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)
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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.
- 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.