Confessions of Drunkard writer 1822 / SAT 2-18-12 / Vertical Prefix / 1950s-60s singer Jackson Queen of Rockabilly / Nickname for Warren Weber in old sitcom / Final pharaoh of fifth dynasty whose pyramid is near cairo

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium




THEME: UPSTAIRS / DOWNSTAIRS — puzzle note: "This puzzle has two bonus answers in appropriate places. Can you find them?" (yes, I can—string of black squares through center of grid function as a staircase, of sorts)

Word of the Day: UNAS (10D: Final pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty, whose pyramid is near Cairo) —
Unas (also Oenas, Unis, Wenis, or Ounas) was a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, and the last ruler of the Fifth dynasty from the Old Kingdom. His reign has been dated between 2375 BC and 2345 BC. Unas is believed to have had two queens, Nebet and Khenut, based on their burials near his tomb. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not until I started this write-up did I notice the note on the puzzle. Grid did seem a little dull, which seemed odd for a Ginsberg puzzle—there's usually some insane trick or gimmick involved. So now I see that the grid is hamstrung somewhat by the requirements of the UPSTAIRS / DOWNSTAIRS letters.  Is the (belated) pay-off worth it? I don't know. It's cute. Mildly. I think I'd rather have sizzling fill (esp. in an easy-to-fill 72-worder) than a rather prosaic puzzle that culminates with a  delayed "huh, interesting." Mainly, I just wish that OPA / CASCO / ORTH stack would go away. It's hard to justify that much gunk, that close together.


I actually found this puzzle quite easy, but I think I might be an outlier of sorts. I had half done in around five minutes, then stalled for a good 30 seconds or so, then did the second half in something like two. Mid-7 finish time. Started with the "S" in what ended up being ROASTERS and immediately wrote in SALIERI for 8D: "The Brandenburgers in Bohemia" composer (SMETANA).  I erased that pretty quickly because LONI seemed the obvious answer to 28A: Anderson who wrote "My Life in High Heels"—I quickly confirmed her final "I" with the cross (21D: Junior Jr. = III), and then wrote in HAIR and headed SW, eventually looping up via CHAPEAU to circle back around and take care of the NW (site of the OPACASOORTH fiasco). Then it was down to the SW, which provided no resistance. Then I sat. Put in ILONA (47A: Massey of "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman") and SLR. Sat some more. Wish I'd seen the clue for MARLEE earlier, as it was a gimme. As it was I eventually ran into 13D: Classic actress who played the principal in "Grease" and grimaced and then tentatively wrote in EVE and then ARDEN just came to me. Once I got IN LOVE (16A: Like Fiennes's Shakespeare), then I just sort of tumbled down the whole east coast of the grid. Finished at the "B" in RBI (51A).

Just a few mysteries. Didn't know, or didn't remember, UNAS. Also couldn't remember which broadcasting system was the "This is a test. For the next 60 seconds ..." org. (EBS). Stands for Emergency Broadcast System. Lastly, no idea who AMY Klobuchar is (40D: Minnesota senator Klobuchar). There are a lot more women senators than I thought. Not "a lot," by any means (17), but a lot more than I thought. There are four states where both senators are women: Washington, New Hampshire, California, and Maine.

Bullets:
  • 29A: 1950s-'60s singer Jackson, the Queen of Rockabilly (WANDA) — She's still singing. Proof:


  • 37A: "Save the ___" (conservationists' catchphrase) (TIGERS) — Random. Could've been virtually any answer. SLOTHS, say (seriously, "Save the Sloths" is a real catchphrase). The truly famous catchphrase, of course, is "Save the Whales." 
  • 52A: Nickname for Warren Weber in an old sitcom (POTSIE) — I forgot how Mrs. C. used to call him "Warren." Adorable. 
  • 6D: "Confessions of a Drunkard" writer, 1822 (ELIA) — gimme, along with SLR, III, AGORA, GORP, ILONA, and OORT.
  • 28D: "___ on First" (1981 comedian's biography) ("LOU'S") — got this very early on. LOU is of course LOU Costello, half of the comedy team that made the "Who's on First?" routine famous.
  • 34D: Offensive formation (WISHBONE) — "Offensive" as in "pertaining to an American football offense."
  • 46D: Gossip opening ("I HEAR...") — first thought: HARD G.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

96 comments:

jae 12:07 AM  

I liked this a lot more than Rex did.  Medium over all for me with a tough NW (it took a while to give up on WASSHORT) easy SW and easy-medium east. Last change was ROOSTERS to ROASTERS which at last gave me ATLAST.    Lotsa zip with AGNOSTIC HOOLIGANS ONTHELAM,  the lovely EVEARDEN, the odd pair of LOU and LONI, and of course POTSIE eating PASTIES....not to mention a Larry David quote...

The bonus answer really helped in the east.  It's nice to put down 10 letters with virtually no crosses. 

This felt about right for a Sat. A fine enjoyable challenge!

jackj 12:14 AM  

The best Saturday puzzles are themeless, seamless in their execution and unburdened by the need to accommodate theme entries. When gimmicks are added to these puzzles, the fill seems to be diminished in proportion to the complexity of the tricks being forced into the solve.

Today’s puzzle heralds “two bonus answers in appropriate places” and the red flag was waved, not so much to herald the search for the “bonus answers” but, rather for the influence they would have on the puzzle.

The result, it was an easy solve, with too much reliance on crosswordese, SLR, SHA, III, NEED, et al and answers which were too easily sorted, ATLAST, RANSHORT, SEESTARS, ISLES, TRUTHIS, et al.

Finding the “bonus answers” of UPSTAIRS and DOWNSTAIRS, (in the appropriate directions, with slanted black squares hinting “look here”), made for a nice Thursday touch but put too much of a strain on the difficulty level and denied us the elegance that superior themeless puzzles are blessed with.

In any event, it was nice to see Matt Ginsberg’s name and picture again and a special treat to get another glimpse of him canoodling with the world’s most interesting and lovable mammal, the giraffe.

Tobias Duncan 12:33 AM  

The constructor had TIGERS crossing WISHBONE and wishbone gets the sports clueing ? GRRRRR seems like such a waste of a great word.
Felt too sportsy to me but looking back I can only find a few.
DNFed as I did not know a whole bunch of stuff today.

Parsed TRUTHIS as TRU THIS as in "true dat" and was furious about it until just now.
Northwest was easy but the southwest through Texas really kicked my ass.
Never saw the note till I came here.Probably would not have picked up on it anyway.

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

Liked the puzzle, but liked Save the Sloths even more. LOL

JFC

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

How is NECTAR "bee wine"? Bee wine seems to be a real thing, but it's just plain old wine fermented a little differently. Nectar's food. There seem to be Bee Wine glasses, but they're just wine glasses with a bee on them.

Agnostic Casco Marlees 1:57 AM  

@Tobias
Loved your post...you weren't wrong, felt sportsy, bec of the way some clues were clued: RBI crossing with ONBASE, MORA, AROD, WISHBONE...
Tru this! Ha!

Ironically, the most writeovers for me was the Scrabble accessory, because i write this from a tournament in Phoenix! Just played eight games in a row in the Early Bird...20 more games over the next three days!
My highlight of the day was getting the rack ZIMODE?
("?" is a blank)
I considered ZOMbIED....But spotted an S on the board and played SoDOMIZE for 90 points!!!
Against a minister!!!

Anyway, for accessory I tried Board, then Tiles, and finally TIMER, but we use a chess clock, so I didn't think of TIMER.

Some other fun mistakes...SanTANA for SMETANA (isn't that a brand of sourcream?);
@rex
Also had HardG and was so proud of myself for not falling for that trick, but then I fell for the reverse.

Plus there are a lot of Andersons in the world, I thought it was going to be some man in drag...
And tons of singers named Jackson, i think I learned about WANDA from this blog last year...

So glad there were lots of women for once...
AMY, ILONA, WANDA, LONI...RIMA?!

It helps to be from Minnesota to get AMY...her dad Jim was a big columnist for the Mpls Tribune when I was growing up!
Hi, @sethg!

Lots of words to love: HOOLIGAN, RHYTHMS, ROCOCO, GORGON, SMETANA, SHOSHONE, WISHBONE, CHAPEAU (got it off the U!)

And the staircase thing was magnificent!
Too bad ot ran the same week with the other STAIRS puzzle, that of the BROKENELEVATORS/NEEDINGEXERCISE...it sort of dimmed this theme, reduced to being a callback.
It felt less special, it should have been showcased (staircased?) in its own week!

And to end on a serious note...when discovering around age 13 that I was Jewish and wanting to join a synagogue, I asked Rabbi Shapiro if I could be a Jew even tho I was an atheist.
He laughed and said that that was a Very Jewish question...but to at least say I was AGNOSTIC because i didn't know there was no G-d.
So i think the clue is more that you don't KNOW...
From the Greek:
A = not + GNOSIS = to know/knowledge
So you don't know, more than you are 35D "Uncommitted".
I'm very committed ... to not knowing for sure!

Ok, I've got to get up at 6:45 (gasp) to play another 8 games...wish me luck..or at least not to have my TUSHes kicked!

Anonymous 2:42 AM  

Acme - I have a grandson who is Jewish (as is his mother) with a grandmother (my wife) who is Catholic and therefore celebrates both Jewish and Christian holidays. Talk about being UNCOMMITTED....

JFC

Don Byas 2:50 AM  

fun, easy Saturday
Went with word cloud instead of OORT cloud.

Took me a while to see 20a.PASTIES. Had some memory interference.

"Tune Up" performed by Miles & Trane
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_ekaTNZOHE

chefwen 3:19 AM  

Very easy Saturday puzzle for me, I don't think I have ever said that before. Only two write-overs with 7D was SHORT before RAN SHORT and 37A save the planet before save the TIGERS.

Didn't try to get the bonus answers, I was just happy to finish a Saturday before I was done with my first glass of wine. A rarity, indeed!

Anonymous 3:49 AM  

The dreaded Saturday puzzle is here.
I slogged through this
only bright spot, a "Happy Days" flashback with POTSIE Weber
I got lots of wrong answers
I needed lots of help with this one
In other words, a normal Saturday puzzle for me.

Kathy 6:55 AM  

Okay, so there is a diagonal of black squares. How does that make it 2 bonus clues - because it sort of looks like a staircase? Upstairs/Downstairs was an old TV show? Is that it? What am I missing here? Thanks

loren muse smith 7:30 AM  

I just finished the NYT and printed out the Saturday Stumper to take outside with me while I let my dogs play. The grid is the same as the Times' only reversed!! What's with the diacritics on the captchas?

foodie 7:32 AM  

@Kathy, if you go up and down the diagonal, it actually spells UPSTAIRS going up and DOWNSTAIRS going down.

Wish I had seen it before it was all over, it would have certainly helped, especially the DOWNSTAIRS part. I wanted the park to have a BENCH rather than a THEME, and I was thinking of Isaac Stern, rather than Howard (is that the one the clue means?) so IMUS was not on my mind. And that THMS at the end of RHYTHMS looks all kinds of wrong if you don't have the first part.

I thought of @Andrea as I struggled with the Scrabble clue-- tried RAKER (!)... sorry, stupid. Andrea, love your Scrabble feat! Givem hell!

The arbitrariness of clues on Saturdays always gets me-- True you eat OATMEAL with a spoon, but PEASOUP anyone? Would you like to save the WHALES or the PLANET, or the SLOTHS as Rex notes? So, easy it ain't...

foodie 7:39 AM  

The Quick & Dirty Index does rate this as EASY- for the likes of Rex and AMY and chefwen (good for you @chefwen- your OATMEAL is probably very tasty too!).

loren muse smith 7:55 AM  

On second glance - ALMOST the same.

Dan 8:09 AM  

OORT is a "kind of cloud"? That's like calling NEWYORK a "kind of times".

dk 8:10 AM  

At last, a fine puzzle has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
Oh, yeah, at last
The skies above are blue

*** (3 Stars) Thanks Matt.

d(etta)k

F*&k! I almost forgot about the robot test. Danger Wil Robinson.

Rookie 8:12 AM  

I, too, wanted to save the PLANET and WAS SHORT. With just a tiny bit of cheating, I was able to get this puzzle, a real feat for this newbie. Encouraging!

Leslie 8:47 AM  

I was just happy to finish a Saturday before I was done with my first glass of wine.

Since I'm outside of New York state and do the paper and pencil version on the day of rather than the night before, remarks like that always have me doing a little double-take. "Chefwen! Drinking at 7 a.m. is not healthy! GET HELP NOW!!"

Wanted A-ROD to be Bond, so wanted RBI to be hrs. Wanted odeon instead of AGORA. Wanted ran out of instead of RAN SHORT. Once I fixed those, then yes, it was a pleasingly gettable puzzle. The actresses--EVE ARDEN, MARLEE Matlin, and ILONA Massey, fell right into place.

I quibble with ORTH for "vertical." "Orthos" simply means "to straighten or correct." It doesn't necessarily mean "to make something go vertical."

Hands up for not even seeing the bonus answers. Thanks for explaining them!

Celebes Ox 8:47 AM  

I really look forward to the weekly challenge of the Saturday Times crossword, but once again, this was far too easy for a Saturday. Is it just me, or are people actually more interested in seeing a display of the constructor's creativity than being entertained and challenged by a tough, but well-constructed puzzle?

joho 8:55 AM  

I had the same mistakes as @jae & @Rookie & @foodie with ROoSTERS, wAsSHORT and "Save the planeT." But all was soon fixed and the puzzle done correctly.

It's always a great feeling to finish a Saturday even it's rated easy.

I loved the bonus answers of UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS.

You go, @Andrea!

evil doug 8:58 AM  

Casco Bay brought back some nice flying memories. Shot many an approach circling the Bay on our way into Portland. In a holding pattern for hours one night hoping for the fog to break just enough to let us shoot a legal approach. Barely snuck in, and the beer at Three Dollar Dewey's ("One dollar lookee; two dollar touchee....") tasted especially fine in our "crew debriefing".

Rococo is a fun word. I wanted 'peanut'. You know, M&M's....

Never saw the stairs. Why waste our time with a throwaway theme on Saturday---especially if it's as nebulous as this?

With Will under fire for 'illegal', I'm guessing that employing my definition of 'pasties' wouldn't have been prudent.

The beauty of faith is that one doesn't need proof to know.

Evil

Kathy 9:12 AM  

@foodie - Yipes! I never saw that! I was thinking of TV shows/movies, etc., with clues & answers of Potsie, Lou (Costello), Imus, Loni, Ilona, Marlee, Fiennes, Larry David, Eve Arden. So I thought that Upstairs/Downstairs somehow fit in with that theme. I was down until you cleared that up. Thanks!

chefbea 9:23 AM  

Hands up for never seeing the bonus answers.

Oort??? that's a cloud?? I know nimbus cyrus etc.

jbsnadb 9:50 AM  

Having only been doing the puzzle regularly for about a year now, I stongly doubted myself when ROASTERS was the first thing I plopped down (getting an answer right off the bat on a Saturday is not normal for me), so I promptly erased it, making 1a one of the last spots I filled in.

Also, a big boo to TIGERS. Whales is a much more in the language answer IMHO, and it kept me from filling in the whole SW corner, since I had SWAPOUT, THOU and POTSIE already in place.

Another boo to EBS, since the Emergency Broadcast System became the Emergency Alert System sometime between 2000 and 2005 when I was still on the radio and had to play the ding-dang thing.

loren muse smith 9:55 AM  

@ED - I had the same thought about PASTIES, especially given its proximity to TUSHES.

Hand up for "whale." Despite the whole ILLEGAL thing and my not minding, I looked forever for an adjective instead of HOULIGAN.

JC66 9:55 AM  

@ACME

I believe SMETANA (or smetna) is Yiddish for sour cream.

My father was a real joker and always asked for smetna with his coffee.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

"Save the LIVERS!"

Wanting to save the *anything* makes one a conservationist.

KRMunson 10:06 AM  

I'm surprised that there aren't lots of questions or comments about pasties. No one around here has ever heard of them, but my husband makes them all the time!! For those unfamiliar with them, they are Cornish meat, onion, and potato-filled pies made in calzone-shapes. The miners used to take them to work in the mines because they would fit in their pocket and made a quick, hearty meal. Ok, enough with the Food Network promo...

Shamik 10:07 AM  

Loved the comments today. Found this at 9:43 to be my 4th easiest Saturday puzzle ever. Some fun fill and some not so fun. And yes, I saved the WHALES. Save the TIGERS? Guess I'm old school...still working on the whales.

@Andrea: Best of luck...wish i'd known you were in town...would have bought you breakfast/lunch/dinner/coffee.

It's been too long since I've done a puzzle and looked at this blog. Now I have to prove I'm not a robot. Sigh.

quilter1 10:13 AM  

Saving whales here.

And then there are also Jewish Buddhists. I know a UCC Buddhist. There is no one size fits all.

Good luck, Andrea.

The Bard 10:15 AM  

CLI.

Love is too young to know what conscience is;
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove:
For, thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body's treason;
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love; flesh stays no father reason;
But, rising at thy name, doth point out thee
As his triumphant prize. Proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
No want of conscience hold it that I call
Her 'love' for whose dear love I rise and fall.

>>>>>>>>>>>>
King Henry IV, part I > Act II, scene IV

PRINCE HENRY: That ever this fellow should have fewer words than a parrot, and yet the son of a woman! His industry is upstairs and downstairs; his eloquence the parcel of a reckoning. I am not yet of Percy's mind, the Hotspur of the north; he that kills me some six or seven dozen of Scots at a breakfast, washes his hands, and says to his wife 'Fie upon this quiet life! I want work.' 'O my sweet Harry,' says she,'how many hast thou killed to-day?' 'Give my roan horse a drench,' says he; and answers 'Some fourteen,' an hour after; 'a trifle, a trifle.'I prithee, call in Falstaff: I'll play Percy, and that damned brawn shall play Dame Mortimer his wife. 'Rivo!' says the drunkard. Call in ribs, call in tallow.

r.alphbunker 10:19 AM  

Did the puzzle when I was tired which made me susceptible to googling which I did to get 8D SMETANA,23A CASCO,50D MORA,52A POTSIE,56A ENIGMA.

IMO, {Dish} is too fancy a term for oatmeal.

Feeling down for googling, the discovering of the stairway clues cheered me up.

Sir Hillary 10:29 AM  

What a difference a day makes. After cruising through Friday's, I was stopped cold by this on. Managed to fill in all of the SW and some of the NE, including the entire UPSTAIRS phrase. Trouble is, I never noticed the theme note until I came here for the solution! Had I done so, I would have filled in the rest of DOWNSTAIRS, but even that wouldn't have gotten me there. Too many fatal errors (BERTH at 5D, THINGIS at 38D, SMEAR at 46D).

Nice layout and cool bonus theme, now that I can see it all. But I was never getting there on my own. Worst Saturday performance for me in ages.

Oh well, at least I won Matt Gaffney's random drawing this week. Blind squirrel, meet nut.

Acme 10:39 AM  

@shamik
I would love to meet you!!! I'm at the grace inn in Ahwatukee??? On 51st, can you write to me and we'll figure it out! Andreacarla.Michaels@gmail.com

Kurt 10:43 AM  

I liked the puzzle but for some reason, it beat me around. I struggled mightily to crack the NW and the SE and still managed to screw-up UNAS (unos), TIMER (tiler) and ILONA (ilena). Not a lot of joy today.

That said, "Three Dollar Dewey's" made it all worthwhile. Thanks Evil.

Rudy 10:49 AM  

OORT

This was a clever and nicely constructedd puzzle, although it took me forever. As an amateur astronomer, I was so glad to see 26a Kind of Cloud and right away I thought of OORT. Yes indeed. There is speculation that the periodic cataclysms that visit earth (breathe easy, every 65 m years or so, with the extinction of the dinasours being the last) is due to the Oort Cloud in outer solar stream that unleash meteors earth's way. The proof of meteor impact being responsible for the dinosaur extinction is wonderfully captured in the book "T Rex and the Crater of Doom".

Hey, enjoying the Big Apple this weekend and nice coverage of "Linsanity", "Linderella" !

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

If I had been patient and looked longer for the bonus I would have seen rhythms. Between that and a football couch singing Italian I never cracked that Texas area.
Close but no cigar.

Maybe I am a robot. Half the time I can't read these damned things.

Wood 10:59 AM  

Felt like a Thursday to me -- or else I'm getting really good at Saturdays. NE came right away (IN LOVE was a gimme, love that movie)... SW was last because I dropped in liNE for the last 4 letters of the offensive formation (sports agnostic here), thinking that was a pretty good guess... which prevented me from seeing POTSIE until the very last moment (had WASH LINE, thinking there was some kind of pun on laundry? It's offensive when you hang your laundry out to dry? The knots our brains tie themselves into over crossword clues!). That gave me TaGERS, PiTSIE and ElS instead of EBS. WISH LINE? Oh, WISHBONE!!!

Speaking of making wishes: @evil, The scary thing about faith is that one doesn't need proof to know.

chefbea 11:06 AM  

@Acme and JC66 We always called it smetna when I was growing up!!

Good luck Andrea!!

Z 11:17 AM  

After whales wasn't working out I thought a little trickeration might be going on and tried to save the papers. Sigh.

But my real problem is my absolute certainty that the "This is a test..." org. is the FCC. I have heard the test by the Emergency Broadcast System my entire life. I have never thought of it as an organization. So a complete DNF in the SW for me because, as member of the Church of Evangelical Agnostics (I don't know and I you don't know either), I violated the injunction against certainty.

And really, does typing in these characters prove to you that I'm not a Robot?

David 11:24 AM  

Thursday turned out to be the toughest day for me this week. Easily broke the 20 minute mark for the 2nd week in a row, helped along by more gimmes than I usually encounter on Saturday (CASCO, MARLEE, POTSIE, ILONA, EVE ARDEN). A huge key was considering MORA for the NFL coach and then seeing how nicely RHYTHMS would fit. Plopped those in with confidence and kept rolling.

Also had Save the WHALES first, and briefly had WAS SHORT (awful) for RAN SHORT. Nice puzzle overall, nothing spine-tingling but a good workout. Yesterday's puzzle was the highlight of the week, though the early week offerings were excellent.

Z 11:26 AM  

I forgot to mention - OORT is a Dutch astronomer who first hypothesized that comets and other objects orbited the sun out beyond Pluto. The clue is in the same vein as cluing "asteroid" as a type of belt.

captcha - spaways indeed

Lindsay 11:32 AM  

Exactly what @Tobias Duncan said. Stared & stared at 38D thinking TRU THIS is TRUly awful, and anyway it needs an "e". So never having heard of Stern, I gave up on the idea that 46A was IMUS, and went with TRy THIS and IMys. The latter is total nonsense, but on the other hand, so is OORT.

Also, I don't understand how my efforts to decipher the captcha are helping the computer process old texts, given that the computer already seems to have an idea what the texts say and keeps barfing on my own interpretations.

Tita 11:35 AM  

Once again, come here to have ego-deflation performed...Easy?? 7 minutes?????
THere were so many nouns disuised as adjectives, verbs acting as nouns, obscurities, vagueness, that it was exceedingly tough, but I felt good that I needed only 1 google (SEMTANA, who I actually Do know...)

UPSTAIRS/DOWNSTAIRS reminds me of the Downton Abbey Prequel. I still relate more to those characters...

@Acme - Epic LOL for your scrabble oponent / word combo! Was it divine intervention that sent you those letters while playing the minister? Since you're an agnostic, who knows?
Good luck.

Wish I had noticed the note - it would've helped me get through this more easily.

Gill I. P. 11:43 AM  

AT LAST, A SNAP and I was all AGOG with this fine Sat. puzzle. The PASTIES on the cake was the upstairs, downstairs ladder. I liked NATTER and HOOLIGAN. Speaking of NATTER: @jbsnadb and others just an FYI...Bali tiger, extinct. Java and Caspian tiger, forced into extinction. Only 5 subspecies remain - Sumatra, Siberian, Bengal, Indo Chinese Tigers and South China tigers. The latter is iffy since no sightings in a year. From an original 100,000 in the 1900's it's estimated that between 4,000 to 7,000 remain.
I love whales too. Speaking of, how is TEMPO the answer for grave at 5D. I don't get that at all.
Thank you for a NECTAR of a puzzle Mr. Ginsberg.

Matt Ginsberg 11:53 AM  

Thanks for the comments, everyone! It's always great to read them.

Perhaps someone can explain to me why NECTAR is [Bee wine]; I had originally clued it as [Hummer fuel]. FWIW, I can never do my own puzzles when they actually appear in the Times. Not senility, I don't think, I'm just a lousy solver. :)

Tita 12:02 PM  

I love Hummer fuel as a clue! Yet more redirection!

Now with all due respect, your question must be asked of Mr. Shortz...as you can see here, none of us get Bee wine. I suppose it mus tbe a delectable drink for our apiary friends?

My caphca is 4 9's on their sides!! Or are they 6's...I just watched the Mia Farrow "Omen" - is 6666 the number of the robot?
How do I know if I should type 9 or 6?

Cheerio 12:30 PM  

I spent a long weekend in Oxford, England a few years ago where I sampled a really terrible pastie from a shop that specialized in them. I also had lots of other terrible food there. The only thing I remember as a food positive was a long slender sausage served in a coil as a dinner food.

r.alphbunker 12:42 PM  

@Tita

Sodom is mentioned in the Bible so the minister shouldn't be all that shocked.

Masked and Anonymous 12:51 PM  

thUmbsUp for themed SatPuz.

First entry: WANDA. Loved her "Fujiyama Mama" tune, back in the day. Lived offa Wanda, to quickly fill in most of the "downstairs" half of the puz. Quickly = under 20, for the likes of me.

Last entry: POTSIE. Coulda shoulda got the S earlier on, from "DOWNSTAIRS", if I hadn't totally forgot about that note. Wonder if POTSIE likes PASTIES.

Fave fill: WANDA, for opening the door for me. TRUTHIS is neat, but is a walking, talking ENIGMA to me. Always room for OATMEAL. RHYTHMS put up no fight, but love the lack of (all-the-time) vowels.

Missed opportunity: Having the random circles, with Downton Abbey in 'em. Really would give old 31 a rush.

Lewis 1:30 PM  

@David, I think you said it best: "Nothing spine tingling but a good workout."

I'm waiting for the day when these Saturdays come as easy to me as they do to some of you, and while it's still a good piece of time away, I feel it coming closer...

treedweller 1:39 PM  

@Acme, thank you for your take on AGNOSTIC. I agree--I am not undecided, confused, or waffling. I am quite sure I don't know if there is a god or not, and never will in this lifetime.

puzzle got me. Had to google ILONA, GORGON and MORA. Forgot about the note by the time I finished and never noticed the stairs.

FearlessK 1:48 PM  

Hand up for whales, not TIGERS for WAY too long; absolutely ruined my time...

@Gill I. P.: for 5D, think Italian-- grave = slow and solemn TEMPO.

Prince Fielder 3:47 PM  

"Save the TIGERS"? Yup, that's my plan!

Gill I. P. 3:48 PM  

@FearlessK: Grazie. I never would have gotten that one....
While I'm on a roll, Bee wine is an obscure folk drink. The name evidently came about because of the wild yeast and bacteria that are used. Once mixed together and put in a jar, the yeast clumps move up and down and look like busy bees. The mixtures that are used vary, but the home kitchen mavens liked to use brown sugar and black treacle. It supposedly tastes like NECTAR.

mac 4:47 PM  

Well, I tried to save the whole planet. The puzzle felt easy, until I hit swap out (or is it swap-out?) and whishbone. Just a few letters short, because I did have state pen, agnostic, a snap, thou, potsie, enigma and nectar. Nectar was my first thought with that clue, correct or not.

Plenty to like in the other parts of the puzzle, especially in repose (I'm on vacation).

I read the note but forgot all about it at the end of the puzzle. Can we call it a theme when nowhere else in the puzzle there is any reference to a staircase?

Chip Hilton 5:07 PM  

Yup, Whales.

[Hummer fuel] as a clue would've been a lot more fun.

@Lindsay - I went through TRY THIS for a while and was struck by the similarity to TRUTH IS. Seldom see a (3,4) word combo so much like a (5,2).

sanfranman59 6:10 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:49, 6:49, 0.85, 4%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 138 Mondays)
Tue 8:50, 8:52, 1.00, 55%, Medium
Wed 10:52, 11:49, 0.92, 36%, Easy-Medium
Thu 23:27, 18:59, 1.24, 88%, Challenging
Fri 24:16, 25:13, 0.96, 43%, Medium
Sat 23:16, 29:45, 0.78, 8%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:18, 3:40, 0.90, 9%, Easy
Tue 4:53, 4:35, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:30, 5:52, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium
Thu 11:46, 9:17, 1.27, 87%, Challenging
Fri 12:57, 12:29, 1.04, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 12:15, 16:56, 0.72, 5%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 129 Saturdays)

Gary U.S. Bonds 7:22 PM  

Sanfranman, you rawk. You're that smart dude who stays on the boat with the computers and saves the asses of the crimesolvers speeding around after the bad guys on jet-skis.

Tobias Duncan 7:42 PM  

@ Gary U.S. Bonds You nailed it! That is exactly how I see sanfranman.He does not care that the P.I.s get all the glory, he just quietly does his homework and saves the day every time.

Dirigonzo 8:04 PM  

First, I loved the shout out to my home on the shores of CASCO Bay - @ED - Three Dollar Deweys is still serving up good brew and good times if you ever find yourself lost in the fog in these parts again.

Second, I just got done listening to a CD with some early WANDA Jackson recordings - she didn't need a brass section to make her sound good in those day. Getting old sucks.

Third, I finished with a couple of errors and I missed the "bonus answers" completely, but I don't care - this was fun.

chefbea 8:38 PM  

Is it just me??? The last few posts seem weird.. like robot postings???

Dirigonzo 8:54 PM  

Hey, I represent that remark! I ain't no stinkin' robot!

sanfranman59 9:28 PM  

lol @ Gary US & Tobias ... thanks for the shout out (I think) ... it's always good to know that someone's paying attention

foodie 9:50 PM  

I agree re sanfranman!

I'm awe of people who volunteer to take on a task and do it reliably and beautifully. They make the world go round. The rest of us reap the benefits.

mac 10:33 PM  

Wish I could click "like" under some of these comments!

jberg 11:00 PM  

This took me all day to do, and then a big DNF in the NW> Couldn't see ROASTERS OR calamine, blocked by was SHORT, and SAME AS for 2D.

Me too for whales before TIGERS (even thought of rivers), and Ruth, then Bond, before AROD. Never heard of UNAS, but with so many ways to spell his name we should see him a lot.

I didn't see the note until I came here - didn't look for it on a Saturday.

@Gill I.P. - Grave is a tempo in playing music. Slow and serious.

The flaw in the new captcha system is that only a robot could actually read those letters spread over a black background, so it's the humans who are being shut out.

Gill I. P. 10:10 AM  

@jberg: Thanks - a word I shant forget.
Add a "ME TOO" for appreciating @Sanfranman59's good work. Everyday I try and guess what your stats will be; I'm pretty close, but I do miss you when you're away.

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

50 D is a little dated...Mora is now at The University of California's southern branch (ucla), Berkeley being the main campus. Maybe should have said former...Go Bears...

Spacecraft 11:42 AM  

OK, will someone please enlighten me: OPA for "WWII inits."?? I'm from then and I have no clue!

Started with POTSIE (how I dredged that one up I'll never know) to IHEAR, to IMUS. 3-letter female name with M in the middle? AMY. So to the SE,then up to the NE, with my beloved MARLEE (OMG, when I saw her in "Children..." I thought she was the hottest thing since the sun! Yeah, I was INLOVE!) Wrestled with the SW a bit because I was reluctant, a la @Acme, to define "uncommitted" as AGNOSTIC. I sort of see the cluer's point--but I don't agree with it. Poor clue. And so then on to the dreaded NE.

This very nearly drove me to Google, but I persevered. I was suspicious of ROOSTERS, knowing that size is irrelevant in chickendom. Little did I suspect how close I was to the answer! I finally took a shot with CALAMINE, and that tipped the scale. Still, my last entry was the last three letters of ONAPAR--and I was guessing at all three!

Finished! And with no help! ...And yet, not finished. I was so relieved at getting through it that I forgot to look for the bonus. Not till I read OFL's blog did I even notice. So, did I finish, or not? Who cares?

Red Valerian 12:27 PM  

Finished with no Google--Yay!!! Didn't see the bonus answers--they're fun. (But do they mean I didn't finish, @Spacecraft? I think sort of...)

Also @Spacecraft: I had to look that up (after the fact). It's the Ontario Power Authority. Kidding. It's the Office of Price Administration in your country, 1941-47.

Expected a bit more chortling in the comments about TUSHES crossing HOLD ONTO and IN LOVE, PASTIES over HAIR (???), WARM NEED, ON BASE...

Oh, and the line A SNAP, AROD, AGOG is fun, too.

Did nobody else want tGi for ____ Friday?

Anyhow, had fun! Thanks Matt, @Rex, and everybody.

Dirigonzo 12:28 PM  

@ Spacecraft - From Rex's write-up on Friday, November 11, 2011:
"Word of the Day: O.P.A. (48A: W.W. II rationing org.) —

The Office of Price Administration (OPA) was established within the Office for Emergency Management of the United States government by Executive Order 8875 on August 28, 1941. The functions of the OPA was originally to control money (price controls) and rents after the outbreak of World War II. // President Franklin D. Roosevelt revived the Advisory Commission to World War I Council on National Defense on May 29, 1940, to include Price Stabilization and Consumer Protection Divisions. Both divisions merged to become the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply (OPACS) within the Office for Emergency Management by Executive Order 8734, April 11, 1941. Civil supply functions were transferred to the Office of Production Management. // It became an independent agency under the Emergency Price Control Act, January 30, 1942. The OPA had the power to place ceilings on all prices except agricultural commodities, and to ration scarce supplies of other items, including tires, automobiles, shoes, nylon, sugar, gasoline, fuel oil, coffee, meats and processed foods. At the peak, almost 90% of retail food prices were frozen. It could also authorize subsidies for production of some of those commodities. (wikipedia)"

Dirigonzo 12:31 PM  
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Dirigonzo 12:34 PM  

@Red Valerian - Seems like you added the missing chortles. I really have to start looking at the completed grid more closely - I always miss the good stuff!

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

NICK: It all began innocently enough on Tuesday. I was sitting in my office on that drizzly afternoon listening to the monotonous staccato of rain on my desktop and reading my name on the glass of my office door: "regnaD kciN". My secretary lay snoring on the floor, her long, beautiful gams pinioned under the couch. I didn't hear him enter, but my nostrils flared at the smell of his perfume...Pyramid Patchouli. There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was.

ROCKY: Good afternoon, Mr.... Danger. I'm Rocky Rococo.

NICK: Thanks half-pint. You just saved me a lot of investigative work.

From The Firesign Theatre's The Further Adventures of Nick Danger.

Red Valerian 1:06 PM  

Happy to oblige, @Dirigonzo.

Smetana is amazing. Have never been to the Czech Republic, but this piece always makes me tear up.
Smetana's Ma Vlast

@Acme--this is not to say I don't like Santana, too. Though, really? "The Brandenburgers in Bohemia"? The Burritos in Baja, maybe... ;-)

Red Valerian 1:07 PM  

P.S. Thanks @Anonymous, for the Nick Danger!

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Briefly considered "Save the miners", then chuckled at the thought of that being a conservationist slogan.

@jbsnadb 9:50 AM. - Nothing in the EBS clue says that the answer has to be current. A clue that read "Clay party" would work for WHIG even though the Whig party doesn't exist any more.

My beef with EBS is that it's clued as an "org."...The Emergency Broadcast System wasn't an organization, it was (like the current EAS) a system of emergency protocol.

Gill I. P. 2:57 PM  

@Red Valerian: Thank you for the wonderful Ma Vlast. Have you heard his My Fatherland? Also, ye of travels, if you really want a treat, try taking the Eurostar from London to Paris to Berlin and then Prague. If you splurge take first class overnight on the train from Berlin - you get a suite.
Damn, I wish SOMEONE would please bring back the email notifications. I want my syndies back!
Wow this captcha has Paris. Maybe there is hope after all.

DMGrandma 3:27 PM  

Out here in Syndiland, there was no note or clue or whatever, so I never saw the staircases! This puzzle took sometime as I never heard of Wanda or Marlee or the football coach, but they all finally appeared. My big hang-up was having "epic" where "agog" was wanted.
Unlike @Spacecraft, I remember the OPA and the rationing it imposed. Still have a little leather,two-sided purse my mother used, one side has a red flap to hold red rationing points for meat, the other a blue flap for blue points for everything else. Also remember taking used fats back to the butcher and putting tin cans and newspapers out on the curb on Friday night. Maybe the war was more real to us in SF because we lived with dimmed out street lights, blackout curtains, air raid drills and wore luggage labels to school giving directions for emergency evacuation. It was a happy day when the last siren blew and we knew Dad would soon be home. Sorry, I digress, and this will probably die here if the captchas are as tricky as they look.

Spacecraft 4:11 PM  

Thanks very much, @Red Valerian, @Dirigonzo, and @DMGrandma, for the OPA enlightenment. I must confess that although I am indeed "from then," as I stated, it was only just. I celebrated the end of the war as a five-year-old on my Mommy's shoulders, milling about the packed city square in Harrisburg, PA, wondering why we were all there. My Daddy was a coal truck driver and so had a vital job and a military exemption.

Lola505 5:30 PM  

I hate that my local paper never publishes the "Notes" that Rex references. What was it? Anyone?

I thought this a representative Saturday level of difficulty. Had to take a break to complete the SE -- answers just didn't come easily, although they did finally.

Snags were 37A, I had save the whales before I got TIGERS; 46A, IMUS and 49A, RHYTHM (always a tough word for me, don't know why) were slow to come.

Don't like pro sports coaches names nor Senator's first name clues, since I don't allow myself to look those up, but the crosses saved me on those.

Z 5:36 PM  

@Lola505 - Rex posted the note with the theme

Dirigonzo 5:40 PM  

@Lola505 - Here's what Rex said about the note, which in my local paper was printed above the clues:
"THEME: UPSTAIRS / DOWNSTAIRS — puzzle note: "This puzzle has two bonus answers in appropriate places. Can you find them?" (yes, I can—string of black squares through center of grid function as a staircase, of sorts)" Maybe you didn't see the note, or your paper didn't print it?

Red Valerian 6:08 PM  

@Gill I.P. Thanks for coming by to check up on us! I'll look (er, listen) for My Fatherland.

And that trip sounds amazing. I'll, ahem, add it to the to-do list. It won't be at the top of the list, as we are leaving some things for later, thinking that they might be among the easier of options for our older age. And that maybe we'll have managed to win a lotto by then, so could actually afford them. (gotta buy tickets...)

Of course, not everything on the list will get done. Mortality is supposed to make life's enjoyments sweeter, right?

sigh... and no Paris in my captchas...

Lola505 11:10 PM  

Thanks, @Z & @Dirigonzo. I looked for the "note" in Rex's post, but must have missed it -- did see a stair reference. My paper doesn't seem to print the "notes" -- ever. Anyway, I appreciate your telling me.

BTW, Dirigonzo, et al., how do you get your doggie's picture as your avatar in your posts? I use my Google account to post. TIA!

Dirigonzo 11:26 PM  

@Lola505 - go to your google account and click on "edit profile" - that should give you an option to add a photo to your profile. If you click on "browse" you can use a photo from your computer or even downoad one for the internet. Good luck - I can't wait to see what you choose!

Lola505 12:14 AM  

@Dirigonzo, thank you AGAIN (wow, you've helped me twice in one evening, you're great!)
I'm off to my Google acct. and I know what I'll choose... be right back.

Lola505 12:21 AM  
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Lola505 12:24 AM  

@Dirigonzo, OK, I'm back.
Please meet Nicky & Nacho, our Yorkies. What are yours' names?
Thanks again for your help!

Dirigonzo 12:51 AM  

@Looa505 - Good job! My Labs are Lance and Ellie. Buddy the Cocker Spaniel, isn't in the picture. Welcome to you and Nicky and Nacho!

Lola505 12:55 AM  

@Dirigonzo, nice to meet you and your dogs, too.

Red Valerian 12:59 AM  

Very cute, @Lola505! And, yes, good job. I was thrilled when I first posted my avatar, which I managed only thanks to @Gill I.P.'s encouragement.

When I say "first posted," that probably sounds as though I've done it dozens of times since. Nope. Why mess with success?

A lot of dog avatars and even more "dog people" in Rexville, eh? Maybe one day I'll swap out this pic for one of my two adorable cats. (Really, that old debate is a false dichotomy.)

Anyhow, welcome! (even it's mainly just us syndi-folk ;-}

Lola505 1:14 AM  

@Red Valerian, thanks for your welcome!

My dogs have always known, the click of my pen when I've finished the NYT puzzle means: "Dinner time!", so in a sense, they're puzzlers, too. LOL.

I've lurked here myself, reading posts for a long time before posting, so I appreciate your comment.

Lola505 1:15 AM  

@Red Valerian, forgot to ask your dog's name.

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