, 44%, Medium
Wed 8:49, 10:26, 0.85, 13%, Easy
Thu 23:04, 19:03, 1.21, 82%, Challenging
Fri 16:01, 19:17, 0.83, 19%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:02, 3:58, 1.02, 55%, Medium
Tue 5:03, 5:09, 0.98, 41%, Medium
Wed 5:20, 6:11, 0.86, 12%, Easy
Thu 14:17, 10:45, 1.33, 85%, Challenging
Fri 8:43, 11:12, 0.78, 14%, Easy

gifcan 12:28 AM  

Why is it that you can start a puzzle and get nowhere and then pick it up later and zip through it?

Loren Muse Smith 8:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
RonL 11:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
RonL 11:48 AM  

Rex - re "[Lawrence Kasdan] is the father of directors Jake Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, and the father-in-law of musician Inara George. (wikipedia)" you wrote "(wait … there's someone named INARA???)". Yes, there's a character, a companion named INARA in Joss Whedon's TV series "Firefly", which is a cross (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) of sci-fi with OATERS.

RipVanWinkle 6:08 PM  

Go ahead, Rex. Accept ads. In fact solicit them. The point is, no one looks at them and you get the dough. As far as being a distraction is concerned, the cyberpolitique no longer notices them.

spacecraft 11:44 AM  

I did not find this so easy. Even with the scaffold of ATMS/MURDER/TERI (God! She's hot) in place, I couldn't continue for a while. I will say I was put off by the demonic "Emotionally demanding" for NEEDY, and by the "pair" part of "Ordered pair" for SIDEDISHES. Why a pair??

Leaving the NW and turning to the SW, I went ahead with GRab and PaGEaNt. Understandably, I stalled there. To the NE, and GRAD. Uh, no.

But here's the thing about Berry puzzles. As tough as it seemed to start, once I got on track with ACCENT, etc., it just filled itself in, and a very few minutes later I was looking at the finished grid and wondering, why did this take me so long; THIS IS SIMPLE.

Maybe that's the secret. SIMPLE. That's what they say about figure skating, which I'm now watching (go USA!): MAKE IT LOOK EASY. Patrick Berry makes it look easy.

And that, my friends, is tough to do.

What now with the more poker? I got a picture of a teddy bear (awww!) and the words TRUE LOVE--in red! Well, deal me that hand anytime. This CARDPLAYER approves.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Queen Victoria and I are not only amused but positively delighted, with today's puzz.
Thank you Sir Patrick Berry

Ron Diego 9:30 AM PST 2/14/14

DMG 3:15 PM  

I love PB puzzles. Always have the same experience with them. First time through think "no chance" and then, not so much later, I'm looking at a finished grid. I don't know how he does it, but it's fun! My only hiccup here was having my "grad" turn into an ALUM.

Happy V'day. My Captcha is a bunch of hearts which it tells me are "chocolates". Ah shucks, after all the things I've said about him!

DMG 3:24 PM  

P.S. check out the Google Doodle if you want some more Valentine fun!

This time I got the Captcha teddy bear and "true love" , am I sharing his affections with @spacecraft?

Solving in Seattle 3:30 PM  

Nice to have a Patrick Berry today, Syndie Valentine's Day. What a nice treat.

sOT before TOT. Almost threw down ministers before PREACHERS. KASDAN totally on crosses.

I've been to the two locations in this puz: TRALEE on a golf trip to Ireland, and COPACABANA on Lake Titicaca.

I've never heard the term THENCEFORTH said out loud, but I promise to say it daily THENCEFORTH.

Have a great Val Day with your sigohs, Syndielanders.

Capcha: cisessee. Spots the ocean?

Dirigonzo 3:56 PM  

PB's construction is so smoothe that it makes a hack solver like me look good. For what it's worth, I entered INAPET with no crosses mostly because it generates so many complaints here whenever it appears.

The comment thread today reminds me of this song, which seems especially appropriate for syndi-solvers.

I have a picture of a heart (not unlike the one in the video) and roses - who knew Blogger was a romantic?

Waxy in Montreal 6:49 PM  

@Diri, I have the word "flowers" in the midst of 3 hot-air balloons, all in red - Blogger confirmed as a romantic. Aw, shucks!

Beautiful puzzle, the best so far of 2014. PB indeed is the master of constructors. Had to put it down for about an hour to deal with the remnants of the nor'easter which ravaged the coast yesterday. Brain must have become supercharged with O2 because once I started up again, answers came almost as quickly as I can write.

Can't NAG, no NITS to pick.

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