Egocentric tyrant / SUN 2-21-16 / Augural observations / Wallachian prince who inspired Dracula / Toothy turner / B-roll from Splendor in Grass / DuPont creation of 1941 / Border disputer with Ethiopia / Classico competitor / Pindaric composition / Longtime employer of Helen Thomas / Her fans are called Little Monsters

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Awesome!" — homophone puzzle where "aw" sound stays the same but meanings / spellings of the words containing that sound change (via wackytastic "?" cluing). In every case, spelling change is from "O" to ... something else:

Theme answers:
  • BAWDY BUILDING (23A: Burlesque theater?)
  • POPCORN PAUPERS (31A: Moviegoers who can't afford concession stand snacks?)
  • NAUGHTY PINE (42A: Bad kid's Christmas tree?)
  • SHUTTLE CAULK (61A: Sealant used by NASA?)
  • STALK FOOTAGE (67A: B-roll from "Splendor in the Grass"?)
  • PAWED PEOPLE (87A: Owners of large enthusiastic dogs?)
  • CHALK FULL O' NUTS (92A: Writing implement from Planters?)
  • THE "MAUDE" SQUAD (106A: Supporting actors in a Bea Arthur sitcom?)
Word of the Day: HELOISE (113A: Legendary lover of Abelard) —
Héloïse (/ˈɛl.z/ or /ˈhɛl.z/; French: [e.lɔ.iz]; 1090?/1100–1? – 16 May 1164) was a French nun, writer, scholar, and abbess, best known for her love affair and correspondence with Peter Abélard. [...] Beyond the love story they tell, Héloïse's letters contribute one of the earliest, most radical feminist philosophies of not only the 12th century, but even today. Héloïse plainly writes of her disdain for marriage and even feminine life, stating in her first letter, “I preferred love to wedlock, freedom to a bond.”[18] She is also later quoted with her famous lines, “What man, bent on sacred or philosophical thoughts, could endure the crying of children…? And what woman will be able to bear the constant filth and squalor of babies?" (wikipedia)
• • •
Shakespearian character: O-HEL--. Go.

That is a weird little pattern thingie that I never would have noticed were it not for today's puzzle, and my totally botching 21A: Shakespeare character who says "Good night, ladies; good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night" (OPHELIA) because I was staring at that precise pattern and only one character sprang to mind: OTHELLO. Weirder still—OTHELLO is in this damned puzzle. Just ... later on (69D: Game with a 64-square board). This little bit of Shakespearean weirdness will be far more memorable to me than this theme, which seems a little Sub-Berry in its ambition and execution. Underdone. PINKBERRY? If you're being corny, yes. It's a simple sound change. These can be OK if they result in killer answers, but these are just adequate, and some of the clues go beyond wacky to just weird and implausible? Hard to imagine a Christmas tree being "bad." Not hard to imagine a car air freshener fragrance designed to make you horny. Do you see what I mean? The cluing just wasn't daring enough, funny enough, interesting enough. And what the hell are "popcorn poppers?" Seriously. My popper knowledge ends at "jalapeño." (LOL I just realized that "popcorn poppers" are simply the machines that pop the popcorn.... yes. That makes sense).

I just went away to have dinner and now I'm back and remember virtually nothing about this puzzle (beyond the theme), which isn't a great sign. Was there actual grass in "Splendor in the Grass?" I think "Children of the Corn" (or even "Field of Dreams") is a far, far, far better movie reference for "STALK FOOTAGE." Because CLOUDSCAPE clue had a "?" on the end, I thought it was a themer at first. "Clod ... something? What?" (46D: Heavenly painting?). I had EMITTED instead of EFFUSED (88D: Gave off), and TORN OUT instead of TORN OFF (43D: Roughly removed). Not much more to add here. A pleasant diversion of a puzzle, but not very very Berry.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Ken Wurman 12:14 AM  

Nice but easy puzzle. Still trying to understand "pawned people". Is the phrase "pod people"? Like from the Invasion of the body Snatchers"? And why large dogs?
Also it took me awhile to get monthly as a pay period until I realized a pay period is not only compensation but also bill paying..

jae 12:23 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Very smooth, mildly amusing in spots, got to agree with Rex on this one.

kozmikvoid 12:44 AM  

This was one of the quickest Sunday times I've posted, so fully expected an easy rating. Compared to other Sunday themers this year, this one was good. OK in general. I suppose the theme answers weren't super-easy to get, but everything else was. I first thought Othello by the pattern, but the quote just did not fit...way too effeminate to be Othello so I didn't bite. Romeo, maybe, even MacBeth, but not Othello.

Bea Arthur is, and will always be, Dorothy Zbornak. So I tried desperately to find a way to make THEGOLDENQUAD fit the theme, but it didn't. Even though it's a far better Bea Arthur answer.

Regardless of age, creed, gender, race or religion, if your only two options on television are Maude or The Golden Girls, you will pick The Golden Girls...unless you're a Commie.

chefwen 1:50 AM  

Finally, a Google free puzzle. Yea! I Googled so much Fri and Sat. I was too embarrassed to comment. I'm sure I learned a lot, but half of if is probably already forgotten. So, two major DNF's for me. BAH!

Today I struggled quit a bit but was determined to finished cheat free and I made it. Had the most trouble top middle where, like Rex, put Othello in off the O H E L. BAWDY BUILDers before BUILDING did not help either. Took me a long time to sort that mess out.

Much Liquid Paper was sacrificed for this puzzle and the end product was not pretty, but it was correct.

I thought POPCORN PAUPERS was the winner with NAUGHTY PINE a close second.

Thank you Mr. Berry

George Barany 4:49 AM  

@Rex, what a great find about OPHELIA and OTHELLO, though switching those two might have marked the New York Times debut of a urinary tract infection at 7-Down (just kidding, there's also a Latin way to clue). I was also slowed down by TORN_OUT ahead of TORN_OFF, and did appreciate seeing a C instead of a T at the square marked 55. Well played, @Patrick Berry.

NOV is a MONTH, of course, and it was nice to see BARON and EARL ranked with respect to Viscount. The "can of worms?" clue for BAIT was great, and there was good misdirection in the clue for CELL.

Now to put on my chemist's hat: The ORLON clue made up for yesterday's RESIN clue for Teflon, a different DuPont product. Incidentally, did you know that yet another DuPont product, NYLON is a portmanteau of New York and London ... not (click here for the truth)? Finally, I appreciated the ethylene OXIDE clue, since that's the building block for polyethylene glycol (PEG).

Bob Kerfuffle 6:18 AM  

Nice enough puzzle, had to rush through it for my own scheduling reasons.

Three w/o's: 13 A, SPYWARE >> SPY CAMS; 18 D, RATES >> METER; and, 92 D, CLASS >> CASTE.

Anonymous 6:32 AM  

This one was not medium--it was very easy.

Lewis 7:04 AM  

Berry clean as always. Some Berry fun clues as always: FORK, DEWDROP, and HOE. And two rhyming Berry nice answers: TOWIT and SKYLIT. The title is perfect, the solving experience smooth. I wasn't wowed, but I don't want to be wowed every puzzle, because that takes the special out of wow. But non-wows don't necessarily mean it's a bad puzzle; a non-wow can be like this one: A high quality solve that engages me throughout; keeps me feeling motivated. It may not be a wow but it is certainly a YES.

PBs puzzles usually take me to a calm and mellow solving place, as this one did, perfect for a Sunday morning, when I want the world to go SHUSH and I settle into a peaceful place. That is a gift, and thank you once again, Patrick!

BigMistake 7:05 AM  

The challenge with this puzzle is expectations! I see Patrick Berry and I get excited, and this did disappoint relative to what I had hoped. Had it been constructed by someone anonymous, it would have been certainly above average

Unknown 7:17 AM  

Rex, in your opening description you say the "aw" sounds "stay the same" in the theme answers. Perhaps it depends on your regional origins, but I'd say that the sounds DO change: from AH to AW. Hence, the theme "Awesome," which I might have called "Awe-inspiring."

chefbea 7:27 AM  

Couldn't finish the puzzle..Too tough for me and no fun
Loved Bea Arthur when Maude was on many years ago.
Use to read "Hints from Heloise" in the paper....probably the same era as Maude.

Loren Muse Smith 7:29 AM  

Rex – two big reliefs this morning after reading your write up:

1. You focused more on a spelling change rather than the sound change. I think. I've read and reread your first sentence, and I think that's your take on this. Tons of people speak a dialect that makes no distinction between PAUPER/popper, MAUDE/mod, NAUGHTY/knotty… Greetings to our old
friend, @jackj.

2. You didn’t go ballistic at the POP in POPCORN not changing. (SQUAD has the same vowel but can fly under the radar because of its spelling, I guess.)

I dunno, NAUGHTY PINE for me was the best one. It's just so ridiculous. I agree that it could've been clued differently, but its clue didn't take away from its wackiness. I immediately had visions of a pine tree drinking straight from the milk carton or making prank phone calls.

Some goofs:

"disbanded" for DISPERSED
"ran" for LED
"tanned" for DAYLIT
"reb" for REF. Heck, I even had myself believing that rebels run around throwing flags.
"coil" for CELL

Loved, loved, loved the clue for BAIT, but I paused at the clue for CURVE BALLS. For me, they're not so much "trick" questions as unexpected ones.

I'm so attuned to crosswordese, that I keep seeing DRE WON.

I was utterly unfamiliar with the terms TIN GOD and EXPIATE. But TO WIT went right in, so I felt smart in a Latinsome kind of way.

How 'bout this one – two people watching David Kwong's crossword magic trick? - AWED COUPLE.


Sir Hillary 7:29 AM  

The theme is nothing special, but the relatively open grid is classic Berry. Numerous high-quality downs knifing through two themers. Favorite themer is SHUTTLECAULK -- made me chuckle. Least favorite is POPCORNPAUPERS, because, as clued, they would actually be popcorn-less paupers. And I had no idea what PAWEDPEOPLE was playing on. I've since researched and learned that it's a "Body Snatcher" reference, but it seems far more obscure than the other themers.

Cassieopia 7:58 AM  

Red letter day for me - my first 100% completed Sunday NYT with absolutely no Googles! 8 minutes slower than usual, Googles!!! Got stuck at STALKFOOTAGE when I wanted some variant of raw footage. Agree with Rex that "Field of Dreams" would have been a much better reference, at least for me. And "Chock Full O Nuts" is a brand of coffee and has nothing to do with Planters peanuts, which threw me for a bit. Unless Planter's owns that coffee brand? (I just googled it - they don't.)

Despite these puzzlements, I am one happy novice solver for reaching the Google-less Sunday NYT milestone! 🎉🎉🎉

Teedmn 8:24 AM  

This was very easy for me, time-wise. Even with the AcrossLite handicap (I just can't seem to enter with my iPad as fast as I can solve on paper) it took me a whole minute less to do than yesterday's puzzle.

Not as cleverly clued as I usually expect from a PB1 puzzle. I smiled at FORK as a food sticker but otherwise it was pretty straightforward. My favorite themers were THE MAUDE SQUAD (at first, I left off the E and THE MAUD SQUADS caused brief havoc in the SE) and POPCORN PAUPERS.

I had @Rex's OtHELlo at 21A for a few seconds and TORe OUT also. My proudest guess turned out to be wrong when for 16D, off just the S, I thought iceberg lettuce must be pasSe (everything is all kale all the time, it seems) but that was easily fixable.

NAUGHTY PINE went right in, due to an odd connection my brain made. A few years ago, I saw an intricately carved entry at an art show depicting a nude woman and titled "Knotty Girl". Sort of the same IDEA.

So thanks, Patrick Berry, for a fun Sunday half hour.

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Odd use of Planters in 92 Across, since Chock Full O'Nuts is a brand of coffee, completely unrelated to Planters. Would have been better with a clue like "Writing implement for a cup of joe" or something along those lines.

Barry Gagrene 9:00 AM  

I enjoyed this much more than the usual Sunday puzzle. Often the Sunday is just a joyless slog, but I was engaged with this puzzle. And I did chuckle out loud at POPCORN PAUPER.

demit 9:03 AM  

I loved this theme. It made me laugh out loud. I have been aware for some time of twenty-something hosts on various tv programs pronouncing everything "ossome." It's as annoying as vocal fry and, yes, I'm old :)

Glimmerglass 9:04 AM  

Well, it makes sense to have a clip from the tv show that lists the names of the MAUDE SQUAD, but of all the clips one might have chosen from that show, that's got to be the dullest. A Patrick Berry puzzle is always fun, and maybe this one is below average, but that's still more fun than 90% of puzzles I see. I thought the theme was tighter than @Rex appreciated. In each case the short o sound is swapped for an aw sound (hence the title). I agree that "Children of the Corn" would have been a better clue for STALK FOOTAGE. Maybe you can blame that one on Will. Did PB reject a backwards one: DON OF THE DEAD for "mafia leader"?

Z 9:16 AM  

This kept me more entertained than any recent Sunday 21x21 puzzle has. Simple idea well-executed. I'll take it.

PPP Analysis

Splendor clue
Planters clue
Scrabble clue
DES Peres

33/138, 24%
My subjective opinion after doing this for a few days is a fourth of the puzzle as proper names, pop culture, and product names is unremarkable. A third is noteworthy and bad. In between those two points is where complaints start, especially if the puzzle is in someone's outhouse.

Hartley70 9:17 AM  

Sunday can sometimes be a slog and this was not. I didn't need to mentally pick some daisies every now and again to keep from screaming at the teeny weeny Sunday iPhone squares. It was quick and kept my interest throughout. The theme was a classic and smoothly clued. I didn't check the constructor until I was finished and realized I'd been in the hands of a maestro. Cue music @AliasZ!

jberg 9:30 AM  

Ok, I don't want to get into an argument about whether people pronounce the L in CAULK, STALK, and CHALK. I do, but if you'd rather not that's fine with me. And it's close enough for puns.

I got the game before the Moor, but still had trouble seeing OPHELIA. Made all Rex's other errors too.

I would've clued HÉLOÏSE as "hintful one"

Nancy 10:19 AM  

The pun we will always have with us. At least on Sundays. This was fun, I thought, and more of a challenge than many recent Sundays. For the third day in a row, I couldn't enter in the NW and I'm trying to remember where I did enter. I think it might have been in the midwest, at ORCAS to ON END. It got much easier as I went along than it was at the beginning.

Some writeovers: RUN over before RUN LATE; CHALKFUL OF NUTS before CHALKFULL O NUTS. But everything worked itself out. Didn't realize it was PB until I came here. Nice Sunday. Nice puns.

Norm 10:30 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle. Figured that Rex would not.

Steve M 10:50 AM  

Enjoyable and doable thx mr berry

Carola 10:55 AM  

Agree with @Rex - but I did get a kick out of POPCORN PAUPERS and STALK FOOTAGE. It took me a long time to understand SHUTTLE CAULK because I've always pronounced the L (hi, @jberg....a Wisconsin thing?)

For the person whose fans are called Little Monsters - from just having the G in the second-to-last space, I tried Miss PigGy, but ran out of room.

Unknown 10:58 AM  

Just read the 22 comments as I post and find I am with the vast majority with a very positive opinion, but the opposite is true for ease of the solve, which actually made it quite enjoyable for me. What I had already written afore said read:

First there were some obvious, serious errors in the design of the grid because the correct answers didn’t fit, such as.

94d Senior moments (not even close)
67d Spider (I was SO sure when I read the clue)
50a Far out (Oops, that would be “LePage views”)
11d Trump (also my 50a)

That said, once I finished and reviewed the themers, I realized that they sound exactly like the “correct” phrase as one with a “deep,” Maine accent would pronounce it. Maye it was not on P. Berry’s mind, but it adds a legitimate, dialectical ‘spin’ to the phonetic that ties the theme answers together. In my neck of the woods (as in the “PINE Tree” state), and maybe only here, that made the theme Awesome! However, in Maine “awesome” is just your basic aw-sum, though “wicked” is the much preferred adjective.

Speaking of P. Berry, I had a absolutely great time solving this, slowly savoring it.* Thought most all of the clues/answers were well done. It took some time with quite a few changes, sometimes deleting whole clusters of downs/acrosses to rethink that area (and for those? well I did). I also put in then took out some good things, later to find that they were good. So, there’s that. Eventually* (* -- in case you missed the one above), various AHAs et al came to supplement some welcome gimmes. However, to my complete surprise for the usual, large Sunday grid -- and having done no cheating -- I typed in the last letter and [jingle] no errors???? FAR OUT! AWESOME!

*(You don’t want to know my time; don’t care either about it or if you do wanna know. I know I wouldn’t if I weren’t me. Anyhow, let’s just say I could have spent the same time to read a short book or watch Dances With Wolves [Spoiler alert: 181 min]).

About the only answer I flat-out had never heard of was ERITREA, easily filled with the downs.

Before I had looked at the constructor’s name, I Googled to figure out “PAWED PEOPLE” (got it…) and Patrick Berry’s name popped up. Hmmmm. Looked back at the puzzle to a final AHA moment: Oh! Patrick Berry! No wonder this seemed tough but, as others OFT put it, so “smooth” that I could finish it. He did not disappoint.


Unknown 11:02 AM  

In my comment I should have said "specific" vs. the also-true "legitimate."


Unknown 11:06 AM  

I'm with Kenneth on PAWEDPEOPLE. Why LARGE dogs. ANY dog can paw you. Plus I guess they're Bostonians as it's a play on PROUD people, but with no R.

Dean 11:16 AM  

Why do I hate Sunday puzzles so much? Is it because I'm usually hungover? Or is it just the bigger grid which usually strains against the tired theme posited by the constructor de jour? At any rate, I'm rapidly approaching the point where I just skip them entirely. Even when I finish them, it's usually with a tired sigh...kind of like a visit to the dentist, actually.

Alan_S. 11:28 AM  

Sounds like Rex was holding back. Another constructor would have been slammed for this puzzle. A terrible stretch for a theme that was hardly a theme. Easy but no fun at all!

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Had "despot" and then TINpot for TINGOD for the longest time. Have never heard the term "TINGOD."

old timer 11:55 AM  

I did not even notice it was a Berry puzzle. Should have. It was slow but smooth and never a drag or a chore, because I kept wanting to find out what the next themer would be.

Now as a Californian, I pronounce "pod" and "pawed" the same. I imagine OFL does too. In New York and New England, they don't. I ended up trying to channel my inner N'Yawker, and that explained things a bit.

I think of this more as a PB Sunday puzzle than some inferior version of a PB weekday gem. On Sundays, it's all about the theme. And too often these days the theme is boring. This one wasn't.-

Bronxdoc 12:00 PM  

Pawed people

WillGH 12:04 PM  

Not too bad. For some reason I thought the first theme I got - THEMAUDESQUAD- was very funny.

Nancy 12:10 PM  

@Kenneth W & @Paul J -- If a small dog PAWs you, he may only reach your shoelace. A large dog however, may (unforgettably) PAW you all the way up at the XIPHOID process and then you'll really know you've been PAWED! Sorry, everyone, but I still haven't recovered from yesterday's 43D.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Berry missed an opportunity with STEPMOM (103a). How about the clue: "Author of 'Of Human Bondage' treks through Asia"? Answer: STEPPEMAUGHAM.

Blue Stater 12:28 PM  

Uhhh, "go long" = RUN LATE? Huh?

Chaos344 12:45 PM  

Pretty much in agreement with Rex and the majority of the 22 comments so far. Got a hearty chuckle out of the alternate clue Rex suggested for NAUGHTY PINE.

Love Patrick Berry! Today's submission makes me realize how much I miss Merle at the Washington Post.

@ Paul Johnson-Kenneth Wurman: Correct on questioning why "large" is used in the clue for 87D. Unwanted behavior in any size dog is most often simply a matter of improper training.

@Leapy: At Wordplay. Touche Lady! LMAO! Diet Of Worms? Anagram of 1215? Priceless!

puzzle hoarder 12:46 PM  

I'm surprised at the medium rating. Deference to the constructor accounts for the kid gloves treatment. The puzzle isn't bad it's your typical Sunday, big, soft and built around a punny theme. I'm a challenging themeless fan. If every day was like this Friday's puzzle I couldn't be happier.
If I write in a common answer like ORCA and ON END,DREW ON,WALLOP,FORK,FRERE,BARON,RAZOR and CURVEBALL all pop up as fast as I can read the clues then the solve becomes a matter of stopping to fill in the blanks before I start to forget the answers. 90% of the puzzle was like that. The only section that gave me any challenge was the SE. I had the EMITTED/EFFUSED write over. My weak spelling compounded it. Why does the common INFUSE have one F and the much more obscure EFFUSE two? Irregaurdless it didn't take long to figure out. Just something to do on a Sunday morning no harm done.

DBlock 1:01 PM  

To me any puzzle that clues with Johnny Bench is ok

OISK 1:12 PM  

Loved this one. Didn't notice it was Berry until I was done, and thought "Of course!" I enjoy puns, and part of the fun here was to get the theme answers without any "down clue" help. Naughty pine and chalk full o nuts came right away. Also nice to sail though after being thoroughly and fairly defeated yesterday!

So much clever cluing, so little garbage - in fact, there was not a single answer that left me puzzled once I entered it.

Thanks again, Patrick, now time to tackle the"Freewheeling" on the other page. (then the acrostic....)

Susie 1:14 PM  

Loved it. Always sad when I finish the Sunday puzzle. Agree about cloudscape. Why the ?

ArtO 1:49 PM  

Maybe a tad below the PB norm but I thought there were some really terrific clues (as already noted). Found it somewhat harder than usual. Accept the Medium rating.

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

Loved the theme: Awe--Sum...clever, but have no idea what're pod people either!

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

I had bawdy building very quickly but could NOT figure out what it was punning on for the longest time, body building just escaped me.

Had signs for omens, but otherwise found this a pretty easy sunday. Thought it was Abelard and Eloise...but easy enough to put in the H.

Maude Squad was kind if dopey though...two pretty obscure old TV shows in one...not to mention Clint Eastwoods role in about old school.

Fun all in all though.

PHV 2:33 PM  

I thought the theme was "as pronounced in Boston."

Masked and Anonymous 2:58 PM  

yep. Medium.
LADYGAGA now has Patrick Berry Immunity. She is now free to travel, in crosswords.

14 U's. "Awesome!"

fave themer: PAUPCORNPAUPERS. Cutesy sound-aww-like theme.

Only missin essential themer: PRESIDENT ASS SAWED. Insert appropriate clue here: ___


(crucial ACPT practice)

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

@Blue State - We still can't get into the conference room; we had it reserved for 1:00, but the meeting ahead of us is going long. Huh? It's running late. (Something like that.)

Elizabeth 3:21 PM  

Oh, Heavens! I finally got why a fork would be a food sticker, I've been imaging in my head a sticker on a package of meat or whatever of a fork and wondering, WHY?

RooMonster 3:27 PM  

Hey All !
Made the OTHELLO misyake at 21A like Rex. Then as I filled puz, it looked more and more like 69D was OTHELLO. What the...? Finally grocked OPHELIA.
Had tAnned in til the very end. Thought it should have been VLAD, but with the ole brain not being able to see EBB or BLOAT for a while, resisted putting it in. Finally got LADYGAGA, having _AGA, and woth the D and Y saw DAYLIT.
Those two writeovers, along with Class-CASTE, EmittED-EFFUSED, onIt-SAIL, TOReOFF-TORNOFF, claSSY-DRESSY, starts-BEGINS.
Managed to get 100% correct! That's a Sunday miracle!
Agree not very Berry thematically, but a good puz nonetheless.
Usually get the corners quicker than the middle, but today, the corners were last to go. Odd.


Ken Wurman 3:29 PM  

Typo on my part. Still questioning if this is play on "pod people"

Jacki 3:37 PM  

One person's homophones is a Midwestern phonetics teacher's mispronounced vowel! Mode/Maude not the same sound in my ESL book. Took me a bit to figure out the geographic divide here.

Chronic dnfer 3:53 PM  

Got 99% after about two hours. Dnf'd at awe for air which gave me helowse and eryneeea. Oh well. Had a good 3 day run that I feel good about.

Z 4:24 PM  

PAWED PEOPLE is a reference to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. or is it Bawdy Snatchers? At any rate, I missed that one in my PPP Analysis.

paulsfo 5:15 PM  

@ Cassieopia: Congratulations! It took me a *long* time to achieve that goal for first time. :)

Leapfinger 5:24 PM  

@Nancy, we don't always have Sunday puns; sometimes we have a poem by Wm Carlos Wms, and Boy! does that ever T-OFF the complainers!

@Geo Babiak, I tried to say Awe (inspiring) and almost had a choking fit. So thanks for inspiring that.

For a Sunday theme, I thought this was quite author-worldly. After all, it's the NYT, so we'll have POPCORN_PAUPERS in place of say, amyl nitrate, which probably has about the same street value. I guess NAUGHTY_PINE could have had a spicier clue: I did hear about this one James Cedar that passed itself off as a Gym No-Sperm. No matter, most of themes are stand-alone funny, and SHUTTLE_CAULK will always make me smile as long as there are DIKTATS to go around.

Liked the FORK Sticker and the PAUSE hovering over the PAWED PEOPLE, as well as LADY_GAGA, who's herself a Haughty Hottie. Noticed ALI CEE (a precursor to ALI GEE), but appreciated it can be hard to SHUSH a BARON Cohen

UUUUUUUUUUUUU?? M&A has got to be in 7th Heaven!!

I recently had a minor procedure done and impressed the anaesthetist by going without sedation. Yup, he was one awed number. Now I'm just suffering from a LAPSE of Luxury; I simply STOOD up and there went my LAPSE. EUBIE the Judge, is that fair?

Please Sir, can I have some MOT? It's about my Parisian auntie who's skilled in mockery: Taunt mieux.

Enjoy the final hours of your weekend.

Tita 10:13 PM  

I grudgingly agree with OFL today...not the most stellar Sunday.
Agree with @lms about CURVEBALLS.

I do love DEWDROP clue.
Many years ago, before the age of digital cameras, I took my trusty Nikon SLR down to First Encounter Beach for sunrise. Just as the sun rose high enough to light the beach grasses, I suddenly saw hundreds of orb webs appear...invisible moments before, but now the silk festooned with minute DEWDROPs caught the sun.

I snapped away, but soon stopped, and just watched.
As the dew evaporated with the rising sun, each web's owner methodically spiraled out from the center where she had spent the night, checking the drying web for any damage done.

It was a mesmerizing, fleeting moment that I'll not forget.

Thanks for reminding me of that, Mr. Berry.

Tita 10:26 PM  

@Nancy @12:10... aMEN and aMEN!

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

Agree with Greg as to pronunciations. I'm also a native Mainer- immediately recognized Pemaquid in Greg's post. The puns sound identical to me .

Unknown 7:29 AM  

Yes, easier that a typical Sunday, but really enjoyed it--particularly the puns. I also appreciate the minimum of obscure names. I guess it's a "just-right" puzzle for me. Thanks to the author.

Elephant's Child 9:04 AM  

Would the Anonymous author of STEPPEMAUGHAM please steppe forward and take a bough?

Unknown 2:07 PM  

Not sure why there was confusion about the Planters one. It's a pun on the coffee brand, of course. But it's not literally about coffee. It's CHALK full o' nuts. Planters makes nuts! Now, if your point was the Planters doesn't make chalk....

Jeff Cate 7:26 AM  

The clue for 49 Across (Old Testament Prophet) with the answer as EZRA is wrong. As an individual, Ezra was a priest and a scribe, not a prophet. As a book in the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh), Ezra is among the Kethuvim ("the writings"), not the Nevi'im ("the prophets").

Burma Shave 10:16 AM  


STALKFOOTAGE broad CASTE from SPYCAMS is what got me CANNED.


BS2 10:17 AM  


SHERPA’S AGAPE, my STEPMOM’s a cheater,
EARL ENTERED in, more than EAGER to METER.


rondo 11:02 AM  

I made the same several mistakes as OFL. Stick a FORK in me, I must be done.
But can anyone tell me why there’s a question mark after “Can of worms?”? LMS and Mr. Barany seemed to love the clue. But the expression came from using worms as BAIT! So why the love for the clue when it is so literal? Have they never been fishing? With a can of worms? Why the ?

And @spacecraft didn’t fit into the “flag thrower” space, though I was EAGER to try.

There actually USEd to be a motel/resort near where I live called the DEWDROP Inn. I wonder how many places, by that name, there have been.

Like her or not, LADYGAGA is a real yeah baby, especially since she seems to have gotten over some of the nonsense. TERI Garr gets a yeah baby nod, not for Tootsie as clued, but for Young Frankenstein – “What knockers!” I’d like to have PAWEDPEOPLE like that.

Today’s Sun-puz kept me more interested than many others. Funny the difference in constructors makes.

spacecraft 11:55 AM  

The ending of one of my favorite movies:

Jeff comes out of the can, distracting the robber; Brad throws hot coffee on the robber and overcomes him. Jeff cries the last words in the film: "AWESOME! Totally AWESOME!"

Well, maybe not doubly or "totally," but still pretty fracking cool. (Incidentally, don't watch "Fast Times" on a censored channel. Seeing Jefferson going "Don't *FOOL* with it!" is ludicrous.)

The theme is thin, but then Mr. B. is more at home with his usual themeless fare. It's harder to follow those restrictions, but here again he refuses to LAPSE. The fill is remarkably clean. I didn't even wince at FSTOPS.

But RAZOR a shower accessory? How would you...wait, it must be a chick thing. I have no idea. And speaking of chicks, I lUUUUUv me some TERI Garr. The woman is funny, a good actress--and H.O.T. Yeah, I would definitely HITON her!

The puzzle played medium for me; took some time getting through, starting in the SW with the above-mentioned hottie and working back up, but still didn't feel like a slog. That's just Berry's special magic, I guess. It's his world, and other constructors are merely living in it. A.

Unknown 12:50 PM  

So I finish these usually 100% only about 75% of the time, and usually when I look here the ones I do finish are listed as easy. Today's was listed as medium, and I don't know why, but to me this seemed like the easiest quickest I ever did. I'm not fast, but this one just "floughed" well for me. (70 mins). But I did miss one. I had EUBIa and DaS - just didn't know these. I don't ever use the web though and still consider it a "finish". First tip to the web automatically makes these DNF's for me.

rain forest 3:26 PM  

@Rondo - Great minds! I immediately thought of @Spacey @85D, and I just knew you'd go CHOCK FULL O'NUTS over TERI Garr and LADY GAGA. You guys are now typecast. And of course, ODE was for @BS.

Pretty easy except for the two NW sections. I held off putting in OTHELLO, only to find out there he was playing his eponymous game. The themers were all pretty good. Unlike @jberg, I don't pronounce the 'L' in CHALK, CAULK, or STALK, and I don't know anyone who does. How would he pronounce 'salmon'?

There were some great clues for non-themer things like HOE, DEWDROP, SMART, and CHUGS among others. So, if your jalopy CHUGs to a halt, you will probably have to TOW IT.

Hard not to like a Berry puzzle.

Diana,LIW 4:40 PM  

Saw P Berry first thing and looked forward to the fun. And ws having it.

Then, I'll keep this brief, that forking word FOR wouldn't reveal the K. I got Berry'd!!! Was stuck on a sticker.

And I don't get the "STALK' unless it refers to stalks of grass??? I was looking for STALe to describe a "B" take, but FORe just made no sense. USDA? (fat)FREE?

Oh, the hue manatee..

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crossword answers

leftcoastTAM 4:57 PM  

Relatively easy, smooth, very fair, and sufficiently entertaining to make worthwhile on a rainy Sunday.

All Berry hallmarks.

I don't get RP's problem with the theme entries. He's apparently looking for all of them to make some sense as recognizable things, taking issue, e.g., with NAUGHTYPINE and STALKFOOTAGE. How about CHALKFULLONUTS?

You could raise the same issue with any of them with enough parsing.

You want homophones? You got homophones, and I think they were sufficiently "sound" and diverse to please most Sunday solvers.

rondo 6:55 PM  

@D,LIW - I'm probably capable of STALKing you, and maybe I would, but the FSTOPS here. They made me get over that stuff.

Phillip Blackerby 8:19 PM  

"Page of views" would have been a better clue than "Page views" (50A). I tried OPENS, as in opened emails, but OXINE is a brand of disinfectant that, while it has an oxygen molecule, does not appear to be an OXIDE. Most frustrating clue!

Anonymous 12:18 AM  

Y'all are cutting Mr. Berry a great deal of slack today. That generosity of spirit could perhaps be usefully applied to some other constructors who have lately been the target of vituperation. I am a fan of PB, but thought this was his weakest puzzle maybe ever. And it includes some egregious errors of fact. As has already been noted, EZRA is not reckoned among the prophets. TOPSIDE sounds like it ought to mean "on deck" but it really doesn't, nevermind what your landlubber dictionaries say. It is used to mean "on deck" only by tyros who haven't caught on that TOPSIDE refers to the above-water portion of the outer hull. And where I come from, if you ENTERED by crossing the sill, you were climbing in through the window, so this could be considered technically correct, I s'pose, if only in relation to cat burglars. That thing at the bottom of the door, however, is the threshold.

Wilbur Charles 4:18 PM  

I found it slow going. Once I got the game, OTHELLO wouldnt work in NE. DESPOT seemed right and "TIN"GOD??
EZRA or AMOS for 4 letter OT guy albeit not a prophet. Had a moment of panic when I realized MLB has Rangers too. Btw I often shave in the shower, thought RAZOR a bit obvious but EZRA saved me. FRERE was obvious buf FORK decidedly not. RP right about lots of easy fills but I really labored.

Ariela 8:54 AM  

puzzle hoarder: "Why does the common INFUSE have one F and the much more obscure EFFUSE two?"

If you do want to know the answer, what I learned is that the underlying morphological form of EFFUSE is 'EX-FUSE', and the X sound assimilated to match the following sound (F) but still gets to occupy a spot in the spelling.

So, you can think of the pair as neatly balanced: IN-fuse and EX-fuse.

This "ex" is the same "ex" morpheme (meaning "out/outwards") as in "EXIT".

And now back to crosswords....

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