Small slim daggers / SAT 5-7-16 / Mother or son Philippine president / Hall of Fame NBA player known as Worm / Show title shown on license plate / One of singing Braxton sisters / Longtime nickname in comics / Wehre Bambara is widely spoken

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Constructor: Kyle Mahowald

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (all easy *except* NE corner, where I got stuck for a bit)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: PONIARDS (1A: Small, slim daggers) —
Poignard, or poniard, (Fr.), refers to a long, lightweight thrusting knife with a continuously tapering, acutely pointed blade and crossguard, historically worn by the upper class, noblemen, or the knighthood. Similar in design to a parrying dagger, the poignard emerged during the Middle Ages and was used during the Renaissance in Western Europe, particularly in France, Switzerland, and Italy. (wikipedia)
 [let google write the clues for you!]
• • •

I was loving this one until the very end. It's not so much that I got dead stuck (though I did); it's that once I got unstuck, the revelation of the problem-answer was more an "ugh" than an "aha" moment. Apparently MAC PRO is a thing that exists. I am only just learning this. I owned a MAC*book* PRO for years, so that, I'm familiar with. But MAC PRO? No. Wikipedia tells me that "It is the high-end model of the three desktop computers in the current Mac lineup, the other two being the iMac and Mac Mini." So there we are. I would've gotten IMAC and MACMINI, for the record. MAC PRO, ugh. What really makes me angry is that of course the *first* thing I thought of on seeing the clue 9A: Apple variety was computers. It's Saturday, so of course it's computer apple and not apple apple. Only, not knowing this brand, I went back to apple apples ("Clever move, puzzle—going all Monday when you know I'm *looking* for Saturday," I thought). And so I was looking for the edible kind of apple. Like some kind of rube.

 [too late]

I surrounded that NE corner on both sides, then saw right through the feint at 18A: Extremely fast? and threw across STARVE with no problem. But then things just broke down. And then stopped altogether for a while. In retrospect, RAVAGE should've been easy, but POROUS was very hard to see, and I wanted FOOL (?) at 22A: "Poor little" one in Coleridge's "To a Young Ass" (FOAL) and TICS at 26A: Jerks (TUGS). Yipes. I think FOAL was the first missing answer to occur to me up there, and it brought RAVAGE and down went everything else. So my last impression of the puzzle was "Oh ... MAC PRO ... that's ... a thing ... I guess." Not a great way to end an otherwise very nice puzzle.

Got a very fast start. Guessed at AFT and RIGS and then tested my first Acros—bam: SIGHT GAG (17A: Many a Harpo Marx joke):

[just ignore the typo, thanks]

I thought the longer answers here were fantastic, and that's what you want them to be in a themeless. Well, any time your answers are fantastic, that's great, but since you aren't hemmed in by theme material on themelesses, you really should be able to deliver "fantastic" (as opposed to just "solid") at least a few times. I didn't cringe at anything here. I can take a little crosswordese (EES, ONE-A) when everything else is humming. It was really, really easy though (NE corner notwithstanding). ELENA Ferrante, Dennis RODMAN, the DYNAMIC DUO—all this stuff is right in my wheelhouse. I went through the bottom half of the puzzle like it was Tuesday or Wednesday, esp. the SE, which was a blur.

[not TRACI]

Wanted: NOGOZONE (instead of -AREA) (3D: Place to be avoided). ARID (instead of ARAB) (25A: Like Egypt). Otherwise, no issues outside of that NE corner.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Pete 12:06 AM  

Re 25A: I've know a half-dozen Egyptians well enough to discuss ethnicity with them, and they each were adamant that they weren't Arab. The west's conflating all Arabic speakers with being Arab is just wrong.

jae 12:09 AM  

Almost exactly what @Rex said.

Very easy for me too except for NE which was medium because I had sAVAGE before RAVAGE which had me thinking (like some kind of rube) fruit apples instead of computer apples.

PONIARDS was a WOE, but IM ON FIRE, SIGHT GAG, and A TOE were gimmes as was WHATS NEW WITH YOU which opened up the center. I'm with @Rex, there was almost no resistance. This week's "easy 1.5" AV Club and Thurs.'s ACE IN THE HOLE were both harder.

This was reasonably smooth and had a bunch of very good stuff, but the weekends need to be tougher. Now last Sat. ... that was a PUZZLE!

puzzle hoarder 2:08 AM  

At times this puzzle was easy. The NW filled in quickly but having ZONE and ARID stopped me cold. It crossed my mind that an automatic is a weapon but while they're referred to as arms in the plural no one would call a single gun an arm. Did you remember to pack your arm? Why is it broken?
After restarting in the SW I was able to correct those mistakes and finish or so I thought. I was very disappointed to learn that it's PONIARD not PENIARD. Yes I convinced myself that EMIT could be an answer for 2D simply because I thought it made 1A look more like a word. I really shouldn't solve at night or maybe I was just due for something stupid.

Alby 4:19 AM  

A moratorium on DOESSO, AMTOO, ARENOT and their ilk. No place outside of a playground. Quite liked MACPRO. Fell into place among the last few squares. Thankful for TOW instead of yet another TBAR. IMONFIRE started as axONFIRE (and OMIT as exIT). Shows you what a Bruce fan I am.

Charles Flaster 4:44 AM  

Totally agree with Rex especially the longer answers. STARVE was tough to "digest" as "Extremely fast? ".
Liked clue for INHERENT.
Thanks KM.

George Barany 5:12 AM  

Not a lot to add to @Rex's nice and positive review of @Kyle Mahowald's puzzle. SIGHT_GAG inspired me to visit YouTube and retrieve this clip, and--as long as we're at it--another clip. Just hilarious, huh? So, even without knowing 1-Across or the @Bruce Springsteen song beneath it in the grid, reasonable guesses allowed me to complete the puzzle without Google in what was by my standards a reasonably fast Saturday time. All around smart cluing and inferable answers, and no INSOMNIA for me.

I liked seeing RHO clued with respect to density, but wonder whether the word "charge" was necessary in the clue. It reminded me of the time I taught a remedial introductory chemistry course, designed for college students who had not studied the subject in high school. One student approached me, very sincerely, to say that while he understood that density was mass divided by volume, he had no idea how to calculate mass when the textbook provided the density and volume.

I've been to many a Jewish wedding, but never one with more than a single RABBI. It did amuse me, though, to see the R of RABBIS cross the second R of MARRY_ME. The first R, of course, crosses RUMBLE, evocative of "West Side Story" (click on the link).

Loren Muse Smith 5:19 AM  

Rex – I love your term "go Monday" on a clue. Man, I went all Monday on 9A and was looking for a six-letter apple-you-can eat variety. Sometimes I wonder if constructors purposely go Monday on a clue for a Saturday grid for the reverse trick double whammy gotcha buddy.

That northeast corner didn't throw me at all; I'm unfamiliar with lots of Mac stuff, so MAC PRO went right on in. Loved the clue for STARVE.

I always admire when the constructor takes advantage of the fact that the first letter of the clue is capitalized. If "Apple" had been mid-sentence, everyone would've thought some kind of MAC right away.

My last part was due west, but once I erased "swampy," everything righted. I wanted "no-go zone," too.

"Like a boat's cockpit, usually" I put in "wet" with no hesitation. And I wasn't even being funny.

"Cheese choice" not "choice cheese." I like American cheese anyway. Yeah – the cellophane wrapped stuff. Used to cadge slices while Mrs. Johnston was teaching piano lessons and I was babysitting her daughters Libby and Katherine. Hey, but I like Taleggio, Cambozola, and Père Joseph, too.

For the question before a personal update, I was thinking the question was from the updater. How much time do you have? or Oh. You mean you haven't heard that I've started selling Amway? Let's sit down for a minute. or Can I be honest with you?. When someone prefaces a statement with Can I be honest? I mentally go back and revisit/question all the other things they've just said. (revisit/question, singular they – have at it, grammar meanies.)

Anyway… WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU is the safest question to ask someone you haven't seen in a while. That lets the person carefully pick and choose what's to be reported. If you head straight for some unbeknownst-to-you no-go area, How's your wife? or You still working at Chase Manhattan?, things can do downhill fast if the news there is awkward. A last thought on this – I have known people who have never, ever asked me about myself during a conversation. Some during a lifetime. So the more their egocentric agenda advances, the more I dig my heels in, determined not to bring anything about myself up ever. Boy, I'm really showing them, huh? Creeps. (Hi, Darlene and Marion. Bet y'all haven't realized I've moved from NJ to WV.)

Nice puzzle. Now to get thumped by the Stumper DYNAMIC DUO.

Carola 6:41 AM  

I'M ON FIRE is what did not describe me solving the puzzle. After "Nope, nope, nope..." I was very happy to be able to dip A TOE into the grid as well as pick up THREADS and CRAFTS. After that it was a pleasurable, leisurely interweaving of Ahas and Um, no's - besides @Rex's TicS and ARid, I also misspelled POinARDS. I also finished in the NE but was helped there by having heard of the MACPRO - I did so want a real apple variety, though. NICE puzzle, but agree with @jae that it could have been tougher.

No BS 7:18 AM  

I was SO stoked I dredged up Macoun (on ma....)as a variety of apple. But to Noah Vale. Had to google Coleridge's strange and touching poem to come up with Foal, so DNF. Never hoida poniard, but it developed from crosses.

ZenMonkey 7:42 AM  

Yep, my time came in between my average Tue and Wed times. Enjoyed it though.

Robso 8:01 AM  

Had mistakes all over the place-- NO GO ZONE, ARID, TICS, ERASE, DULL--but was able to turn things around. My print out is a mess though. I agree with @Pete about ARAB.
YES WE CAN. I miss Obama already.

Tita 8:09 AM  

Damn the NE...!
Inhad precisely Rex's thought process around Apple, so put in MACoun.
Add STicky for fast... Flea for FOAL, and well,, a technical DNF. I had to use the erase wrong entries feature, and then could immediately see the light.

The clue for CRAFTS was so vague... I mean, those things can be used for absolutely anything! Just ask any kid. Or teacher. Just don't clean your pipe with them. I was looking for a specific thing.

Cheese choice...AMERICAN? Not to expose myself as a cheese snob, but the smellier the better. A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and some smelly cheese...a perfect meal. And some charcuterie.
I once had a checkout girl ask me, pointing at a Roquefort, "Ypu want to put that one back? It's gone bad..."

Thanks Mr. M for a clever, if a tad easy, Saturday.
Actually, much appreciated, because today is our much-anticipated "Bulk Trash Amnesty Day"...the day where husband and I get to wrangle over which objects are trash, which are valuable and we will surely use soon, so they ought to stay in basement/shed/garage for another 15 years, and which I promise to put on Craig's List.
I'm sure I could make a reality show out of it...any producers out here? The highlight of the year, though, is "Hazardous Waste Day" in the fall...!

kitshef 8:15 AM  

Some days you are just on the same wavelength as the constructor. STARVE was first in, and POROUS was the first confirming cross, then worked roughly down the E and back up the W, with only a couple of hiccups along the way (uclA before PISA, RIdgED before RIBBED, DUll before DUMB).

Never heard of Bambara, but knowing MALI's capital is Bamako made that an easy guess. Didn't know ELENA but crosses all pretty easy.

Do they make a MAC AM?

jberg 8:27 AM  

A lot of the Everglades are MARine -- the part around Everglade City -- so that held me back for some time. That and wanting WHAT'S up WITH YOU to have another letter someplace. But I finally realized that 'comics' were books as well as daily strips, which let me see the DYNAMIC DUO and gave me the missing NEW, and I was all set.

Me too for finishing with MAC PRO. I almost did write in MACoun, but it just didn't seem right.

@Rex, glad you, the certified poetry professor, didn't know FOAL either. That's even more obscure than PONIARDS, but it let them get ASS into the clues, which I guess they enjoyed.

That's it for today, busy weekend!

AliasZ 8:37 AM  

@Rex's description of his difficulty with MACPRO perfectly describes the problem with too many product names, proper names and pop culture references. You either know them or not. If you do not, the result after getting them from crosses is invariably an overwhelming "ugh". I happen to be very familiar with MACPROs, so I didn't even notice that area.

What I did notice was the NO GO AREA. Has anyone ever uttered these three words strung together this way with this meaning? I doubt it. Restricted area, off limits, no trespassing, don't come bar (on a craps table), etc. As I saw the phrase take shape from the crosses: _OGO_RE_ I thought, really? You're kidding, right?

It was great to see William Sydney Porter (1862–1910) better known as O. HENRY, writer of short stories of which perhaps his best known is Gift of the Magi. He also coined the phrase "banana republic."

Favorite words today: PONIARDS, HEDONISM and SIGHT GAG. Least faves: HHH, ATOE, ONEA, SESS, and the AFT APT OPT cluster. Plus of course the NO GO AREA.

Otherwise a fine Sat. puzz, except for the no go area.

Questinia 8:49 AM  

I am a rube so dropped in MACoun thinking "Well it's Saturday so it's not just any apple variety".

Leapfinger 8:53 AM  

@REex, metoo with the NOGOzone.

Had a rockin' good time with this not-too-fast solve, even though I first remembered 1A as POmmARDS. Seems everywhere I looked were SIGHT GAGS:


Toyota had a RAV_AGE, of a time.

Guess that TOW and TWO were ONE_A the DYNAMIC_DUO thingies the grid was talking about. Or maybe it was the YES_WE_CAN balanced by the "No DRAMAS" Obamas?

If you though A_TOE SMELT FOAL, you probably had no idea what's afoot.

Very likely, a real NO GO AREA would be a somewhere "you could DIE" AREA. Or is that too apposite?

With Corazon *right there*, MADRID should be MANILA AQUI, NO?

My Egypt was ARID before ARAB, I didn't know Dennis RODMAN was called The Worm, and only just this second figured out that LA_LAW might be on LAPD license plates. Duh, DUMB!! so PORO US s'more of CASH'S ALE

Between Dennis RODMAN and the No-DRAMAS Obamas, the NYT puzzle Tonedeaferati managed *once again* to sneak in some nuanced reasons to justify the introduction of "AFT RHO".

Seems I'M ON FIRE.... or maybe should be set ON FIRE...

Have a lovely Erev Mother's Day, every Mother's child out there!

Chaos344 9:13 AM  

Exactly what Rex and @jae said. Apparently, our solves were pretty much identical. Agree with @jae. Too easy for a Saturday.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

@Leapfinger - nope, I think a graphic in the opening credits of LA LAW featured a license plate. Would Egypt be ARAB if only five non-ARABs lived there? Not feelin' the outrage.

orangeblossomspecial 9:42 AM  

Kyle Mahowald has a twofer today: the NY Times and LA Times puzzles.

I can't enter 25A without thinking of Ray Stevens' 'Ahab the ARAB'.

Linda Ronstadt had a nice cover version of 34A 'WHAT'S NEW'.

Nancy 9:49 AM  

I found this a joy to solve -- entertaining from beginning to end -- despite the rapper and the song title. I'm thinking of putting together a book with the working title:

A Must-Have Reference Work for the Un-Hip and the Un-Hip-Hop

Anyway, getting back to the puzzle, my biggest headache was the NW where not only didn't I know the rapper and the song title, but I didn't know PONIARDS. I was thinking STILETTI, but didn't write it in because it looked like it wouldn't work. I was torn between quIT and OMIT at 2D, and while I was thinking NO GO AREA at 3D from early on, it's really not a phrase I've ever heard of. I was tempted to use my Roget's to get PONIARDS, but I'm glad I didn't cheat. It eventually came in as the only answer that fit the crosses, and when I looked in my Webster's to see if it was there, I was very relieved to see that it was.

On yet again another cold, rainy, windy, miserable day, this puzzle, even though I didn't solve it all that quickly, was still over much too soon.

Dorothy Biggs 9:51 AM  

It's so weird to do a puzzle all by yourself and then find out that you had the same struggles as a bunch of other people. Makes me wonder if it was by design...if so, bravo...because it worked.

The NE was brutal. I'm a Mac user from way back and I'm even typing this out on a MacBook Pro. I haven't used a desktop Mac in a long time (G4, maybe?), I guess I knew they still make them with the monitor and motherboard all one big thing...but I didn't know they were called MACPROs. But that was the least of my worries up there...I don't know Coleridge and so I don't even know how well known this little poem is. Am I supposed to have memorized this at some point well enough to know that some random bit is a "poor little FOAL?" I guess anyone could pore through poems and find the teeniest little word and then clue it in a puzzle. I suppose they could...and evidently they do. But I don't have to like it. Which I don't. GROAN #1.

A jerk is not a TUG. Tugs are gentle, jerks are violent. When I tell you I tugged on someone's coat, you picture me sort of pulling at it get their attention. When I tell you I jerked someone's coat off, that's a bit different, no? Rex's "tic" is much more like a jerk...sudden and unexpected...than a tug. GROAN #2.

I need a grammar helper here. To me, "Like Egypt," should be answered "arabic." It may indeed be an ARAB country. But if you're going to use a comparative adjective (or whatever "like" implies), it seems "arabic" is the way to go...straight up "ARAB" is not. It's a gratuitously misleading clue, IMO. GROAN #3.

On the old Groan-O-Meter™, this puzzle didn't play well. But almost exactly like Rex, I was okay with it (ARAB aside because I know it's probably debatable), but after the NE...needle was pegged. And I think, in retrospect, it was the cluing more than the answers. Thank God there were no puns, so it gets a big "Groan Removal™" card for that. But when I finished the puzzle, I had that icky feeling left over. Not good. No HALO for this one.

bookmark 9:59 AM  

BTW, Pisa is also on the Arno River.

Mohair Sam 10:01 AM  

Raising my hand with the huge club mirroring @Rex's experience today. Except MACPRO didn't bother me a bit, it's a thing from Apple - you know, a variety.

DUll for DUMB and RIllED for RIBBED cost us some time, but beyond that we diddled only in the NE like everyone else. Odd day in that 1d was a gimme and 1a had to fill every single letter. Put in THREAt before THREAD, so filled nearly every single letter on tYNAMICDUO before realizing what we had. Was wondering who this TYNA person was.

This soccer fan had a gimme with MADRID, and I bet a bunch of us oldsters remember Paul's hideous AQUA on Pepper, neat clue. Confidently predicted to Mrs. M that Rex would give us Toni Braxton and Ricky Nelson today, not hard to do.

I'd like to point out that PISA is on the Arno.

Great Saturday puzzle Kyle Mahowald.

RAD2626 10:06 AM  

Thought this was a terrific puzzle. Enjoyed it all. Never heard of a NO GO AREA but so what. ARid like others. Agree long clues were terrific. Lots of fun.

@lms: Your mini rant was terrific and funny but true. Like the people who say "I've talked enough about my kids. Why don't you talk about my kids for awhile?" Met a couple on a cruise a few years back. By Day 3 knew absolutely everything about their lives. Could have written a nice obituary. They did not even know where we were from. Finally on Day 4, we got around to politics and the husband said something about Putin. I casually mentioned I had once spent a day with him. There was zero follow up. They get the all time self absorbed trophy. Needless to say we have not kept in touch.

Nancy 10:10 AM  

@Tita (8:09) -- Boy, am I with you on the cheese thing! I barely think of AMERICAN cheese as food, much less cheese. I'm reminded of an experience from back in the '60s, when British food was synonymous with awful. (Don't yell at me, Anglophiles; I know things have turned around completely since then; I have friends who live almost half the year in London, but anyway...) I was sitting at a lunch counter in NYC, and I heard a very British voice order what to me was an unthinkable sandwich: "AMERICAN cheese on white bread with mayonnaise". Little did I know that Woody Allen, more than 10 years later, would use something very similar in a movie joke. Anyway, Tita, if you want some really good, smelly cheeses that are less expensive and less salty than Roquefort, may I recommend Dolce Gorgonzola (the less blue in it, the better); and Blue Castello. Also, as you probably know, once you've had Brie de Meaux, no other Brie will ever be acceptable again.

I forgot to say in my first post that a stumbling block for me in the Midwest was having AES instead of HHH at 28D. I was quite sure of it, and left it there for too long.

Jamie C 10:17 AM  

@LMS: Now I know you are a liar. Nobody, but NOBODY, likes taleggio. It is the Ted Cruz of cheeses.

Wm C. 10:20 AM  

I had wASH SALE first. TRAwI Braxton, anyone?

Aketi 10:22 AM  

@Geoege Barany, when my husband's nephew was finishing his RABBInical degree when he got t married. His three day wedding ceremony was held at the synagogue associated with his program, His future mother-in-law is a RABBI and his future brother-in-law was becoming a RABBI. They, had many friends and colleagues who were RABBIs that attended and officiated the many ceremonial events and meals over the three days,. There was such a plethora of RABBIs, I'd say it took a village to MARRY them. It was a spectacular wedding, but it's probably a good thing that they had eight parents (four each due to divorce and remarriage) to contribute to the expense,

Seems like I fell into some of the same NO GO AREAs as did many others. It's only due to having a fair number of MALIan friends back in my traveling days that bambara was an easy clue for me. I do have a MACPRO sitting on my desk but there are so many iThingies out there (which my son always seems to want for his birthday) that it does seem that fall into the same "please don't go there" territory as the playground taunts.

Teedmn 10:24 AM  

Did anyone else just put in the final AN of 37D, waiting to see if it was going to be YES WE CAN or "bomb IrAN"? READS TO finally settled that question, to my relief. I suppose it could be assumed that the NY Times would not have that in their puzzle but....

It took me a while to put in my first entry, RUMBLE, but building from there, everything went smoothly. Yes, me too, for swampY, and vacationers first came home with TeeS. And I was one of the "poor little" ones wanting a crunchy fruit at 9A but I finally figured it out. It didn't help that the clue for 9D confused me with the *I* in it so I first put in "jUST BE NICE" (hey, I'm from Minnesota, dontcha know?) but that all rearranged itself successfully.

Nice puzzle, thanks KM (and for the reminder that Hubert Horatio Humphrey ran against JFK in 1960.)

Whitey 10:36 AM  

I'm in Korea and got a different puzzle in the Saturday paper than the one discussed here. It was a good puzzle by Andrew J. Reis. Interesting theme. I finished all but the NE and came here looking for help. I wonder if anyone else did the same puzzle.

Andrew Heinegg 11:02 AM  

What Rex said; it is now officially time for constructors to start putting in their puzzles varieties of the apple fruit instead of the Apple computer or IPod or IPad or whatever. But,that sentiment is undoubtedly influenced by my perception of Apple snobbery from the company for sure as well as many users.

That aside,this was a decent puzzle and Saturday appropriate. I have never heard of poniard but, it filled in pretty easily with the crosses.

Hartley70 11:23 AM  

Nothing special about my errors today. Mine were the same as everyone else's. MACOUN, FLEA. ARID, NOGOZONE, etc. 1A wanted to be Petard but I couldn't decide which letter to double to make it fit so I let the crosses determine its fate. It decided to be PONIARDS so I went with it. This was a fast Saturday and on the easier side.

old timer 11:25 AM  

I used to love LALAW, and the car with that license plate was shown at the beginning (or end?) of every episode. So that was easy. Most of my paper is covered with writeovers, though, especially because I confidently wrote in "Milano" for MADRID. And here's the thing, there are *two* MADRID teams, Real and Atletico, which is tearing up La Liga these days. And both start with M, so MARRYME was no help there.

Anyone else think "flat" was sharp's opposite? And then put in "dull" before DUMB?

I had "colt" instead of FOAL for a while. But once I got STARVE and RAVAGE the NW was easy enough to figure out.

Kind of smiled at HEDONISM. I know a woman who went to HEDONISM in Jamaica with her husband when they were in their late 30's. Whether they had sex with anyone other than each other, I don't know. She reported that the men on the "prude" beach were in general much better looking than those on the "nude" side.

Virginia 11:59 AM  

"I didn't cringe at anything here" -- high praise indeed from Rex! This puzzle felt challenging to me, although I finished in under an hour, so I guess it wasn't really all that bad. Had to google RODMAN and MADRID, but managed to figure out MAC PRO, FOAL, and IM ON FIRE unaided. Would not have remembered Paul's AQUA uniform, but the Q from AQUINO handed it to me. Overall I would rate this puzzle "crunchy and ultimately satisfying."

mac 12:01 PM  

Wonderful, easyish puzzle, except for that NE corner. I also wanted a Macoun, even though I am typing on a Mac.

Sight gag was something I learned, as well as poniards. Also found that there are many book awards named after writers!

Virginia 12:04 PM  

@Leapfinger, the title of the old TV show "LA Law" appeared on a license plate in the show's opening credits. Another pop culture reference that's completely inaccessible to anyone under age 40.

GILL I. 12:08 PM  

Fun write-up @Rex. Those apple, apple clues get me every time too. So do PONIARDS.
Another enjoyable puzzle but I had to work real hard to finish this.
I had lots of mistakes but the one that bothered me a bit was ARid instead of ARAB. I'm pretty sure @Pete is right. I don't know many Egyptians but I think they say they're EGYPTIANS who are ARAB-speaking.
AMERICAN cheese has to be the vilest, most artificial, rubbery crap ever invented, and I LOVE it! I'm sure they put something in it so that you are hooked. Just the sound of taking that piece of cellophane off makes our pups come running. My British nephew doesn't like cheese. I told him he HAD to try this piece of Velveeta I had hidden in the back of the fridge. I explained that every red-blooded American worth his hamburger or mac n cheese loves the stuff and we can't be wrong. He tried a little corner that I ripped off (I even let it bounce around in my hand so as to entice him) and he put it in his mouth and declared it "pretty decent."
Nice to know RODMAN is "The Worm" and that ELENA wrote Neapolitan Novels.

Masked and Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Made steady progress all the way thru, relatively speakin for an M&A SatPuz solvequest. I think the easy-ish long ball answers helped quite a bit.

NE was a bit harder, mainly becuz M&A wanted "poor little" FOOL. Other nanosec-eatin boners of possible interest:

* TSTRAP. Kept reading the day-um clue as {Certain scandal}.
* PONIARDS. Built entirely from crossers.
* ARM. Clue of {Automatic, for one} didn't mean much to m&e. Plus, had SWAMPY instead of MARSHY. Automatic arm? 6-million-$ Man reference? [I *have* heard of automatic weapon, tho.]
* LALAW. Clue was intriguin and yet feisty. Been a lotta nanosecs over the dam, since I ever layer eyes on that TV show.
* ELENA Ferrante. Had to learn about her the hard way.
* TANS. Brought back TEES from the vacation, for a looong time.

Thanx, Mr. Mahowald. Fun puz.

p.s. WHAT'S NEW WITH U: 6 of the lil darlins, today.


Joe Bleaux 12:37 PM  

@kitshef (and @Wm.C.) -- Thanks for the enlightenment. Now I know WOE "WOE" is!

Fred Romagnolo 1:45 PM  

O. K. How in heck do I derive MUST BE NICE from "I wish *I* had that"??? When Harpo honks his horn, is it still a SIGHT GAG? When did O HENRY get around to "giving" his name to an award? ONE A determines that it's NEMO, not Ahab. I'm with the good prof. in not knowing Rodman was also known as the Worm. Our glorious Curry currently occupying all West Coaster's attention. Someone please explain MUST BE NICE - search engine didn't help.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

@loren muse smith...I'm trying to decide which is more unpleasant - someone who never asks you about yourself or someone who is too inquisitive.i think the latter. I've very rarely tackled Saturdays so i don't mind if I Google so as to work on a solve. Had to look up dagger mother son prez and hhh. Insomnia was my first fill which was satisfying to figure out.i really enjoyed this puzzle. Macpro was also my last fill.

GILL I. 1:48 PM  

@Leapy...MANILA AQUI NO? How do you come up with these gems?

Lee Sammons 2:05 PM  

What is the meaning of the symbol *|* in the clue to 9D? Nothing turns up in Google.How does it relate to the answer?

Z 3:30 PM  

Just not feeling the love again. PONIARDS and NO GO AREA in the NW sure didn't help. I'm also not loving the STARVE/fast false equivalency. The first is something that happens to you, the latter something you choose to do. Of the longer answers the only one that gets the slightest of smiles from me was DYNAMIC DUO. None of the other long answers are bad, but none of them were good enough to erase the scowl the NW caused.

Always a little scary when Rex so accurately describes my solve. I do know MACPRO, but the PRO came from the crosses and then I remembered it.

@Pete - Having worked with a large number of first, second, third, and fourth generation ARAB-Americans I hear what you're saying. They have this weird hierarchy with Egyptians, Lebanese, and Saudis all claiming to be the top of the hierarchy (and let's not even get into Persians and Turks). About the only thing they agreed on was that Yemeni and Kurds were on the bottom. I think the clue is fine from an American perspective, but I know many people who would give it the side-eye.

Michael 5:57 PM  

Perhaps the easiest Saturday ever for me. I found it Wednesday level. Liked it nonetheless. Like others, I slowed up a bit in the NE and my last entry was MacPro. I am writing this on a Macbook Pro and I thought (evidently mistakenly) that this was the same as a MacPro.

Z 7:09 PM  

@Lee Sammons - An asterisk us sometimes used for emphasis.

@Nancy - Rapper?

@NCA President - re Groan #2 - ARAB can be adjectival as in my earlier Wiki Link. Arabic is a noun when speaking of the language. So expect no help from clues,

@Anon 9:30 - @Pete made a perfectly valid observation, and the "outrage" isn't his. Nevertheless, what he describes is accurate. I've had that same conversation. Here's a set of maps that are very illuminating.

Masked and Anonymous 8:32 PM  

@Lee Sammons:
re: yer 9-D clue question …

The clue could read simply as: "I wish I had that" (Implying that it MUST BE NICE for the person being spoken to, that they have got it.) However, they put asterisks around the second "I" in the clue, to sorta emphasize it, the way the speaker might have, in that situation.

Another example: "Wow, I wish *I* had the nomination sewed up, and Trump had a wart on his nose!" Stressing the second "I", much like putting it in boldface would.

M&A Help Desk

p.s. I bet on the wrong Kentucky Derby horse. Opted for the scientific approach, and bet on the one that Jimmy Fallon's 20 puppies picked out. Looks like it'll be cinnamon roll rationin around here, for a while ...

kitshef 8:50 PM  

@Nancy - rapper in today's puzzle? I did not see one. Which clue?

@Loren Muse Smith. Some (perfectly nice, often shy) people are very private and hate to be asked anything about themselves. This makes them not ask questions of others, as they know how intruded-upon it would make THEM feel. So they will talk about themselves, or the weather, or pretty much anything to avoid being so rude as to ask you about yourself.

@Fred Romagnolo - someone who is envious will sometimes say MUST BE NICE in voice dripping with contempt, as though you should feel guilty about your nice vacation/new bicycle/recent promotion. These people are not worth knowing.

@Lee Sammons - the stars are there for emphasis imagine the I being in bold while the rest of the text is normal.

Anonymous 11:04 PM  

When a friend comes in sporting the nice dress loved but couldn't afford, your reaction is "must be nice" or "I wish I had that". Not sure what the two stars signify. Could be starry eyes and a thin nose to depict envy.

old timer 1:07 AM  

In fact in some word processing programs if you write "bold" it will be normal, but if you write *bold* it will appear bold when you print it out.

Mileage varies, as they say, because PONIARDS was my very favorite answer, though I couldn't tell you how I managed to dredge that word out of my memory. I loved MUSTBENICE too, though I had been looking for a way to say "It'd be nice". And @Michael, if you found this easy you are a heck of a good solver.

janet 12:30 PM  


Burma Shave 9:57 AM  


ORELSE you’ll have to MARRYME.”


rondo 10:21 AM  

LETSSEE, today OFL and I are on the same wave-length, except for the difficulty factor. I made all the same missteps and that NOGOzone created a real inkfest there, And blUe instead of AQUA was a problem. Kind of a brutal start when 1a PONIARDS must come in by crosses.

My dad’s nickname was Harpo and it stuck with him for 60+ years. That’s all anyone ever called him and I had to write it into his given name in his obituary so folks would notice. That’s the ultimate SIGHTGAG.

INLIEU of the recent appearance of Ms. Lords, I guess we’ll go with a different TRACI today, though she’s not quite so glamorous as her yeah baby sister Toni, who revived her career in part by appearing in Hef’s mag. Am I supposed to know this ELENA person?

Soon off to meet new people heretofore only known from this forum. Hope I don’t come off as DUMB.

spacecraft 11:33 AM  

Talk about eliciting a worried gulp: I'm in agreement with OFL. (First thing that occurred off that clue was "All rise!" I'm sure many a perp gulped at those words! But it didn't fit.) My better half actually unlocked the NE for me by telling me that pipe cleaners are often used in CRAFTS (who knew? Not me).

Started in the SW with AQUINO/AQUA and filled the puzzle up to about the 2/3 mark, with THREADS and LETSSEE. Then, until I worked out the Springsteen song, the north was "like a freight train running through the middle of my head." Hand up for 1-across having to come 100% on the downs. Then to the NE, and Wifey's bailout. If that constitutes a cheat, like a human Google, then I guess I'd have to confess a DNF. Whether I'd have worked it out on my own, eventually, I cannot say.

Let us leave TRACI for the DOD and go next door to RODMAN: Carmen, that is (or was, at least for a short while). Now there's an "Electra-" fying yeah baby! MUSTBENICE. Birdie.

rain forest 2:22 PM  

@Rondo - of course you aren't DUMB. Have a great time.

Good puzzle today, in the medium vein for me. The sticky points of course were PONIARDS and the NE. Even after I got PONIARDS, I thought it couldn't be right, but I was confident the crosses were correct, so I guess I learned something. Extremely fast::STARVE? HMM. "I need to eat something. I'm extremely fasting here". OTOH, even though people may not often utter NO GO AREA, the clue/answer are equivalent, so just dandy.

Liked this one a lot.

leftcoastTAM 3:34 PM  

Started in the SE and moved easily to the Northern tier where I got DUMB "extremely fast."

From the Harpo clue, I wanted something to do with miming or honking, but it was all a NOGOAREA (a term I've never heard), and PONIARDS stayed completely out of reach.

At that point, POW!, down and out, threw in the towel.

LETSSEE, I think it's time for a glass of wine.

Sailor 4:05 PM  

Sure wish I had enjoyed this as much as everybody else did. Too many weak clues and answers for my taste.

1A: Poignard(s) has long been the preferred spelling, although it does seem that PONIARDS has become an acceptable var.
23A: AUTOMATIC is properly a type of loading mechanism, not an example of a type of gun; an adjective, not a noun. A gun may be a sidearm or a firearm, but ARM is never used alone in this sense as a singular noun.
41 & 48A: I am having a hard time imagining a scenario in which CREEPSINTO would be used in place of “enters stealthily.” Creeps into what? A room? A house? A bed?
42A: I would hope that MARRYME would be an earnest question, not a plea.
3D: “No go zone” is a real thing in military usage; it is used because it is descriptive, alliterative and rolls off the tongue. NOGOAREA does not, and I have never heard it used in the real world.
45D: Brides and grooms are the parties to a marriage contract. RABBIS officiate at the ceremony, but are not parties to the agreement.

leftcoastTAM 9:29 PM  


I think all of your points are well-taken. But based on my own experience with NYTX-words, you may be overly parsing some clues and answers. This can be a problem, even when you're precisely correct.

Sailor 12:12 AM  

@leftcoastTAM: Yeah, I know you're right about that. I get that constructors sometimes sacrifice precision in language for other ends. I'm just sayin' that when it goes beyond a certain point, I lose interest. That happened for me today. But clearly I'm in the minority.

Burma Shave 10:23 AM  


You said, “WHOOPEE” and “WHEE” and THATSTHAT, you were gone,
I CANSEE what went wrong, ITOO came AHEADOFTIME.


BS2 10:25 AM  

oops, wrong day - should be sunday syndi

leftcoastTAM 6:10 PM  

@Burma: Nobody's better at what you do. Today's was another masterpiece.

Blogger 12:36 AM  

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