Rent character Marquez / SUN 11-23-14 / Headmaster honorific / Five-time Jockey Club Gold Cup winner / Poem in our eyes per Emerson / Chinese company whose 2014 IPO was world's largest in history / What Gustave Dore's Confusion of Tongues depicts

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Surround Sound" — theme answers are wacky two-word phrases where first word is completely aurally subsumed by the tail-end of the second word. First word is disyllabic in every case:

Theme answers:
  • RANDOM MEMORANDUM (23A: Office missive sent out arbitrarily?)
  • GRANITE POMEGRANATE (30A: Stone fruit?)
  • LUNAR BALLOONER (48A: Aeronaut who's headed for the moon?)
  • ROTC PAPARAZZI (66A: Photographers who stalk future lieutenants?)
  • PEWTER COMPUTER (84A: Desktop machine made of malleable metal?)
  • MENTIONS DIMENSIONS (101A: Provides some idea of an object's size?)
  • COLLIE MELANCHOLY (113A: Lassie's affliction after failing to rescue Timmy?)
Word of the Day: ASUNCIÓN (37D: South American capital) —
Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción (Spanish pronunciation: [asunˈsjon]GuaraniParaguay) is the capital and largest city of Paraguay.
The Ciudad de Asunción is an autonomous capital district not part of any department. The metropolitan area, called Gran Asunción, includes the cities of San LorenzoFernando de la MoraLambaréLuqueMariano Roque AlonsoÑembySan AntonioLimpioCapiatá and Villa Elisa, which are part of the Central Department. The Asunción metropolitan area has more than 2 million inhabitants. […]
It is the home of the national government, principal port, and the chief industrial and cultural centre of the country. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a passable theme, but I expect more than "passable" from Patrick Berry. Way, way more. To be blunt, Patrick Berry needs to be, minimally, Very Good, every time out. The overall quality of the NYT is really riding on a handful of stalwarts who are capable of producing puzzles of a very high order. Wentz, McCoy, Gorski, Chen, Steinberg, Berry … these people just can't fall down or even trip on the job. They have too much of other people's mediocrity to make up for. Unfair? Of course. But that's the current reality of the NYT crossword. There are definitely some good moments in this puzzle—the acronymic use of ROTC (i.e. relying on how it sounds, not how it's spelled) is inspired , and the clue on COLLIE MELANCHOLY(113A: Lassie's affliction after failing to rescue Timmy?) is genuinely hilarious. But MENTIONS DIMENSIONS and RANDOM MEMORANDUM just lie there. Too much real estate to give over to boring answers, especially in a puzzle whose theme is so basic that it really Needs to be great at every turn.

There were times when this felt like the easiest Sunday I'd done in a while, and other times where I got oddly bogged down by a single word or small handful of them. Turns out I am capable of confidently spelling neither MEMORANDUM (considered -EM ????) nor POMEGRANATE (somehow thought maybe there was another "N" in there just before the "G"; again ????). OXFAM is familiar to me after-the-fact, but during-the-solve, it was nowhere. Needed nearly every cross. I somehow wrote in MOAN at 98D: No longer standing tall? (MOWN), which really stopped me at the end, as I considered TAITTER as an answer to 108A: Feed supplier (good clue for TWITTER, btw). Given a five-letter answer starting with "I" and given the clue [2006 World Cup winner] the only (and I mean *only*) country I could think of was INDIA, which, I was 99.7% sure, was wrong. When I got ITALY, I laughed. Sorry, ITALY. Forgot about you. Also forgot Jessica Simpson's sister's name, mostly because I forgot about Jessica Simpson, who (like her sister) hasn't been relevant for years. Anyway, ASHLEE is spelled thuslee, which caused some minor confusion in the south.

Had LEAD for LEAK (73D: Boon for an investigative journalist), and then RHYME for 45D: What some dreams and themes do (RECUR). I guess I just ignored the "some" in that clue. My bad. But the worst struggle I had was in the NE, where SALE TAG for NAME TAG (16D: Retail clerk's accessory) really gunked things up. Had LILI for MIMI, EASE for WANE, and thus EOLAN for 14D: George Eliot, but not Marilyn Manson (WOMAN). And then I just sat and wondered what the problem could be. Eventually pulled SALE from SALE TAG. Then NAME TAG leapt forth and all the surrounding right answers popped into view. Happy 195th birthday to George Eliot, by the way. Read Middlemarch for the first time this past summer and Loved it.

    Some quick announcements:

    First, though I haven't done all the puzzles this week, I am going to give a Puzzle of the Week nod anyway, this time to Andrew Ries and his latest Aries XWord puzzle, "Symbol Synonyms." Neat gimmick, where all-caps clues are single words which can be reimagined as a Periodic Table abbr. + clue word, which combine to clue a familiar phrase. Thus, [AUGUST] is the clue for GOLD RUSH (AU = gold, GUST = rush, as of wind). [CURING] => COPPERTONE, [CAPE] => CARBON COPY, and [ALBUM] => ALUMINUM CAN. Andrew Ries's Aries XWord puzzles are available only by subscription, but said subscriptions are ridiculously cheap. You can solve free samples at his site. Definitely check him out.

    Next, I am very happy to plug Patrick Merrell's Kickstarter campaign for his graphic novel / puzzle project, "Zep: A Puzzling Adventure." Here's the pitch: "An action-packed tale of adventure, intrigue, and gadgetry for kids; a baffling, multi-step puzzle for adults hidden in the art." Patrick is a professional cartoonist as well as a professional puzzlemaker, and the project looks genuinely fantastic. Read all about it, see samples, and watch a short (adorable) video at his Kickstarter page. Seriously, do it. It's worth a look. The project is a Kickstarter Staff Pick! His book's got a hidden puzzle! An Evil Dr. SUMAC! What's not to love?

    Lastly, a plug for the country's newest significant crossword tournament, The Indie 500, brought to you be a crew of some of today's best young constructors: Erik Agard, Evan Birnholz, Peter Broda, Neville Fogarty, and Andy Kravis (all of whom run independent puzzle sites of their own). The tournament will be held for the first time in Washington, D.C. on May 30, 2015. But more than plugging the tourney itself, I want to call attention to the fact that they are accepting puzzle submissions from novice constructors (with no more than 10 published puzzles) to fill the last slot on their tournament puzzle slate. Eligibility requirements are right here. So mark it on your calendar and, if you're relatively new to constructing and think you've got a great idea for a tournament puzzle, consider submitting. I know all the people running this show, and their collective skills and professionalism are legit. Go. Solve. Do. Fun.
      Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


      Zeke 12:29 AM  

      I have to say, I disliked this puzzle less than I've disliked any other Sunday puzzle I've ever solved. So, Best Sunday Ever!

      Billy 12:36 AM  

      As my first complete Sunday ever -- no google, no checking on across-lite, I liked this!


      Whirred Whacks 12:52 AM  

      Thanks Mr Berry. Solving this did two things:
      -- it made me feel clever, and
      -- it made me smile.

      Agree with the Rexmeister about COLLIE MELANCHOLY and ROTC PAPARAZZI. Very nice.

      Indeed, they're right up there with Blindauer's GERE BOGGLES (from 9/14/14).

      ORE is used frequently; nice to see a fresh, evocative clue ("blast furnace input"). Also, you can't go wrong with Eddie HASKELL. I think he HUMORED (and tried to con) the Beav a lot.

      Mad Genius 1:37 AM  

      I think I've figured it out! Rex must be going through a contrarian phase. What other explanation can it be after he writes a positive review for Mr. Steinberg's puzzle yesterday and a negative one for Mr. Berry today?

      ...or, I suppose we might have entered the Twilight Zone. Either theory is plausible.

      John Child 1:46 AM  

      For me "this is more like it ... the difference between night and day." Clever, clean, and easy because the fill is comprised of real words that mean something. As @Whirred said, "it made me feel clever." That's PB's special talent, part of what makes him the Michael Jordan of Xwords. Only complaint: It was over too quickly.

      Anonymous 2:05 AM  

      Second dead easy Sunday puzzle In a row. C'mon, make me work for it!

      jae 2:06 AM  

      Easy-medium for me.  Got bogged down in middle for no particular reason other than ROTC PAPARAZZI and LUNAR BALLOONER took a while.

      The OXFAM/FSU cross was an educated guess as OXFAM was a WOE. 

      A pleasant but not particularly scintillating Sun.  Yesterday's was more fun.

      Danp 4:36 AM  

      Rex: Do the retail clerks do windows? $4.99 seems so cheap.

      Manager: What part of IRR/ASIS don't you understand?!?!?

      Anonymous 5:13 AM  

      Hey, I guess the "M" in MAS stands for "mediocrity". Oh well, being a member of the Salieri Club can't be all that bad.


      Danield 6:30 AM  

      Solid assessment, Rex. Seems too bad to diminish a fairly solid Sunday puzzle by using so many marshmallow clues-- e.g. "$5 dollar picture". C'mon, save that for Monday's puzz.

      Bob Kerfuffle 6:31 AM  

      Easy but fun.

      pmdm 6:58 AM  

      To me, the puzzle had an excess of proper nouns. I suppose one's assessment with the puzzle (both ease and in general) depends in a great part to how this characteristic of the puzzle played out. For me, not much fun, but that's my general attitude towards proper nouns. I enjoyed the theme answers. Not one of them made me wince. PB constructs puzzles so well I'm disappointed about the proper nouns, since he excels in otherwise finding very good fill.

      Jim Walker 6:59 AM  

      For some reason, until today I never made the distinction between GOURMAND and gourmet. When MORE popped up it was a surprise.

      MENTIONSDIMENSIONS made me realize how far we have come in our respect for women. This geezer remembers when it was perfectly acceptable to describe a female as 37-24-36 or some such combination.

      Also only recently found out about the origins of PAPPARAZZI while watching La Dolce Vita on TCM. The name of the obnoxious photographer in the film was Papparazo. Clone him and you get the plural.

      Thought the puzzle was fun and relatively easy.

      Lewis 7:27 AM  
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      Lewis 7:29 AM  

      I did feel like Rex on this one. Normally, after doing one of PB's puzzles I sit and look over the puzzle with awe. This one was more normal. Mind you, it was enjoyable and there were signature clever clues, like for BAY, RAIN, ORDER, and TWITTER, and the theme was fun. But it didn't have that awe factor that his puzzles usually have. That said, good puzzles like this that seem like a disappointment are proof of how good the man actually is. And I will get just as excited as always when next time I see his name on top of a puzzle.

      chefbea 7:29 AM  

      Started the puzzle last night and did pretty well except for the middle around paparazzi. Went to sleep. Got up this morning and ...voila...finished it. Fun puzzle.

      Lewis 7:39 AM  

      Factoid: The closest living relative to the KOALA is the wombat.

      Quotoid: "I'm SORRY, if you were right, I'd agree with you." -- Robin Williams

      RAD2626 8:05 AM  

      When I saw the constructor's name I was delighted and nothing in the solving experience diminished that. Puzzle was a pleasure. Lots of clever clues, a few gimmes, cute theme with the few jewels already mentioned. Not too many proper names and none an agonizing stretch. Totally enjoyed. Had tab for the open MIC, so MLK did not jump out but otherwise smooth.

      'mericans in Paris 8:20 AM  

      The weekend addition of the International New York Times (the name changed when the NYT bought out the Washington Post's share of the International Herald Tribune only recently started running the Saturday puzzle, so we still start with the Sunday puzzle.

      We really liked the Saturday puzzle, but were surprised by how simple and simplistic Sunday's puzzle proved to be. Probably the fastest one we've ever done, and without a lot of pleasure.

      Our reward for completing it, we assumed, would be an excoriating blog from Rex. In the event he was just his normal curmudgeonly self.

      I love good puns, but these are not puns, just minimally clever word constructs. I'm sure that any of the commentators here could come up with a long list (e.g., Clue: Football players wrapped in green felt? Answer: BaizeGreenBays).

      Amost half of the theme answers in this one are either unlikely (GRANITE POMEGRANATE) or nigh impossible (LUNAR BALLOONER and PEWTER COMPUTER).

      I will give Patrick Berry good marks for the fill, but the cluing was often weak. (Favorite was the clue for TWITTER.) I think that Will comes up Short when he clues ECON (and this is not the first time we've seen it). Economics is not a primary subject for CPAs. Accounting is. One might as well answer ENGLISH for an engineering major.

      Main write-over was 12D. Inserted (Boris) Karloff instantly, which threw us off in the far north for awhile.

      Mohair Sam 8:28 AM  

      Very easy Sunday, but clean. Kinda agree with @Rex this morning. Expected a little more from the theme (although loved the ROTC and Lassie lines). Maybe I expected too much because Patrick Berry was the constructor. The (in)famous single kudo to @Rex for pointing out that this was not smashing.

      A couple of the clues seemed just wrong - CPAs study accounting, not economics (there is a huge difference); Gourmands want better fare, Gluttons want MORE.

      But there was a lot of the usual quality Berry cluing (especially where he makes the required -ese so easy to swallow); and the usual nice mix of the old (HASKELL) and the new (ALIBABA). Netting it out we thought it was an OK Sunday, and surprisingly easy for a PB.

      An aside here. Notice that Rex left Martin Ashwood Smith's name off his special list. I really, really hope @Rex's dislike for stack puzzles in general and MAS puzzles in particular doesn't influence the NYT. Is it just me or are there are less and less long triple and quad stack puzzles appearing? I miss the change of pace that type of puzzle provides.
      See @questinia's comment here from 11 something yesterday regarding MAS puzzles.

      Loren Muse Smith 8:39 AM  
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      Loren Muse Smith 8:41 AM  
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      Loren Muse Smith 8:43 AM  

      @jae – me, too on that OXFAM/FSU cross. I guessed correctly, but this Tar Heel who still considers Ga. Tech a newcomer to the ACC (dismayed at its ever-expanding boundaries) I bitterly considered LSU or Boise State. Okay not really.

      I can't be the only one who confidently wrote in "Karloff" for KRUEGER? And "marry" for RAISE?

      Love the word SIDLES. I feel like if someone is sidling, he's being a bit sneaky and needs to be monitored.

      "A mon" is always my first thought for ____ avis.

      I have an Eddie HASKELL in my fifth period. Hi, Kevin. I'm on to you, buddy. I see you sidling there toward the door even though the bell hasn't rung.


      I agree with Rex about PB's having to be fabulous every time, and I was thinking about that as I solved this. Some guys just never get a day off, huh?

      But I absolutely do not agree with all of you who weren't impressed with the themers. No surprise that I thought this one, with its deft manipulation of language, delivered in spades. That the meanings of RANDOM MEMORANDUM and MENTIONS DIMENSIONS might not be funny per se I didn't even notice. What I really really liked was the spotlight PB shone on long two-word phrases – all conceivably possible in the real world (save, maybe, LUNAR BALLOONER, my favorite) – that begin and end with two syllables, spelled differently, that rhyme. (Hmm. Berry syllabary?) I. Loved. It. As usual with an engaging theme, I found myself staring out the window considering. . . Maybe that NAME TAG has "Marie Montgomery?" Meryl's character's basis for her decision? Sopie Philosphy. . .

      Ok, so this actually happened a few years ago- when we were packing for a move, the little basketball broke off of my son's most prized memento – in sixth grade he won the North Jersey Three Point Competition. A TROPHY CASATSTROPHE if there ever was one.

      Two other possibilities considering words from the grid:

      ASTHMA MIASMA (Ok. Ick)

      Thanks, Patrick. A mon avis, you still have the best grid creds of'em all.

      Unknown 8:44 AM  

      Easy. At 62 min, a speed record. Too bad about the DNF with 4 errors LEAd/HASdELL and ASHLEy/ONy. I don't know HASKELL (before my time) and a reporter would be happy with either a LEAd or LEAK. I don't know ASHLEE either, but a bit of extra focus should have delivered ONE.

      Oh well. Stressless solve. Growing up, my brother and I played word games like these. We still use them to authenticate via text, so believe it or not, I can't tell you what they are. You might text me pretending to be my brother!

      Muscato 8:51 AM  

      Fast but fun enough to me - a good finish time, no cheats, and when I finally closed in on those pushy photographers, I actually did that most overused of Internet expressions, LOL.

      Brillat-Savarin 9:07 AM  

      Gourmets go for quality in food, gourmands go for quantity --- they just like to eat. Gluttons will eat everything in sight that isn't actively running away.

      'mericans in Paris 9:08 AM  

      Realized after I posted that Blaize Green Bays doesn't meet the two-syllable word followed by a compound word with a two-syllable-homonym at the end criterion. So, here's an alternative:

      WHETHER BELLWEATHER (Ovine leading indicator?)

      'mericans in Paris 9:11 AM  

      (Damn spell-checker!) Now with correct spelling:

      WETHER BELLWEATHER (Ovine leading indicator?)

      Z 9:12 AM  

      How might one make an easy puzzle medium? Slide and Karloff could do the trick. Or adults (really, do you have to be MATURE to go an R movie - for many it seems that being MATURE ruins the fun) and RErun and whiNED will all help to slow down a solve.

      PEWTER COMPUTER brought to mind the original colorful iMac and the radical idea that a computer did not have to be some shade of off-white. To me the genius of Steve Jobs was three-fold; Recognizing what people wanted before they did, recognizing that people want choices but not too many choices, and making sure that the product worked when you turned it on. Seems so simple.

      "RANDOM MEMORANDUM just lie there." Har. Sounds like the description of many managers' desks.

      Maisie 9:17 AM  

      Notice word within each clue answer that pertains to definition. Example
      Pome within granite pomegranate;
      Melan within collie melancholy; memo within random memorandum

      Leapfinger 9:25 AM  

      What a fun theme!

      I polished off the first one after confirming that M followed RANDOM, started smiling when I saw the twist in GRANITE POMEGRANATE. Clever play on 'stone/drupe, there! Was totally taken by the LOONier aspects of LUNAR BALLOONER --- 'Fly me to the Moon', yeah, right! Thought that couldn't be topped till I came to ROTC PAPARAZZI; needed all my files and chisels to confirm that twist in the Berryesque armamentarium. Almost fell out at that point. Sadly, the Wow factor diminished after that, since 'puter is a pretty common abbrev, and for years I've interpreted that song as "Come to me, my MELON COLLIE Baby"...if and when I thought of it. Will not, however, fault the Berryman for not building to a crashing crescendo. By MIR, this was schoen.

      The fill SEAMed adequate, if a bit Wednesdayish. Wouldn't PESO much attention to the lame clue for SIR; others, like RAIN, were much appreciated. Enjoyed the MOWN/MOANED pair and the nods to WANE GRANITE SKI and DARREN V.

      Publishers' meeting disbands: JOURNAL ADJOURNAL [a straight play, cuz I like it]
      Basis for MVP award: TEAM ESTEEM
      Skin-care firm's venture into food markets: OLAY'S FRIJOLES
      Yesterday's PERCH and HAKE can be researched in a FISH MICROFICHE.
      Protect the robins when they return in the Spring; it's not good to INJURE HARBINGER.
      Who KNOWS ARABINOSE better than Netanyahu, Sugar?
      At an antiques auction, I wanted Johann Sebastian's walking shoes, but someone out-bid me for BACH'S REEBOKS. [Bach du lieber! apologies for liberties with pronunciation]
      Nothing above to RISQUE ASTERISK, EH, is there?

      Hard to under-wonder at a PBerry construction; IMO, this gets a mature imprimatur.
      ALAS, BABEL on!

      Teedmn 9:26 AM  

      I liked GRANITE POMEGRANATE as a theme answer since a stone fruit is a real thing. And COLLIE MELANCHOLY and ROTC PAPARAZZI were wonderful.

      I liked the cross of MOWN and MOANED. I liked the clues for ALPO, WOMAN, ORDER, RAISE and SEAM. Thought the clue for OLE was fresh. There is a lot to like about this puzzle, though I had a near Natick at OXFAM/FSU.

      True, few genuine aha moments, but thanks, Mr. Berry. An enjoyable Sunday puzzle.

      crossvine 9:33 AM  

      Had a good time with this. Loved LUNARBALLOONER and ROTCPAPARAZZI.

      Fastest Sunday in a while.

      Being a journalist, had no problem with LEAK and even though HASKELL is before my time, I've seen enough RE-AIRings of the Beav and known enough of that ilk.

      Did have TAB for MIC for a while, which slowed me down a bit. Only other write-over was DARRoN. I finished the puzzle and was told I had an error. Went through the whole thing and I guess I'm so used to seeing ORR in crosswords that it didn't strike me till later that I'd filled that in without needing the down clue. Fixed that and done in less than an hour, which is good for me.

      Now have time to fill this morning. Off to tackle the news section of the paper, which may take a chunk out of my good mood.

      Dorothy Biggs 9:33 AM  

      Easy peasy for me.

      I actually liked all of the theme answers. I didn't find any of them "hilarious" (I don't find many things "hilarious"), but I liked them. RANDOMMEMORANDUM is fun to say...what's not to like?

      Rex's write up is a good example of why I like doing xwords and why I like coming here to read how others solved the puzzle. Rex got twisted around on things that were no problem for me, but within the same word or general vicinity I got tangled up with something else. It is endlessly fascinating to me how we all approach those blank we put letters in arbitrarily, accept them to be tentatively true, and then work out the kinks as we go along. So much life lesson learning in such a small space.

      Enjoyable solve for me today.

      mac 9:33 AM  

      Easy and fun (;-) @BobKerfuffle). I guess I like Sundays best when they go by quickly.

      My last letter was a correction: the K in leak and Haskell.

      Mohair Sam 9:37 AM  

      Ooops. Stand corrected. Groveling. I thought a gourmand was a less fussy gourmet, not a hog. So sure of this non-fact that I didn't bother to look it up before posting above. Humblest apologies to Berry and Shortz. I'm still right on the economics/CPA thing however (so there).

      Nancy 9:38 AM  

      A lump formed in my throat as I envisioned the haunted eyes, the wagless tail, the twitching nose, the droopy head. How can anyone fail to love a puzzle that contains the answer COLLIE MELANCHOLY? Beautiful, absolutely beautiful!

      Leapfinger 9:40 AM  

      @Maisie, I saw the POME and MEMO, but couldn't see anything going on with BA, PAPA, COM and DI. How does MELAN have meaning in the Lassie context?

      PuzzleCraig 9:56 AM  

      I think I'd have a better sense of what Mr. Sharp considers to be easy/medium/hard, if he would post his raw solving times as well. This was my fastest Sunday of the year by 19 seconds, but whether my solve time was particularly fast is hard for me to gauge.

      Zeke 10:00 AM  

      @Froggy - Wether Bellweather doesn't work, as it's bellwether not bellwether. The definition of bellwether is a wether that wears a bell.

      'mericans in Paris 10:17 AM  

      @Zeke -- Ah, you're right. Should have double-checked the spelling. I suppose one could do WEATHER BELLWETHER (Storm-predicting instrument?, or something like that)

      In any case, Leapfinger provided lots of other ones.

      3OA would have been more clever if the fruit in the second half had actually been a stone fruit, but a POMEGRANATE is not.

      JFC 10:19 AM  

      @ AliasZ, you couldn’t have expressed the way I feel about DS puzzles any better than what you wrote yesterday.

      @MAS, You aren’t the only one Rex insulted today. There are more than 300 photos of NYT constructors on xwordinfo. What is painfully obvious Rex has his favorites, some he really dislikes and then the rest. One day he praises PB and the next damns him with faint criticism. He’s also fickle.


      Burt Offerings 10:21 AM  

      Excuse me, but in what alternate universe does "ROTC" rhyme with "paparazzi?"

      Teedmn 10:29 AM  

      @MAS and Will Shortz, keep the stack puzzles coming. They are my cup of Tee(dmn)!

      Dorothy Biggs 10:29 AM  

      @Burt Offerings: think RAW-TSEE

      Maruchka 10:31 AM  

      A little off the mark for PB, but I imagine he had SUM FUN constructing it. I didn't TWITTER as often as usual, tho.

      Several do-overs, due to arising way too early. KARLOFF went in too quickly. Liked the MOANED/MOWN cross a lot.

      Fav of the day - RANDOM MEMORANDUM. Agree with @Z, and often wished most of them stayed there.

      @Brillat-Savarin - Agree re: MORE. When the solve revealed, it left me in WANT of un mot plus juste.

      Les mots juste de jour: "These days I need MORE and MORE less and less.." My new anthem! Thanks, Delbert and Glen.

      Hartley70 10:43 AM  

      Fast and Fun! ROTC really tickled me.
      COLLIEMELANCHOLY was great but the clue was wrong. Lassie was really upset at having to put up with that loathsome Timmy and was really missing Jeff.

      konberg 10:46 AM  
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      Questinia 10:51 AM  

      I had the brain jimmies so I flinched around the grid like Patrick Berry was after me with an AXE in the last scene from The Shining. Without the presence of mind of the kid. More like Shelley Duvall after a double espresso.

      But then I see the grid design enabled that somewhat. This was not, to say the least, a grid in waltzing 3/4 time. Now superimpose some brain jimmies => LUNAR BALLOONER.

      The SIDLER

      Poster Child 11:01 AM  

      @Zeke,'Froggy'??? Where is the famous politesse of which you spoke only yesterday? It's entirely your good fortune that @'merican's punch doesn't reach to wherever it is you keep your nose.

      Euglena Treponema 11:02 AM  

      @ Leapy: Because Lassie has some dark fur.

      AliasZ 11:02 AM  

      What a pleasant, funny, punny theme. I had great fun with it. And the winner is... ROT-C PAPARAZZI.

      I have my own little list of PEWTER COMPUTER-type theme possibilities, some of which could use a little more polish (or Greek):

      Inane pasta? - SILLY FUSILLI
      Follower of waste disposal? - SEWER PURSUER
      Scattering of a popular cat breed? - PERSIAN DISPERSION
      Earliest reed player at rehearsal? - SOONEST BASSOONIST
      Healthy hunting dog? - SOUND FOXHOUND
      Computer for Dionysus? - BACCHUS ABACUS
      Seeping bathtub? - OOZY JACUZZI

      The fill wasn't bad either, up to the high standard we expect from PB. Super clean and solid, no misspelled or made-up words. Hello ERNŐ, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again. I liked OLD AGE, ALI BABA (as clued), SANDLOT, Freddy KRUEGER, SIDLES and many others. But RETRY atop REAIR made me do a double take.

      The cluing was great too, my favorites were "Arm of the sea," "George Eliot but not Marilyn Manson," "What some dreams and themes do" and "Support for a proposal." The clues in PB's puzzles are not meant to make them impossible to get, but rather to make us see a word or expression in a different light, in a fresh, new frame that we do not think of in normal every-day use. The purity of cluing made this one a Tuesday-easy puzzle, but I can imagine a novice's utter delight when s/he was able to complete a NYT Sunday puzzle.

      Here is a popular IRISH Tune from County Derry, also called a London derrière, by Percy Grainger.

      jberg 11:04 AM  

      DARREN/RIO was a complete guess for me --- just going on plausibility. As is often the case, that was enough.

      Aside from that, I liked the puzzle. I thought the theme answers were mostly good, and LUNAR BALLOONER - precisely because of the impossibility - was worth the price of emission. Sure, we had OLAV and his ORE, but not much of that.

      Other than tha, it's all been said, other than to point out the timeliness of 97A.

      J. D. KaPow 11:04 AM  

      Easiest Sunday ever for me. Broke my previous record by over 4 minutes. I also found it very clever and enjoyable, unlike Mr. Crankypants.

      Anonymous 11:12 AM  

      Jim Beam and Wild Turkey are bourbons. Definitely not ryes. There's a difference.

      old timer 11:12 AM  

      First thing I noticed was the very clever cluing for the shorter and more common words. AXE, ABE, MIC, OLE in particular. When I read the blog and discovered it was by Patrick Berry, I said to myself, "AHA!"

      The most wonderful answer: ASUNCION. I don't think I've ever seen it in a puzzle before.

      But I'm kind of on Rex's side here. Much as I loved the pewter computer and the ROTC paparazzi, I thought the theme was a little tiresome, and by the time I reached the SW corner, solving had become a slog.

      joho 11:21 AM  

      @Nancy, I'm with you. Patrick saved his best for last with COLLIEMELANCHOLY. The perfect clue for a brilliant answer!

      Took me forever to figure out, "Communicate with the server, perhaps" -- wonderful clue!

      DNF at the OX AM/ SU cross which didn't dampen my enthusiasm for this puzzle one bit. TY, PB!

      Leapfinger 11:29 AM  

      REDRUM, @Questinea! I sat murmuring LUNAR BALLOONER softly to myself a minimum of 8 times. A mantra nonpareil.

      @'merican, it's hard to tell whether a bell weathers or no. Thanks, but most on my list were a self-inulgence, without bisyllibic first words. Look to @LMS for better, and of course, to ....

      @AliasZ, I don't believe I've met your old friend ERNŐ Darkness...alias ERNŐ Melan, perhaps? I can't stress BACCHUS ABACUS enough, and SOUND FOKSHOUND is a bit of a cheat, but I laughed my heinie off at the London derrière.
      Your comment today is EL-EM-EN-TREATY to read.

      Alan 11:49 AM  

      RANDOM MEMORANDUM was my first themer, and I spent a while deciding whether to like this one. In the end I did, despite being irked by not having heard of pronouncing R-O-T-C as an acronym instead on an initialism. My fiancee says she's heard it pronounced that way before, so oh well.

      DNF at ASUNtION/tACTs/BAsO. Should have gotten CACTI for "stickers?", and slapping myself over scott BAIO. The danger of dropping in the plural 's' to get started, d'oh!

      Fred Romagnolo 12:00 PM  

      @AliasZ:Twas Basil Rathbone who fell on his London Derriere. Leave it to Patrick Berry to throw me off with the obvious (but false) Karloff clue. In my entire 83 yrs. I have never even thought of acronyming ROTC. Clever of Patrick, whom I am coming to love. When I compare it to yesterday I see the difference between clever and tortured. Speaking of which OXALIs is a weed out here in the West. It has pretty little flowers which open in the sunlight, but it's highly invasive. I can't get rid of it. I think LINCOLN was the only too easy non-Berryish answer. I was crazy about COLLIE MELANCHOLY, but I agree that Timmy should be left down in that well.

      Charley 12:02 PM  

      It's been mentioned, but reiterate, the constructor doesn't know beans about whiskey. Jim Beam and Wild Turkey are bourbans. Seagrams 7 would be an example of a rye whiskey.

      Questinia 12:03 PM  

      *** Top Ten Crossword-Derived Themes ***

      10. OJ Judge who thinks everything is groovy?
      Ito NEATO

      9. Recommended guidelines for procrastination?
      Tarry DIETARY

      8. Portal to cyber-rumcakes?
      Baba ALIBABA

      7. Gender-neutral Disney fawn?

      6. "It's just the red carpet, dahling"?
      Mere PREMIERE

      5. It's that mongrel... again?
      Cur RECUR

      4. "Well, helloo sailor"?
      Tease MATEYS

      3. Unique constellation?
      Ara RARA (boom-de-ay)

      2. Mass transit to Milan couture?
      Etro METRO

      {{{{{{ drum roll }}}}}}

      1. Do it like a marsupial?
      A la KOALA

      OISK 12:20 PM  

      This time I actually did not notice the constructor's name, and found out it was a Berry only a moment ago. Nice puzzle for a Sunday, but disappointing for a Berry. Like finding competence when expecting greatness. And thanks, Questinia. Loved it.

      jdv 12:26 PM  

      Easy. For me, OXFAM was the big outlier in this puzzle. With all of the league changes in the past few years, I wasn't sure about the FSU cross. Also, had to guess the 'A' at STRATTON. Other than that, I enjoyed the solve.

      Andrew Heinegg 12:30 PM  

      Well, today's blog is filled with complaints about how RP evaluates puzzles. Sometimes, they complain that he only likes his favorites. Today they are complaining he is too hard on one of his favorites. Then there are those who
      just attack his character, his taste or whatever. How about just explaining in non-vituperative verbiage how and why you disagree with him? I am pretty confident that he is not an ax murderer or a child molester.

      As far as today's puzzle, I did not think it was one of PB's best efforts but, let's be straight about this. When you see his name as the constructor, you expect the Berry-best, as does RP. No one in any endeavor that has variables inherent in it, such as the preference and taste of the solvers can achieve to the same level every time.

      RooMonster 12:33 PM  

      Hey All !
      Fun puz, apparently I'm the very few (only one?) out of the crowd who thought pronouncing ROTC was a stretch. Hmm. Liked all the other themers. LUNARBALLOONER my favorite. Hard to keep dreck to a minimum on a 21X21 puz. Had amFAM in for OXFAM(?????) which I never. heard. of. Sheesh. (Hi @LMS, that was a double steal! )

      @AliasZ, you totally cracked me up with your alternatives! Have to say Oozy Jacuzzi was my fav, although Silly Fussili and Persian Dispersion are also awesome! One day I hope to be as talented as you. :-)

      Hand up for bar for MIC, spelled PREMIERE wrong at first (switched i & e), and as mentioned earlier, amFAM. So not too shabby. Fun, easy side, zippy SunPuz. Only 8 U's. (Figured I'd take over M&A U duties as he seems to be MIA).


      Arlene 12:40 PM  

      I did this last night, but couldn't comment until now.
      I had some of the theme answers - wasn't quite sure of spellings.
      LUNARBALLOONER was my favorite - just sounds good to me.
      Thinking of Timmy and Lassie made me COLLIE-MELANCHOLY too. Timmy was the "new" kid.

      Maisie 1:06 PM  

      Ball. Moon
      Di. Diameter
      Com. Dot com
      Melan. Melanoma

      Anoa Bob 1:16 PM  

      I liked the themers at first blush last night during the solve. Then, on second thought, I changed my mind. Several of the themers grated on my logo logicus nerve because they seemed to go beyond wacky into the nonsensical.

      Today, upon further review, I think they go even beyond the nonsensical into the laughably absurd---I'm looking at you LUNAR BALLOONER---and reemerge on the other side into the funny zone again. Kinda like Three Stooges humor.

      I'm always reluctant to criticize or praise the constructor for clues because I know from experience that cluing is where the editor is most likely to have an input into the final product. I believe it was constructor & five-time ACPT winner Tyler Hinman who said of his puzzles that if you like a clue, give him credit; if you don't like a clue, blame the editor.

      Zeke 1:23 PM  

      @Poster Child - First, I don't recall ever having sung the virtues of my manners. In fact, I didn't claim to have them.

      Second, thank you for pointing out my rudeness towards 'mericans in Paris. I had misremembered his nickname, as provided here previoiusly. It's Frenchie, not Froggie. Frenchie, you have my sincerest apologies.

      @MAS - You're not Salieri, not by a long shot. You're our old friend from college, the funny, bright charming guy we all used to love. That is, until you fell for that girl. We all know you love her, she makes you happy, that she's good for you, in ways we can see and in ways we can't. The thing is, we can't stand being in a room with her. We try, but she just sets our communal teeth on edge.

      Bomaka 1:46 PM  

      Smooth SKIslope of a puzzle with only a couple of moguls. In the NE fAdE led me to dAtETAG (seemed reasonable -all those hateful little tags that are stuck on everything- tho they don't contain dates) but fOdAN clearly was not going to work and quickly led to WOMAN,WANE, and NAMETAG.

      One further skunk hole (rabbits don't dig in my garden, but apparently skunks do (have you ever caught a skunk in a Hav-a-Hart trap?) was ASHLiE and HASKELs, masking Lincoln for a bit.

      The theme was fun, as were all the themerschemers' alternatives above.

      Good Sunday! Thanks PB!

      Unknown 2:04 PM  

      Medium?? I rate this one Super Duper Easy. I didn't even focus 100% of my energy on it (distracted by Eagles/Titans game) and I still completed it in about 2/3 avg time. Fun. Not unfair. Good puzzle.

      retired_chemist 2:07 PM  

      A so-so Patrick Berry puzzle is still better than many constructors can produce. Add in a general dislike of Sundays, however, and it wasn't as much fun as I hoped for.

      Three squares bothered me DAR_EN/_IO, OX_AM/_SU, and LEA_/HAS_ELL. R seemed likely for the first one (yes).

      Alphabet soup with mSU (M=ississippi), lSU (Louisiana), and F (Florida) landed in favor of F (FAM for family seeming sensible even though I have no idea what OXFAM actually stands for). The others are actually not ACC schools, I learned after the fact.

      DNF becuse of LEAd (which I maintain is a correct answer) for 73D/HASdELL. Not exactly a Natick, by the strict definition, but HASKELL is not a household word, or at least hasn't been one for 50-odd years. LITB's original broadcast was in October 1957 (the same day Sputnik went up, if you like trivia). Is there a term for this,the case in which selecting between one of two equally correct answers requires knowing an obscure cross?

      So much for complaining. Lots to like - the theme was tight, and to judge from the alternatives suggested above, piqued many peoples' interest. Hand up for Karloff before KRUEGER. And for ASHLEy before ASHLEE Simpson,OH tap before ON ICE, and more.

      Thanks, Mr.Berry.

      Ludyjynn 2:31 PM  

      This very easy Patrick Berry was still a pleasure because of his ability to make even run-of-the-mill fill fun: MIR, EVE, OLE, IRS, ISM and my fave, PEZ.

      Yesterday's NY Times was delivered w/ today's paper due to distribution problems, so I haven't done that puzz. yet. I am now dreading facing my nemesis, David Steinberg, based upon the two comments I just saw here...oh well, here goes nothing!

      Thanks, PB and WS.

      GILL I. 2:54 PM  

      The comments today are Jolly by Golly. A lot more fun (warning: HERESY about to erupt) than this PB Sunday....I give it ONSTAR because it didn't tickle my RIBCAGE. However, @the Leapster, @Questinia, @AliasZ and my favorite caustic CHAP @Zeke made my reading these comments tre fun. Kind of reminds me of Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde....

      Airymom 3:01 PM  

      Loved "collie melancholy". "Lunar ballooner" made me think of the 3 hours I wasted yesterday seeing "Interstellar". And I paid $5 extra for the IMAX version.

      Sorry, I digress. I liked the fill better than the theme of this puzzle. I guess it's similar to liking the frame better than the painting.

      I enjoyed it and after yesterday's impossible puzzle, it was very welcome.

      Martin 3:04 PM  

      @Anon, 11:12
      Jim Beam Rye.
      Wild Turkey Rye.

      Questinia 3:14 PM  

      @ Gill I,
      I was hoping for Kinky

      evil doug 3:32 PM  
      This comment has been removed by the author.
      evil doug 3:33 PM  

      Olé, Beaujolais.

      Elizabeth Kruska 3:46 PM  

      As an avid lover of thoroughbred racing I was excited to see a cross of KELSO (5 time Jockey Club Gold Cup winner) with HASKELL. The Haskell is a late summer graded stakes race, run at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, and is for 3 year old horses. It's not uncommon for Kentucky Derby horses to run late summer "down the shore." It's really a lovely day at the racetrack. The fun of this cross, for racing nerds like me, is that it's a great horse crossing a great race. Kelso didn't win the Haskell, although he did have a win at Monmouth Park. And wait! Even more fun! Kelso was a dark bay, like 41-across.

      I'm such a nerd.

      Melodious Funk 4:15 PM  

      Ah @Evil,

      Your wondrous entry, like El Greco's moniker, is a solecism. One doesn't run into such things often, appreciated.

      ahimsa 6:16 PM  

      Loved it! ROTC PAPARAZZI was my favorite (I've always pronounced it rot-see but wasn't sure how many others did). But all were good.

      Here are a few I made up. Not nearly as good as the puzzle entries but I hope they will be somewhat amusing:

      BURRO MARLBORO - "Philip Morris' answer to Joe Camel?"

      CARRIE APOTHECARY - "Medieval sequel for a Stephen King novel?"

      TERRY COMMENTARY - "I just love Egyptian cotton towels!"

      Nancy 6:30 PM  

      Although I didn't comment on it, I, like Anon 11:12 and Charley 12:02, also thought both drinks were bourbon, not rye. So thank you, Martin 3:04, for straightening us all out.
      This reminds me -- from way, way back in the day -- when my parents were hosting a dinner party. My father, who prided himself on being the kind of host who could supply anyone with any conceivable kind of alcoholic libation, was mortified when one of the guests asked if he had Jack Daniels (a bourbon). Dad said yes, not knowing if he had Jack Daniels, but knowing he had a fine quality bourbon he could substitute. Only he didn't. He was completely out of bourbon. So he poured the guest a glass of top quality rye (this story would be a lot better if I could remember the brand)and said nothing. The guest took a sip and said: "Frank, that's one of the best bourbons I've ever had." My comment? Well, of course. Ryes, which are blended, tend to be much, much smoother than bourbon. Rye was my father's drink, and I wish I could remember what the brand was.

      Zeke 6:47 PM  

      @Gill.I. Caustic!? Why, all I did today was compliment PB1 on his "Best Sunday Puzzle Ever", politely clarify a mistake in a post, politely clarify something & thank Poster Child for making a valid point, apologize to a poster for my mistake, and express my, and our, affection for MAS.

      I'm quite sure I was the exemplar of graciousness today, if it's not an offence to manners to say so myself.

      F.O.G. 7:51 PM  

      Kinda sad after hearing that Lassie failed to rescue Timmie. Must watch a REAIR of that episode. Right after I go to open MIC to tell a few jokes to cheer myself up. Hope that I evade the ROTCPAPARAZZI.

      Too Much Whiskey 8:18 PM  

      @nancy. Actually, JD is a Tennessee Whiskey, not a Kentucky Bourbon. And not all Ryes are blended. There are single batch ryes which tend to be spicier than the blended Canadian-style ryes, which usually don't actually contain a majority percentage of rye malt in most cases. And bourbons range in terms of smoothness from sweet and light to fiery and heavy.

      Charles Flaster 11:21 PM  

      Late post. Love PB but only liked this due to "shaky" cluing in lower left ----- especially ECON.
      Thanks PB.

      Brandon 1:12 AM  

      Found this *very* easy. I usually finish fewer than 5 Sunday puzzles per year and need an hour at least. This one took me 22 minutes. I'm pretty pleased with myself! (But ready to get taken down a few pegs next week.)

      Jon 10:34 AM  

      Eddie Haskell is clearly a legitimate modern expression. All I can say to someone who's never heard of him is, "beat it, squirt".

      Anonymous 10:48 AM  

      JB and Wild Turkey may actually produce a rye (who knew) but to clue them as ryes would be like saying Bic is famous for making razors. Go to their websites. All they talk about is bourbon.

      Anonymous 10:52 AM  

      See my reply to Martin@304.

      Z 11:02 AM  

      @Anon10:48 - So now when the clue is "Razor" and the answer is three letters you'll get it right away. Remember, the idea is not all the ways a clue might be wrong, the idea is to come up with the way it is correct.

      alan of winder 12:05 PM  

      Krueger vs. Karloff drove me wild for a while. Fun puzzle, fairly quick solve which shouldn't really be the basis for enjoyment. Every Sunday brings some sense of enjoyment and accomplishment.

      Anonymous 4:45 PM  

      JIM BEAM is BOURBON, NOT RYE Whiskey.

      Anonymous 4:51 PM  


      Anonymous 1:23 AM  

      No. You miss my point. JB and Wild Turkey aren't ryes, plain and simple. OK, in their body of products, they may produce a rye, but they should NEVER be clued as ryes. It's simply wrong. Wrong. As I said, just go to the home page of their web sites. They're both all about bourbon. Try them some time. You'll get the idea.

      Anonymous 2:08 PM  

      Easy easy easy. Dumb dumb dumb. Only fix was "nod" for "nap" which was corrected immediately with the "metro" cross. Doing this puzzle just wasn't that fun - even as I sped through it. Especially knowing that you were all circle jerking over the fact that PB constructed this one. Lots of mistakes that have already been pointed out - ryes, econ, etc. In my opinion "Neato" is not synonymous with "That's amazing". Neato is more like "Huh, that's like, slightly more interesting than watching grass grow". All this and a forced, uninteresting theme that I didn't enjoy. Collie melancholy is not an enchanting image or the cutest thing ever. Sorry. Agree with the comment that this puzzle had a surfeit of Monday level clues, although I also agree that the non-theme fill was acceptable.

      xyz 3:29 PM  

      Late doing the puzzle. Rex whines too much, nice puzzle through and through. Easier Sunday, but very little meh too it.

      Bellinghamster 6:01 PM  

      Maybe it's a regional thing -- but at my college we referred to the "Rotzy" program when referring to ROTC.

      Eric Selje 9:59 AM  

      Exactly. Tabs are open at bars, mics are open at coffeehouses.

      spacecraft 12:57 PM  

      A ho-hum Berry? Who'd a thunk it? This guy shouldn't do Sunday themed grids. Unthemed is where he shines. In the first place, 21x21s accumulate dirt like an a.c. filter. There's very little here, but inevitably some. I just now scanned the completed grid to find a couple of examples... oh, come on, there HAS to be one SOMEWHERE... well, I guess resorting to the old college try FSU--or any U--might qualify, but geez, Mr. Berry! You are good!

      So cleanness of fill: A+. Theme: mildly interesting but unspectacular. Execution: spotty. I well remember calling classmates "Rotsy boys;" that one was hilarious. The top and bottom ones were "meh"-inducing. It just felt like he was out of his element. Go back to the 15er themelesses, please, Patrick!

      7035: more "meh."

      rain forest 3:20 PM  

      It's very difficult for me to cogently analyze a puzzle unless the clues are "off", and this doesn't happen as often as OFL would have us believe. Today the cluing, I thought, was excellent and the theme was entertaining. Knowing where the theme was going after the first theme answer was very helpful with the others.

      As always, given the size of the puzzle, I like it when I don't feel like it is a slog.

      Good one. Can't read the captcha, so try another-can't read that either-yes. Patience rewarder.

      10449 Gimme

      Dirigonzo 5:58 PM  

      By the time I got to Stone fruit? I had enough crosswords to figure out the answer, went back to fill in the arbitrary missive and plugged in the rest of the theme answers as I came to them. Now I'm off to see who Eddie HASdELL is.

      120 - that's SORRY.

      DMG 4:00 PM  

      Commented earlier on this out of my comfort zone puzzle. Only to have my comment appear and then disappear. Second time this has happened. Anyone else experience this? Such a shame, my Captcha was a a winning 108 this time? 464 what can I say?

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