Philosopher Robert who wrote Sceptical Chymist / FRI 2-13-15 / Critical mass energy project founder / Old-style office job / Single-price auction purchase informally / Biogenesis scandal figure of 13 / Zeus trapped Typhon / Oxi Complete detergent / Biblical figure said to have married his sister Noam / Queendom in I Kings

Friday, February 13, 2015

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TBILL (9A: Single-price auction purchase, informally) —
United States Treasury Securities are government debt instruments issued by the United States Department of the Treasury to finance the national debt of the United States. Treasury securities are often referred to simply as Treasuries. Since 2012 the management of government debt has been arranged by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, succeeding the Bureau of the Public Debt.
There are four types of marketable treasury securities: Treasury billsTreasury notesTreasury bonds, and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS). There are also several types of non-marketable treasury securities including State and Local Government Series (SLGS), Government Account Series debt issued to government-managed trust funds, and savings bonds. All of the marketable Treasury securities are very liquid and are heavily traded on the secondary market. The non-marketable securities (such as savings bonds) are issued to subscribers and cannot be transferred through market sales. […] 
In 1929, the US Treasury shifted from the fixed-price subscription system to a system of auctioning where 'Treasury Bills' would be sold to the highest bidder. Securities were then issued on a pro rata system where securities would be allocated to the highest bidder until their demand was full. If more treasuries were supplied by the government, they would then be allocated to the next highest bidder. This system allowed the market, rather than the government, to set the price. On December 10, 1929, the Treasury issued its first auction. The result was the issuing of $224 million three-month bills. The highest bid was at 99.310 with the lowest bid accepted at 99.152. (wikipedia)
• • •

Started this puzzle on a bummer because I woke up to find David Carr had died. I always liked his writing, and he was the only good/memorable thing about "Page One" so R.I.P. to that guy for sure.

[This. All day long. This.]

Been a while since I've found a Patrick Berry Friday anything but easy, but this one had some teeth, mainly because of Thesaurastretch, i.e. the tendency to clue words by "synonyms" that are valid but not exactly close or obvious. First two Acrosses are good examples. [Stew] for SEETHE, [Campaign] for PUSH—both took me multiple crosses to figure out. I slot "stew" with fretting or worry, and "seethe" with anger, so connections didn't come fast there. Then there's odd clues for common stuff, like [Oxi Complete detergent]. That clue means zero to me. How should I know? May as well say [Detergent]. Again, none of this is unfair—I'm just trying to assess where slowness/difficulty was coming from. Now some parts of the puzzle went down pretty fast. Most of the bottom, for instance. Got OBSESSION from the "O" (33D: A lot of thought goes into it) and RAY LIOTTA came shortly after, so no trouble in the SE, and after I sussed out NADER (48D: Critical Mass Energy Project founder) (?!?), SW also proved easy. RAM for RAT briefly kept me from getting down into the SW, but once I did, and once NADER got out of the way, I was done. The real resistance was up top, both in the NW, where even with UKES and TAKE A LOOK I had some trouble getting traction, and then, much worse, in the NE, where … well, we'll get to that. Here's how things started:

When I got here, I was happy, because a. the puzzle had made me put up a fight, and b. the fight was worth it. That is a fantastic corner. The opposite of EXECRABLE. Studly. A thing of beauty. Study it, ye aspiring constructors. May all your corners have that combination of smoothness and crunchiness (as with most of my favorite foods, it's textural contrast that creates the magic). So, where to go from there. Well, if you're me, it's RAM (strike) and KEPT … something. How about UP (strike) or AT (strike)? I got saved here by the feminine principle (Not For The First Time) … i.e. YIN, which handed me EYE DOCTOR on a platter, which was all I needed to get into that SE corner. So not too much later my grid looked like this:

[Note the wrong KEPT AT at 22A]

Now I head into the NE, and man oh man that place is trouble. I figure I'll throw some short stuff across those longer answer, then pick them off one by one, badda bing etc. Only I can't seem to throw any short stuff down. The whole western side of that NE section proves completely recalcitrant (a word favored by P.D. James, I'm finding out, as I work my way through Innocent Blood (1980) … but back to the puzzle …). At 11D: Like the sun god Inti, I put in AZTEC (strike) and then INCAN ("confirmed" by ENOS, which was a guess), and then hail-maryed LLANO in there at 12D: Vast prairie. And I swear to god if it hadn't been for that INCAN/LLANO pairing tipping me to the CAR in ECONOMY CAR, I might still be wildly swinging up there in that damned corner:

[God bless you, ECONOMY CAR]
[Continue noting the wrong KEPT AT at 22A]

I drove that lucky little car to the precipice of victory, but then I met the cross that is the worst thing about this puzzle—the thing that sent me into total Guessland. T-ILL (9ASingle-price auction purchase, informally) vs. -OYLE. Now lets get -OYLE out of the way: no idea. None. Zero. First letter could be many things. Many many. B, C, D, F etc. But, you know, that's why they call them *cross*words so … but … [Single-price auction purchase, informally] means even less to me than [Philosopher Robert who wrote "The Sceptical Chymist"]. I of course *want* the answer to be T-BILL, because that's a Thing that I've seen Before. But I figure the weird auction clue means it *has* to be some other strange expression from the world of auction houses where people raise little paddles and bid on art like in that one scene in North by Northwest (that scene is vintage Cary Grant comedy, by the way). So I STEW (that is, seethe) for a while before deciding on the only guess that makes sense: I opt for the answer that is a Thing that I've seen Before (T-BILL), having no idea why I'm doing so. Fast forward to Correct! And then I look up what a T-BILL is and somewhere in the fifth wikipedia paragraph or so is that bit about auctioning that I quote up top. So the most memorable part of an otherwise beautiful puzzle is now the part where I had to guess, and then read deep into a boring wikipedia article about the technicalities of finance (zzzz) before finally understanding. Final lesson for the day: treat your obscure proper nouns (in this case BOYLE) carefully. Cross them fairly. Save your overly cute clues for other parts of the grid.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Danp 7:16 AM  

I found this easier (and more fun) than most Fridays, mostly because I was able to get a lot of long answers quickly - EYEDOCTOR, ESOTERICA, MADEASCENE, OBSESSION, HANGOVERS and TAKEALOOK (Thank you UKES). It helped that there weren't too many obscure last names (like BOYLE) or paraphrase clues which I usually find imperfect.

NW was the hardest for me (DNF-difficult). I know a million words of awful, but EXECRABLE never came forward. Nor would FAR, TAXI (I was thinking race track), or DECK (doh!).

jberg 7:17 AM  

Can I be first? advantages of getting up early!

Teedmn 7:20 AM  

Mostly a typical Patrick Berry solve, slow and smooth. EYE DOCTOR/YIN went in first. Pretty soon I had everything south and west of KEPT ON. Then it was all but east of MOONED (sort of a fairy tale land) .

Even with MYCAR, EONLY, INCAN, ENOS and LYRES in the NE, those last few wouldn't fall. Cleared it all out and put it all back in. I finally hit the "check" button, so an official DNF (pretty much my whole week except yesterday). Then I saw TEMP (real toughie there) and voila, happy pencil.

Thanks for the workout, Mr. Berry!

Donkos 7:22 AM  

This is the first time I found a puzzle easy that @rex found a challenge. I had the opposite experience in the northeast, got t bill off ill, the Boyle off tbill, but then I just finished the age of wonder, so knew who Robert Boyle was.

I'm always challenged by Patrick Berry's puzzles so this one was a treat.

jberg 7:23 AM  

Nope, two others got in there while I was writing those two sentences.

Anyway, you just have to remember BOYLE's Law. Whether or not you've ever heard of "The Sceptical Chymist," you can guess that the author was a) associated with chemistry, and b) from a century when they had not yet made spelling uniform (i.e., the century my students live in). Done. Helps if you know T-BILLs are auctioned every week, too.

My own biggest problem was the preposition after KEPT. I wanted up, but that didn't work with 'seen in' at 16D, so it had to be 'at' and 'seated,' didn't it? Finally I saw HANGOVER (almost went with the weaker leftOVER/PUll combination), which gave me CARGO PLANE and the rest filled itself in.

I only got INCAN by being old enough to remember the Andean pop group, Inti Illimani.

Other than that, what a great puzzle.!

Glimmerglass 7:37 AM  

A chymist is a scientist. BOYLE's Law has something to do with science. A T-BILL is really a thing, so go with the B in the unknown box (even though the across clue means nothing to me). Voila! Patrick Berry is the best, as I and everyone else has said before. I never find a PB puzzle easy (I don't like easy puzzles), but I find them almost always doable with some time and thinking (e,g. the clue for MOONED). That's why his puzzles are so much fun.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

I dunno how this one happened to be so easy for me. Solved it in 13 minutes, and it was smooth going all the way. I was delighted by EXECRABLE. A wonderful word that doesn't get used much anymore.

joho 8:11 AM  

Great write-up, @Rex!

And another great puzzle by the one and only Patrick Berry!

Since I finished before the light went out last night I have to rate this on the easy side.

I, too, guessed the "B" at TBILL/BOYLE but I don't think that qualifies as a Natick ... it had to TBILL.

The misdirect clue for EYEDOCTOR brought a smile to my face.

As did the zodiac DUET of the RAT and the TIGER.

Also liked all the means of transportation: ECONOMYCAR, CARGOPLANE, (surely not flown by a TESTPILOT), and ROUGHRIDER.

Something ends up in PIECES when you OBLITERATE it.

Everybody will TAKEALOOK when somebody MADEASCENE.

There is so much to like here, this makes my OBESSION with crosswords worthwhile!

Unknown 8:17 AM  

60 min with one over-time correction: lEERED/lENTEL-> PEERED/PENTEL. 30 min for all but NE where [Single-priced auction] dutch crossed nicely with [Strummed instrument] haRp. When ECONOMYCAR fell, I was iced into the wrongness. 20 minutes like that. Finally SNORT came along and CARGOPLANE broke the ice floe. Then MOONED, TEMP. Then last 10 min with T_I_L/_OYLE/_LANO. I know famous scientists named BOYLE COYLE DOYLE HOYLE. and was willing to accept just about any other possibility there. But I also know Boyle's Law. So there. Then TBI_L was easy, and LLANO ? OK. Doesn't llanar mean to cry. No llano hoy, mi amigos. Not today, my friends.

TokyoRacer 8:27 AM  

I finished the whole thing, which I can almost never do on Friday, so it had to be fairly easy.
Amazed that Rex did not mention MOONED.

Leapfinger 8:31 AM  

Found I had a hard time separating ALANIS Morisette from AnaIS Nin. Agree with TRex that the NE (my last) was the toughest. Partly because my sub was a HERO, and my physicist a HOYLE. (Damn, just remembered BOYLE Slaw.) Odd that, because I had BOIL/ROIL for 'Seethe' instead of STEW at 1A --- No idea why all those simmering-mad words come out of the kitchen.

Little is less EXECRABLE than that wonderful word. The STERN-MOONED axis comes close, as does 'that' TERICA.

PENTEL: Abbrev for a standup comedy duo?
From CRIT to ALIT; What, pray tell, is next?
On a STUDFARM, what you seed is what you get.

Help 'Wipe out' OBLITERAcy.
Berry nice sentiment, PB1.

Happy Freitag, all y'all.

Rhino 8:36 AM  

The WISK/DECK crossing gave me essentially (I went thru the alphabet til the app gave me the solve) a DNF.

We're a TIDE family, dammit!

GILL I. 8:46 AM  

Ah, yes. If Patrick were female she'd be the one who walks into a cocktail party wearing a simple black dress and donning a piece or two of Tiffany fine jewelry. Everyone present turns to stare open-mouthed in admiration. (I'd do a male equivalent but I don't know how.) This is the way I feel about his puzzles. So simple yet so elegant.
I'll have to use EXECRABLE today after I find out how to pronounce it....
My only minor huh was seeing COOT as a symbol of baldness...?
Sadness for this week in journalism. RIP Simon and Carr.

Nancy 8:48 AM  

Can't believe I found this relatively easy when Rex found it hard. Some gimme sections: DUET/DORMS; TASERS, SENSES, NADER, STENO; EYE DOCTOR, YIN, TOSSES, CHIN, TEST PILOT. All gettable with only one crossed letter. The two plurals at 28A and 35A gave me the SS for KISSER, leading to KEPT ON, UNCAP and SNORT. My only problem was the #10 square, but like @jberg, I remembered BOYLE's law. (Don't remember much about it, except that it has something to do with chemistry.) That gave me TBILL, which I wouldn't have otherwise gotten. (I had T-ILL). Anyway, an enjoyable, if less-hard-than-usual Friday.

L 8:50 AM  

Great write up, rex! I appreciate seeing your work and thought processes. I found this puzzle challenging and DNF. But I did get the entire SE section done without assistance, which felt like a real accomishmrnt on a Friday.

Sir Hillary 8:52 AM  

Another PB gem. This may sound like a backhanded compliment, but what always strikes me about his puzzles is not that the ceiling is so high, but rather that the floor is. By that I mean the absolute lack of junk. No partials, no foreign word crutches, no clunky POCs or RRNs, no dodgy acronyms. I would argue that the two worst entries in this grid are PSI and AROD, and there is nothing wrong with either one of them. In a 68-worder with only six 3-letter entries? Astonishing.

I didn't find this as comparatively hard as @Rex did. RAYLIOTTA led to quick work in the SE, then I went clockwise from there, finishing in the NE which was definitely the hardest corner. I made a couple of TEMPorary errors -- EvaDE and pLAin -- but neither were there for long. Last letter in was the TBILL/BOYLE cross -- not much else it could be, even not knowing finance ESOTERICA.

Great clue for MOONED.

PB = Pure Bliss

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

GREAT Friday puzzle. Challenging, satisfying, beautifully constructed.

Can somebody tell me why "appreciablY" is FAR?

Mohair Sam 8:59 AM  

Patrick Berry puzzles are always a ball, this one is no exception. And liked Rex's comments too, except for his TBILL hangup. Treasury Bills have been auctioned forever and during volatile times their "auction" price makes the news beyond the Wall Street Journal - it's common enough knowledge for a Friday puzzle, certainly known to more than 25% of solvers here (as should be BOYLE).

Have a niece who runs a horse breeding operation. Get a Facebook picture almost daily this time of year of her in the barn with a new foal (usually at 3 AM). Hence STUDbARns made sense to us (there's one on that farm) and held us up for a long time in the NE.

Saw an interview with the Director of "Field of Dreams" years ago in which the interviewer reminded him that Shoeless Joe was left-handed and the Joe character on screen was played right-handed. The director gave a glance around the room to check for eavesdroppers and whispered to the camera, "That wasn't really Shoeless Joe." Loved it.

RooMonster 9:05 AM  

Hey All !
Thought this puz was *easy* *for a Friday*. Only a coupla spots slowed me down. I usually cry uncle on Fri and Sat, this was a welcome change! Some fun clues, 18A, 38A, 5D, 8D, 16D, and some others I'm probably missing. Good old PB, with his wide open grids. And no dreck.

EXECRABLE was a new one on me, actually had FAt for Appreciably , making it EXECtABLE, so a one letter DNF. Only one writeover, EvaDE for ELUDE.

So thanks, PB, for a FriPuz that was gettable!
Didn't take one on the CHIN this Friday.


Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Most Fridays and Saturdays I only get a handful of clues. Depending on their placement I then decide whether to get some Google help or give up altogether.
This one as many of Mr. Berry's puzzles got me hooked. Slowly but surely I made progress and within 30 minutes I got the bottom half tactically filled up as well as the top-left corner done.
The top-right corner gave me resistance even with Google. In the end I DNF.
But I must say it was a delight to solve what I did solve.
Thank you Mr. Barry

Don McBrien 9:10 AM  

Fun puzzle. I also found it on the easy side and finished in under 20. One write-over because I carelessly entered INN A MANNER.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

Yeah rex's t-bill rant is just weird. Extremely common crossword clue and definitely common knowledge to anyone who is even a little financially literate. He has some strange little holes in his knowledge base.

Leapfinger 9:14 AM  

Dammit, @Casco, you may strum a harp, but I say pluck it! Personally, I was strumming LuteS. Am pleased that I thought of BOYLE's Law before y'all piled on to make that explicit, and I do thank @jberg for clarifying the T-BILL thingy.

Not sure if Rimbaud's POEME yesterday was an OB-verse or a con-verse, and today I'm faced with [not only] OBLITERATE vs conLITERATE [but also] an OB-SESSION vs con-SESSION speech. [will just forget about the gyn-SESSION for now...]

MISO pleased to see "DECK the MOLLS [With Boston Charlie]'. Me go Pogo now.

The preceding in its entirety is a PSA to reduce the mandatory reading load on @SteveJ, @NCAPrez et alii.
Y'all are overwhelmingly welcome.

DShawMaine 9:15 AM  

A Friday finish! Well, almost. Had "leered at" for studied (and thus Lentel for hi liter maker), and couldn't find it in the "You're almost there" check. But this was as close to a finish on Friday as I'll ever get so I'm taking it. Very enjoyable puzzle - some nice options for the longer downs (starting with "cesspools" for breeding grounds) that had to be undone, which was fun. NE was last and hardest - never heard of LLANO but nothing else fit.
Except for COOT, which I also didn't care for, a hit!

Maruchka 9:15 AM  

Except for the snarky NE (Hi @Rex) I found it easy-medium. OK, medium. Could not suss BOYLE's Law (1 google), pLANO for LLANO (jeez, shoulda got that from Lonesome Dove reruns, instead of relying on the many trips 'cross Texas) and HuNG up on stayOVERS the longest. MOONED took awhile and then - the final fabulous fill. Another PB Special.

Fav of the day - SNORT.

@Rex - COOT, the water bird, could be a nice photo op, yes? Thanks for the Bob Simon nod. Hard week for journalists all around.

@Joho, @Glimmerglass, - Amen! Berry's the berries.

BTW - It's -0 degrees with wind chill. Can't remember a colder February in NYC.

DShawMaine 9:18 AM  

And PS - loved the nod to one of the best BBC series ever, Foyle's War. A treat if you've never seen it.

Maruchka 9:19 AM  

@Rex - Sorry, sorry! David Carr, meant to write. Too much.

chefbea 9:21 AM  

Too tough for me. I tried but DNF. Nary a bite of food. Oh well

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

I've never been MOONED but once, on a 6-lane merge just North of Jupiter, FL. It was a high-speed affair, so glances were fleeting, and it took a few of them to decipher what that pale&Hairy pressed up against the passenger's window really was. Hilarity ensued.

I think you'll find the illustration under the dictionary def'n of EXECRABLE.

@Gill-some Girl, try 'EX ECK RUBBLE'

Let Fly.

Don McBrien 9:37 AM  

@anon 8:53:

Best I can offer to use it with "more," as in "far more dangerous."

Unknown 9:38 AM  

@DShawMaine congrats! We see leered so often, it was hard not to go there again. I made the change l->P in the "over time" -- that almost-there part of the solve. A streak-preserving DNF. We need a name for that.

A nice ice shelf is forming in Casco Bay. 20"+ more on the way starting as soon as the SunPuz is delivered electronically. I use a dual-handled snow shover for the heavy "lifting" as well as a regular shovel. You?

Looking forward to INUNDATE in a puz sometime soon.

mac 9:49 AM  

Easy Medium except for the NE, where I came to a halt. Pieces just seemed too simple. Looking at it now, I realize I gave up too soon.

Yes, bitterly cold in NY, and more snow coming starting tomorrow.....

Excellent Berry puzzle, as usual.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Thanks darling@ 0937. That does make sense. I was thinking of "appreciably" as "noticeably". I was mistaken.

Lewis 9:53 AM  

I was right on PB's wavelength from the NW through the SW and SE, and then he put his foot down in the NE where I struggled mightily like Rex. I had MOONED, which I knew was right. I tried funlOVERS, which held me up. Pure guess on the T_ILL/_OYLE cross. So for me the puzzle was Wed/Thurs level, with the NE Saturday level.

And I loved it. What I love is his cluing -- SKELETONS, DUET, MOONED, HANGOVERS -- and lack of grid gruel. On these two things you can always count with PB.

This has been an extraordinary double letter week. After a couple of months of no puzzles with fewer than five or greater than 12 double letters, we had one of each earlier this week, and today 14 (the highest I've ever found is 16). I know nobody cares about this, but I've taken it upon myself to be the caretaker of this useless information, for what reason I have no idea.

Thank you once again Mr. Berry, and once again, Berry nice.

wreck 9:58 AM  

I blazed through the bottom half and struggled with the top half, but still finished way ahead of a normal Friday. In PB puzzles, it seems all is lost until you get a long across or down in a section - then it goes as fast as lightening.

DebinSac 10:13 AM  

First-time poster but long-time lurker here, inspired to weigh in by meeting some other Sacramentans on line, and soon, I hope, in person.. One of the wonderful, things about reading this blog is when you struggle with something (the B in t-bill and Boyle -- choosing an H because I knew Hoyle was a person and thought maybe thill was a Thing) and then come here and read an explanation about how others figured it out. Thanks to all who post regularly. I so enjoy reading your comments.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

This Vermont is watching those to the south and east get absolutely hammered with snow. We've had way less (although enough for great skiing) and lightest imaginable for shoveling.

As to the puzzle...super. Easy except that I had a DNF in northeast. Thought single-price auction purchase was a steal, which T-Bills right now are not. Easy plus DNF equals what?

Questinia 10:17 AM  

Creme caramel.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Wow jberg @ 717! Thanks for your excellent contribution to this comment board! Very elucidating. And fail.

Flogging MOLLy 10:20 AM  

I found this wiki explanation of MOLL fascinating:

"A gun moll (aka gangster moll) is the female companion of a male professional criminal. In some contexts, 'gun moll' more specifically suggests that the woman handles a firearm.

When the term came into usage in the first decade of the 20th century,[1] "gun" was not derived from the firearm, but from the Yiddish word meaning "thief," variously transliterated into English as ganefthe, gonif, goniff, or ganof,[2] itself derived from Hebrew "Ganav" (גנב). However, this distinction gradually disappeared, especially when such women became associated with gangsters noted for their frequent use of guns.

"Moll" derives from "Molly", used as a euphemism for "whore" or "prostitute" and attested at least since 17th century England."

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

I'm not sure one should call a puzzle "easy" that one could not finish. An increasingly common phenomenon among the posters on this board.

Whirred Whacks 10:26 AM  

Thanks PB. It was a smooth, plodding, and ultimately successful experience for me. (Not at all like last Friday's puzzle.)

I especially liked this SW stack of 10s:


I was surprised my initial hunch of EXECRABLE panned out. Great word!

Enjoy your Fridays, folks. Mid-70s and sunny here. After 5" of rain last weekend, all the vegetation is "throbbing."

Ludyjynn 10:27 AM  

I think I'm developing an OBSESSION for PB puzzles. @GillI, IMO, based on your "little black dress/Tiffany jewels" model, you could equate him to Cary Grant in terms of smoothness, urbanity and overall appeal. @SirHillary, I really liked your description, as well.

All the PIECES fell into place w/ the exception of the NE quad. Like Rex, it caused me to STEW quite a bit, since I kept picturing a conventional, non-monetary auction, and for the life of me could not complete TBI_L! Why? Because like @Maruchka, I had already filled in a 'P' for Plano, as in Texas, having never heard of LLANO. Missed it by that much!

@ChefB, doesn't MISO count as food? Sort of?

@anon. 9:35, your MOONED story was cute. Probably some Spring Breakers trying to shock the local staid COOTs! How ironic to be mooned in Jupiter?!

TEMPs here today are single digit; would definitely rather be in Florida. Envying those of you in warmer climes.

Thanks, PB. You have few PEERs.

Suzanne 10:36 AM  

Had that same problem at the end with t-ill, compounded by putting in 'stud barns' instead of 'stud farms'. I ran the alphabet on t-ill, wanting the 'b' to work, but kept getting the annoying 'almost there' pop up.
Finally realized that 'nolls' were not things and corrected 'barns' to 'farms' and yay!! done.

mathguy 10:55 AM  

As I was sailing through this one, I was sure that there was rough water ahead (it's a Friday). But it never appeared.

Sometimes people here comment on the word count in a puzzle. I take them to be constructors (I am not). But I was struck by the number of long entries in this one so I did some counting. 195 blank squares, 35 across entries, 33 down entries. So the acrosses average almost six letters and the downs a little less. Unusual?

I'm old but I've never heard "bald as a coot."

John V 10:59 AM  

What @Rex said re NE. That corner didn't live up to PB standard, IMHO. Rest of the puzzle was quite easy.

Numinous 11:01 AM  

I think this was the easiest PB I've ever done. I got it in just over half my average time for a Friday of late. Yeah, the B in BOYLE was the last letter I entered for a hearty "congratulations" pop-up. Once I thought of the B it was an "Oh yes, of course. Why didn't I realize this sooner?" moment.

Like others here, I was strumming LutES before PB made a LYRE out of me IN NAME ONLY. I love his cluing and hope it is mostly his own and not mostly Will's. He has just the right mixture of deviousness and ingenuousness.

In case it wasn't made clear, a COOT is a water bird with no feathers on its head hence, "Bald as a COOT."
I laughed out loud at MOONED, smiled at the EYE DOCTOR, and smirked at the MOLLS hanging around with the SKELETONS.

As tired as I was when I did this last night before going to bed, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

chefbea 11:05 AM  

@LudyJynn Yes forgot about miso...some miso soup would be pretty comforting for this of us that are freezing!!

jae 11:21 AM  

Easy for me to. NE was also the toughest spot. I knew T BILLs were auctioned but I had seen in instead of MOONED for a while.

And yes, and excellent Fri. by PB!

AliasZ 11:22 AM  

Anyone suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia? Have no fear, Berry's here. He hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak. A perfect cure for a cold NYC Friday.

Very little in the way of ESOTERICA today, which is the benchmark of all PB puzzles. I consider BOYLE to be common high-school science knowledge. Hey, if I know of BOYLE's law, you should too, and I am no chymist. It simply states that the pressure of a gas is inversely proportional to its volume in a closed system. In other words, if you decrease its volume by squeezing the balloon, its pressure will increase until the balloon explodes. We all experienced this as kids, right? No ESOTERICA here.

- I have two cars: the Porsche MY CAR and the ECONO MY CAR. They don't talk to each other.
- How can MISO be a flavoring? It has no flavor.
- I was once offered a job on a STUDFARM but turned it down. I didn't want a pleasant hobby to become a chore...

@Leapster, not to be OBsequious, but to build on your acute OBservations [conservations], OBLITERATE my tend toward ilLITERATE, and OBSESSION toward posSESSION, OBvious to envious, OBlique to Angelique, OBladi to Mladi, etc.

This puzzle sang to me. I must return the favor. There are so many choices though: Mladi (Youth) by Leoš Janáček, the MAD(ea.)SCENE from Boris Godunov and Lucia de Lammermoor, a DUET for LYRES and UKES, The Arrival of the Queen of SHEBA, etc. So let me go with the obvious: here is "Les folies d'Espagne" from PIÈCES de viole, Book II by French composer and viol player Marin Marais (1656-1728).

"But is an enemy so EXECRABLE that tho in captivity his wishes and comforts are to be disregarded and even crossed? I think not. It is for the benefit of mankind to mitigate the horrors of war as much as possible." - Thomas Jefferson


old timer 11:32 AM  

When neither of the top corners is easy, I just look for what I *do* know.CHIN crossed by SHEBA and SISSY made the entire SE fall quickly. In the SW, I put down ROUGHRIDER at once, and the SW came in quickly.

I had ALANIS in the NE and KISSER and therefore KEPTON. But I had to Google for WISK, in order to get STUDFARMS and finally EXECRABLE. I accent the second syllable of that word, which is wrong -- so I seldom use it in speech.

Yeah, the NE was a bear. I was positive that a sub was a HERO. I Googled for Mr. BOYLE only to confirm that there had to be a TBILL up there, which made a sub a TEMP.

Good puzzle, and with enough time I could have done it all without Papa Google helping.

old timer 11:36 AM  

BTW, if I post something here every day, I am always "not a robot" without having to answer the Captcha. If I let things slide for two or three days, the Captcha cookie will expire, and I have to teach Captcha I'm real for a few days.

Steve J 11:37 AM  

I try not to look at bylines until after I complete a puzzle, because I like to try to have my impression of a puzzle be formed solely on its content (a practice I began after I noticed myself having some negative reactions at the starts of puzzles by creators I don't sync with).

As I was working my way through, being enthralled with great entries like STUD FARMS, OBLITERATE, ROUGHRIDER and ESOTERICA, I thought to myself, "wow, the density of great fill is incredible in this puzzle". And I didn't find myself rolling my eyes once at a tortured clue or awkward fill.

So I was hardly surprise when I finally noticed this was a Patrick Berry.

This was a bit tougher for me than recent Berry puzzles, largely because of the NE. A lot of that was my fault: harps instead of LYRES (with a brief dalliance with LutES), and leftOVERS instead of HANGOVERS (I'd rather have the former). Couldn't dig myself out of that hole and DNF in that corner. Enjoyable puzzle nonetheless.

(@Leapfinger: Shouldn't the PSA come before the puns, sort of like a spoiler alert? :) )

Anoa Bob 11:39 AM  

Tried to spell EXECRABLE with an extra syllable, something sounding like x-cree-ah-bull. And I had always thought it meant "of or like excrement", but a check with my trusty Random House tells me I've been wrong all these years. It derives from "execrate: to detest; denounce". Embarrassing for a self-proclaimed word nerd. ESOTERICA help salve the wound.

Don't have as good a feel for how much tacking a letter-count boosting S or ES onto an entry makes it easier to fill the grid in a themeless puzz, but there are plenty of examples in this one, including four in the NW alone, STUD FARMS, UKES, ROBES, & MOLLS. Maybe an OBSSESION on my part? Nah.

Here's a little TX roadhouse music: LLANO Estacado. Stay warm y'all.

D-Squared Media NYC 11:42 AM  

Thanks NYT An early B-Day present: Patrick Berry. Becoming my 2 fav words in English! Such a satisfying solve nearly every time!

GILL I. 11:58 AM  

Are you joining @Ellen S and me for lunch this Wed.?
I'm looking forward to meeting you!

Ω 12:19 PM  

Didn't realize this was PB1, and the TBILL clue is the reason. We don't usually get a Wikipedia deep cut from him. Except for doing the NW third, pretty much what Rex said.

Driving through southern Ohio at the moment. Surprised by the lack of snow.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Am I the only one who had ostensibLY instead of INNAMEONLY? Yeah, that made the NE tough. Otherwise, fast and fun eveing with the great PB.

Hartley70 12:40 PM  

Loved this puzzle, even the last bit of mental torture in the NE since I know zip about t-bills and a musical video of medieval music I watched yesterday had me fixated on lutes. By some twist of fate I have recently ended up on the same wavelength as Mr. Berry and so often my first guess is correct. I love when that happens!

Lewis 12:43 PM  

Factoid: In Persian literature, the dimple of a cleft CHIN is considered a factor of beauty, and is metaphorically referred to as "the chin pit". (M&A, take note.)

Quotoid: "When you're singing, you're using extra muscles, and it requires a lot of exercise and breathing. You can't do that if you're a SISSY. If I have any fitness advice for people, I'd tell them to sing more. It's good therapy, too." -- Willie Nelson

Masked and Anonymo4Us 12:46 PM  

The M&A Brain Trust also saved the NE area for last. It really snowed us (yo, @BEQ). Wanted almost everything up there to be somethin else. Except MOONED, of course. Example, or two: CARGOCRANE. HOYLE. SNARK. INTAR.

No question, this constructioneer has a great future in word puzs. He nearly has it all. All he lacks is imperfection. I see he has done a couple of collaborations. Perhaps he should team up with some dude with a bit more desperation in his swagger, to teach him the serenity and zen of DOOK INUTILE PEWIT UOD...

I mean, look at the sad lil litter of weeject runts, today.
FAR, PSI, RAT, SIR, VET, YIN. snort. No no no.
Better: FRA, IPS, RIS, TEV, INY. Always get yer weejects squared away first, Patrick. Don't let yerself get greenpainted into a stoned corner.

Primo long stacks, btw. Thanx for all the pain and gain.


Martel Moopsbane 1:05 PM  

I liked the placement of HANGOVER adjacent to its likely cause, too many SNORTs.

beatrice 1:07 PM  

Well, @AliasZ opted to eschew the obvious in an inspired way...but 'The Arrival of the Queen of SHEBA' (from the oratorio "Solomon" by G. F. Handel) is a piece everyone should hear at least once in their here are some letters:

And since there is no such thing as too much Handel, why not something about a LYRE(S), as well.

'Oh Had I Jubal's Lyre' (Handel oratorio "Joshua")

Hope these help get the week-end off to a cozy, if bracing, start.

Chip Hilton 1:19 PM  

I love seeing Berry's name on a Friday puzzle because I know it will be challenging but reasonable. I flew through everything except the oft-mentioned NE corner. I had started with lOckE for 10D and it really tied me up. Once I erased him, things cleared. Great fun!

Nebraska Doug 1:32 PM  

Wow! I was shocked to see the rating. This was easily one of my fastest Friday's ever. I kept thinking, "this can't be a Friday puzzle!"

Fred Romagnolo 1:32 PM  

We recently had taiga, so I was absolutely sure that that was the vast prairie; result: hopelessly lost in the NE. I knew BOYLE and INCAN so if I hadn't insisted on taiga I would have got it. Lesson: no matter how sure you are, don't be sure. Minor quibble: Wikipedia wants ENOSh, and Noam isn't mentioned except in the Ethiopian Bible. SISSY once had a more disrespectful meaning; won't give it except to quote an expression from the 30's: "as happy as a sissy in a CCC camp." I leave it to the really old-timers to figure.

Fred Romagnolo 1:35 PM  

@Beatrice: thanks, Dante had great taste.

Fred Romagnolo 1:42 PM  

@Leapfinger: re yesterday, wasn't Dragon Lady Terry and the Pirates? Same cartoonist.

M and Also 1:48 PM  

Whooops. Accidentally skipped the RAT weeject redo. Confusin, for the PB1.
Top choices:
* TAR. Only use, if clued {Rat swimming back from an Italian cruise??}.
* ART. No punch. Puz is already in the Arts section.
* TRA. Usually, this gets a pretty good rise out of @63 and Xword Fiend, for its staleness. So good to keep in the arsenal. But, we can do better...
* RTA. Nice. Only been used once before, in a NYT-time puz. Good for at least a (?!?) from the blogmeisters.
* ATR. Primo. NYT debut. And, icing on the dook... This puppy can, thanx to WikiDesperatePedia: {___ 42, French/Italian turboprop plane}. Guaranteed crowd pleaser. Cross it with ISTRIA, and there is yer rodeo.

Yer Welcome!


Leapfinger 1:50 PM  

@SteveJ, I don't mind coming with a Warning Label attached, but shan't lead off with it, since I'd still like you to read me. Of course, you're a smart guy, and the Leapfinger brand should be all the heads-up you need. ;D back atcha

Dang, @Alias, I've been Ms-pronouncing 'paraskevi-etalia' all these years. Thought the -katria- part was sounded like "patria".
Truly enjoyed the Marin glacee; will need more time for @beatrice.

MDMA 1:59 PM  

Like so many others, everything went super smoothly until the NE corner. The B of TBILL was the last square I entered. I just found the clue confusing. Kept trying to think of Dutch auctions and other exotic auction formats.

Like others, I tried "hEro" vs. TEMP (for "Sub"). Tried "leftOVERS" vs. HANGOVERS (for "Party followers, perhaps").

Did anyone else think of "ostensibLY" instead of IN NAME ONLY ("Supposedly, but not really"). Abandoned that when MOONED clicked.

All's well that ends well, even though I ended up spending 2/3 of my time for the NE corner alone.

Brookboy 2:13 PM  

I found the northwest and the southeast to be easy, the southwest to be medium, and the northeast to be damned challenging (like so many others). Biggest problem for me was HANGOVERS (8D). I filled in leftOVERS early and didn't think to question it for quite a while. ReallyI gave me fits.

I really enjoy PB puzzles. I usually seem to be on the same wavelength, for some unknown reason. My first guesses are often correct in his puzzles (except for leftLOVERS today).

Very enjoyable Friday puzzle for me.

Carola 2:36 PM  

A treat-studded Friday, which I found on the easy side. First in: TAXI x EXECRABLE, after which I KEPT ON a steady clockwise PUSH to the grid's STERN (nice cross with U-BOAT).

Thanks to previous puzzles for LLANO, PENTEL, and RAY LIOTTA (not to mention NELL, UKES, ENOS, and ETNA).
Thanks to Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver for Robert BOYLE.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

It couldn't have been a coincidence that ARod's number was in the clue for 59 across. Not to mention that today is the 13th of the month.

mathguy 3:28 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo and @Leapfinger (yesterday): Thanks for reminding me of Dragon Lady. I think that she was in Terry and the Pirates. As Leapfinger pointed out, there was no denying her sex. She aroused feelings in my prepubescent soul that I didn't know were there.

Richard 3:57 PM  

Am I the only one who filled in DBSWEENEY instead of RAYLIOTTA for the portrayer of Shoeless Joe Jackson? I put in DBSWEENEY, and nothing would cross. Then I realized that the clue asked for who played Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams, not Eight Men Out. D'oh!

RooMonster 4:12 PM  

Oh, BTW to all... Happy Friday the 13th! Most of the time, it seems a luckier day for me, for some wacky reason. And, realize that Feb is only 28 days, which means Mar will also have a Friday the 13th. (Cue sinister music)


Gareth Bain 4:20 PM  

Thesaurastretch - what a great term! Except, in full it should be Newman thesaurastretch, as that's the Stumper's favourite difficulty ramping crutch.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

Serious question for Rex: You've been calling for Will Shortz's ouster for some time now, sometimes implicitly but recently directly. If you do manage to get him fired, would you be willing to take over the job as editor?

I'm sure everyone here would be very excited about that but would you give up your full professorship for a chance to make NYT puzzles the best?

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

Anon @ 1630: I hope you are joking. I threw up a little just thinking about it.

OISK 5:50 PM  

Something Hearty coming tomorrow? Loved this puzzle, but I agree that it was challenging. Sat and stared at the NE for a long time, and was very slow to get "snort"

Of course, I never heard of Alanis Morissette, but if you see the name enough times, "You Learn." Since it was a Berry puzzle, the name was discernible from the crosses.

Add me to the Foyle's War enthusiasts. I keep hoping for one more series - he was about to go to the U.S. in one episode - would have loved to follow those events.

If I can get through tomorrow, that will be a two week streak - longest in quite a while...

LindaPRmaven 9:04 PM  

This is the first time in the several weeks I've been reading this blog that the puzzle has been easier for me than for Rex. Happened to encounter BOYLE in a recent lecture. With that, a love of baseball (RAYLIOTTA, AROD - though the latter is not loved by me), opera (SHEBA) and the fact that I once washed my hair with WISK by mistake (RATs) things went swimmingly. I seem to be in the zone this week but that could change tomorrow.

Ω 9:05 PM  

@OISK - Ahem!

OISK 10:47 PM  

@z - I don't understand "Ahem." What did I miss??

Aketi 10:25 AM  

I now utterly forgive Rex for not knowing Abidjan, one of the major African capitals and a major airline hub. I unintendedly had to stay there many times when stuck en route from one West African country to another due to delays in flights.

His selection for his David Carr tribute made my day. I stopped watching CNN when they did an interview with my boss in the international health department and one of the CDC "Masters of Disaster" about a famine. they asked my boss (an endocrinologist, not a nutritionist) whether the famine would cause osteoporosis. They asked the Master of Disaster whether he had tried khat (qat).

Beyond the lack of focus on the relative importance of the issues, I actually had to laugh at the naïveté of the reporter.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer I learned that certain cultures in Africa tell tall tales and it is completely accepted and even embraced. There is nothing more amusing than making up stories for reporters to see if they'll take the bait. We did it to a couple of Newsweek reporters that we're going to visit John Hart who was stdying the studying the Mbuti (pygmies). He reported back to us how bedraggled they were when they arrived after believing us that riding in the back of a truck (which was how the locals and Peace Corps volunteers traveled) would be a great way to get to the Ituri forest.

I can just tell by the gleam in the eye of the kid that he is probably thinking how impressed his friends will be when he tells them how the reporter believed his story. Yes, there is genocide and brutality in the wars that occur in some areas of Africa. Nevertheless, there is also a long tradition in some cultures of claiming your neighbors are cannibals and exaggerating your stories. In the town I lived in, each of the seven groups claimed one of the other groups were cannibals. So I tend to believe the anthropologists that think cannibalism is very rare.

cwf 7:48 PM  

I liked the 26A switch up. I don't thing I've ever seen WSW as the answer to such a clue. Screwed up my SW and made it the last part I got.

"Good 'ol _NE", I thought.

Pouty 1:39 PM  

I didn't get to this until Sunday but loved it. Only writing this to note that the WSJ has had 2 magnificent PB puzzles on Jan 31 and Feb 14. If you have access, they are worth the effort.

nadia utman 2:41 AM  

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Anonymous 10:27 PM  

Sir Hillary put it well -- the ceiling wasn't all that high, but the floor was high. Nothing worth complaining about. I suppose I'd rather have a puzzle with no flaws to it and nothing brilliant about it than one that's got brilliant clues but also lots of objectionable clues. The objectionable ones spoil the fun of the brilliant ones. Better off with consistency.

spacecraft 10:56 AM  

I had some trouble in the NE as well, but not from KEPTat. Kept at is a partial; kept up was a possibility but I went with the more natural KEPTON; however, that gave me fits coming up with the diabolically-clued MOONED.

VET = fact-check?? I need some 'splainin' for that one. Hand up for RAm, but easily fixed when my down word starts ESO-. There's only one of those.

Thanks, @Rex, for the NNW plug. One of my favorite scenes in my all-time favorite movie--and one which accelerated the plot by hooking Roger up with the "professor." The best moment in the film, however, came moments after the auction scene, when the cops are hauling him in and he tells them who he is. Then they get "the call," and head off to the airport, to which Mr. Thornhill objects, having "murdered a man for revenge." The cop's reply?

"You oughta be ashamed of yourself."

TBILL reminds me of another classic, "Trading Places," in which the luscious Jamie Lee Curtis explains her "savings plan:"

"I've got $40,000, and it's all in TBILLs, earning interest. I figure I've got three more years on my back and I'll be all set."

I'd buy one of those bills. Or two.

Here I am waxing nostalgic about great old films--and BTW "Field of Dreams" is the best thing Costner ever did--instead of critiquing crosswords. In this one, it seemed the redoubtable Mr. Berry used a lot of S's: KISSER ROBES MOLLS TOSSES SISSY; that might take a point off the grade, reducing it to, say, 97 from 98. You get the idea.

Burma Shave 12:03 PM  


on the DECK of the CARGOPLANE.
He stuck his CHIN out too FAR.
He saw ALANIS and tried to KISSER.

His OBSESSION was meaner THAN mean,
and his PUSH KEPTON, but in vain.
She hopped in her ECONOMYCAR,
MOONED him and left. Yes SIR we miss her!


rondo 12:30 PM  

As usual, I liked this Berry much. Those four long bars of black space pretty much divvied this one into four separate puzzles with just enough connection to pull them together. The NE came last for me even though I started with the UNCAP-KEPTON- KISSER chain of crossers. Only write-over was MOLeS.

I’ve been to the Field of Dreams site – pretty cool with the corn fields, the house and all. “Roy loves Annie” carving still in the bleachers. @Spacey, you’re right – Costner’s best.

Minimal 3s and all those 9s and 10s stuck together. Interesting cluage. A challenge but rather smooth after all. Patrick Berry’s the best.

Steve J 1:49 PM  

@spacecraft: For VET, think usages like "So-and-so is vetting potential vice presidential candidates."

And I'll take Costner in Bull Durham over Field of Dreams.

DMG 3:10 PM  

Found it hard to get started, but I've found if I stick with a PB puzzle, my brain will somehow wake up and fill the blanks-and its such fun along the way! My trouble In the NEwas partially due to CARGOPilot and trying to,decide between Maya, Aztec, and, aha, INCAN- you'd think one of them could have used a different number of letters! Eventually finished with that, now infamous, B, only because I recalled at least having heard of BOYLE's law, tho the card playing hOYLE was sitting in reserve in the wings.

Thanks to @paperback for explaining RIOT- I can be incredibly dense sometimes. Also to @Lewis whose Quo- and Fac- toids always shine a little sunshine into my day!

Now for today's tennis featuring Federer!

leftcoastTAM 3:59 PM  

I have to agree with those who question how a poster with a DNF can rate the puzzle as easy. DNF+easy=DNF. Is there and "easy, but...." category I'm not aware of?

Waxy in Montreal 6:31 PM  

Other than the NE, found this quite easy for a PB. Unfortunately had HERO before TEMP, SHRUG before SNORT and ESAU before ENOS which almost KAYOed me. KEPTON though and finally got it all sorted.

Given the archaic spelling Chymist, BOYLE was a gimme as was the former job of each of the Mercury Seven and the Queen of SHEBA And, of course for a Canuck, ALANIS. Not much else though.

Anonymous 7:29 PM  

Found this one to be real easy, especially for a Friday. Had to look up Morissette's first name even though I knew of her. Wasn't sure of the ees and iis. Great puzzle from a great constructor.

I had bet someone Rex was going to rate this "Easy." Lost a dollar.

I surely feel sorry for the snowbounders east of the Mississippi. I can hardly remember those days in the Philly suburbs where I was born, raised and educated. It must be the wrath of the gods toward those NYT puzzle editors. :)

Ron Diego, La Mesa CA

Anonymous 7:43 PM  

Me too! Best Friday for me in a while! Loved the clue for number for two and hangover. Pedialyte works great for the latter btw!

kotchi 1:19 AM  

I disagree with the clue shown one's seat for 16d. Shown is a present perfect tense of show.
Showed is the past tense of show as mooned is the past tense of moon. I rest my case.

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