Indian-born maestro / SAT 9-24-16 / Electron's area around atom / Capital of French department of Loiret / smokeless explosive / like safeties vis a vis field goals / Italian food named after queen

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo

Relative difficulty: Medium (probably Easy if you knew Malala's last name)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Stanislaw LEM (44A: Science fiction author Stanislaw) —
Stanisław Herman Lem (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswaf ˈlɛm]; 12 September 1921 – 27 March 2006) was a Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy, and satire, and a trained physician. Lem's books have been translated into forty-one languages and have sold over forty-five million copies.  From the 1950s to 2000s, he published many books, both science fiction and philosophical/futurological. He is best known as the author of the 1961 novel Solaris, which has been made into a feature film three times. In 1976, Theodore Sturgeon wrote that Lem was the most widely read science-fiction writer in the world. // Lem's works explore philosophical themes through speculation on technology, the nature of intelligence, the impossibility of mutual communication and understanding, despair about human limitations, and humanity's place in the universe. They are sometimes presented as fiction, but others are in the form of essays or philosophical books // Translations of his works are difficult due to passages with elaborate word formation, alien or robotic poetry, and puns. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hey all. First I want to thank Lena for filling in for me yesterday—cable was out, internet was out, my life reverted to some kind of weird 1970s state because all I could do was read and watch "The Bob Newhart Show" (which I happen to have on DVD). Wait, no, it wasn't quite 1970s, because home *phone* was out too, so my only lifeline was my cell. I did the crossword puzzle in the actual newsPaper. It would all have been just fine if not for the fact that I do this thing with the "internet" every single night. Soooo, Lena to the rescue. Fully intended to blog today's puzzle last night, right when it came out, but cocktail + "King Kong" (1933) put me right to sleep at some ridiculously early hour (actually "King Kong" was remarkably good, if unintentionally funny—but I was fighting sleep the whole time, and when it was over, Good Night). And so to puzzle. Morning solving is always slower solving, but even though I didn't get 1-Across off the bat (surest sign of an easy puzzle), I got the NW without too much trouble, sent ALL KIDDING ASIDE sliding down the western part of the grid, and felt pretty good about my chances:

ANAIS (6D: Writer Nin) and "PSYCHO" (7D: Classic film whose soundtrack is famously composed entirely of strings) were flat-out gimmes, so that helped get me going. But you can see where trouble lies ahead for me. With apologies to MALALA, every letter of her last name was a mystery to me. I'm quite sure I've seen and heard it multiple times, but since she's known almost exclusively as MALALA (see, for instance, the title of her book, "I Am MALALA"), that last name never sank in. And sure enough, the NE ended up taking me longer than all other parts put together. But there were problems much further south than YOUSAFZAI. For instance, my inability to spell MARGHERITA (I came at that answer from the back, with -RITA, and thought maybe it was the pizza but only wanted to spell MARGARITA thusly; as in "The Mistress and the ___" or "I'll have another ___"). So the simple 50A: Hold (DEEM) was in no way possible. Oh, and after guessing MEHTA correctly (46A: Indian-born Maestro), I took that "M" and made VROOM (29D: Engine sound => THRUM). Big problem.

Never heard of "Love is Strange" so ultra-common TOMEI had no shot. The worst problem in all this, though, was SCULPTOR (8D: One going around the block?). That clue is clever but hyper-oblique. I had ---LPT-- and could not see it as one word. Seriously considered that in the morgue sometimes they instead of a toe tag they used a SCALP TAG. Yikes. eventually I figured out the PIZZA problem, confirming the "Z" with ZIN (21A: Cab alternative), and that section started to come together (though SCULPTOR held out til the bitter end).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


r.alphbunker 8:14 AM  

I remembered the name of the book as My Name is Malia which is Obama's daughters name and this resulted in a finish of MALILA/REI. Details are here.

@RP If you have a Android or iPhone and a data plan that allows it you can use the personal wifi hotspot on the phone. Google for instructions.

George Barany 8:35 AM  

Today's puzzle by @Mary Lou Guizzo was fun, though I followed a personal rule that anything creating difficulty past a certain timepjoint (20 minutes in today's case) would give me license to an assist or two from Google. Less than 5 minutes later, I was done.

Analysis elsewhere reveals that this puzzle has only two @Shortz-era debut words, one of which is its difficult-to-half-spell marquee entry. However, we learn that even the Nobel Prize announcement got the spelling wrong! Moreover, even the first name alone, familiar to most educated people, has yet to grace the New York Times crossword, though (spoiler alert!) it will appear in an upcoming @Fred Piscop-edited USA Today puzzle, and the full name, presented in an unusual way, was a theme entry in a wonderful Wall Street Journal puzzle by @Matthew Sewell and @Brad Wilber [click here for the relevant answer grid and review].

So yes, I googled MALALA's last name, and I googled the fairly recent movie about a gay relationship that co-stars the wonderful crossword-friendly actress at 29-Down (5-letter word beginning with T) much better known for "My Cousin Vinny." Of course, assuming (as did @Rex) that 29-Down was VROOM didn't exactly speed things along.

I see that @r.alphbunker has today's first post, at 8:14 AM. Allow me to highly recommend the program that he uses to track the solving process (there is a link to it in his post).

Loren Muse Smith 8:47 AM  

Coincidental that Thursday we were trying out the word emulate in 5th period, going around, saying who we'd like to emulate, and Caitlyn W said it would be MALALA YOUSAFZAI. First thought - relief that I knew who she was. Second thought – how on earth do you spell that? Third thought – panic that my choice for emulation person hadn't been as cool. I wanted to take mine back (Steve Martin) and come up with someone more noble, more teacher-like.

I entered the grid at 36A RARER and very shortly thereafter I got PIZZA MARGHERITA. Personally, I prefer the Deep Dish Pizza Hut Super Supreme. One slice of that puppy weighs in at about 6 pounds. A pizza Margherita is so much more civilized, understated. The one you pick at, peckish, sipping a zin, discussing Yousafzai. That's the person I want to be. Not the person standing over the sink dispatching the one leftover Super Supreme slice, cramming it in before someone catches me. Burning my tongue and not caring.

Funny how so many people want to spell it "reigns in." Somehow that added G makes it look more leash-like. At least for me.

Rex, @George – I wish I'd have thought of "vroom," too.

At first I scowled at the clue for GOSH DARN. I have many students who use "frickin'" all the time, and they would never in a million years say GOSH DARN. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the clue. They're not so interchangeable in terms someone's dialect, but they both are transparent cleaned-up approximations of words not used in polite speech. Sheesh, My Goodness, Dang, Shoot, Sugar, Dagnabbit, Fudge… I find this stuff fascinating as heck.

I liked ALL KIDDING ASIDE crossing LAID IT ON THE LINE. (Crossing LIE) All kidding aside. I'm gonna lay it on the line. You could use a TicTac, man. Maybe two.

Mary Lou – I just checked – all you lack is a Tuesday to hit for the cycle. Bet it's already in the queue.

Nice puzzle today. Elegant to have the symmetrical SLIPPER STEP-INS. And I loved learning about PSYCHO's soundtrack. Who knew?

Dolgo 8:47 AM  

Italian presents many spelling problems because of those c vs ch and g vs ch rules. One is for the soft and one for the hard version. It helps to remember that Johnny is spelled Gianni and ciao is pronounced chow. That was easy for me. I think, though, that very few people could have finished the puzzle without Googling Masala.

Dolgo 8:49 AM  

DAMN! How do you turn off auto correction! Of course I meant Malala!

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Besides Malala's last name, I was slowed by Vroom rather than Thrum and slipons versus step ins. Never heard of the latter. I figured Rex would comment on that as a non entity, but it must be a regional term. Easy Saturday for me...solved in half my usual time. Thanks to crosses that I knew to solve for Malala's last name!

Howard Flax 9:07 AM  

I felt like today's puzzle was a breeze compared to the last few days. Yesterday was difficult for me, as was Thursday.

Love Is Strange was a fantastic movie! Recently saw Little Men at IFC, which was equally great. Go see these films if you haven't!!!

jackj 9:15 AM  

"Yikes", indeed.

A rare, if slightly morbid, laugh out loud moment at Rex's considered answer, "they used a SCALP TAG".

Teedmn 9:24 AM  

Wow, easy Saturday here. SLIPPER slipped right in along with ZIN and MALALA (though not the rest of her name). As a pescatarian, I end up eating PIZZA MARGHERITA all the time so I was ONTo the tricky H hidden in it.

The only section of this puzzle that gave any resistance was the far SW. Not noticing that my SliP oNS would be a dupe of SlIPPER, I left that in for a long time. I put ANDIRON in but took it out when that gave me 38D ending in NL. And for a while, 3D ended in SI_i so I was trying to think of phrases meaning "Seriously" that ended with SIRI - hah, I was TICKLEd when SIRi came out of her real hiding place.

I liked the clues for STAR MAP and had nice aha moments when I finally saw "clearing" = OKING and "shakes" = LOSES. But GOSH DARN it (did anyone else consider consARN there?) this just didn't stretch my brain like the usual Saturday puzzle, delightful as it was. Should have been a Friday, I think. But still fun, so thanks, Ms. Guizzo.

QuasiMojo 9:38 AM  

Thanks Rex for a very funny write-up today. I love King Kong too. It would make an interesting double feature with Psycho, don't you think? Having eaten more than my royal share of Pizza Margheritas, I had no problem with that clue. In fact this turned out to be one of my fastest Saturdays yet, and nothing on my end (for a change) to quibble at (except perhaps the implication that Zubin Mehta is the only Indian conductor of note. Somehow I pulled "cordite" out of my hat. The use of "frickin'" I thought might upset some of the more sensitive souls out there in the blogosphere. We shall see. It made me smile since it reminded me of Norman Mailer and his use of "fugging" in earlier books to get around those "gosh darn" censors.

Z 9:41 AM  

Our young Nobelist was stuck in the "I'll know it when I see it" part of my brain, so I got started in the colonies, ETAILER (ugh) and REINS IN giving me the EI that made TOMEI obvious even though I only know her from crosswords. I worked from the colonies through the Confederacy and into the SW. ALL KIDDING ASIDE and replacing rad with DEF eventually got me into the NW, but heAt MAP (confirmed by tvA) made it hard to see that "skipping" wasn't going to be about eliding sounds. Decided that tvA could be wrong, built SOMEHOW from the bottom up and finally saw STAR MAP to finish before the timer got to 39 minutes. I fully expected the Rural Electrification Act to be the WOD.

If you haven't read LEM let me recommend The Cyberiad or Tales of Pirates the Pilot or The Futurological Congress. I'd save Solaris for whenever you are in a darker mood about your fellow human beings.

NCA President 9:43 AM  

ZIN was my entree into the puzzle...and soon thereafter, PIZZAMARGHaRITA. So really, the entire eastern seaboard was relatively easy if it weren't for MALALA's last name. I inched around the puzzle clockwise and came to a halt right smackdab in the TICKLES/SHIPS/ONT section. Unlike Rex, I had only -OR to go on with that awfully clued "around the block" down. I should have known PSYCHO, even after having PS--H-. It was obscured because I kept wanting Michigan to border a US state...namely, Indiana. So, PS--Hi just wasn't doing it for me.

Like George Barany above, I finally relented and Googled MALALA's name. Then the puzzle collapsed like a cheap plastic chair and I was home free. But unlike George, I waited far longer to Google...but I still finished below my average.

I wanted "Cold shower" to be "ague." (Ague "shows" that you have a cold...get it?) I thought I was being clever by sussing that out like that, but turns out it wasn't nearly as precious as I thought. Sometimes I guess you can outthink the thing.

Frickin' is a euphemism for "fu*kin'" where I come from. At one point in my very early life I went to a very conservative college where you couldn't say naughty words, so we used "frip." Funny how we humans have the need for expletives, words that stand out from the rest, and so we'll invent words similar to other words as substitutes, but everyone know the word that is being substituted and yet, because it isn't that word, we're good with it. When I was a kid, my first expletive was "darn." I thought sure I'd get in trouble for that. Even then I knew that "darn" was nicey nice for damn...which was short for God Damn It. But, turned out that "darn" is okay, damn is not.

Next time you get angry and need an expletive, try saying this with heavy emphasis on the consonants:

"Got dandruff and some of it itches."

You're welcome.

Carola 9:43 AM  

A medium Saturday for me, too, which means: done in one go, steady if measured progress, no moments of despair. My start was PDF and ETAILER confirming SLIPPER, and from there I went clockwise around the grid, ending with MALALA... x REA. I'd gone wrong there, with tvA, but ORLEANS fixed that. I'm afraid I had no idea of MALALA's last name and checked the crosses of those last letters a few times before I put my pencil down.

I seem to have read novels in which characters encounter the smell of CORDITE after some explosive incident, otherwise knew nothing about it.

I liked PINED FOR and PURGED facing off across the grid. How often have I done the first and then asked myself "Whyyyyy?!"

@Teedmn, in my bottom row SIRI tussled with Slip-oNS for a while, but she just had to win.

Z 9:44 AM  

That's Tales of Pirx the Pilot. #%$;&<%> auto correct.

GILL I. 9:50 AM  

All the proper names have an M...I know, so what.
Very nice puzzle. Like everyone else I knew MALALA and I also knew she had an F and a Z in her name. Got the PIZZA part off the Z and had to wait for TOMEI and MEHTA for the rest of the pie.
ZIN can also go with PAELLA but you are better off with a Rioja...sorta like DAMSELS and distress.
Hey, I finished a Saturday with only two Googles - LEM and the spelling of MAHRE.

Nancy 9:51 AM  

I had to cheat on MALALA's last name to finish. (Didn't you?) But I'm ashamed of myself: if she's that brave, she deserves for everyone to know her last name. Even if it is a bit of a mouthful.

Boy, was this hard for me! A big mistake in the NE almost did me in. FULLBACK at 8D (isn't that an inspired wrong answer, btw?) crossing neatly at the F with FRISBEE at 8A (another inspired wrong answer, yes?) But I had to erase both, because 36A couldn't be K----. It had to be RARER. I ran away from the NE as fast as my little legs would carry me and entered the puzzle at PAELLAS (37D) to PINED FOR and ANGRY. (Although I always thought that PAELLA was served with white wine.) I struggled absolutely everywhere. Back in the impossible NE, I had EmAILER instead of ETAILER for Amazon, keeping me from seeing CORDITE (which I really didn't know anyway. I had tried VOLCANO at 16A, first -- but that was after I had erased FULLBACK and FRISBEE.)

I've never heard the expression OLD AS DIRT. I still don't know what [a] PDF is. OKING does not TICKLE me. I have never seen PSYCHO, since I thought it would be most unwise to become afraid of taking a shower. (I'm afraid of enough things.) So I didn't know PSYCHO had a soundtrack composed entirely of strings. There was much I didn't know. How Rex can call this "Medium", I have no idea. I thought it was brutal -- but I respect it to death.

mac 9:57 AM  

On the easy side for a Saturday, but I found it a very good puzzle.

Of course that name gave me problems, but also REA (TVA anyone?). Good clues all around, I liked it!

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Everything here was clean and interesting. There was just too much of it in one puzzle for me. Even if i could've remembered Malala's last name, the spelling would've eluded me. Sculptor wasnt going to help but I like the clever clue (head slap). Then there was French, Spanish, Native American, and very old slang for very old slang (Def for cool). A sobering reminder that I'm not as smart as I think I am.

puzzle hoarder 10:12 AM  

The NE and the East side filled in very quickly.Other than the 17A name which I'm completely unfamiliar with the other three long entries were easy to guess which really facilitates the solve.
Where I ran into some trouble was the south center and the SW corner. I drew a blank on colloquy. Colloquial is very familiar and I knew the words are opposites but I couldn't quite pin the meaning down. Initially having SLIPONS (really) at 60A made SIRI difficult to spot. 60A had to morph from SLIPINS to STEPINS. Another big problem was coming up with ANDIRON which is actually one of my favorite words. I had LOGIRONS then ENDIRON. I left that last one in and continued on clockwise. My biggest mistake was TVA at 4D. What a STATMAP could possibly have to do with high lights I don't know but if you read it as highlights it kind of makes sense. I was immediately distracted by having difficulty recognizing PSYCHO without the S and the Y, seriously. Then I had to go back and correct ANDIRON and REA. ORLVANS is just bizarre looking but then again I don't recall ever seeing Loiret.
A special note about TVA/REA. TVA has been used 73x in the Shortz era and only as itself. REA as an acronym only rates @ 18 appearances and they're lost behind a torrent of Stephen__s and mens__ clues. I haven't checked but I assume the same is true of the name LEM and the NASA acronym. 45 million books and I've never heard of him!
Pardon the TMI.

Autrement 10:17 AM  

Good puzzle, but the SW ended up being really rough.

Never heard of DEF as meaning "Cool" before ... UrbanDictionary confirms it, although apparently it's very dated slang. I only know DEF as being short for definitely, slang for "Surely." At what point did "Cool" itself cease to be slang and need its own slang versions?

That section made my brain hurt, because I mistakenly started the SW with AIMED_LOW for "Missed a lot." I have no clue what RETIN-A is and had to guess on the vowel for the RETIN-A and LEM (Stanislaw) cross.
Having never heard of a "firedog" or an ANDIRON didn't help matters down there.
And I guess a TOTEM might be in the form of a "Head" but not necessarily! Shouldn't that clue require a question mark?

Mohair Sam 10:23 AM  

So yesterday we shot out to Gio's down on Route 100, sat on the patio under a Cinzano umbrella - no menu thanks - ask Tony to make our usual PIZZA MARGHERITA, will ya? And pull a couple of lagers, thanks. Guess where we opened this puzzle?

Enjoyed this Saturday, played medium for us. Enjoyed reading about Rex's adventures too. Hand up with the mob that had to fill every single letter of YOUSAFZAI, and a chuckle from @George Barany's info that the Nobel folks had trouble with the spelling too. A nod to @NCA Pres that GOSHDARN seems awfully mild for "Frickin'." Interesting fact about CORDITE, the stuff sure has a distinctive smell however. Loved the clues for STARMAP, SCULPTOR, and found myself misdirected at AMAZON.

To the question at 22A (Cold shower?) we answered "yes" - the hot water is out in our apartment building and won't be fixed until Monday. May have to visit the kids in Jersey. (they'll be thrilled)

@LMS - Strong disagreement here - Pizza Hut is to pizza as MacDonald's is to hamburgers.

Great fun Mary Lou Guizzo, thanks.

Wolverina I. McSlain 10:36 AM  

@Nancy: "I've never heard the expression OLD AS DIRT..."

That's because people are too polite to say it in front of you.

Liam Unswivels 10:45 AM  

Sorry @Nancy. I couldn't resist. And I should have spelled my name properly.

Tita A 10:49 AM  

was out of sync with puzzles and forgot...went to Rex before starting Saturday...saw STARMAP and immediately averted my eyes from the rest. Tried to solve the rest of the puzzle without the benefit of 1A, but was stumped.

Very lively puzzle. Big DNF, partly because I've got places to be, partly because I'm not as smart as I think I ought to be.
There were lots of opportunities for wrong answers...geek/nerd >> SIRI, nanosec/millisecond >> INSTANT.
I did like vrooM/THRUM crossing TOMEI, since I always fancied myself as her car-savvy character in My Cousin Vinny, able to rattle off the differences in engine sizes and drivetrain options while smug know-it-alls are SAPped of their smugness. go the camo baby things? I'm on a new knitting kick now that I've finished the little jacket. I will send you some pics.
I am well on my way to becoming that crazy cat lady who's always knitting nose warmers and toilet paper roll covers.

Nancy 10:54 AM  

@Mohair (10:23 a.m.)-- I so agree with your Pizza Hut/MacDonald's analogy. I have had the offerings of both one time each:

A Big Mac -- In the 1980s (I think), driving with my mother on our way to the Adirondacks. It was a 5-hour drive and we were both absolutely starving. There was nothing on the road, nothing at all, except a MacDonald's. We stopped there reluctantly. We each ordered a Big Mac. What I remember is a slab of thin, gray gristly meat, topped by some unidentifiable whitish-pink glop. (Or maybe it was a pinkish-white glop.) I scraped off the glop and tried to eat the meat. I couldn't. Hungry as I was, I removed the meat and ate the bun, along with the French fries which weren't half bad. My mother did the same. It got us to the Adirondacks -- but I've never set foot in there again. And you should understand that I love a great burger. In fact, I would much rather have a great burger than a mediocre steak.

A slice from Pizza Hut. In the West '50s, at the suggestion of my relatively impoverished 24-year-old musical theater workshop collaborator, after a class in the area. It was an ugly, noisy, crowded, garishly lit joint, but I figured pizza is pizza is pizza, right? You can't really ruin it, right? Wrong. It had the gumminess of rubber and it tasted like soap. I've never been back there, either. Hope no one here has an undying allegiance to either of these chains and that no one will feel insulted.

mathgent 11:03 AM  

@Nancy: Loved your comments today. I, too, would have preferred "fullback" to cross "frisbee" and "tickles" instead of SCULPTORS. I don't like that clue. I consider myself knowledgeable about movies and have read a lot about PSYCHO in particular and Hitchcock in general but had never heard about the strings-only soundtrack.

I feel good about having solved this one without cheating. I got MALALAYOUSAFZAI entirely from the crosses. Her name wasn't in my fleshy database. It took a lot of staring and sweating.

The nine diagonal blocks divide the puzzle into two halves, I found the lower left easy and I zipped right through. The upper right took almost all of the time.

We ate at Tony's celebrated pizza restaurant last night here in San Francisco. They have several ovens with different temperatures (900 degrees down to 550) and different fuels (gas, electricity, wood, coal). The featured pizza is a Margherita which they claim won a prestigious award in a competition. It was our first time there and we loved the pie we had from the coal oven, not the Margherita. The crust was crisp even though it was far from being cracker-thin.

@George Barany. I thoroughly enjoy your thoughtful comments. I've been doing the WSJ puzzles recently but I began after they published the one you cite with our Nobel-prize winner.

I feel that I should have liked it better. The cluing didn't do much for me. I didn't like "Hold" for DEEM and the clue for SOMEHOW. Put me down for a B plus.

Nancy 11:05 AM  

@Wolverina/Liam -- It's William something-or-other, isn't it? I'm too lazy to figure out the rest.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:06 AM  

Fastest Saturday in a while. I knew the consonants in Malala's last name -- Hebraic puzzling. Never heard of Pizza Margherita, never ordered Pizza in Italy at all, it seemed only one step up from going to McDonald's.

A I want to crow. My incompetent local newspaper delivery service that often leaves out the Sunday parts that come separately, including the Magazine, has given me the whole packet with my Saturday paper today! So I could start the Sunday puzzle now, and get a jump on you online people! But I won't. It's a working day. Weddings to play.

G.Harris 11:19 AM  

TVA is the only new deal power agency I know. Never heard of the REA. Orleans should have put me on notice but it didn't. That was my only error and quite self pleased to get all the rest right without resort to google.

AliasZ 11:19 AM  

The unknowable full name at 17A sucked the joy out of my solving experience, sad to say. Even after running through all the letters of my keyboard at the REA/MALALAYO USAFZAI crossing and getting it, the result was an annoyed shrug. I also thought USAF or LAY, O USA! may somehow be active components of the answer. But it was fun seeing TRALALA crossing MALALA. Accident, or intelligent design?

There are hundreds, nay, thousands, of quite worthy people out there who have been awarded highly acclaimed prizes, but that does not make their names crossworthy, especially since even the official Nobel Prize website misspelled her name. It reminds me of a challenge @Z posted on this very blog, May 19th, 2015: "How long until Hungarian [author, Man Booker International Prize winner of 2015] László Krasznahorkai appears in a puzzle?" As always, @GB was up to Z challenge and promptly created a puzzle with a little help from his friends.

How weird is it that Allan E. Parrish's puzzle on that fateful May day in 2015 also included the word SOMEHOW?

ALL KIDDING ASIDE, the rest of the puzzle was excellent. Loved the three 15s, and the symmetrically placed SLIPPER STEPINS. I will never forget Marisa TOMEI's biological clock ticking in My Cousin Vinny. Thanks for that.

The most famous name associated with the city of ORLÉANS is of course Jeanne D'Arc, the Maid of ORLEANS. Here are some Gypsy Dances from the Tchaikovsky opera of the same name, based on the play "Die Jungfrau von ORLEANS" by Friedrich Schiller.

Enjoy your weekend.

old timer 11:25 AM  

OKING? You must be joking! I really expected OFL to blow his stack about that. But I guess having his cable back put him in a good mood.

Saturdays are easier than Fridays for me, for some reason. I had HERITA for a long time, but crossed to the SW which really was Easy to complete, done in an INSTANT. I grew up with ANDIRONs in the fireplace, and used them because it was my job to build the fire. Writeovers: "esos" before ESAS and "TVA" before REA -- Rural Electrification Administration. I did put MALALA into my Wikipedia app and found out the rest of her name. I finished by crossing to the other side and PIZZA MARGHERITA came to mind. A good thing, too, because GOSH DARN it, I could not come up with PURGED.

I had trouble at first with IRAS, which is silly. I have them. And the IRS is making me draw them down, now, or face a penalty.

Mohair Sam 11:29 AM  

@Nancy (10:54) - Ummmm, I was going for a tad more subtle on the Pizza Hut thing. But you are so right, Lady Mohair and I are still laughing.

Cyann 11:31 AM  


I confused Venus Williams with Veronica Williams. (I hadn't had my coffee yet.)

Ellen S 11:41 AM  

Oh, my -- I'm a fairly early commenter on a Saturday! Usually I don't finish at all, sometimes slink over to the blog with only a few answers filled in, sometime just slink away. I thought @Rex was going to say this was a super-easy puzzle, unfit to be a Saturday. It did help that I know Malala's last name and pretty much how to spell it (I had it YOUSeFZAI, and the "e" resolved itself pretty easily, and I L ready had the Z). I thought TVA for the new deal power program, but when that didn't work REA seemed New Deal-ish.). Got TOMEI from the EI. Pleased as punch with myself, I am.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Stepins is an old southern term for ladies underpants. That would have been a great clue.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Didn't remember Malala's last name - worked it out. OKING is Ugh!!! Pennsylvania RR is ETERNAL only in Monopoly. No particular joy today - OLDAS!

Joseph Michael 11:49 AM  

I usually teach a class on Saturday mornings and forego the crossword, especially since the difficulty level on Saturdays is usually beyond me, but I have the day off and decided it give the puzzle a go. Was surprised that I was able to complete it easily without a google and only one mistake: the cross between MARGHERITA and MEHTA. (Was unfamiliar with both and, thanks to an unlucky guess, ended up with a U where the H should be)

@ Nancy, I'm sorry you haven't seen PSYCHO. It's one of Hitchcock's best films and certainly one of the most memorable, with a ground-breaking script and a stellar performance by Anthony Perkins. The film is original, suspenseful without being gory, and elegantly edited. Unlike today's slasher films, the violence is suggested rather than explicitly shown.

However, I do understand the need to take showers without having to look over your shoulder. So, if you're at all squeamish, perhaps it's best for you to only hear about this movie classic rather than see it. You'll still have "Vertigo" and "North by Northwest."

Numinous 11:56 AM  

Drat, blast and dagnabbit that was a frickin' GOSH DARN disappointment. Well, maybe not. I had to laugh when I figured that one out. None of my kids would ever have come out with "GOSH DARN". That's something my mother would have said. Frickin'? Yeah, they said that all the time. I told them more than once, "Why don't you just fuckin' come right out with it instead of pretending!" They'd give me that "I have no idea what you're talking about" look. I've read several articles on the human need to cuss and then to replace with euphemisms. Not sure if any of them came up with decent conclusions.

I had one error so I guess a DNF. MALALA YeUSAFZAI. Somehow I managed to equate clearing with earning with eKING by. With the exception of the 'O', I got the name from crosses even though it crossed my eyes looking at it, I was sure it was correct.

Stanislaw LEM, I knew. REINS IN I was sure of but didn't enter. I had tvA (which autocorrupt corrected to 'tea' at first) instead of REA. When I erased it the STAR MAP hove into view. I just love the way puzzles like this fall into place. For me it's trial, error, retrial and so on. Eventually the inscrutable become surprises.

I've never had a PIZZA MARGHERITA. Don't know what it is so while I was guessing at it I was thinking PastA. The MARGHERITA part was relatively easy, being Italian, I knew it couldn't be spelt like the tequila drink. And now, I want huevos rancheros and a jumbo margarita, I haven't had breakfast yet.

I actually like McDonalds without believing that, as hamburgers go, it is any good. Pizza Hut, I can't stand but I remember, back in the '70s, in Australia, their pizza was pretty good. When I got back to the U. S. I was so disappointed. The best pizza I've had lately has been home made. The Mrs. makes an excellent dough.

ALL KIDDING ASIDE, I enjoyed this Guizzo opus.

Aketi 11:57 AM  

I knew that MALALA's last name sounded a little like the name Cat Steven's adopted in the late seventies with a Zee sound at the end.So I got YOUS_FZ__ right away. Needed IRAS to steer me away from the E to the A. Turns out I had no clue about how YUSUF Islam spelled his name. M&A, I'm sure U would prefer the double U spelling. Anyway, running in the park today with a buddy who is prepping for his black belt test (iI really hate running) we discovered the Great Lawn was blocked off for the Global Citizen Festival today that is featuring, among other musicians, YUSUF.

I liked the SPLIPPERS in the NE and STEP-INS in the SW FRAMing opposite corners of the puzzle, with DAMSELS in the SE. If you are a DAMSEL you can never have enough shoes and if you want to entice that prince to PINE FOR you, dropping a SLIPPER is clearly more dramatic than dropping a handkerchief,

@Nancy, I constructed that clay tennis court ut of red and white clay blocks in my Mine Craft world about a year ago when I was thinking of you after some Xword blog conversation about tennis stars. Then I forgot all about it. It's next to a river between my pyramid and my tree house, far away from my railroad running through the valley of my pigs and mushrooms. Mine Craft is much more fun than helping a kid do the intricate Lego kits that are sold these days.

webwinger 12:03 PM  

Hand up for VROOM and TVA, having to google Malala though I mentally pictured her immediately. Pleased to have spelled margherita correctly and got sculptor with just a few crosses. Liked the new to me fun fact about Psycho. And thanks, @Rex, for the thrilling image of Fay Wray in Kong's grasp!

Numinous 12:04 PM  

Just by the way, OLD AS–Regarding age, I used to say, "Dirt calls me daddy."
I too think of STEP INS as ladies' underpants that look like baggy short shorts.

Hartley70 12:05 PM  

This was a good lively workout this morning, MALALA's last name being the boot camp portion of the solve. No cheating here, and the NE crosses were a bear. CORDITE eventually came to me and I was done.

The PYSCHO clue was a surprise. How could I not have noticed? TVA and VROOM errors slowed me down.

I've never heard of ZIN unless we're talking about Howard ZINn. What an inspiration he was to a 1960's college student! He's worth a Google.

Phil MAHRE was a gimme. There was a time in my life when I knew all the skiers and did a bit myself. I'm in awe of folks who continue into their seventies. As someone here said to me yesterday, they must have "rubber bands" for joints!

Dead on average time, lots of fun, learned some stuff makes this an A.

And Rubin is back by "popular" request.

Masked and Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Most deservin name I ever saw placed in a NYTPuz grid-spanner. Like most, I could spell MALALA, then was in trouble. Did note that TRALALA was crossin MALALA, tho.

Also noted this grid stuff:
* Primo symmetrical SLIPPER/STEPINS footwear.
* Guizzo scores a double-ZZ. Woulda been real neat, to go back and discover ZZ in all 13 of her puzs, but … nope. Not a trademark. Never too late to start, tho ...
* REA. Least fave weeject, as I had TVA, which was fine and dandy, with MALALA.
* {Firedog} clue. Made me think of them endless Farmers insurance commercials. Especially the one where the pooch is jumpin for the PIZZA BOXERITA and blows up the stove.
* SOLOMONS. This is where the Nostromo's departure base was out of, in "Alien". Still waitin, for this to be a useful stored fact.
* OLDAS dirt. A giant step down from MALALA, but still M&A's second-most fave thing in the puz. Nailed it off of ?L??F. [Had FUZZY, pre-SEEDY. Entertained the thought that Guizzo was bein extra ZZ-greedy.] Relative of "OLDER than snot", btw.
* Desperation, we are OKING you for a landing. Just the right amount, in this cool grid.
* Desperation, thy name is: Best thing in yer DVD collection is a buncha Bob Newhart TV shows.

Hello, Mary Lou, goodbye decent solve time. But thanx for all the hours of fun. As they say in Margheritaville, "Mehta thrum esas, and Mahre Cowbell."

Masked & AnonymoUUs

Maruchka 12:10 PM  

Started out scary - all that white matter - but ended smooth. As did others, I couldn't recall MALALA the Brave's last name. So, two cheats for her and - ELK. I know.. I'd been at an Oktoberfest beer bASH last night. Eine, zwei, drei - hoopla!

Thought snot for HAIL and TVA for REA - didn't last too long.

Fav of the day - THRUM. I can feel the vibe.

@Z - Love The Cyberiad, haven't read the others, excepting Polaris. There is a Soviet animated version of Polaris from the 70s. Seems dated now, was startling then. The use of fantasy to avoid the rigid cold war censorship of the day was brilliant.

AliasZ 12:13 PM  

I would be derelict of my duties if I did not present this lovely Sicilienne from the suite PAELLAS et Mélisande by Gabriel Fauré, conducted here by Zubin MEHTA. It is lovely music, well worth hearing all 17+ minutes of it (depending on the interpretation).

Here is the introduction to a different PAELLAS et Mélisande, this one composed by Jean Sibelius as incidental music to the Maurice Maeterlinck play by the same name (1892).

As you were.

Lewis 12:14 PM  

@rex -- "Scalp tag" gave me a big laugh.
@jackj -- Good to see you again, and we were on the same wavelength re scalp tag.

Got my Saturday fix -- toughness, aha's, and learnings in a puzzle with the feel of quality: Low on junk, and lots of plusses.

* Two favorite clues: SIRI, LIE.
* Three favorite answers: ALL_KIDDING_ASIDE, CODE_RED, THRUM.
* I learned "firedog".
* For some reason I love the cross of CODE_RED, and GOSH_DARN.
* I absolutely love the symmetrical SLIPPER/STEP_INS.

This is what I pay the big bucks for. Thank you greatly, MLG!

Johnny Vagabond 12:27 PM  

Slip ons NOT step ins. This was NOT a good puzzle except for long answers.

Gregory Schmidt 12:38 PM  

Sorry, but if you are going to put MALALAYOUSAFAZAI in an English-language puzzle, you had better darn well make certain that every, and I mean EVERY cross is an known, ENGLISH word. For those of us without humanities degrees, ANAIS is not a gimmee, but rather a big ol' vowely Natick. Is it MALALO? MALALU? MALALI? Who would know? HOW would you know? And REA. Again, unless you happen to already know that one, why couldn't it end in an O for "Organization"? Why not? How would I know that MALALA is an actual name, but MALOLA isn't? Maybe it is, in yet some other language. So to repeat, if you're going to try to cram in a proper name like MALALAYOUSAFZAI, there will be NO crossing it with ANOTHER non-English proper name, and no use of arbitrary 3-letter organizations.

Other than that mess, I found the puzzle tough, but solvable.

Sir Hillary 1:09 PM  

Crunch, crunch, crunch -- great Saturday workout. The oceans of white make for a beautiful unfilled grid.

My only mild complaint would be to echo @Gregory Schmidt regarding the crosses for MALALAYOUSAFZAI -- they need to be super clean. For me, ANAIS wasn't the problem, but REA was. Seems a little harsh to have an acronym crossing MAL_LA... At least clue at as the Irish actor Stephen, so it's a single word. That doesn't fully address @Gregory's gripe, but it would have helped me. Then again, it seems most people had more trouble with her last name, given the title of her book. Having not heard of it, I may be in the minority here.

To be clear...despite lots of words above devoted to one minor nit, I really liked this puzzle. I wish they were all this hard.

George Barany 1:16 PM  

What a fun discussion today about @Mary Lou Guizzo's puzzle ... so many interesting contributions.

With respect to a much-praise clue in this puzzle, @Bernard Herrmann who wrote the strings-only score to PSYCHO was an important composer ... you can easily locate more information about him online.

I hope that it is not too much of a spoiler to reveal that a significant encounter in the @Hitchcock film occurs in a shower. Meanwhile, @Henri-Georges Clouzot directed a film called "Les Diaboliques" in which a pivotal scene takes place in a bathtub. Evidently, someone wrote to Hitchcock that on account of "Psycho" she was afraid to shower, and on account of the French film, she was afraid to bath. According to the anecdote, Hitchcock replied, "... then Madam, I suggest you have yourself dry cleaned."

evil doug 1:17 PM  

Currently celebrating my annual USAF pilot class reunion in New Orleans, and a highlight was visiting the WWII Museum. My dad was a Navy PBM patrol plane pilot during the Pacific War, and the Solomons--particularly Guadalcanal--played a huge role in the ultimate victory over Japan. The museum is excellent now, and will be even greater when they complete the approved quadrupling of its size.

evil doug 1:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike D 1:35 PM  

@jGregory: "Who would know?!" How about anyone with an awareness of major events in the world in the past decade or so?

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Oh look, it's Evil Doug bragging again about his father or himself murdering lots of civilians that they never had to look in the eye. Without even a hint of remorse. What an American hero!

Joe Bleaux 1:53 PM  

When I was a child in rural Kentucky, womenfolk referred to their panties as "step-ins." I've never heard footwear referred to as such.

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

@Rex - glad you're back online. Surely you mean The Master and MARGaRITA. Unless I'm missing a joke. Surprised, saddened? that this error wasn't pointed out heretofore.

Bill L. 2:21 PM  

Last letter in was the Y at the PSYCHO/YOUSAFZAI cross. Had to fill the young Nobelist completely off the crosses. Fortunately I knew them all. Used to live in Poudre Valley REA territory so that helped. GOSH DARN cheap electricity, I can tell ya that. I moved away from there about 9 years ago and I still get a capital credit check from them from time to time. No idea what it's for and I don't question it. Received one a few weeks ago, in fact.

Have skied at ELK Mountain in PA several times, so wondered if it was in that county. Nope, the mountain is in Susquehanna County, Elk County is further west.

Getting 3 of the grid spanners off of not much helped make this play about medium for me. Liked it a lot.

Wileyfex 2:24 PM  

Yousef is Joseph. Zai = son (of). Yousefzai is pronounced as it is written, and it really is not difficult.

Pedantic Pepe LePew 2:31 PM  

@Anonymous 1:48 pm,
Navy patrol planes didn't bomb civilians. If you're going to be sarcastic (a talent that Evil Doug possesses in spades) at least have your facts straight.

Z 2:32 PM  

@Masked & Anonymous - No one should ever doubt you. As for the usefulness of that tidbit, maybe the next ComicCon Trivia Contest?

@Gregory Schmidt - ANAIS Nin isn't quite as crossfamous as Yoko Ono, Brian Eno, or Yma Sumac, but she's close. The first name appears far less frequently than the last, but solvers will know the name without necessarily having read any of her writing.

@Evil Doug - Guadalcanal and Midway, probably the two most important battles in the Pacific, had lots of books about them in the Herrick Public Library when I was tween. I think I read every single one of them. It is easy to forget what War means, ~15,000 American casualties including >7,000 deaths in one battle alone.

Mohair Sam 3:21 PM  

Surprised so many don't know the REA. I'm essentially a free market guy, but those who thoroughly hate government programs might want to give this one a study. The REA co-ops - which are actually borrowers - still exist.

evil doug 3:34 PM  

... and the museum doesn't pull any punches about the horrors on both sides of the conflict--from genocide against the Jews and Chinese to the indiscriminate fire-bombing of Japanese civilian populations. The most moving thing is how many WWII veterans, including some D-Day guys, were in attendance. Won't be long before they're all gone.

And hi to the fucking--oops, I mean "frickin'"--anonymous asshole.

OISK 3:40 PM  

Finished. No "Google help." I found that vey satisfying, since I had no recollection at all of Malala, not any part of her name! But I got lucky with REA, which is an unfamiliar acronym. And I agree with those who wrote that it is an unacceptable cross for the "A" in Malalayou.

That said, I thought this was an apt, fine, crunchy Saturday puzzle. All kidding aside.

Masked and Anonymous 3:42 PM  

@Z - Sometimes it's real weird, the stuff one remembers. For instance, I can already feel BOETHIUS slippin away …

@Evil - yep. My dad fought at Battle of the Bulge. Always been proud of him, even tho wars suck.

@RP - "Oh no, it wasn't the airplanes that killed the beast …" It was that third cocktail.

M&A & la la

yo to Bob Kerfuffle, on vacation in the Balearic Islands.

duke kahanamoku 3:45 PM  

The USS Arizona memorial and the USS Missouri can both be seen at Pearl Harbor.

Evan Jordan 3:50 PM  

Those are actually great descriptions! If you grew up in the eighties and nineties like I did, corporate food was much more pervasive. Pizza Hut actually sponsored a reading competition called Book It. Can you guess what the prize was? Anyway, if it's in your mouth from birth, it takes a long time to begin assessing the various tastes and textures objectively. Thank goodness healthy lifestyle trends came back out of their exile since wheat germ-macrobiotic 1970's. Otherwise I might still think all that junk was perfectly acceptable.

jae 3:51 PM  

Easy-medium for me. I can picture MALAYA's face, but like pretty much everyone else I still needed almost every cross for her last name.

PIZZA MARGHERITA is one of our favorites, a nice veggie meal.

snow before HAIL.

Delightful 15s, liked it.

Jamie C. 4:03 PM  

Almost put WIKI instead of SIRI. Easy, fun Saturday. Knew Malala because I read the news, watch TV, etc. Extremely fair entry for a Saturday.

Mike Rees 4:04 PM  

Challenging for me, lots of things I didn't know. Quite a few guesses; some worked out, some didn't. Ended up Naticked at the corner of pizza queen and Indian maestro. Well over my usual Saturday time, but with only one Google to find my only error.

Michael 4:45 PM  

Although I didn't know Malala's last name, I thought the crosses were fair. Anais Nin shows up in crossword puzzles (both first and last name) often. I didn't know Psycho (thought it was Gandhi with Michigan bordering Indiana for a while), but the clue is certainly appropriate on a Saturday. (I ended up having to Google for the Y in Malala's last name in order to get Psycho). The one answer that really stumped me though was REA, I was sure it was TVA for a long time. Even after I got it, it took quite a while to remember "rural electrification" (which I should have known because I live in a part of the country where the REA was important).

I started off thinking this was very easy for a Saturday, but ended up not thinking this.

Chronic dnfer 5:34 PM  

Wtf is scalp tag?

Martín Abresch 6:12 PM  

@Z, @Maruchka - +1 on reading Stainslaw LEM's The Cyberiad. Great short stories. Some funny, some clever, some dark. I've bought three or four copies of this book, but I don't have one at home because I keep giving it away to friends telling them "Read this!" The only book that I do that with. I'm also fond of Lem's paranoia fugue, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub.

On King Kong, I agree with Jorge Luis Borges:

A monkey, forty feet tall (some fans say forty-five) may have obvious charms, but those charms have not convinced this viewer. King Kong is no full-blooded ape but rather a rusty, desiccated machine whose movements are downright clumsy. His only virtue, his height, did not impress the cinematographer, who persisted in photographing him from above rather than from below—the wrong angle, as it neutralizes and even diminishes the ape’s overpraised stature. He is actually hunchbacked and bowlegged, attributes that serve only to reduce him in the spectator’s eye. To keep him from looking the least bit extraordinary, they make him do battle with far more unusual monsters and have him reside in caves of false cathedral splendor, where his infamous size again loses all proportion.

Remember kids: Borges is always right.

Oh, yeah! The puzzle!

Pretty grid design.

Good, tough puzzle. Had a similar experience to most other commentators: I didn't remember MALALA YOUSAFZAI's last name, had trouble parsing the clue for SCULPTOR (One going around the block?), have never heard of CORDITE (Smokeless explosive), and (like @Nancy) tried FRISBEE before SLIPPER. It took me a while to come up with SLIPPER, at which point I was ticked because I had considered that very word in the SW corner in place of STEP INS.

Like @puzzle hoarder, I had a devil of a time pulling SEMINAR (Colloquy). In fact, I got pulled in the ninth and my partner got the save. I handed the ball to her, she got SEMINAR to pop out, and then she made short work of TOTEM, TETON, and MAHRE. Side note: she went on vacation to Spain this summer and has made us PAELLAS several times since.

RETIN-a was easily the worst answer in the grid. What an ugly partial.

I didn't know ANDIRON or MEHTA, so got those from crosses alone. I was quite worried, at times, of getting completely stuck, but somehow there was always a thin thread to follow.

Last thought. The answer and clue for GOSH DARN (Frickin') reminds me of a joke in a new tv show that I just began watching last night and highly recommend, The Good Place. Kristen Bell plays a horrible person who accidentally (?) ends up in "The Good Place" (heaven?), which is being managed by Ted Danson. (Yes, it's an incredibly strange premise, but it's produced by the amazing Michael Schur of Parks & Rec, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Twitter baseball commentary. Good hands.) Kristen Bell confesses to another that she shouldn't be there:

KB: Somebody royally forked up. Why can't I say "fork"?
WJH: If you're trying to curse, you can't here.
KB: That's bullshirt!

Anoa Bob 6:38 PM  

I usually count the black squares before I start and today's 23 is very low, even for a themeless. On further inspection, this is somewhat mitigated by several two-for-one POCs, at the ends of 9D/24A LOSES/SHIPS, 10D/20A IRAS/TICKLES, 23D/47A LADDERS/ESAS, 35D/60A SOLOMONS/STEPINS, & 42D/61A DAMSELS/RESEALS. Each S could be converted to a black square, the clues tweaked, and nothing of substance would be lost from the puzzle. They are essentially cheater/helper squares which would up the black square count to 28. Still low, but not as impressively so.

Combined with several other POCs such as CALS, IDEES, LTS, RRS, PAELLAS & REBS, I would give this grid a POC Assisted Fill rating.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

I must admit I prefer reviews that focus on the merits and failures of the puzzle, rather than a rundown of one person's solving process. I learn nothing from the latter but plenty from the former.

David in CA 8:38 PM  

@Nancy: in our house we refer to them as "alternate realities", and your FULLBACK/FRISBEE combination is one of the best!
PDF = Portable Document Format; a type of computer file designed to be easily viewed on many different computer types with a free program. Originally PDF just referred to the format, but it has become so ubiquitous that it is now a common noun..."Oh, you didn't get your puzzle today? I'll send you a PDF and you can print it out."...OK, that is a lame example!

THRUM!!?? Oh come on! I can just see myself in the shop: "The engine sounds funny, it keeps going 'THRUM'". Followed by all the mechanics rolling on the ground laughing. VROOM, VRRRM, VARUM, PURRR.

Given Rex's kind of silly 1-across rule I knew this would be an easy one as I slapped in the gimmee "NEBULA_", just not knowing whether to put an S or E on the end.
This did slow me down just a little bit :(.

Anonymous 11:52 PM  

@Mike, does the d stand for dick or does it not? You're so consistent.

Paul408 12:57 AM  

Started with two gimmes: LEM (great author) and PIZZAM... (the spelling tripped me up). Adding the word "Italian" in the clue made it instantly recognizable. Pizza is probably the greatest culinary invention in the last 300 years.

LEM led to the SW, but MALALA made the entire N slow. REA is my major complaint.

Going to read about LEM's other books, maybe order one...

Leapfinger 5:18 AM  

Was pleased to guess ELK to start, but unfortunately that led to [Seriously...] = LOOK_AT_IT_THIS_WAY and aton of serial dismantling. Laborious spelling of Malaya's surname ran afoul of wanting YOUSUF, but couldn't make grammatical sense of I_R_US.

What else? Got cute with WEBINAR, which led to the know-it-all being WIKI, which goes to show there's many ways to STEP Into it.

STEPINS indeed are the post-bloomer panties that came in style during the 1920s. The loose bottoms were better to dance in, and started a new wave in the lingerie business. If this is something y'all want to put on your feet, that's fine, but be warned that they probably won't last long.

HAIL, O KING SOLOMON!! Back today with no SONG, no ODES. TRA LA LA.

It's all well & good to cross ONT x OKING, but if you line 'em up, you get ON_TOKING. Last cover by the Doobie Brothers, which LAID IT ONe Toke Over THE LINE.

Marisa TOMEI will always be TO ME her final testimony in My Cousin Vinny; I must have watched and rewatched that some dozens of times, and love it even more than Fred Gwynne does.

Enjoyed the solve immensely, and didn't think anything could make me laugh aloud at this hour of the A&M the way PAELLAS et Melisande did.

Here's me signing off, and parsing 'derelict' as I go.

DAMSEL in de-stress

Hungry Mother 4:25 PM  

Took 2 hours spilt over 2 days, but no cheating, just lots of slogging. Never heard of REA, even with a stauch Republican father who delighted in telling us over and over how much he hated Roosevelt and the New Deal. Somehow, my father held his nose and was the commander of a CCC camp; I guess nobody's perfect.

kitshef 8:52 PM  

My favorite kind of themeless. Start off thinking I'm never going to get anywhere, and bit by bit it all comes together. Had usseS for SHIPS for a while thinking that had to be the worst abbrev/plural ever.

One thing that was so great about the puzzle is it's fairness. Nobody can possibly be expected to know the capital of Loiret, but everybody has heard of ORLEANS, so with some crosses you can get there. Same things happened to me at ANDIRON and SEMINAR.

Burma Shave 9:37 AM  


and was GOSHDARN ANGRY you weren’t mine.
Like SOLOMON’S wisdom my love is ETERNAL, too.


it's not all doggerel

spacecraft 11:27 AM  

Well, looky here: my DAMSELS, all of them, right in the puzzle! Including today's TOMEI. I have to give points for that.

Hard to believe that CODERED was clued without using "A Few Good Men." The main problem for me was that string of fifteen totally random (to me) letters at 17-across. The natick came at 4-down; once I'm past TVA I'm lost, as far as New Deal power agcy's. are concerned. The only reason I picked "A" is that I hoped it stood for "Agency." The whole NW was pretty GOSHDARN tough. I don't quite make the turn from "I wasn't expecting it, but..." to SOMEHOW. There's definitely a turn there, methinks a hairpin.

Just last night I saw PSYCHO again, with honorable-mention DOD Janet Leigh, so with gimme ANAIS right alongside I thought the NW was going to be a "piece of..." you know. No-o, it was the last to go in. Again. Got 'er done; good triumph factor. That thing on the third line: total gibberish to me, and I couldn't even change a key letter or three to make it look like anything, so I just left it. I surely hope I never see THAT again. But...for the DAMSELS, we gotta move the chains. First down.

rondo 1:21 PM  

The popular tvA had me stuck up there for quite a while until I could fill in around it. As a child I remember the last vestiges of the electric co-op we had then as being referred to as REA on the billing envelop or some such. If Grandma was talking about the electric company, it was always “the R.E.A.” Long before the actor Stephen was born.

Got PIZZAMARGHERITA off just the Z in ZIN. A local pizzeria makes a fine one that we order sometimes during the winter. So I knew that spelling. No chance on MALALA’s last name without crosses.

I know a local gal whose first name is MEHTA. Only LEM I can recall is LEM Barney, a football player from long ago. So I guess you never know about first/last names.

As I recall, George Costanza PINEDFOR yeah baby Marisa TOMEI. Of all the DAMSELS to choose from, she’s a good one.

GOSHDARN nice puz, AND_I, RON, am outta here.

leftcoastTAM 2:21 PM  

Absolutely nothing other than praise for the young Pakistani girl who bravely stood up to the Taliban. Her name and its spelling, however, is another matter. Made that NE top tier virtually ungettable.

LOSES for "shakes" didn't help, and neither did OKING. GOSHDARN for "frickin'", a soft and folksy expletive as an answer for a euphemized f@#!-ing clue!??

rain forest 2:44 PM  

Except for the NE, this was easy for me. I resisted the urge to put in tvA, because STARMAP made sense to me. ORLEANS and MALALA confirmed that the unknown REA had to go in there. As for that last name, I was pretty sure it started YOUSeF---, but had to leave that.

The whole West side and the SW went quickly, aided by a great guess on SEMINAR, and the SE was equally easy (ORBITAL is a gimme for a chemist). Working up from the South, slowed momentarily by vrooM, I came face to face with the dastardly NE and the end of that last name. The pizza helped, but I struggled to see IRAS, and to remove that "e", which stuck there for too long. Anyway, once SCULPTOR chiseled his way in, I was done.

Nice DODs, per @Spacey, and yeah babies, hi, @Rondo. My favourite is Janet Leigh, but for other reasons, MALALA makes the grade in this GOSHDARN fun puzzle.

Diana,LIW 3:47 PM  

The best part of this puzzle for me was reading all the various reactions here. Always amazes me what some do/don't know.

Got 90% of the puzzle w/o assistance, but the usual suspects made it very slow going. You know, the slipons, TVA, vrooms. Tamales before PAELLAS. Can't remember ever hearing that pluralized. It's just one, giant paella, and you get some of it. If you have seconds, it's still the same GOSHDARN paella.

Seriously fun. Enjoyed the dearth of PPPs.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

kathy of the tower 12:21 AM  

@wileyflex; Thanks for the explanation of Malala's last name. So obvious when broken down.
I enjoyed this puzzle. I always feel so clever when I finish a Saturday. I usually do, but it takes a while. PURGED was the key to finishing the last bit.
I had forgotten the CODERED in A Few Good Men. To me it's a cardiac arrest. I was a nurse in the ER for years, good job for an adrenalin junkie.

Bananafish 1:37 AM  

I dropped in PASTAMARGUERITA for PIZZA MARGHERITA, which of course caused all kinds of havoc. Eventually figured out the PIZZA part, but never did change the U to an H, ending up with MEUTA for the Indian-born maestro. Seemed plausible enough ... certainly would have chosen MEHTA over MEUTA though if I had been suspicious of that U.

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