Takes the Edge Off

Take the edge off your week with a crunchy Patrick Berry puzzle.

Comments: 66

  1. A nice birthday present from PB and Will. Loved it.

  2. Happy birthday, Wags.

  3. Yep. Happy birthday, Wags.

  4. Buon compleanno, Wags!

  5. good challenging puzzle. especially liked the misdirection of asteroid belts! wampum good too. Leona Helmsley was the ego-entitled Queen of Mean before it became more common! Spent quite a bit of time in the Helmsley Hotel near Grand Central in the 90s.

  6. I was just listening to the Who's version of "Summertime Blues" earlier this evening.

    An entertaining and "crunchy" puzzle!

  7. I love PB puzzles. Always fun and full of fresh entries. Thanks again, Patrick.

  8. Personal best time on today's puzzle! I enjoy PB puzzles too so it was a fun end to the week. Loved Asteroid belts and QATARIS. HB Wags!

  9. Usual PB style and grace. Fun!

  10. Hmmm. Film maker? Videographer?

  11. "Wampum" feels like a derogatory clue. It's usually used in derisive terms. This clue shouldn't be in the puzzle.

  12. I had the same initial reaction, but it's not like "Redskin." It's a bead craft using white-shelled beads and was once a widely recognized monetary unit, from my reading (which in this case I did promptly). The Native American sites I looked at don't seem to find it derogatory, so even if some people use it as slang in a rather disrespectful way I don't think that makes it unacceptable.

  13. Suzy, I also looked that up as WAMPUM didn't set well with me, and found the same information, so was glad I did.

  14. I'm always wary of the potential Friday/Saturday slap-down (even when it's a PB), but I love the process of finding footholds, feeling like some clues and fill are pretty dang squirrely, and finally coming up with the words that fit and make sense (except that one time when everybody was mad). I still remember a Sunday back in the nineties - I did a Maleska puzzle in the Hartford Courant (in the car, but I wasn't driving!) and I was convinced there was a mistake: the clue was _______ Shoals and I filled in MUSSEL but the answer was MUSCLE. Really?? So I just finally looked it up... Anyhow - my new dog, Lee Looney, is part 52A; I'll concede that somebody, somewhere must use that colloquialism! He has gained 4 pounds in a month, so it may turn out to be accurate.

  15. Fun puzzle. Surprisingly easy for a Friday'

  16. "In stir" almost did me in. I wasn't familiar with this expression for being imprisoned. Upon doing some research I came to find out that it was a phrase used by Morgan Freeman's character in "The Shawshank Redemption."

  17. wiki says: 'Stir crazy is a phrase that dates to 1908 according to the Oxford English Dictionary and the online Etymology Dictionary. Used among inmates in prison, it referred to a prisoner who became mentally unbalanced because of prolonged incarceration. The term "stir crazy" is based upon the slang stir (1851) to mean prison.'
    as for the puzzle, our special brand of pb is crunchy and smooth at the same time.

  18. Morgan's character does say he's known some long nights IN STIR, but I know it's older than that movie, for sure.

  19. I only had the two Is when I got to that clue, and entered IN JAIL. That really messed up 7D.

  20. Superb puzzle. Something like being held in a good grip - strong but safe. A trademark of PB.
    BTW, the page redesign has reached my side of the world. Why? Why? If they were so bored, why didn't they restore the time stamp? Or - better - restore printing the number of comments beside the names of previous columns, so you know if you need to check for new comments?

  21. Update. The page is back in place. Mysterioso.

  22. I confidently entered rupees and when nothing else made sense, I thought I was in for trouble, but I quickly switched currencies and was off and running. My only complaint is that this was over too soon. Love PB!

  23. It's a Patrick Berry. 'Nuff said. I did surprisingly well on this - not fast, of course, but steady progress with just enough gimmes or guessables here and there to work it out. Was surprising how useful the 'U' in AUTORACE was, as that led me to consider a Q and filled in that corner in short order.

    The only place I really got stuck was the SE corner where I wasn't familiar with AVERY and had ANYDAY instead of ONEDAY. Ended up with one failed check. Ah, well.

    I had my 'lyrics quiz' tossed at me today and... failed (initially), even though that's one of my favorite songs. But I got up to take my first break and all of a sudden I could 'hear' it and sat back down and filled it in. Surprised no one has linked it yet:


    Favorite line: "I called up my congressman and he said, quote: I'd like to help you son, but you're too young to vote."

    And... I've always mentally linked that song and this one (similar theme, I think). Favorite line in this one (before you click the link, Jimbo): "Just tell your hoodlum friends outside, you ain't got time to take a ride" (I used to hear 'hoodlum friends' with some frequency as a kid):



  24. "Yakety Yak" by the Coasters. I didn't hang out with many hoodlums during my teen years, but one high-school acquaintance was known as a "supplier."

    I was wondering how you did with today's lyric quote in the puzzle. You did not fail the test, since you eventually got it without outside help. (It was a nice long gimme for me.)

  25. Jimbo, I hardly think we qualified as 'hoodlums' (coincidentally, I watched 'West Side Story' last night on TCM). The extent of our hoodlumizing was fights, pranks, under-age drinking, the aforementioned drag racing and, of course, maintaining a contentious relationship with the local police, who really had nothing else to do but harass us (think 'officer Krupke'). There weren't any formal gangs, but there were two identifiable 'contingents': The jocks and the greasers.

    But I did more than once get a ride home in a police car, and my mother invariably invoked my 'hoodlum friends' on such occasions (of course it wasn't my fault).

    While I'm up, I think I may have told this story before, but it's one of the great pranks in the history of mankind. My senior year, middle of winter just after a big snowstorm. Somebody called the police station and reported a big fight at a hunting camp - outside of the residential part of town but still within the city limits. The camp was a half a mile or so off the road and the dirt road leading to it was of course unplowed so when the cops got there they had to park and walk through the snow back to the camp. When they got there of course it was abandoned and nothing was happening. When they got back to their car, its engine was sitting in the road beside it.

  26. And then there was the Latin professor attacked one night by a group of hoodla.

  27. I needed to read the lyric a second time before I could fill the 15er that vertically divided the grid in two...The spacey horizontal girder, ASTEROID BELTS, came after stalling for a moment on account of that 'rock band' misdirection...I see we we have that snake haired hussy, MEDUSA, back for an encore this week...No brass ring today. All the problems arising out of the SE where I couldn't recall my years of loading rolls of caps into my TOY GUN and guessing wrong with inspir. I'm familiar with the publisher AVERY but I'm not hip to the office supply connection. Abi for ABU and a wild stab at toggin which, upon further review, I learned isn't even a word. It all added up to 3 wrong letters and 4 wrong answers. At least I'm happy that I jettisoned noggin for cap holder.

    The Roches have an issue with whether a MARRIED MAN is taken. Back in the day, they were regulars at Gerty's Folk City on W.4th. This ballad, "The MARRIED Men," is a beaut. R. I. P. Maggie.


  28. Thanks for the link, Bru -- I loved The Roches -- but I think they were too young to have played at the original Gerde's location...

    Gerdes Folk City (sometimes spelled Gerde's Folk City) was a music venue in the West Village, part of Greenwich Village, Manhattan, in New York City. Initially opened as a restaurant called Gerdes, by owner Mike Porco, it eventually began to present occasional incidental music. First located at 11 West 4th Street (in a building which no longer exists), it moved in 1970 to 130 West 3rd Street. It closed in 1987.

  29. Thanks for that info Barry. I went to the Third Street location on a New Year's Eve in the mid-eighties and it was my only visit. The Washington Squares were the headliners. As always, a face down, fun time was had by all.

  30. All of those printable labels and address stickers are AVERY products; does that help ?

  31. I wonder if DEVO ever performed wearing ASTEROIDBELTS?

    I never wonder if I will love a Patrick Berry puzzle.

    SAUSAGEDOG was my favorite entry.

    Thank you, PB, for yet another wonderful solve!

  32. A challenging, but fun Friday. The north west was the last to fall because I wanted rupees before WAMPUM. UNICYCLE and ASTEROIDBELT were my favourite answers.

  33. I truly enjoy Patrick Berry puzzles. They are challenging yet doable and ultimately satisfying.

  34. I was saved from entering Rupees as 19A could only be PINOT. However, having said that I was confused at first as there are about a dozen grapes starting PINOT, so I never just say only the one word. Champagne can have 3 grape varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier.

    Patrick is definitely my favourite themeless constructor. I had very few checks today ( unusual for me) and no wrong ones, found it a smooth solve but interesting entries throughout and not too easy.

    I'm glad I didn't have to get the QUEEN OF MEAN's name as I can never remember it.

    I really enjoyed this one.

  35. LEONA HELMSLEY wouldn't have fit, anyway.

  36. One of those Fridays where initial despair gives way to little aha moments and then-- before you know it -- completion. I don't know how it can go so quickly from despair to wishing it didn't go so fast. Started with 'rupees', but the acrosses would not permit. Wanted 'drag' before AUTO, but in retrospect that sounds really idiotic. Is there even such a thing, outside of Rebel Without a Cause and Grease?
    I think today's offering is summed up best in a recent answer -- PBJ -- Patrick Berry Joy!

  37. Oh yes, there is such a thing as a drag race -- on the track but (in my day) at least as often on an arterial road at the edge of town. No idea if the etymology is right but I always thought the 'drag' came from the term 'main drag'.

  38. Random thoughts after this one.

    Mid-1970s, there was a craze, at least in my town, for unicycling. Everybody had one, and used it through the day, not just for its own sake (my high school yearbook shows the after-school "community service" kids sweeping the hall floors from the seats of their unicycles...). I prefer two wheels, thanks.

    Wampum & its clue brought to mind the kerfuffle over (a)Broad & its clue and so many other discussions. My two bits: people need to let each other speak and people need to listen. Dividing the world into two groups who only know how to say "you're wrong" doesn't really seem to be helping us much.

    That said, "Mad Tea Party" brought a grin of chagrin to my face as I consider hearing all the same people who raised heck at Town Halls six years ago complain about the heck being raised at Town Halls now. Goose, meet gander.

  39. It is not "mad tea party" (though that's a plausible extension); it's the "mad hatter's tea party"--the hatter is "mad" because of all the mercury used in hat-making. The clue should have been rephrased to reflect this

  40. The title of Chapter VII of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is "A Mad Tea-Party."

  41. The mercury thing is what gave rise to the phrase "mad as a hatter." Lewis Carroll knew this, hence the character *and* the chapter title.

  42. Friday puzzles always begin ominously for me with no ready answers at first. Maybe I can stick in a plural S or an ING but I'm usually 2/3s of the way down the grid before I finally make a fairly sure entry. But often 'sure' is like FRENCH before CREOLE, or RET before SOT. I gave a nice Aha when I figured out EDEN. The NE corner eluded me for some time until OVEREATS fell into place for Has everything'? which gave me the reveal for REDALERT and BONEDRY.

    I never paid much attention to the constructors' names until I began reading Deb's column, but now I know Patrick Berry is both fun and ultimately solvable. Many thanks!

  43. Wow, except for ABATES at 4A, amended after I filled in 32D, this puzzle practically filled itself in! Especially liked 2D :0)....
    Have never heard SAUSAGE DOG--only WIENER DOG.
    I once won an 'Orthographic competition.'
    Didn't we just see CHARO?
    Does an Easy Friday presage a Killer Saturday? We'll know in ONE DAY.

  44. Clean and smooth. There is a mini-theme of double EE's (6). It is nice how that TOECAP extends just beyond the ARCH. There's an ADD up, and a nice cross of SANDS and MUD. Pop pop pop -- things opened quickly in this one, but as always with PB, care was taken with the clues and there were clever ones strewn about, such as those for ALE, OVEREATS, and MENSA.

    @Viv below describes that doing PB puzzle is like being held in a strong and safe grip. I get that. Working a PB puzzle for me is as much a feeling as a doing, a zone I inhabit. It's as though I drop into this place where I'm sitting on velvet, the edges all around me are soft and muted, there is a visceral feeling of quality in the air, I'm alive and mellow in blissful quiet, and I don't want the feeling to end.

  45. I expected that with a PB Friday puzzle I would find the clues challenging, but fair and fun. I *did* find them very fair and a lot of fun, but I was disappointed to *not* have to work hard to solve this one. There was so much in my wheelhouse that it felt like I was facing batting practice pitching. (Now I've set myself up to face screwballs on Saturday.)

  46. Starting out, this puzzle was not even in my ship, let alone my wheelhouse. After entering WEB for 1a, I erased it because "Indian bread?" at 1d clearly had to be Rupees. It was not until some time later that I remembered that each day's puzzle is now required to have at least one clue that is an insult to some ethnic or social group. Today it was the turn of Native Americans, and the correct answer is WAMPUM.

  47. So, I'm in the middle of my yoga practice this morning, Barry, and the following pops into my head, a confluence no doubt of an echo from yesterday's puzzle, and the fact that I enjoy your comments:

    Higgeldy piggery
    Barry Ancona, sir
    Fountain of knowledge and
    Smart as a whip

    Not one to shy from a
    Salient comment, you
    Flow from the heart and you
    Shoot from the hip

  48. Yikes! That "piggery" should be "piggledy" -- must be an auto-correct. No pig-ness intended!

  49. I thought that "Shift in one's seat, perhaps" was RACE. A race car driver does shift in his seat.

  50. Far be it from me not to have Patrick Berry as my favorite composer. I mean he is just that. And today he reminded me of one of my favorite actresses (Suzanne Pleshette who played the Queen of Mean in a TV movie, how's that for playing against type?) and also one of my favorite novels, ATLAS Shrugged.

  51. Nothing like a Patrick Berry Friday to make me feel like a MENSA member. It's a wavelength thing. I BLEW INTO the grid with pop culture references ELAINE, AMITY Island, and 7D. "Rock groups that are far out? Well, there's an 'I' in place, so it's gotta be ASTEROIDBELTS, right?" And that's the way things went. Smooth and fun.

    Rich already posted Eddie Cochran's original, and Chris R. referenced The Who's version, but "SUMMERTIME BLUES" was also a left-field hit for San Francisco rockers Blue Cheer, whose proto-heavy-metal take made the Top 20 in 1968:


  52. Random question for CrossWorld: The clue on UNICYCLE (Take the wheel?) made me think about "plagiarism" as it pertains to reusing great clues in different crosswords. Let's say I write a puzzle with UNICYCLE in it, and I love that clue so much that I want to use it in my puzzle. I know if I submit it to the NYTimes, technically they "own" the puzzles anyway, so it wouldn't be "plagiarism," though it sort of feels like I'm passing that bit of brilliant cluing off as my own. But what if I publish that puzzle somewhere else? Is there such a thing as "plagiarizing" clues? And if so, should it only pertain to "great" clues (whatever that means)? Cause there are plenty of really basic clues that are used all the time to which I think we can all agree the concept of plagiarism shouldn't apply in any circumstances.

  53. You might look at the puzzle scandal from last year, in which it was found that the puzzle editor was skimming payments to faked names and publishing old NYT puzzles... but that was truly plagiarism. There are only so many ways to clue some words, so duplication is inevitable, but the case you present makes me think that unusual clues might be more in the 'protected' category. Let's see what some constructors have to say! Great question.

  54. and Elke
    Late and busy- a lot of comments to screen. Hope for no "dupes".
    Thought there was a mathematical theme : ADD, SUM(MER)TIME(BLUES),
    DECIMAL ,the clue for EDEN: 1-2-0 and the QUEEN OF MEAN (average/median).
    Then I SEE it's a P.B.
    My MARRIED MAN (vide supra) does not like ROB- lest he wind up IN STIR.
    In ESAU's times, polygamy was legal. Just sayin'.
    Liked especially clues for ASTEROID BELTS and ATLAS .
    Agree with MOL- never heard SAUSAGE DOG, but yes to "wiener "; but not "frankfurter".
    Thanks for a fun break.

  55. SAUSAGE DOG is nickname of choice here.

  56. That reminds me — I never did understand the clue "Appreciate" for SEE. Will have to check that one out.

  57. I appreciate what you're saying, polymath.

    hee hee

  58. A quick once over found enough long gimmes (QUEEN OF MEAN, MAD TEA PARTY, SUMMERTIME BLUES* cross SAUSAGE DOG that the rest fell relatively smoothly, clever clues and all.)

    * Great camp/driving song

  59. Never heard SAUSAGEDOG before. Back in the neighborhood we always said "Wiener Dog." But that in no way detracts from this fine puzzle.

  60. For some reason this took me noticeably longer than the usual Friday Patrick Berry puzzle. And it took a bit to find my mistake, SUMMERTIME FLUES. KUWAITI before QATARI, CUP before CAP, POP before TOY, LEAP before FEAT. Was at first surprised to see two REDs, the ALERT and the EAL (not to mention the EEL). I was vague on the meaning of SOT as "Soak" despite knowing the word "besotted." Did not know ESAU had engaged in polygamy. Fun!

  61. I'm late, and it's all been said. The usual applause for Patrick Berry.

    A couple of things I kept in mind, and turned out to be glad I didn't enter: RUPEES, ABATES, especially when ABATE turned up later. Proud of myself for remembering QUEEN OF MEAN and CHARO. But took forever to call up AMITY.

    Somehow I had Talladega associated in my mind with football.


    AVERY reminded me I have to pick up some labels.

    Didn't know that ESAU was a polygamist, but a lot of those Biblical guys were. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EsAG3pYdHk

    Thanks to all.

  62. Never do Fridays, Wed/Thurs my sweet spot but today I said what the hell and with the Eddie Cochran/Live at Leeds clue was off to the races. Was this an easy one, don't burst my bubble. Victory is sweet