Deviate from Hoyle / FRI 1-9-15 / Footwear brand since 1916 / Blessed 1971 Joan Baez album / What we pay for civilized society / Maker of Pixie Crinkles / Resin-yielding tree whose name comes from bible / Angular acceleration symbol / James so-called king of slide guitar / 1978 arcade classic from Japan /

Friday, January 9, 2015

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ELMORE James (18A: ___ James, the so-called "King of the Slide Guitar") —
Elmore James (January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963) was an American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and band leader. He was known as King of the Slide Guitar, but he was also noted for his use of loud amplification and his stirring voice. (wikipedia)

• • •

I've run out of superlatives, honestly. Low word count, no junk, loads of fantastic phrases. Everything you could ask for from a themeless. All that white space, coupled with some deliberate obscurification of clues (see ELMORE, for instance), coupled again with some small but consequential errors on my part, meant that this played Way harder than most Fridays for me. Good thing SPACE INVADERS was a gimme, or I might never have gotten unstuck. I spent a Lot of time with this puzzle before I had what I would call legitimate traction. For many, many minutes, I had a horrid, patchy grid. This turned out to be largely the result of early, horribly debilitating errors. First, OAFS for SAPS (5D: Lunkheads) (I still don't like that clue for SAPS, since SAPS are taken advantage of (not necessarily stupid, per se), whereas Lunkheads are just generally stupid, but nevermind that for now…). That one wrong answer was probably the difference between a normal time and a terrible time for me. Ugh. Lesson: if a section's not coming together, Pull Stuff Out. I had a lot of that corner done, but still couldn't see FLOTSAM, INEXPERT, or (ugh) TAXES (which seems so obvious in retrospect). Without that NW momentum, I had no help at the top of the long Downs, and so essentially all wind went out of my solving sails.

Then there was the sucker move, which of course I made: UNSER for RAHAL (20A: Indy 500 winner Bobby). Both Bobbies won the Indy 500 (note the deliberate exclusion of date from the clue). As if the starts of those long Downs weren't jacked enough from my sucky start in the NW, now I got a wrong answer in one of the early crosses? Dang. That one little answer also messed up my turn into the NE. So, yeah, I was all over the map on this one until I threw SPACE INVADERS across and started squeezing the middle from both sides. Had some trouble with PANIC BAR (?) and STORY ARC (nice clue—31D: Thread in a series), but the SE was a cakewalk (you walk in there with the front ends of your long Acrosses—huge advantage). Not sure how I know BALM OF GILEAD, but I was really glad I did (not sure I knew it was a tree, to be honest—I just inferred it from a handful of letters). I just watched "Maleficent" last month, so that was all I could think of for 7D: 2012 film adaptation of "Snow White." There are so many damned fairy tale-based movies and comic books and TV shows now, I can't really keep track. The infantilization of the world is upon us! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go read my comic books.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Zeke 12:11 AM  

    This was exactly, and I mean exactly, a medium PB Friday. I never check my times, with the exception it seems of PB puzzles. I'm always struck by the hard yet easy aspect of them and how I seem to have no idea of how long each puzzle took. As it turns out, it's taken the exact same time for each, to the second.

    Zeke 12:12 AM  

    Correction: I've only checked the past three.

    Gabe Tuerk 12:24 AM  

    Northwest was my holdout, yielded up (bared) inexpertly after 52 tough minutes. I loved starter homes and thought highly of the puzzle across the board

    Gabe Tuerk 12:35 AM  

    I also think there's a scarab somewhere in that SW, homage to old Cheops. It's almost maze-like, even

    Charles Flaster 12:40 AM  

    Medium and very happy to finish.
    Had entire south within a few minutes but struggled with northeast.
    SNEEZED opened that up.
    Changing from Unser to RAHAL opened northwest.
    Liked cluing for STANZAS, PIRANHAS, BALES and CURSE.
    No crosswordEASE.
    Great fill.
    If you deviate from Hoyle you do not necessarily CHEAT.
    ZABARS is one fabulous "deli".
    Thanks to PB for a fun ride.

    Unknown 12:40 AM  

    Medium-challenging, sure. First 45 minutes were fun. Second 45 were increasingly frustrating. I finished without errors but needed googles for Jamaica Bay locale, OREIDA, ZABARS Deli, Aspic GELEE, BALMOFGILEAD tree, ELMORE James, Slippery ELM, CHEOPS. Too many to be fun. With these nailed down, the rest were sussable.

    Confident wrongness:
    leTon for GOTAT

    Fair clues that didn't click and needed every cross: HALFVOLLEYED, PANICBAR, LANKER, STATIONHOUSE. That's where the real pain was.

    I had the right sense for [Checks for heat] FRISKS and [Refuse on the surface] FLOTSAM, but couldn't pull out the solutions, thinking of Lookouts and graffiti.

    The SW was done in 10 minutes. THAT was fun!

    Unknown 12:52 AM  

    @Charles Flaster, I agree that Hoyle didn't write the rule book, just a set or best practices. Anyone care to defend that clue? @Z? For my part, I got Fred Hoyle in my head for the first 75 min and thought about mass defects and the curve of nuclear binding energies. Defect didn't fit. Dmass fit, but was doubtful. Frankly, very little ever deviated from Fred Hoyle. Any puzzle with CHEOPS can reference mass defects without missing a beat.

    DocRoss 1:12 AM  

    Didn't notice the byline until I got here, but sure noticed how smooth it was--especially compared to yesterday! I beat my yesterday time by 45 minutes!

    Oh Mr. Berry, how I love your puzzles!

    chefwen 1:20 AM  

    A lot more fun than yesterdays fiasco (for me)

    NW and SE were the first to fill and I thought I was off to the races. Not so. Had to Google BALM OF GILEAD??? Never heard of it and SPACE INVADERS??? Not up on my arcade games as I have never played one and Manhattan Delis are foreign to me. Have not been to New York since Grandma Sophie died 40 years ago. Never heard of CHEOPS, Bobby RAHAL another unknown. So, I struggled mightily on this one, but, as I stated, still more fun than Thursdays.

    AliasZ 1:22 AM  

    What a pleasure! Not much to say because the superlatives for PB puzzles have become tired. We have learned to expect nothing less than perfection from him, and we got it today. Smooth as silk with only one GOTAT to ruffle half a feather and no GOAT, nor DOOK.

    The white expanse in the middle was blinding, the two 12/13/12 stacks crossing each other a master stroke. All lively and fresh phrases too, and NYT debuts to boot. The cluing was well balanced between misdirection and fresh angles throughout, making my solving experience a joy from beginning to end. It was fairly challenging, but the spot-on cluing and entirely natural words and phrases made it easier than most Fridays.

    CHEOPS and CLOPS reminded me of yesterday's CYCLOPS.

    Today's puzzle impressed me so much, it put me into an impressionistic mood. Let us therefore listen to a part of GAMES by Claude Debussy, and one movement from Ravel's MIRROR MIRROR: "Alborada del gracioso."

    Happy Friday.

    Unknown 1:48 AM  

    Hand up for unser. RAHAL was a google. @Rex, "Is there no balm in Gilead?" is from The Raven, which is how most of us probably know it. I had BALMinGILEAD for that reason. OF came from a late google.

    jae 2:07 AM  

    Medium-tough seems right, although @chefwen NW (@Rex FLOTSAM was my first thought for 1A) and SE were mostly easy.  The the middle was the hard part as BALM OF GILEAD and  GELEE were WOES.  Still on a mini-vacation   (parred the last two holes), but alcohol does not seem to affect difficulty. 

    ELMORE as clued was also a WOE (Leonard I know ). 

    Still on an iPad so type overs:  plOtline before STORY ARC and siren before PERIL.

    Gotta like a PB.  Just the right amount of crunch plus zip.  A fine Fri.!

    Jisvan 2:32 AM  

    Fell into every trap, but loved loved loved digging my way out! Unlike yesterday. Delicious PB puzzle, packed with goodies. (Yep, still on my diet...) More, please!

    Steve J 3:11 AM  

    Zeke's "hard yet easy" is a perfect description of this one. Struggled to get any good toehold for a while (not helping myself by falling into the UNSER trap, and also having TampS instead of TONES at 34A and partS instead of ROLES at 35A), but things started coming together. And is so typical of a Patrick Berry puzzle - and other good themelesses - when the answers became apparent, they consistently became obvious. Hard yet easy.

    Loved clues for PIRANHAS and STARTER HOMES. Also found the clue for SAPS a bit off. But when that's the worst thing you can say about a puzzle, you know you've got an excellent one on your hands. Excellent Friday.

    @Casco: From what I could quickly see from a cursory google, Hoyle did indeed write, or at least codify, the rules for many games. Plus, you have the expression "according to Hoyle", meaning, essentially, how things are supposed to be done or by the rules. To CHEAT is definitely not to do things according to HOYLE. The clue/answer works perfectly.

    @AliasZ: GO TAT - a tattoo artist heading to work? (And I still chuckle every time you resurrect DOOK. I'll never forgive myself for missing that so wildly.)

    MDMA 3:36 AM  

    Isn't BALM OF GILEAD the resin itself rather than the tree?

    ZABAR'S and "Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge" are a bit New York -centric.

    Very nice puzzle, smooth as silk.

    Thomas808 3:52 AM  

    "Balm in Gilead" is an old, well known hymn in mainstream Christian denominations. By no means a gimme, but when a few crosses revealed the BALM, GILEAD was a good guess, with the adjustment for OF.

    I'm usually pretty careful about filling in without checking crosses, but I was absolutely sure that "Hearts and spades" had to be suitS and filled it in without a cross. Wrong! I thought "Checks for heat" was tasteS. Wrong! Masterful misdirection.

    I resisted STORYARC because I never heard the term, but looked it up afterwards and, yep, it's a thing. Resisted FUSTY -- never heard it -- but again found out it's a real word with roots in Latin.

    How good is that clue for the most mundane, but still not crosswordese, ARE?

    As @AliasZ points out, the 12/13/12 crosses are amazing. How is it possible to come up with that? Great, great puzzle.

    Hartley70 4:27 AM  

    It took me an hour and most of that was spent in the middle. I've never heard of BALMOFGILEAD or ELMORE so there's that, and I fell into the Unser and Suits trap. SPACEINVADERS is not my era. I lost interest at Pong. And yet it still seemed fair to me. THAT is the brilliance of Mr. Berry, keep em happy while they're crying.

    Danp 5:42 AM  

    If nothing else, the expression "Not according to Hoyle" means illegal. I think this is a case of common usage trumping precise accuracy.

    dk 5:43 AM  

    🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

    Winced at STARTERHOMES.

    GILL I. 5:54 AM  

    I have absolutely no idea how I came up with BALM OF GILEAD, but I did....MIRROR MIRROR was my next entry only because it is quite possibly the worst movie Julia Roberts could EVER star in. SEAN PENN in "Milk" man though, was fantastic!
    ZABARS is the most over-rated, over expensive deli in NYC. Go to any deli on a corner SOHO neighborhood and order pastrami on rye. You'll enjoy it more!
    After yesterday's debacle this really felt like a warm spring breeze. Had the same UNSER problem but that awful movie took care of that.
    I laughed at "Where to find Darwin's tubercle" because an old beau once told me I had one in my right EAR. I actually thought he said I had a carbuncle and I'm thinking dang, that's pretty bad.
    CHEOPS to you Patrick BERRY. I raise my FLOTSAM to ye!

    Anonymous 6:25 AM  

    Not Palm of Gilead, as it turns out. (Nor Slippery Eel.)

    Good puzzle.

    I skip M-W 6:29 AM  

    @Casco Kid. Interesting mistaken Hoyle. Fred's amin deviation from current beliefs was "continuous creation", as opposed to big bang. Doesn't quite fit though. FH was opposed by an astronomer named Sir Herbert Dingle:
    "the blood of a Hoyle may tingle,
    the blood of a Dingle may Boil
    When Hoyle pours hot oil upon Dingle
    and Dingle cold water on Hoyle.
    "the dust of the universe will settle,
    The stars will look down on new soil
    the pot will lie down with the kettle
    and Dingle will mingle with Hoyle."

    I skip M-W 6:30 AM  

    main, not amin

    Ted Cole 7:08 AM  

    Berry is my favorite.
    Got me with Rahal, but I reckon he got everybody else, too.

    Moly Shu 7:40 AM  

    I put RAHAL in as my first answer, got nowhere, took it out and put unser. Still got nowhere and put RAHAL back in and saw MIRRORx2 with the 3 long crosses coming next. The wide open middle is pure genius. It just seems to all flow together without any junk or -ese holding it together. tACTS before PACTS, and ramseS before CHEOPS because I has reneg before CHEAT thank to mssrs. RAHAL and unser. Guessed on KEDS and finished with a guess on the ZABARS/CRAW cross. What a delight.

    Z 7:48 AM  

    What Rex said, right down to oaf and Unser. I actually took out CHEAT to put in UNSER. Doesn't help to "Pull Stuff Out" if you pull out the wrong stuff. 39 minutes was faster than yesterday, but I don't usually time myself on Fridays so I don't know where it falls for me. I was wondering if two BALM OF GILEADs would give me a cup of resin.

    Agree with @AliasNotMe, as well, on the sheer beauty and genius of the crossing 12-13-12 in the middle. When BALM OF GILEAD is the "weakest" of the six, well, {Slow Clap}.

    @Casco Kid - I was going to ask if I needed to - but @Steve J beat me to it. I was going to go the "according to Hoyle" route, but no need now.

    @Fred R from yesterday - I know it is taken as gospel on the right that the NYT is "left-wing," but I will say with some confidence that the left views it as centerist or slightly right of center, a reflection of the US as a whole.

    Also spilling over from yesterday - @abstractblueman - I've been pushing the idea of an "einstein" for a couple of weeks now and your _____ algebra example is perfect. Me - it was a gimme. I did cringe a little, though, at "useless math." Little ticked me off more as a school administrator than the attitude among some staff and parents (usually highly educated professional parents) that some kids "can't do math" and that it was okay to be bad at math. The kids soon learned not to say anything disparaging about math around me lest they get a long-winded and incredibly boring lecture about getting better in academic areas where they struggled. I'm sure detention would have been preferred.

    @Aketi - Welcome.

    L 7:55 AM  

    Zabars is NOT a deli. I have never heard anyone call it a deli. Ever. It's what NYers call an "appetizing store". Famous delis are Carnegie, 2nd Ave, Katz', etc.

    Dorothy Biggs 8:06 AM  

    Major was mistake was thinking that the BALMOFGILEAD came from the pALMOFGILEAD...which I'd never heard of and I got that early, so I started thinking it was some kind of themed puzzle. Which never happens on Friday, so I went with the palm and hoped for the best. pARED seemed to be a decent equivalency to "Made fully visible." When you pare a fruit you make its flesh fully visible, so you know, there's that.

    All that to say, when I got to the end and didn't get my happy little jingle from the website, I scoured the puzzle looking for the problem. Frustrated, I typed in the P and voila! Jingle.

    Had trouble in the NW with besteVer at 14A. I also didn't think SAPS was the answer, but with the errant E, oafs didn't look good either. I had LeanER there too. So it was a mess. Finally got FLOTSAM which helped reset that corner.

    CHEOPS is not what someone I knew. I only got that from crosses.

    Didn't know that about KEDS. Googling Red Ball Jets I see how close they are to the Converse Chucks...I used to wear both kinds growing up. I have a pair of Chuck Taylors now...nothing like wearing a shoe with just a slab of rubber under your foot.

    Overall, good Friday...and thanks to Mr. Barry I'll be singing Balm of Gilead all morning until something else gets in my head.

    Anonymous 8:09 AM  

    What a relief to sail through this, chuckling with appreciation, after yesterday's fiasco.

    Anonymous 8:12 AM  

    For the sake of clarity:

    Bible (Jeremiah) - "Is there no balm in Gilead?"

    Poe (The Raven) - "Is there balm in Gilead?"

    Spiritual - "There is balm in Gilead."

    evil doug 8:14 AM  

    "Right of center"? C'mon, Z. Nobody believes that.

    Rusty-->dusty--> fusty.

    My "hate to give up on" moment of the day: plOtlinE to story arc.

    tOrtS--> fouls.

    Great exercise.


    Wonkword 8:22 AM  

    Got everything but the northeast due to writing "kneeled" for "brought blessings upon oneself." Great, great puzzle.

    joho 8:30 AM  

    Ahhh, there is a crossword god and his name is Patrick Berry.

    For some reason this was easy-medium for me. I started last night with the NW falling quickly ... loved the clue and answer for FRISKS! Then I tackled the SW and NE. All I had in the middle was MIRRORMIRROR when the light went out. But this morning the middle came into view fairly quickly.

    PB is the magician who turns great swathes of white into fresh, interesting, untortured answers like nobody else. Smooth, smooth, smooth!

    After yesterday's trouncing, all is right again in the Crossworld.
    Thank you, Mr. Berry.

    Anonymous 8:34 AM  

    My easiest Friday--28 minutes.--despite Unser. Somehow, this lovely puzzle hit the sweet spot.

    Unknown 8:36 AM  

    @SteveJ @Z "According to Hoyle" rings a distant bell. Thanks.

    Blue Stater 8:49 AM  

    What Zeke said. This is more like it.

    Sir Hillary 8:51 AM  

    Ah, I had a wonderful PB&J this morning -- Patrick Berry and java.

    My solve was similar to @Rex's, in that I started fast, had a long dry spell due in part to self-inflicted wounds, then finished fast. FLOTSAM went in right away, followed immediately by LeanER at 2D. Oops. Later, TurnS for TONES was another goof. And of course, looking for a tree, I had pALMOFGILEAD for a while.

    Nice to see @Rex showing some love for the Pretenders. That song -- I believe their only one without lyrics -- came immediately into my head when SPACEINVADERS became apparent and will no doubt be an EARworm for the rest of the day. I wore out a copy of that debut album as an 8th and 9th grader.

    I am not an expert on New York delis, but I live in the area and have never thought of Zabar's as one. There's probably a trendy cocktail lounge called the PANICBAR in Soho or the like.

    AnnieD 9:12 AM  

    Perfectly crunchy for a Friday puzzle. Worked each corner individually then really struggled with the middle.

    My only error was, having never heard of the tree, I had Palm of Gilead as Pare makes sense too. Took a check to find the error. Suits before Games.

    I did make the other common missteps with Unser...never heard of Rahal... and rusty, dusty. Also had Fast Volleyed before Half.

    Lots of fun all around...thanks PB!

    mathguy 9:16 AM  

    I started off strong getting SPACEINVADERS, MIRRORMIRROR, ODOMETER, PIRANHAS and then stalled. I handed it off to The Closer, hoping that she would get a couple of entries. She gave it back just a few minutes later -- completely finished. She got RARAAVIS, STATIONHOUSES, HALFVOLLEYED, STARTERHOMES. I was amazed. She is an average solver, seldom being able to do an early-week puzzle without help. The wheelhouse phenomenon!

    Z 9:27 AM  

    **Politics Alert**
    @Evil Doug - Right of Center
    Left of Center

    I'd say most people who are of a more progressive world view and have thought about it even a little think of the NYT as right-of-center. The irony of the overwhelming conservative media bias in our society is not a notion I came up with.

    evil doug 9:32 AM  

    Progressives may say that, Z, as a defensive move. But they don't *believe* it.

    Mohair Sam 9:54 AM  

    Easy/medium Friday for us, must be getting on PB's wavelength. Guessed FLOTSAM immediately, saw FRISKS from that and we were off and running.

    Mrs. Mohair: unser!
    Mohair Sam: Not on a PB Friday, watch out for RAHAL.

    Filled NW first, then SE, thought "could that be good old SPACE INVADERS?" and, with the 'V' and RAHAL, HALFVOLLEYED went in. Opened everything wide.

    Stalled a bit in the SW, FUSTY a new word and never considered ZABARS a deli. Ate there once, didn't care for the place. Used to eat at Lindy's when we went to a show, guess they're closed. Anyhow, Katz's is the deli to eat at in NYC when you're not getting a falafel - at least for this frequent visitor.

    One nit: Unless you're a bank or buying other people's mortgages by the millions Ginny MAE is not a mortgage source. Ginny buys and guarantees existing mortgages.

    I'll join the mob and tip my cap to Mr. Berry again. Amazing how he keeps the quality so high.

    Lewis 9:58 AM  

    Oh, the glorious PB cluing: FRISKS, HELL, SNEEZED, BALES, LEARNS, STARTERHOMES, STATIONHOUSES. When I do a puzzle like this, a smile in my heart underlies the entire solve.

    Patrick, I challenge you to create a puzzle with no double letters in the answers. I've been tracking this for quite a long time, and have yet to find one. You once made a puzzle with no e's, so this should be right up your alley.

    Either Patrick is a genius, or he doesn't let a puzzle go until it is clean, that is, he holds on to it longer than most constructors. Or both.

    And, by the way, what a gorgeous looking grid!

    Whirred Whacks 10:00 AM  

    Nice puzzle. Thank you for the pleasure PB.

    Favorite clue: "Inaugural addresses" for STARTER HOMES (agree with @Steve J and others)


    I was happy to read yesterday that Google (owner of Blogger, and also the Patron Saint of Crossword solvers who are looking for extra insight) donated $296,000 from its "Press Innovation Fund" to Charlie Hebdo to help them print their next week's issue (1m copies).


    Maruchka 10:19 AM  

    Patrick Berry is the CHEOPS of elegant fill. Had two sticklers in the center: 15D 'Statute' (doh) for STATION, and 29A 'in' for OF.

    Fav of the day - BALM OF GILEAD, supra. I must have been channeling Paul Robeson's stirring (in)version of the hymn:

    @Sir Hillary, @L - True. I always think of ZABARS as an 'appetizing' store, although they do sell meat. That said, a nice corned beef on rye with Russian dressing and cole slaw is harder to find these days.

    edwords 10:23 AM  

    Agree the puzzle was great. Actually played fairly easy for me, though I had "held on" and thus took forever to see piranhas. Mostly, I am commented to agree with Rex on the infantilization of our culture. I for one have sworn off any movie that features a character who ever appeared in a comic book. I realize I may miss some great movies, but the story is always basically the same and how many dark fight scenes can one watch? Also, anything with zombies or vampires. As an amateur playwright, I know it's hard to tell a compelling story without a high concept, but seriously ... I can't wait for this current fad to end.

    Mohair Sam 10:30 AM  

    @Z and @Evil Doug

    *politics alert*

    I'll vote with Z on this one. My niece and her husband are NYC liberals. A couple of years back we were discussing a political issue and I commented that they should expand their news sources beyond the New York Times. To which she responded, "We don't read that right wing rag!". Then she proceeded to give me a long lecture on just why it is right wing.

    Sad for the Times, denigrated by both the left and right - although that may speak well for the Grey Lady.

    Charles Flaster 10:36 AM  

    Try Harold's in nearby Edison NJ

    Anonymous 10:39 AM  

    LANKER??? Really? Google it. You'll pull up LANK, maybe LANKIER, but never LANKER.

    Fred Romagnolo 10:42 AM  

    @Z: I hope you noticed that I said liberal and not the pejorative "left-wing"; even we conservatives try not to go overboard. Unless, of course, we're "right-wing." Or Tea-Party, which disturbs me as much as ISIS disturbs decent Muslims. @Casco: I knew BALM OF GILEAD, but didn't know why I knew it; thanks for refreshing my "Poe"memory. I know I sometimes sound tiresome, but anyone with a decent education SHOULDA known CHEOPS it's Herodotus' version of Khufu. I'm never sure about FLOTSAM or Jetsam, but luckily they have different letter counts. Hands up for wishing the puzzlers in the NYT, were less locacentric in the "Newspaper of Record" for the entire nation. ZABARS! Elaine's I could handle, cause it's closing was national news. Fun article on the similarities between Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs on the same page of the Times (at least in the Western edition).

    Anonymous 11:10 AM  

    If you watch Letterman, you think of Bobby RAHAL, not Unser first.

    Fred Romagnolo 11:18 AM  

    I watch Letterman, but only the first 10 minutes; then it's a quarter to 12, and the day to finish up.

    Melodious Funk 11:19 AM  

    One of the most beautifully constructed puzzles I've run into in many years. For some reason it hit me dead center, each section filled quickly with increasing surprise at the speed. I had to rate this Easy, but so pretty that I marvelled at it for quite a while.

    My only holdup was the Manhattan deli. I'm a New Yorker and I just couldn't see that ZABARS solution so I was held up in the SW for a bit. I know all the delis in New York. That ain't one of them. As @L and others said, it's an appetizer store, like Russ & Daughters. The editor of the clues (I can't imagine WS letting this by) was not up on local parlance. Oh well, such a small nit in this lovely piece of artwork.

    AliasZ 11:26 AM  

    Musty, dusty, rusty, lusty, busty... FUSTY.
    CHE-OPS: Revolutionary activities.

    Misread clues: "Inside the Actors Stupido" and "Darwin's tunicle."

    Patrick Berry's puzzle [op.cit.]
    Causes no one to go ape sit,
    BENZ the law but never breaks it,
    As with sex, he rarely fakes it,
    Favored food: a cheesy baked zit.
    Seldom does he frequent the bars,
    But he's known to shop at ZABAR'S.

    Here is The Hero's theme from "Ein HELDIN Leben" by Richard Strauss.

    Steve J 11:28 AM  

    Various comments:

    @MDMA: Well, it is the New York Times xword. Hardly surprising that some New York-specific stuff would show up.

    @L, et al.: While, especially in New York, the word DELI typically implies what's more accurately known as a Jewish (or Jewish-style) deli (e.g., Katz's), that's not the only type of definition of deli. Multiple dictionaries I looked at define delicatessen as "a store selling cold cuts, cheeses, and a variety of salads, as well as a selection of unusual or foreign prepared foods". I'd say Zabar's fits that description nicely.

    @Anon 10:39 - I googled LANKER. The first two results I got were dictionary definitions of the word. So much for never getting that result. (That said, lankier would seem to be the more common usage.)

    **Politics stuff**

    @Evil: I'm impressed that you know what progressives really believe. Your clairvoyance is right up there with the trolls who know the real reasons Rex rates his puzzles as he does or your troll who knows the real reasons you talk about your experience as a pilot.

    @Mohair Sam: In a past life I was a newspaper reporter, and I spent some years covering politics. If I had both parties/broad political camps thinking that I covered an issue correctly from an ideological perspective (not from a factual one), I took that as a sign that I probably got things exactly right.

    As to what the NYT's actual political leanings are: No news organization that size is so monolithic as to have a single political perspective permeating all coverage. I can find you conservative stuff in the NYT, I can find you liberal stuff in the NYT, I can find you moderate stuff in the NYT. And no one should ever forget that few news organizations pushed the line that Saddam Hussein was hiding non-existent WMDs in the buildup to the Iraq war harder than the NYT. That's hardly what a bastion of monolithic liberalism would do.

    That said, the paper is the most prominent center-left paper in the country (with a more liberal editorial page), much in the same way the Wall Street Journal is the most prominent center-right paper in the country (with a more conservative editorial page). (Although, I think the WSJ has been doing a noticeably poorer job of keeping overtly partisan perspective out of the news reporting since Murdoch bought it. But it's gone downhill under Murdoch in many ways without even getting into the partisan aspect. It's sad what's happened to that paper.)

    Nancy 11:36 AM  

    from FERGIE, The 10-Minute Musical (by composer Sam Davis and me) the bridge of "She's a Breath of Fresh Air":
    She's rescued the palace from
    She's rescued the palace from
    She's a colorful, notable,
    Wonderf'lly quotable
    Of fresh air!

    To which the QUEEN responds:
    "We are not fusty. We are not dusty. We are exceedingly well-ventilated. Thenk you."

    So I knew FUSTY. Also got FRISKS right away (loved the misdirection). Also loved the misdirection on STARTER HOMES. And, as an avid tennis player, the delightful HALF VOLLEYED, which enabled me to correct BALM IN GILEAD to BALM OF GILEAD, was easy for me to see. I found this more on the easy than the hard side, but loved the cluing and the fresh answers.

    evil doug 11:47 AM  

    "I can find you conservative stuff in the NYT, I can find you liberal stuff in the NYT, I can find you moderate stuff in the NYT."

    Gee, don't go too far out on that limb, Steve. Keen grasp of the obvious. No one said otherwise.

    "And no one should ever forget that few news organizations pushed the line that Saddam Hussein was hiding non-existent WMDs in the buildup to the Iraq war harder than the NYT. That's hardly what a bastion of monolithic liberalism would do."

    Of course, so did Hillary....

    But you ultimately reached the same conclusion as I--clearly, a fence-balanced moderate--did, after all your huffing.

    I suppose many of the more communist-leaning folks--perhaps your niece, mo?--would see the Times as too far right from their distant perspective, just as the tea party nuts think Boehner is a closet liberal. But the majority of honest progressives would happily admit that it leans left.


    Maruchka 11:51 AM  

    @Nancy - Heehee!

    Saucy old William Blake, from 'Long John Bell and Little Mary Brown':

    '..Then the Fairy skipp’d out of the old nutshell,
    And woe and alack for pretty Mary Bell!
    For the Devil crept in when the Fairy skipp’d out,
    And there goes Miss Bell with her FUSTY old nut.'

    Jim Quinlan 12:05 PM  

    "Balm of Gilead" I knew from teaching "The Raven" year after year. The speaker- towards the end of the poem- asks for Balm of Gilead to relieve his pain from the memory of the lost Lenore.

    Any "Flowers for Algernon" clues coming up?

    Mr. Benson 12:06 PM  

    Medium-challenging, really? I came here expecting to see commentary that this was too easy for a Friday. I experienced almost no resistance anywhere -- I don't time myself, but I'm positive this would shatter my Friday record.

    old timer 12:11 PM  

    In mid-solve, I glanced up and saw the holy name of Berry, and I said to myself, "Rex is gonna love this one."

    I just love it when an unexpected and totally apt answer comes into view. STATIONHOUSES was the best, followed by STARTERHOMES. But I was just about Naticked by HALFVOLLEYED crossing RAHAL. I knew not to write in Unser, but I never heard of Mr. Rahal, nor do I know for sure what a half-volley is.

    The NE was a gimme since I knew that Pharaoh. The SW fell next because I had STORYARC and TONES, and STANZAS came to mind. In the SE, I confidently wrote in "NAP" and held my pen. NAPLES or Napoli? I asked. I ended up doing that part last.

    I've been to ZABARS. On my honeymoon! We had a reservation at the Plaza and when the desk clerk learned we were just married, he upgraded us to a suite. I certainly thought of Zabar's as a deli. That's what it would be called in San Francisco.

    RooMonster 12:22 PM  

    Hey All !
    Enjoyed, nice grid design, vast whiteness! One nit, INEXPERT. Is that a thing?

    Found it challenging, many writeovers, did online today, so Check Puzzle Go!

    Politics, schmolitics, all politicians are crooked, whatever party.

    FLOTSAM, and a non-cy CLOPS

    Master Melvin 12:28 PM  

    Great example of good vs. bad construction: Today we start off at 1A/1D with two neat words - FLOTSAM/FRISKS. Yesterday IMRE/ISLAS. 'Nuff said.

    Carola 12:35 PM  

    My word of the day is BATHE - step into a Patrick Berry puzzle, sink in and say "Ahh." What a pleasure.

    FLOTSAM and CHEOPS, FRISKS and CHEAT went right in. Lucky guesses at BENZ, SPACE INVADERS, MIRROR, MIRROR, ARARAT. Error messages at LeanER, unser. "Huh?" at HALFVOLLEYED - the H was my last letter, and I ran the alphabet for it.

    When I've visited ZABARS on trips to NYC (nice stack), what has struck me most about the experience is trying to maneuver those teeny-tiny shopping carts through the incredibly narrow and crowded aisles. Stress!

    Hartley70 12:39 PM  

    The Plaza did the same thing for us. It was all white decor with a gorgeous dining room and windows overlooking the Park. What a wonderful desk clerk!

    Z 12:49 PM  

    **Last time for politics from me - Didn't mean to HiJack the comments**

    @Evil D - The NYT is "left-leaning" the same way that the ACA is "socialist." The Opinions of the Editorial Board tend to be center or right of center. Is it as conservative as the WSJ or Fox? No. It's centrist. But Rolling Stone (a frigging music magazine) is more likely to publish insightful reporting on the banking industry (for example) from a progressive perspective than is the NYT. When it goes off the deep end it's in the right side of the pool, not the left. Where the NYT is most liberal is on social issues, but it's positions on those issues are very much in keeping with the West Michigan, Dutch Reformed conservatism I grew up with in the 70's (think Gerald Ford). Remember, though, that I argue that Clinton and Obama are closer in politics to Eisenhower than Reagan or Bush II are (who are far closer to Buchanan than Lincoln).

    @Fred R - neither term bothers me. I certainly didn't think you meant anything pejorative.

    John V 12:52 PM  

    Challenging, but got it.

    I do not understand STATIONHOUSE (which I got, nonetheless). Can someone explain, please? Thanks.

    Captain Obvious 12:59 PM  

    It's axiomatic that absolutely everyone thinks their politics is correct, and it's human nature for each to define that as a rational center. Therefore, it's pointless to argue minor deviations about this "center", as none of us agree what the center is.

    evil doug 1:07 PM  

    Z, you're right, you hijacked it. But don't stop now. The puzzle discussion is boring--everybody loves it, blah blah blah....

    Let's start with this exercise:

    1. Take a sheet of paper.
    2. Draw a line down the center.
    3. On the left half, write the name of every Democrat the Times has endorsed over, say, the last 6 years (or 10, or 50--it won't matter). Presidents, congress, state house, governor, whatever.
    4. On the right half, do the same for Republicans.

    Any questions?


    Lewis 1:40 PM  

    Factoid: Mount ARARAT is the national symbol of Armenia, and is depicted in the center of Armenia's coat of arms with Noah's ark resting on top of it.

    Quotoid: "A smart man makes a mistake, LEARNS from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether." -- Roy H. Williams

    Z 1:48 PM  

    @John V - Police STATION HOUSE.

    @Evil - I hear you, good news does get boring. Yesterday was great. But it is a crossword blog... Although I've been known to find puzzle related excuses to bring up politics.

    @Capt. O - Guilty of thinking I'm right. Not guilty of thinking I'm in the rational center.

    John V 2:00 PM  

    @Z Thanks. Obvious once pointed out.

    'mericans in Paris 2:03 PM  

    A pretty tense half-week here in Paris. Hard to exaggerate the effect that the attacks on Charlie Hebdo had on the French. Those irreverent cartoonists were household names, known to most French since adolescence.

    Looking forward to the weekend puzzles.

    Captain Obvious 3:01 PM  

    @Z - You say that what is considered liberal today isn't really liberal, at least not according to the liberalism you were raised with and still hold. You say today's liberalism is really a conservatism. How can you then deny that what you consider "the center" isn't 100% self referential?

    Maruchka 3:17 PM  

    @mericans - Crazy killers. I know what this does to a city. 9/11 and its aftermath are still present.

    Sending you and yours and all Parisians a fervent hope that the madness ends now, and that sanity and humanity prevail.

    'mericans in Paris 3:22 PM  

    Many thanks for your kind words, Maruchka.

    mac 3:40 PM  

    Beautiful puzzle, but I stepped into the palm trap. Changed the b in bared....

    Also musty for fusty write-over, and Rahal for Unser.

    of course 3:44 PM  

    Every Republican thinks thay are correct.
    Every Democrat thinks they are correct.
    That's it.
    Everyone thinks their views are the only views that matter.
    Opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one, and they all stink.

    abstractblueman 4:00 PM  

    I'm relatively new to the crossword solving world so Friday and Saturday are typically a serious pain in my *CURSE*. Got SPACEINVADERS, STARTERHOMES, and STANZAS right away, which helped a lot. Had to google for ZABARS. At any rate, great Friday puzzle. I'm looking forward to having my *CURSE* handed to me with tomorrow's puzzle!

    @Z I suppose that I should have put "useless math" in quotes yesterday. I certainly use that term sarcastically when it comes to math. I am a college professor, so I too spend a great deal of time trying to convince students that there is no "useless math", and that anything is worth learning simply for the sake of enlightenment and stimulation! I feel for you when it comes to dealing with parents. I am quite happy that I don't have to!

    Anonymous 4:14 PM  

    Funny how solving skills go. The "gimme" that Rex started with (SPACEINVADERS) was literally the last thing I got. I had all except the "V," believe it or not, and I was playing with the stupid-sounding HALFWALLEYED
    for 21-D when all of a sudden I noticed that STARTERHAMES made no sense at all. Changing it to STARTERHOMES allowed me to see HALFVOLLEYED.

    A nice workout with lots of interesting stuff. And I managed to get it all in a reasonable amount of time without Googling anything. Very satisfying feeling.

    Anonymous 4:18 PM  

    Roo Monster, INEXPERT is not a thing, that is, it is not a noun. Here is it an adjective, and indeed INEXPERT=AMATEURISH when used that way.

    LaneB 4:57 PM  

    Because of storyARC, CRAW and panicBAR, I had trouble with SCREWY but managed to guess correctly thus avoiding a DNF, something unusual for me on Fridays. The typical late week cluing which is where all the toughness lies, e.g. hearts and spades as GAMES? Googling helped in several spots, mostly to confirm the correctness of some answers. Came away feeling satisfied notwithstanding that these things take me relatively forever.

    Ludyjynn 5:17 PM  

    Didn't realize this was a PB puzz. until I read Rex. Of course, it was; seemingly impossible at the start and then opening up, slowly but surely, in a tantalizing way, until it all GELled. What a pleasure!

    Another "Raven"s reference, two puzzles in a row. Hmmm...I'll take that as a good omen for tomorrow's playoff game.

    May I have some more, please? Thanks, PB and WS.

    Anonymous 5:50 PM  

    loved angular velocity, and ALPHA, brought back memories that feeds into why I do this stuff...and CHEOPS, reminds of a conversation with an Egyptian engineer way back when, "What's the hardest high school class for us?" being an engineer, how about, "Calculus?", "Nope, history, so you know, we have to memorize all these Pharoahs names, and also dates!!"
    Wow, nice to be from a young country.

    Teedmn 6:36 PM  

    Easy-medium for me. I saw FLOTSAM/FRISKS from the get-go and was off. RAHAL was a total WOE for me but didn't know Unser either except as a crossword answer so I didn't stumble there.

    NE went smoothly from knowing CHEOPS (Art History 1001) and BALMOFGILEAD went right in too. The center was a little slower but the SE got me back on track. My main writeover was Crop for CRAW but somehow saw SCREWY and fixed it. My last fill was the H for RAHAL because HALF was the only thing that made sense even though I didn't know the term.

    So this went five times faster than yesterday at 19 minutes - very fast for me on Friday. But the whole time, conscious of it being a PB construct, the word "smooth" kept coming to me, clichéd as it is :-) .

    @edword, I'm with you on saying enough with the vampires and zombies. I frequent the Uncle Hugo's bookstore in Mpls which is the oldest independent Science Fiction/Fantasy bookstore in the US, and I was complaining about the number of vampire-themed books. (I won't even touch anything "zombie"). I was told that would-be fantasy authors are told by publishers that they want vampire stories, so that's what they get. So yeah, when that fad and low-rise pants finally go out of style, you will hear me cheering!!

    Tita 8:25 PM  

    What's left to say?

    Only that I am thankful to PB for bringing me back to my rightful superiority after yesterday's shellacking.

    I finished before Friday ended - unheard of for me!

    Very nice. Had to dust off the dusty part of my brain to force "clocking" out of my FUSTY synapses.

    Tita 8:25 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Numinous 8:34 PM  

    FRISKS went in first, then keds and then whole NW fell at 5:30 AM as I was getting ready for a 90 mile drive to the Dr.'s office. This whole puzzle was about 30% gimmes. I got ELMORE right away cos I play some slide guitar. The whole rest of the thing was stymie. But I got it with two google and correcting pARED to BARED when I was prompted to check. I did the remaining 70% this evening after spending the morning in the Wound Care center and the afternoon driving around Cobb county.

    I loved the weird misdirections like for STATION HOUSES and STARTER HOMES and so on once I twigged. I had to google for RAHAL as I've never heard of him and to check that ZABAR included an 'S'.

    I confess that my first thought was for amEn ra where CHEOPS resides in tne NE but I HELD IN on that until the rightful owner appeard.

    Had no CLEW it was a PB until I looked at Rex. Gotta say I like PB, he always gives my lil ole brain a workout.

    Kerry 9:11 PM  

    I live a block and a half from Zabar's. Put me in the "it's not a deli" column. Maybe it matches some dictionary definitions of "deli", but not the definition any New Yorker would use (save the editors of the NY Times).

    Selling some deli foods, or having a deli counter, does not a deli make.

    Mette 9:39 PM  

    On Wed, Fireball and AVC puzzles were too much, so set them aside and have not had time to return. On Thur, the NYT crossword stayed mostly white. Tried it again today, Googled and still had no clue. Figured I had descended rapidly into premature dementia. Then came today, with Patrick Berry to the rescue. Started feeling good once ODOMETER made sense. Now back to Byron Walden's challenge. Thank you, Patrick and Will for restoring my sense of sanity.

    Leapfinger 9:44 PM  

    @AliasZ, they say Ein HELDIN Leben is not worth living.

    Like @FredRom, with the FLOTSAM start.
    Like Anon10:39, in that LANK describes thin hair, LANKy describes a thin build; I'm getting used to this conflation.
    Like some others, who worked the corners first, then attacked that lovely (right of) center.

    I figured out it had to Bee BALM OF GILEAD, though I thought of Joshua Tree first. Some of those compound entries busted my CHEOPS: gasMETER and crashBAR hung around for a while, and the front parts of -VOLLEYED and -HOMES were slow to come. Tried OLDS and FORD besides the requisite UNSER and mUSTY. I suspect FUSTY has its origins in FUSTian, both the sober cloth and the bombastic manner of speaking.

    Not sure about a broadly Impressionist aspect of the puzzle; considering the crossed EYEs near the one EAR, the displaced CRAW and NAPLES (not to mention the part that SNEEZED in the NE...), I'd say it's pure Picasso. The most elegant touch? Putting the ARC right on ARARAT.

    A lovely juicy Berry. TYVM

    OISK 11:09 PM  

    Much easier than yesterday's, and as usual from Mr. Berry, great fun. Thanks, Patrick.

    Non judgmental political comment: I subscribe to The New Republic. It is unabashedly a center-left publication. The New York Times is reliably to the left of The New Republic on most issues. It is not as far left as The Nation.

    (Will soon stop getting TNR, though; my favorite writers just quit...)

    Anonymous 12:32 AM  

    It took me about 4.5 hours, and it was still DNF.

    But I'm proud that I sussed out "piranhas," "story arc," and "panic bar."

    My mess-up was "Rara Avis." I'm surprised no other commenter brought it up, but I have never heard the term.

    This was definitely a mental workout for me, and, as such, I was a bit slow to see the beauty in this puzzle. But I agree it's there, and, while me doing a Friday x-word takes away a serious chunk of my evening, it did wind up being pretty enjoyable.

    Z 8:48 AM  

    @OISK - I would disagree. The New Republic has not been considered liberal/left-leaning by the left since at least the 80's. Here's a ten year old critique that cites even older criticism. Some on the left call it much worse. If you want to say this is like Tea Partiers calling Boehner a closet liberal I would understand. I'd still diasagree, but I get how people can look at it this way.

    pfb 12:10 PM  

    This went pretty fast despite not having much initially. SW and SE came first and NE last. I knew ELMORE James and didn't fall into the Unser trap.

    Pouty 2:48 PM  

    Never heard of story arc and settled for STORe ARC. My only error in what would have been my fastest Friday ever, 1 hour 10 minutes. I can still hear my dad singing, There is a balm in Gilead', 60 years ago. Thanks dad.

    space (invaders) craft 11:08 AM  

    No, he didn't get ME with RAHAL, 'cause I started in the NE with CHEOPS/CHEAT/HELL, so the racer had to have an -AL ending. However, I nearly did come a CROPper--by having CRop instead of CRAW. I thought I wasn't going to get that SE; I know nothing about NYC delis, and both STORYARC and PANICBAR--though now that I see them they seem quite normal--were hard to suss. Nor am I up on my dormant Turkish volcanoes; who of us is? Then in desperation I tried ARARAT: hey, it's a mountain, and it's in Turkey, what the HELL. That meant accepting FUSTY, not a word I use every day for sure. It also meant giving up my CRop fort a CRAW, and the SCREWY corner--as well as the whole puzzle--was done.

    Wondered what trickery was planned with "Court no-nos" only to find the straightforward FOULS. Duh.

    As usual, this Berry makes a very fine wine. Difficulty was uneven; I'd have said medium were it not for that SW, so I concur with m-c.

    spacecraft 11:12 AM  

    Typoed SE instead of SW up there; plus icing on the cake: captcha 144!

    rondo 1:42 PM  

    What a really good puzzle! Challenging yet ultimately doable. Great clues, just enough misdirection.

    First gimme wsa ELMORE as I am a long-time blues fan. Allman Bros. gave him a nod with a shout-out and performing one of his songs on Live @ Fillmore East. Stevie Ray covered him as well. Fun to see ELM/ELMORE cross.

    Hand up for Unser, but made the quick change after CHEAT.

    SW was the most trouble with lotsa write-over ink there including FUSsY.

    SE te easiest thaqnks alot to SEANPENN. Good movie Milk.

    Shouldn't it be LANKiER, more common anyway IMHO.

    Nothnig to curse at here at all, another good PB offering.

    @Ron Diesgo - any travel stories to relate?? Glad to see you back.

    @Spacey - looks like a winner!

    check for me

    Never heard of that tree, got it all from crosses

    rain forest 1:59 PM  

    For me, the NW came down pretty quickly with FRISKS and FLOTSAM (almost) gimmes which enabled me to intuit MIRROR MIRROR and then I kind of went clockwise to get most of the perimeter.

    Bible lore and NY delis are not in my ken and so I tried pALM... A Palm is a tree, no? Is a BALM a tree? Luckily SPACE INVADERS came to the rescue which revealed BARES, and so I chipped away at the rest of the centre.

    I thought FOULS, DRESSES, and LEARNS were excellent: straightforward terms that yet perplexed.

    In sum, the man did it again. He certainly sets a standard. As someone said, easy/challenging.

    No numbers. Take it away@Spacey.

    DMG 2:12 PM  

    So much I didn't know from arcade games to ancient(?) trees, but it was Patrick Berry, so I stuck with it, and, it turns out, I somehow "knew" it all. A fun puzzle!! Love the word play in the clues and the "aha" when I realize what was meant. Now my only question is "what is an appetizer store"? Is it NY only thing?


    Burma Shave 2:15 PM  

    BALM OF a tree?
    Great clues galore.
    Can't get enough?
    Try ELM and ELMORE.

    centralscrewtinizer 4:36 PM  

    Wow, I saw Berry and all that white and made a desultory start. But then frisked and flotsam and lanker gave me hope, which quickly evaporated. Then Elmore and Ararat plunked down, then sneezed gave me Benz which gave me bales which led to Balm of Gilead and I kept chipping away and finished. What's a couple hours spent with Mr. Berry? Fine stuff.

    LongBeachLee 7:35 PM  

    In my wheelhouse. How often do I wish for medium and see easy? This time I assumed easy and got medium. Friday the 13th here in Syn City.

    Waxy in Montreal 8:29 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Waxy in Montreal 8:31 PM  

    After quickly getting STANZAS in the SW, immediately assumed there must be a NYC deli named ZIGGYS which caused mega-grief for an extended period. Also, even though study of both testaments was standard fare at school and church back in my day, never heard of (or maybe just plain forgot) BALMOFGILEAD.

    Overall, a PB tour-de-force.

    leftcoastTAM 11:01 PM  

    To all who care: Googling means a DNF, no matter how you cut it.

    Bananafish 2:02 PM  

    Raising my hand for PALMOFGILEAD. Not crazy about the clue "Unimaginative" for ARID. And FUSTY was a new word for me ... not sure how much it is actually in use.

    But it is hard to disagree that this was an impressive grid.

    LongBeachLee 8:03 PM  

    To left coast Tam from one who doesn't care. i love you anyway. be my Valentine.

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