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May 20, 2012

Bananarama Humpalot

Girl group with 1986 #1 hit / SAT 5-19-12 / 1977 Paul Davis hit / Poet credited with popularizing haiku / Humpalot Austin Powers villain / Bill who composed Gonna Fly Now / Snow Russell Brand's character / Comic strip that Chic Young abandoned to create Blondie /

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Matsuo BASHO (44D: Poet credited with popularizing haiku) —

Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉?, 1644 – November 28, 1694), born Matsuo Kinsaku (松尾 金作?), thenMatsuo Chūemon Munefusa (松尾 忠右衛門 宗房?),[1][2] was the most famous poet of the Edo period inJapan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as a master of brief and clear haiku. His poetry is internationally renowned, and in Japan many of his poems are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was "Easy," not "Medium," for me, but when I looked at the times at the NYT site, I saw that I was kind of an outlier in that regard. Times there look pretty normal for a Saturday. I was feeling this puzzle from the get-go. I dropped ARAL (10A: Asian sea name) and BANANARAMA (14A: Girl group with a 1986 #1 hit) about 2 seconds after I started the clock. "I GO CRAZY" was a ubiquitous radio hit *just* when I was beginning to listen to the radio (19A: 1977 Paul Davis hit that spent 25 weeks in the Top 40). I don't know the comic strip "DUMB DORA," but I know "Match Game," and they used that name in their fill-in-the-blank challenges a Lot (33D: Comic strip that Chic Young abandoned to create "Blondie"). Even BASHO came swimming up out of my memory banks with a few crosses. My grid shows no write-overs. CONTI (38A: Bill who composed "Gonna Fly Now") and the ALDOUS (40D: ___ Snow, Russell Brand's character in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Get Him to the Greek") were the only total mysteries to me, and they were crossed in such a way that they barely slowed me down. After a mostly painful, sloggy week, this was like a sunny path through clear mountain air. A short path, though; normally I would feel triumphant after slaying a Saturday puzzle in 7:25, but it's Patrick Berry, so ... ALDOUS aside (give me Huxley or give me death), I wish I'd gotten to spend a few more minutes with this one. Clean, crisp, fun. Please hold this puzzle up against Every Other Puzzle from this week to see the difference between clean, conscientious, professional grid-filling and "... meh, that'll do."

Oh, one more thing: this puzzle has no Es. None. Yeah, let that sink in. My friend Andrew pointed that out to me. He was like "*this* is what I pay the NYT money for," and I was like "yeah, this puzzle's really good," and he was like "did you notice...?" and I was all "what?" and then he goes: "it has no Es." And then there were five seconds of total awed silence. And then my brain exploded.

Rule #1 of puzzle construction: emulate Patrick Berry in all things. You will never be his equal, but the only honorable thing to do is die trying.

I love a puzzle with a lot of proper nouns — as long as they are drawn from a wiiiide range of fields (TV, movies, comics, poetry, music, opera, etc.). Almost everything here seemed either very well known (e.g. GARBO) (22D: Four-time Oscar nominee (never a winner) in the 1930s) or highly inferrable (e.g. IVANA Humpalot) (27A: ___ Humpalot, Austin Powers villain)—again, ALDOUS is the exception. There are nice pairings and juxtapositions all over the grid, from the AMIGOS having TACOS at the top to the SLIPPING ON and HANGING OUT at the bottom. "I GO CRAZY" fittingly runs through AMOR (10D: Topic for Catullus). Ooh, I noticed that I do have one almost imperceptible write-over. I had FLOP when the answer was FLIP (29D: Rapid turnover). Corazon AQUINO bailed me out there (actually, her assassinated husband, Benigno, is the person for whom the airport is named — he was actually assassinated *at* the airport in 1983 — but I know the name only because of her) (35A: Manila airport name).


  • 25A: "___ Time," 1952 million-selling Eddie Fisher hit ("ANY") — off the "A"; what else was it going to be? Eddie Fisher was Princess Leia's dad.
  • 43A: "Clamshell" computers of old (iBOOKS) — this and HANGING OUT took me way longer than they should've. I had the "i" and MACS wasn't long enough; then I just blanked until I got some crosses. 

  • 2D: Second Triumvirate member (ANTONY) — I'd like to think I'd've gotten this without crosses, but I'm not so sure. Anyway, I had crosses, so point moot.
  • 3D: David with a role for himself on TV (LARRY) — I have a certain young constructor friend who's *kind of* obsessed, so I've had occasion to think about this guy a fair amount lately, despite my never having seen even one completely episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Nothing personal. Just haven't gotten around to it. I assume I will. Eventually.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:09 AM

If a pangram is narcissistic BS, why isn't a show-off everything-but-E then narcissism squared? It contributes nothing to the solving experience, as Rex has rightly pointed out so so many times. I want a constructor's best work without these stupid nonsense constraints. Rex, I'm surprised you let that go, given your pangram fatwa.

Kevin F.

jae 12:10 AM

Now this is what a Sat. should be!  Medium-tough for me with a fair amount of zip...BANANARAMA, IGOCRAZY, MALCOLMX, ALDOUS....

Unlike Rex I had lots of erasures.  The ones that caused major problems were: naSTY - GUSTY, TApas-TACOS, JumpSIN-JOINSIN.

Easiest was SE, the rest was tough.  It helped to know BANANARAMA especially when THEBANGLES wouldn't work.   I suspect NW would be close to undoable without knowing that group.

PB again sets the standard.

r.alphbunker 12:23 AM

I conjecture that Es are used a lot in pangrams so an everything but E puzzle with no crappy fill is truly remarkable. The only substandard fill in my puzzle was the IdANA that I ended up with because I didn't want to let go of dDAY. Had I seen IVANA I would have easily given up the d.

There are no Es in my CAPTCHAs either

r.alphbunker 12:24 AM

I conjecture that Es are used a lot in pangrams so an everything but E puzzle with no crappy fill is truly remarkable. The only substandard fill in my puzzle was the IdANA that I ended up with because I didn't want to let go of dDAY. Had I seen IVANA I would have easily given up the d.

There are no Es in my CAPTCHAs either

foodie 12:26 AM

To add to the Word of the Day--In my so-called blog (under my avatar, really a few random items I have posted intermittently), I have a short review of a little book I loved called "The Heart of Haiku", with this quote from the author, Jane Hirshfield:

"As with Dungeons and Dragons a few years ago, or Worlds of War and Second Life today, linked verse brought its practitioners into an interactive community that was continually and rapidly evolving. Hovering somewhere between art-form and competition, renga writing provided both a party and a playing field in which intelligence, knowledge, and ingenuity might be put to the test. Add to this mix some of street rap’s boundary-pushing language, and, finally, the video images of You-Tube. Now imagine the possibility that a “high art” form of very brief films might emerge from You-Tube, primarily out of one extraordinarily talented young film-maker’s creations and influence. In the realm of 17th-century Japanese haiku, that person was Basho."

Anonymous 2:06 AM

Too bad there's no E in the grid. It would have been a pangram.

andra carla michals 2:31 AM

wow wow wow.
LOVE Pangrams, love a no E puzzle!!!!!
Didn't notice...thank you, mysterious Andrew!
Tho I had some Es! altho not after I had to change FORDe to FORDS and celLS to JAILS (and charadE).

Sometimes I don't get @Rex's Berry worship, but tonight totally.
Actually mostly bec of the JQKZX-ness of it all!

MALCOLMX next to AQUARIUM! @Rex's head might have exploded, and I volunteer to pick up the pieces.

I was all set to be corrected and let the world know that CALICOCAT has the same number of letters of whatever 1A turned out to be!

So to get CALICOCAT and BANARAMA off the bat (uck, sports metaphor)
i'd have to rate this easy, but super super super enjoyable to JOIN(s)IN and be HANGINGOUT with this puzzle for as long as it lasted.

I had write overs of iloilO for AQUINO...which is funny, bec I just spent 4 days in LA with my oldest friend from college, the fabulous actress Amy AQUINO (who pronounces it the Italian way of AKWEENO).

Oh yes, and I had CHablis for CHIANTI. I really need to drink more...

There was a certain poetry (altho I didn't know BASHO) with GARBO crossing a game with "a few words".

GALOSH this was fun!

Karl 3:10 AM

I instantly slammed down CHAMELEON instead of CALICOCAT...that slowed me down in the NW. Other than that, a medium puzzle with high entertainment value and good cluing. Nice Saturday!

I skip M-W 4:22 AM

Excellent puzzle, even though, contra @jae, I didn't know bananarama, Paul Davis (boring song, I think)

syndy 4:51 AM

When the cluing makes you fire up a brain cell or two and then you go "YES" instead of "WTH?" that's what it's all about!definitely EASY for a PB saturday-but pure pleasure,give the man an "E" for excellent!

Anonymous 7:14 AM

Enjoyed the Malcolm X answer on his birthday. A lot of Proper nouns that require knowledge but still uniquely clued ones as well. Liked the cluing for organist and gongs but the same clue twice seems like I have been cheated out of one clue.

Anonymous 7:29 AM

Hated this puzzle! Hate all the proper nouns! And many weren't knowable from the crosses.
I must be the Anti-Rex!!!

Orpreas nimpoke (the iPad hates this capcha!)

Rex Parker 8:00 AM

PB has never made a pangram.

I consider this his "fuck you" to pangrams. Ten times harder to make and so smooth you don't even know the magnitude of the feat he's pulling off.

I'd love a pangram if the fill were fantastic. Please read that sentence again.

A decent pangram is possible in a themeless, much less so in a themed puzzle (where grid is already strained by thematic elements). Pangram isn't the problem, per se—unnecessary overreaching is. The vast majority of the time, pangram is a bridge too far. People's failure to understand this, over and over again, completely boggles my mind.

Find me the terrible fill and I'll criticize the stunt. The opening comment today is completely fatuous, and irrelevant, bec. the puzzle is beautifully filled. If i hadn't told you about the Es, you wouldn't have found anything "wrong" with it.

You may not do stunts. Only Patrick Berry may do stunts. This also applies to low word-count puzzles.

That is all.

Jp 8:05 AM

While I like Patrick Berry puzzles, this one had too many names in it for my taste.

dk 8:07 AM

�������� (4 Four Stars)

This one had me at PINITAS.

Putting down a cork floor today… gotta quit stalling and: Git er done!

Kids. Practice safe hurricane - wear a GALOSH!

Lend me your ears 8:40 AM

Since Lepidus and Octavian didn't fit, 2d had to be Antony.

Antony and Cleopatra > Act III, scene VI

OCTAVIUS CAESAR: Caesar: and that, having in Sicily
Sextus Pompeius spoil'd, we had not rated him
His part o' the isle: then does he say, he lent me
Some shipping unrestored: lastly, he frets
That Lepidus of the triumvirate
Should be deposed; and, being, that we detain
All his revenue.

Glimmerglass 8:42 AM

I thought this was a great puzzle before I came here to learn it has no E's. Now I'm in awe of it. I think making a pangram would be easy compared to eelessness. Hats off to PB. After the recent flap about SUCK in the NYT puzzle, I'm surprised there is no surprise about GOOSING and its clue.

orangeblossomspecial 8:51 AM

Wasn't that Rick Nelson introducing Paul Davis in @Rex's video?

evil doug 8:59 AM
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evil doug 9:04 AM

Terrific, just exquisite.

Misspelled 'chiante' and thus 'Conte'. Funny. Looking at chiante horizontally, it's obviously not right. But vertically? Didn't notice.

Went with D-Day. I've heard of V-E Day, and V-J Day, but near as I can recall I've never noted the term 'V-Day'. 'Ivana' would have made it obvious, but never checked it.

My squadron was part of the 463rd Military Airlift Wing---'MAW'. And our C-130's tail ramp opened up like a big trap.

Michael: Time to forgo the debate on pangrams, no e's, so forth. Maybe post it in your Q and A or the site sidebar. It's all been said. Drop it.

Amigos next to tacos. Madrid over pinatas. Nice!

Loved 'goosing'. What's the difference between a snake and a goose? A snake is an asp in the grass, and a goose is....

...a grasp in the ass!

Sir Hillary Bray 9:07 AM

This puzzle sucks - Patrick Berry used two cheater squares! Kidding, kidding - it was an absolute pleasure.

Are LILYPADS *by* the water, or are they actually *on* the water?

I am guessing that BASHO is the only direct link between Ian Fleming and Chevy Chase. Fleming's title "You Only Live Twice" is taken from a Basho haiku, and in "Caddyshack" Chevy Chase's Ty Webb quotes the "Zen philosopher Basho" in some non-sensical way when he is giving Danny Noonan life lessons while golfing barefoot. I think it was the line about a donut without a hole being a danish. NA-Nanana...

jberg 9:12 AM

So much to love -- many already mentioned, also MAD LIBS, HANGING OUT, many clever clues. I'll just make three points.

1. I would never have written in 46A, ORDINALS, without crosses with another constructor. Somehow knowing it was Mr. Berry let me feel that this was reasonable.

2. @Rex, I thought this was pointed right at you - not only having no Es but having every other letter! I thought it was a hilarious take on anti-pangram sentiment: "OK, I better leave out a letter so I won't be criticized. How about E?"

3. I was stuck in the NW, convinced 1A must be Chameleon, until I put in XMAS, thought "hmm - there's a Z, Q, X -- guess I'll check for a pangram." Since there were no Es in the rest of the puzzle, I figured that one must be wrong.

You could argue that ORO is a little obscure, but guessable (3-letter Spanish word starting with L or a vowel), and anyway who cares with this beautiful puzzle.

jackj 9:26 AM

This puzzle proved to be a fair fight, (looking back after it was over), but it sure didn’t look like it early on.

After skimming the clues over the entire grid, my first entry was a (tentatively) confident answer to 50 across, SLIPPINGON. When things began to make sense after that one, I chanced that I was on Patrick’s wavelength and entered answers like GUSTY, JAILS, PINATAS, GALOSH, XMAS (which made MALCOLMX a gimme), ARAL and BASTA for example, and it proved to be a good call.

With so many proper nouns to be dealt with, failure always seemed just a Natick away but when CAMILLA joined the grid, the rest of the difficulties at the top evaporated and it was a clean fill to the finish.

Seeing the GARBO, “never got an Oscar” cluing is reminiscent of the Red Buttons schtick that he milked at every Hollywood tribute roast when he would chide the honoree about all the truly deserving souls who “never got a dinner”.


“Moses, who said to the Israelites, “Stop calling me Charlton!” “Never got a dinner!”

“Eve, who asked Adam, “Does this fig leaf make me look fat?” “Never got a dinner!”

Does it matter that there were no “E’s” in the puzzle? Didn’t seem to make a bit of difference, which is a compliment to Patrick’s unparalleled talent.

Campesite 9:38 AM

Perhaps this was Patrick Berry's paean to Gadsby, a book of 50,000 words without the letter E.


quilter1 10:03 AM

Wow, more medium-challenging for me because of all the names I didn't know, but the ones I did know helped a lot. I think my brain was still asleep because it took a long time to remember MADLIBS. First entry was SLIPPING ON. And I didn't notice the absence of E until coming here.

I always like Patrick's puzzles because he makes me work hard while smiling. Now to plant my flowerpots before it gets too hot.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM

Hadn't noticed the lipogram.

Thought I had finished correctly with just one write-over at 42 A, "CBer's place", had RIG before CAB; but see I was wrong at 28 D, had DDAY instead of VDAY (which I never heard of, but see it is legit.)

mac 10:36 AM

I hate those captchas.

Awesome, awesome puzzle, even more so after hearing there were no Es in it. The fact that so many of us didn't notice makes it perfect.

Had landing and patting for goosing, what a great word! Some areas of the puzzle were easy/medium, some names made it very hard. Got there in the end.

Anonymous 10:37 AM

Took forever to get started in this one, but then made slow, steady progress after getting FORDS/FINI. Would have helped in the NW if I'd been able to recall BANANARAMA sooner - I bought the Shocking Blue single of "Venus" and still have the Bananarama CD with that song.

Nice solve. Thanks to Mr. Berry.

Norm 10:54 AM

Found this much harder than Rex since some of his gimmes (like BANANARAMA and IGOCRAZY) were total mysteries to me, but everything was ultimately inferable. Much fun.

archaeoprof 11:03 AM

Loved every minute of it. SW was incredible.

Back in college a professor told me every white person should read the autobiography of MALCOLMX. It was good advice.

loren muse smith 11:06 AM

This was simply artful! I didn’t catch its final lacking link to form a pangram – truly proof of its artistry!!!

Lots of tricky spots – I had “grant” first for GARBO and “rig” and “Sharpton” for CAB and MALCOLM X.

Cluing for PINATAS, HANGINGOUT, and LILYPADS was oh, so slick.

Thank you, Patrick. This was nothing short of brilliant!

Mel Ott 11:07 AM

I'm with @Evil. Don't see how IVANA is "highly inferrable" if the obvious answer to 28D seems to be D-DAY. VE-DAY and VJ-DAY don't fit, and don't know from VDAY.

Pretty hard puzzle for me, partly because of all the proper names. Had to go to the SW to get a toehold.

I'm pretty sure Stop signs in France and Quebec say "ARRET" so that's what I wanted for 14D. Didn't get going in that corner until the Eddie Fisher song "ANY Time" emerged from the dregs of my memory.

lawprof 11:29 AM

What an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday morning! Probably my quickest Saturday ever, with three writeovers: arret/BASTA, cells/JAILS and (duh) mandella/MALCOLMX (thanks to anonymous @ 7:14 for pointing out that today is the latter's birthday). Didn't realize that this puzzle contained no e's until I came here. Does that mean I get a DNF?

Anonymous 11:33 AM

According to xwordinfo, this is the first time there has been a New York Times puzzle that had every letter except E. I can't tell how to find out on cruciverb if that's true for other publishers but either way, quite an accomplishment! I couldn't finish. Too many names I didn't know. But I still admire it.

Anonymous 11:39 AM

Abhor too many prop. nouns in grids, so did not warm to today's crossword. But still highly applaud it. Anybody who constructs a pangram lacking -s should win high praise.

Shamik 11:44 AM

Put me in the DDAY category because both crosses made sense that way...even if in error. Glad to see Bob Kerfuffle and Mel Ott agreed with me there!

It's been a busy month and have less puzzles looked at than in a long time...so my time yesterday was a devastating medium challenging and today's time was a little over half of the time I took to solve the Friday puzzle. Made this one an easy Saturday (except for IDANA).

Bravo, bravo, bravo on the E-less puzzle. A pangram can seem a forced exercise if not constructed well. An e-less puzzle...the force and effort had to be all on the part of the Patrick Berry because the majority of people probably never noticed.

In awe of this seamless construction.

Tita 11:44 AM

Liked this - ti was challenging for me, and sadly, a DNF, but still a satisfying almost-solve.


DNF was at @r.alph's IdANA/dDAY. Also careless error - put in oNe as the song title at 25A, which took my correct BASTA and made it BASTo....
But once I submitted and was told I had errors, they were all easy to fix.

In short, very happy to not have resorted to google, in spite of a write-over graph that was nearly solid orange and reds!

@Anon @ 2:60 - is that true?? Pangram-E? I find that hilarious and very cool...

@Foodie - thanks for that - most interesting!

@Rex - loved your "e"-dialogue, and your #1 Rule.

@dk - I put down a cork floor last fall - love it! Plus, it give those cork growers in Portugal alternate distribution channels, since wine corks are going the way of the Passenger Pigeon.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 11:54 AM

@31 -- MetaBerry would never use the F-bomb on other crossword folks. This grid was probably just his way of sayin' "I am a professional. Do not try this at home."

My goal in life is now to create a puz with nothing but E's in the grid. Should be pretty straightforward, except for the cluing. "I am a nitwit. Do not invite me into your home."

Fave fillins: GOOSING & BASHO. (Sounds like the old "Death or Boola" joke.)

Fave clue: "Touching bottom?" Need to pause here and do the ol' thUmbsUp. This clue is extra cool, cuz it describes what the answer word is doing, grid-wise. Har.

Cheerio 12:00 PM

This puzzle was easy with google, hard without. The southwest corner is nice.

JaxInL.A. 12:07 PM

I share in Rex's unswerving devotion to Mr. Berry's work. Erudite, tricky, fun, clever, mmm mmm good. I didn't think I would be able to solve this as I struggled to get a toehold. Finally googled for Ms. Humpalot and worked around from there, sometimes filling in only single letters, but it all felt fair in the end.

Did you know that Patrick Berry edits the weekly (more or less) puzzle for the Chronicle of Higher Education? He brings his talent and sensibility to all of the constructors he publishes there. I find them very rewarding. You can get the CHE puzzles for free on Fridays from Cruciverb.com.

loren muse smith 12:10 PM

@Masked and A - it's been done. I think it was a Sunday puzzle, and its title was "Eland." Gorski maybe? I'm pretty sure it was a female constructor.

Masked and Anonymous 12:16 PM

@loren: Har. Naa. You way overestimate my brilliance. I'm talkin' about theme answers that look like this: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Shorter answers would be stuff like EEE and perhaps an occasional EEEEEEE.
Liz Gorski would want no part of being associated with it.

loren muse smith 12:29 PM

@M and A - Too funny! Just try to avoid the "wide shoe" crosswordese, EEE. Other than that, go for it!

Masked and Anonymous 12:46 PM

@loren- yep. Cluing will be a challenge. Feel free to chip in some suggestions. So far, all I got is:
"Text generated by a keyboard jam" (EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE)

@MetaBerry: I think you're amazing, dude. I think you did this sorta thing with everything else but U's, once. Please oh please Don't do that again.

Z 1:02 PM

@Shamik, Bob, and Mel - IVANA Humpalot wasn't inferrable? In a puzzle with "Touching bottom?" as a clue, no less. I think you need to spend more time with @DK and @Evil.

It took me quite awhile to gain a foothold. Got SLIPPING ON, then slowly but surely worked my way out from the SE. The NE gave me fits. Spelling ARAL A-s-A-L didn't help any. I thought ARAL too obvious for a Saturday on my first pass, then wrote that "s" for who knows what reason when I had AMAZONIA and LILYPADS. Looking at s--APART with an aria and a who knows what for the two crossing letters had me baffled.

Another fine puzzle.

John V 1:03 PM

Just a quick drop in so say, WOW. Played a bit more toward the challenging side for me, but PB puzzles are ALWAYS a ball.

Re: GOOSING, can't help wondering what we'd get if Lynn Lempel and PB co-constructed. Just wondering.

Anonymous 1:04 PM

@Mel OTT - IVANA Humpalot is much funnier than IDANA Humpalot by a factor of very funny to not funny at all, so it had to be IVANA

loren muse smith 1:09 PM

@M and A - "Eighty" EEEEEEEE?

Tita 1:18 PM

@Mel_Ott , ED, et al....
I made the IdANA/dDaY mistake, and while the latter is a perfectly good answer, IVANA should have been very inferable -- I knew that it had to be an aptonym, and IVANA Humpalot is definitely that.
I never saw more than 20 minutes of any of those movies, but knew it needed to be something to titter over.

@Loren @11:06 - vry clvr ...too bad your nam has an in it...

And let me say that my favorite clue/answer was MADLIBS! Oh the hours we kids whiled away, with our stash of standard "sure to be hilarious or dirty or both" words that we would plunk in to every blank.

@r.alph - my capcha is e-less too...is Berry a robot?

Tita 1:22 PM

@Z - not only that, but CAMILLA is most definitely getting a good GOOSING, as M&A inferred...!

(Darn - hit my limit - better go outside now and play...)

Anonymous 1:29 PM

You know, in one sense, this is a pangram. I really doubt that PB considers this puzzle as a thumb in the eye to pangrams but more likely as a challenge to do a puzzle without the most commonly used letter. But in going that route, he created his own pangram. Did he need to use every other letter? Regardless, the feat is remarkable and even more so by utilizing the rest of the alphabet.

This was not as easy for me as others because I'm uneducated, illiterate and boring....


600 1:41 PM

First, so I don't forget, I love this puzzle. The lack of E's took it up a couple of levels, but it was already amazing.

Hand up for The Bangles before BANANARAMA. Took me a long time to get over that.

@acme--You know Amy Aquinas TOO? I love her!!!

@Mel Ott and others--In case you haven't figured it out from the others above, I inferred IVANA, never having seen the movie, by saying "I vanna hump a lot" OUT LOUD. The pun makes it inferrable. I danna humpalot just doesn't get it.

@archaeoprof--Indeed! You made me remember 1970 when I was teaching in Ft. Lauderdale the year of integration (yes. Fourteen years after Brown vs., Ft. Lauderdale integrated.) Integration was accomplished in the 9th and 10th grades first. Juniors and seniors were allowed to stay in their home school. Me: 24, white, had known maybe two black people in my life. My class: 18, all black. Don't know how much experience they had had with white people, but not much. I obviously learned way more than those kids did that year, and the first--and I mean FIRST thing I did was read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Then I read The Fire Next Time, Black Boy, Native Son, The Invisible Man . . . you get the point.

So this is a long way of saying yes, every white person should read The Autobiography, and thank you, @ archaeoprof, for bringing me back that memory.

joho 2:06 PM

It's all been said already, but I do have to chime in with my highest praise and admiration for the one and only Patrick Berry. Wow, what a puzzle!

@Glimmerglass, interesting how many "e's" there are in "eelessness!"

Bravo, Berry!

ANON B 3:38 PM

One of my pet peeves, and from
an English professor,yet:
"He was like" and then "I was like".
What ever happened to "he said" and "I said"?

Numbers Guy 3:42 PM

one thing that hasnt been said is an important trait of PB puzzles that may not be as noticeable to the regular posters.

i rarely do fri-sat and on those occasions measure difficulty by how many words i get. have always done well with PB grids, even the 'die is cast' week, and today was the first saturday ive ever completed with no errors and no googling proper nouns. after scanning all the proper nouns i almost didnt start, but AQUINO is a gimme to anyone who worked in manila and then went c-clockwise with the only difficulty being uRAL instead of ARAL. i didnt know the proper nouns but all could be inferred with some crosses, like IVANA from the I and BANANARAMA from the MA.

my point is that i believe another quality of PB is that he makes good interesting puzzles, without cluing that insults your intelligence, accessible to people who arent professionals.

ANON B 3:47 PM

When did "f--- y--" become permissible? I never noticed it before.

Mel Ott 4:26 PM

@600 Ah. Thank you. You're right - the pun makes it inferrable. Didn't get the pun, and I think you are also right that one may need to say it out loud to get it.

Anonymous 5:06 PM

ANON B (Nate?) - Rex adores Patrick Berry (just in case you hadn't noticed). He doesn't mind people saying mean things about himself but he takes offense when it’s aimed at Mr. Berry. Therefore, when Rex posted that comment I think he was slightly pissed off. Actually I thought the first comment was thought-provoking, deserving more than a terse dismissal, but apart from the pangram part I really don’t think of Mr. Berry as narcissistic. From his photo he looks like one of the nicest people you would ever meet and his puzzles are generally gems. His week-long puzzle about Caesar last year was an instant classic, deserving more than Will Shortz could ever pay him. So even if Mr. Berry has never done a pangram I think today’s puzzle proves he can and possibly he doesn’t want to, which might be what Rex was saying in his terse summation....


michael 5:10 PM

Great puzzle even before I found about the e-less pangram. Put me down for idana/dday though I know something wasn't right here.

michael 5:11 PM

"knew" not know. Because I make these kinds of careless mistakes, you can imagine how I feel about captcha...

miriam b 5:41 PM

Lovely puzzle. Things are chaotic around here because I'm gradually moving things back into the kitchen after having had the floor sanded and refinished. Three coats, and three+ days of cooking and eating-at-home withdrawal. But the puzzle lifted my spirits.

I leapt on the La Bohème aria because indeed, mi chiamano MIMI, at least all relatives and some friends do.

I have a dilute CALICOCAT, my polydactyl nut case.

I was feeling very comfortable until I encountered SO MANY pop references, but I finished the puzzle and am now prepared to continue making the kitchen habitable again.

miriam b 5:52 PM

My only nitpick: I too think of LILYPADS as being IN the water.

sanfranman59 6:13 PM

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. 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 6:49, 6:50, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Tue 9:00, 8:52, 1.01, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:09, 11:50, 0.94, 39%, Easy-Medium
Thu 21:11, 19:00, 1.12, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 21:48, 24:46, 0.88, 29%, Easy-Medium
Sat 24:33, 29:28, 0.83, 15%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:02, 4:35, 1.10, 80%, Challenging
Wed 6:04, 5:53, 1.03, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 10:04, 9:22, 1.07, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 10:34, 12:15, 0.86, 30%, Easy-Medium
Sat 13:16, 16:44, 0.79, 14%, Easy

Anonymous 6:16 PM

Vday inferable, but forced. There were two wars going, so VE Day and VJ Day. An important distinction.

Anonymous 6:25 PM

@Nate, @JFC - Jesus guys, for one paragraph of the write up Rex chose to depict a conversation as if it were between two teenagers. For his, and our, fun. It's called creative writing.

mac 6:43 PM

You can say many things about Rex, but he's an outstanding writer! Don't you get his humor??
What a puzzle this was.

EmilyPostInstitute 7:58 PM

Put @RP 8:00AM through the rudeness filter and got

Everything PB does is smooth. For example his Sept 27, 2009 puzzle was a pangram and nobody noticed it. In retrospect, what was remarkable about that puzzle was that it was a pangram in a puzzle with a **very** ambitious theme. I am sorry that I did not notice it at the time and am glad that I have a chance to acknowledge that now.

A Berry pangram shows that the pangram isn't the problem, per se—unnecessary overreaching is.
IMO, the vast majority of the time, pangram is a bridge too far.

Acm 9:40 PM

Totally agree that this is about makiNg a puzzle without an E, the most common letter and that he had to make it otherwise a pangram because it would muddy his feat to have one say, "this puzzle had no E, and no J or Q"...
That would totally undermine the premise of writing without an E....
So he had to use all the other letters, so hardly a thumbintheeye so there to the notion of pangrams...if anything a clever homage to them!

That and what @campesite 9:36 said about the great Gadsby!

Dirigonzo 10:11 AM

I started the puzzle after work yesterday and by bed-time I had it all done except the NW corner, atop which sat my tortieCAT, hiding everything below her. She still hadn't moved this morning so that section remained sadly white. Damn that cat.

Girl group with 1986 #1 hit / SAT 5-19-12 / 1977 Paul Davis hit / Poet credited with popularizing haiku / Humpalot Austin Powers villain / Bill who composed Gonna Fly Now / Snow Russell Brand's character / Comic strip that Chic Young abandoned to create Blondie / Constructor: Patrick Berry Relative ... » See Ya at » What Gets Me Hot