German leader after Adenauer / FRI 11-20-20 / Spanish opposite of odio / Old English dialect / Requests made to latecomers in brief / Classic Buster Keaton film set in Civil War times / Discontinued grocery chain that was once the US's largest retailer

Friday, November 20, 2020

Constructor: Kameron Austin Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium (untimed)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ADIA Barnes, W.N.I.T.-winning coach (6D) —
Adia Oshun Barnes (born February 3, 1977) is the head women's basketball coach for the University of Arizona. She played at the collegiate level for the University of Arizona, then seven seasons of professional women's basketball with the Houston CometsSeattle StormMinnesota Lynx, and Sacramento Monarchs in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). She has played internationally with Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine. Barnes has also served as a TV color analyst broadcasting WNBA Seattle Storm games. Barnes is married to Salvo Coppa, a basketball coach she met in Italy. The wedding date was July 4, 2012. (wikipedia)
• • •

Really enjoyed this one for the most part. Did not, however, enjoy finishing with an error. I just spelled "AY, CARAMBA!" the way I heard it ... with a "U" ("carumba"). And as for the cross ... yes, ADIA does look, in retrospect, more like a human name than UDIA, but the clue made the answer so obscure-seeming (winning the N.I.T., or W.N.I.T., is not a thing anyone knows you for, whoever you are), that I figured the name could very well be something deeply unusual like UDIA. So, "AY, CARUMBA!" / UDIA. Wah wah. That's on me, but if I'm the only solver to do that today, I'll eat my hat. This is one of those times when good ol' crosswordese cluing (i.e. [1998 Sarah McLachlan hit]) would've been a big help, especially when crossing a foreign word that isn't even really a word (?) (wikipedia says caramba is a euphemism for carajo). Failing to solve a puzzle correctly because I screwed up a clue about "The Simpsons"!? A show I watched worshipfully for its entire first decade? This is a career low point.

But the rest of it was cool. Not IBANKERS, which will always suck (in life, in the grid) (11D: Many workers on Wall Street, informally), but the rest of it, yeah. I like to think of this puzzle being loosely about a married couple who are in therapy but sincerely working on the relationship and, well, by god, things are going pretty well! From TRUST EXERCISE to CUDDLE BUDDY to SAFE WORDS, that's a good day! I love Buster Keaton. I call my cat "Buster Keetin," which apparently a well-known humorist has also done with his cat, but I did it independently of him, so shh. Are there really people who calculate the exact shape and size of the earth? Like, every day? Once a year? This is a job? I inferred GEODESISTS from Buckminster Fuller's "geodesic dome" (16A: Experts in determining the exact shape and size of the earth) That answer helped me change Spanish MAIN to Spanish MOSS (7D), but alas, it did not help with UDIA.

I had CUDDLEBUNNY before CUDDLE BUDDY, which is cuter, but also wronger. I also had YUK YUKS at 45A: Hearty har-hars (BIG YUKS). So, as if in some ridiculous nightmare or animated television series, BUNNY & YUKYUKS chased me around the SW for a bit, with a little help from a shape-shifting GABBANA (which is to say, I couldn't remember if it was two Bs one N or two Ns one B). Only other trouble spot was ERHARD (43D: German leader after Adenauer), a name I somehow don't know *and* wrote in after just the ER-. So I did know it. Or I "knew" it, I guess. Good thing I got that area sorted, because I was getting tired of guessing song titles at 54A: "Kiss Me ___ the Phone" (2009 #23 hit). "'Kiss Me, I'M IN the Phone'!? What kind of horror-story song ...!?"

[You wanna wake up and feel good, blast this]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 6:41 AM  

Put me in the aycarUmba club as well.

Harryp 6:42 AM  

I didn't have any trouble with 1A, except trying to put in Have a Cow, or something similar first. Enjoyed BIG YUCKS and TOE TAGS, and, although I am not familiar with Buster Keaton's work, it is weird that somewhere in the recesses of memory I was able to dredge up THE GENERAL with very few crosses. Thanks, KAC,for an enjoyable Friday puzzle.

OffTheGrid 6:50 AM  

Hey 38A. Thanks for the shout-out.

Lewis 7:06 AM  

When I saw Kameron’s name, I got geared up for a major rassle, just as I do for a Byron Walden puzzle. With Byron, it’s the mind-wrenching clues; with Kameron, it’s pop culture and names I don’t know. Both usually throw in fresh never-before-used answers that tickle me, and with both, for me, if I stick with it, I’ll eventually fill it in and feel terrific, not only for being a conquerer, but for brushing with a most delightful mind.

Today I was charmed by the fresh answers (AY CARAMBA, TROUBADOUR, BIG YUKS, CUDDLE BUDDY, SAFE WORDS) and contemporary feel. Unusually for a KAC puzzle, there were only a couple of names I didn’t know, and rather than that major rassle, it was a fairly steady fill-in, punctuated by sparks of joy from those lovely answers and oblique cluing. I kept thinking that I was going to get stuck, I was going to get stuck, but then that last square filled in.

So that suit of armor I donned coming in turned out to be unnecessary, but I’m not complaining. I loved the spark and feel of the solve. It’s never “just another crossword” with Kameron, and I can’t wait for the next. Thank you, sir!

kitshef 7:22 AM  

Did some major word list - one shared by a lot of constructors - recently get a huge dump of dog crosses? Or is this a (rare) case where the slippery slope is real – once one was permitted, everyone jumped on the bandwagon.

Just saw SACHA’s latest on Netflix. I thought the original was much better, but they share a weird kind of innocence set against the indescribable crudity.

Thought this was pretty hard for a Friday. I thought my Spanish Main was going to bust open the NW … and it sort of did as the M got me to AY CARAMBA. Last letter in though was the ADIA/ASTOR cross, holding my breath against the plausible ‘e’.

So ... maybe this is in the same category as "how do you pronounce what/Watt", but to me 'caramba' is pronounced with an "a" for the second vowel, rather than Rex's "u", both on the show and in life.

TTrimble 7:25 AM  

This certainly played harder than yesterday. My first entry, instead of being AY CARAMBA, was cowAbungA, although it was clear pretty quickly that wasn't working. I had ScArfED for quite some time before SNACKED. "Stubs" before BUTTS (which was kind of dumb of me). Some trouble coughing up TROUBADOUR. The answer BANC didn't occur to me for some time. In short, the North occasioned some difficulty.

There was a brief period during my childhood when I learned a little about the silent film era and watched some of those oldies, but it wasn't enough for me to produce THE GENERAL unaided. GEODESISTS wasn't within easy reach, although without looking it up now, my surmise is that a geodesist is something like a surveyor writ large. So yeah, something you can have expertise in; think Google Earth. An illustrious example might be the mathematician Gauss: he was commissioned by the king of Hannover to produce an accurate survey of the kingdom, and was occupied in this for years and years. For this purpose he invented the heliotrope, an instrument used to triangulate points over long distances, and still in use well into the 20th century before the advent of GPS. Sorry, wait, what were we talking about again?

Oh yeah, I was saying that a lot didn't come easily. That includes CUDDLEBUDDY (one word or two?), the "toe" in TOE TAGS (kind of morguid), and the "trust" in TRUST EXERCISE. Also GNARS. Wrinkled my nose slightly at BIG YUKS, not sure why. "Yuks" or "yucks"? Always have to cool my heels awhile waiting to see if it's SEelyS or SERTAS.

Time posted barely squeaked under my Friday historical average. All considered, I'll take it.

Happy Friday, all.

Donald 7:27 AM  

1A: I confidently dropped in COWABUNGA. Bart did say it a few times in early seasons, but never at mutant teenage levels.

Joaquin 7:37 AM  

Really struggled with this one. Wanted "Cowabunga" for 1A and "Stupid anti-American hypocritical seekers of photo-ops" for 39A.

ChuckD 7:39 AM  

This was fine - although not with the best of his puzzles. Not a lot of crunchy stuff here - the CUDDLE BUDDY/NESTLES lean was cute. I’ll pass on the relationship stuff - it’s flat fill.

Liked THE GENERAL and used to get my haircut at a shop on ASTOR Place so that was cool to see. We’ve seen IBANKERS recently so that was no surprise. Didn’t like GNARS or GERE. Put in gabanna before GABBANA. A AND P will always be A&P.

Enjoyable solve for the most part.

Z 7:39 AM  

I have faithfully not watched the entire Simpsons ล“uvre, so started with cowabungA.* That didn’t get me far but SNACKED took care of the munchies and provided an anchor in the NE. Having just the terminal -SE wasn’t going to get me to TRUST EXERCISE, but A AND P was an easy to digest ampersandwich and GABBANA helped me fix off the cuff to off the GRID. BIG YUKS gave me the access to the starts of the SE, which fell quickly, allowing me to work from the bottom up into the NW.

I was getting the same “couples” vibe as Rex right up to the point of TOE TAGS, which followed SAFE WORDS in my solving progression. Dark turn there, the old rom-com turned horror movie trick.

I had the exact same thought as Rex upon reading “W.N.I.T. winning.” Winning the W.N.I.T, means you were the 65th best team in the country, behind all 32 teams who lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. If that’s your career highlight (and it’s that or being a role player on a championship team in 2004) you may not be NYTX crossworthy just yet. Given what’s happened with the team she’s coaching (two rough years followed by two winning seasons) ADIA Barnes may become very crossworthy, but WNIT winner doesn’t quite cut it.

@Joe Dipinto Late - Sorry about that. That back cover is still giving me BIG YUKS 42 years later.

*Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were big in our household, along with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Apparently having four word names was some sort of requirement in the 90’s if you were going to fight evil.

Wit 7:54 AM  

Despite being an avid Simpson's watcher and decent Spanish speaker, I made the same mindless typo as Rex on AYCARAMBA - D'OH! Spent a few seconds hunting that down at the end.

I also made the same GABBANA/GABANNA mistake - quickly rectified by crosses.

IBANKER was not surprising (nor is Rex's reaction), but it smelled moldy to me. I checked on Google Trends, and sure enough, it peaked in 2005 and usage is down 90% today.

Having remembered Google Trends, I also took a look at LATERGRAM. My suspicions were confirmed - it peaked in 2014 and has dropped 90+% since.

I still don't understand the clue for CHAINLETTER. I never saw one that said "Don't pass it on". Also - do they really exist anymore? It seems like social media has really obviated the need for them. Some posts do still say send this on, but that's mostly unnecessary. Fraud has become self-replicating.

Johnnie Gray 7:57 AM  

Any puzzle with Buster Keaton in it is okay with me. And The General is in contention for best film of the silent era. Plus it was filmed in Oregon. Fun fact (maybe apocryphal): train sat in the river until they needed the scrap metal in WWII.
On the downside, never heard anyone say cuddle buddy vs. cuddle bunny, and it sounds too much like friend with benefits.

Mikey from El Prado 8:04 AM  

Oh, I did it, too. Ay CarUmba! Got the ‘almost there’ notice, and immediately changed that.

Z 8:13 AM  

@TTrimble - Hand up for YUck to YUKS. Why YUck = gross and YUKS = ha ha is a mystery. Although... the “it’s only wafer thin” mint scene in The Meaning of Life gets both BIG YUKS and big yucks.

@kitshef - AY! CARAMBA has four A’s pronounced three different ways to my ear. The first A is a long I sound, the second A is a schwa sound, the third is a short U sound, and the final A is another schwa. The U mistake is because the ending sounds like “rumba,” that third A sounds a lot like the U in “rumble.”

@Wit - I had the same curious arched eyebrow at the CHAIN LETTER clue. My reasoning is that the clue is an injunction, “psst - don’t get sucked in, it’s a scam. Don’t pass it on.”

@Johnnie Gray - I’ve never heard anyone use the term CUDDLE BUDDY but I read it as the opposite, that is a friend without benefits. Urban Dictionary seems to agree.

GILL I. 8:17 AM Spain they say carajo because they just say things like that. I prefer AY CHIHUAHUA.
Did anyone else think Spanish EYES?...No?
Nice Friday. I don't know an NGO CARE person, though. LINGERIE to the rescue. I don't wear that stuff anymore. Give me an old t-shirt and I'm happy.
Love me some Dolce GABBANA perfume. I wear it when I go to the store to buy bread. I don't wear make-up any more but by gum....I want to smell like a million dollars.
I don't know what TRUST EXERCISE is but I've never been to a couples therapy and I've not heard of SAFE WORDS. I liked BIG YUKS and Richard GERE. I loved Buster Keaton in THE GENERAL and I'm looking forward to the PUG discussion today. How in the world do you cross a boxer with a PUG? I mean that's like the jolly green giant dating tinker bell.

CS 8:22 AM  

Well I am so not on the same page as Rex. I really did NOT enjoy this one. Never hear of Adia Barnes or the term "IBanker," among other ridiculous answers.

only one YU(C)K from me

-- CS

bocamp 8:32 AM  

@Kameron, thanks for an enjoyable Fri. puzzle! :)

Took some time to get going in the NW, but finally prevailed. The rest was steady progress to the final guess on the "a" 6D / 1A. Nevertheless, well under Fri. av. :)

New: "amor" (as clued); "The General"; "Gabbana"; "Adia"; "Bloch"; "thru" (as clued); "sage" (as clued).

Hazy: "geodesists" (inferable); "Erhard"; "AandP".

Sp: Finally remembered "c" not "s" in "Sacha"; "car-mba"; "-andP".

Fav. clues/answers: "toe tags"; "safe words"; "lingerie"; "etas"; "chain letters"; "knots"; "new".

ASTORia, Oregon: first American (non-indigenous) settlement west of the Rockies. Traveled there once a year as a member of the Centennial h.s. (Portland/Gresham) basketball team. By far, our longest road trip of the year.

Amor, Amor, Amor - Jennifer Lopez

@jae ๐Ÿ‘

y.d. -1

Peace Frieden Paix Paz ๐Ÿ•Š

Rube 8:33 AM  

Excellent Friday puzzle. If you listen to Bart, you spell Caramba carrectly.

Taffy-Kun 8:43 AM  

Later I became an avid student of Spanish, but almost the first expression I learned was from Disney’s “Three Caballeros” -
“We shout and we samba,
We shout At Caramba.
What means Ay Caramba?
I don’t know!”

pabloinnh 8:50 AM  

Saw the KAC byline and thought, oh oh, here we go, as I know him from New Yorker and Saturday Stumper puzzles. Sure enough some crunch ensued.

Started in the OCEANSTATE, a gimme as we are close enough to have their license plates be fairly common, and they all say, guess what, "The Ocean State". After that, my experience was close enough to OFL's to make me think I had wandered into some lost episode of The Twilight Zone, with the exception of his AYCARUMBA disaster. Wanted cowabunga!, seems like I have lots of company there. Also the AY indicates a pseudo-Spanish origin, and all the A's in Spanish are pronounced alike ("a" as in "father"), so a U would have made no sense.

Have never met a GEODESIST or an IBANKER and GABBANA was new and strange, as the fashion scene is largely ignored by me and most people I know.

A TROUBADOR for me is more of a singer than a "poet". No?

Lots of fun, learned some stuff, took a while, occasional aha!, and what more could you want from a Friday. Thanks KAC. Keep up the good work.

Flinque 8:53 AM  

Good one

Sixthstone 8:59 AM  

This was a real struggle for me. Could not get started although I should have known AYCARAMBA. Very broad, tough clues made it hard to get a foothold. The struggle in NW drained me of any joy, but at least I finally finished.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

There are definitely geodesists in the world, and their field of endeavor is essential to space technology fields, among other things. Geodesy allows us to determine precise positioning of orbiting bodies (satellites) and without geodesy, your GPS device wouldn't be possible.

Rich Glauber 9:13 AM  

That 'uh' sound doesn't exist in Spanish, so if one did write in carumba, it would sound like 'caroomba' Same with the dance 'rumba' it's pronounced 'roomba' en espaรฑol. Fun puzzle with lots of zip and cleverness.

Anybody EVER call a 5 dollar bill an Abe? Not in my lifetime but whatever.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I started with ‘cowabunga’ which really threw the NW corner.

Nancy 9:23 AM  

So, Kameron, you put me behind the 8-ball from the get-go with your AY CARAMBA gibberish-y catchphrase (never heard it; don't want to) and I spent the rest of the puzzle playing catch-up. If you can look yourself in the mirror, if you can sleep the sleep of someone with a clear conscience, I'm amazed. You should be stricken with guilt and remorse, that's what I say:)

I left that awful section where ADIA and CUDDLEBUDDY were also unknown to me, and went elsewhere where other miseries awaited. But at least they were fair. My NE corner was a mess because I had EBROKERS rather than IBANKERS at 11D. That screwed up...everything.

It sounds like Kameron has spent quite a bit of time in "couples therapy". Do couples choose their SAFE WORDS at the same time they're performing their TRUST EXERCISE?

I'm not familiar with either one. For a long time I stared at ??UST EXCERCISE and wondered it it was "I MUST" EXERCISE (what you promise your partner you'll commit to, as in: "I MUST remember to pick my socks up off the floor") and "I JUST" EXERCISE (excuses such as: "I JUST left my socks on the floor; what's the bleepin' big deal, Alice?").

This puzzle did have some very good moments, such as the clues for LINGERIE, RED and CHAIN LETTER (never have passed one on and never will). But AY CARAMBA was a great big OY, CARAMBA for me.

Birchbark 9:31 AM  

My Simpsons error was different: I wanted AYe CARAMBA, ran out of letters, so spent a few minutes in the NW looking at empty squares after filling the rest of the grid. Finally enough crosses forced the correct answer.

GEODISISTS: @Rex asks "Are there really people who calculate the exact size and shape of the earth?" Yes. We wouldn't have the meter (one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the equator) if we didn't have GEODESISTS. And the meter wouldn't be flawed if we didn't have GEODESISTS who kept quiet when they realized their mistakes.

In the 1790s, two French scientists, Delambre and Mรฉchain, derived the meter after measuring the arc of the latitudes between Dunkirk and Paris. The objectivity meant that you could base measurements universally without need of an arbitrary standard.

But like all quests grounded in perfection, this was flawed: because the earth isn't a perfect sphere, the GEODISISTs came to realize that the plumb lines they used to take measurements didn't always point in the same direction (infinitely small differences but measurable when multiplied by 10 million). And so a meter was a meter, but it wasn't truly objective. Delambre and Mรฉchain kept their mouths shut, and a universal standard was born, flawed like the rest of us. See Ken Alder, "The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error that Transformed the World" (2002).

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

I have never seen an episode of “The Simpsons”.

TJS 9:34 AM  

Just not my kind of Friday, I guess. I haven't read the comments yet, but I can see some people liking this one, but it did nothing for me. Over too quickly and nothing that made me want to stop and mind-wander. Just fill in the blanks. But a beautiful day in the D.R. so got to get out before the rains arrive later. Good weekend to all, except Rudy and Donny.

bocamp 9:45 AM  

@Kameron, I forgot to mention how upbeat I found your creation to be; thank you for this lift. :)


I can certainly understand your error at "ay car-mba". I guessed "a" only because somewhere in the mind's recesses it was begging to go in. In my first post, I failed to mention write-overs/wanteds: the former being "yuk yuk", the later "cuddle bunny" (held off on it, tho, for the reason you stated). Also, left off the "d" for "Erhard" waiting on the cross.

@Harryp 6:42 AM / @TTrimble 7:25 AM (happy Friday, back atcha) / @Donald 7:27 AM / @Joaquin 7:37 AM / @Z 7:39 AM / @pabloinnh 8:50 AM / @Anonymous 9:21 AM

Too funny; another write-over I forgot: "COWabunga", but then Howdy Doody came to mind; besides, the "g" was not going to fit with the "butts" cross.

Another cute dog in the puz; yay and woof! @GILL I. 8:17 AM - "the jolly green giant and tinker bell" ๐Ÿ˜‚

@Wit 7:54 AM

re: "chain letter"; one of the granddaughters texted me one recently. It was kind of cute, all lovey-dovey, etc., until the part about what would happen to me if I didn't forward to 5 others by such and such date. Needless to say, we had a brief chat about "peer pressure". She took it well; hope it sinks in.

@Rube 8:33 AM

Maybe; I find vowels not always easy to pin down. ๐Ÿค” "Ay Caramba" (10 seconds in)

Peace Frieden Paix Paz Woof ๐Ÿ•Š

KRMunson 9:47 AM  

Me too

Sir Hillary 9:48 AM  

Poor ADIA Barnes. Good enough as a player to have a long professional career, then good enough as a coach to guide her Wildcats to a WNIT title over another set of Wildcats. No, it's not the NCAAs, but even Lute Olsen had modest beginnings -- and she is surely the most morally squared-away head basketball coach on the Tucson campus these days (OK, not a high bar). And yet, she's gonna get nothing but grief here, because she's deemed to be "not crossworthy". That may in fact be true, but you know what's really not crossworthy? The word/name ADIA, irrespective of how it's clued. So, let's give Coach Barnes a break.

Moving on...this was a typical KAC fun-fest -- fresh answers, just enough Scrabbly-ness, good clues (love the one for TOETAGS), perfectly pitched for a TGIF. ADIA and AANDP ARENOT good, but everything else is.

Nancy 9:50 AM  

@GILL (8:17)-- In answer to your 2nd-to-last sentence: If they're motivated enough, they'll figure it out.

@Birchbark (9:31)-- Wow. So interesting. I'm probably not going to read the Ken Alder book, but I'm impressed that you did and that you actually understand it.

mathgent 9:56 AM  

I was thrashing around in the unfamiliar waters of the NW when I grabbed on to ABE floating by. That kept my head above water long enough to allow me to latch on to BUTTS and TGIF. Finally, I reached the good ship AYCARAMBA and climbed on. Survival!

I can’t remember how I know AYCARAMBA. I don’t watch The Simpsons. I listened to The Cisco Kid on radio as a kid. Maybe Pancho would say it.

It was hard for me. It feels good to have solved it clean.

@Gill (8:17). What an image. The Jolly Green Giant mating with Tinkerbell.

jae 10:10 AM  

Easy-medium. I put in AY CARAMBA (which I knew how to spell after getting it wrong in a previous puzzle) with no crosses and thought this was going to be cake. Then I hit the ADIA/GEODESISTS cross and actually needed to stop and guess.

Lots of sparkle, liked it a bunch!

RooMonster 10:12 AM  

Hey All !
AY CARAMBA! I had AbbAdAbBA in there, after my cowAbungA wouldn't jive with the Downs. Even though I know (without having watched very much of The Simpsons) that abbadabba isn't a thing said in The Simspons. Oh well, end of puz impatience strikes again! My wrongness sorta worked with 2D, bOOHOO, as in, you can cry sometime to get attention, no? Also, 3D, bUDDLEBUDDY, sounds feasible? Maybe? 5D, dAS, defensible, 7D, Spanish bOSS? Why not? Har.

Also missed at GNARS. Who wha? Dang. Wanted either BIGYUKS or BIGYUcS, deciding twixt KlOTS or clOTS for KNOTS. Even earlier considered toOTS! Har, gut feeling, get it? GNARS I've heard before, but apparently it took the fast train out of Brainsville.

AANDP was sneaky. Not only for the _AND_ness, but also because of "Used to be the largest retailer." That's like saying, "Go past the giant elm that was cut down after the storm of '95, and take a right where Johnson's barn used to be, and ya can't miss it."
Had cuff for GRID first, making me want cABBANA for Dolce's partner. Also couldn't decide whether it was Two B's or not Two B's.

BANC in the NE was another wha? Don't get that one. Maybe when I read the comments, some nice person will have explained it. Then I'll use another Simpsons catchphrase, "D'oh!"

TOE TAGE kinda morbid. I guess it's a part of life, though. Well, a part of life and a part of death, no? Some other fun entries to offset that. Almost a sexy scene in the works, with LINGERIE, SAFEWORDS, CUDDLEBUDDY, AMOR, Richard GERE ... AY CARAMBA! :-)

Toughie for me today. Had to cheat-Goog for ADIA Barnes, but that let me "finish" the puz. Then fix the errata. C'est la vie.

Two F's

The Ibanker 10:15 AM  

Hey, Birchbark, thanks for the fascinating lesson about the meter. Best comment of the day.

Whatsername 10:18 AM  

I knew I was in trouble at 1A. After years of crosswording, I’ve finally gotten to where I know the Simpson characters but the catchphrase was still a mystery. No help to be found anywhere else in that section either. I finally managed to ferret out the last few letters but sweated like Rudy Giuliani at a press conference. I just hope there’s no hair dye running down my face.

I’m thinking a BLT sounds good for lunch. I still have a few tomatoes that I picked green from my vines before the first freeze. Put them in a cool place to ripen and they’ll taste even better than fresh picked. I’ve been SWORN IN but never in a situation involving a TOE TAG, a TRUST EXERCISE or a SAFE WORD thank goodness.

Weather here the next few days looks to be a good time to spend with a CUDDLE BUDDY. Mine all have four furry legs and NESTLES are their specialty. Safe weekend everyone.

Frantic Sloth 10:30 AM  

Hate to comment and run, but only have a minute...

Overall, a nice Fridee challenge with some new (or at least infrequent) stuff like AYCARAMBA, CUDDLEBUDDY, TRUSTEXERCISE, BIGYUKS, etc.
As a result, my solve time was roughly double my average, but that's a good thing on my lawn.

Don't really have any true nits, so...


"Inside the box?" is NEW? WHERE? Okay - and now I've done my morning stretch.

Cease and GEO DESISTS walk into a bar...

22A "Got" is one of those CBA* clues that can drive one bonkers. Lucky for me, I live in "12th-definition-on-the-list-land", so FOOLED was within earshot.

*Could Be Anything

I bid you good day.

๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง 

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

There was a time, long long ago, when the NCAA tournament was a poor second to the NIT. Also, long before girls basketball even resembled the boys' version, much less a WNIT. Today both are 'owned' by the NCAA. Go figure.

A crueler clue for ERHARD, esp. given OFL's notice that the puzzle is 'couples' based, would be est. A TRUST EXERCISE it isn't. Hope there aren't any adherents in the audience. They're nearly as bad as the Scientologists.

Charles Flaster 10:39 AM  

If I had to write a review it would be a carbon copy of Rex.
Spelled ERHARt and had trouble with GABBANA .
Buster Keaton gives a command performance in A Funny
Thing .......( subtle hysterics) .
Thanks KAC.

Jesse 10:40 AM  

I too, "carumba'd" but, I think you should have, "eaten your shorts" instead as a Simpsons tribute!

PGregory Springer 10:50 AM  

CARUMBA would be pronounced "CAROOMBA," in Spanish.

jberg 11:00 AM  

@Wit—the point is that you shouldn’t pass it one, regardless of what the letter says.

I thought this was an easy Friday, but turns out I failed miserably, with geLD crossing gOB in the NE. I thought maybe there was a short form of gelid.

When you walk around in the countryside you occasionally see a little round metal tag fastened to a rock with coordinates on it. Those are placed there by the geodetic survey. I don’t know why that word has a t where the specialists have an S, but it helped me all the same.

Wit 11:01 AM  

@Z - Double d'oh! I definitely have a blindspot for this flavor of clue. Breaking the fourth wall...

@Birchbark - thank you for the excellent insight on geodesy!

albatross shell 11:02 AM  

I do not understand the AANDP hate. Yes its not the way it's spelled. It is the way it's pronounced. You're working in a system that rarely uses uses any such symbols, so using and for & is pretty natural and has tons of precedent and convention behind it. Maybe someday a constructor will have the answer A AMPERSAND P then you can complain whoever says that. Rant over.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

6D could just as well been clued "Four random letters". Seriously, my family follows women's college BB and I don't even know the names of the coaches in the conference of our team. Even after getting the crosses you look at the name and say, "is that a thing?".

Carola 11:05 AM  

Nicely resistant, satisfying to finish. Like @mathgent 9:56, I began with ABE and BUTTS, which, paired with LINGERIE, were enough to get me moving down the right side of the grid. I found friendlier territory in the lower half, then backed my way up to AY CARAMBA.

I found myself grasping lifelines from all sorts of different areas in order to complete this one: reading novels (Susan Choi's TRUST EXERCISE);, living in Germany during the ERHARD years; grad school (TROUBADOUR); inexplicable fascination with fashion (GABBANA); love of silent movies (THE GENERAL) - enough to cover my gaps (the Simpsons, the WNIT).

@Wit 7:54 - The evil that is CHAIN LETTERS still lives on in email form; the most recent I've received have involved sending recipes or poems.

@pabloinnh 8:50 - To your question about a TROUBADOUR being more singer than poet - at least in the German realm, the roles were equal. The 12th and 13th c. German troubadours (who modeled themselves on the French) were indeed called "Minnesรคnger"= "singers of love." But they wrote their own lyrics as well as composing music. Unfortunately very little relating to their musical compositions has survived, whereas the texts are preserved in various manuscripts and are now read more as poems than songs.

albatross shell 11:11 AM  

NEW, in the box. In the sealed original packaging. So maybe 73 years old, but new as in unused. But somehow I think you knew that.

Newboy 11:13 AM  

FOOLED today by AYekaRxyz? Started the GRID with A AND P from the classic short story, then laddered THRU PUG GNARS SACHA SAFE WORD around counterclockwise only stumbling on moroNIc for 39 across—still a tender spot in my psyche? Very entertaining with BIG YUKS in several spots. TOE TAGS is wonderful as clued and even BLT that crossword standard was nicely misdirected with that MOB of IBANKERS vibrating in my noggin. All in all a fine start that we don’t even need a TRUST EXERCISE to fully feel AMOR for Kameron’s creation.

Z 11:26 AM  

@Sir Hillary - ... but you know what's really not crossworthy? The word/name ADIA, irrespective of how it's clued. So #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1998 isn’t enough? Hard to argue with you. The three vowels and single consonant almost certainly guarantees that ADIA will be in a puzzle near you soon, though. ADIA is in the same part of my brain as Yma Sumac and Pope Leo RRN. Here’s hoping ADIA Barnes has enough success to permanently replace the McLachlan song.

@Roo Monster - That's like saying, "Go past the giant elm that was cut down after the storm of '95, and take a right where Johnson's barn used to be, and ya can't miss it." ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚ - Very well put. According to Wikipedia, From 1915 through 1975, A&P was the largest grocery retailer in the United States (and, until 1965, the largest U.S. retailer of any kind). There was an A AND P in Holland when I was growing up. It wasn’t the largest grocer in town and closed before I went to college, maybe before I even went to high school (it was across the street from my junior high). 60 years at #1 and now it’s bupkis. So if WalMart follows the same trajectory it’ll be bankrupt by 2075 or so.

@Albie - It’s not A AND P hate so much as Ampersandwich hate. Anytime something typically seen with an & is rendered in the puzzle with the AND there will be some haterade in the comments. R and R, PB and J, R and D, an ampersandwich always feels a little like constructor is cheating.

Whatsername 11:29 AM  

@jberg and @Monty Boy from yesterday: Enjoyed your memories of Oshkosh. Thanks for sharing. Those old planes, especially the homebuilts, are truly labors of love.

@Joaquin (7:37) I agree re 39A, and my initial reaction to “childish denial” at 1D was FAKE NEWS.

@GILL (8:17) My first try at 7D was Spanish RICE, quite possibly an associated memory from the delicious looking dishes I’ve seen posted on your Facebook page. I’m also to the point of eschewing makeup at the grocery store. I figure what’s the point with the face mask, plus I also wear a shield so I don’t bother much with the hair either. But like you, I still wear my Donna Karan perfume. One does need to maintain some standards.

thfenn 11:36 AM  

@Z thanks for the chain letter elucidation. I just couldn't read the clue that way - meaning I wanted CHAINbusTER, being what you get when you don't pass on a chain letter. Also wanted Spanish MOor, was kind of boring giving that up for MOSS. TRAILMIX in my house will always be GORP, Good Old Raisins and Peanuts.

@Nancy, me too for EBROKER, still don't know what an IBANKER is. @Birchbark, thanks for the write up on the meter - am intrigued enough to chase down the Alder reference.

Thought TOETAGS was the perfect counterpoint to all the cuddling/coupling in this one. TGIF indeed.

Gerrythek 11:43 AM  

DNF in the NE. Can anyone please explain BANC and NGO?

Masked and Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Really liked @RP's extra-U solution. Yes! When in doubt, guess UDIA.

Quite a few items in the TGIFpuz that M&A was not real familiar/cuddly with. Hardest ones, at our house: UDIA. IBANKERS [kinda semi-inferable, tho]. TRUSTEXERCISE. GABBANA [bigtime -- M&A makes few fashion statements that anyone listens to]. ERHARD.

faves: CHAINLETTER [esp. its clue]. BIGYUKS [nice double har clue]. CUDDLEBUDDY. BUTTS.
staff weeject pick: RAS. Don't recall our dorm RA exactly bein a campus-wide VIP. He was a solid dude, tho.

IBANKERS discussion: Can almost anything be an I-thingie, especially in a crossword? Is where we have arrived to? This concept should then be further explored as a puztheme, if itain't been already. [runt dibs]

Thanx for the BARRAGE, KAC dude. Some of them words were safer than others, tho, IM&AO.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

MarthaCatherine 11:46 AM  

I don't know of a woman or man who has worn a slip in the last 50 years. Not sure I've even seen one in any LINGERIE section of any store in many, many years.

Joe Dipinto 12:01 PM  

A&P has provided me
With the world's smallest turkey

(I'll play this when it gets closer to 12/25)

My high school theater teacher was big on "trust falls". You start from a standing position and let yourself fall backward with the expectation that someone will be behind you to catch you. I could never really do it.

I hope the editorializing in the CHAIN LETTER clue isn't a harbinger of a new annoying Shortzian trend.

Ernest with an E

MC 12:07 PM  

No need to eat your hat (or my shorts), ADIA was my last entry as well.

My first stab at 27A was COOKIES. The internet always wants to know if I will accept cookies. TOE TAGS doesn't quite fit the couples therapy narrative but I do like the twist on "digital".

BANC was sorta bunk but easy enough after I DECODED 13D.

That X in the center square is a nice finishing touch on a very strong puzzle.

Doc John 12:14 PM  

Add me to the Udia column.
I didn't get the happy pencil when I finished so actually went to the NE to check because there were some weird clues there and I definitely didn't trust IBANKER (whatever that is).
I finally tried replacing the U with an A and got happy (after google-checking Udia).

TTrimble 12:16 PM  

Probably this will be one of multiple responses, but BANC means "bench" (in the judicial sense); comes from the Old French. NGO stands for non-governmental organization.

Wit 12:18 PM  

@thfenn IBANKER is shorthand for investment banker. At least since 2008, it's been mostly used a semi-derisive term anyone who works for an investment bank. Actual investment bankers are the folks who assemble funding for IPOs, M&As, bond issuances, etc. Trying to avoid getting political here, but most of the ones I've worked with (quite a few) seem fairly liberal - unlike the stereotype of brokers and traders who probably skew the other way on average. But, "all generalizations are false."

ow a paper cut 12:26 PM  

This was a struggle

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

Rex thinks I will "always suck in life" because I am an "IBanker." Yet he knows not a single thing about me. Unbelievable! Also crazy that there is not more outrage on this blog with the way he makes blanket statements about people, places and things he doesn't know. It really is remarkable that someone else has not yet started a competing blog without all the hate. My guess is that this community would quickly switch to such a forum.

albatross shell 1:14 PM  

@Z 1126am
Yes I realize it's &-hate. That is why the rant was all about "&" being written as "AND" in crosswords. Call it a bit of a cheat or a stretch or a recognized convention of the art form, it stills seems to be the best way to get trademarks or names like this into a puzzle. It strikes me as foolish to think they should not be allowed or only allowed with crossing ampersands. Is A'N'P or R'N'R better or worse? I realize all this is opinion. Still waiting for my book of unwritten rules that everybody has but me.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

I think this must be a KAC personal best for me. Usually I have trouble with his work but today, no real hangups. I had Rex's CUDDLE BUnnY first but GRID fixed that. It's SNUGGLE BUNNY, anyway, and snuggle was in the clue. And I started out with the CARuMBA but uDIA just wasn't going to work (sorry, @M&A!)

SAFE WORDS - One of my friends was telling me about trying to come up with a SAFE WORD for her grandson. As I was acquainted only with the BDSM usage of that phrase (Sci-fi/fantasy covers some odd topics), my eyebrows were raised as high as they could go at that statement until I realized she was talking about CODE words they would use to avoid stranger-danger. I got some private BIG YUKS about that one.

KAC, thanks for the interesting Friday themeless.

@Gill I, I had to smile at your imagining the sex mechanics between a Pug and a Boxer vs. the Jolly Green Giant and Tinkerbell.

And @Roo, my coworker and I got a chuckle at your A AND P comment. :-)

old timer 1:27 PM  

Tough Friday. As with many tough Fridays, I solved this one bottom up. The NW was, as usual, the hardest segment. But though I was an early fan of Bart and the gang, I did not remember AY CARAMBA! and while I wanted TROUBADOUR from the start, I thought it ended with "dor" not DOUR. Plus I put in Spanish "rice" instead of MOSS, at first. What saved me was grokking ASTOR as a Place in Manhattan. I've almost always stayed on the East Side, therefore rode the Lex to ASTOR Place often, to visit the many great places to eat and drink near there, especially McSorley's, one of the oldest bars in New York.

I know about SAFEWORDS and TRUST EXERCISEs even though I have never been into S&M, or seen a marriage counselor -- one does read about these things.

TOETAGS was very clever, if a little gruesome. I loved AANDP. Went there with my mother when I was a little boy -- she loved Eight o Clock coffee, and years later I used to get their strong Bokar blend, in Tacoma Washington where I spent ten months.

Lame: IBANKER. Humans exist to help you with online banking, but they are in cheaper places for talent than New York. Investment bankers are in New York, creating various kinds of arcane securities, but I doubt anyone ever calls them IBANKERs. It doesn't befit their exalted, usually Ivy-League, status and certainly not their self-important attitudes. That said, you will sometimes rub shoulders with such people at more plebeian joints, even at McSorley's. You definitely saw them at the fancy restaurants atop lower Manhattan, back in the day.

My mother wore SLIPS, and they are still worn under dresses and skirts where informal leggings are no appropriate.

thfenn 1:33 PM  

@Wit, thanks. Not sure where I've been since 2008, just never heard IBANKER used as a term for, well, "many workers on Wall Street, informally". 'Course, I don't tend to be around lots of people that talk about people on Wall St, so there's that. And I couldn't get iPhones, iMacs etc out of my head, so IBANKERS just wouldn't fit, lol, other than as another name for an ATM. Appreciate your perspective and cheers to "all generalizations are false".

@Whatshername, where you had RICE and I had MOOR reminded me of why I might have gone with MOOR in the first place. My mom used to make a lot of big dish casseroles for us kids growing up, often one with black beans and white rice, jazzed up with various other additions of course, but which she always, rather indelicately, called Moors and Christians - referring, if I've got my history right, to conflict played out in Spain over several hundred years, like a 1000 years ago or so...

tkincher 1:50 PM  

Just here for the Buster Keaton love. "Sherlock Jr." is well worth your while.

Douglas 2:04 PM  

Does it seem like there are a lot of people here who are WAY too eager to declare they haven’t heard of a certain sports reference, Harry Potter character, or Simpsons catchphrase. We get it. You’re sophisticated. Just because you’ve heard of a pop-culture reference doesn’t make you unrefined.

Z 2:08 PM  

@Albie - Purely speculating here, but I always feel like part of the hate is that the spelt out AND leads to lots of Dooks, but never really with an “oh I get it - kinda cool” feeling when you finally get it. Maybe it is because parsing a dook or goat or toat* leads to something recognizable, but finally parse an ampersandwich and the result just looks wrong. I can see the A AND P logo and there is no AND in it. As a result I think the spelt out AND gets more of a “srsly?” reaction. As for getting something like A AND P or P AND G into puzzles, for me never getting a trademark or logo into a puzzle would be hunky dory. Answers like R and R or R and D are mildly less annoying to me, but I wouldn’t be upset if the word AND never made it into a puzzle either.

*DO OK, GO AT, and TO A T

Masked and Anonymous 2:22 PM  

@Wit: Well, hey -- Likin IBANKERS a whole lot more, after learnin they'll help provide funds for the M&A's.

Finally got the runt-machine successfully fired up. That's either the good news, or the bad news, dependin on how U look at it …



Crimson Devil 2:38 PM  

Speakin of U, I’s certain that U in couples therapy would be a y.

krismizzi 2:40 PM  

On the topic of not featuring unrepentant racists in the NYTXW, I was disappointed to see Dolce & Gabbana in the puzzle today. They are well known for their long history of racist and sexist comments (and their record of defending those statements when confronted with their racism!). Just an unnecessary cringe-y moment in an otherwise enjoyable puzzle.

Unknown 2:44 PM  

So, the clueing for TGIF didn’t strike you as odd? The only context I’ve ever been aware of for weekend warriors is non full time armed forces reservists who train on weekends.

Angela 2:56 PM  

I had K-OTS for “Gut feelings?” and stupidly assumed I was looking at the German word for “good” (which is “gut”!), and was looking for a German answer (word starting with K, so this seemed plausible). Have never heard of “GNARS” before, which didn’t help. To pull from The Simpsons, “Doh!”

Frantic Sloth 3:08 PM  

Rex was funny today. The BUnnY and YukYUKs chasing him cartoon brought Tom & Jerry delight, but "'Kiss Me, I'M IN the Phone'!? What kind of horror-story song ...!?" won my humerus.
But, I couldn't relate to the AYCARuMBA issue for 2 reasons:
1. I've taken enough Spanish classes to know and forget more than that.
2. Never really watched The Simpsons (*gasp!*)

@OffTheGRID 650am ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜

@GILL I 817am My first entry for "Spanish___" was EYES, but I thought that was weird. Not that there's anything wrong with that! If the Jolly Green Giant and Tinkerbell tried to procreate, would they produce baby peas?   Any word on how your neighbor is doing?
@Birchbark 931am Once again you flabber my gast with your knowledge of esoterica. Very interesting stuff! This kind of thing blows my wee mind and reminds me (on a lesser level) of this scene from the West Wing.
@albatross shell 1111am Yes. You are correct – I did know that. I just thought it was kind of dopey. Maybe it was the use of "inside" rather than just "in", or maybe because it struck me as something opposite to "outside the box", even though I knew that wasn't it. Ha! Go ahead – just try to follow my train of thought! ๐Ÿ˜„
@Z 1126am Ditto on the "ampersandwich" annoyance. Now I know enough to look for it sooner than I have previously, but it still chaps me a bit.
@MarthaCatherine 1146am With you on the slip-a-dee-don't-dah. Then again, haven't even worn a dress in [mumbles] years, so what do I know?

Laura 3:18 PM  

Good puzzle. I enjoy your reviews more now that you shut off the timers and enjoy te puzzle. You can keep your hat..I made same mistake, also last thing fixed.

Snorkley 3:56 PM  

Can I be the only one who saw “presidents with bibles...” and wanted to put “traitors “ or “asshats” ?shmucks works too. We’ll never unsee THAT image.

albatross shell 3:58 PM  

I enjoy DOOKs, tricky little bastids that they are. I am almost always slow to get RANDR. AANDP came quick today.

I agree with your analysis of why the unpopularity.

I am less bothered by the mention of movies, books, products and companies that are not current. That is to say, when I am sure nobody is getting any side money or perks for product placement. Of course its easy to be ethical about other people. I mean I am in no position to get a sweet deal of that sort.

GILL I. 4:24 PM  

@thfenn 1:33.....YES! Moros y Cristianos. Every single Cuban household worth their salt would have a pot of the beans on the stove and the rice waiting to be boiled. I practically ate them every day. You have to make them with a good sofrito and always a side of maduros. Was your mom Cuban?

@Frantic....You're invited over for some baby peas....Freshly shucked. :-)
Thanks for asking about my sweet neighbor. Betty (Boop) is in the hospital in isolation. She's NOT on a ventilator but they are keeping her for at least two weeks - because of her age. Her daughter doesn't seem to return my calls - I guess she's too busy - but I do know she's being watched over carefully.....Thank you for asking, amigita.....

BobL 4:29 PM  

Hey @Douglas - agreed!

Z 5:31 PM  

@Douglas - QTIP.* Let’s see. Simpsons - Nope. Harry Potter - Yep. Most sports - Yep. Sex and the City/Mad Men/The Wire/Sopranos - Nope. Elvis Costello deep cuts - Yep. Classical Music - Nope. 19th century literature- God No. Science Fiction- Yep. Obscure four letter rivers - Yep. Condescending ass to anyone who is condescending to graphic novels - Yep. What’s it all mean? Even here in Crossworld, where having a knowledge base that’s a mile wide even if only an inch deep helps, we still all know and don’t know different stuff. So if I say I’ve assiduously not watched a single episode of the Simpsons all it means is that I’ve never seen a single episode of the Simpsons. OTOH, I’m watching The Last Airbender.

@Gill I - Good to hear that no ventilator is involved.

*QTIP - Quit Taking It Personally

Smith 5:36 PM  

@Joe 12:01

Christmas Wrapping already! Happy memories.

Sergeant Hulka 5:52 PM  

@Z 5:31 PM - Lighten up Francis.

Nancy 5:56 PM  

How true, how true. And so beautifully stated, @Z (5:31). I applaud and second each of the points you made to @Douglas. Also, I absolutely love QTIP!!! May I steal it every once in a while if I promise to always give you credit?*

Sort of like zeitgeist, right, @Z? :)

HobbesEsq 5:57 PM  

Blog was worthwhile today just to see that whimsical song, Rhode Island is Famous for You, best performed by Theresa Broadwell.

Adam S 6:04 PM  

Add me to the AYCARuMBA club.

I also fell into the bRandt trap on German Chancellors off the R of TIERED, which in turn caused me to write in ???limitS on 63A and veal on 53A. Not sure it was possible to make more of a mess of the SE than that.

BobL 7:23 PM  

@Douglas - still with ya

Sami 7:27 PM  

I was pretty sure the theme of this puzzle was "Trout Amour." What is a trout's safe word? Trail Mix? Fish Sticks?

Birchbark 7:37 PM  

@Frantic (3:08) -- Great writing and great acting in that clip, cross-currents under the obvious comedy. Very well chosen.

It makes me want to keep talking about maps -- but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Frantic Sloth 8:40 PM  

@GILL 424pm I'll be there with bells on - also freshly shucked! (The bells, not me) ๐Ÿ˜˜
So glad to hear B. Boop isn't on a ventilator and that it appears she's in good hands.

@Z 531pm ๐Ÿ‘ Also, I'm not as polite as @Nancy 556pm, so I'm just gonna appropriate QTIP for my own personal use and there's nothing you can do about it. I'll be at the marina should you want to "step outside".๐Ÿ˜‰

@Birchbark 737pm Yeah - Aaron Sorkin is a favorite of mine. And I'll take a raincheck on those maps.

Z 9:45 PM  

QTIP ain’t mine. A now retired Commentarian who many remember fondly mentioned it here first, and I think she got it somewhere else. Feel free to use it. She has asked not be named, but she will always be tops.

GILL I. 10:28 PM  

@Frantic...Bells in this house include some imbibing...You game? Peas and all?
@Z....Dear...long lost....and always enjoyable....ACME. I miss her.

bocamp 10:52 PM  

"Adia" Barnes says her team had 'something to prove' in win over Cal

@Z 9:45 PM ๐Ÿ‘


Peace Frieden Paix Paz Woof ๐Ÿ•Š

kaoconno 1:13 AM  

That song has the same melody as Weekend ร  Rome by Etienne Daho:

pdplot 9:46 AM  

Not fond of this one. Troubadour is a musician playing on his lute. I had amour for a while. Didn't work. What's an NGI? Wife had to give me ay caramba - she's a fan of the Simpsons. When will this Trump/Giuliani charade be over? They should be charged with treason.

Laura 6:38 PM  

I finished with the same error in CARA(U)MBA... glad I am not alone!

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