African desert that includes Skeleton Coast / SAT 12-12-15 / Cosmetics company founder Rocher / Longtime radio rival of Stern / State symbol with reduplicative name / Make squirrellike exit / Bathroom brand with Snaked Plus variety

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Constructor: Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: NAMIB (57A: African desert that includes the Skeleton Coast) —
The Namib is a coastal desert in southern Africa. The name Namib is of Nama origin and means "vast place". According to the broadest definition, the Namib stretches for more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, extending southward from the Carunjamba River in Angola, through Namibia and to the Olifants River in Western Cape, South Africa. The Namib's northernmost portion, which extends 450 kilometres (280 mi) from the Angola-Namibia border, is known as Moçâmedes Desert, while its southern portion approaches the neighboring Kalahari Desert. From the Atlantic coast eastward, the Namib gradually ascends in elevation, reaching up to 200 kilometres (120 mi) inland to the foot of the Great Escarpment. Annual precipitation ranges from 2 millimetres (0.079 in) in the most arid regions to 200 millimetres (7.9 in) at the escarpment, making the Namib the only true desert in southern Africa. Having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for roughly 55–80 million years, the Namib may be the oldest desert in the world. (wikipedia)
The Skeleton Coast is the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia and south of Angola from the Kunene River south to the Swakop River, although the name is sometimes used to describe the entire Namib Desert coast. The Bushmen of the Namibian interior called the region "The Land God Made in Anger", while Portuguese sailors once referred to it as "The Gates of Hell". (wikipedia)
• • •

I am writing from a cabin the woods. We are in the middle of bleeping nowhere and it is Glorious. Quiet quiet quiet. So quiet, in fact, that the clicking of the keys and touchpad on my laptop is really distractingly loud. My traveling companion is trying to sleep but there are no separate bedrooms—just a large, open building with vaulted ceilings. So anyway, said companion is on another level of the house, but there are no walls. So I'm self-conscious about all this late-night clacking. You might ask, then, why I am wasting time with all this prefatory explanation—if I'm so concerned about the clacking, why all this extra clacking? This is a very good question. So, to the point: this will be brief. The puzzle was wonderful, but it's Byron Walden, so this is not surprising. He is one of my favorite constructors, though he doesn't construct nearly enough for my tastes. As 66-worders go, this is both very polished and very loaded with glorious longer answers. I like the quadstacks of 9s in the SW and NE. You don't see quad-9s that often. Weird that in both stacks, the bottom answer is the weakest. It's like it's straining under the weight of the majesty above it. I was not aware that HORSEWOMAN or ANTI-PRESS or POST-SALES were real terms, though they were all easily inferrable.

Favorite clues were mostly in the NW, where [Skilled forger] tricked me briefly with its misdirection and [Job tester] didn't, though I admired its effort. The best clue, though, was 28D: It has issues with feminism (MS. MAGAZINE) Issues? Oh, issues! I got my first real grip on the grid with 2D: Balcony address? ("ROMEO, ROMEO"). Wanted MANTA (?) for MORAY (15A: Reef denizen) and AS IF I CARE for LIKE I CARE (56A: "Whatevs") and SHARK for STENO (37A: Pool party)—that last one is definitely my favorite wrong answer. One party in a pool game ... could be a pool SHARK. Why not? GRENOBLOISE sounds horrible as a word but delicious as a style of food preparation. I will apparently never ever ever remember Aretha Franklin's sister's name (38A: Franklin who sang "A Piece of my Heart") (ERMA). There are two cosmetics names in this grid: YVES and MERLE. I have nothing to say about this ... just noticed it, thought it was unusual. Now, with the unfortunate strains of "MY HUMPS" playing in my mind's ear, I'm going to bed.  See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


kozmikvoid 12:34 AM  

Mixed feelings about this one. Parts I found too easy for a Saturday, parts I found too difficult to enjoy. I think I'll agree with most today that SW was almost unbearably difficult, whereas NE down to SE were incredibly straight-forward. Nothing about this puzzle was overwhelmingly impressive. The 9-stacks in the North were bland and Wednesday-ish while their counterparts in the South I had absolutely no luck obtaining, and was left with a "meh" feeling when I finally got the crosses that led to completion. OPENCOILS is blah, POSTSALES is a non-existent business term and ASPICS is nasty fill. The best answers are surely found in the center third of the puzzle, but this just left me with a LIKEICARE taste in my mouth. I give a "WOO" to the clue for PRISM, but I'm hoping a few CUPSOFCOCOA and a good Sunday themer are waiting for me tomorrow night.

As a P.S., I "got" the "Equal amts." clue yesterday, but still didn't like it. I've only ever seen Equal in packet form...unlike sugar I've never seen anyone scoop a teaspoonful of Equal into coffee.

Cheers, and a good weekend to all.

MDMA 1:22 AM  

"Pitch woo" must be some kind of preposterous regional slang, or an outdated idiom. Had to do an alphabet run on JA_ING, and still spent several minutes in disbelief before typing the W and swearing at the iPad as the victory chime played.

Anonymous 1:59 AM  

I don't understand "Pitch Woo" and what decade it is from? Honestly, it could be pre-WWI or it could be the latest slang and I would be equally baffled. And not a single crossword blog I read mentioned it!

jae 2:14 AM  

Easy for me except for NE which took way too long.  No idea about GRENOBLOISE, forgot that JOLIE recently tacked on PITT, dEet before MESH, YVES was a WOE, plus I had uSMAGAZINE only because it was the first mag that surfaced in my head which made BRAHMS tough to see.  

What @Rex said, just delightful, liked it a lot.

chefwen 2:41 AM  

How is it that I have lived this long and never heard of the NAMIB dessert? I must have known it at one time and just forgot, yeah, I'll stick with that.

Rex nailed it, this was a wonderful puzzle, I enjoyed (almost) every minute. Had to look up a couple of things, hey it's Saturday, that comes with the territory for me. Got a little hung up on 39A' couldn't figure out what a reproductive state symbol could be. My beloved NENE? I know their numbers are coming back n'all, but reproductive? Oh, I see, re duplicative O.K. Now that makes sense. Must get eyes checked as well as ears. Husband keeps accusing me of GOing DEAF.

LIKE I CARE along with the clue Whatevs made me feel like going back to high school for a refresher class.

Fun puzzle Mr. Walden, thanks!

George Barany 4:06 AM  

Absolutely wonderful puzzle by @Byron Walden, just what a Saturday should be, and a lovely review by @Rex. Sounds like your retreat is just what you need after a challenging semester teaching. I'll steal a concept from your writeup ... while my typing is unlikely to awaken my wife, turning on the Alanis Morisette song that you link to just might. So, memo to self, listen to that song, the title of which I had to totally work out from crossings and a dollop of common sense, once at the office to resume grading term papers.

It was very rewarding to work out JOHN_MCENROE and be reminded of his greatness (link is to the memorable 1980 Wimbledon tiebreaker against Borg). His birthplace was news to me, since he was already a fixture in Port Washington, not that far from where I grew up, by the time I became aware of him on the local tennis scene.

As to my own birthplace, it's not New York City as many of you might now conclude, but rather Budapest, Hungary. So 25-Across should have been a gimme, right? Not quite. I tried both BARTOK and KODALY before settling on the correct BRAHMS. Click here for the shaving scene from "The Great Dictator," directed by and starring @Charlie Chaplin--one of the funniest yet most heart-wrenching films ever made.

So much great fill and cluing, and watching seemingly unsussable answers emerge. The JOLIE after PITT was in place [didn't Brangelina costar in this movie about SMITH?], the IRISH after POUND was in place, the HORSE after WOMAN was in place. SATAN with the misdirection about Job. Thanking heaven for GIGI. New (as far as I know) clues for ERMA and NENE. The UPENN clue was about the School of Business, not the author of The Age of Innocence. GRENOBLOISE just seemed right. Fantastic clue for SPIRAL. I held my breath in the SE, with difficult clues for crossing products/brands (DRANO, ATARI) also crossing a desert I never heard of (NAMIB), but eventually took a BOW when it all ended well.

One of the joys of this blog has been making all sorts of cyberfriends over the years. An occasional poster (he stopped by yesterday) celebrated his 84th birthday a few weeks ago; learn more about him in A Man Who Loves Buster Keaton and Buster Posey and the corresponding "midrash." As for the inevitable complaint that might follow, would a certain gentleman on the East Coast please do us all the honor of actually trying Club Rex first? You'll thank me for it (my e-mail address is a matter of public record), and happy holidays to all!

GILL I. 6:19 AM  

What a strange MY HUMPS video....and such a sweet voice!
Loved this because it was Byron Walden and I love his name and all his puzzles. This happened to be one of his easier ones for me. At one time I'd see his name and eeeek my way through maybe two or three answers. Today, no need for Google or my 50 year old Webster.
I'm more of a Meuniere type person but I know of GRENOBLOISE. I will also say that I don't know any cooks who throw that word around because, lets face it, it sounds awful as French words go...
MS MAGAZINE was the first subscription I ever got. It was so hot in the early 70's and I carried it around proudly so everyone could see that I was liberated and I believed everything Gloria Steinem ever uttered. I also read Playboy just for the articles...
CUPS OF COCOA, almost down the middle makes me smile - just like this fine Saturday.

TrudyJ65 6:19 AM  

Compared to yesterday's puzzle, which I kept picking away at all day and never would have finished without turning on the hints, today's was almost too easy -- not that I'm complaining! Being able to solve a Saturday so quickly makes me feel smart.

Anonymous 6:35 AM  

I can see why BW is one of Rex's favorites. Nothing to be ashamed of in this puzzle. John McEnroe and Scamper Away and their related 9's were impressive.

Note to self: If I never see "my traveling companion" again it'll be too soon. Poseur-babble or what?

phil phil 7:17 AM  

My fastest Saturday.
I enjoyed solving although being a Saturday it could have been clued much more ... 'unenjoyable' shall I say.

Out of the gate...PMS was too easy, PRISM could have referenced the current day NSA illegal spying op. In some strange covert clueing, and so on.

But thanks to Byron for letting guys like me solve an excellent puzzle.

Conrad 7:35 AM  

I'd like to coo with my baby tonight
And pitch some woo with my baby tonight
I'd like to coo with my baby tonight
And pitch some woo with my baby tonight
But brother, you fight my baby tonight
'Cause it's too darn hot

Cole Porter, Kiss Me Kate, 1949

LaurieG 7:37 AM  

post sales is not a non business term. every tech company I ever worked for had a group to handle this.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

It's too darn hot
It's too darn hot
I'd like to coo with my baby tonight
And pitch the woo with my baby tonight
I'd like to coo with my baby tonight
And pitch the woo with my baby tonight
But brother, you fight my baby tonight
'Cause it's too darn hot

-- from Kiss Me Kate by Cole Porter

Robso 7:51 AM  

Turns out a banjolele is not some kind of micro-organism. This was an amazingly good puzzle. I love all the misdirection.
Byron Walden, I salute you!

NCA President 8:43 AM  

Rex is in the middle of bleeping nowhere...yet has internet access. Ah, the 21st Century...'tis a grand time to be alive.

Several clues slowed me down: "Light shower" (mist? nope); "Job tester" (taster? nope); "Base closure?" (gate? nope); and "Apres-ski warmers" (some kind of French cup of cocoa? nope). And then there were the downright "I have no idea" answers: NAMIB, YVES, and GRENOBLOISE.

Things I learned: McEnroe is German-born, Drano has a "Snake Plus variety," and Artaxerxes and Iolanthe are usually performed IN ENGLISH. ESAU was Joseph's uncle...I guess I could have figured that out, but I hadn't put that together before. Heh...who knew?

Mistakes: Manta v. MORAY; SCurryAWAY v. SCAMPERAWAY; dEet v. MESH; heIght v. OTITIS.

WTF's? HORSEWOMAN? Seriously, Lady Godiva...the woman with the long hair who rode a horse naked through a town on a dare...and she's a HORSEWOMAN? If you ask me, that's the least of her worries. POSTSALES seems inelegant to me, as did cross cluing SATAN with IST.

I probably liked this puzzle...I did make below average time though.

Questinia 9:25 AM  

Nice review by Prof. Rex from the hinterlands.

Andrew Morrison 9:25 AM  

Wow. Easy. Like, record-time-for-me easy. For whatever reason I was on the correct wavelength today, so none of my usual 'huh? what?' On oblique clues.

Never used the term 'pitching WOO' myself, I only know it from Merle Haggard's 'Okie from Muskogee' which for some strange reason resides in my iTunes library.

mac 9:30 AM  

Agree with Rex and most of you, what a beautiful puzzle!

Only write-over was A LA MEUNIERE, my mistake, that doesn't have capers and lemon. Grenobloise is my go-to recipe for sole and thin chicken filet.

I did not know this Alanis song, thank you!

Nancy 9:41 AM  

MY HUMPS was a Grammy-winning hit? Who sang it? A camel?

Learned that JOHN MCENROE was born in Germany. Didn't know that. Also learned that Angelina JOLIE is Angelina JOLIE-PITT. Didn't know that either.

For Lady Godiva -- Did anyone else have LOOSE WOMAN before HORSE WOMAN? BRAHMS straightened me out, although I originally thought Hungarian Dances was written by that Hungarian composer. You know who I mean.

Wasn't it God who tested Job? SATAN didn't test Job, he tested God by talking him into testing Job. (I've always hated that book, btw.)

This was one of the hardest puzzles I've ever done -- especially in the NE and SW. I had to look up GIGI to finish it. The G in GIGI gave me JUNGLE GYM, which I just wasn't seeing. At that point I was really done in by DEET at 14D instead of MESH. DEET was one of my first answers to go in, and it made the NE ungettable.

There were things I liked a lot about this puzzle and some things I didn't like much at all. Iolanthe "usually" performed IN ENGLISH? Well, Duh. An answer so obvious that I couldn't see it. So mixed emotions, but did love the challenge.

thursdaysd 9:42 AM  

No progress at all until the SE, where knowing NAMIB gave me traction. Worked through everything but the NE where I finally gave up and googled (actually duckduckgo'ed) the horrible GRENOBLOISE. Never heard the word, despite having visited the city.

Otherwise enjoyed it, not too many proper nouns. Pitching WOO is terribly dated, though. Hesitated between MS and GQ magazines for a little. Never read the latter but can imagine it weighing in on the feminism issue on occasion.

Mohair Sam 9:42 AM  

Terrific Saturday. Agree with OFL once again today, especially about the quality of the quad stacks - fantastic.

Puzzle was tough to crack for us, but fell quickly once we got started (IMUS and JOLIEPenn). UPENN quickly got us married to Angelina's correct husband. I see the internet is fine with UPENN, but I've spent a lot of time with Penn Veterinary grads and live near Philly - folks I know just call it Penn. Whatevs.

@Rex: Texted my niece who has owned and operated a horse farm in Upstate New York for over a decade (you may be encabined near her), asked if she'd ever been called a HORSEWOMAN. Her reply: "Like ten times a day, why?" She's prone to hyperbole, but still.

Never heard Ms. Morissette's love song, but got the title off the MYH, I'm an incurable romantic.

chefbea 9:51 AM  

Never heard of Grenobloise sauce. I make chicken and veal with butter, capers, parsley and lemon. It's always been called Piccata!!!

Puzzle too tough for me

Hartley70 9:51 AM  

I had trouble in the NE stack because I couldn't see JUNGLEGYM for the longest time. This puzzle was full of misdirection. SPIRAL was the last answer I filled in. ERMA? It was Janis Joplin all the way for me. I'm a huge fan of Meunière whenever it's on the menu. I'm unacquainted with GRENOBLOISE but yum sounds about right. Great Saturday puzzle for me!

tb 9:52 AM  

@George Barany - Thank you for clearing up a mystery which has kept me awake many a night. That is to say, I was burning with curiosity about your birthplace. But now, there is an even bigger question: were you born in Buda or Pest? Please let us know soon. An anxious world breathlessly awaits your answer. And thank you for bringing up one of my favorite composers, Bartok. Did you know Bela? Perhaps you were born in the same hospital? OMG! It just occurred to me! You are from the same country as the Gabor sisters! I'm tingling all over.

And you lived in a town near the world-famous John McEnroe. You have truly led an exemplary life. One envies you.

MI Nana 9:56 AM  

First Saturday puzzle I've finished without googling or giving up, so feeling sunny on a grey Michigan Saturday.

Z 9:57 AM  

Having never heard of MY HUMPS, I played the Black Eyed Peas video and got the side eye from my traveling companion (that's just for you @anon6:35). Then I played the Alanis Morrisette version. I have NEVER liked Alanis more. Son #1 says MY HUMPS was a thing when he was in high school, so the late naughts.

Smooth, just a little tussle here and there, but ultimately easy. MESH was nEts at first, and our good Lady was a naked WOMAN before she was a HORSE WOMAN. I also seem to believe that U PENN is more commonly called PENN, so I was looking for Edith Wharton's home, not Donald Trump's alma mater (hmmm - think any white rich guy affirmative action was at work there? Hard to believe he made it in on his own merits).

As for Pitch WOO, it seems to be from the 1800's, but I know my wannabe Rap Star students in Kalamazoo (circa 1990) knew and used the term. I didn't get it immediately, but had no issue with it once it appeared.

Ryan 10:04 AM  

#funfact, "My Humps" was originally sung by the Black Eyed Peas. I know what you're all thinking, LIKEICARE.

What a lovely Saturday. Time to SCAMPERAWAY before I SLUMPOVER.

Tita 10:16 AM  

Well, I finished six of the seven puzzles in the grid...but I had to resort to the first level of cheating (clearing wrong letters) in order to finish the NE puzzle.

I briefly thought those operas might be performed INthe nude.

Lady Godiva was nORSE? Who knew??

Loved clueS for STRANDS and PUP.

This puzzle made me hungry, what with that sauce, EGG drop soup and rolls, hot COCOA, and ASPICS. Even the SLOP was sounding good.

Not sure how I feel about the theme, though...
First, I SAG, then I GODEAF, then I SLUMPOVER my desk. And then, I meet SATAN...???

I lived in Europe from 99 to 2002, and through that historic currency transition. It was fun to check your change for coins from the other countries... I always thought the US missed an opportunity to have that dynamic of discovery when we issued state-specific disappointing that they were not distributed by state!!,
I'm not an economist or currency expert, so I can't comment on the success or failure of that endeavor, but it was nice getting paid in USD when the dollar was initially stronger.

I 6/7ths really easy Saturday that I could not finish!! Thanks for the fight, Mr. Walden!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:20 AM  

Very nice Saturday puzzle, put up some fight but doable.

I was struck by 16 A, OPERATIVE, surely a word that appears in @Rex's pulp detective novels much more often than anywhere else.

Two linked write-overs, 4 D and 45 A, DEVIL ISH >> SATAN IST.

Ghost of Xwds past, 36 D, Capeesh?

And with that I will make my usual squirrellike exit . . .

jberg 10:25 AM  

Somewhere in my stacks of papers is a wonderful photo of me, at sunrise, standing on top of a dune in the NAMIB desert (at least in the broad definition Rex cites -- this was in Southern Namibia). Unfortunately, it also includes my ex, which is why it is no longer on display. Anyway, that was a gimme. So, unfortunately, was a la meuniere--that one really held me up a lot.

A also wanted Manta before MORAY, and 'noble' for Lady Godiva's type of woman (which she was, after all), but knew enough to check the crosses first. I guess she must have been quite a HORSEWOMAN to keep her seat while naked.

1D is one of those clues that fools you with unneeded information, viz., 24 Sussex Drive. You just have to know it's a famous place in Ottawa.

My only gripe was STENO -- when is the last time there has been a STENO pool?

I got up too late, so several people have beat me to the punch on pitching WOO in Kiss Me Kate, but here's a link to a terrific performance, from the 2000 Tony Awards.

jberg 10:27 AM  

Forgot to add -- it was really lucky that I couldn't remember that Edith Wharton's house was called "The Mount," or I'd have written Mount in before I thought of U PENN.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Got u get up on John McEnroe-- first put Boris Becker, then Monica Seles.

Went through naked woman and loose woman before getting the Godiva clue.

Fun puzzle

quilter1 10:33 AM  

DNF but enjoyed what I did. Somehow could not see STENO or LIPO despite having most of the letters. Really liked SCAMPERAWAY. Like @chefbea I make piccata.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

You're right, Professor @Barany. I do complain about your continuing use of this blog as a site on which to advertise your own puzzles.

Nancy 10:37 AM  

@Mohair -- Really enjoyed your comment today. It made me chuckle.

@GILL -- Glad my computer crisis yesterday gave YOU a chuckle. As for me, I didn't crack a smile. I did send you an email last night, after I read your late post.

@chefbea -- THAT's what I was wracking my brain trying to think of. Piccata. It would have been wrong and it wouldn't have fit, but that's what I've always seen a caper, lemon and butter sauce listed as, too. Or maybe GRENOBLOISE stopped being seen on French menus when nouvelle cuisine elbowed out ancienne cuisine (my coinage). A huge loss, I'd say.

@tb -- Why so mean to George Barany? What's he ever done to you?

Chuck McGregor 10:52 AM  

I went through every clue and ended up with --

14d DEET (Quite sure of this one, but wrong! Living in Maine, that's the ONLY real answer. Also they are BIG, so lead weights at night help keep them from carrying you away. Then there are the black flies....but that's another tale.)

Was sure of these:
35a IMUS
32d REI
36d SEE

60a DRANO (maybe so only penciled in)

47a Lots of squirrels always scampering around here so thought SCAMPER likely but nothing to support it, yet.

That's leaving way too much whitespace as I SLUMPOVER in (@yesterday) DESPAIR.

I figure out 6a maybe TRAPEEZES, TRAPEZeES (sp?) Look the word up and wrong, correct spelling won't fit.

Finally did 2 letter-checks online. Had ESAU by itself but checked the U as best letter to confirm it. However, my "D" for DEET was wrong. So I thought MESH, checked the M and it was correct. Aha JUNGLE GYM for 6a.

Kept at it and, like most hard (for me) puzzles, a precious few (as opposed to a few precious, although that also aptly describes some of them) more answers SPIRALed up in my brain that I boldly wrote in. Most were correct.

Persistence pays off and I Finally got it all with only the aforementioned cheats. Agree it had many good clues and satisfying, “precious” answers.

According to some rag-mag at the supermarket checkout (you know the ones) JOLIE & PITT are AVAILing themselves of an expensive split. The covers of those mags are fun to read. They mention all these first names and their scandalous goings on and I have no clue whom or what most any of them are. Most importantly, it's LIKE I CARE about any of them. NOT!

I also love the sort of sci-fi "newspapers" that might inform us that Ted Cruz is an alien (not from Canada but from wish it were true as in the not too far future we might be able to send him back). All (@yesterday) IN ALL, mindless entertainment while the people in front check what they are being charged for each item against the price in the store's flyers they got in the mail. Then they either fish endlessly for the exact change or start to fill out their checks (like who to, signature, date, maybe memo) only after everything is rung up and then have to enter transaction in their check register. Whilst doing so I learn that Jen is pregnant! Who? And so what. "Whatevs,"she had sex. A lot of us do. The more female amongst us humans even get pregnant as a result.

Now, I get English Kate being pregnant. We're talking royal lineage in a major country. That is of some importance, one of the LARGER STRANDS of history as it were.

IRISHPOUNDUKES: Notre Dame routs the Blue Devils

SATAN SEEMENT: Devilish mortar with which to work.

MYHUMPS ASPICS are nobody's business


RE someone saying IM EREL: I'm not. I'm Chuck.

SHAGGY BOW wow: Long joke (" story"...get it? NEVER mind)

POST SALES SINEW: What you need when your figures are down….or you discover stuff you sold is defective.

Vat IST dis? IST EGG? WOO! You must be pregnant (just like Jen!)

Being pregnant (just like Jen!) and on maternity leave, I sure MUS STENO ERMA at the office.


Like they say in Latin: ETA LAPEA TARI, which freely translates to: I'm NEVER ANTI-PRESS.


Ludyjynn 10:55 AM  

DRANO opened up the puzzle for me (pun intended). Hopefully, won't need it tomorrow during the annual last night of Chanukah bash. Happy Chanukah, everyone!

In the yard, the squirrels SCAMPER AWAY from the bird feeders whenever I send out the dog, but their return is imminent. I keep thinking of Ru Paul saying "sashay away" to the losing contenders in "Drag Race". That would make a fun clue.

So glad NENE was not clued as 'a former Real Housewife of Atlanta'. NEVER cared for her antics.

Got held up briefly in the NW quad when I inexplicably put 'Enos' before ESAU and invented a new monetary system, the 'Irani pound' before JOHN MCENROE cleared up that mess!

Loved the clues for LIPO, MENT and JUNGLEGYM, ET AL.

Okay, I'll admit it. I DNFed at the word of the day. I had 'wOW for decorative flourish, thinking wow factor fit the bill. Never heard of the NAMIB desert and wonder if I'll be able to commit it to memory in my pea brain at this late date!

Overall, I say, WOO WOO! to you, BW and WS, for a terrific Saturday solve.

Nancy 10:55 AM  

Oh, and Rex, I completely forgot to say: Your droll description of your rented cabin-in-the-woods architectural layout reminds me of why I think the "open floor plan", oohed and aahed over by all those house hunting couples on TV, may be one of life's most overrated commodities.

kitshef 11:06 AM  

We have a friend in Peace Corps in NAMIBia and have been making plans to visit, so that was a gimme, as was ... pretty much everything excepting the NW. Got held up ther thanks to aMIsH for the skilled forger, sharing and, like @nancy, thinking Job tester needed to be some word fir God ... allAh or deity or something.

Besides SMITH, only other overwrite was Ite before IST.

Longs were much less appealing than yesterday's, but fill is much, much better, so it comes out the same overall - okay, easy.

Big surprise was finding out that MYHUMPS won a Grammy. Truly baffling.

Ellen S 11:14 AM  

I couldn't get any traction on yesterday's puzzle, but managed this one only giving in to Clear Errors for a couple of words. Filled in lots of answers I didn't know I knew, with only a few crosses, like JOHN MCENROE. The unexpected answers just popped into my head. Fun!

@Thursdaysd, in less moderated times your reference to "duckduckgo'ed" would have elicited a lot of grammatical commentary (shouldn't it be "duckduckwent"? (No, I guess not: when I typed the second version, Autocorrect changed it to your version.) Anyway, either the comments are only being moderated in order to slow us down, or @Rex dislikes @George Barany pretty good. If I were the Commissar of Comments I'm not at all sure I would have let @tb's 9:52 comment through.

Anyway, I enjoyed the puzzle and @George Barany's comments. And everyone else's except @tb.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Threw down: INthenude for 'Artaxerxes and Iolanthe' clue.

If you successfully PITCH WOO, you get to make whoopee.

Slow Motion 11:43 AM  

My traveling companion these days is usually a golden retriever. Hope that's OK with @anon 6:35.

My dad (born 1931) said "pitch woo", and it always made us kids cringe, but along with IMUS it got me ROMEO and POUND and opened up the northwest. Thanks, Dad!

I loved this puzzle. Made me think and rethink and say "oh, right" a lot.

old timer 11:56 AM  

From the great MERLE Haggard:

We don't make a party out of lovin';
We like holdin' hands and pitchin' woo;
We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy,
Like the hippies out in San Francisco do.

(Actually, there were a lot of long-haired hippies in SF who loved that song).

As I predicted, today's Saturday puzzle was way easier than yesterday's Friday puzzle. SMITH MORAY PMS gave me PRISM and ROMEO. STRANDS gave me NAMIB ATOZ and DRANO. I knew ERMA Franklin, which was enough to tell me that Lady Godiva was a HORSEWOMAN. (It's a word I've seen often enough)

Only writeovers, in the SW: "parts" before POSTSALES (also I word I've heard and seen), and "as if" before LIKE I CARE.

Finished in the NE, the toughest part. Didn't know GRENOBLOISE but guessed it, which gave me a swing or two on the JUNGLE GYM. Of course I wanted JOLIE up there, but: too short. Adding Brad PITT let me finish the puzzle with STENO. "Pool party" was a clever piece of misdirection. So was "Go a few rounds?" for SPIRAL.

Music Man 12:21 PM  

Found this one pretty tough, yet fun at the same time. Actually had to resort to google. I'll admit I did not read the comments, so I assume this was asked already. Is pitching woo like spitting game?

Never saw that version of my hump, made me chuckle!

Z 12:38 PM  

@Ellen S - DuckDuckGo seems to be, in typical internet fashion, a single word. It is also my default search engine on my iPad (Google on my desktop, yahoo on my laptop and iPhone). From now on I am going to describe my use of it as, "I DuckDuckWent." Screw autocorrect, I like it better. Also, I agree completely on your assessment of the anti-Barany, though I generally work hard to not comment on them. Such a personal obsession seems unhealthy.

Just wondering - Did Rex add the Black Eyed Peas video later or are people just skipping it and watching the Morrisette version? The Peas won the Grammy (Best Pop Performance by a Duo), Morissette is doing a very pointed parody. On the one hand this seems obvious to me, but if one doesn't know the context....

OISK 12:57 PM  

A DNF that is completely my own stupid fault. Nothing wrong with the puzzle, which is a really fine Saturday. I wrote "Jungle Jim" instead of gym. It somehow never occurred to me to change it, even though I ended up with "Ives" Rocher, (certainly plausible) and a movie called "Jigi", which I knew could not be right!!

The signs of early onset senility are scary sometimes....

(on the other hand, raced right through Silk's lovely Friday puzzle yesterday...)

My Humps???? Really?? Didn't know the desert was Namib, but I do know the country is called Namibia, so I filled it in quickly.

Liked puzzle, but really annoyed with myself right now.

Numinous 1:07 PM  

How different our solving experiences can be. So many of youse guys had problems in the SW which was the first area to fall for me. SLOP, LIPO, UKES all dropped right in. I couldn't think of anything to close "base" other than a suffix so I dropped in MENT. SLUMP OVER was obvious LIKE I CARE and POST SALES were easy enough to figure out with some other downs.

Starting out, I thought PMS for 1D but didn't enter it. JUNGLE GYM was my first thought for 6A but all I put in was the E for ETAL. Thinking that there was going to be an M, I put in MORAY; ARP, PUP, SAG and EGG went in on the first pass as well and I was thinking that with all that white space I'd never finish. Getting the SW gave me hope, though, and I kept on slogging. When I finally heard the music, I looked up and discovered that I'd done it in less than half my average Saturday time.

@Rex, how I envy you your visit to the mountains of BFE. With tinnitus, I haven't really heard silence in nearly twenty years but a quiet cabin sounds like paradise. One wonders if you stand a chance of being snowed in.

Sorry about your BSOD, @Nancy. Can't tell you how many of those I've had. They are rarely fatal. At least your BIOS didn't tell you "No operating system found."

Tita 1:08 PM  

@Chuck McG... Funny checkout line musings...
My favorite...
About 20 years ago, I had been on a very extended worldwide trip. Upon my return, I was in a Duane Reade in Manhattan. Waiting in line, I scanned a headline - "CASTRO DEAD".
That night, I marveled to my husband about it- who said "Huh?? He's not dead!"
The next day, I was at the same Duane Reade. It was the National Enquirer, and the smaller headline under the first one said "Aliens killed Castro and replaced him with an alien imposter 10 years ago."

Leapfinger 1:38 PM  

@NCA Prez, yup, mobile hotspots tucked right into that little port-a-phone. I love it. [SCurry doesn't fit with SCAMPERAWAY; howdjado that?] Iolanthe is IN_ENGLISH because Gilbert & Sullivan; Ataxerxes I took on faith.

@Anon0635, 'travelling companion' leapt off the screen here also, latched onto my lower lip and hung there squealing. Oooh-wee! Just so long as there's no pitching WOO.

@mac, what you do with chicken sounds an awful lot like my Chicken Piccatta (hi, chefbea!). Sole Meuniere, yum.

@George"B for Budapest", many thanks for the Chaplin and puzzle links. In Chicago, it would B RAHM's Emanuel, eh wot? (psst, I think @tb is probably Hungarian also: @Tibi, right?)

@Nancy, as you found doubt, DEET doesn't work as well as MESH. Misfortunately, epidemiological studies on malaria show that neither works as well as DEET DEET TEE. (Loved your camel HUMPS.)

Was a bit surprised listening to MY HUMPS: I thought it was going to be some kind of True Confessions. Next up, "Love Handles", I s'pose? Aside from that, agree with @kitshef.

@Chuck McG, my Maine man! IRISHPOUNDUKES? You found the one way that'll happen!
btw:Black flies, the little black flies,
Always the black flies, no matter where you go!
I'll die with the black flies pickin' my bones
In North On-tare-eye-oh, Eye-oh,
In North On-tare-eye-oh!

Not sure if I can pull off an actual SCAMPER_AWAY, maybe I'll just pull a SCArPER for now.

Happy Pencil 1:45 PM  

I have the phrase "pitching woo with you" rattling around in my head from what I thought was a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but I can't seem to find it. Can anyone help me out?

I thought this puzzle, like yesterday's, was terrific. Some easier sections, to be sure, but enough of a fight in places to be satisfying when the happy pencil came up. The clue on JOHN MCENROE was my favourite, I think. Like Nancy, I never knew he was born in Germany (or knew and forgot), despite being a huge tennis fan. I guessed that something was wrong when I tried and failed to make Steffi Graf fit.

Also agree with @Rex on the clue for MS MAGAZINE. Brilliant.

@tb: Thank you for revealing yourself to be a complete and utter ... ahem, jerk. If you don't like someone's posts, skip over them. You can use the time you save to work on your winning personality.

Anoa Bob 2:32 PM  

After watching the video, I'm pretty sure that MY HUMPS is a safer-for-work version of DRY HUMPS.

Is ANTIPRESS a real thing or is it a 75¢ word for the 25¢ word PULL?

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

I am a businessman and as such I assure you all that "post-sales" is most definitely in common use (as is "pre-sales")!

"Horsewoman" is nothing new, either.

"Anti-press" was the only stretch for me.

chefbea 2:49 PM  

@Nancy..thanks for the info the other day about jacques Pepin. I looked it up at the NYT food section

Masked and Anonymous 3:02 PM  

@Waldenmeister: GRENOBLOISE? (!)

@009: Prefatory? (!)

M&A shut-ins learn so much, here.

Think I've heard of NAMIB, before. M&A was suckered into puttin down NEGEV, at first. MYHUMPS is unknown but grabs yer interest. MAYHAPS variant?
Anyhoo, tough sucker, but a fun time. Thanx, Byron.

Top reasons for hidin out at a remote cabin in the woods, right before Christmas, with a "companion":

1. Thought it was "Christmas chopping" that desperately needed to be done.
2. Companion is Scarlett Johansson.
3. They are making "The Cabin in the Woods 2" schlock flick, and Chris Hemsworth was unavailable to star in the sequel.
4. Threats from p.o.-ed NYTPuz first-time constructioneers.
5. Must escape Trump news coverage and annoyingly graphic tv drug ads.
6. Daughter and wife started solvin runt puzzles.
7. Lost a crossword-solvin competition bet with Grizzly Adams.
8. Pet dogs brought home a passel of dead skunks.
9, Wanted to secretly master the perfect grenobloisation of cinnamon rolls.
10. [See "Breaking Bad"].
11. Needed peace and quiet, to develop the ultimate "to M&A" Christmas card.
12. Got lost on that there shortcut to Miami Beach.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


dick swart 3:02 PM  

@ George Baranay ...

Thank you for the shaving scene, One Take, No Cuts. The artistry of Chaplin.

Buda-Pest. What a great city for architecture. Following my nose for Bauhaus led me to Napraforo U. and that wonderful collection of residences.

michael 3:35 PM  

A real nice Saturday puzzle. At first I had almost nothing, but then was able to steadily work through the puzzle and finish it. Really nice cluing.

Leapfinger 3:43 PM  

All that chatter, and I didn't even get around to properly Kudoizing that so-smooth puzzle! The fill and clues were so good that I guess my only quibble is that it wasn't as much of a jawbreaker as I hope a Saturday to be. Exercising due caution, my only write-overs were SLOPpy for SHAGGY (before it was time to SLOP) and ISm for IST (a mere bagatelle). Wasn't tricked into trying Manta, since I've seen enough Nature shows on TV to know that if there's a lurker in the reef that darts out to bite you, that's a MORAY.

Figured that many solvers would appreciate that this construct was almost all IN ENGLISH, even though GRENOBLOISEn't. And maybe NENE, NAMIB, LIPO, ROMEO, JOLIE, ETAL, GIGI and YVES... In any event, nice to see almost universal approval. Now if we could only finesse those few diehard ingrates who don't approve @Barany's bennies.

Eagerly awaiting more By Ron Walden.

Aketi 5:05 PM  

Much earlier this morning I was able to delight in JUNGLEGYM straight away. I am usually terrible with historical clues, bur I got ESAU because I deviated from reading Orson Scott Card's sci fi novels and ventured reading Sarah and Rebekah.

@kitchef, I had a boyfriend who was in Peace Corps in NAMBia.
@jberg, maybe you could scan and photoshop your ex out of you NAMIBia photo.

@Chuck MCGregor, I am totally jealous of jberg and my former boyfriend because they went to NAMIBia. The places I traveled to sound more like your description Maine in regards mere MESH being woefully indeaquate protection against the most prevalent form of wildlife. If I were to be eaten alive, I would prefer that I be eaten in one bite by something LARGER than I am rather than a zillion small bites. As part of my son's college tour we sadly saw the Blue Devils get pounded by the Panthers. Rest assured, I am not the least but interested in any ASPICS if your HUMPS. As for my own SAGgy lUMPS, I concluded I will NEVER subject them to LIPOsuction after listening to a friend who is a surgeon described how that procedure is performed in gory detail. I would rather drink DRANO.

@ryan and @z, I asked my son to download some songs to my iPhone to listen to while I was running, He included the Black Eyed Peas version of MYHUMPS. I liked the beat for running and it took me a while before I really listened too the lyrics. Earphones can be a good thing.

I've been headed into a downward SPIRAL in my battle against the flu today that even a CUP OF COCOA won't fix. I tried to do my duty as a parent by getting up early to help set up for the 500 students and teachers that descended on my son's high school today for a Model UN event, I held up through most of the morning, but when I finally got on the subway home from the Bronx and SLUMPed OVER I didn't noticie that I got on the uptown train instead of the downtown. Fortunately the train wrapped around at the end of the line in the Brinx and I woke up before I ended up at the opposite end of the line in Brooklyn,

Anonymous 5:12 PM  

Yep, WOO clue dated, but no problem with that in and of itself in a puzzle as wonderfully all-over-the-map as this was. If memory serves, God gives SATAN leave to test Job. Hate that story, hate life, IMHO.

Teedmn 8:36 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle very much. Smooth but offering some resistance, especially in the NE. I solved from the NW counterclockwise so I had everything filled in through JOHNMCENROE and hit the wall. Having fallen for DEET and stunningly blank as to JOLIE, I trod water for a while, slipping in ETAL, removing it for "ibid", trying bigGER at 10D, considering IN Italian at 20A, and if I hadn't considered BRAHMS rock solid, might have tried vichyssOISE (I'm not blasé about GRENOBLOISE, that is a new one on me). I think my breakthrough moment was MESH; its M gave me JUNGLE GYM and the rest all filled in nicely.

Besides the NE, my only writeovers were cORAl before MORAY and nOblEWOMAN before HORSEWOMAN (female centaur there?) And I'm amazed that this all took only 25 minutes so not too SHAGGY for me on a Saturday. My favorite aha clue and answer was SPIRAL for Go a few rounds? (Oh yeah, that was a writeover of SPaRat first). PUP and SMITH were great misdirections that didn't work on me today.

Thanks, Mr. Walden!

Teedmn 8:53 PM  

I forgot to mention, @Tita, loved your comments (SLOP and your reservations about the theme) and your National Enquirer anecdote. Good stuff.

@Nancy, I, too, have had that heart-stopping BSOD experience, with an eventual recovery, no side-effects. In case of my actual death, I have instructed my husband to visit @Rex to make an announcement (hopefully not eliciting a LIKE I CARE reaction :-).)

mac 9:45 PM  

What a superb puzzle day. A great Saturday one, a happy and deservedly positive review, and so many interesting comments! One of the best days on this blog! Thank you all.

Leapfinger 8:57 AM  

@Aketi, I'm trying to think of when the Blue Devils played the Panthers. Can't say I'm not surprised, but more than likely, one of us is not thinking of the same thing as the other.
On another hand, please rethink that preference for drinking Drano over having lipo. Google if must; take my word if you can.

@mac, I agree; somehow a good xwp begets good commentary. That Satan/Job thingy alone has the makings of a regular pilpul.

@Rex,thanks for keeping us in mind during your R&R

Randall Clark 12:22 AM  

I got stuck with j__ing. Guessed the artist name might be Arp, but even then had a hard time making it work. Jawing to me might be talking, or even talking back,but gossiping? And even running the alphabet, I couldn't get pitching woo. Pitching poo seemed like the best bet.

Burma Shave 11:42 AM  


to no AVAIL, the IRISHPOUND their whisky
until they SLUMPOVER or GODEAF and loco.
Eh, LIKEICARE if those pubs POSTSALES so risky.



she said as a HORSEWOMAN on her SHAGGY charger,
“MSMAGAZINE LEVERAGES pics of my dress
that make MYHUMPS look LARGER.”


spacecraft 11:50 AM  

I have one very LARGER bone to pick: To suggest that ANYONE other than the Magnificent Janis Joplin ever did "Piece of my Heart" is sheer blasphemy. I will not brook it, and the flag flies. That's a fifteen-yarder. The very idea!

Interesting factoid of the day: I didn't know that ol' "You CANNOT be serious!" was German-born.

Laid down the NE in short order with gimmes JUNGLEGYM and JOLIE{-}PITT. I didn't know they went the double-name route, but it figures. The whole thing makes no sense to me: if the trend persists, their great-grandkids will have sixteen names! Anyway, the NW was very difficult and the last to fall; needless to say I needed every cross for MYHUMPS.

In the SW IDONTCARE became ASIFICARE became LIKEICARE. The line looks pretty SHAGGY. The rest of it was about average-ly gettable for a Saturday, so medium fits. A good puzzle with a lot of fresh stuff; I liked it. Just don't...DO NOT, dis Pearl that way. B.

rondo 12:06 PM  

Yeah, it was a really nice puz, but I can’t believe noone said anything about the green-paintedness of CUPSOFCOCOA. That’s an answer belonging only on Wheel of Fortune.

Surprised by the number of folks having trouble with WOO. Thanks to @old timer’s MERLE Haggard reference, and the others for the more familiar Cole Porter ref.

“Alfa Alfa” a car clue for ROMEOROMEO?

Of course Angelina JOLIE-PITT is the yeah baby of the day. Mrs. Beckham – POSH – would have been in the running.

Before I SCAMPERAWAY, this puz had very little SLOP.

leftcoastTAM 3:16 PM  

Easy-medium Saturday, like okay with me.

Slow-downs mainly in the SW: SLUMPOVER opened up the area and to overwriting pcsystems with POSTSALES.

Learned about NAMIB, new to me. GRENOBLOISE, too.

I thought JOB's tester was God, but apparently a SATANIST posing as God?

Diana,LIW 4:50 PM My SW filled in quickly, then got bits and pieces. Lotsa do-overs - deet for MESH, ibid for ETAL (duh!), ism for IST (yuck to both), shabby for SHAGGY, which led to a number of woes, loose for HORSE - what a mess! But eventually I maintained my patience and sussed them all out. What fun. But I cannot take a complete BOW, as I didn't know NAMI? and thought SINE was leading to wsome kind of math power thingy, and had some sort of seraph in mind for the flourish. So 2 letters led to tiny DNF. So, instead, a tiny curtsy. I'll take 97% on a Saturday any day!

Lots of great posts on this puzzle - I think it brought out the wordplay SMITHs in many hearts.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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