Game stew / SAT 2-22-14 / First drink ever ordered by James Bond / Punk rocker Armstrong with 2012 Grammy / High line in Middle East / Composer of opera Rusalka / Obama's favorite character on Wire

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Constructor: Evan Birnholz

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: SALMI (53D: Game stew) —
A highly spiced dish consisting of roasted game birds minced and stewed in wine.

[French salmis, short for salmigondis, salmagundi. See salmagundi.]

Read more:
• • •

Simple and enjoyable. No bleeping clue what a SALMI is, but everything else was fairly well within my ken. This is a very clean 72-worder, and has many lovely longer answers—four banks of 9-stacks and then two 10s across the middle, all of them solid. All of them. Nice work. The real trick is to make sure the short crosses on your longer stacks aren't dreck, and  here (with the exception of the slightly wobbly AREAR / SALMI section in the SE), the crosses hold up pretty well. The only issue I had today was the easiness. Clues didn't seem to have any teeth, and I was genuinely surprised at how easy many of the answers were to get without any crosses. Take 1D—where I started: [Vaulted areas]. In five letters, my first thought, and any constant solver's first thought, is going to be APSES. Just did a clue search of "vaulted" at the database, and (unsurprisingly, to me) a huge percentage  (21 of 26, to be precise) of those clues were for APSE/S (21/22 where "vaulted" was used adjectivally). Certain clue words just trigger certain answers because of how commonly they're used, and the "vaulted"-APSE/S connection is a strong one. This same clue word trigger happened at 19A: Coastal fish consumers (ERNS). "Coastal" = ERN/S. [Coastal raptors] is the clue I would write for ERNS if I had just two seconds to write one, i.e. it's the hackneyed clue. So 19A was transparent. SEE TO and CRANE followed very quickly and that whole NW corner just didn't last that long.

Because I moved fairly quickly today, there weren't that many notable struggles. My favorite mistake was PEA at 46A: Split second? My reasoning was that peas are "split," of course, and … well, my brain somehow decided "second" could refer to a course at a meal. Like, maybe you have salad (first) and then (split PEA) soup, second? Anyway, it worked great until the field goal clue came up. -IDAR- (at 37D: Like some missed field goals) made no sense, and once I got to WIDAR- I knew the "A" was wrong. It had to be WIDE RIGHT. But ... "PEE!?! How is that even … oh, it's the second letter in the word 'split'. Ah. Cleeeever." Thought it was "Good LAWD A'mighty!" (which still seems reasonable) at first. Had ABAFT for AREAR (52D: In the back). Had RESOD until the very end at 48D: Plant in subsequent seasons (RESOW). Only a final grid scan revealed the mistake—I had no memory of seeing DRED Scott in the puzzle … and that's because I hadn't. The clue was 66A: Tied and the answer was DREW.

Today's constructor, Mr. Birnholz, asked me just yesterday to test-solve his latest independent puzzle—a metapuzzle contest—now up at his puzzle website, "Devil Cross." I see now that it was probably a ploy to get me to plug said puzzle today, when he knew I'd be talking about his work. So I toyed with the idea of thwarting him and not mentioning his metapuzzle at all. But then that seemed petty. Plus, his puzzle is very, very clever. So you should probably do it.

See you tomorrow.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:05 AM  

    Easy-medium again for me.  ALCHEMISTS went in with no crosses so NW went quickly.  I knew OMAR and ERIK SATIE (pop culture meets classical music-good to know a bit of both) but had nsA BEFORE CIA (a malapop?) so not as smooth.  Like @Rex I too had PEa (as in split PEa soup) before PEE.  Wanted  a city for 35d so ASTRODOME took several crosses. 

    Very nice fun Sat. Evan.  Some good stuff...GAWD (tried lorD first), BOSOM, DOMINATRIX making a left turn into SEX, METH, JIMI, VEY, BLACK MAGIC... Not a bad follow up to yesterday's. 

    wreck 12:11 AM  

    Nice puzzle, Evan! It was on par for most Saturdays for me and I had to Google a bit, but that's on me.

    Apologies to @Harrison for continuing to read and comment here.

    Moly Shu 12:27 AM  

    Very nice puzzle. Same experience as @rex with apse/ern, however, that's where I bogged down. Had tie for split second, couldn't get it to work, abandoned it and finally got pee late.

    Medium-difficult for me, but tons of fun, thanks Evan

    Arcangels Crane Minicams 12:37 AM  

    Hand up for PEa, same rationalizations...
    Pretty grid
    ARCHANGELS over DOMINATRIX, pretty cool!

    My old AMICO Arcangelo has reappeared and it's everything I can do to keep myself from running off to Italia.
    Slight chuckle over Rex fretting about being petty.

    Brian B 12:37 AM  

    Birnholz's meta IS clever. Took me a good deal of noodling to work it out (assuming I got it right).

    okanaganer 1:05 AM  

    You guys had PEA and I had PIE. I thought, well you always "split" a PIE, and dessert comes "second" after dinner, so...

    One of these days I will see "Mikado weapon" and get the spelling right!

    Garth 1:10 AM  

    Despite a few blank squares in the NE, I really enjoyed this puzzle. Thought the clueing was clever but still getable. Dvorak by itself is a fun word to look at, but Dvorak crossing Erik Satie was my own private orgasmatron. The use of the word WOE in this blog should now be replaced with VEY (see 22 down).

    So often on a Saturday I will get off to a good start and then hit a wall. On this one I managed to get the very first entry (ALCHEMIST) and nearly completed the puzzle. I'm feeling my OAKS* tonight.


    Masked and Anonymous Early Bird 1:20 AM  

    Haven't worked the SatPuz yet, 'cuz...
    When I open the online Across-Lite .puz file, I get the puz by Evan Birnholz.
    When I open up the .pdf file, I get a themed puz by Adam G. Perl. Looks like it may be next Monday's?
    Confuses the M&A.
    Came here to find out for sure which one to solve.
    Gonna go with @Evan's puz.

    Back to the future,

    Unknown 1:23 AM  

    DNFed after an hour and a half, so an average Saturday, with no rabbit holes of note and fewer than the average Saturday scratch count, so I'd call it an easy-medium puzzle. My errors were at

    SNub/PuE/bRAkE/kALMI <--

    The NEMO clue is pretty obscure, although OMOO scholars may know it well.

    I just read Rex on how [Split second?] is PEE. Aww, ya got me. Wanna hear my explanation of PEE in this context? It involves post-coital call-of-nature phenomenologies. Pass on that? OK! Enjoy your breakfast! ;)

    SALMI [Game stew], SNEE [Mikado weapon], and the NEMO clue are new and smack of crosswordese.

    MTSINAI as a [Peak transmission setting of old?] is just a nasty clue. I got it from the crosses and have stared at the clue to figure it out. Nasty. TDS/SHOWDOG were both deviously clued, but I hung tough and got them, finally.

    Benko 1:37 AM  

    Thought it was harder than Rex. But I've had a few beers. Some clever clues, and I liked pretty much all the long answers. SALMI is new for me and I wasn't sure I had it right, but the crosses checked out. Not really my kind of thing, from the sound of it, as I am vegetarian.

    Unknown 1:44 AM  

    Way to go Evan! I mostly lurk and try to think of clever comments and wish I was Questina, but I thought I'd chime in today. I breezed through the NW and was thinking, geez, this is a Saturday puzzle, really? It feels like a Tuesday. But it got tougher after that. I actually ended up DNF, with BRAKE instead of ERASE and PIE instead of PEE. SALMI, KALMI, never heard of either, and sure, why not a SNIB as a Mikdado weapon?

    My rough order of solving was NW, SE,NE, SW, middle. Took me a bit if time to sort through the JOG, JIMI, DEORO, AMICI area. Had AMIES for AMICI (somehow placing Florence in France) and even had ASIA for JIMI at one point. It was definitely an aha sort of puzzle, solved one clue at a time and building on what I could figure put (except for the NW which was all a gimme). Overall about 32 minutes for my incorrect solve, which is well below my usual Saturday time.

    One other note - I don't think I've ever seen DOMINATRIX in a crossword before this week, but his week I've seen it three times (once as DOM, I believe clued as the opposite of SUB). Is the universe trying to tell me something?

    Brian B 1:52 AM  

    @Ann Heil: If the universe is trying to tell you something, You will listen and obey! *whip crack*


    Anonymous 1:54 AM  

    Relative difficulty: Easier than a $20 whore

    Being highly cultured in the medium of Snoot, the composers were inked immediately. Being fluent in several languages, including American Slang and North Eastern High Hat, I knew all those answers as well. As to the rest, well, do I need to elaborate. Surely, it would be unseemly to lower myself to such depths.

    Alas, this soft puzzle couldn't rise to my orgasmic criteria; a surprise to no sentient being. This poser who fashions himself a constructor demonstrates with utmost clarity that he lacks the requisite understanding of wordplay necessary to bring any solver to satisfactory climax. Cunning linguist? I think not.

    Whence the puzzle comes that ceases this increasing morass of inept gridology. Whence comes the puzzle.

    Signed Wrecks Barker Self-proclaimed expert on things so proclaimed.

    Oh, and the NYT can suck it and Will Shortz is worse than Pol Pot.

    Steve J 1:57 AM  

    Solid, with good long answers and minimal crosswordese. A couple clues felt a bit off - if Wikipedia is correct (and I don't know electricity well enough to say it is), a volt-ampere and a WATT are not equivalent, and in a British pub you still order a pint, which, at 20 ounces for an imperial pint, is more than a LITRE - but otherwise things were clean.

    But solid didn't translate into a lot of enjoyment for me. Not a lot in the way of fun aha moments or much that I found clever or witty. It was a Honda Accord: solid, reliable, no big flaws, but miles away from a sporty, blast-to-drive BMW or Audi. Solid puzzle construction is always welcome, but I would have liked to have seen more playfulness with this one.

    Anonymous 2:04 AM  

    Geez Mr Anonymous... call out Rex all you want, but leave your name!

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

    chefwen 2:20 AM  

    @Anon 1:54 Yeeech!

    Puzzle was not rated EASY in this household. We did manage to wrassle her down, but it was not without a struggle. Jon came through like a trooper with DOMANATRIX and ALCHEMISTS. Bless his heart, without that help I think I would have given up. Saturday is my usual "bitch about it day", we were happy to finish.

    Thanks Evan, a satisfying Saturday.

    Evan 2:23 AM  

    @Anonymous 1:54 am:

    I'm sorry that for you, the puzzle solution came too quickly.

    Evan 2:24 AM  

    Here’s the info on the original submission:

    * Will left 28 of my clues (38.9% of all clues) basically intact.
    * He made minor revisions to 9 clues (12.5%), meaning he kept the intended meaning of the clue as well as most of the same words but changed their order or added/deleted others.
    * He made major revisions to the remaining 35 clues (48.6%), meaning he changed most or all of the words and basically went for a completely different angle on the clue.

    My five favorite original clues which the NYT changed:

    * BASE = "All your ___ are belong to us" (early 2000s internet meme)
    (knew I had no shot with that one, went for it anyway)
    * SLIME = Substance of Nickelodeon programs
    * ERASE = Correct, in a way
    * GAWD = "Oh My ___!!!" (1987 Flaming Lips album)
    * LIP READER = One not using sound judgment?

    My five favorite original clues which they did not change (or didn't change much) are for the following answers:

    * BLACK MAGIC – even with the question mark tipping people off, I wonder if anyone guessed GANGSTA RAP?
    * OMAR – it’s totally true, too. Obama said as much on Bill Simmons’s show.


    Evan 2:25 AM  

    My five favorite revised clues from the NYT are for the following:

    * MT. SINAI
    * ATOMS – I think this one is awesome
    * ERNS – not my favorite answer, but their clue is good
    * LIP READER – one of those situations where I really like both my clue and the editor’s

    My original clue which I desperately want to become the new norm if a constructor is going to use this entry:

    ARR = Sound often heard on a 15-Across (PIRATE SHIP)
    (Because two R’s make just as much sense to me as three or four of them)

    My least favorite answers:

    * I SHOT – could have done the old bandleader ISHAM Jones, but I figured at the time that the partial was the lesser evil
    * RESOW
    * DE ORO
    * AREAR
    * SALMI – with apologies to the old actor Albert Salmi. I also submitted an alternate clue here: [Ragout which becomes a deli meat when A is added to it]

    Thanks for the comments, all, and Rex for the Devil Cross shout-out.

    Garth 2:31 AM  

    @Evan: I didn't want to dignify @Anonymous's post with a response, but you nailed it.

    Anonymous 2:40 AM  

    I didn't understand ERASE for Get off the drive. It this a golf reference?

    George Barany 2:41 AM  

    So nice to get @Evan's take on the puzzle. ALCHEMISTS were a great 1-Across, especially during a week where so many are focused on the gold. Fair to say that the charlatans from the middle ages were practicing their own form of BLACK_MAGIC. It was delightful to watch ERIK_SATIE (full name) and DVORAK cross at the K, and the "Rusalka" clue for the latter brought to mind this hauntingly beautiful aria. Nicely done!

    old guy 3:17 AM  

    @anonymous 2:40

    Think computer hard drive.

    Anonymous 4:09 AM  

    Evan -- I don't think Anonymous 1:54 was remarking in the slightest about your puzzle.

    Su Do Nim

    Questinia 5:29 AM  

    Evan, not only did your puzzle's solution come too quickly the whole time I was solving it I was thinking of Patrick Berry.

    Danp 5:45 AM  

    Not easy at all for me, but the only real disappointment was that "Aid in fast networking" was not SPEEDDATE.

    AliasZ 6:33 AM  

    Geez, the water was just fine in this here pool until Wrecks Barker PEEd into it. I hate it how a BAD EGG like him can ACT UP and make the civil discourse COME UNDONE here. WHAT A SHAME. Thank GAWD for good SAMARITAN @George Bárány and his ravishing Song to the Moon offering. That RENÉE Fleming surely ISHOT.

    @Rex, that would be two banks of 9-stacks and two of 10-stacks, plus two more 10s across the middle. Not that it matters.

    @Evan, excellent post-Berry puzz this, no let-down at all. I'd rate it AAA-. All longs were stellar. I especially liked ALCHEMISTS and its pair, BASE metals, neatly tied in with DEORO which the PIRATE SHIP denizens loot and get away with.

    I also enjoyed the CIA/NSA and the ETA/RHO pairs, HAYSTACKS, and who doesn't love a DOMINATRIX? LIPREADER reminds me of a rather off-color joke, but I'll spare you.

    Wouldn't you call babysitting a brat a RISK SIT?

    In order to further improve the atmosphere, I was going to select one of the Gymnopédies or Gnossiennes by ERIK SATIE, but I did that fairly recently, so let me instead offer two different musical selections. The first one is St. Michael the ARCHANGEL from Vetrate di chiesa (Church Windows) by Ottorino Respighi. The second, String Quartet No. 12 in F major, Op. 96 subtitled "AMERICAN" by Antonin DVOŘÁK. The YouTube poster of this piece kindly provided links to each of the four movements within this 24-min. work, although I highly recommend that you listen to the entirety of this marvelous performance by the Guarneri Quartet.

    Now off to see what Stan Newman has in store for us. Enjoy your weekend.

    Anonymous 6:36 AM  

    @Questina, what a lovely compliment to @Evan, mentioning him in the same sentence as puzzledom's gold medalist @Patrick Berry.

    I try hard to limit myself to a handful of posts per week (let alone more than one per day), but can't resist sharing our Olympic Hockey Shticks, which may exhilarate or console depending on which side of the border you are from.

    George Barany 6:39 AM  

    No intention for above to be anonymous, I got bogged down with trying to prove my humanity.

    Loren Muse Smith 7:12 AM  

    Evan – congrats! I'm thrilled when One of Our Own succeeds!

    Agree - clue for ATOMS – "awesome" because at first glance it's not plural. Love those. We need a name for that kind of clue. M&P's? Masked and Plural?

    Ok – I'll come clean. Rex said, "any constant solver's first thought, is going to be APSES." Not this apsehole. I went with "naves." Then a partialplop, DOMEs."

    Goes without saying – love, love, love the clue for PEE.

    @Acme – good call on ARCHANGELS over DOMINATRIX. SEX is down there participating, too.

    @Questinia – you get the prize of the day with your Berry comment.

    I always like it when a SHOW DOG is not so "well-trained" that he ACTs UP a bit. Remember when that Best-in-Show, Newfie, Josh, barked at the crowd?


    (My daughter and I had met Josh the year before he won, not to name-drop or anything. I will state a fact: Newfoundlands are the finest creatures on the planet. Period.)

    I keep seeing IS HOT. As in George Clooney.

    Some LIPREADERs are better than others.

    original one

    another one

    I had no idea you could buy a LITRE of beer. COME UNDONE. ACT UP. PEE. I have this story. . .

    Ok – I'll tell you the title of my masters thesis: A Government and Binding Analysis of Genuine Polish Equative Constuctions. I tell you trick you into thinking I'm wicked smart – Har – but mainly to share my bewilderment in the spelling of Polish DVORAK. Where the heck is that zh????

    Evan – I'm so happy for your Saturday themeless debut. You have to be one of the rising stars Will was talking about.

    (Oh – and @jberg – I forgot to ask you about this yesterday - It was I whom the EMIRS pelted with BAD EGGS. It's I, right? Even though it feels so directobjectishesque?

    Susierah 7:15 AM  

    My first time posting. My first ever completed Saturday, with no errors and no googles. I am so excited. Oh, the things I have learned in 2 years of solving!!!

    Elle54 7:17 AM  

    Great job Evan! Thanks!

    chefbea 7:39 AM  

    Haven't read any comments….Printed out the puzzle and it is way too easy…then noticed the date…it's Mondays Puzzle. So went to another site to print it out…same thing. What happened337 22634846

    chefbea 7:40 AM  

    why did the captcha get printed in my comment???

    Glimmerglass 8:02 AM  

    I agree with Rex's analysis, but I had a slightly different experience. I fell victim to overthinking. I looked 1D and 19A and thought "apse and erns, but WAIT IT's SATURDAY, that can't be right." I thought 2D must be some rebus variation of "yard of ale," which means erns can't be right. In other words the NW was so easy it was hard.

    jberg 8:17 AM  

    2Loren -- looks right to me, but sheesh, am I a grammar guru now just because I'm fussy about my gerunds? I do know DVORAK was Czech, though, which may explain your spelling puzzlement.

    Like many, I didn't understand PEE until I got here, and had the malapop NSA at 32A. Also Oxen before OAKS, BADdie before BAD EGG, and (uniquely, perhaps) DOg sledder before DOMINATRIX. It all came right in the end, though. Lovely puzzle!

    @Evan, I would have loved that clue for BASE, which would have been a gimme for many, but an absolute stumper for many more -- but the cross reference is a plus, for me.

    Keep up the good work!

    Anonymous 8:25 AM  

    Something is rotten in Denmark. When I open the puzzle on line I get Monday's puzzle.

    MetaRex 8:38 AM  

    What's the term for a wrong answer that gives you a correct letter for another answer? I had one today-- OFF-TARGET for the field goal clue, which gave me ARCHANGELS. I guess ya could call such a usefully wrong answer a WIDE RIGHT.

    Yay to @Evan for placing his seed entry in the bottom! And another yay to him for a nicely done puzz.

    Unknown 8:48 AM  

    Great puzzle, Evan! Really enjoyed this one.

    Interesting choice for Rex to use the "They'll Need a Crane" video by They Might Be Giants.

    One of the Giants, John Flansburgh, has spoken about how they used extras to play the drums and bass for the video. Of the bass player he says:

    "He wrote crossword puzzles, which was really strange, and actually had sold a bunch of them to the New York Times, which I thought seemed like a dream job."

    Any idea who that might have been?

    Mohair Sam 8:52 AM  

    @Evan - thanks for the inside poop, it makes the crossword experience more fun. And I want to second someone who earlier reminded you that Anon 1:54's post had absolutely nothing to do with your puzzle.

    Anyhow . . .
    Easy but enjoyable Saturday here. How easy? Got me in some trouble with spouse because I finished before she got downstairs, that's a Saturday first.

    ALCHEMISTS led quickly to APSES so NW fell. Knew that Stansted was in ESSEX so hmmmm, 10 letter whip-wielder ending in "X"? And SE was done. Did struggle in NE because didn't know ERIKSATIE and wrongly guessed that Bond drank a Hurricane in Dr. No.

    Agree with @Steve J that a litre would be a small beer in the UK. But beyond that pick, pick, pick complaint I thought it was a nicely clued puzzle with little junk fill - just wish it had offered more resdistance.

    Mohair Sam 8:54 AM  

    Last word should be "resistance" - those red lines mean spelling error stupid!

    jburgs 8:56 AM  

    Fun puzzle. Much easier than yesterday's which I enjoyed more. I got NEMO from crosses. For others who like me who were not sure of the connection between the clue and answer, I googled and found that Ned Land was a Canadian(probably a Newfie) master harpooner captured by Captain NEMO in his novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
    I believe he was an ex NHL enforcer who's spear was fashioned from a hockey stick.

    VaBeach puzzler 9:05 AM  

    @MetaRex -- you're thinking of "malapop."
    I made the puzzle a good deal harder by entering LENSCAP for 43D, then "correcting" it to HANDCAM before finally getting the MINI...
    Really enjoyed the puzzle, Evan, and your comments!

    Acme 9:10 AM  

    @lms. Don't know if you're really asking or just 'musing', but the thingie over the r in Czech is pronounced like a shhh, slightly trilled.

    Rubinstein non-knowers might have paused at ERIkSATIE crossing DVORAk at the K.

    Your other sentence would sound better all around maybe if you just said "it was me who was pelted... " but then again it might come true!

    You crack me up (whip sound here)

    Ludyjynn 9:11 AM  

    What a strange the entire West side easily, followed by the NE Medium, but then, oy VEY, the SE was a major Challenge. Finally, worked through it w/ SNEE, but still think PEE is absurd. Will have to commit SALMI to memory (think salami) as it is a new word to me.

    All said, a good start to what looks to be a beautiful, sunny Sat. in the mid-Atlantic.

    Anonymous 9:13 AM  

    The pdf is Monday's puzzle.

    Anonymous 9:36 AM  

    When referring to DC, volts multiplied by amperes are always watts. When referring to AC, only the "real" component is watts. There are other components of AC power that are volts multiplied by amperes but are not called watts to make the distinction clear ( See , which I know is correct because I teach electronics.)

    For those of you who had/remember physics, this is similar to the fact that newtons multiplied by meters can be called joules when referring to work, but are just called newton-meters when referring to torque.

    CBCD 9:36 AM  

    At first glance at 53 down, for GAME STEW, where I already had _A__I, I thought '"BAMBI -that's awful!"

    Unknown 9:40 AM  

    @AliasZ Your mudical links are a highlight of this site. Many thanks for the Dvorak. Underscores just how modern Beethoven's late quartets were, or how grounded in the masters Dvorak was.

    @Questinia. Yowee. I've changed my mental picture of you to tough-as-nails litigator.

    @SteveJ 1 Volt-Ampere is indeed exactly 1 Watt as all units involved are conventional SI.

    Acme 9:44 AM  

    ha! :)

    Doing some internet sleuthing, bass player made puzzles for Daily News... Will still keep looking. But stumbling on some other interesting sites meanwhile!

    Sir Hillary 9:51 AM  

    Great puzzle, Evan! And thanks so much for giving us the inside view of the process.

    The stacks of 9s and 10s really are superb.

    I'm a James Bond fan but haven't read "Casino Royale" in a long time, so of course I was thinking vodka martini. Americanos are yummy, although I prefer a Negroni -- a bit stronger.

    Acme 9:57 AM  

    Ok, last comment
    Bass player in video appears to be Tony Maimone of Pere Ubu... Who made crosswords for Daily News and lives in Brooklyn so perhaps he'll appear at the ACPT some time!

    As for folks dropping off, here is an interesting chart of authors by years:
    Make your own conclusions... It just shows nyt it doesn't show what folks have published elsewhere or if they've died, had kids and got busy, or whatever.

    chefbea 9:58 AM  

    can someone please send me Evan's puzzle ?? And I'll wait until Monday to finish the one I started

    ArtO 10:03 AM  

    Always a thrill when I complete a Saturday puzzle with no Googling or help from my dearly beloved (almost 51 years!). So, of course it was "easy."

    As for @anonymous 1:54 I can only assume it was meant to be totally over the top. If not, more's the pity.

    In any event, many thanks Evan for a fun, beautifully constructed puzzle.

    Carola 10:09 AM  

    Congratulations on your Saturday puzzle, Evan! It gets a AAA-rating from me on the pleasure scale. It DREW me in immediately with ALCHEMISTS crossing HAYSTACKS, and the grid treats just kept on coming - COME UNDONE, BLACK MAGIC, ARCHANGELS..., along with the nice echoes and pairings others have mentioned. I also liked OLAY over MAGIC, although the promise has yet to come true in my case.

    Z 10:11 AM  

    Hand up for SALMI being a VEY. I didn't understand ERASE until post solve, so I was a little worried that I might have finished with a variant solution. Just one write-over, Oxen before OAKS. I avoided the PEE confusion by seeing WIDE RIGHT first. Easy (for a Saturday).

    Happy Pencil 10:17 AM  

    Like @Susierah, I’m a long-time lurker and first-time poster. And also like @Susierah, I had a rare Google-free Saturday solve this morning. That’s a sign, to me, not so much of an “easy” puzzle, but of a well-constructed one that didn’t rely too heavily on esoteric things only the most ardent solver would know. So thanks, @Evan, for an enjoyable solve (and loved your clue for “lip reader”!).

    Since I’m here, I’ll wade in to the Great Rex Debate and say that I have no problem with commenters calling him out for what they see as his occasionally biased remarks. Rex is free to post whatever he likes, but so are those who read his blog. In fact, writing as someone who reads this blog every day, I come here as much for the comments as I do for the main post. I have come to feel that I know many of the people who post here regularly—@acme, @LMS, @jae, @Steve J, @wreck, @Garth, and too many more to mention—and if they weren’t commenting, I probably wouldn’t be reading. I don’t always agree with their remarks, just as I don’t always agree with Rex’s, but I always enjoy seeing their viewpoint. Wouldn’t this be a boring blog to read if everyone just fawned over Rex and agreed with everything he wrote? I doubt even he would enjoy that!

    Having said all that, I agree strongly with Martin Ashwood-Smith that people who take Rex to task should have the nerve to sign their names.

    Happy Pencil 10:22 AM  

    Oh, and to @cascokid san, I really admire your sticktoitiveness. I think I'm about a year ahead of you in solving experience, but your posts have made me tough it out longer on Fridays and Saturdays, and I have finished more puzzles without cheats as a result. So thank you!

    Steve J 10:24 AM  

    Stupid mistake in my comment last night: a LITRE is of course more voluminous than a pint (imperial or American). I had in my head the half-liter pour that's common for beer on much of the Continent.

    AliasZ 10:25 AM  

    @Questinia, re. your "Cropland" remark from yesterday: I had no idea my innocent tomfoolery all those weeks ago had such lasting effect. I hope you allow me to live it down.

    Benko 10:35 AM  

    Oh, see @Steve corrected himself. I was confused--a LITRE is 33 ounces, give or take. Pretty big beer. They serve them that big in Munich, or you can even go for the 2 liter size.
    Yes, I'm pretty sure that Anonymous post getting people riled up was intended as all-out satire.
    @acme--Wow, Pere Ubu! I'm impressed. One of the best bands of the 70s, and I had no idea their bassist made crosswords!

    Steve J 10:44 AM  

    @jeffurrynpl: Thanks for the explanation on WATT and volt-ampere. The Wikipedia article I looked up was the one for volt-ampere, where it said they don't have the same meaning (it also said the volt-ampere really is only relevant to AC). Sounds like the one I looked up wasn't really accurate. Such is the risk with wiki (and the risk with nitpicking).

    Nancy 10:48 AM  

    Every clue and answer was interesting and just challenging enough. While my greatest preference is for trick puzzles, as non-trick puzzles go, I enjoyed this one more than most.

    GILL I. 11:05 AM  

    What a great puzzle Evan. I'd say this was DEORO.
    My first Sat. in a long time sans Google other than to check some of my answers i.e. ASTRODOME and SALMI.
    How clever of SATIE to title himself a gymnopediste...I believe it refers to naked dancing girls.
    Funny comments today. @Questinia I was just sipping my coffee when I read your post - at least it didn't come out of my nose.
    Welcome to @Ann Heil @Susierah and @Happy Pencil...The more the merrier I say.

    RnRGhost57 11:40 AM  

    The TMBG bass player who wrote crossword puzzles is indeed Tony Maimone

    Bob Kerfuffle 11:56 AM  

    @jburgs - Thank you for the explanation of NEMO. It was a total mystery to me until I read your comment.

    And congrats on a Saturday puzz, Evan!

    Masked and Anonymo1Us 11:57 AM  

    @Evan... Mighty impressed with how smooth and fresh all the long fill stuff came out. themelessthUmbsUp.

    ISHOT = "Feels the heat". Or what @muse said, subbing Scarlet Jo in for George C.

    NW clues give away territory a mite too quickly, for SatPuz difficulty. First impression needs to be more sadistic, thereabouts.

    fave weeject: AAA. Inspires M&A for a new puzlet theme...

    Thanx for the actUp bone. And for the good clean fun.


    Mohair Sam 12:04 PM  

    Embarrassed here, same error as @Steve J on the Litre, and for the same reason. Thanks for correction.

    Apparently no Buffalo Bills fans do the NYT Crossword - I've been waiting all morning for an Upstate New York groan about Scott Norwood's Super Bowl tragedy: WIDERIGHT (a gimme even for this Eagle's fan).

    M and Also 12:21 PM  

    Also, what @Q said, subbing in Scarlet Jo for Patrick Berry. What can I say... Some stacks are more interestin than others. har

    @Bob K: nice solve time, yesterday.

    Wonder if the Shortzmeister would change any clues in M&A puzs... Wonder if he'd need seasick pills, to get thru one...

    Masked and fairly singular,

    mac 12:40 PM  

    Congratulations, Even, very enjoyable puzzle!

    It's a good puzzle and blog day, what a crowd.

    I had "good dog" at 8D for a while, and wanted black book at 33D. Otherwise, the NW coast looked a little empty until I figured CIA, then it filled up fast. I found the clue for bosom a little odd.

    Anonymous 12:44 PM  

    definite medium for me. Congrats to you first-time Saturday fishers! This one had me thinking the whole time. Other than JIMI and for some reason PIRATESHIP, not a single gimme.

    also thanks Evan for the interesting inside info. I would have loved "All your ____________ are belong to us." WHATASHAME it got edited out.


    dk 12:46 PM  

    Recycling the wood puzzle from the other day and noted the theme answers were stacked like cord wood: nice.

    OOO (3 Moons) Draw for DREW had me till the end. Wanted a city instead of a place for the elephant party so i missed the DEORO amd took home the..... First loser award.

    OISK 12:52 PM  

    Really enjoyed this one, thanks, Evan. Also enjoyed reading about the editing. Just saw Rusalka last week at the Met! The temperature here in Brooklyn having climbed to a relatively balmy 48 F, I solved the puzzle while sitting on my back porch, smoking my pipe, a pleasure denied to me over the past month. The clue for "Pee" is clever, but I didn't get it until I came here, although I knew it was correct from the crosses. Enjoyed having Erik cross Dvorak, makes up for the references to The Wire, and Swing Shift, which were meaningless to me. I would have preferred "Cleveland's Vizquel" for "Omar," but many here object to the overuse of sports figures. Really fine, interesting puzzle! Back outside now to work on the Double Crostic...

    chefbea 1:03 PM  

    @Z thanks for the puzzle. will get to it after lunch

    Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari 1:08 PM  

    @mac - admittedly, "Near to one's heart" sounds a bit strange for BOSOM if taken strictly as a matter of anatomy, but there is the term "Bosom Buddies" where this sounds much more natural.

    Anonymous 1:16 PM  

    WHERE did you get saturday's puzzle? In the NYT download list I think that monday's is now appearing for Saturday.

    Anonymous 1:17 PM  

    Ahh PDF is screwed up, Across lite is fine.

    schmuzz 1:56 PM  

    thanks, evan, for an enjoyable puzzle... ERASE was the last to fall and made me laugh

    .....i'm hanging tough with friday and saturday puzzles and i need to get over this but i refuse to

    Anonymous 2:03 PM  

    The much discussed answer at 46 across is easier to get if one reads the clue as written. The clue is not split second, but rather it is "split second?" One useful solving tip I know of is that clues that end in a "?" often, though not always indicate what I think of as letter play within the clue. So "split second" was a quick solve for me as "pee". It helps to read the clues in their entirety.

    Nancy in PA 2:31 PM  

    I also saw Rusalka at the Met not long ago. And in the last two weeks, I read Bel Canto, in which the Song to the Moon aria plays a part, and Elena, in which the title character is called a rusalka. And the Universe Does Align. Didn't know SALMI but I do know the longer version--Salmagundi is the name of the Colgate U yearbook and I have my dad's 1944 issue. I loved the puzzle though it was on the easy side for a Saturday.

    Lewis 2:32 PM  

    Q - classic

    Evan, terrific puzzle. As opposed to Rex, I found the clues to be a lot of fun, with some aha's and smiles. I don't have the energy to cross reference your posts to figure out which of these were yours and which were Will's, but I especially liked the clues for:

    ATOMS (This clue did not need "and very important")

    Nothing to be ashamed of here, and a lot to be proud of. Thanks for the puzle!

    Numinous 3:17 PM  

    @Happy Pencil
    @Ann Heil
    Welcome! Please chime in more often, as was said earlier, "The more the merrier!" Also, consider setting up a Blogger profile. It's easy and I'm sure the regulars here will give your comments more creedence. I would also give similar advice to Anonymous posters. Many anonymous posts have considerable marit but when I can't associate them with a known persona, they tend to get lost in the mists.

    I feel that I'm a newbie here. My very first post was anonymous. My second, I used my chatroom nick of the past 17 years. I realized that if I wanted to be part of this community, I needed to join up. So I did and I'm glad, I have fun here and I've even startet to blog. I'm sure you would enjoy yourselves too.

    To all the regular commenters, I really appreciate y'all, every one of you. I often don't agree with the sentiments expressed but I value them all. At worst, they point out the vast differences in perception we experience. Psych students should study blogs like this. When I returned to college in my 50s, I was a Communication Studies major and I've realized that communication and perception are what crosswords are all about. Ths blog is a micorcosm illustrating the successes and failures of communication.

    Now ont to business: the puzzle. For me, Evan's and Patrick's puzzles fall into the same category. The not obscure and not arcane category. Every clue could be solved without recourse to deep research.

    I couldn't believe DOMINATRIX when it occurred to me but (whip) cracked up when it seemed to fit. APSE occurred to me instantly but I didn't believe it could be that easy. l got most of the solutions but absolutely had to check the crosses before entering them. One thing I really liked was all the answers that ended in "i". They really had me guessing. SALMI had me fooled, I was considering mALMI but ERASE set me straight once I got that one; actually that was the last to fall. I loved DVORAK butting into ERIK SATIE. They both occupy the same niche in my appreciation of relatively recent music.

    @Annonymous 2:03, I'd say maybe 10% of "?" clues are what I'd refer to as meta clues, clues that refer to themselves. They always provide a rather cool AHA for me.

    @George Barany, Thanks for the link to Renee Fleming but I prefer Anna Netrebko's version. But you did send me off on a nice Youtube jaunt through a whole series of arias by beautiful soprani and mezzi soprani (ironically while the Met Opera Show is on my radio). You might check out Anna Netrebko's and Elina Garanca's Flour Duet. It always moistens my eye.

    Thanks Evan for making my Saturday. I must say I also appreciate your Devil Cross website. Keep up the good work.

    Sandy K 3:47 PM  

    Excellent puzzle @Evan! You get the medal DE ORO!

    Lots of cute clues and zippy answers.
    Loved DVORAK (my countryman) crossing ERIK SATIE, ALCHEMISTS, BLACK MAGIC, ARCHANGELS, and DOMINATRIX separated by WHAT A SHAME!

    I recall a song "She's COME UNDONE" and Oprah had a book club pick with the same name...

    A very satisfying and fun solve! Thanks, Evan!

    joho 3:50 PM  

    Late to the party but had to chime in even though it's all been said. Evan, congratulations on a terrific Saturday puzzle! It was easier than most but I think that's in part to how smooth it was. And fair. No wonder the comparison to Patrick Berry came up @Questinia. And that's no small compliment!

    GILL I. 4:11 PM  

    Evan...I just finished your "Tech Revolution" puzzle. I LOVED IT!!!
    Folks, go download it - it has a little something for everyone (I think) and it's clever and fun.
    Favorite clue...Small No. 2 say...Hah, ya fooled me once.

    retired_chemist 4:29 PM  

    Topnotch puzzle, and I say that in full cognizance of yesterday's Patrick Berry. This is just as good. As @numinous said, no need for arcana - just thought. Full of devious yet accurate clues, which always makes the solve fun.

    Invented a Spanish word for 47A - orosO. No such word, it turns out.

    Also wanted lAWD for 56D, until BAD EGG made GAWD clear.

    Had arlo first @ 45A, which was quickly fixed. SALMI - WTF, but the crosses were fair.

    Thanks, Mr. Birnholz. More please.

    Size 4:56 PM  

    Really liked DOMINATRIX crossing (ES)SEX... made me giggle.

    Dirigonzo 5:25 PM  

    I was feeling pretty discouraged by the time I arrived in the SW corner with a scant few answers filled in and actually considered calling it quits (at least for today) when some combination of crosses let me see DOMINATRIX - no way was I going to give up with her in the grid! Ultimately, every corner of the grid had a seed answer that let me fill in the whole section - that's four epiphanous moments in one puzzle! WHATASHAME it would have been if I had quit early and missed all that fun. Monet painted HAYSTACKS?

    Clark 5:43 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Clark 5:46 PM  

    This is the smoothest Saturday puzzle I've ever come across. I love smoothness in a puzzle. Congrats, @Evan.

    Haystacks in the Snow.

    Erasures Inevitable 5:47 PM  

    I must agree with @Gill. I enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit, but I was REALLY impressed with the Tech Revolution meta-puzzle. It's the first time I've ever done one, and it took me a good 10 minutes after solving it to figure out what the second "solution" was. I'll have to start looking for more meta-puzzles now because that one was pretty damn clever. Well done, Evan.

    sanfranman59 6:05 PM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 6:12, 6:15, 0.99, 44%, Medium
    Tue 11:44, 8:18, 1.41, 100%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 219 Tuesdays)
    Wed 10:21, 10:21, 1.00, 50%, Medium
    Thu 12:27, 18:35, 0.67, 4%, Easy (9th lowest ratio of 217 Thursdays)
    Fri 21:03, 20:56, 1.01, 54%, Medium
    Sat 20:12, 28:20, 0.71, 5%, Easy (10th lowest ratio of 204 Saturdays)

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:15, 3:59, 1.07, 80%, Challenging
    Tue 6:46, 5:14, 1.29, 98%, Challenging (5th highest ratio of 219 Tuesdays)
    Wed 6:22, 6:19, 1.01, 54%, Medium
    Thu 7:39, 10:36, 0.72, 6%, Easy (12th lowest ratio of 217 Thursdays)
    Fri 12:21, 12:06, 1.02, 53%, Medium
    Sat 13:49, 18:32, 0.75, 7%, Easy

    Unknown 7:10 PM  

    Did puzzle late today...just started to read through comments and saw @acme pointed out what I thought was the most fun aspect of this puzzle: ARCH ANGELS over DOMINATRIX. WHAT A SHAME, indeed!

    Great job, Evan!

    Alby 8:00 PM  

    Goldurn SNEE. Never having seen "The Mikado," I had hoped the answer would at least be remotely Japanese. And I had "PIE" for "split second," thinking of "second" as a Britishism for dessert. (Reading too much into clues, I guess.)

    OISK 10:12 PM  

    Oh never shall I forget the cry, or the shriek that shrieked he
    As I gnashed my teeth, when from its sheath I drew my snicker-snee

    spacecraft 11:18 AM  

    I had PEE in via the downs, and had several WOE moments pondering that clue before it hit me. And OFL says the clues "didn't seem to have any teeth?" Me, I'd say they could rival a shark's, as they should on a Saturday. They were enough to move it out of "easy" and into medium, for me.

    SALMI is not in my new (4th edition) Scrabble dictionary, so our esteemed colleague maybe shoulda gone with old Albert. It's always exciting to see one of us make it--and make it in a big way, earning praise from the man behind the curtain (to whom we should pay no attention). Makes me think--if only for a moment--could I really do this? The moment, folks, is short. No way.

    I concur with the Wizard's assessment, giving thumbs up and only wishing that TIM could have been clued non-punk. What's the matter with Tiny, or Burton, or even Tebow? OK, strike that last.

    Can we please, PLEASE get the syndi-dates aligned before tomorrow? It's SO hard to track down the proper Sunday; you can't just add one to Saturday's because for some reason the Sunday ones are on a different timetable.

    Four nines. I raise!

    Unknown 2:25 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Unknown 2:28 PM  

    @ Spacey: try googling "Rex Parker [puzzle name]". Works for me every time

    Solving in Seattle 4:23 PM  

    Gotta run but I had to let Evan B. (and Will) know that I had zero let down from yesterday's PB. I agree with @Gill IP that this one was DEORO!

    Kentucky hurt my bracket last night.

    Two pair - fold to Spacy.

    DMG 4:39 PM  

    Enjoyed this one, lots of fun words. But, couldn't finish the SE corner. My expression is Gosh A'mighty, but that was ruined by DOMINATRIX. Realized my Olympicgods wasn't goin to hold up, but decided enough is enough, and gave up without the two long crosses. Did recall SALMI from the Maleska days. Old brain isn't completely gone!

    My four 6's bow to @spacecraft's 9's!

    rain forest 5:00 PM  

    Let me redundantly add my tautalogical kudos to Evan for this fine puzzle. I was able to get ALCHEMISTS because I originally thought 1D was 'atria'. Fixed it and smoothly, almost Berry-like, went through the rest.

    I don't know if the number of clues altered by Will Shortz is always as many as in this puzzle, but it does give some insight as to how hard he must work to establish the consistency which I think the NYT puzzle presents. Does he have staff who share the workload?

    Like @Spacey, I "think" I could construct a puzzle, but I don't possess the necessary discipline required--and probably not the talent.

    Anonymous 11:35 AM  

    Memo to Steve J (above)--no, an Imperial pint is NOT bigger than a litre--a litre is approximately 32 oz.

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