Porcine paramour / FRI 8-12-16 / Foe of Big Boy Little Face / Hoist on ship / Founder of Rhyme $yndicate Records / Pacific dietary staple / Leaves Navels artist

Friday, August 12, 2016

Constructor: Kelly Clark

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: DAVIT (43D: Hoist on a ship) —
noun: davit; plural noun: davits
  1. a small crane on board a ship, especially one of a pair for suspending or lowering a lifeboat. (google)
• • •

Very clean, very easy. Almost too much, on both counts. Only SICK AS A DOG, AGENT ORANGE, and maybe SOFT PRETZEL made me think "hey, nice," but never, not once, did I think "ew, gross," so on balance, I'm very pleased. There aren't any big traps, but there are several little ones. I guessed wrong two times, falling into the PLOTS / PLOYS trap (14D: Schemes) *and* the SCAN / SPAN trap (24D: Go over). Managed not to fall into the POLE / POPE trap (25D: John Paul II, e.g.), largely because POPE seemed way too easy, but also because I got the "L" from ALOT pretty quickly (33A: Tremendously). I had GENIE instead of PIXIE at first, and really struggled to come up with DAVIT (just forgot the word) and TEN (wanted NYG) (52D: Eli Manning, on the field). But when your 1-Across is a fat gimme like PETUNIA PIG (1A: Porcine paramour), as I've said in the past, chances are you're in for a fast ride. Not untrue again today. (No offense, Petunia, but you are a fat gimme)

I actually came to a hard stop coming out of the NW because SPROUT (24A: Little 'un) is not a word I'd use unless the context was Green Giant commercials. That's when I jumped to SCAN (whoops) and therefore had real trouble with 29A: Disappearing exclamations (POOFS). I couldn't make sense of the clue on any kind of level, and eventually I had COO-S (?) and then COOFS (??). Thankfully, I didn't accept that as a real thing and double-checked my crosses. Had to do the cross-check thing for PLOTS/PLOYS too. Why is [Comic's nightmare?] (BOO) question-marked? Is the "scariness" of a nightmare supposed to be connoted by "BOO!?" No one has ever said BOO! in my nightmares. They tend to be scary for other, less childish reasons. [Comic's nightmare] seems fine on its own, as a thing a comic dreads. I'm not getting the "?". Do VETS still "ALTER"—I thought "spay" and "neuter" were universal terms now. I only know ALTER from ... I don't even know. Seems dated. Or maybe it's progressive, as it's sex-neutral? All's I know is Bob Barker did not say "Have you pets altered." So there.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Mostly easy. I made it harder by, unlike @Rex, putting in POpE before POLE and then epic before A LOT off the p. I stuck with that a tad too long. The rest went quickly as I missed the other traps (except for PLOt).

ALTER had me wondering also.

The NW corner is terrific as are the long downs. Plus it was pretty smooth, liked it.

Z 12:19 AM  

SHAKE N BAKE, POST-IT NOTE, and AGENT ORANGE all got the arched eyebrow from me. Average NYT Friday crossword in my humble opinion.

Anonymous 12:29 AM  

@Z - Why? Because if you take a post-it-note, make a hundred slits in the non-sticky side, then mix it with shake n bake and agent orange and stick it on your head you have your very own Trump Toupee? You're seeing Trump propaganda in the puzzle? - that's a stretch, no?

GILL I. 12:30 AM  

Any puzzle that starts with PETUNIA PIG that I can finish...while watching gymnastics... gets my DICK TRACY award of the year.
Why do COOTS become mud hens and the female persuasions get a biddy?
I think a comics nightmare is when everyone in the audience yells BOO.
No hiss from moi or I hope from VOUS. Tres maginifico Kelly Clark.

George Barany 1:18 AM  

@Kelly Clark has published many puzzles, in the New York Times as well as other markets, but (based on information provided elsewhere) this appears to be her first themeless.

@Rex's gracious and generous review tracks some of my own solving experience, sans 1-Across being unknown to me (nor did I know SHAKENBAKE, the only NYT debut word in the entire puzzle).

POLE went in without even considering any possible POPE trap, and I've had several coworkers from Copenhagen so DANE based of "hej" was also easy. AROUSE certainly had an interesting clue. I appreciated seeing CRUZ clued as a word in another language rather than the American politician who inspired this puzzle.

However, D?V?T went in while vapor locking on the vowels and NYG (for New York Giants) was so obvious that it never even occurred to me to look for a uniform number. That latter error in turn kept me from uncovering POST_IT_NOTE, which was too bad since the story of how this classic 3M product was first invented is the stuff of local legend.

Gregory Schmidt 1:57 AM  

I had a friend from Australia whom I heard say regarding her cat, "He's an altered male". Perhaps it's more of Brit/Aussie turn of phrase?

Anonymous 2:07 AM  


Larry Gilstrap 2:27 AM  

Female cartoon characters are hard not to like, and PETUNIA PIG is no exception. Mighty Mouse's girlfriend AROUSEd something deep inside my boyish psyche, even though she was a rodent. Note from yesterday, apparently Bugs Bunny's dismissal of Elmer Fudd is part of the reason that NIMROD became a pejorative term. Do they still sell SHAKE N'BAKE? I like the retro vibe of a JIGGER way more than a shot. That's all folks! One nit: AGENT ORANGE was a defoliant used to destroy dense old growth jungles so that US forces could see the supposed enemy and then bring on the weapons. I like the elegance of the CRUZ cluing. Sure it was a bit easy, but we're good at these things.

Dolgo 3:03 AM  

Well, I have to admit that I HAVE heard "alter," but I've bred a few dogs in my day. My dad had a boat when he retired to Florida, so "davit" was a snap. Like Rex, though, "poofs"did me in. Otherwise, much too easy for a Friday!

Laura the Kiwi 3:15 AM  

I got stuck on many of the ones listed above, and I didn't really know PETUNIAPIG... and then got sidetracked trying to think about Miss Piggy somehow belonging there...

In terms of ALTER.... I had DESEX in there for ages which threw me. I definitely don't associate spey/neuter/desex as ALTER... Wasn't too bad but had to google a fair bit of American general knowledge that I don't have... like I was trying to figure out how on earth Chicken Wings would fit into SHAKENBAKE. I also don't get the "once" on the PIANOS clue....... I know that you can do rolls (an ornament) on a piano... but if they mean rolls as in pianola rolls, I would have expected PIANOLA...

I dunno. Had to cheat in the end because I didn't feel like pursuing it further... which to me is not a great puzzle. I like puzzles where I can find my own way out... *shrug*.

ProdigalT 3:35 AM  

I think they're referring to a comic nightmare with a ? because it's a nightmare sound in comic strips.

Hartley70 3:35 AM  

Mmmm SHAKENBAKE! I'm not too ABOVEITALL to admit I have a box for pork in the pantry right now and no, it didn't expire TEN years ago. The color of it does remind me a bit of AGENTORANGE, but when it's raining too hard to put those chops on the grill, it's mighty handy to shake em and bake em in the oven.

I found the last two puzzles much more difficult than this, but it was evident from PETUNIAPIG and SUPERDUPER that we could relax and have fun today. No tortured vocabulary was needed. I like a puzzle that talks like the rest of us regular folk. This one was saying, "Aw shucks".

ALTER seems perfectly normal to me. It's generic. You can use it when you aren't sure of the sex of a beloved companion. I say this because our bird Daisy once turned out to be a Donald, or so the VET told us after (s)he died. I thought it was thoughtful of the good doc to let us keep our illusion while (s)he was still a member of the family.

I really enjoyed the tone of this puzzle and would have liked it to last longer. Thanks, Kelly. You've made the honor roll in my class.

Hartley70 3:42 AM  

I'm with you, @Gill I. A comedian's nightmare is getting boo'ed off the stage on open mic night, even though Mom and Dad always thought he was funny.

Trombone Tom 4:03 AM  

I am in total agreement with @Rex on this one. Nice and steady flow, but way on the easy side.

Hand up for PLOtS before PLOYS. POOFS dropped in without hesitation. In fact I felt the entire puzzle was in my wheelhouse. The constructor and I must come from similar backgrounds or eras.

Liked PETUNIA PIG, DICK TRACY, and POST IT NOTE. All in all a pleasant solve, but not much of a challenge for Friday.

With such a soft serve for Friday, what will Mr. Shortz have in store for us on Saturday?

Mr. Fitch 4:27 AM  

This would've been an easy solve had it not been for POPE/POLE and PLOTS/PLOYS. But my biggest error was putting in REFS instead of DEFS on the Webster clue, which I thought was correct for the longest time. That made RICK going across look right.

Overall a solid puzzle with some tricky (in a good way) cluing and satisfying longs.

Loren Muse Smith 4:33 AM  

PETUNIA PIG wasn't a fat gimme for me. I kept going back to make sure that "Miss Piggy" didn't fit. Morning, @Laura the Kiwi.

Can't even remember where I entered the grid. It was some lone S somewhere, and that was it for a while. This was easy enough, though, once I got rolling.

With "pois" for 8D those mushy foods, I was halfway considering some kind of Buffalo chicken "coke" flavor. I vaguely remembered seeing these head-scratchers at some point, so, well. Heck.

I liked PETUNIA PIG sharing the grid with ROOT AROUND. I have a couple of drawers that I root around in, hoping to find chapstick, a rubber band, an escaped cold medicine capsule (or is that a Duclolax?), a floss stick thingie, quarters, the one &^%$ AAA battery I need for the remote, that little baggy of black ear bud tips…

Same mistakes as others are reporting, including the "coofs." I also erased 5D NERVOUS to fit in "read" for 24D SPAN crossing "rugrat" for 24A SPROUT. Oh, and 37D "elks" for ROES. And "in deep" for IN DEBT.

SAKS (sic) could be clued like 19A, too. Kinda.

I'm with @Hartley - ALTER didn't bother me at all. @Gareth? You ever use it?

I'm in a bit of a nervous hurry this morning because it's my first day of school. And I'm facing two legendary ninth grade girls who're gonna eat me alive. Butterflies schmutterflies. I have Apaches and Blackhawks flying around in stomach. So I never went back and parsed 11D right. Vaguely thought it was yet another thing I'd never heard of: AGENTO RANGE. Sheesh.

DEFS – Webster et al who wrote definitions, those who still write definitions – they all amaze me. So many times someone'll ask what something means, and I can't put the meaning into words even though exactly what it means. Then I look it up and marvel at what a terrific definition the people came up with. How do they do that? I guess you could argue that this is an example of the fact that our thoughts aren't necessarily couched in language.

I think Shake-n-bake, any flavor, is delicious. I. Love. That. Stuff. @Hartley – I have boxes on my shelf next to all the Rice-a-Roni. Mine are probably all expired, though. No matter. I eat expired food all the time.

@George – interesting article on POST IT NOTES. Thanks.

Laura the Kiwi 5:23 AM  

Morning @ Loren! Although it's 9.23pm here on Friday... Looking forward to seeing what is in store for me tomorrow... 'tis my birthday and I'm hoping for a brilliant Saturday crossword!

I just thought of a few more that I had wrong to start with - I had *dict* instead of DEFS for a while... which threw out NETPROFIT and also I had *riles* for VEXES. I also got confused with AGENTORANGE and I had "RIFLE" in the last 5 squares for the longest time. I initially thought it would have something to do with napalm but then I got onto the rifle bent and it took me in the wrong direction! My entry was "postitnote" then the rightmost 3 of the the SE downs which gave me ROTISSERIE, but yeah, the blocks I gave myself managed to keep me stuck!!!

manitou 6:25 AM  

COOF, noun, chiefly Scot.
a silly or stupid person


Aketi 6:50 AM  

@laura the kiwi, the PIANO I learned to play on was also a player PIANO with rolls. I still remember using the pedals to make it play "Whose sorry now?" which we thought was hilariously old fashioned. Sort of like PETUNIAPIG and DICK TRACY.

johnnymcguirk 7:05 AM  

I agree with our haughty host. Enjoyable, but maybe a little to easy for a Fri. Puzzle and review both rate a B+.

Leapfinger 7:28 AM  

@Rex, I knew a couple who both worked in the Botany Dept; when they were expecting, they referred to the newbie as 'the SPROUT'.

Cute how PETUNIA_PIG elicited Porky's S-STARS.

Really enjoyed how this one unfolded. After PETUNIA P. led to a quick fill of the NW corner, everything else rapidly turned more cautious. Thought my 'Yesterday' would be GONE or PAST, but 'Schemes' just had to be PLOTS or PLANS, and the O from endO/mesO/ECTOmorph said to go with PLOTS. (It was only much later I saw that INKET looked weird.) So there was a lot of back&forth as NOUS/VOUS VEXES PIXIE dust and the PIANO rolls over VETS that ALTER vs VETS that were SICK_AS_A_DOG from AGENT_ORANGE. (Some bad news there, but here&now it's only a xwp, fortunately.)

Cute how PETUNIA_PIG elicited Porky's S-STARS.

Well, I'll be JIGGERed! Here's @GILL reading the Petit L'AROUSE!
And here's @Aketi hoisting her peas one by one and muttering "DAVIT! DAVIT! DAVIT!"
As always, pleased to see anything DANEish, though cherry's still my favourite.

One interesting part for me was off the grid, and a fine example of how some things in a solve will set the mind on a tangent. For 6D, I had entered IN_DEEP, which I thought a clever way of combining 'under aqueous water' and 'under financial water'. Anyway, that somehow reminded me of a researcher I knew whose concern was (besides lead poisoning) the effects of hunters and campers on wildlife in their habitat. Now, whenever we went camping, we always kept our gear secured, burned or buried our trash, and stored our food hung from a rope slung between two trees, but not everyone is that careful. A lot of people leave behind metal and plastic trash or things like fishing line that can injure animals; even humans' food left lying around can be bad for the animals to eat. Anyway, this researcher had spent years studying accidental ingestion of humans' detritus in assorted animals and had quite an extensive database as well as a few critically received publications. Out of delicacy, I'll skip the details of his methodology, and just say he discovered that some animals are apt to swallow just about anything they find. I remember in one interview, he was asked what had been his very first such finding. His terse answer: "In deer. A candy."

I'm sure it was the EHUD Olmert entry that had got me thinking of world leaders.

TGIF, eh? Who'd a thought?

Leapfinger 7:35 AM  

@Hartley, maybe Daisy/Donald was crossfeathering?

I've seen shop windows advertising "We Do ALTERations".

Roo Monster 7:52 AM  

Hey All !
Well, as @Laura the Kiwi announced her B-Day is tomorrow, I'll give you a guess as to who's is today! That's right, way back in 1969, I came into this world! Whether that was a good thing or a bad thing is still up for argument! :-)

Liked this puz, also thought it was easy. Started out like a regular FriPuz, only getting a few answers filled in and a few lightly written in. But then the answers just started to fall. Had no writeovers! Although lightly wrote in eliotness at first for what turned out to be DICKTRACY. Good ole YSER fixed that though. Still ended up with my famous one letter DNF, kept the P in POpE, so the across was a non-far-flung ApOT (at least seemes plausible to the ole brain!)

Long Downs were nice, 11-10 stacks, nice. ACCRA, thanks recent previous puz for that one! Wanted a different spelling for GORED, gourd? goard? but ADDL led me to the correct way. Shook my head at S STARS a bit, that actually held me up for ISNT and INKEY. Actually had INKEY first, so didn't fall for the PLOtS. I just noticed NERVOUS and VOUS. And three IN answers.

Overall, good, non brain tortuing puz. Give it two ABUTS up. :-D


Anonymous 7:53 AM  

Why is "what 'it' is found in" TAG? I would have thought BAG, as it's in the bag, but of course that wouldn't work with Pacific dietary staple. Just don't understand that answer.

AskGina 7:56 AM  

As an experienced plodder this wasn't easy for me but the light bulb eventually went on from northeast to southwest and there was a lot of Oh Duhs and head slapping. With U and T at the end of 24A I thought peanut but then it wasn't working. Didn't want to Google but thought 'need to confirm.' Rexword came up in the hits and his sprout remark was in the blurb. Then the west fell easily. I ground to a halt in the NW. 12 and 13D would've taken me home but alter was never going to happen. Odd how that sounds so much more severe than spay or neuter.

tb 8:04 AM  

I'm surprised Rex did not say "ew, gross" on entering PAPS.

Carola 8:08 AM  

Okay, maybe too easy for a Friday, but really A LOT of fun. "Porcine paramour" made me laugh, and I knew it had to be PETUNIA. She led me down to the "Little 'un," obviously "peanUT," where I got stuck. So I started over with PIANOS x PIXIE and meandered about, eventually finishing with the SOFT PRETZEL ("salty snack" and how - I have to brush off 90% of the crystals).
Other do-overs: me, too, on IN DEep; "irkS" before ADOS.
Knew JAMES I from my Mary, Queen of Scots fascination and DAVIT from A Night to Remember about the sinking of the Titanic.
@Leapfinger - Loved Porky's S-STARS!
@Larry Gilstrap - LOL for Your "rodent" sentence. Also, thanks for the NIMROD explanation. I can picture Elmer with his shotgun.

Teedmn 8:15 AM  

Pretty easy for a Friday. I caught my cOOFS error but stuck with INKEt. I considered it my new word of the day, some Zen phrase, IN KEt, for "harmonious". It must have been kismet.

I liked putting the E and O in at 18A to wait to see which body type we were talking about. And I felt proud when I saw POSTIT NOTE; back in '78 or '79, my friend and I were leaving our dorm. Carol decided to leave a note for her roommate. She pulled out a little pad of paper, scribbled a message and stuck the sheet on the door. When I asked about this wonderment, she shrugged and said her Dad had given it to her - it was some new product they were testing at work. As you may guess, her Dad was an engineer at 3M.

"Hurt with a horn" was a fun clue. Not Al Hirt. And it summoned up visions of beleaguered parents trying to survive their offspring's torturous early attempts at playing the trumpet.

Nice themeless, Kelly Clark.

Glmmerglass 8:23 AM  

I fell into the POPE trap, but since A POT is a possible answer for "tremendously" ("a pot of money" "a pot of trouble"), I'm calling that an alternate solution.

No BS 8:48 AM  

Anon 7:53

Game of tag. Player to be tagged is "it." When you are it you tag another player and crow: "you're it!"

Lobster11 8:48 AM  

As usual, "easy Friday" for OFL means "I can finish it before lunch with no cheats" to me. Loved all the longs. Just right for me.

Leapfinger 9:02 AM  

@Carola, seems I thought Porky's S-STARS cute enough to put it in t-twice. Actually, what happened was me being fearful of doing a cut/paste instead of a copy/paste. And Porky was better represented before I-I-NEVER turned into I-INSIST.

@George, me-too thanking for that MMM-good link. I've heard of the POST-IT origins, but now I can subscribe to get more brain-food.

@teedmn, E and O is all well&good, but doesn't ACCount for the possibility of mesOmorph, the "happy middle".

Throw @teedmn into the birthday pool, and we have quite a gaggle of Rexvillains who made their respective debuts in this LEOIX period. Happy B'day to us all!! Leos Rock!

Maruchka 9:04 AM  

Very smooth, except for the NW. Dunno why - should have been an snap, dog. Thanks, KC.

Really enjoyed the throw-back feel. @LarryG - I also quibble with AGENT ORANGE. Not an actual weapon, although its devastation is unworldly. I once walked through a redwood grove that had been treated - a very scary landscape.

POOFS I have loved - Kevin Spacey's in "The Usual Suspects". No, not his part. His gesture. Remember? Very cool.

Speaking of, I'm going to ROOT AROUND for the coolest spot today. Will feel like 100+, they say. Oh, the humid, the humid..

NCA President 9:22 AM  

My English teacher in high school would take points off for using "A LOT." His point, what exactly is a "lot?" To this day I avoid using it in writing...although I do speak it :ahem: a lot.

INKEY is a little shaky as clued. I'm more familiar with ON key...as when someone sings on key. I keep saying "in key" to myself to see if it sounds like something I've ever heard said musically...and it just doesn't right. The opposite would be if someone were to sing "off key" or "out of key." I would go with "off." When speaking about someone or something being harmonious, I use "tune" more often than not. If someone is playing in the wrong key, you just say you're in the wrong key. Just wonky, IMO.

Nice to see ACCRA getting the shout out it deserves by getting into two puzzles this week. Good for them...they've gone unnoticed for too long.

I used to really dislike Tom Brady until I saw his combine picture of him shirtless. Wow, I almost have a better body now than he did then. Come to find out the guy is an incredibly dedicated athlete and has become who he is by brute force of will. So, I guess I respect him but I can't wait for him to retire. I still hate Belichick though...

Teedmn 9:22 AM  

@Leapfinger, thanks for the Bday wishes. And when I was reading your comment, I realized I could have made a mesO that NE but got lucky.

Joseph Welling 9:29 AM  

Amen to the three quibbles already made: you ALTER an article of clothing, not a zoo animal (also don't zoo vets normally use more temporary methods of birth control on the animals?); there was no call for the question mark for the BOO clue (also comics get heckled not booed); and AGENT ORANGE was a defoliant not a weapon. Its carcinogenic effects were not useful as a weapon (because it killed decades later, not immediately) or as a defoliant (because the good guys had to walk through areas where it had been sprayed).

I liked the clue for ROTISSERIE!

Steve M 9:31 AM  

A puzzle can be top notch and doable as this proves!

Maruchka 9:37 AM  

And a very happy b'day to @Roo and @Laura the K!

jberg 9:52 AM  

At first I took offense at COOTS, but then I realized that I had put in SPROUT without batting an eye, so I guess it's a matter of whose ox is being GORED.

I couldn't remember if they were DAVITs or DAVoTs, so I waited for ROTISSERIE. But my biggest problem was putting in an actual weapon, CLUSTER BOMB, at 11D. It worked with DICK TRACY and S STARS, but eventually PIANOS set me straight. A fun Friday!

Nancy 9:54 AM  

Very easy...until suddenly it wasn't. The middle far West got me, as I never recovered from putting PEANUT instead of SPROUT at 24A. So what I had, instead of what I should have had, was SN-- PRETZEL at 22D (what in heaven's name could that be?) and PORE (instead of SPAN) at 24D. And what could A--- AROUND at 26D possibly be? This to me is a textbook example of when, having one wrong answer that you're absolutely sure of, makes solving a complete impossibility. I questioned PORE, but it never occurred to me to question PEANUT. And (oh, I forgot to look at this answer) is INKET (at 21A) right? It seems to be from all the crosses, but what in the world is it?

Lewis 9:57 AM  

Smooth solving until I got to the Oregon area. There were some very nice clues (PIANOS, GORED, TDS) and answers (JIGGER, POOFS). I had bAG instead of TAG for "What IT is found in" -- as in "It's in the bag" -- and I like my answer better, though TAG works well. I had ____TS for "Geezers" and was thinking it was going to be a "FAR" in the blank rather than a "COO", and that thought was accompanied by a "Wow!". I did notice that JOTS down, and the clue "Tremendously" seems a bit inflated for ALOT. "Tremendously" sounds more like "an awful lot".

I found out what DAVIT means, and thank you for that Kelly. Overall, it was very clean and joyous to solve, though that Oregon area had my head spinning for a while and wishing I were a bit smarter. So this puzzle held for me some learning, turning, and yearning.

Nancy 10:14 AM  

Oh. I see now! PLOYS instead of PLOtS. IN KEY instead of INKEt. Nice trap, Kelly Clark.

Re: ALTER. I hear it all the time in NYC when I'm not hearing "spay" or "neuter" or "fix". All of these words are euphemisms for what is really being done to our beloved pets. And also, the human male animal usually breaks into hives when he hears the word "castrate", poor thing.

Ethan Taliesin 10:24 AM  

Did the editor get his Mondays and Fridays mixed up? What was that?

Numinous 10:39 AM  

Easy PEASy. Did this in 2/3 the normal Friday time. This went against my Mini theory that the difficulty of the Mini is in inverse proportion to the difficulty of the main puzzle. Oh well.

I fell into the POpE trap for a while until I finally figured out ALOT. I misspelled ROTISSERIE but something made me look at TaN and puzzled over a TaNned Eli on the football field. I'm always confusing schwa vowels. I had StaAR for Porky's stutter but when I noticed that and went to ALTER it I had to wonder if an S STAR was really a thing. Ms. Clark tells us elsewhere that this was a nice relaxed construction for her and I have to say that it was a pretty relaxed solve for me.

@Larry G, Betty Boop was always my cartoon character crush. I fell in love with her when I was eight years old.

In London when I was nineteen I was staying in a bedsit in Ladbrook Grove. There was a girl who came around once a week to help with the general cleaning of the public areas. One afternoon, she was on the stairs with a broom. I got a bit of a sneer from her when I asked her, "Do you sweep around?" I'm not sure how similar Aussie slang and Kiwi slang are but I had to chuckle at ROOT AROUND. Maybe @Laura will tell me if it means the same in NZ. In Australian slang, "ROOT" is the equivalent of the British "shag". I one got some astonished looks, once, when asking a girl which team she ROOTed for. Sometimes my inner fourteen year-old just takes over.

old timer 10:43 AM  

Overhaul, overhaul, let your DAVIT tackles fall, and launch your boats for sea, brave boys. And launch your boats for sea. I've been singing "Greenland Whale Fisheries" (to myself at least) for decades, so DAVIT was my second entry. Knowing that GILL and ECTO would fit made AGENTORANGE my first entry.

The SE fell very quickly because I knew JAMESI immediately, leading to JIGGER and therefore IINSIST. The SW took a bit longer, but having CRUZ and RENE allowed SOFTPRETZEL to leap into my mind. Didn't know ICET and wasn't sure about SAKS, so DICKTRACY completed the puzzle for me. At the start, PETUNIA PIG did not immediately come to mind. Gotta say, "paramour" is not I word I associated with Porky and Petunia and their ilk back in the 1950's when I was a regular buyer of comic books and viewer of cartoons. Grownup humans had paramours, who did things, though what things I did not quite know. But whatever those things were, they could not apply to cartoons and comics.

This puzzle skewed super-old, it seems to me. I read DICK TRACY every day as a kid. But I don't think I have thought about Mr. Tracy since, say, 1960. How you young 'uns could ever solve this puzzle is beyond me.

Mohair Sam 10:44 AM  

Very clean Friday and fun. Played tougher for us than most, were never big comic book or cartoon fans and haven't used SHAKENBAKE for 40 years, so the easy entry up top wasn't there for us. On the other hand I love SOFTPRETZELs (we smuggle our own hot mustard into Citizens Bank Park) and that cheap ROTISSERIE chicken you get in super markets. And everybody knows the bedamned AGENTORANGE - so we got a good toehold.

ALTER took us some time. I remember our parents using the term when they took our dogs to the vet, softer way of describing the deed I guess. Sure did ALTER the animal's life style, didn't it? Whenever I see the word JIGGER I remember the old Kingston Trio song "Scotch and Soda" - you should YouTube it (for those of you who don't know the group they were among the first casualties of the British Invasion).

*I was driving along I90 through Erie, PA on a business trip sometime around 1988 when my AM search landed on an oldies station whose slogan (between Chuck Berry and Elvis tunes) was: "Rock and Roll Before the Beatles Ruined it!" I laughed so hard I nearly crashed.

Agree with @Maruchka, this had a throwback feel - but I liked it a lot. Now it's back to work on my lifetime search for a make-it-at-home SOFT PRETZEL recipe that duplicates the ball park.

Numinous 10:46 AM  

By The Way
Have the most wonderful of happy birthdays @Laura, @Leapy, and @Roo!!!

AliasZ 10:57 AM  

"Hej" is not "hello" only to a DANE, but also to a HUNG. Hej, rigó, rigó!

There was a never-completed film project in the works during the disaster movie craze in the 1970's, combining the best features of "Earthquake" and "Towering Inferno." The working title: SHAKE 'N BAKE.

Good puzzle, except for the trip IN KEY, IN ONE and IN DEBT. IN KEY should've been ON KEY anyway. And ROES? More than one ROE deer are ROE deer. No?

?-STAR -- this is one of those random-Roman-numeral-type entries. There is an alphabet soup of star types out there, from A through Y and beyond.

A cup of ICE-T: $1.00; an ice cream CONE: $2.00; a SOFT PRETZEL: $4.00; a JIGGER of tequila: $8.00; PIANOS will put you IN DEBT; @Leapy's Indira Gandhi story: priceless.

TGIF indeed.

QuasiMojo 11:06 AM  

"An' I helped!" :) A trayful of nostalgia this morning. Breezy Friday. Had "rugrat" before "sprout" but it was quickly squashed. The "in key" vs "on key" debate has appeared before. At first I thought it was "in ken" which may be a nonce word. And had "plans" before "ploys" thinking perhaps "ectamorph" was a variation. Otherwise a swift and delightful end to the work week. Happy weekend everyone.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

I've been doing all the Fri/sat puzzles from 1998, some take hours with full Google research (cheating)
This puzzle took five minutes, in ink. Sans Google of course. Ugh.

Tita A 11:39 AM  

Needed to drop in to say how easy-it-was-till-it-wasn't (hi @Nancy).
Huge sticking point was GORED. I took the misdirect bait hook, line, and sinker and wouldn't let go.

Did I ever mention that my grandfather was GORED by a rhino and thrown into a tree? I wouldn't be here today had he not landed high enough.

Happy birthday!

Wm. C. 12:00 PM  

@NCA Prez --

You're right about Tom Brady's force of will having gotten himself to where he is today.

At Michigan he had to battle for the starting QB role every year. He was a sixth round draft pick for the Patriots, and wasn't expected to get much playing time. But in the first game of the season, the Pats starter Drew Bledsoe was injured; Brady went in, and never came out. (Until the first four games this fall. A totally unfair call by that jerk Roger Godell, IMHO, of course.)!

If you Google TB, you'll be shocked at the number of all-time NFL records he has set.

TB and Peyton Manning had a great rivalry. Even as a Pats fan I had great admiration for Peyton, a real class act. Can't say the same for his little brother, who made the puzzle today.

I loved seeing TB's Brazilian wife Giselle on stage on TV at the Rio games this week. An incredible beauty, and reputedly a very nice person. Tom was quoted saying how proud he was of her.

Say what you will about Belichick, but he has put together. He shares with Brady many Super Bowl related records, and has been named the AP's NFL coach of the year three times. He does have a dour manner, though, almost never seen smiling or laughing, and that, together with his cheating allegations -- and the fact that the Patriots are broadly hated as winners, IMO -- makes him one of the misliked individuals in sports (outside New England, of course).

Alysia 12:20 PM  

I'd like to +1 this. I have such tremendous respect and admiration for definition-writers, it's difficult to put into words (ha!); I often thought I might be the only one out there with this sentiment. I fear it may be a dying art and can only hope this isn't the case. Perhaps some research is in order..

Mike Rees 12:38 PM  

This was a gradual and pleasant solve today, much like a walk through the woods. It's a good thing I learned what ACCRA was only yesterday, it's still fresh in my mind.

I really wanted "kermitfrog" for 1A, being too young (I assume) for PETUNIAPIG. I had "poly" for 18A, so I dropped in NAPALM at 11D and waited for crosses to help out. They didn't. Had a bunch of small overwrites; ISiT for ISNT, oNKEY for INKEY, rutS for JAMS (early on, I though the down might be runS), asONE for INONE.

Still finished well below average Friday time, and had fun getting tripped up a bunch and figuring out the right answers.

mathgent 12:42 PM  

Every entry was somewhere in my noggin but it took some work to figure out the cleverly misleading clues. So not a difficult puzzle but not an easy one either. And enjoyable. I'd give it a B+ or an A-.

Linda 12:43 PM  

I enjoyed this one a lot. The NW corner went in the fastest because I knew Petunia Pig and the downs were easy. The rest took some work. I put in Post-It-Note right away, but getting the last letters of words isn't the same as getting the first. Still, all very doable and enjoyable to solve. Faster than my usual Friday time but I didn't mind that at all.

@Loren Muse Smith - I know exactly what you mean about knowing what a word means but finding it hard to actually put the definition into words.

@Mohair Sam - Love the song "Scotch and Soda."

And to join in on the birthday theme - today's my birthday too. Happy Birthday, Leos!

Mohmo 12:56 PM  

Don't understand why Brady bunch =TDS.

foxaroni 1:27 PM  

Happy birthday to all LEOIXs (thanks, @Leapy) celebrating today and this weekend. Mine is coming up in a few days--missed being a Virgo by about 20 minutes. Also, happy birthday to all who have had birthdays, and to all who have birthdays coming up. (I think that covers everyone....)

Two entries gave me a DNF. ECHOS and IN_DEEP. POOFS seems a stretch to me.

Mike Rees 1:32 PM  

Tom Brady has thrown a pile of touchdowns.

JC66 1:47 PM  

@ NCA President

What would you think if I sang out of tune
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song
And I'll try not to sing out of key

Mohair Sam 2:00 PM  

@Tita A - Um, nope, I don't recall you mentioning that about Grandpa.

Babylonian King 2:03 PM  

Lotsa Googling for this one. Some days I'm such a NIMROD.

Kelly Thatcher 2:19 PM  

Happy Birthday to all the birthday folks!

And thank you, Rex, for reviewing my puzzle. I hope your dog feels better.

All my best,

Kelly Clark <---generally a lurker...

beatrice 2:20 PM  

@NCA Prez - I join AliasZ - and I imagine every other musician who did this puzzle - in seconding your reaction to IN_KEY. That, and JOT_OFF, were both... bizarre aberrations. The latter could easily have been fixed by being clued 'Note (down)', but IN_KEY - just no hope for, outside of some sort of contorted double partial. I guess that one can't be laid at the feet of the infamously tone-deaf Mr. Shortz, but someone should have INSISTed the section be re-worked. As I've stated here before, I don't like to publicly criticize puzzles, even ones I find execrable. What's the point. But those two, along with the double fault of PAPS and ROES - sigh. Otherwise I liked the effort fine, but agree with others that it was woefully misplaced - Wednesday at latest.

I'll join the chorus of well-wishers to those whose b'day is somewhere nearby. (And welcome Laura the Kiwi! - your presence is a nice addition here.)

And here is my celebratory offering to my fellow fire signs (but Aries) - the exuberant work for PIANO and Orchestra, the Wanderer Fantasy by Liszt, based on the so-called 'Wanderer' Fantasie of Franz Schubert, for solo piano. I found a video of a 'live' performance (always my preference) of each. The Sonata is here just because some might like to hear it, but I know that solo piano is less popular than orchestral work, and both are fairly long (15:05 and 22:03).

Okay. The Liszt is appropriately performed by HUNGarians in the Palace of Arts, in Budapest.


The Schubert is performed by his fellow Austrian, Alfred Brendel. As is stated there, the piece is 'widely considered Schubert's most technically demanding composition for the piano. Schubert himself said "the devil may play it," in reference to his own inability to do so properly'.


Wade 2:33 PM  

Listen, I've been fighting that ROE woman for years (frankly I hate her) and am please as punch that Will finally found a different clue for ROE[S]. The fact that you idiots are complaining about ROES are messing with my joy. Consider the sentence: There are several species of deer in that exhibit, two ROES, three Mules and one White Tail. OK? Got it?

Chronic dnfer 2:35 PM  

Very dated.

Master Melvin 2:37 PM  

This may be overly pedantic but JAMES followed one queen (Mary) as JAMES VI of Scotland and another (Elizabeth) as JAMES I.

Joe Bleaux 2:57 PM  

Laura! "You say it's your birthday, it's my birthday, too!" -- baddest day of the hottest month😉. Are you old enough to remember the song lyric in the quotation marks here?

Joe Bleaux 3:00 PM  

From the childhood game: "Tag! You're it!" (Having been caught and tagged, you're now the chaser.)

Joe Bleaux 3:15 PM  

An excellent Friday puzzle for me, Ms. Clark -- not too easy, NO ughs, nice cluing (little traps cited above notwithstanding). I got into the grid wth VOUS and VEXES, moved into the SE, which fell nicely, then picked up in the middle and finished in the NE (where -- Doh! -- I didn't get TDS until after I'd written it in.) And now that I know Laura the Kiwi's not the only one here whose birthdate is also mine, Happy Birthday to the rest of us (let's celebrate til Festivus😊).

Anoa Bob 3:29 PM  

I think one can always find a way to justify the use of what some call awkward plurals, as @wade just did with ROES. What I notice about them is how they are in the grid for convenience's sake, to take up space, without adding much of substance to the puzzle, and, by doing so, make it easier to fill the grid.

I'm not singling out this puzzle---it happens regularly---but consider the shared Ss at the ends of TAP/TD, ABUT/SOB, PAP/VET, PLOY/SSTAR & ROE/COOT. Those could be changed to black squares, the clues tweaked, and nothing of substance would be lost. There would still be the same number of words in the puzzle. But now there would be 37, rather than 32, black squares in the grid, which would be way high for a themeless*. Those Ss are like non-nutritive filler, so to speak. They are plurals of convenience (POCs).

Most every puzzle will have some POCs. I think today's number was a bit high. Maybe that contributed to the "easy" rating that many, including Rex, gave it.

*Having a higher & higher number of black squares makes it easier & easier to fill in the grid of a puzzle. That's why 32 is the usual upper limit for a themeless puzzle and most often they have 30 or fewer. Having a theme adds extra constraints to filling the grid, so there we usually see 36-38 black squares.

Donna Singmaster 3:46 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mohair Sam 4:02 PM  

I'll bet I'm not the only poster here who, when a constructor chimes in (as she did today), goes back and rereads my post hoping like hell I said nice things about the puzz. I did today (phew).

Alias ZZ 4:14 PM  

Only a Philistine would see a puzzle containing both PETUNIA PIG and DEFS and not have Mos Def's Ms. Fat Booty come immediately and gloriously to mind. Ms. Fat Booty was the keystone to the triumphant arch that was Mr. Def's Opus 1, Black on Both Sides, the cathedral to whicl all subsequent rappers made pilgrimage and prayed for inspiration. Written in A Major, with complex key changes, resulting in significant portions in E-flat Minor it is a masterpiece of what could be called post-post modernism, had it not been firmly rooted in the classical tradition. The excitement of tonal roller-coaster ride was only superceded by the dynamic clash of dueling rhythmic schemes, a clash belied in the last movement by a reconciliation to unity never before seen in the western world.

As brilliant as the original is, Ms. Fat Booty didn't reach its apotheosis until Mr. Def teamed with Ghostface Killah in the version I offer here.


r.alphbunker 4:36 PM  

Nice puzzle. Appropriately my last answer was TAPS. The details are here

I loved your shaggy dog story. Nothing to ALTER there.

Laura the Kiwi 5:39 PM  

Thanks for the birthday wishes all!! It's 9.30am Saturday here... and I am yet to get out of bed (no mean feat with two 5 year olds and a 3 year old!!) Also happy birthday to all the others :-D

This is such a welcoming community - thanks so much for all the love :-)

@JoeBleaux... I'm not officially old enough to know it, but I was born a few decades too late... and am a huge Beatles fan, so I got the reference :-)

@numinous... Yep - Root here is a word for a shag/screw/f***... Root around not so much though - we'd probably use it in the same way as you all maybe? "Tramp" here means a hike though...

@aketi - that makes sense!


AskGina 7:27 PM  

@aliasz, your video was stunning. Thank you. That's why I come to this blog, to read things like that.

Jim Finder 7:53 PM  

It's Shake 'n Bake. There's no extra "e" in there. Did I misunderstand the clue?

Joe 8:07 PM  

Although I' m sure m solving time was logarithmically longer than his, my experience of the experience of the puzzle, clue for clue,was exactly the same as Rex's.

Wade 11:56 PM  

@Anoa Bob - Justifying ROES by example contradicts claims they're wrong, not that they're bad. That's all I was doing.

kitshef 12:00 AM  

Very easy, but a DNF anyway at POpE/ApOT. Worse, I had ALOT initally, but took it out when I took out lOOkAround, then when SPROUT went in I never considered anything but POPE.

spacecraft 10:36 AM  

Tuesday called; he wants his puzzle back. So, it's way out here on Friday because...it's a themeless? "Thou shalt publish no themelesses (or is it themeli?) before Friday??" Who wrote that silly rule?

This one did have a little trap here and there. I didn't fall for POpE; saw the double possibility right away and just wrote in the PO_E until ALOT finished it. DID fall for the PLOt but ALTERed it after looking at "INKEt." Also fell for INDEep instead of INDEBT, and JeTS for JOTS. These were all easily fixed.

It's not a bad offering; I just expect more teeth come TGIF. Seldom, for me, has a NW been filled so fast. The grid is severely compartmentalized; we have to go nine rows deep to start moving east. A few minuses in the fill hold it back: SSTARS...I guess we need to have an ADDL. "random" category: RSDs (random star designations). Ugh to all single-letter partials. IINSIST: well, I thought, at least congrats for putting two I's together without using a RRN--then here comes JAMESI right next door! POOF!

Score it a par for those few fill defects plus overall toothlessness. Or let's say, a six-yard gain, second and four. #10 can move it from there. Had to ROOTAROUND for a SUERDUPER DOD; found one with '80's singer Taylor DANE. Purists will point out she spelled it with a Y, "DAYNE," but it's as close as a one-E RENE Zellweger. Either way, enough to AROUSE.

rondo 10:40 AM  

What? Nobody giving demerits for INKEY, INDEBT, and INONE? IINSIST that ISNT quite kosher. OFL must be SICKAShisDOG not to say BOO about it. But apparently nobody else AGREES. And as has been pointed out, the clue for AGENTORANGE is just plain wrong; AGENTORANGE was not a weapon. Is there no fact-checking going on? Disrespectful for ALOT of our VETS. Looks like I should get a part-time job on Will’s staff after I retire (don’t hold your breath on that happening) as they all seem to be at it only part-time. Probably too busy constructing their own.

The common mistake ScAN gave my “ciaos” which had to disappear after a few exclamations by me.

PETUNIAPIG will never do much for me, but ABOVEITALL we can have SUPERDUPER yeah baby and TEN, Penny CRUZ.

Wonder if ICET is a fan of DEFS JAMS?

Pretty good puz, but let’s sharpen up the editing and perhaps point out the other flaws, however minor. Mostly liked the puz ALOT.

Burma Shave 12:01 PM  


RENEe and Ms. CRUZ AROUSE me like crazy,
but I’m INDEBT to a TEN
to SHAKENBAKE it again,
INONE way, our JAMS are when I DICKTRACY.


rain forest 2:55 PM  

Unlike for so many, PETUNIA PIG did not leap immediately to mind for 1A. Ashamed to admit I translated the clue as "amorous" porcine, and immediately thought of Pepe Le Pew, which of course didn't fit. And then, also of course, I realized that M. Le Pew is a skunk, so I had to get a few of the downs before I got P. PIG. Aha.

Like @Rondo, I was perplexed that AGENT ORANGE was deemed a "weapon", but I suppose that, in some squinty sense, it might be. But then "camouflage" could also be called a weapon. Never mind, the dastardly AO had to go in there.

That whole pope/pole, scan/span, coofs/poofs section was a puzzler for a while, but managed to get out of it only slightly scathed.

Isn't AROUSE at least one remove from "turn on"? Another sticking point. Otherwise, a relatively easy puzzle which featured a sparkling NW and SE, and some nifty cluing (really liked ASAP for "yesterday").

I INSIST this was a good puzzle.

Snowbird 3:15 PM  

Comic, as in comedian. His/her performance nightmare is "Boo".

leftcoastTAM 4:34 PM  

Relatively easy for a Friday--the long acrosses and downs made it so--and mostly fun to do.

Had peanut before SPROUT, and liked POOFS, PIANOS' rolls, and DICKTRACY nostalgia. IINSIST was interesting and KEY to the SE.

AGENTORANGE stirred shameful memories.

Diana,LIW 7:59 PM  

Busy, busy day, and total dnf. Just silly errors. Ah well.

Favorite part of puz today was reading @Teedmn's post.

Still busy - gotta go.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting but not for long for Crosswords

Sailor 1:09 AM  

I never really clicked with this puzzle, I guess. Solved it, but with more difficulty than many of you are reporting. It seems objectively competent, but just didn't light my fire, so to speak. Liked SUPERDUPER, but SHAKENBAKE? Haven't thought of that or PETUNIAPIG in decades. Literally. Not especially thrilled to be reminded of them, either, let alone AGENTORANGE. Ah, well, there's still Saturday.

Sailor 1:19 AM  

PS - I submit that "under water" does NOT mean INDEBT. It denotes a specific situation in which the debt is greater than the market value of the collateral, e.g., when you can't sell your house for enough money to pay off the mortgage.

I am in debt to the credit union for my car, and to a bank for my home, but, thanks be to God, I am not under water in either case.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Agent Orange was a defoliant, not a weapon per se. I got it it but this clue could have been better.

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