Beach grass that prevents erosion / FRI 7-14-17 / Onetime owner of Skype / Short-legged item of furniture / Playwright who wrote Hell is full of musical amateurs

Friday, July 14, 2017

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: SEA OATS (13D: Beach grass that prevents erosion) —
Uniola paniculata or sea oats, also known as seaside oats, araña, and arroz de costa, is a tall subtropical grass that is an important component of coastal sand dune and beach plant communities in the southeastern United States, eastern Mexico and some Caribbean islands. Its large seed heads that turn golden brown in late summer give the plant its common name. Its tall leaves trap wind-blown sand and promote sand dune growth, while its deep roots and extensive rhizomes act to stabilize them, so the plant helps protect beaches and property from damage due to high winds, storm surges and tides. It also provides food and habitat for birds, small animals and insects. (wikipedia)
• • •

The one downside of being a constructor as immensely talented as Patrick Berry is that, well, when you lay down a SEA OATS people can *really* see, touch, taste, and feel the SEA OATS. The only place where I struggled even in the slightest was in and around and all over the SEA OATS, so my brain now believes this to be "the SEA OATS puzzle" even though SEA OATS is only one moderately-sized, literally marginal answer. Everything else about this grid is so smooth, so unforced, so well known, generally, that something pulled deep from the bottom of the fauna well really, really stands out. But focusing on that one answer is ridiculously unfair, not just because (as I said) it's all alone in its strangeness, but because despite its strangeness, it's actually a real thing. The clue wasn't bad, the answer wasn't some implausible phrase or super-olde-timey character actor's name. It's just a word I didn't know, which is fine. It will be the answer (I bet) that is the most unfamiliar to solvers. But so what? It Was Crossed Fairly. Rare and fairly crossed is all I ask my "???" fill to be.

Another reason I don't remember the non-SEA OATS part of this puzzle very well is that I finished it in 4:24. And at 5am?! It's dark and raining out, and both wife and daughter are out of town. Perhaps I have discovered my optimal solving conditions: darkness and utter solitude. Sadly, those conditions would probably be highly sub-optimal for my non-solving life, so I'll just enjoy this little solving success while I have it. I guessed SCRAP right away (1D: Throw away), confirmed it with PIPES (22A: Singing ability, informally), and I was off. Had STATE, threw down BANKS, and then "confirmed" it with ... BALKED (27A: Made objections). Oh well, can't expect all your first guesses to be good ones. Luckily SILVER LININGS went down supereasy, and I could sneak into the SW from down under. Swept back up and solved on a SW-to-NE diagonal, going through that center stack faster than I've ever gone through any largish stack in my life. Only resistance was back end of HARBOR MASTERS, and all I needed was a few crosses to pick that up. Lucky to remember DOANS pills (from '80s TV ads, I think). Despite ON FILM before ON TAPE (and the aforementioned oceanside disaster that was SEA OATS), the NE succumbed pretty easily. That left the SE, where the horrible clue on NHL (47A: Montreal is part of it: Abbr.) stalled me a bit, but not much. Once I got SWORE and SHAW in there, the corner fell quickly.

Back to that NHL clue. Yes, the Montreal Canadiens are in the NHL, but you would never, ever, ever have the following clue: [Los Angeles is part of it: Abbr.] for NHL. Or for NBA or MLB, for that matter. It's a major metro area; presumably it's a part of Lots of things. Come on. Anyway, this is a very impressive grid, even if no one answer really stands out. My favorite thing about it was crushing it. I'll take a smooth, clean, largely uneventful Berry puzzle any day (but especially Friday). The only (tiny) flaw, from a structural standpoint, is how much the grid relies on plurals. ALL the long central answers (Across and Down) are plurals, as are several more 8+ answers. Plurals are real words, so there's no real harm done. They're a useful constructing crutch, but it's odd to see So Many of them here. I doubt anyone but me noticed, though. Have a nice day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:19 AM  

This puzzle was good.

BarbieBarbie 6:30 AM  

Easy for a Friday, I agree. Good puzzle, I don't agree. Retrieve word, spell correctly. Repeat. Use crosses if you can't retrieve the word. No thinking involved. No real puzzle-- just an aphasia check. Admirable construction and no ACNE. That's about it.

Unknown 6:34 AM  

I loved this puzzle. The only spot I had trouble with was SNIT/SEAOATS. Never heard of "pet" being synonymous with SNIT before, but that was the last empty square so I ran it a-to-z in my head and went with T.

Sub 15 for me, which I know is an embarrassment of a time but it's probably my best for Friday.

Seriously, Rex, I don't think I could type out the puzzle under 5 if I had an answer key in front of me.

Moly Shu 6:37 AM  

There are some of us that live near the ocean @Rex, we probably know what SEAOATS are. Well, at least I do anyway. And of course you wouldn't clue LA that way, it has more than one major sports team (the Rams are iffy) but Montreal? Yea, only the NHL. Methinks you're too picky and maybe that's all you DUGUP. For me, this one was GOODTOGO.

kitshef 6:42 AM  

A beautiful puzzle.

I always felt like I should enjoy Charmed, but it just never worked for me.

Opera set me back for a while yet again, when my Carmen CASTAwayS gunked up the middle for a while. Crossing that with an obscure definition of pet didn’t help.

Oh, and this did take me more than 4:24.

Forsythia 6:46 AM  

Easy...except for where it wasn't!

SEAOATS was a gimme since they are endangered and protected all over the dunes along the southern Atlantic. My Papa who lived in a cabin beachfront at St Simon's (now a huge hotel) always taught us to take special care on our walk down to the beach, and also to watch out for sand spurs!

But big problem not knowing TURTURRO, and was positive about bUFFET so had T_EbAGS. Not knowing EDMOND and guessing EDwarD kept that area a mess for awhile.

But got a flying start and threw in SILVERLININGS and then....try try try...and finished without a Check Puzzle, so a happy start. And happy to have power this am after bad storm at 6 pm last night. So a good start to the day. Enjoy!

QuasiMojo 6:53 AM  

Lovely puzzle, elegant, even (even with Alyssa) but it's Friday and I expect much more of a challenge. Something as heavenly as "silver linings" just fell into place without so much as a sigh. Where exactly is the "puzzle" part? My favorite clue, however, was the one for TOE TAGS. Happy weekend everyone!

Loren Muse Smith 6:57 AM  

Rex – we’re so different. My favorite entry was SEA OATS with its little vowel party. Julian Lim did a puzzle a few years ago with phrases that had five vowels in a row. I still think about that one. Imagine phrases like onomatopoeia oeuvre, Sequoia eau.

Liked the EAGER/GOOD TO GO cross.

TUFFET. Hmm. What a prissy little word. Ok – I’ll put this out there. I never really thought about exactly what Little Miss Muffet was sitting on, but forced to explain it, I’d have said her TUFFET was her fanny. I googled it, and it seems that TUFFETs aren’t just little flat stools – they have to be kinda pillow-like and round. Still not a stretch to think it means butt. (Hi, @Kim Kardashian.)

First thought for 2D the “whodunit story?” was “blame.” That fits the clue better for me. ALIBI feels more like a “whodidn’tdoit story.”

Ok. So this leads to a rant that has nothing to do with the puzzle, so just skip this next part if you’re not interested in lit crit rants. I’m taking a literature class this summer on the Gothic. Yes. They capitalize it. Just that G. Ahem. I’ve read The Castle of Otranto. No biggie – it’s got nothing on General Hospital or a good Real Housewives imbroglio. I just finished one of Poe’s whodunits – “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Fine. Still so far so good. I mean, the whole orangutan/trick window deal felt a bit contrived, but, sure… Ok. So I’ve been assigned to read some Eric Savoy – “The Rise of American Gothic.” Now I’m reminded why I was afraid of lit classes in college. I always felt dumb. After doing my darndest to wade through this Savoy piece (that is utterly inaccessible to me because it seems these lit crits have one goal - to show other lit crit guys just how smart and erudite they are. No matter that the average reader can’t understand a damned word), I come to this beaut: “… just as a fetish acquires meaning by synechdochic logic…the teeth here come to suggest the larger cultural specter of the devouring mother, the myth of women as vagina dentata (a vulva lined with teeth)” I just went to take a nap.

Anyhoo… PB – chalk up another pretty themeless. I appreciated DOAN’S and PHONO. They feel more 70s-ish to me. But there’s no way a PB puzzle sits and languishes for a bit; the couple I’ve been a part of felt like they were in that queue aeons.

Gotta drag my tuffet over to the couch and get back to Savoy, Freud, and the Fanged Vajajays. Now THERE’s a good name for a rock band.

PG Bartlett 6:59 AM  

Rex's time was 4:24?!? Startling.

In fact, startling enough to jolt me out of my usual lurkiness and note that specific solving times are rarely discussed in the blog and in here.

After working on every daily crossword in the NYT archives, my solve time has become pretty quick. Today: 6:28.

But I miss the old days when solving was a delicious challenge. During an hour or more of working on a single puzzle, I experienced many moments of "aha" satisfaction.

Trombone Tom 7:02 AM  

Really smooth, but on the easy side for PB. Didn't know (or perhaps remember) SEA OATS, but the crosses were straightforward. Another advantage for us codgers -- DOANS.

Glimmerglass 7:02 AM  

I'll never run a 4-minute Patrick Berry, but this one was a bit easier for me than usual -- call it "medium." Several things I didn't know, but as @Rex observes, all fairly crossed. I didn't know SEA OATS ( we don't grow them on NE dunes) and couldn't see the last letter of SNIT (that's an unusual and old-fashioned meaning of "pet"), but when I finally got to SEAO--S, OATS made sense. I laughed outloud when I saw 8D was DOAN'S [pills]. I'd have sworn they haven't been made for years, but I remember the ads on the radio when I as a kid -- ". . . and a mild diuretic for the kidneys!" Very solemn announcer.

OTD 7:10 AM  

Saw PB's name and thought to myself, this is going to be a tuffy. Turned out to be an easy one for a Friday. Loved SEA OATS, TUFFET, DOANS, and agree with @Moly Shu about Montreal and the NHL. A bit nitpicky there, Rex. And thanks to PB for constructing a puzzle that was in my wheel house (for a change). Most enjoyable.

Sweenan A. Mornstuy 7:12 AM  

@LMS, the "vagina dentata" trope was the inspiration for the 2007 horror film "Teeth." I don't recommend it.

Jeff Anderson 7:13 AM  

I live in Tampa Bay near the Gulf of Mexico, thus SEAOATS was a no-brainer for me. I plowed right on through the puzzle. I normally like my Friday puzzles to be a bit more challenging. I even allow extra time in the morning for the solve in case. But overall a fun puzzle.

John V 7:27 AM  

Thought STYX/ALYSSA cross was a bit rough.

chefwen 7:36 AM  

Was sailing along at a rather good clip and feeling pretty smug until I arrived in the SE. I had put DIving in at 8A and off the N I confidently slammed down NesT Area ( which I thought was a cute answer). That took me longer to fix than the rest of the puzzle AND I had to Google STYX. Thus a DNF on a wonderful Patrick Berry puzzle.

tkincher 7:39 AM  

Knocked this out pretty quick before bed, woke up with an Eminem lyric about ALYSSA Milano stuck in my head. Aha, that's why! Good puzzle, if over too soon. I didn't see the Berry byline before I got into it, but he doesn't disappoint.

RAD2626 7:41 AM  

Just finished doing the book of puzzles that PB included with his Construction Handbook, so delighted to see his byline. His puzzles are so elegant. You stare at them and think "no chance" and then they fall with numerous "aha" moments. NW like that for me. CHOP and KENO led to the "aha" CLUTCHES and RIGATONI. Put in DOANS right away but that led to DIving which was my only write over. Clue for UPSTAIRS was my favorite. Knew SEAOATS so that corner was not a problem.

Fun and lovely puzzle as always from PB. Nice way to start the weekend.

Unknown 7:51 AM  

Helped plant the SEAOATS to restore the beaches in the panhandle of Florida after Hurricane Opal in '95. The term has been imprinted on my cerebral cortex ever since. This was definitely an easy one. Finished in about 60% of my average time. Anyone else notice the DUGUP, FOLDUP, UPSTAIRS threesome? I was once told that Shakespeare coined the terms UPSTAIRS/downstairs. Never could confirm it though.

Unknown 7:57 AM  

OFL said:
"something pulled deep from the bottom of the fauna"

But SEA OATS is part of the flora not the fauna.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

An automatic (transmission) does have a clutch. It doesn't have a clutch pedal, but it has a clutch.

Hartley70 8:10 AM  

@Rex was not alone in noticing the plethora of "esses" in this puzzle. I like to fill them in sometimes before I start the puzzle and this was one of those days.

I didn't check the constructor until I was done and no surprise there. It was a nice surprise to have a Berry puzzle and a center triple stack together. That's my kind of Friday. Maybe I'll buy a lottery ticket.

SILVERLININGS opened this puzzle up for me. I'm a big believer in them. I remembered DOANS vaguely. SEAOATS was last to go in because I don't think I have seen them in the Northeast. I tried "rook" for the HOCK spot. I wanted an ottoman, hassock or pouf before I settled on TUFFET, a sadly underused term just for the silly factor.

Old Lady 8:14 AM  

Friday puzzle that felt like Wednesday. Woo-Hoo! Solve on paper and don't time it, but the NW corner went down easily and flowed from there. Liked all of it and had some pleasant moments (triple stack in middle) but no ahas or groans, both of which make a puzzle more zippy and fun.

Two Ponies 8:19 AM  

You know PB must write a good puzzle when the only Beefs are "too easy", "so smooth", etc. A few years ago this probably would have stumped me but joining this crowd years ago has changed forever my definition of challenging.
Montreal was a nice misdirect since they are in the National League of another nation.
@ LMS, Vowel party indeed. That string of EAOA caught my eye as well. And thanks for that animal shelter video link the other day. It was a real treat and I still have an ABBA earworm.
We'll probably hear some moaning about Doan's Pills. Do they still make them? I remember as a kid wondering how those "little pills" knew it was just someone's back that hurt.

mooretep 8:27 AM  

@LMS re: vagina dentata.
"Liquid Sky" from 1982 was the first time I heard this quote.

A classic and weird indie film back when indie films were still indie films.

hankster65 8:29 AM  

I was walking along a beach (North Carolina's Outer Banks maybe and spotted a sign reading, "Removing sea oats a crime punishable by etc." I had no desire whatsoever to steal the damn things up untill then! I fought off the urge.

More Whit 8:40 AM  

Fastest Friday solve to date, starting from the SE working clockwise and ending on a mildly recalcitrant NE corner. Ditto to many of the comments above; off to get some farm fresh corn.

Wm. C. 8:48 AM  

I too am OK with Montreal being "part of" NHL. Provided, of course, that it's used in the context of a discussion of NHL teams.

Otherwise, it's uses could have one of several possible meanings. City? Expos? Early French North American holding?

Sir Hillary 8:51 AM  

Yep, a pretty quick solve this morning. Superb grid -- @Rex is right that there's really nothing here to side-eye. I did, however, notice the preponderance of long plurals with some disappointment. Only because it was Berry though, because I hold him to such ridiculously high standards.

Crosses I liked:
-- NHL / HOCK(ey)
-- DUGUP / PIPES -- What workmen did last week under my driveway to fix a very annoying drainage issue.
-- ALYSSA / UPSTAIRS -- Almost a perfect description of my house right now (my wife is eLYSSA).
-- STYX / ONTAPE -- I listened to my "Grand Illusion" cassette a lot back in the day.
-- HEREAFTER / ETA -- Hopefully not for a while.

Lewis 8:57 AM  

Ahh, breakfast with Berry...

Three of my top four clues were in the NW -- ACT, CHOP, RIGATONI -- great way to start a puzzle (my other favorite clue was for UPSTAIRS). I learned SCREENER. A 64-worder smooth as silk, as usual, and clean clean clean.

Some puzzles make me feel like my brain is sweating. Others have a hard time holding my interest. Every time I do a PB, after it's over, I feel like I've had a workout and a massage. Thank you once again, Patrick!

Bill Feeney 9:10 AM  

Had buffet for TUFFET thinking those bodies had a tag attached to their toes, so of course, you would put them in toe bags. In my defence I think buffet legs are pretty squat, as probably are Buffet legs.

oldbizmark 9:11 AM  

very good puzzle. easy. but fun. patrick berry needs to do the puzzle every day.

jberg 9:14 AM  

Yeah, @Rex needs to get to the beach more. Signs all over the place telling you not to disturb the SEA OATS, so that was a gimme. (Oh, wait, he lives in one of those Trump-loving interior places, doesn't he. Still, worth a trip -- it might relax you.)

DOANS, though -- if I hadn't spent much of my teenage years stocking shelves, adding up accounts, and running the cash register in my father's drugstore, I'd never have heard of them. Even back then in the 50s, they weren't popular -- or have they had a sudden retro surge?

I so wanted 1A, "perennial loser," to be Harold STASSEN. That was confirmed by the first two crosses I got, but I just knew it couldn't be right. I also avoided ON film as too obvious, but came very close to thinking 34A was bENGAL something. Fortunately, I couldn't think what -- but I had no idea about this TURTURRO guy, and was looking for bURT something.

Seven in a row, @Loren, that's pretty good! The diphthong helped of course, but I couldn't have done it.

What I learned today: that diphthong has two Hs.

Gretchen 9:24 AM  

Did anybody else have FAMILY DINNERS before te changing to TURKEY because of state banks? This was too easy for a Friday. And what in the world is blue arm,?

Z 9:37 AM  

Damn it Rex. Now we're sure to see "Detroit is a part of it" and it's ilk over and over again. You might as well have challenged Shortz to a duel and saved us poor solvers from Random Sport League clued by Cities clues.

@LMS - I'm pretty sure the purpose of Lit Crit is to make the dirtiest jokes using the biggest words. And admit it, you've always wanted to drop "a fetish acquires meaning by synecdochic logic" into casual conversation. I'm thinking you should whip it out the next time the State Evaluators visits your school. Speaking of which, was that just a transcription typo or was the misspelling in the original? I'm really really really hoping the misspelling was in the original.

@Thomas808 late yesterday- LOL.

Chaz 9:39 AM  

Surprised Rex let DUGUP and FOLDUP slide.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

First Friday completed without a look up. Yay me!

Tony 9:41 AM  

Newbie, here. Only solved about 75% of it (and don't ask how long I spent). NE was the biggest problem though, in retrospect I should have done better. (Never heard of DOANS and SEAOATS; got INLET but clue struck me a usually metaphorical.) Have to learn to follow my instincts more, e.g., DISCUS. But, I'll tell you, did not find much in it to make me smile about and found it on the boring side--hardly worth the struggle for a _____.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

PB1's name leapt out at me before I began the puzzle, so I didn't even need to follow my Resolution from yesterday. And I was amazed at how easy it all seemed as I raced through the NW, with ALIBI and SCRAP and CLUTCHES and ABUT coming in with no prob. Too easy for a PB1, I'm thinking. Silly me. It got much harder in the East, especially at the bottom, where LIES instead of LORE (49D) got me in a heap of trouble. The other heap of trouble was putting the STAR of Alpha Centauri at the bottom of the answer instead of the top (30D.). Not a STAR SYSTEM, but a something-or-other STAR. Well, just look at that S four spaces from the bottom. Can you blame me?

I struggled the whole way through the East, but I finished with one wrong letter at the ALiSSA/STiX cross. Nonetheless, I pronounce the puzzle "solved", as I always do in such cases. Crunchier than I thought it would be at the outset. I enjoyed it.

Lawrie 9:45 AM  

I went downstairs to my computer, printed out the puzzle, brought it upstairs, poured myself a cup of coffee and put pencil to puzzle at 1A, all in less than 4:24. Take that Rex. Thank you PB for a pure Friday delight.

Mohair Sam 9:48 AM  

Big smile for the second appearance of TUFFET in my life. For most of us the big discovery of the Muffet poem was that she was not eating her curds "away" - fun to see that for @LMS the shocker came today with the discovery that our girl wasn't sitting just on her ass.

I'll join the crowd thanking PB for his usual smooth offering. And it was an easy Friday here too. We opened the puzzle with CLUTCHES then ALIBI then ACT (all very Berry clues) and off we went.

Love the SHAW quote - it is undoubtedly fact. Remember the planting of dune grass on reconstructed dunes along the Jersey Shore after Sandy - don't know if it was SEAOATS or not, but they had that stuff well-protected from fiends like @hankster65. Odd new millennium for Pluto, loses its planet status then gains a moon. Wondering if you Rub DOANS in or if you Rub DOANS on? Anybody?

Clues for Standard and Poors ratings and Chartered Financial Institutions had me wondering if PB had ever worked on Wall Street. But there were no clues about screwing the public or taxpayer bailouts so I guess the answer is no.

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

Didn't even break a sweat on this one...low 5's, which is a full 7 minutes below average.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Great puzzle. The reviewer is full of himself and seems like a very unpleasant person.

Mohair Sam 10:32 AM  

@Anon (10:07) In defense of @Rex- folks who know him say he is a very pleasant person.

RooMonster 10:34 AM  

Hey All !
As much as PB1's puzs are always clean and shiny, this one seemed to fall flat in its sparkliness. The best entry/clue was TEN GALLON HATS. Well, TOE TAGS was good, too. But this seems like it could have been constructed by anyone. Sorry PB1, HOPI didn't FOLD UP your feelings on my little SNIT. (Like he really cares what I think!)

SW corner sounds like a resume job list, TUFFET ARTIST, GREASE SORTER. So, you're applying to be a TSA SCREENER? Let's see your job history... Hmm, you've DUG UP PIPES, SORTEd GREASE, painted TUFFETs, and put FOLDedUP SILVER LININGS in TEN GALLON HATS? GOOD TO GO jobs, but for being a TSA SCREENER HEREAFTER? That's AN-NO. :-)

OTTER stop noe

Carola 10:54 AM  

I had this charmer pretty firmly in my CLUTCHES the whole way, except for a bit of faltering where the misspelled EDMuND briefly obscured the ??NGALLu????? I liked the summery at-the-shore feel of INLET, SEA OATS, and HARBOR MASTERS.

@Patrick Berry, this was such fun to solve. In the words of Cole Porter, "You're the're a TURKEY DINNER."

JC66 11:00 AM  

Too easy for a Friday.

Luke 11:01 AM  

Every time I have a backache, I do an S.

Nancy 11:05 AM  

@Loren -- I always knew that the TUFFET wasn't Miss Muffet's tush, but an actual object. And it's not because I was a smarter little girl than you were. It's because the book in which the verse appeared had a picture of Miss Muffet sitting on said object. I have tracked that picture down and will provide the link right now. But it won't, alas, appear in blue. Maybe someone else here can embed it for everyone? Meanwhile, you can Google it by putting in "Miss Muffet's tuffet/illustration from book".

kitshef 11:17 AM  

Here is @Nancy's link 'in blue'.

Nancy 11:20 AM  

Love you, @kitshef! How on earth did you do that?

old timer 11:21 AM  

TURTURRO is a tad unfair, methinks. So is SEAOATS to many of us who have not been to the SE. But it's clearly clued and a legit answer. I got DOANS solely on crosses. Never heard of them. I have heard of Carter's Little Liver Pills. After what must have been decades the FDA made them remove the word "liver" and "Carter's Little Pills" was not such a bestseller.

My only writeover was when I put in "Eduard" before EDMOND.

GHarris 11:43 AM  

Never heard of Alyssa Milano and found the crosses neither helpful nor fair. Thus had to Google to get the l and the y. Otherwise enjoyed the exercise as I always do when it's a Patrick Berry.

Anoa Bob 12:16 PM  

Glad OFL pointed out " much the grid relies on plurals....I doubt that anyone but me noticed, though." Otherwise all those POC CRUTCHES would have never caught my eye.

JC66 12:18 PM  


I immediately thought of you when I read @RP's comment. 😀

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

I don't understand the pet- snit connection.

ArtO 12:21 PM  

I love it when Patrick Berry's puzzle appears on Friday. It gives me hope. While the NE did me in, otherwise a satisfying solve.

What speed solvers get is the ego satisfaction of a fast time. What sloggers like myself get is the satisfaction of success after a decent time of struggle. it is what made yesterday and today's puzzles worth the effort.

Malsdemare 12:23 PM  

I had to Google for ALYSSA and STYX; otherwise it was way too easy for a Friday. I so rarely whip through a PB that I had to check twice to confirm it was a Berry puzzle. That's not a criticism. But I think this was more a Wednesday puzzle, which puts the onus on Will.

I've been alone all week and so have had no one except the dog to make random observations to. Please forgive me, but my guffaw of this morning was this Trump quote: "The G20 was great. There were 20 countries." Honest.

paculino 12:33 PM  

so happy to finish a Friday without Googling, even though it was so easy for the rest of you.

ColoradoCog 12:41 PM  

Hand up as a once upon a time Florida beach bum for whom SEAOATS was a gimme.

Especially late in the week, so much depends on whether a key answer is in your wheelhouse. There have been Friday/Saturday puzzles that I thought were crushing that @Rex found easy, and puzzles I breezed through that @Rex found "challenging". It really comes down to whether you happen to know some esoteric answer that unlocks a corner, doesn't it?

Masked and Anonymous 12:49 PM  

M&A nearly went with SILVERBULLETS on the long down edged by them black bookshelves, but thought of LININGS at about the point I had gotten the BULL+ part written in, and switched in mid splatz. Was a bit weak on the names EDMOND & ALYSSA, but got em from crosses. SE?OATS was pretty much no sweat, with the "beach" word in its clue.

Always enjoy seein the full Jaws of Themeless black six-packs ensemble in a grid. Liked how the rightmost jaw was thoroughly smathered with SSSS (yo, @RP). That smatherin is about as close as ol PB1 came to an eau de speration, in this FriPuz. PB1 almost always does higher-than-snot quality work. Impressssive.

staff weeject pick (from a meager 6 entrants): AAA. Whenever the NYTPuz finally comes 'round to usin the powerful double-?? clues [C'mon … U know it's gonna happen, Shortzmeister], a better AAA clue would hafta be:
{Evenly spaced banana bits??}.

Thanx, Mr. Berry. Overall, fun and not too feisty. fave entry: GOODTOGO.

Masked & Anonym6Us

p.s. @muse: har. The poets maybe shoulda called her Little Miss Muttocks, or somesuch. Hey, that Goth Course sounds like a hoot and a half. Wiseguy M&A would be hollerin "Fore, Gothers!" a lot, when enterin the classroom. That Savoy book excerpt sure oughta come with a secret decoder ring, since it's written in Horsehockeyan.

jaws of runtiness:

Teedmn 1:19 PM  

Really easy for me today - CASTeNETS went in with no crosses and I fixed the error easily with 26A. I know, if I was looking at CASTANETS in an across position, I would not have misspelled it but going down just makes things look different to me, I wonder why.

Off that C, I guessed DISCUS would be right and with that first S I guessed STYX because one of Pluto's other moons is Charon. I didn't know Pluto had five moons, though. I wonder if they all broke off from the original planet, as our moon is supposed to have done from Earth. Taken all together, perhaps Pluto wouldn't have been downgraded to its current dwarf status in our STAR SYSTEM.

But DOANS gave me fits. I was sure I was headed for yet another DNF but all the crosses seemed so solid. And what else could it be? I have seen the word kOANS and for some reason thought it might be a yoga move that was good for the back. @Lewis, if you do kOAN yoga, do you reach enlightenment and flexibility?

At 29D, FOLDed nearly UNDid me. And "HERE on out" provided some extra ink on the grid at 31D. But I SORTER sorted all of that out. I had fun looking at my fingers, imagining an ID tied to it. When I moved down to my TOEs, bingo. Nice clue for that 35D.

Thanks, PB1.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

I'm not getting the "blue arm" -- inlet thing at all. Can someone please explain?

JC66 1:41 PM  

an inlet is a blue "arm" of the sea.

Cassieopia 2:03 PM  

A no-google no-cheat Friday! 26' 16" which is 8 minutes off my googling, cheating average so this puzzle was Easy For Me.

Don't know about the Ss but were there more Us than normal?

Agree with prior poster, @RAD I believe, who said the best part of a PB puzzle is that at first it looks impossible, then bit by bit the delightful words fall into place. A really fun Friday, which makes three happy crossword days in a row

Two Ponies 2:14 PM  

@ old timer,
Yes, that was what I was thinking of when I said Little Pills, Carter's not Doan's.
Just as I expected, lots of moaning about being "too easy for a Friday." You know you are just asking to have your tuffet kicked tomorrow.

Robert A. Simon 2:20 PM  

First, it takes me 4:24 to find and sharpen a pencil.
And second, I just love that Loren Muse Smith--whose comments I always enjoy--pretends that Kim Kardashian would ever find her way here. I don't know...maybe if she was Googling "Pea Coats" and made a couple of typos...

Robert A. Simon 2:34 PM  

One more thing: Montreal is more than acceptable as a clue anytime and in any form NHL is the answer. Major sports are brought to broad public attention by the exploits of one team, and the effort of every other team to unseat them. Montreal MADE the NHL. There were six teams for decades, for crying out loud, and 2 were in Canada. Montreal was the (early) gold standard, like the Yankees in baseball, the Packers in the NFL, UCLA in college basketball, and Oklahoma in college football. Every other team was only seen in the light shining from these champions.

Chronic dnfer 2:47 PM  

Automatics have clutches. It's part of the torque converter.

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

same problem Seaoats/Snit, Ontape/Onfilm also had Familydinners before Turkeydinners. But easy for a Friday. Not an olympic solver; just happy to complete a Friday.

GILL I. 3:20 PM  

I never thought I'd say this about a PB puzzle but this one bored me no end.
TURKEY DINNERS? Well yes...on Thanksgiving. Not on any other holidays for this standing rib roast fiend.
Do you know how many pastas are ribbed? Lots. Manicotti, fusilli, girandole to name a few. Make RIGATONI glorious...! maybe something alla puttandesca.
CHOP STYX galore. Well, I did like little Miss Muffets TUFFET but we get a short-legged furniture item as a clue? Que ho hum....!
I don't know, but this felt like Patrick was in a hurry and slapped this SAD SACK together in no time.
I want to go to a party where the men wear tuxedos and the women silk gowns.
Speaking of.... @Malsdemare. I thought I was through groaning every time the yap opens. He took the cake with Madame Macron yesterday when he said "You know, you're in such good shape." "Beautiful." The Madame IS beautiful and she's quite a bit older than her husband but holy moly...Melania had a wonderful opportunity to slap the little bastard silly.

DBlock 3:25 PM  

Very easy and breezy and raced through but I am still awaiting the connection between snit and pet
Will someone please explain??

JC66 3:37 PM  

In a Snit = In a PET

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

Having lived in, "sea oats" was a gimme. There are signs everywhere instructing beachgoers to avoid disturbing them, as they're their to protect the beaches.

Aketi 4:26 PM  

I usually hate Fridays, but the SILVER LINING that I entered right out of the gate really was one.

Thomaso808 4:42 PM  

Faster than average but by no means easy for me. TURTURRO and EDMOND were PPPs not known to me (@Z, glad I made you laugh yesterday and point noted on the menacing literalists). SEAOATS? Misspelling CASTiNETS did not help.

@DBlock, one obscure definition of "pet" that I found on the internet is "a fit of sulking or ill humor" as in a SNIT. Never heard of it.

As an alternate to @JC66's explanation, I read the "blue" in "Blue arm" not as the color, but instead as a noun, a literary term for the sea. (@LMS, @Z, is that a synecdoche?)

Questinia 5:05 PM  

Patrick Berry gets words to sparkle in puzzles. Yet somehow also manage to make them feel smooth.
Berry pie a la mode.

puzzlehoarder 5:07 PM  

This wasn't the easiest Friday I've ever done but I think it's the easiest for a PB. His puzzles are never challenging but this really stood out for its lack of difficulty. It had that mile wide and an inch deep feel about it. It's never struck me before what a parallel he has with Norman Rockwell. Maybe it was the TURKEYDINNERS entry that really brought it home. Yes I did this quickly but it provided no satisfaction.

Mother Goose 5:58 PM  

The talented constructors who post here can probably tell us but isn't the day of the week a puzzle is published all up to Will?
Would you all be happier if this had been a Thursday perhaps?

FLOTUS Fan 6:02 PM  

Do you really think a lovely classy lady would feel threatened by her husband complimenting another woman?

GILL I. 6:24 PM  

@FLOTUS...When he drools....yes.

Joe Dipinto 6:28 PM  

As per the rhyme, Miss Muffet sat on "a" tuffet, not on "her" tuffet. If a tuffet were a rear end, did Miss Muffet plop herself on the tuffet of some random person lying prone in the grass? "I do hope you won't mind, I just need to finish up my curds and whey, and your bum looked so comfortable to sit on." "Oh, it's perfectly alright, dear, just be mindful of my tarantula."

jae 6:37 PM  

Easy - Check
Smooth - Check
Liked it - Check

...but as @Old Lady said it "had some pleasant moments (triple stack in middle) but no ahas or groans, both of which make a puzzle more zippy and fun. " Or @Roo "this one seemed to fall flat in its sparklines."

BarbieBarbie 6:41 PM  

Wow, @FLOTUSFan. I had assumed @GIL meant "on behalf of all women everywhere who are tired of old doofusses like you thinking that the best way to compliment us is to say something about our looks." If she actually meant "on behalf of herself" then I am disappointed and will withdraw my spontaneous chortle.
The FLOTUS delivers some very witty nonverbals sometimes. Needed at least an eye roll here.
@Mals, how many countries again? I can never get that right.

Nancy 8:17 PM  

@GILL, @Mals & @BarbieBarbie -- It's not FLOTUS who should have punched Trump in the snout, it's FLOF (First Lady of France). Trump never would have made the comment "You're in really good shape" to a 20-year-old. Or even to a 30-year-old. What's not said, but what is completely obvious is the ...for your age part of the sentence that's left out. It's a very left-handed compliment and it's not only inappropriate -- it's obnoxious as hell. Or maybe FLOF's hubby should have punched Trump in the snout for insinuating that he has an old bag of a wife, good as she may (most surprisingly) look.

Nancy 9:56 PM  

This is for you, @Kitshef, though I have grave doubts I've understood it well enough to make it work. But thank you. Now, let's give it a try. I'm not going to bother with "Thing 2", only with the url.


Nancy 10:00 PM  

Wow, @ kitshef, IT WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!

But what I don't understand is why I have to do all that special stuff on the Rexblog when it happens automatically on my email? Oh, well, thank you, thank you. Now I just have to figure out where to notate those symbols so that I'll find them when I need them.

Unknown 11:53 PM  

I had to look it up afterward; apparently pet is UK slang for bad mood

Z 12:28 AM  

PET - See the second listing of definitions.

@Thomaso808 - I think so, although "blue" is an attribute so arguably not a "part of the whole." I can imagine that there is some other specific word.

Geophany 12:25 PM  

Elegant + satisfying = Patrick Berry. Are there any other constructors with this kind of fluency and spirit, or is he truly in a class by himself?

brainman53 9:18 PM  

Seriously? The Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries did not even mention that.

Blogger 4:28 AM  

Do you need free Google+ Circles?
Did you know you can get them ON AUTO-PILOT & ABSOLUTELY FOR FREE by registering on Like 4 Like?

spacecraft 10:07 AM  

It's been a long time since I destroyed a Friday puzzle this bad. After barely a couple of minutes I was looking at a completed NW. Yeah, I said NW!! And then that clue: "Optimists' discoveries." Wow, what else could that be but SILVERLININGS? The clue leads right to it. Certainly not a bad's just that on a Friday we've been led to expect more resistance. I guess the brilliant cluing of the past few days has primed me for a letdown of sorts.

Here's another one: "IDs tied to one digit." Come on, you might as well print TOETAGS as the clue! Wait, is this really Friday? Anyway, with that start in the SW I soon had the beginnings of those long central acrosses. Traditional holiday meals, duh, TURKEYDINNERS. A feeble attempt at clever cluing with "High tops?", but TEN...= TENGALLONHATS. I had misspelled EDMuND but simply closed the oval, so not even a visible writeover.

Yes, OFL, I did notice all the plurals. Immunity! A grand total of ten PPPs: that has to be close to a record (the word FIAT is clued such, but doesn't have to be). Now that's what I call smooth. And with an entry like STARSYSTEM--and the astro-clue for STYX--the grid itself might earn an eagle with more Fridayish cluing. We even have a smashing DOD in ALYSSA Milano. A tap-in birdie.

thefogman 10:32 AM  

I found this one to be a medium for a Friday. Most of my fire and fury was directed towards the evil NE corner. I had advil before DOANS, INtEl before INLET, VEil before VEST. I guess DOANS was a popular back remedy - in the mid '70s. The constructor sent many of us up the wrong path with that one. INtEL/INLET was also a clever misdirect. The reason being IBM is also known as Big Blue in stock exchange lingo, and I thought Intel was a branch company of IBM ergo Intel seemed like the right answer to "blue arm". But no. The light clicked on when I recalled DOANS which resides somewhere in the same vicinity of my brain as Carter's Little Liver pills. After that, it was VEST not VEil and a satisfying finish - in spite of the inky mess.

Burma Shave 10:59 AM  


ALYSSA Muffet, no SADSACK on her TUFFET,
was an UPSTAIRS ARTIST according to LORE.
She UNDOES her VEST and CLUTCHES her breast
GOODTOGO ‘twixt the SHEETs with KENMORE.


thefogman 11:01 AM  

PS - After reading the comments above, I'm still in a bit of a SNIT about 30A: Pet. I'm surprised OFL did not jump all over that one. The use of archaic English in puzzles is a pet peeve of mine. Only a conceited coxcomb (or perhaps a carl) would inflict such kickshaw on our cursed crumpets!

rondo 1:27 PM  

Flew through most of this one except the NE where yeah baby ALYSSA Milano was standing alone for a while. How could that ever happen? Probably because I hadn’t yet sown my wild SEAOATS. HEREAFTER I promise to not leave her by herself.

NEXTTO nobody can compare to PB1. His puzzles almost always have SILVERLININGS, though I didn’t think too highly of a recent PB1 Sunday-puz. But this one was GOODTOGO.

leftcoastTAM 3:01 PM  

Patrick Berry is a very talented and popular constructor. So why would he settle for a puzzle that's Tuesday-easy for all but a Friday-challenging NE corner? Would have expected more effort.

In the NE: DOANS? Isn't that a century or two old? SEAOATS? Okay. STYX and CASTANETS didn't leap out, but they weren't supposed to. The corner is Friday fare and, um, fair.

Just not quite enough to make the puzzle as interesting as Berry usually is.


rain forest 3:27 PM  

I found this overall easy-medium, with the NW, SW, SE and the middle pretty easy (SILVER LININGS off the "SI-"), but the NE pretty ferocious. No idea about the actress or the backache remedy or the Pluto moon (how can it have a moon if it is deemed not a planet?). However, I took a flyer on CASTANETS after trying to think of a name like "Capulets" (hah), and then, out of the blue, I recalled the stand-by "in a pet", and SNIT fit, which made me write over SEAmosS (who knew?). Still had to suss out STYX, DOANS, and ALYSSA (thanks, NEXT TO). I guess that makes it easy-medium.

I did notice the plethora of plurals, and also of words ending in "-er", but those aren't deal-breakers for me.

So, a clean puzzle which put up a fight at the end for me. Good one.

thefogman 4:45 PM  

Is there a law that states that a TUFFET must be of psychedelic colours and patterns? Just asking...

rondo 4:59 PM  

@foggy - apparently there's more than curds and whey in one's curds and whey to do justice to TUFFET sitting.

BS2 5:26 PM  

Bout of gout? TUFFET out.

strayling 7:33 PM  


Not a law, more of a LORE.

thefogman 7:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 7:46 PM  

Since we're not in the NFL, NBA or MLB (anymore), PB was doing everyone a favo(u)r using Montreal for his NHL clue.

Loved this puzzle but DNF'ed in the NE as DOAN, STYX (in the Pluto context) and ALYSSA were not GOODTOGO. Also strangely had BENGALLANCERS (only because it fit) before TENGALLONHATS at 34A for far too long, seemingly not knowing a TURTURRO from a BURTURRO. And being an oldie, I had (Harold) STASSEN at 1A before SADSACK made an appearance.

Sears Canada is currently in bankruptcy protection so KENMORE may be NO MORE up here pretty soon.

thefogman 7:52 PM  

If you can't rough it, then stuff it. Say no whey to Miss Muffet. Do like Jimmy Buffett and drink a Margarita on your tuffet (but only after you fluff it). Repeat. Now you're wasting a whey again. And it's your own damned fault...

strayling 8:06 PM  

... if you vanish in a pouffe of smoke.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP