No GODMODE for me today. The northwest corner had me completely stymied. It didn't help that I had a typo in the excellent BALLOONARTIST (One whose work is always blowing up?) that I just couldn't see even though I checked the answer about 5 times. I had too many O's and not enough L's which gave me ___BOTTOE for "Quaint stationery shop item." Of course, now that I know the answer (INKBOTTLE), I can't believe I couldn't figure it out, but hindsight, as they say.
I like to think I would eventually have solved the puzzle on my own, but circumstances today made me short on time. I finally caved and asked Horace for a couple of the answers in that corner so I could complete the grid and get the review written before midnight.
I also like to think I might have had an easier time in that corner if only I kept company with HISNIBS. :) I haven't spent much time in ski lodges - with or without a SAUNA. Like a rube, I tried 'cocoa.' Also, my experience with personal trainers is nil - not that you need, strictly speaking, to have been exhorted by a personal trainer to come up with AGAIN,but not being familiar with their STYLE, I was thinking more along the lines of 'yougo' and 'cando.'
The clue "They go low when others go high" straight up stumped me. I thought of a number of categories that statement could possibly pertain to, but I never once thought of singers. And speaking of stumpers, how about "Come to" at 6A? I had C_ST for a very long time, but couldn't make a case for any of the vowels. Even when I eventually figured out "Just between you and me?" (OUR), it still took me a minute to understand why the answer was COST. But then I did. :)
There were a number of other really good clues in the puzzle, including:
"Dating abbr." (BCE)
"Drawing of grass" (TOKE)
"Direction word" (BEAR)
"Short short" (LIL)
"What hits the HI notes?" (UKE)
"50s president" (GRANT) - ha!
In comparison to those great clues, a few others like "More than a pair" (TRIO), "__ minimum" (ATA), "Laugh syllable" (HAR), and "Details" (INFO) seem a tad pedestrian. And USH for "Escort down the aisle, informally" has a TINGE of ASPing at straws. But, I think we can all AGREE that if that's the YEAST of it, we're doing pretty well.