1968 novel set in Korea / FRI 7-19-13 / British P.M. when W.W. I began / How Congress might adjourn / Player of Sal in Godfather / What name Rhoda means / Republican who won Bentsen's vacated Senate seat / Joe who was retired in 1997 / Magna Carta's drafters

Friday, July 19, 2013

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium



THEME: none

Word of the Day: SINE DIE (37D: How Congress might adjourn) —
Adjournment sine die (from the Latin "without day") means "without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing". To adjourn an assembly sine die is to adjourn it for an indefinite period. A legislative body adjourns sine die when it adjourns without appointing a day on which to appear or assemble again. (wikipedia)
• • •

I had exactly three issues with the fill today. First, ASQUITH (1D: British P.M. when W.W. I began). Never heard of him. That's on me. Second, SINE DIE. Never heard of it. Had some Latin in grad school, so pieced it together. I think I like knowing what it means, but as fill goes, it is the weakest thing in the whole grid—here only because those letters are convenient, not because the phrase is wonderful. Third, EMBOWERED (49A: Surrounded with foliage). Actually, the more I look at it, the more it looks like a word. Not an everyday word, but a word. So that's three issues. That I have only three issues, and that they are barely issues, when the puzzle has a mere 66 words features so much open space and two amazing quad 9-stacks with clean-as-hell crosses ... I could go on, but won't. Or maybe I will. This thing is gorgeous. That NE corner alone is a work of art. I am serious about that. So much open space, and not a single flaw. Not a hitch or bend or compromise. It's disgusting. That it lacks Scrabbly letters is to its credit. Do you know how often stacks of longish answers have at least a few Down crosses that are junky or made-up or just plain ugly? Always. Always. Almost always. It's why *stacks* don't appeal to me much. Many of them are like club sandwiches, but instead of toothpicks holding the sandwich pieces together, you get rusty nails. So sorry. But not here. Down after Down, it's just real word after real word. This is hard to do. And by "hard" I mean "nearly impossible." But it doesn't look hard. Looks like a pleasant walk in the park. This is why constructors revere PB1—his genius is so deep, it doesn't need to be showy. He always seems to be chasing flawlessness above all other puzzle values. I admire that so much more than the puzzle with a mere six black squares and nine Js or whatever.

Had some trouble getting started. Had QANDA and TEA right, but a bunch of other stuff that wasn't. Tried TRAIT at 1A: Winning smile, e.g. (ASSET), and ALOE at 27A: Folk medicine plant (HERB) and TRITE at 15A: Too-familiar (STALE). So I had to get out of there. I think I finally got off the ground with EATS then CRATE then ALT then TARHEELS. After that, I buzzed around that grid at a pretty nice clip, moving fairly consistently in a clockwise direction. Took less than 30 seconds, I'm sure, to fill in the SE. EMBOWERED held me up a bit longer in the SW, but not that much longer. I ended up wrapping things up where I'd tried to begin—in the NW.


I have never heard of the Samnite Wars, but I had AP- and the clue had "Road" in it, so no problem (16A: Road built during the Samnite Wars => APPIAN WAY). I really like seeing Kay Bailey HUTCHISON in the grid for some reason. We don't have much in common, politics-wise, but she seems decent and you don't see female politicians in the grid that much, so I'm happy to see her. I didn't realize Joe CAMEL had been retired so long ago (26A: Joe who was retired in 1997). His mug is so familiar, I just think of him as eternal. Just finished "Mo' Meta Blues" by Ahmir "Questlove" Jenkins—a fantastic music memoir. His band The Roots has an album called "Things Fall Apart," named after the Chinua ACHEBE novel (34A: "Things Fall Apart" novelist). Loved "Rhoda" and had no idea it meant ROSE. Don't think I've seen a Clark Gable/LANA TURNER movie, but I like their cute little moniker (47A: She and Clark Gable were known as "the team that generates steam). I forgot that "MASH" was a novel (10D: 1968 novel set in Korea). I think of it as a movie that became a TV show. And it is. But it was a novel first.


Off to try to read myself to sleep in this oppressive heat. Good night.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    81 comments:

    jackj 12:08 AM  

    Patrick Berry is extraordinary! (Hardly an original thought but always a relevant one).

    A stickler for fair cluing, one who demands that solvers bring their “A” game when tackling one of his creations, with every word a challenge, but one of wits and intellect, not a test of obscurities, his goal seemingly clear and consistent over his 175 NY Times puzzles, to have the solver successfully finish with a feeling of appreciation for an exercise well-played and with lessons learned, in a match against the best.

    This one began at EPAULET, whose “P” also provided an intro for APPIANWAY and from there, it was a clockwise solve with entries filling in nicely, with time outs to savor the gems like SINEDIE (a phrase much in the news lately after a federal Court of Appeals review of Pres. Obama’s recess appointments).

    Then it was on to the cluing for CAMEL (one that shunned a visit to the oasis to instead recall ad legend Joe) and, of course, the Lone Star State’s nine-letter successor to Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Kay Bailey HUTCHISON (an answer that many will have confidently filled in as PHILGRAMM, only to WIPE it clean to accommodate the TARHEELS).

    Things continued with a RUSH through BEETHOVEN, flat-footed ABEVIGODA and HAS BEEN, then a name that filled through the crosses for ACHEBE (Nigerian writer and activist, a google tells me) and finally ending with my favorite query of the puzzle, “Band with a person’s name”, ten letters, HARRYJAMES?, COUNTBASIE?, JETHROTULL?, no, in true Berry fashion it’s IDBRACELET.

    Thank you, Patrick, for another of your gems!

    Questinia 12:13 AM  

    This puzzle was pure joy. Loved crossing BEETHOVEN and ABE VIGODA. Wonderful cluing and the fill never clunked. I'd rate this on the easy side.
    I am just becoming familiar with constructors but I could sense the virtuosity with which Patrick Berry constructed this.

    Anonymous 12:13 AM  

    A perfectly serviceable Friday. A shame, though, that they opted to clue ABE VIGODA to a 40 year old movie than to the omnipresent question of whether or not he is still alive. His hooking up with Betty White a couple years ago probably added another ten years to his life.

    Questinia 12:25 AM  

    @ jackj
    Your second paragraph says it, precisely.

    jae 12:28 AM  

    This was very easy for a Fri.  I had three WOEs:  ASQUITH, SINE DIE, and ACHEBE.  But, the crosses were straight forward. 

    Erasures:  Cargo to CRATE, @Rex aloe to HERB,  and STANDEr to STANDEE ( neither of which I'm particularly fond of). 

    Not much else to say.  Impressive grid, low on zip, too easy.  Liked it.

    Also liked ABE VIGODA, Kay Bailey, LANA TURNER, and BEETHOVEN.  Long gimmes help a lot.

    Sandstress 1:36 AM  

    I hope someday to be among those of you who find Fridays like this to be easy/easy-medium, but, on the other hand, I so enjoy struggling through Patrick Berry's puzzles, and feel SO smart when I finally get his clever cluing, maybe I should just continue to enjoy the journey..

    @Questina, I thought the same thing when I read that second paragraph of @jackj's comment. Beautifully put, jackj!

    chefwen 2:39 AM  

    Any Friday that I can get through Google free is an excellent puzzle day for me. Had the same hiccups already mentioned 1D ASQUITH, 34A ACHEBE, but crosses kindly took care of the unknowns.

    Really wanted Folly at 48D but LUAUS took care of that. Have lived here for 9 years, visiting for 20 years and have never been to a Luau. Might have to break that trend, just for giggles.

    Great Friday puzzle Mr. Berry, MAHALO!

    I skip M-W 3:33 AM  

    Yes. Lovely puzzle. @Rex, none of your three minor problems seem justified. Maybe that's a sign of my age, but Asquith, Sine Die, empowered all fell easily. Kinks album only unknown.read "things fall apart" 2or 3 yrs. ago. Didn't know mai tai is Hawaiian.

    I skip 3:36 AM  

    That's embowered, of course. I guess Apple doesn't think it a word

    jae 3:41 AM  

    Hmm...yesterday a controversial apostrophal puzzle that messed with tablet solvers.  Comment count at this time last night 24.

    Today a solid (if slightly bland) PB with a smattering of obscurities.  Comment count 9.

    Is there math to be done? 

    mac 5:12 AM  

    Beautiful, smooth and easy for a Friday.

    My last letter filled in was the C in Camel and "coo". Cute aha moment.

    Somehow knew Asquith and thought of QandA right away, so that area went very fast.

    Test match, tea and Asquith make me think of a bright green lawn.

    syndy 5:19 AM  

    @skip Um you meant EMBOWERED? aloe
    /HERB folly /REVUE otherwise sliced through this sweet baby like creamcheese.I guess it helped to know ASQUITH Mr Berry as usual truly REGAL

    Jeremy Mercer 5:54 AM  

    Wonderful puzzle. I finished with a MITES/MASONS crossing instead of BITES/BARONS, which seemed to work well (especially the secret society angle) so long as I talked myself into EMBOWESED ... Am I the only one?

    @jae - you know the old saw about an unhappy customer complaining about you to 20 people and a happy customer complimenting you to 4 ...

    Anonymous 6:05 AM  

    If this is a truly a Friday puzzle, then I becoming a puzzle master, which is something I highly doubt.

    It was clean, but too easy.

    Gareth Bain 6:37 AM  

    Huh???

    I haven't done any Latin, but I would've thought sine die is a fairly common phrase that would be part of the vocabulary of any reasonably educated person. It seems not.

    Milford 7:34 AM  

    Went quick for a Friday, but felt like a workout, especially the NW for me. For awhile Q AND A was all I has there.

    @Jeremy - wrote the exact same mAsONS / mITES cross as you, but just could accept EMBOWEsED as a real-sounding word. But that cross felt very right at first!

    SINE DIE was not something I had heard of, even though it's two common Latin words. Sorry, @Gareth. Whether I am reasonably educated is probably up for debate.

    Loved, loved the clue for ID BRACELET.

    OWN GOAL is indeed a major soccer error, especially if you're from Columbia... (I actually had red card first).

    And the CAROLER HYMNAL pair in the NE was cute.

    Looking forward to some TARHEEL remarks from @lms!

    Milford 7:37 AM  

    *could not accept EMBOWEsED

    jberg 7:55 AM  

    I trembled when I saw all that white space, but this one was right on my wave length, or in my wheelhouse, or up my alley - well, you get the idea. I looked at 6A, asked myself "Could that be TEST MATCH?" saw that then 7D could be EPAULET and 16A APPIAN WAY (as @Rex said, Roman road - who cares about the Samnians?) The erst just followed. FWIW, I got EMBOWERED off the ER, don't know why - is it in Shakespeare somewhere, @Bard?

    One writeover, Ritzy before REGAL, and I had to stare at EARLESS as a kind of seal (smaller than an Earl's but bigger than a Baronet's?) before the syllable break suddenly shifted in my mind. Same with IDBRACELET, what kind of name starts with IDB?

    I didn't much like TINCT, there were a couple of POCs (but reasonable ones), and i guess Q AND A is crosswordese, but what a beautiful novel!

    Chinua ACHEBE died this March, it was nice to see him in the puzzle.

    Carola 8:06 AM  

    What a pleasure. It's rare I find a Friday puzzle easy, but this one went very fast for me. I started out on the APPIAN WAY, after checking that the Y would fit as a second letter for the cross and kept going from there with no hold-ups. Agree with @jae that the long gimmes helped a lot. Also happened to know ASQUITH and ACHEBE. Favorite to write in: EMBOWERED.

    Got a kick out of SPEAK UP next to EARLESS, both crossing YELPS.

    It seemed to me there were more noun compounds or noun phrases than usual: SANDBAR, TEST MATCH, RAINSTORM, ID BRACELET, TAR HEELS, plus the two full names ABE VIGODA and LANA TURNER. Very nice.

    Glimmerglass 8:10 AM  

    PB is simply Puzzlers' Best. Nice write up, Rex. I agree with everything you said. I've tried my hand at constructing, and I'm in awe of PB. While I was solving, I was thinking, "This is pretty hard -- good Friday puzzle," but then when I finished, I looked back and said, "Oh, that wasn't so hard after all." I often have that reaction to PB, hard but doable. The WTFs (ASQUITH) are accessible with crosses and a bit of intuition. Great puzzle.

    DBlock 8:13 AM  

    For historians, Asquith is a gimme--replaced by Lloyd George by the Paris Peace talks (have you ever noticed that peace conferences are always in much nicer places than the wars are??)
    And perhaps the movie reference for Abe Vigoda is 40 years old but the movie in question is The Godfather, so its classic status makes it timeless. Did not know of his 'hook up' with Betty White. Good for them ;)
    A good, zippy Friday--made up for yesterday's puzzle which only upset because Gentleman Prefer Blondes is one of my all time favorite movies and I hated that its association with the puzzle tarnished it for some folks.

    evil doug 8:21 AM  

    Where difficult, eminently fair.

    Evil

    Anonymous 8:26 AM  

    Lovely, delightful, impressive. (Finished but with serious doubts about EMBOWERED and SINE DIE -- whew.) Agree with Rex: "This thing is gorgeous." And a deeply satisfying antidote to yesterday's &^!$@%%$# apostrophe.

    joho 8:32 AM  

    LOVED it!!!!

    Just one write over at Ritzy before REGAL like @jberg and then the whole NW corner. I took out QANDA when I had electEE and actas for working for. What a mess. Finally saw STANDEE put back QANDA and voila! (Initially I also balked at ASSET and the "E" in electEE had me worried for a bit that the answer might be beamy!)

    The tricky clue and big AHA with IDBRACELET was icing on the NW corner!

    Great write up today inspired by another great puzzle from the master, Patrick.

    Susan McConnell 8:32 AM  

    Wow...easier than I expected given all the open space. Needed crosses for ASQUITH, ACHEBE, SINE DIE. Grimaced at EMBOWERED but what with all the other great stuff, I can't complain.

    Norm C. 8:34 AM  

    Same clockwise-around-the-grid solve as Rex. Loved it. Never saw the clue for MASH.

    I suppose if you tear all the trees out from around your house, you've disembowered your yard? Sorry.

    Bob Kerfuffle 8:45 AM  

    Fine puzzle.

    Nothing more to say, but as @Jeremy Mercer's comment suggests, really should post our praise as often as our complaints.

    dk 8:51 AM  

    Ahhh, back in the saddle again.

    I, for one, can not wait to use EMBOWERED in a sentence. As a preeminent poser it will be the doves COO.

    ASQUITH was a gimmie along with BARONS due to some outlier education. Had some latin in High School (killed the Romans but only emboldened me) and that also helped with APPIANWAY.

    I led my self astray by misspelling EPAULET (apparently along with team there is no I in…) and penning in Izuzu as he was my kind of Joe.

    Echo the praise and some of the quibbles.


    �������� (4 Embowerments) A truly wonderful solve.


    Off to Stout's Island Lodge for 3 days in a hammock except for when I clean clocks at Croquet. Wish I still drank as a PImm's cup goes well when one is faced with a sticky wicket. And those darn random drug checks eliminate Hasheesh -- the other wicket worry reducer. See you on Monday.

    Nancy 8:58 AM  

    Great puzzle! Good start for the 'steamy' weekend

    dk 8:59 AM  

    Mr. Mercer, you will be pleased to know that the positive comments in this blog generally out number the negative ones at about a 3 to 1 ratio.

    As i have droned on in the past. I use the same text analyzed that is employed on your digital calls, texts, tweets, posts and in some cases your emails (no expectation of privacy with your work emails and if you think phone companies are compliant most large employers have round heels). I use the results to determine the best and least loved days of the week.

    ok! now I am outa here.

    dk 9:00 AM  

    analyzer

    retired_chemist 9:05 AM  

    Impressive puzzle. Add me to the list of admirers. The NYT times look relatively fast today so I think it will end up being rated pretty easy, despite having lot of fun, challenging stuff.

    The entire north fell quickly. ALOE was the only glitch that stayed a while. Fixed it with ASQUITH. Nice to see the Texas shout-out with HUTCHISON. Tempted to put KAY BAILEY there, since we often called her by her well-known maiden name, but crosses didn't work.

    The S gave me more problems, starting with nOLA for 23A and PINK for 38A. Knew I needed a 4 letter word for a shade of red, didn't think of ROSE. So what 11D was ANTI was a WTF for a while. But the truth finally emerged. It usually does.

    43A had FLEAS, thought about TICKS, finally got it to _ITES and put in mITES. Stared at mARONS later and - D'oh! The genius of Mr. Berry. So many possibilities, all plausible, and yet eventually only one fits.

    ABE VIGODA and SINE DIE broke the SW open. Wanted some classical reference for Titan's home - loved TENNESSEE once I saw it. ACHEBE - not so much. WTF.

    Thanks, Mr.Berry.



    Z 9:06 AM  

    As is almost always my experience with Mr. Berry, I get nothing, then a toe hold, then the whole section falls and I wonder why it took me so long.

    @Sandstress and others - remember that the rating is relative to the day. My just shy of 40 minute solve puts this in the medium range for me, with the NW giving me the most struggle. I seem to have a deep seated aversion to Q AND A as an answer because I never get it until I have at least 80% of the crosses.

    @Gareth - I would say that I am an unreasonably educated person, with deep troves of arcana in some areas and deserts of ignorance in others.

    The man who gave us NATICK gives another great puzzle..

    Z 9:14 AM  

    Oops - It was BEQ

    GLR 9:20 AM  

    Surprisingly easy for a Friday - thought it seemed Wednesday-ish, except for lack of a theme.

    I'm often a "close but no cigar" finisher on Fridays, and the only thing that slowed me up today was thinking, for some reason that there was only one "P" in APPIAN WAY.

    @jae - when I see that there's a technology glitch with the puzzle, I just avoid the comments altogether. If I want to hear incessant, redundant whining, I can just wait for the next increase in the price of gasoline. (Odd that there are so few comments when the price falls by 10 cents.)

    Sir Hillary 9:30 AM  

    Gorgeous great, as PB always provides. Wish the cluing had been a little more obtuse, but that's not his thing.

    I was held up briefly by TINge/TINCT and mesS/EATS.

    I have watched The Godfather a million times, but it took me forever to remember Tessio's first name. Thought for a bit that Sal might be Connie's loser hubby, but that was Carlo.

    Sir Hillary 9:31 AM  

    Gorgeous grid, that is.

    chefbea 9:48 AM  

    Had to google a bit but found it easier than most Fridays.

    Go Tar Heels.

    Back to yesterday...someone mentioned last night that there was a note with the puzzle. What note?? What did it say?

    Mitzie 9:55 AM  

    Smooth.

    Berry's my fave, but this was a little too easy to be really great.

    I do like stacks. 4 x 9 = awesome.

    lawprof 9:55 AM  

    Beautiful, elegant puzzle. On the easy side for a Friday. Only one writeover: clawAT/TEARAT. Also held up at 1D by WWI British PM, whom I didn't know. I had ??QU??? and wanted Urquart (you know, Francis Urquart from the BBC series "House of Cards" starring Ian Richardson?), but I also knew that that guy was fictional, so I waited until ASQUITH emerged from the crosses.

    Thank you Mr. Berry for your consistently fine work.

    lawprof 10:04 AM  

    ...plus, as I now recall, his name was spelled (spelt, as the English would say) Urquhart, which wouldn't have fit anyway.

    Masked and Anonymo6Us 10:08 AM  

    SLEEPONIT. The M&A national anthem.

    Liked the strict arrangement of "?" clues:
    Across: 0
    Down: 5

    LUAUS helped make the SE the Corner of Hope.

    Heard a story recently about the Shortzmeister and Patrick Berry and some other noted constructor sittin at a bar in Austin. Think it was on the npr puzzle show.

    Where's the Musemeister been, lately?

    Anonymous 10:08 AM  

    Can you imagine the torment of attending Eton for four years with a last name of ASQUITH?

    gifcan 10:45 AM  

    Thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle.

    Never heard of the eD BRACELEs band, but when HUTtHISON and TINts didn't make sense I repaired it and got BRACELET. Oh, ID BRACELET, doh!

    Loved it.

    Gene 11:04 AM  

    Like some others, surprised that SINEDIE was a problem, I put it in without any crosses. Wanted 6A to be THEASHES, but didn't fit. No real problems, enjoyable.

    jae 11:12 AM  

    @chefbea -- Yesterday's note.

    About this puzzle

    "In the online version of today's puzzle, the theme answer begins in the second square of 23-Across. In addition, there is a punctuation mark somewhere in the theme answer that cannot be replicated in some digital formats. We recommend using the first letter of that punctuation mark."

    @Z -- "I would say that I am an unreasonably educated person, with deep troves of arcana in some areas and deserts of ignorance in others." Well put. I suspect more than a few of us fit that description.



    chefbea 11:21 AM  

    @jae thanx

    Anoa Bob 11:39 AM  

    How about an ABE VIGODA/LANA TURNER TWOSOME back in the day.

    Someone walked a mile for the clue "Joe who was retired in 1997" for 26A CAMEL. Joe was one of the most blatant examples of sexual symbolism in advertising, not just phallic, but the whole, shall we say, package. Genitaliac?

    OISK 12:35 PM  

    Asquith was one of the "ABC" Prime MInisters, IIRC, part of my deep trove of arcana. Loved this puzzle, which avoided my desert of rock-pop ignorance. I actually missed a square (Had TINCS instead of TiNCT, just sloppy on my part!) . Hey, maybe there is a rock band called IDBRACELES, and that is his name! Really bad on my part. But great puzzle, exactly as expected from Mr. Berry.

    loren muse smith 12:52 PM  

    Hey everyone! I'm in Pittsburgh for my daughter's college orientation. She has already made a lot of friends, so I'm doing a lot of sitting around.

    Wow. I'm a bit embarrassed by today's puzzle. Last year I compared Patrick's puzzle genius the BEETHOVEN, and what with TENNESSEE and TAR HEELS, I'm pretty sure Pattick constructed this one especially for me. Yeah right.

    Just like everyone else has said...I was not afraid of all the open white space because PB's puzzles are not vocabulary tests. They're so utterly fair.

    It's brutally hot here and it's remarkably difficult to post from my %#€%# IPhone!

    ahimsa-NYT 1:18 PM  

    TEST MATCH is what got me started in the NE. By the way, some say that cricket has gotten more exciting now that there's a new short form 20-20 (20 overs). It's still way too boring for me.

    ID BRACELET took a long time to see but it was worth it. That whole NW corner was very hard. For a while I had 21 A ending with ELEe (TINge before TINCT). So I briefly considered Robert E Lee as the band name. :-) (isn't that a HS marching band?)

    The only name I could think of from the WWI era, and that also ended with -ITH, was Sopwith, LOL! (From Snoopy's Sopwith CAMEL in Peanuts. I'm terrible with history, both names and dates.) But QANDA put an end to that. I only got ASQUITH from the crosses after lots of guessing.

    That and SINE DIE were both new to me but I'm happy to learn them.

    On the other hand, ACHEBE was a gimme for me. He's actually not the only Nigerian novelist that I know. I recommend Orange Prize winner Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun).

    Lovely puzzle and lots of fun.

    John V 1:23 PM  

    What @Rex said, but clearly medium here. A tad heavy on proper names but, per @evildoug, always fair.

    I always have success with Patrick Berry's puzzles. Always. That is not by accident nor a mark of my genius. It is because his work is sine qua non. Always a pleasure. A perfect Friday.

    Asquith Caroler Mashes 1:29 PM  

    @OISK
    is ABC you are referring to ASQUITH, Baldwin, Churchill? That seems like a great mnemonic and one I'd love to add to a book of them I'm compiling for highschoolers called "How to Remember Sh#t!"

    Hand up for not knowing SINE DIE but painfully piecing it together from two years of Latin 40 years ago. Where does that make me fall on the reasonably educated scale, @Gareth? ;)

    Started with HYMNAL because PB puzzles always have churchy things and WWII stuff in them. I think it's one of his distinguishing vibes...along with almost no Scrabble-y letters and an insane smoothness no one rivals on Fridays.

    Last night, super fun reading and QANDA of "No Kidding", today off to Vegas for National Scrabble championships. Hope to see Trip among others and not get my As-Quithed.

    Lewis 1:32 PM  

    I like HERB and TEA right next to each other, as well as CAROLER and HYMNALS. I also like ABREAST crossing SLEEPONIT.

    Very little grid gruel -- WPA, TINCT, ALT. Three is low as g.g. goes.

    It's not that PB gets a free pass on his puzzles. It's that they always are rich in quality. David Steinberg, who gets lots of love on this blog, got slammed yesterday. A constructor is only as good as his/her latest puzzle.

    Z 1:47 PM  

    @Milford - We're in Holland today. Tunnel Park weather report - air 88°, water 79°, waves 4-5' and powerful. A perfect beach morning. Several kite-boarders were out making good use of the wind.

    Redid yesterday's puzzle using Crux on my iPad. Crux uses the iPad keyboard, but wouldn't accept an apostrophe. Crux showed the note when the puzzle opened. You Magicmic users should try it out. For me, it is an adequate substitute when I'm not home, but give me the paper any day.

    Bird 1:51 PM  

    Too much stuff I didn't know and/or could not get from crosses - DNF. Got the SW, most of the NE and a few stragglers but that was about it.

    • FIELD GOAL held me up in the NE and kept trying to fit THE ASHES at 6A.
    • ID BRACELETE is perfect, but I was trying to think of musical bands.
    • I thought Joe IZUZU retired in 1997(turns out it was 1990).

    Love the full names.

    TGIF!

    Ron Fox 2:12 PM  

    been wanting to learn more about world war I for years and just started reading Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman published in 1960. Here I am putting it down just as the english cabinet under PM Asquith is considering its options --- so easy start to the puzzle for me.

    bonigreg 3:03 PM  

    If tomorrow's puzzle is by Manny, my puzzle weekend will be complete.

    OISK 3:30 PM  

    The ABC could have been Attlee (sp?) Baldwin Chamberlain as well, but my fuzzy memory was Asquith Baldwin Chamberlain. I could be wrong! I do recall that when I learned this very long ago, the "C" was Chamberlain. Not important!

    Milford 3:34 PM  

    @Z - oh so jealous! I love those kind of lake days. We are going back to Lake Michigan, down by Warren Dunes, in a couple weeks - hope it is a similar day.

    @Anoa Bob - Oh yes, the not-so-subliminal messages on Joe CAMEL! Also a naked man on the actual package, I recall.

    sanfranman59 4:00 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

    All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

    Fri 15:21, 20:54, 0.73, 10%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Fri 9:10, 12:11, 0.75, 11%, Easy

    ahimsa-NYT 4:16 PM  

    I know nothing about the ABC Prime Ministers but it's interesting that the most recent three - Blair, Brown, Cameron - have initials BBC.

    Chip Hilton 4:50 PM  

    A breeze compared to yesterday and a beautiful construction. Would LANATURNER and ABEVIGODA be "the team that generates YELPS"?

    Atlantasolver 6:12 PM  

    I covered the Georgia Legislature for years. Last day of the annual session was always adjourned "sine die" but pronounced "sah-nee dah"

    Slide 6:41 PM  

    Raise your hand if you only knew ASQUITH from Tom Stoppard's Travesties.

    ...anyone?

    Evan K. 6:51 PM  

    Wow, and a possibly unintentionally dastardly clue for ANTILABOR (Opposed to the union, say). As soon as I saw the clue I wrote in SPEAKS NOW, as in opposed to the union that is a wedding. My hunch was confirmed by the crossing at SHOO but disabused by APPIAN WAY.

    No one clues 'em like Mr. Berry.

    michael 6:53 PM  

    A great puzzle, but my fastest Friday ever. Wednesday-level difficulty for me (if that). I'd like to think that my puzzle ability is improving, but the comments, as always, bring me back to earth.

    LaneB 8:13 PM  

    A very unusual Friday for me-- I finished! And with just one Google assist-- the meaning of Rhoda. No erasures,either. Some days are like that. I can labor over an easy Monday and then for some reason everything clicks on a more difficult edition. The cluing today was fair but remained interesting. I am very grateful to Mr. Berry for making my day.

    John in Philly 10:05 PM  

    Patrick - you are my face constructor. your grid is always interesting and doable but still challenging to me. Thanks for another great Puz.

    sanfranman59 10:08 PM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

    All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

    Mon 5:43, 6:09, 0.93, 18%, Easy
    Tue 6:51, 8:13, 0.83, 7%, Easy
    Wed 7:39, 9:43, 0.79, 8%, Easy
    Thu 17:43, 16:12, 1.09, 68%, Medium-Challenging
    Fri 15:17, 20:54, 0.73, 10%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:32, 3:46, 0.94, 18%, Easy
    Tue 4:09, 4:57, 0.84, 4%, Easy (8th lowest ratio of 189 Tuesdays)
    Wed 4:44, 5:36, 0.84, 11%, Easy
    Thu 12:27, 9:27, 1.32, 85%, Challenging
    Fri 8:47, 12:11, 0.72, 8%, Easy

    jburgs 6:04 PM  

    I should stop coming here. After hours (including regular breaks, a night's sleep) I finally got through this challenging puzzle without any googling or peeking. Oh so proud. Then come here to see people talk about how easy it was. Talk about being disembowered. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

    Waxy in Montreal 10:38 AM  

    Chiming in early from the ABEVIGODA's organization (the syndicate) cuz that was the easiest Friday I remember for a long time. Fun though.

    Once THEASHES didn't fit, the international cricket event had to be a TESTMATCH. ASQUITH was a gimme (interesting factoid: his great-granddaughter is actress Helena Bonham Carter) as were the TARHEELS.

    Only unknown was ACHEBE. Loved EMBOWERED, only knowing it from the bower of bliss in Spenser's Faerie Queene. Had JEANHARLOW before LANATURNER, HIGH before RUSH, TINGE before TINCT and SURETO before SURELY but all CRUMBLEd quickly, WIPEd out by their crosses.

    From Wikipedia: "To this day the Via Appia (Appian Way) contains the longest stretch of straight road in Europe, totaling 62 km (39 mi)". Wonder if modern interstates will still be in use 2,000 years from now?

    Anonymous 12:36 PM  

    What a great puzzle. I'm so impressed with Patrick Berry. Earless next to Speakup! Crumble next to Hasbeen! Caroler next to Hymnals! . Didn't know testmatch or achebe, but was able to get them easily with crosses. I wanted to put in Abe Vigoda right away, but hesitated because I thought "largely hollow bricks" would be adobe.Give me more PB

    Solving in Seattle 1:14 PM  

    Somehow I was on the same wavelength with Patrick Berry today. He gave us a toehold in every section, and without any "cute" cluing or groaner fill.

    Have a great weekend Syndiesolvers.

    spacecraft 1:15 PM  

    My experience was very similar to @Z's, right down to the QANDA aversion. I'd sit and look at a section for a couple minutes, try something here, see that it meshes with the down there...and all at once I'm thinking: you're not so doggone tough, Mr. Patrick Berry.

    And then it comes to me that "tough" wasn't the object, per se. The object was a crossWORD grid. Not cross-abbr., or -acronym, or -ridiculous obscurity (well, ACHEBE needed every one), or -romanumeral...you get the idea.

    If you want junk, go to the junkyard. You won't find it with today's undersigned. He'll tear up and redo first. This man WORKS at his craft. He is the Ernest Hemingway of crosswords.

    One amusing hiccup was the "Band with a person's name" clue. Here I am thinking Alice Cooper? Steely Dan? Got some down letters in, and was looking at _DBR___LE_. Ed? Ed who? Bradley? Too short. Brinkley? Hey, was that his name? No, that was David, you idiot. And so on. (Obviously I didn't know the 1d PM.) Finally filled it all in and had EDBRACELET. Who the he---oh, wait! [light bulb flashes on] THAT kind of "band!"

    I love those aha! moments, even when I feel like a DOPE for not seeing it sooner. Man, how your mind can get stuck in a groove, and if it's the wrong one, look out!

    Mr. B., just keep on keepin' on. You da man!

    DMG 1:38 PM  

    Struggled a bit with this one, but eventually got all but one square. Soccer term crossing three letter agency! Left it blank and forgot to go back. Didn't realize it until someone mentioned WPA in the comments. Guess that kind of error can't happen to on-line solvers. Thanks to those who explained SINEDIE. Learn something every day.

    ahimsa 2:01 PM  

    Hello, syndi-solvers!

    @Ginger, I noticed your nice comment yesterday, thanks! I didn't have a chance to respond yesterday so I hope you see this today. Since I now use a gmail account to post comments I get updates whenever someone posts a new comment, but only on those blog entries where I've already made a comment myself.

    Anyway, I do read the new comments when they come in. And even on syndicated puzzles where I have not made any comment I sometimes come back and look at the blog comments to see what you guys thought of the puzzle.

    So, a big "hello" to all the other syndi-land solvers. I will most likely be reading the comments even when I don't post anything.

    By the way, it looks like the spam filter is working here again. I have not seen any deluge of "spell casters" and the like for a long time. Hooray for small things. We still have to deal with the silly captcha hurdles but at least it's keeping out spammers.

    Ginger 3:25 PM  

    When I saw the by-line, I thought "this is gonna be fun", and it was. However, not on my wavelength, so much I didn't know: ASQUITH, TESTMATCH, ACHEBE, and yet all was fair. Was able to finish with only one google. It was Friday hard, for me, but a real feeling of accomplishment when I was done.

    sdcheezhd 3:43 PM  

    Agree with the easiest Friday ever comments. 8-10 percent makes sense. TRITE for STALE stopped me up there but after that no problem and finally saw IDBRACELET with the ACELET. Not one fill in the blank, nice.

    Dirigonzo 4:14 PM  

    Given all the conspiracy theories concerning the Masons' role in historic events it seemed perfectly reasonable to believe that they wrote the Magna Carta.

    Anonymous 10:18 PM  

    Loved this puzzle, and everything Rex has to say about it. Probably because I agree, and we tend to admire things we agree with.

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