Clobbered in British slang / SAT 11-26-16 / Facebook acquired it in 2014 for $19.3 billionn / Religious period dating from AD 622 / Snackable treat on stick / Ancient playwright who specialized in New Comedy

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Constructor: Paolo Pasco

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: NATAL (27A: Brazilian state capital) —
Natal (Brazilian Portuguese: [naˈtaw], Christmas) is the capital and largest city of Rio Grande do Norte state, located in northeastern Brazil. As of the IBGE July 2014, the city had a total population of 862,044 (1,485,505 in its Greater Natal). (wikipedia)
• • •

Had to flat-out guess the last letter: guessed right, which means NATAL must've been somewhere in the back of my brain, but yikes, that is not a great cross. Definite Natick territory there, as LAMPED is (as its clue says) "British slang," so not likely familiar to most solvers (incl. me). Just a rough, rough cross. Should've set off alarms. But oh well, I got it right. I liked this puzzle fine, though it is perhaps overfond of proper nouns (current, to their credit, but still...). I know WHAT'S APP solely because of the fact that [Facebook acquired it in 2014 for $19.3 billion]—I've literally never heard of it or seen it in any other context—so that answer is current but dull to me. I had no idea MUSLIM ERA was a thing (29A: Religious period dating from A.D. 622). PANERA, sure, but MUSLIM ERA? News to me. I don't believe in RURALIST. Like, I don't believe anyone uses that word or identifies with that word or anything. The clue uses "city slicker" as RURALIST's counterpart, but the thing is, "city slicker" is a term that has been used. By humans. Living humans. Who in the world calls people from rural areas RURALISTs? Sounds like a term that a time-traveling Victorian might use. "I say, where might one find suitable accommodations in Nebraska? I am unfamiliar with the ways of you RURALISTs." I also totally disbelieve in PRIED UP (!?!?!) (8D: Raised, as a trapdoor). Oh, and noir detectives (and their novels) are hard-boiled, not HARD-EDGED (40A: Like noir detective novels, typically). Come on.

On the other hand, I did like TINFOIL HAT, and (with a heaping dose of ironic nostalgia) ACE OF BASE (both of them gimmes). PUB GOLF was also, oddly, a gimme, in that I knew it had to be [something] GOLF, and since drinking was involved ...  and the remaining bit was three letters ...  PUB (33A: Drinking game where each bar that's visited is considered a hole). I guess it could've been "BAR," but I had that stupid trapdoor answer ending in "UP," hence the "P," hence PUB. "F" from GOLF made EGOSURF easy, so no trouble up there. I never saw "THE MARTIAN" (16A: Sci-fi hit whose tagline is "Bring him home"), but I'm Twitter-friends with one of the producers because a. we went to the same college, and b. he is a crossword solver. I have a feeling Paolo Pasco knows this, as I am Twitter-friends with him as well (he is my daughter's age, btw). Speaking of age, today is my birthday. I am older than today's constructor and younger than dirt. It's an OK age to be. That is all. I need to go see how my birthday cake turned out...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 12:14 AM  

Happy birthday, @Rex, and it's time to trot out again this puzzle dedicated to you!

As for @Paolo Pasco's puzzle, I was quite pleased to have deduced PUB_GOLF, EGO_SURF, and even MUSLIM_ERA, but there was quite a bit of other material that skewed outside of my demographic. @Rex's review saved me the trouble of Googling the band that sounds like a cross between a card game and a non-acid.

@Patrick Berry's HOT_WAR from yesterday led to today's WAR_DEBT, and yeah, I got Naticked on LAMPED as well. I did like the timely "Hamilton" reference, and how many of you are aware that all those NASA headquarters scenes in THE_MARTIAN were actually filmed in Budapest office buildings?

jae 12:19 AM  

This was two different puzzles for me. The top half was very easy and the bottom half was very tough.

Top half WOES = 0

Bottom half WOES = RURALIST, TERENCE, HAROLD, LAMPED, and CAKE POP (my bride says there are 1000s of pics on Pinterest). Plus, I had COL and DOB before SEN and LBS. ACE OF BASE was extremely vaguely familiar.

I also guessed right at NATAL.

Liked it a bunch, a good challenge with some zip...EGO SURF, WHATSAPP (I tried SNAP CHAT at first, but they turned down the Facebook offer), TIN FOIL HAT, PUB GOLF...

Oh yeah, happy birthday Rex!

chefwen 1:40 AM  

Ah yes! Thanksgiving/Rex's Birthday = Time for me to send my yearly check. On the way, Rex!

Puzzle proved to be on the tough side for me. Many unknowns, ACE OF BASE, WHATS APP, THE MARTIAN, PUTNAM. I probably could go on, but why? Just happy to get through a Saturday.

John Child 1:47 AM  

Way too easy for Saturday, except for the egregious Natick at LAMPED. Of all the ways to clue NATAL, why choose the most obscure one to cross a bit foreign slang few solvers will know? Sheesh.

Unknown 2:13 AM  

A love/hate puzzle for me.

Loved TINFOIL HAT above ACE OF BASE and below the well-clued BREATH (Something seen on cold days). Loved the trio in the NW: WHAT'S APP above AARON BURR above THE MARTIAN. (Though, yes, it's a bit proper name heavy.) Loved CAKE POP and PUB GOLF. Loved the clues for RAW (Just not done?) and DENTED (Made a bad impression on).

Hated HAHAHA crossing OHOH. Hated RURALIST, DEERES, and ARE TOO. Hated PRIED UP alongside RARES UP, and LASH AT alongside AT EASE. Hated the crossings at NATAL/LAMPED and OCHS/TOSH.

I liked the effort put into the cluing, but mostly I felt that they were just a bit off. Didn't like the clues for IRON (Core component) and PERMS (Locks in place for a while?). I get what they're trying to do, but they just seem off to me. I hated the clues for CARAMELS (Sticky treats) and CAKE POP (Snackable treat on a stick). First off, what's with "snackable"? It doesn't add anything to "treat on a stick," and it detracts from its call-back to "sticky treats." Second, what cleverness there is in the repetition doesn't come close to making up for the utterly generic clues. CARAMELS and CAKE POP cry out for clues that speak to what is distinctive about those treats.

The heavy use of modifying phrases in the clues jumped out at me. Perhaps I just noticed this because I've been trying to clue a puzzle recently and this is something that I find myself doing too often, but there sure seemed to be a lot of them: "typically," "colloquially," "in dialect," "in British slang," "in the Bible," "in 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue,'" "as a trapdoor," "e.g." (twice), "for one," "often." Too many changeups; not enough fastballs.

To end on a positive note, I did crack a smile at the silly clues to DEAFEN (Pound with sound) and HI-FI (Player of oldies when they were newies).

da kine 3:04 AM  

MUSLIM ERA is easy enough to infer since Mohammad did his Hijra in 622. I think that's pretty well known, no? Funnily enough, WHAT'S APP is the communication method of choice in all the Arab/Muslim plurality countries I've lived in over the past decade: Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, and Kuwait.

I don't know if someone has pointed this out already but I am just getting caught up on the past several weeks of puzzles and Prof Barany's been the constructor on many of them. Probably a dozen, if I'm not mistaken. Congrats, Professor, on the excellent work.

Larry Gilstrap 3:44 AM  

Thank you birthday boy for a late post! Fun tough Saturday effort until I got stuck up around the Northern California/ Oregon border. OFL declares it Easy-Medium, sure maybe in his HARD EDGED universe. Help me here, but is any puzzle with a nasty Natick easy? I've spent many years as a RURALIST and gardener. A common plant I have seen is NATAL plum, but, silly me, I thought it was South African. Subway is not really an alternative to PANERA to someone Jonesin' for free wifi, now is it? In the game Clue I know somebody got clobbered with a candlestick, or was he LAMPED?. Now crackpot theorist will wear judicial robes, not TIN FOIL HATS.

PUB GOLF is a game that involves drinking? Alcohol is not fun enough?

I hear that Hamilton is a pretty good show. Rex, keep reveling in your birthdays.

Johnny 4:24 AM  

I got DNF'd on one single stinking little square. I was searching and searching the grid to see why it wouldn't finish, and I couldn't find anything. Nothing wrong to me. So I looked it up in DNF desperation. It was:

[15A Dungeons and Dragons class] sAGE. This made IsIN for [9D "Deal!"] slightly wrong, but I could never see it while checking.

I've never played D&D, and I never plan to. What the hell is a MAGE?

sAGE is the proper answer (clued as "Wise guy" or "Salvia Officinalis) and then we can fix 9D to the proper IsIN (clued as "Anted" or "Scoring" or even "Bordello customer's confession"). See? This works now. I was in fact right all along. It was the puzzle that was wrong.

TrudyJ 6:28 AM  

A Hamilton reference right on top of The Martian put this right in my wheelhouse and made it a very fast solve for a Saturday. Happy birthday Rex! If the cake doesn't turn out it's fairly easy to turn it into CAKE POPS.

mmbeitlermd 6:29 AM  

Happy Birthday! Hope it's a great day.

evil doug 7:47 AM  

"PUB (33A: Drinking game where each bar that's visited is considered a hole). I guess it could've been "BAR," but I had that stupid trapdoor answer ending in "UP," hence the "P," hence PUB."

Couldn't have been "bar", Michael, since that was the clue. Also BASE, not BASs....

Birthdays? Everybody has one....

evil doug 7:54 AM  

... And speaking of RURALIST, there's a nice little article on the origins of "flyover country" - - and our revenge against city slickers! - - in the WSJ this morning....

Jamie C 8:10 AM  


Teedmn 8:28 AM  

Just short of 30 minutes makes this a medium-hard Saturday for me. As usual on a Saturday, the clues start out clear as MUD but eventually get broken down into solvable pieces. I put in MUD in the NE and then cleaned up the SW with TOSH/OCHS but had to pick my way through the rest of the grid and like so many, ended up with the last letter of NATAL. I suppose LAMPED makes sense when we have the same meaning for "clocked". Bean somebody with whatever's handy on the mantel, eh?

CAKE POP was a WOE for me so I had to laugh when I Googled post-solve and found this tagline: "Feb 7, 2011 - Cake balls, cake pops, cakesicles — have you tried them? They swept the internet like a tidal wave over the last few years" (bold print my emphasis). If it was old news 5 years ago, where have I been? Obviously not toiling in the kitchen making cake pops. I'd rather have ice cream than cake anyway. (Is that sour grapes?)

I agree with @Martin Abresch that some of the cluing seemed less than spot on but perhaps that's only because this puzzle followed a PB1. A nice challenge, thanks Paolo Pasco.

And happy birthday, @Rex - I hope your CAKE POPs are delicious.

Elle54 8:34 AM  

Happy birthday Rex!

Knitwit 8:45 AM  

Happy Birthday Rex!!! Enjoy your day and your🎂!!!!!

Z 8:58 AM  

"Over fond of proper nouns" is an understatement. Look at the NW corner (NATAL - MUSLI and everything above). That is 50 squares. 7 squares are not PPP, meaning 86% of the corner is Pop Culture, Product Names, or some form of Proper Noun. Not word play, trivia. Yes, current, but I wonder if anyone solving the archive in 20 years will remember what WHATSAPP or PANERA were (Pañera?).

DNF at rAMPED. It sounds more clobbery to me than LAMPED. Also had to fix wREATH and briefly had EGOSeRF (What medieval RURALISTS did on Google?) In my wheelhouse, but too Linden Leaesque for my taste.

dsb 9:00 AM  

Way too easy for a Saturday
My coffee never even cooled off
Between yesterday and today starting to think this is a sign of the declining rigor of the incoming administration
Happy Birthday 🎉

Glenn Patton 9:02 AM  

Happy Birthday, Rex, and thank you for the podcast! Looking forward to more.

Dorothy Biggs 9:06 AM  

I guessed wrong at NATAr/rAMPED. The Brits, for all their "Queen's English" and "We speak better English than you" and stuff, say weird things. So British slang is just about as non-inferrable as rapper names. LAMPED is no more possible than camped, ramped, damped, even zamped. I dunno what those people say when their soccer teams get completely dominated and lose 2-nil. Those high scoring affairs are so rare in soccer that I've never really had an occasion to hear a Brit talk about it in slang.

And as for Brazilian state capitals (!), the Brazilians speak Portuguese. I know enough about Portuguese to know that it is just about as weird as a language as British slang or rapper names. Natar, Natac, Natad...all equally as plausible as NATAL...even though Natal is a recognized Spanish-like word, because it's Brazil, all bets are off.

So yeah, I naticked at that crossing and I'm not happy about it. So sue me.

And along with TOSH, that laugh-out-loud Roman comic, TERENCE, and OCHS...there were a few places in the grid where I doubted my very existence.

I agree with Rex that RURALIST =/= city is American slang (just to be clear, we Americans have weird slang too) and the other is some kind of formal label that only a tweed-jacketed sociologist might use in a pretentious college level course on classism. I have family in Nebraska, they are not ruralists, they are hay-seeds. They'll tell you so themselves...(oh, and they vote like idiots). But I digress...

"Locks in place for a while?" (36A) and "Leaves on the menu?" (41A) were not good clues. Way too too.

This puzzle was not in my wheelhouse nor was it in my flavor palate.

Nancy 9:46 AM  

I just love coming here to find that Rex plus others found this easy. It was a real struggle for me -- and not in a good way. The fact that I didn't finish -- CALOPOP crossing AKA and VOLO -- was the least of my problems. I never heard of either a CAKEPOP or a VELODOME, and to me ALA was no worse an answer than AKA for "going by". Didn't know WHAT'S APP, but was able to guess it. Never heard of PANERA (20A) and btw what is it? A sandwich joint? Or a method of transportation? Didn't know ACE OF BASE, nor MAGE, nor TOSH. The only PPP gimme for me was AARON BURR -- I was lucky (and savvy) enough to see Hamilton early, before the ticket prices became obscene.

Well actually, TOM WATSON was a bit of a gimme for me too, but only after eliminating the other 3-letter-first-name golfers that might have been right, except their last names didn't fit: Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Ben Crenshaw. Had ARM wrestling before MUD wrestling and HORTON before HAROLD (who he?) Was also thrown off completely by HAH HAH before HAHAHA. My biggest Aha Moment was when CULPRIT (37A) came in (very late) -- I knew the ape was the killer, but couldn't find the apt word that fit.

I don't know -- this seemed to skew very young to me and it seemed to demand an awful lot of arcane knowledge that most people don't have. (I haven't even mentioned LAMPED.) It made me work -- normally a good thing. But in this case it felt like work.

QuasiMojo 9:59 AM  

Happy Birthday Rex. Hope it's not too cold out to wear your birthday suit. :)

I naticked in the top left corner. I had "Are Too" and wouldn't let go of it, even though I knew "Natal" from my trip to Brazil many moons ago.

Culprit does not seem like the right word for a creature that murders. I had Suspect first, then Villain, but eventually succumbed to the clumsiness of "Culprit." C'mon!

Am horrified to think that we are going to be subjected to years of "Hamilton" clues from now on as we were with Harry Potter and Star Wars. I do not agree with our President-elect on much of anything but I do agree with him that this "musical" is "overrated."

Never heard nor wish to try a "Cake Pop." How gross.

The rest, as they say, was Mystery.

Happy weekend y'all.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

"There were a few places in the grid where I doubted my very existence." What a terrific turn of phrase, @NCA Pres (9:06). If there's a better way of saying that a puzzle is not in one's wheelhouse, I can't think of it. I had the exact same reaction that you did, btw, though I never would have thought to say it like that.

Phil Schifley 10:07 AM  

My wife has been trying to get me to eat more greens. Good example for the kids and all. So I had cale pop in there at first, seeing as how à la made sense to me in a French sort of way for the clue of "going by." Then I looked at it again, and realized a cale pop was most definitely a treat for nobody. Got cake, and felt much more satisfied, but somehow still can't shake the idea that in my wife's world Marie Antoinette would have apocryphally demanded that the peasants eat cale instead and probably turned the storming of the Bastille into a group yoga exercise.

r.alphbunker 10:08 AM  

Finished the first half of the puzzle in only 19% of the solve time. Ended up with {15A Dungeons & Dragons class} MAGi/{12D Response to "Gracias"}DiNADA. A little post-google research revealed that DE NADA translates as "It means nothing." Well, DINADA also means nothing so I feel ripped off. Details are here. The progress graph tells the tale of this solve.

Phil 10:15 AM  

Bit of current events, isn't it Brazil that keeps banning WHATSAPP. due to their crypto message protocol. Or at least one of the judges has done that ruling at least twice that i know of.

Carola 10:17 AM  

Easy here, thanks to:
- previous puzzles (EGO SURF, TOSH, ABRAM, and the it's gotta be OH OH, ARE NOT, DEERES)
- addiction to food blogs (CAKE POPS)
- morbid fascination with Facebook's evil machinations (WHAT'S APP)
- grad school (TERENCE)
- willingness to see Matt Damon in anything (THE MARTIAN, NASA)
- listening to the Hamilton CD a gazillion times because my husband can't stop playing it (AARON BURR)
Favorite entries: CULPRIT, TINFOIL HAT).

@Rex, Happy Birthday! Agree about HARD-boiled.

mathgent 10:38 AM  

As I usually do, I agree with @Nancy. We normally like doing hard puzzles but not this one. Rex mentions most of the objectionable clues but let me add "In force" for ENLISTED. It sits under TINFOILHAT and ACEOFBASE, neither of which I had heard if. I sweated over that lower-right corner for a long time before getting it. But there was no joy of accomplishment.

My grades are based on the enjoyment I derive from solving, so this sucker is a D.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

My idea of a lousy puzzle is one in which 5 proper names across cross 4 proper names down like the NW - strangely easy though.

MUSLIMERA, nonsense!

Hartley70 10:55 AM  

TINFOILHAT and ACEOFBASE made this a winner for me! I once designed a TINFOILHAT for my sister to wear
on her yearly pilgrimage through the snow to the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival which I think is actually held in Somerville, not Cambridge any longer. It any case she and it won the grand prize, so it looms large in my memory. She did look awfully cute in it.

ACEOFBASE is forever part of the molecules of my being, as if I had been held at Guantanamo in a concrete room subject to "The Sign" at deafening volume for days on end. My husband and I took our dog, preteen daughter and her two girlfriends on a week long driving holiday in our Volvo station wagon. The only music they wanted to hear was ACEOFBASE and they needed to hear it every bloody waking moment. At full volume. While they sang along. By Wednesday the dog howled every time it began.

This puzzle was too easy for my Saturday, but that is probably for the best since I'm just emerging from my tryptophan coma.

Happy Birthday, Rex!

kitshef 10:59 AM  

What absolute crap. Let’s start with:
- D&D hasn’t had a MAGE for fifteen years.
- HAHAHA crossing OHOH.
- EGOSURF, which has become a staple in the NY Times crossword, and nowhere else.
- LAMPED. English parents, lots of relatives still there, visit often and lived there for some yearS, and I have never heard anyone say LAMPED.
- RARES UP – again.

Here is what I like: ACE OF BASE, TIN FOIL HAT.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:04 AM  

Hmm, I got NATAL off the NA____. Closest Brazilian city to the Old World, up on the corner there. Lots of fruits and nuts, what with all the sunshine, practically on the equator.Founded way before Jamestown and Plymouth.

One of the reasons I started to read TRex's posts was to educate myself about pop music, I'd listen to the famous songs I'd never heard of. I listened to the Ace of Base thingy,but that was 10 minutes ago. I can no longer remember how it went.

kitshef 11:08 AM  

Guessed right on NATAL, but like @Nancy, when with AlA instead of AKA, figuring CAlE POP was some new food with which I was unfamiliar. Given the way so many foods are spelled (cheez, runtz and so on), CAlE POP seemed reasonable.

gzodik 11:16 AM  

What?? No one even mentions SATE? I eat Japanese food often, and have never heard of it. It doesn't Google!

Maybe this was just a problem with the dead-tree version?

kitshef 11:21 AM  

@gzodik - The clue says Asian appetizer. SATE is Thai.

Lee Glickstein 11:21 AM  

Is it time to relegate "Playground retort" to the dustbin of tired crosswordese? There's also the undercurrent of implied bullying. Here's a batch of reasonable 6-letter answers. Did I miss any? ARENOT, ARETOO, IAMTOO, YOUTOO, YOUARE, HARHAR, NYANYA, TSKTSK, TUTTUT, SEZWHO, BLOWME, SUCKIT, SHUTUP, AINTME, ISNTSO, GOAWAY, GOFISH, GETOUT, DIENOW, SNOTME, ITSYOU, WAYOFF, FUGOFF, NOFAIR, WEDONE, YOUBAD, BEGONE, STOPIT, BEATIT, NOMORE, JEEZUS.

JC66 11:34 AM  

Happy Birthday!

Adam 11:49 AM  

Happy birthday, @Rex! I found the puzzle especially easy, as the first three long acrosses (WHATSAPP, AARONBURR and THE MARTIAN) were gimmes. I also wanted hard BOILED and vaguely remembered NATAL. In fact, there's nothing you wrote with which I disagree. Having had my birthday 12 days ago, maybe it's something about us November babies!

gzodik 11:49 AM  

@kitshef - thanks Only seen it spelled "satay". Finally found it as SATE. The third pagefull of Google, tho!

Malsdemare 11:53 AM  

Hand up here for the DNF at NATAL. I liked TINFOILHAT, guessed at ACEOFBASE, actually, I guessed in lots of places, but somehow stumbled through until that damn -AMPED. @Nancy, PANERA is a sandwich shop, but I'd not equate it with Subway. Nicer atmosphere, better menu. I'm not sure why I couldn't (and can't) remember the CULPRIT in the Rue Morgue. I too had suspect at first. @Lee Glickson, sounds like you spent waaaay too much time around kids; I love your list. I'm a RURALIST, surrounded by DEER and DEERES, and the term makes my teeth hurt. Never, just never, was that term used on anybody out here in flyover land.

My version of listening non-stop to ear poison involved my grandkids and an audiobook called "If you give a mouse a cookie," which is cute the first three times you hear it. The thirtieth, not so much. Plus the reader, who was sort of ingenue-ish reading the tale, managed to turn the ABCs into a funeral dirge. It wasn't the dog howling after two days; it was I.

Happy birthday, Rex. Keep 'em coming.

Masked and Anonymous 11:55 AM  

@RP: U take the CAKE, POPs! Happy B-Day.

Puz was half-hard-half-eazy-E. So … lumpy, but good. Like some b-day cakes.

fave weeject symmetric couple: SAN-SEN.

Thanx, Mr. Pasco. Cute minnie-theme, usin LASH(out)AT, with its OUT out.

Masked & Anonymo5Us
"Younger than dirt, older than snot"


Lewis 11:57 AM  

Loved the clues for BREATH, RAW and DENTED, as well as that TIN_FOIL_HAT -- these made me smile. I learned MUSLIMERA, PUBGOLF, SATE, TERENCE, PUTNAM, LAMPED, and CAKEPOP. But what I'll probably remember most of the things I didn't know was that fact about Nigeria.

I'd like to blame the things I didn't know on tryptophan, but I don't think I'd get away with it.

42adams 12:33 PM  

It 's the Open Championship ... Not ... The British Open ...

Passing Shot 12:34 PM  

There are a few constructors on whose wavelengths I never seem to be. Paolo Pasco is one of them (maybe it's an age thing). Witness before CULPRIT as I'm not familiar with this title. Have never heard a detective novel described as HARDBOILED. Grrr. I did appreciate learning TERENCE, NATAL, MUSLIM ERA.

Passing Shot 12:37 PM  

Oh, and happy birthday, Rex! Enjoy it!

Joe Bleaux 12:45 PM  

Happy birthday, Rex! FWIW, it's uncanny how nearly your review paralleled my just-finished-it summary (to my wife). You and I were on the same page on this one.

AliasZ 1:22 PM  

The first thing I noticed was the marked descent in quality from yesterday's PB puzzle, illustrated by the repetitive LASH AT and AT EASE then RARES UP(?) and PRIED UP (pried open?) right next to each other, HAHAHA crossing OHOH, LAMPED, TERENCE, RURALIST, plus questionable phrases like CAKE POP, WAR DEBT, MUSLIM ERA, etc. which a constructor with more experience and better judgment would not allow. Only in the most charitable mood would I call it inelegant.

Thus a lukewarm solving experience for me.

NATAL, due to it being the closest port to Africa and Europe, housed a military base built by the US Army and Navy in 1944, used as a launching point for the North-African campaign during WWII, in which Brazil was the only South-American nation to send troops to participate. This alone should have made it a gimme, even if being the capital of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte, and its name meaning Christmas, didn't register with most solvers.

Happy birthday @Rex, and thank you for carrying on with your blog even if discouraged or angered at times by the rough, ungrateful comments with which some people LASH AT you.

old timer 1:24 PM  

Looked up ACE OF BASE, The rest was inferable. At first I wanted "snapchat" but by the time I got back to the NE WHATSAPP came to mind. I should know it, being a FB stockholder but did not at first. However I immediately got NATAL. Believe it of not in the days of sail, NATAL was a frequent port of call for ships heading for the Cape of Good Hope and India. Those of you who know French would probably like to think CULPRIT means, "[we] got his ass" but my Webster's says otherwise. CULPRIT is a perfect way to describe that orangutan -- he killed the guy, but could hardly be thought of as a criminal. Still, he was the CULPRIT.

We used to eat Thai food pretty often. SATE are those little sticks with chicken on them that are a typical appetizer. RURALIST sounded OK to me, too. E.B. White, born in the suburbs, for years also a Manhattanite, was very much a RURALIST with a farm down on the Maine coast. I think I've read the term in his collected letters.

Can't imagine why all the fuss about PRIED UP. If you've ever lived in a house with a trap door leading to a furnace or whatever, you have to pry it up for access. I have a door like that, though it connects our laundry area to the attic.

Numinous 1:27 PM  

I want to say something cute and clever but the cutest, cleverest thing I can think of is Happy Birthday, @Rex. Enjoy your day!

I confess, DNF due to googling. I had to look up TOM WATSON and BASE. I got the ACE OF part easily but the rest, nah. LBS and AT EASE just wouldn't come to me as I didn't have SATE (which, btw, is Indonesian though the Thais have adopted it in fusion restaurants. It''s very popular in Thailand too). I know nothing of the Hamilton play but AARON BURR just seemed right. I had to wrinkle my forhead for a minute to get THE MARTIAN which I have both read and seen. "Bring him home" didn't relate to the book. I had Trench coAT before TINFOIL HAT. I had a hard time believing in ENLISTED. Peter TOSH jumped right out at me even though I'm not particularly fond of Raggae. MUSLIM ERA and PUB GOLF MADE IT in with a little difficulty. I'm never sure if its tENADA or DENADA. EGO SURF is not a thing I do though I was shocked to be told that I'm in IMDb.

In spite of googling, I found this to be of about average difficulty for a Saturday. This is Pablo Pasco's sixth puzzle in sixteen months. He must be doing something right.

UncleJohnC 1:50 PM  

Hello all,

NATAL reminds me of a story concerning the largest city in the Brazilian state of Para - named Belem. The name is Portuguese for "Bethlehem" - and apparently some football star was traded to the Belem team.

When asked what he thought of the trade he stated that he was looking forward to showing his kids around the city that was the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

He he has been ridiculed ever since.

Feliz NATAL everybody !

I liked the clue for PERMS.

UncleJohnC 1:51 PM  

Oh I forgot,

Happy Birthday Rex - live it up!

Z 1:56 PM  

@Greater Fall River - "I listened to the Ace of Base thingy,but that was 10 minutes ago. I can no longer remember how it went." Lucky you.

@Many - CAlE POP! MiL makes this smoothie concoction sometimes. Kale is involved. It looks disgusting.

I'm wondering who approved @LMS' vacation from the blog. C'mon woman, your fans are clambering.*

@kitshef - If Wikipedia is to be believed it's been 16 years, or roughly about the time our constructor entered the world. I'm guessing editorial interference here to decurrentfy the puzzle.

Re: MUSLIM ERA - I've seen the last 2000+ years referred to as the "Christian Era," so I guess referring to the period since 622 C.E. as the MUSLIM ERA is legitimate. But this definitely qualifies as a post-solve justification. My first thought was "age." then wondering if there was going to be some new to me term. I put this in the "plural of stubble is opera" category** of clue/answer pairs.

*No, I did not mean clamoring.
** @JC66 - Still the comment of the month IMHO.

dick swart 2:12 PM  

HAPPY BIRTHDAY from an aged Ruralist in Oregon.

Foamfollower 2:44 PM  

Hah! Word up.

G.Harris 3:31 PM  

When it came down to whether one guessed right on lamped or ramped and that determined whether or not one finished it simply is not fair. Some guessers finished I did not because I resorted to Google.

Leapfinger 3:51 PM  

Did Gertrude Stein think LA SHAT when she wrote "There is no 'there' there"?

@Phil Schiffley, I also had ALA as a likely first approximation, but you had the vision to see the consequence of Marie Antoinette's altered "Let them eat cale". If nothing else, Casablanca would have lost that stirring Marsellaise scene, in exchange for, what?... Greensleeves? Green Acres? Little Green Apples? It's Not Easy Being Green? You see the point: the ramifications on the culture are incalculable. Even Victor Laszlo couldn't fire his PRIED UP with those ditties.

I think something could have been said for exercising the HAHAHA-VETO, but liked the Random ROMAN Playwright TERENCE in the grid.

Speaking of food: Someone mention MUSLI earlier today; not sure why, but it was nice to see my favourite cereal. As for CAKEPOPs, I only have one question -- Why? Do some some people have time on their hands, or is that smore of a way to SATE an atavistic urge to eat food off a stick? Not for this MOMMA, whose foreseeable future revolves around SALAD. And maybe that book by Giuseppe di LAMPEDusa.

Keep it up Paolo, you DEAFENitely have a bright future in the biz!

And a happy Natal Day to all as is having them.

Doc John 3:53 PM  

Happy Natick Birthday, Rex!

Cassieopia 4:29 PM  

Happy Birthday, Rex! As you cross through life, may the fill be forever satisfying!

Loved HAHAHA crossing OHOH although it's more "oooh, oooh, oooh!" My son loved ACEOFBASE in high school, and my reggae daughter's musical taste made TOSH a gimme.

Agree it's the characters themselves (typically the detectives) that are HARDboiled, not the books. I don't say, "I'm reading a hard-edged novel" but I would say, "I'm reading a novel about a hard-boiled detective." Big difference in the use and cluing. Still had fun with this one.

Daryl 4:29 PM  

The purchase of WHATSAPP by Facebook showed a very interesting division in my American friends - anyone who constantly communicates internationally especially with family has WhatsApp as one of the core apps they use, anyone who doesn't was befuddled that an app they saw as obscure was worth that much. I take Rex's comments here as proof he isn't part of the globalist elite (he says tongue in cheek).

Actually, speaking of globalism, I object to satay being spelled as SATE even though I know that's how they spell it in Indonesia.

Brett 4:51 PM  

First DNF in more than year. It wasn't the NATAL/LAMPED cross but the MAGE up in the northeast. Knowing nothing about Dungeons & Dragons, I put SAGE, which crossed plausibly with ISIN (instead of the correct IMIN). Another tough spot for me was SATE. Kept wanting to put SAKE, which I have enjoyed before meals before.

J.R. 7:39 PM  

Don't understand how AKA isn't counted as an acronym?? Shouldn't the clue reflect that? Nevertheless we finished-in pen-with only a couple write-overs.

Z 8:37 PM  

@J.R. - Just to be totally pedantic, AKA is an initialism, not an acronym. As for the lack of a hint that we were looking for something other than an actual word, the best reason I have is "Saturday."

Elaine2 9:04 PM  

Happy birthday, Rex!

Anonymous 10:31 PM  

Note about Marie Antoinette and "let them eat cake", she never said it that can be verified. Fake facts are nothing new, and they live a lot longer than true ones. Younger posters on this blog will be denying today's fake facts for many decades and so will your grandchildren. For me it will only be a decade or so.

Numinous 11:06 PM  

"Marie Antoinette, Marie Antoinette, the peasants are revolting!"
"Oh, yes, aren't they!"

Numinous 11:11 PM  

"Here, Madame, have some cake. If you want ice cream with it, you'll have to wait a hundred years or so."
"That's quite alright, I think I'll be heading off before then."

foxaroni 11:40 PM  

Happy birthday, Rex. Thanks for doing the blog for lo these many years. It's always a bright spot in my day.

Greg 9:16 AM  

Agree that it was proper-heavy, although just managed to get them all via crosses. I also left the L in NATAL/LAMPED for last and guessed. Not impressed with PRIEDUP and RARESDUP, nor with OHOH crossing HAHAHAH. Eyeroll.

Leapfinger 12:32 PM  

Talk about 'eyerolls', eh @Numinous?

"Marie Antoinette, Marie Antoinette, the peasants are rebelling!"
"Oh, yes, but that'll take its toll on them!"


tavara 1:30 PM  

97A: Pasty (PALE) + Vacation expense, maybe (RENTAL CAR) = Hospital specialty (PRENATAL CARE)

It's actually rent a car.

dls 9:44 PM  

Huh. This was my fastest Saturday ever by a wide margin (at least a minute, maybe two) and I'm clear atop the Crosswords app leaderboard by 40 seconds. After reading the comments, still totally unclear what was so much easier for me relative to others, except that I did know the L of NATAL.

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Joe in Nfld 9:38 AM  

syndication here. A fair number of the answers could be figured out, but that doesn't justify them (MUSLIMERA, e.g.). I found this puzzle very proper-noun heavy. Maybe I should know WHATSAPP, but putting it over AARONBURR, crossing 2 parts of TOMWATSON, ABRAM, and PUTNAM, was a bit much. Throw in I have never scene a PANER (although that's my fault for living in Canada), and a British slang and a "dialect", and the thing seemed too much post hoc.

rondo 10:21 AM  

Lucky guess of L, like some others, in the 28 square saved a DNF from a half-hour's toil. Also a guess at the E in DENADA, couldn't remember if it was A,E, or I. First go-round RearSUP and viA for AKA did not help. Glad to have MADEIT.

Peter TOSH (short for MacIinTOSH) and ACEOFBASE gimmes. I seem to do well with musical PPP.

Was not impressed with THEMARTIAN. Overrated methinks.

All that PPP and no yeah baby? I'll HAVETO stretch it for Emma WATSON.

This RURALIST will not LASHAT the puz, but it's time for a cleansing BREATH.

Burma Shave 10:48 AM  


We MADEIT in the MUD, we ARENOT HARDEDGED to please.


spacecraft 11:48 AM  

The end to a year that saw the demise of so many unforgettable people was, on the crossword page, extremely forgettable. I mean, HAHAHA crossing OHOH and an RPR (random playground retort)? Please. This was one of the few 15x15 slogs I've been through. SATE as an "Asian appetizer??" PRIEDUP and RARESUP right next to each other? There was simply no joy. Yeah, I guessed the L natick because it just looked like L belonged on the end of NATA_. I guess LAMPED might be short for "lambasted." I don't know. Nor do I care.

As long as we're mentioning MUD wrestling, I nominate for DOD those muddy "ladies" who tangled with Ox in "Stripes." All of them.

Well, I HAVETO go now. Gotta get my nap in for tonight's doings. Let us hope for an "up"swing in the coming year. Double-bogey.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Rated a giant "HUH?". Not fun in the least, unfair, and spoiled what had been a good weeks worth of puzzles. Rejected.

Diana,LIW 12:52 PM  

My wheelhouse was free of a lot of helpful answers, including TINFOILHAT, ACEOFBASE, WHATSAPP, THEMARTIAN, TERENCE, CULPRIT, NATAL, LAMPED.

MOMMAS should have been MOMMyS, as clued, IMHO.

So - came nowhere near solving this. Ho hum. Perhaps a fitting end for 2016. Don't let the door slam you in the a$$ on you way out, 2016.

And Happy New Year to all!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for 2017

Diana,LIW 12:59 PM  

And...BS - looked at your posts today rom yesterday. The Shakespeare "alcohol rub" was priceless!


rain forest 2:58 PM  

Well, DNF to "finish" a bad year (hottest year on record, Trump, many beloved performers gone, Aleppo gone, Trump, etc.). I could not remember ACE OF BASS, which I "knew", and that centre section did me in. Also wish I knew the significance of TIN FOIL HAT. After a nice week of puzzles, I hated to go down. LAMPED?

Anyway, Happy New Year to all Syndies. May the year bring more happiness than seems likely at the moment. I'll strive to ring 'er in at midnight, then hie myself to bed by 12:15, Jan. 1, 2017.

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