Retired hoopster Odom / FRI 11-10-17 / Human member of old TV trio / Bit of attire for bellhop

Friday, November 10, 2017

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: MESS JACKET (10D: Bit of attire for a bellhop) —
The mess jacket is a type of formal jacket that ends at the waist. It features either a non-fastening double breast cut or a single-breasted version that fastens. The jackets have shawl or peak lapels. Used in military mess dress, during the 1930s it became a popular alternative to the white dinner jacket in hot and tropical weather for black tie occasions. It also was prominently used, in single-breasted form, as part of the uniform for underclassmen at Eton College, leading to the alternate name Eton jacket. A female version of it, called a spencer, was popular during the Regency period. (wikipedia)
• • •

Vintage Berry. Extremely careful, clean, smooth. There's virtually nothing to CARP about here. The answers weren't what you'd call scintillating, but man is it nice to see an exquisitely crafted grid. I found it mostly phenomenally easy, but the metric ton of "?" clues and the fact that I know nothing about sailing (HALF-MAST) or, apparently, bellhop attire (MESS JACKET) meant that I wasn't going to break any records today [update: HALF-MAST refers to the position of a flag ("Standard"), not a sail, my bad]. Still, absolutely no significant trouble spots. In retrospect, DE LA RENTA ended up being a Huge giveaway at 15A: Dominican fashion designer's last name ... because of the way the clue was tied to 16A: ... and first name (OSCAR). I started (naturally) in the NW, so when I saw [... and first name], I had to look at the previous Across, which took me to another section entirely. At that moment, I had enough info to write in his full name. Again, normal (i.e. efficient) solvers Do Not read the Acrosses in order, so the little [... ...] effect in the sequential Acrosses just doesn't land the way it's supposed to, ugh. But today at least I got a free pass into the NE corner, so that was nice. That corner still ended up being the hardest part of the puzzle for me, but I appreciated the assist that the ellipse-linked clues provided.

I think I knew Jason ALDEAN's name before the Las Vegas shooting, but I *definitely* know it now (7D: Jason with the #1 country hit "Dirt Road Anthem"). Terrible way to have your name cross over. Took me a while to get HELLBOY because despite being very familiar with it as a title (I've spent my fair share of time in comic book stores...), I've never read it. Or seen the movie. So "superhero"?—I don't think I knew that he fit into that category (6D: Superhero with hooves and a tail). Had HAD A FIT before HAD A COW, and spelled JIBE wrong, ugh (23A: Match up, as accounts). I resent that both JIBE and GIBE are real words. We should look into fixing that. Confusing. This (from Merriam-Webster) isn't helping!

Lastly, the capital of CROATIA is Zagreb, in case you were wondering (35D: U.N. member whose capital comes last alphabetically).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:05 AM  

A smooth finish and a satisfying one at that. Not record territory, but well under average.

Anonymous 12:21 AM  

I think HALF MAST refers to the position of a flag (standard) not to a sail. But I don't get RIDES for "Midway sight." A little help?

Unknown 12:24 AM  

@NICE ONE from @Patrick Berry, and a kind, informative review from @Rex.

There sure were a lot of proper names crossing each other in the puzzle's northeast. ANTOINE should come readily to the mind of anyone who has recently read an obituary of Fats Domino. I had not made the connection of Jason ALDEAN to the recent Las Vegas tragedy, after which flags ("standard" as in clue for 6-Across) were flown at HALFMAST. Ditto with the even more recent Texas tragedy.

WHAT ELSE? Given how often UIE or UEY appear (often out of constructor desperation), it's nice to see the New York Times debut for the full U-TURNED. If I ever have to go to the U.K. and explain our state bird, I will be sure to call it a "diver" as instructed by the clue for 26-Across. Kudos to the clues for DOCTORS and GOLFERS, among others.

Added in proof for @Anonymous @12:21 AM. The Minnesota State Fair features a Midway, where children of all ages can go on all sorts of rides. Make sense?

Clark 12:40 AM  

OPIONEERS -- I guessed it right, but I had no idea what it could mean until I googled it.

@chefwen -- Rearranging your furniture is definitely something Semi-Puzzle Partner might do. But even he wouldn't do it the first time he was a dinner guest. If you ever have us over again . . . Watch out!

Mike in Mountain View 12:46 AM  

Saw the "... and first name" clue, got OSCAR from the crosses, and thought it was some weird reference to the song about my bologna. Had a good laugh when I got here and OFL explained it to me.

Another solid Patrick Berry puzzle; moments of "how am I going to finish this" followed not too long after by "aha, that's the answer I needed." He is the master at creating this experience.

turkeyneck 12:51 AM  

As regards 6 Across: the use of the term "standard" in this instance refers to a flagpole.
Also, Anon--the rides on a midway are carnival rides. The midway is the Main Street of a carnival.

Moly Shu 1:16 AM  

My preferred method of solving is apparently neither normal or efficient. Thanks for pointing that out, @Rex. Glad I’m not like you.

puzzlehoarder 1:18 AM  

I've never averaged my times for Friday PB1 puzzles but this one came in at 4-5 minutes faster than my overall Friday average. Ironically this was more resistance from one of his puzzles than I was expecting so the time felt above average. Clear as mud huh?

For 1A I was thinking ISLES so all I could write in there were ERAS and INERT. I had better luck in the NE. HALFMAST was first guess material but the only downs that would drop in were FRAN and TARTEST. 23A had to be JIVE or JIBE so 10D must be some sort of JACKET. This immediately gave me MANES, DECENT and GEEK. That's when the PB1 entries falling like dominos effect kicked in.

The NW was quickly back filled and other than having to skip over HECKLE and APRIL it was steady work putting in the SW and then the SE. Part of the hitch getting into the SW was not getting SELL off of the SE__.

Other than the HECKLE and OSCAR sections every thing was as smooth as you'd expect from a PB1. I'm such a forest for the trees type of solver I didn't catch the connection between the 15A and 16A clues until I had finished.

chefwen 1:44 AM  

@Clark - I would give Semi-Puzzle Partner free reign in rearranging the furniture, and I would love to have you all over again. Book the tickets, we are here and not going anywhere for a while. That last trip knocked the stuffing out of me.

Sort of easy (but not too) for a Friday. Wanted something kibble for the pet store purchase, that didn’t work. I thought the Willa Cather book was OH something, guess what, that didn’t pan out either. Finally got it sorted out and finished. So happy I don’t care about time.

Larry Gilstrap 2:17 AM  

Impressive looking grid. I count two three-letter answers, which is a good thing. What, no grid spanners?

Clever stuff all over this puzzle. I've spent some time on boats and mostly any Item dropped in the drink is a goner, but we are not at the marina, we are, instead, at the AM/PM. STRAW answers that misdirect.

Sadly, it seems like the flags fly at HALF MAST more than they fly at topmast, if I'm using the correct terms. Raising the flag and lowering the bar? Time for a reset.

Just recently played "I Want to Walk You Home," by ANTOINE Fats Domino and it sounded sweet and innocent. Not too much to ask for in a normal world.

MESS JACKET gets Berry-immunity, or does everybody know what that is? It makes sense, for sure.

Before you complain about Kukla, FRAN, and Ollie, hear me out. The first thing I ever remember seeing on TV was the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, at my aunt's house. A few years later my family got a TV and I loved it. By then, the puppet show had pretty much become passe. I never watched the show. My point: don't complain about this fly stuck in the amber of the crossworld. Learn the rules around here. So what, it's before your time? It's before my time, for crying out loud! That's how things are done around here.

A masterful puzzle, challenging and rewarding.

Commander Crunch 2:22 AM  

HALFMAST means to fly a flag (or "standard") halfway up the pole as a sign of mourning. Not sure how you've never heard it. It's a Naval term, so it originated from the age of sail but is not a modern "sailing term" per se. "Half Staff" is the Army equivalent if you've ever wondered why sometimes you hear one term or the other. They mean the exact same thing, but HALFMAST is the correct term because the Army is stupid.

JIBE is very much a sailing term, refering to changing tack on a down-wind broad reach. "Prepare to jibe" is called by the helm to ready the deck crew for the impending swing of the boom, which is potentially dangerous if done wrong. Or it means to match accounts, whatevs babe. Ahoy!

Hartley70 5:21 AM  

Excellent Friday as usual from Mr. Berry. Like @Rex I found the NW corner the most difficult. I had RIDES, and TREASURY opened it up.

Like @chefwen, I first went for "Oh PIONEER, and tried kibble before CATLITTER. We are definitely JIBing on this puzzle, and we aren't getting smacked in the head by the boom thank goodness.

No CARP is appropriate for a puzzle this smooth.

Unknown 6:09 AM  

A carnival Midway, not the airport

Lewis 6:14 AM  
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Lewis 6:18 AM  
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Lewis 6:28 AM  

What a terrific puzzle week! Monday, the debut from the brothers, Tuesday, words of the year, Wednesday, Joel and Sam, yesterday, Haight's back-words, and today... this impeccably clean (look this grid over!), masterly-clued gem.

As some have already referred to here, this puzzle gave me the Berry-esque experience of a seemingly uncrackable swath falling in a seeming instant after a smile-producing aha answer. And brilliant offerings from a true clue artist, my favorite being STRAW (Item dropped in the drink), POTTERY (Final outcome of a firing), DECENT (Covered, in a way), and HALF MAST (Standard position?).

Still at the top of his game (too soon for "vintage", Rex, IMO), with polished jewels again and again, Berry is a remarkable gift to us cross-nerds. NICE ONE, once again, PB, and thank you.

webwinger 7:22 AM  

On first pass (consecutive acrosses, my bad) wasn’t getting anything until near the bottom, then things began falling into place rapidly for a satisfying much faster than normal finish. Had to google for a few proper names, which doesn’t bother me at all.

Since no one else seems to have picked up on it, have to note that yesterday’s observation by LMS of HOOHA being next to INNER BEAUTY gave be the biggest LOL I’ve had here in weeks.

Irene 7:24 AM  

Beautiful, amusing and smooth sailing all the way until I unexpectedly stalled on RIOTACT/TREASURY. Just couldn't get that connecting T.
Rio taco? Oratory?
Then came here and had the head smacking moment.

Hungry Mother 7:31 AM  

Lovely puzzle. Quick solve for me.

Hungry Mother 7:34 AM  

Lovely puzzle. Quick solve for me.

FrankStein 7:42 AM  

I had no idea Steuben had closed. Sad. Great Berry Friday. Thanks!

Knitwit 7:57 AM  

Thanks Patrick!! Great way to end the week!

Glimmerglass 7:59 AM  

My spirits rose when I saw the constructor’s name, and I was not one bit disappointed!

Two Ponies 8:14 AM  

Patrick Berry on a Friday!
A Dominican designer?
Quick scan gave me nothing but a tentative "Fran."
It's been such a great week of puzzles. Will I
finally crash and burn today with a constructor
I admire so much?
No, sip your coffee and relax.
What fun to have my angst turn to such satisfaction.

Tita 8:16 AM  

@FrankStein...I used to love to go into the STEUBEN store on 5th. Very sad that they're gone. An interesting history about the company.

@Webwinger...I agree about @lms' observation yesterday...biggest laugh of the week.

@you and @Lewis and @others who do so...please, please...dont give away answers to previous days' posts! Either comment late on that day, or reference it in a way that downs give away the answer or the theme!
Not only are there non-sequential clue solvers, there are non-sequential puzzle solvers!

Pacman ghosts have names!?

I had absolutely no idea about the designer. That and CLYDE and not knowing the intersecting 1clue random acronym answers made the North really really tough.

Spoon dummer? There is a guy named Jeremiah Dummer who made spoons, post-googling learned me just now. But is that a rare typo in a clue at 30d?

Thanks, Patrick for a fair fight on a Friday. Were it not for a rare bout of insomnia, this would have waited till breakfast to finish.

Lewis 8:25 AM  

@tita -- So sorry about that! I will watch for that in the future!

Tita 8:25 AM  

Is CATLITTER a NYT debut? Not sure it passes my breakfast test.

Maybe my insomnia was brought about because as I lay in bed doing this puzzle, Marz walked right up onto me, then unceremoniously assumed the front-paws-tucked-under trussed chicken position on my chest, looking directly at me. Even after I put the puzzle down to go to sleep, he stayed... he has NEVER done that. Ever!
Hmm...maybe that old wives' tale about cats knowing when you're going to die is true...
Well, happily, I can report that both he and I are fit as fiddles this morning.

I guess I'll go clean his litterbox.

mmorgan 8:53 AM  

Wonderful puzzle -- lots of fun and enjoyable challenges, and very satisfying. What a master Mr. Berry is! I also struggled a bit in the NE and was confused as to why 16A was OSCAR -- not seeing the connecting ellipses between 15A and 16A made that a lot more difficult! (Using AcrossLite on an iPad in "close-up" mode, you only see one clue at a time.)

GHarris 8:59 AM  

I salivate whenever I see the name Patrick Berry at the head of a puzzle. Typically a first run through leaves me wondering how I will ever begin or finish. Then I get a toehold and it all begins to open up. What a joy, especially after yesterday's back breaker.

Nancy 9:03 AM  

I echo what @Lewis says about this being a truly wonderful puzzle week. Like @Hartley, I had the most trouble in the NW and had to come back to it. Love the cluing, but I think I may be sort of on Berry's wavelength. I immediately saw many of the best-clued answers such as PARKING LOT (a big "get"), STRAW, EPITAPH and WET BAR. But not RIOT ACT -- I put that in towards the end. Knew some of the names, but not the ones in the NE: ALDEAN; LAMAR; ANTOINE. Worked my way up the puzzle from the bottom, and as usual with Berry, even the hard parts were gettable and fair. In fact I found this easier than most PBs. But not "too easy", as @chefwen says.

Unknown 9:09 AM  

Stumped at first pass. No immediate footholds. Satisfying finish. Fun Friday.

mathgent 9:22 AM  

Really enjoyed it. I thought that it was a little crunchier than the last few PB Fridays which many of us found a bit too easy.

Happy to learn what a MESSJACKET is. Embarrassed not to have known about the Uffizi museum. I will probably never get to Florence.

One if the many things that I like about a PB is that when I think that Im going to be stuck in a section, he throws me a near-gimme and I'm on my way.

Rex Parker 9:22 AM  

If you don't want spoilers, stay out of crossword comments sections. I regularly refer to answers from previous puzzles in my write-ups, and commenters should feel free to as well.


kitshef 9:31 AM  

What you need to get out of a sticky situation in Brazil? RIO TACT.

How to tell if a sailor passes muster? TAR TEST.

NE was tough, thanks to bankrupts before bLEedSdry before CLEANSOUT and DebtORS before reCTORS before DOCTORS.

jackj 9:31 AM  

An enigmatic encounter in that, like all P.B. puzzles, it was solid, a strong "4" in Orange's scale of 1 to 5, but disappointing in that the solve was not more than filling in the blanks.

Mohair Sam 9:33 AM  

Another delightful PB. Played tougher for us than most of y'all because we know very little of fashion designers. If you asked me an hour ago who OSCAR DELARENTA was I would have guessed Italian movie producer or prize fighter out of South L.A.

Join others in regretting that STEUBEN is gone, didn't know. Didn't know HELLBOY was a hero either, assumed he was a bad guy with that name. GEEKS could have been the answer for 1A as well as 32A back in the day. Learned today that OLDMASTER refers to the work as well as the artist. Wonder if @M&A has DION's "Lovers Who Wander" in his collection? Probably not, no "U".

@Lewis and others are right - this has been a heck of a great week for NYT puzzles.

Maruchka 9:40 AM  

A bit later to bed last eve slowed me down some, but eventually flew smoothly into the impeccable PB breaches. Too sad that so many flags are at HALF MAST these days..

Kukla, FRAN and Ollie are among my fondest early TV memories (hi @LarryG). And I LOVE Willa Cather, great author of the plains. Favorite is 'My Antonia' (recently told is correctly pronounced Ain-ton-E-ah?). Here's to ANTOINE, too.

Patrick is the Berrys!

RAD2626 9:43 AM  

Totally agree with all the positive comments about today and this week. It is so great to open a Friday or Saturday and see PB's name atop the puzzle. Always clean, always challenging and always entertaining. Just a joy.

Kuala, Fran and Ollie, Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney, Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop and Hush Puppy, even Senor Wences: Wow, was that a simpler time. Never thought I would be nostalgic for sock puppets.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Given enough time and place to stand, I can almost always finish a PB puzzle, but this I found this to be noneasy. Bankrupts for Cleansout, Mesh for Meet, Tit for Tat. Bad start and no ending. Nonpossible for me. But as always, a fine piece of work.

Sir Hillary 9:44 AM  

WHATELSE can you ask for in a puzzle? Nothing, although I take issue with the constructor putting himself in the puzzle at 17A. :-)

Unlike the last PB1 Friday, which I compared to smooth jazz, this one had some sparkle and crunch. The NE went quickly, but I had to work to fill in the rest of the grid, especially the NW, where 1D, 2D and 3D did not DECLARE themselves but remained INSULAR.

I had lOosENUP for SOFTENUP. It's almost cruel when 5 of 8 letters fit, because you fool yourself into thinking you're right.

Interesting to see CROATIA and TITO in the same puzzle, as the former didn't gain true independence until after the latter had passed away. By the way, CROATIA's red checkerboard is my favorite international soccer uniform.

Sorry for going all New York-centric, but since OLDMASTER was clued using the the same newspaper section as today's puzzle, the NYT reviews a show of Michelangelo's drawings, which opens Monday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I don't believe I have ever read a more laudatory review, and I plan to see it sometime this fall. It runs for only three months, and if the review is to be believed, will never run again in our lifetimes. Not to be missed, for those who enjoy such things.

Z 9:44 AM  

Through no fault of the puzzle or Berry, I really struggled today. I thought RIDES was too obvious for a Friday so didn’t put it in until I came back. D’oh! Then went DECLAim before DECLARE. D’oh! Which led me to griP(e) while totally ignoring that I needed another letter to make my word work. D’oh! Avoided the triple D’oh! in the SW, but O PIONEER! and AT A GLANCE were hiding even though PARKING LOT and NANTES were gimmes. MESS JACKET and STEUBEN were both WOEs. The SE was the only section that didn’t kick my ass. Everything fair and the lack of ese is downright Berryesque, so a fun tussle. A few nods to the over 70 crowd with FRAN and DION, but we also got HELL BOY and ALDEAN so nice pop culture balance. I really liked the clues for STRAW, GOLFERS, and POTTERY, while I pondered if the appearance of U-TURNED was a little Berry Shade directed at uie/uey users. Except for my self-imposed challenging solve, a typical Berry puzzle. Thank you.

kitshef 9:45 AM  

@Tita A 8:16. My clue for 30d says "Yield (to)". I'd really like to know what yours said.

Unknown 10:14 AM  

I thought it was half staff when not on a ship, and only half mast on a ship

Joe Bleaux 10:27 AM  

(Or the strategic Pacific island where, coincidentally, many flags signaling mourning are likely to be at HALF-MAST, not half-staff, because of the ships at the naval base there.)

Tim Aurthur 10:27 AM  

Has there ever been a NYT puzzle with no 3-word answers? Today's has the lowest count I can remember, with one (of course) providing the only clunker in the grid.

mac 10:29 AM  

OMG, only just now did I read RIOT ACT correctly! I wanted reefs at 1A at first, but the crosses were more than fair. Hell boy was the biggest troublemaker for me.

Great puzzle, smooth and fun, one I savored.

Tita 10:35 AM  

It was from a BEQ puzzle I was doing - not today's NYT.

Clue for a 3 letter word said "Spoon dummer Jim".
Turns out it is in fact a typo for drummer.
But funny that there was a spoon maker named Dummer!!

{Embarrassed face emoji}

Carola 10:43 AM  

Too bad there wasn't one of those "spa" clues so that I could quote the "AHH.". Such a treat of a puzzle. I found it hard to get a start, though, surmising that "Midway" would refer to the airport and not trusting STRAW or ALA enough to write them in in the NW. Instead, I was grateful to MEET LAMAR and ANTOINE over in the other corner and criss-crossed around from there. Favorite clues were for HALFMAST and EPITAPH.

I lightly penciled in Eton in front of JACKET (remembering recent comments about Eton cropping up all over), and, according to Wikipedia, I wasn't so far off, as it's an alternative name for a MESS JACKET. Not to be confused with Eton MESS.

Joe Bleaux 10:46 AM  

Me, too (and, if memory serves correctly, the AP Stylebook says that's right).

Fred Romagnolo 10:47 AM  

Slick gent (played by John Miljan [sp?]) showing off his private picture gallery to Mae West: This is one of my OLD MASTERS; a picture of a buxom lady. Mae's response: Looks more like an old mistress to me. Most people assume Tito was a Serb; he was, in fact, a Croatian. Nobody has mentioned Berry's lovely short puzzles on the second Sunday puzzle page.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

HALFMAST is a naval ceremonial term that applies on land as well as sea. "Half Staff" is the army equivalent. Both terms mean the same thing.

mathgent 10:55 AM  

@Tim Aurthur (10:27): I often complain about too many Terrible Threes in a puzzle. Today's had only two. A recent one also only had two and I guessed that it might be the minimum possible. @Lewis responded by recalling a puzzle where every entry had at least six letters.

Adam 10:58 AM  

Patrick Berry couldn't come up with a FRAN clue that involve obscure puppets from the 1940s?

I understand the demographics of crossword solvers skews older, but c'mon -- give us under the age of 60 a shot, especially one with a tough cross.

Joe Bleaux 11:11 AM  

Patrick Berry! Not much to say that hasn't already been said. Wow, he's good. Today's puzzle was very nearly perfect. That sneaky 34D clue slowed me, but only for as long as it could get away with that "Market" disguise. Apart from that, smooth sailing on a Friday pleasure cruise.

David Levinger (Santa Rosa, CA) 11:22 AM  

Pet peeve: HALF MAST is improperly used. HALF STAFF is the proper term.

jb129 11:31 AM  

What a pleasure after this week (of puzzles). Especially on a Friday.

Thank you PB!

(Didn't know "Aldean" tho...)

Stanley Hudson 11:32 AM  

Holiday off work, a Patrick Berry puzzle, a large strong Bloody Mary. Life is good.

OISK 11:36 AM  

Lovely puzzle. Like others, I didn't understand the "Oscar" clue until I came here, probably because I didn't solve 15a and 16 a consecutively. Anyone else think of "Bears" for "Midway sights"? One complete ??? for me was "Hellboy," but from hooves and a tail it made sense. Never heard of Jason Aldean, nor Dirt Road Anthem, nor Patel either, but in a Berry puzzle it seldom matters. The unfamiliar never crosses an acronym, product names are minimized, hip-hop and computer slang seldom appear.

And as others have said, the most rewarding puzzles are those that look impossible at first glance; the only answer I got immediately was "Yeats," but it all fills in...

Cassieopia 11:42 AM  

Had to google ANTOINE, ALDEAN, and DION but so pleased that everything else fell into place, even CROATIA and NANTES!

Perfect Friday, as far as I’m concerned. Puzzle emerged slowly, moving from WTF impossible to “Hey, I can do this!” Such a satisfying solve. Thank you, Mr Berry.

Lewis 11:48 AM  

@tim arthur and @mathgent -- Here's that puzzle with no word shorter than six letters: 12/15/2001 (Saturday) by Frank Longo.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

I enjoyed the proper use of the term HALF MAST for a flag display of mourning. "Half staff" and other such terms are only used by the Army, Air Force, Uniformed Dental Corps, Webelos, and other lesser services.

Oldflappyfrommississappy 12:03 PM  

I thought HALF MAST was a semi-erection.

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:12 PM  

I had REFER/RECENT instead of DEFER/DECENT. It sorta makes sense if you think about it. (Refer means to "pass a matter to (another body, typically one with more authority or expertise) for a decision." and recent news are covered by news outlets (I know this one is a push but I mean can you fault someone for thinking this way?)

Also, I had no idea about Kukla, Fran and Ollie and I didn't know who Oscar De La Renta was so that turned into a slight Natick for me. I mean, the grid is super impressive but I would have liked better clues for a Friday. But I guess I'm in the minority on this one.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Got double NATICKED by this puzzle. LAMAR crossing DELARENTA turned into LeMAR and DELeRENTA (after all, in French, le is just the masculine form of la, so it seemed equally plausible and I've seen LeMAR more often than LAMAR).

The other was MEtSJACKET crossing OLDMATTER. Seems odd to call a work of art OLDMASTER since that's a term I normally hear for the artist, not the art. I knew something was up with MEtSJACKET, so Google promptly helped me out.

SJ Austin 12:16 PM  

Once again, Rex and I are completely opposite in our conception of difficulty. This was the hardest NYT puzzle I've done in months! Not knowing OSCAR DE LA RENTA really set me up for failure here. I had almost nothing after one pass through. The clues just hit me wrong, I guess. But once I broke the logjam with a few Google searches (there was no chance of finishing this puzzle without it), things started to flow much more easily and I came to appreciate the construction.

I'm gonna go pour a bag of DOG TREATS into my cat's litterbox.

Churlish Nabob 12:21 PM  

@Oldflappy, yeah if you’re in 9th grade.

Carola 12:31 PM  

@mathgent, from yesterday - Thank you for your recommendation of the WSJ puzzle. I enjoyed solving it.

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

Tough for me for a PB1 today. That PPP fest in the NE held me up. After getting RIDES and INERT crossing ERAS in the NW, I had to go all the way down to the SE to pick up NICE ONE and UTURNED crossing CUT to get back in the game.

Keats or YEATS? PANFRY solved that dilemma. Lots of nice cluing in this puzzle, with the two metaphors, "Club owners" for GOLFERS and "Marker writing" for EPITAPH (I briefly had that ending in ___TiPs, thinking of marking pens).

Thanks, PB1, for another great Friday.

And thanks, @kitshef, for clearing up @Tita's comment - spoon dummer to DEFER was making me scratch my head. (Hi @Tita!).

Trombone Tom 1:38 PM  

PB seldom disappoints and today was no exception.

Coming from the left coast a lot of sea-related terms were heard in my family, including HALF-MAST. I have used that term all my life.

DNF for me today for the silly reason of crossing RAT LITTER with HAD A ROW. Oh, well!

Agree with many of you that this has been a great NYT crossword week.

Bax'N'Nex 1:44 PM  

So this was my favorite type of puzzle. The first run through I'm thinking "so I know, like, one of these answers". But then a letter here and there and a couple decent guesses and things started to fall into place. Very fun and finished by guessing the S of Mess Jacket (that's a thing people know?) and Old Master.

Joe two of the Star Wars ban...fingers crossed.

And last, it seems that those of you who disapproved of Shelby's past postings here have succeeded in getting rid of her/him. (sorry of those names). Well shame on you. Just because the posts were not exactly how you who have the balls to post under "anonymous" wanted them to be, you drum her/him out? I like to think of this as a community/dialogue over something we all geek out on, not just a board to post your deep, insightful musing that everyone should be amazed by. If he/she wants to comment and interact with people, never saying one mean thing, how is that bad?

One of the brave "anonymous" posters recently sniped at me about some of my posts or reactions to others posts. That's how I roll, baby, and it's seems pretty simple...see my name (or Shelby's)and skip over that post. Don't be a dick...Rex does that enough for all of us.
I'M not going anywhere...BWAH HA HA HA

Bryce 2:31 PM  

Can someone explain what he means by "normal (efficient) solvers" not reading the acrosses in order? Is there a faster way than typing answer and tabbing through? I use the website app if that makes any difference.

I mean, obviously anyone who disagrees with Rex is grossly abnormal and wrong as per usual, just trying to figure out what's being implied here.

evil doug 3:00 PM  

I had to buy mess dress when I was in AFROTC. More money than a college student could afford, but if you gotta you gotta. Wore it three times: a 'dining in' senior year, my wedding, and graduation from pilot training.

Cassieopia 3:15 PM  

@bryce 2:31, I think (although not sure) that speed solvers get one across then try to fill the related downs, so they work one quadrant at a time, sorta. I started taking that approach after I came here and realized I didn’t have to do all the acrosses THEN all the downs. However I’ll still do all the acrosses first for Monday (easiest) puzzles in the hopes that one day I’ll get every single one and never have to do a down.

Anyway, the point is there are more ways than one to skin a puzzle. But I too solve on the phone and mostly do acrosses first, except for longer or harder puzzles, when I tend to solve in sections.

Wordy and disorganized response as I’m typing this on a phone, but hope it’s helpful.

Kimberly 3:28 PM  

Half mast isnt about sailing. A “standard” is a flag, and half-mast is a “standard position.”

But it was nice to see Rex getting a bit of joy out of a crossword. It’s so rare.

DavidL 3:41 PM  

Beautiful puzzle.
Like David @1:44, I had a panicky start - couldn't find a toe hold anywhere. But once I got started it was a really fun, challenging solve with clever cluing and impressive stacks of long answers with no garbage.

Two Ponies 4:37 PM  

@ evil doug, You must have looked sharp to wear that to those occasions, esp. your wedding. It is an unfortunate name, mess dress. Out of context is sounds strange to a civilian.

On another note: My little piece of paradise, the Kootenai National Forest, will get it's moment of fame as this year's Capitol Christmas Tree will be harvested and begin the journey to Washington, D.C. Tuesday. It is a beautiful 79 foot Englemann Spruce.

Joe Dipinto 4:38 PM  

@David S 1:44 - Yes. But I suspect this may be a trick to lull us into complacency -- then, as soon as we stop noticing it, we will get an entire puzzle where every single clue or answer relates to Star Wars.

Joe Dipinto 4:50 PM  

This was a classically satisfying Berry puzzle. My only early error was at 2d where, having the N and L in place, I filled in ENISLED -- a word I only see in x-words -- and then immediately realized it was wrong. I needed an additional cross or two to get INSULAR. No further issues after that.

DION was my first answer; had I noticed the Fats Domino clue sooner, that would have gone in right away as well.

Unknown 7:25 PM  

Think carnival

emily 7:54 PM  

Or amusement park

Joy2u 8:01 PM  

The first word I put down (because I was 'certain' that it had to be correct) was, bankrupt. Like most others I was daunted in the beginning to try and find even one place to get going, but then I wasn't able to cross that one at even one juncture. RATZ.
Although these long words/phrases are exciting and fun, the downside is that when you mess up, you have a whole quadrant going down with you. Turned out that bankrupt was the only word that had to be inked over, and I saved it for the absolute end.
It has been a delightful week (with the exception of yesterday for me)and may the force be with all our veterans every day including tomorrow; thank you for your service.

Girish 8:48 PM  

Definitely a day where I didn't solve by just doing the acrosses. Old school (inert/eras) got me going in the NW; (Nile/Nantes) in the South; (wetbar/Lamar) in the North. Yeats' "Horseman, pass by!" is a great example of why I do crosswords (other than just for the mental push-ups.) It lead me to his poem, Under Ben Bulben, and parts of two other stanzas in it.
"Many times man lives and dies
Between his two eternities,
That of race and that of soul..."
"Even the wisest man grows tense
With some sort of violence..."
@David 1:44 Thank you for your kind and supportive comments. (We might disagree about Rex/Michael a little but then I've followed him for ten years and he nurtured me to my first Saturday solve without looking anything up.) Cybering bullying is questionable but at least one Anonymous took the time and trouble to clarify elements I could clean up. I quite agree that it is a community that seems to find delight in word etymology and phrasing. Perhaps, we can help to demonstrate such focus. Again, thanks, D. ��

Anonymous 9:21 PM  

@ Shelby,
Glad you got with the program. Sounds like you'll fit in well.
Boy, it took awhile though!
You weren't being bullied but you were being a pest.

pdplot 9:38 AM  

No gimmicks, no Harry Potter, No ents or orcs, hardly any pop culture, no owies or elhis (who ever uses those words except second-rate constructors). Give PB an A.

BonnieB 9:44 AM  

Did anyone else have trouble with Uffizi work? I majored in Art History in college so I knew who Uffizi is considered an old master but would his work be considered an OLD MASTER? It tripped me up for the longest time, maybe I was thinking too literally.

Girish 4:11 AM  

@Anonymous 9:21 PM
It was baffling. You have so many posts.

Diana, LIW 11:11 AM  

Wow - the Syndie button is working correctly, we have the right puzzle on the right day. and it's a PB surprise to boot. Good start to the weekend.

Slow start, but then it jut kept humming along. Whole lotta fun.

@Bonnie - The Uffizi is a HUGE art gallery in the heart of Florence, Italy - stuffed to the gills with famous "OLD MASTERs." I think the clue references the type of art in the museum and not a particular artist. (Uffizi means offices, which was the original use of the building.)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 11:24 AM  

NICEONE, Mr. B! I thought OFL might be annoyed at the age of some of the entries: FRAN, DION, and (thankfully!) my way in, ANTOINE. For some reason, the DJ at my favorite radio station back then (WARM, the mighty 590!) kept using Fats' real name in his intro. These were the days when jocks actually bothered to say anything about the music they were about to play. *sigh*

I knew ATAGLANCE I was going to enjoy this 66-worder. Of course, the NW was my last workplace; isn't it always? The clues there looked too ambiguous to get started there. But old ANTOINE was a lock, and so I got to Mr. DELARENTA's last name first--which backed me into the NW. Still didn't have enough. The east HALF was soon down, then I picked up again in the SW with the Belmonts' front man DION. Only 15 PPPs in the whole grid, remarkable! Of course, WHATELSE would you expect from PB1?

FRAN Drescher makes a curtain call for DOD. Do not HECKLE, please! Although of all people, she would most probably take it in stride. Perhaps Mr. Berry should be held to a different scoring scale; still, this gem has to be an eagle.

Burma Shave 11:54 AM  


the DOCTORS DECLARE his ERA’S passed.
WHATELSE could so CUT and hurt
than to SOFTENUP and go HALFMAST?


centralscrewtinizer 12:05 PM  

Funny to have CROATIA and TITO as a link, as well as YEATS and EPITAPH. With LOON so prominent we should have had that feckless pussy-diver T-rump, pardon my French please.
Part of a trio with FRAN and part of a duo with HECKLE and both of similar age and purpose. Has Cecil the Sea-sick Sea Serpent ever made an appearance in a puzz?

thefogman 1:07 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 1:09 PM  

Patrick Berry.

That is all.

WHATELSE needs to be said? Great puzzle by the OLDMASTER. A real NICEONE! I do DECLARE that I enjoyed it muchly. Rex HADACOW (not!). Did he SOFTENUP on us? Or is HELLBOY just saving his TARTEST HECKLEs for another day? The answer ELUDES me...

thefogman 1:45 PM  

For CentralScrew:

And thanks to D,LIW for pointing me to the right puz yesterday.

rainforest 1:59 PM  

Like so many other Patrick Berry puzzles, this seemed challenging AT A GLANCE, and then it wasn't. I'd put it at medium. My first thought for 1A was RIDES but I DEFERed as I waited for a few crosses. First foothold was in the NE with LAMAR, FRAN, HALF MAST, and TARTEST.

The entire South was the easiest part of the puzzle for me, and moving up the West to the NW, I finally confirmed RIDES after "grokking" OSCAR DE LA RENTA. On that one, I was confused by the clue "...and first name" until I read the clue above, d'uh!

Last moment of decision came about while considering whether "S" or "N" should precede the JACKET, but I knew the UFFIZI was an art gallery, so "S" it was.

Ultra-smooth puzzle, as expected.

thefogman 2:05 PM  

The syndicated puzzle mixup of yesterday had us scrambling around to get our bearings.

Here is a beast of a song about New York's five boroughs...

Diana, LIW 3:05 PM  

Yup @Foggy, that's New York. I recognized every scene in that video - good memories.

Lady Di

rondo 4:20 PM  

Knew this fine puz would get a birdie from @spacey. WHATELSE? It was a NICEONE. My only w/o was at first having ShaDY for SEEDY. Most of the east went in first before piecing together the west. Having recently seen Zagreb in an answer helped out on CROATIA. Funny how Will will do that.

The MN Wild have been playing better hockey lately, especially at the BLUE LINE.

Woulda known ANTOINE anyway, but we’ll miss ya Fats.

Well Mr. Berry, UTURNED out a real good one here, I’m not ALONE in that opinion.

rondo 4:26 PM  

Right next to FRAN and close enough, yeah baby Hedy LAMARr, as in the film Ecstasy. Not Hedley LAMARr from Blazing Saddles.

rondo 4:54 PM  

@central - I DECLARE, I'd put Jeckle up against Kukla and Ollie any day. NICEONE.

leftcoastTAM 6:38 PM  

Started this AM, stuck in the NE, took long break, back in PM, still stuck in the NE. (I know, so what? Get to the point.)

Needed couple of cheats to complete the NE corner. End of simple story.

P.S. Yes, another smooth, solver-friendly PB puzzle. Should have got it.

leftcoastTAM 7:02 PM  

...have gotten it. ?

thefogman 11:52 PM  

The Sunday NYT Magazine has a special 24-page puzzle-palooza... Sounds like Santa has hurried down the chimney for puzzle freaks big time.

arsene 2:20 AM  

2011 song hits list pop danthology

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