Principal port of Syria / SAT 4-19-14 / Mezzo-soprano Regina / Big Chicago-based franchiser / Either of two holy emperors

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Constructor: Stu Ockman

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: HAME (51A: Part of a plowing harness) —
One of the two curved wooden or metal pieces of a harness that fits around the neck of a draft animal and to which the traces are attached.

[Middle English, from Middle Dutch; see tkei- in Indo-European roots.] (
• • •

I guess the way you make these things more palatable is by making them easy. This is a perfectly ordinary, perfectly forgettable 15-stack puzzle. None of the 15s, except perhaps THE GOBLET OF FIRE, holds any real interest, and even that one is at least technically inaccurate, since ever installment of both the book and movie "series" begins "Harry Potter and …" But since it's the only thing I really enjoyed today, I'll let that slide. There is pretty heavy reliance on unusual / obscure words / names. RESNIK is new to me (last letter in the grid was that "S") (46D: Mezzo-soprano Regina). What the hell is a HAME?!?! (51A: Part of a plowing harness) Yeesh. Greta SCACCHI I managed to dredge up from somewhere, but lord knows where (35D: Greta of "The Red Violin") (What is "The Red Violin"? Nevermind; I'll google it) . Then there's the truly terrible crossing of LATAKIA and KENAI (26A: Alaska's ___ Fjords National Park). I just guessed. Must've seen KENAI somewhere before, 'cause I guessed right, but I know I've never seen or heard of LATAKIA. Once Again, cluing here involves all the creativity of reading the first line of a wikipedia entry (very first words of that entry: "Latakia […] is the principal port city of Syria […]"). And of course it's misleading, as "principal" makes you think "I should've heard of this," while in reality, LATAKIA is just Syria's 5th largest city, behind Aleppo, Damascus, Homs and Hama (only three of which you've heard of, and only two of which you'd heard of before the atrocities started there). As for KENAI (26A: Alaska's ___ Fjords National Park)  … I think my reasoning was "DENALI ends in 'I', so try that." because otherwise I honestly don't know.

Finished in under 8, and that's *with* taking a break to see if I guessed LATAKIA correctly. Also, I would've been faster if I'd been able to recall MIA SARA's name (40D: Actress in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off")—that should've been a gimme; I know damn well who she is. That movie is a Gen-X sweet spot, and I'm ashamed to have failed to ace this clue. I blame, in part, MIA HAMM. Also couldn't call up SNCC (35A: March on Washington grp.)—hmmm, I think I was confusing it with something else, something with "Christian" and "Southern" in the name, because I don't recall ever hearing of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (despite having written SNCC into grids before). Aha! Southern Christian Leadership Conference. That's what I was thinking of. Phew. I feel mildly better now.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


evil doug 7:46 AM  

I say, "It takes all kinds. "


Danp 7:59 AM  

I thought The Red Violin was at least nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Guess not. Great movie, though. That said, nobody should be expected to have heard of any of its actors.

Leon 8:03 AM  

John Cleese as Robin Hood in Time Bandits was hilarious.

jberg 8:13 AM  

Should have been easy for me, since I got ONE AFTER ANOTHER right off the bat, and IT TAKES ALL SORTS amost as quickly. But I got hung up on SCLC at 35A, and even more hung up on Solemn for SOMBER. "You And" seemed to make sense, I had no idea about MIA, and enJEWEL, while not a word, seemed right for this puzzle. But once I got MAJA, NUEVA could no longer be resisted, that gave me SIEVE, and SOMBER fell into place.

I vaguely remembered HAME, which goes nicely with DIRK. But OSMOSES? Even if it's a word, it refers to osmosis, which is not the same as seepage. (I'll wait for @retired_chemist to explain what it is, I hope.)

On the other hand, gotta like the EIS, ICE, ICI group!

chefbea 8:26 AM  

The 15 stacks weren't too difficult but some of the shorter stuff EGGPAN????? who ever says that????

I too noticed and liked the eis,ice,ici

Now to make another Peep cake for tomorrow!!!

George Barany 8:26 AM  

Thanks for your review, Rex. It sent me back to the internet to refresh faded memories about SNCC. Of course, the 1963 March on Washington was a watershed moment in the civil rights movement, something an 8-year old could not appreciate in real time. However, as I reflect on the organizing groups, NAACP, CORE, and SCLC stand out more in the alphabet soup of my mind than SNCC. By the time, SNCC came onto my radar screen, it had been taken over by someone named Stokley Carmichael, some of whose rhetoric was a far cry from the "nonviolence" part of the acronym. I prefer to remember John Lewis, Roy Wilkins, Bayard Rustin, A. Phillip Randolph, and of course, Martin Luther King, Jr., as the great leaders against the injustices of the '50s and '60s.

retired_chemist 8:35 AM  

Easy-medium here. Enjoyed it. I am still slow at getting 15s and these six were at a good level of difficulty for me, i.e. not too.

Solving them by partials, however, had its traps. 16A at one point ended in O??ER, which cried out to be OrdER. Wasn't.

22D was a guess - monet got me mace for 22A. Was in the ballpark for 19A with a named DWARF - happy or Dopey came to mind, but was late seeing the actual answer. Thus an incorrect time-sink of a mess in the center. Fixed by a partial, guessing 7D ended in -ING, which broke the center open, That gave me DIRK, and then KENAI and LATAKIA straightened me out. The former I know. Isn't there a LATAKIA coffee somewhere, say on an old Starbucks menu?

Been to BASEL twice - nice city.

OSMOSES to a chemist is not synonymous with "Seeps." The former requires a semipermeable membrane, the latter doesn't. It's' that simple.

Roman emperors named LOTHAIR? Never would have guessed. Needed all 7 crosses.

Thanks, Mr. Ockman. Good Saturday puzzle.

Dorothy Biggs 8:38 AM  

I agree with @evil doug: "It takes all kinds" is how I know that phrase..."It takes all kinds to make a world" is how I think it goes. According to Google, nearly twice as many "kinds" as "sorts" hits.

Total natick with the LATAKIA/KENAI crossing, as well as the MAJA/NUEVA crossing. I had MAJo/NUEVo...because masculine!

LOTHAIR, SCACCHI (!), RESNIK were kind of brutal. I guessed on all of them...though the crossing of SNCC/SCACCHI was dubious.

BTW, kudos to the Italians for managing to cram so many C's into someone's surname.

dls 8:40 AM  

Au contraire, I've heard of all four of the larger cities in Syria, only three of them before the atrocities started there, and only two of them before the previous round of atrocities there.

Well, OK, I'd heard of none of them before the last round of atrocities there since I was four years old at the time, but you get the point.

I think my intuition for the I at the disastrous KENAI/LATAKIA crossing was the same as Rex's. But I liked the rest of the puzzle better than Rex did.

Mohair Sam 8:45 AM  

@Danp - Loved "Red Violin" too, but you gotta remember that it was Samuel L. Jackson who eventually stole the thing (with help from Lawrence Fishburne maybe).

Puzz played medium here, and liked it probably because it was stacks and we can't get enough of them.

I've harnessed a few horses in my lifetime and have no idea what a HAME is. And I've seen KENAI somewhere in the past few years, but that crossing with LATAKIA was a natick waiting to happen, brutal. I was gonna complain about EGGPAN, but I can remember my mother using the term to identify the small skillet.

The fill wasn't CLEANASAWHISTLE on this one, but it was darned good for stacking two triples - yeah, liked this one a lot.

Clue for SPOSE a beauty, btw.

Sir Hillary 8:48 AM  

I found this brutally hard, and ultimately disappointing.

It took me a full 15 minutes before my pen wrote a single letter. Finally started off with CLEANASAWHISTLE. Eventually, most everything revealed itself, with my error of hopTOIT impeding progress for a good while. SEETOIT is not a phrase I associate with exclamation points, so the clue threw me.

I was forced to guess in two places. Not seeing NAY and not knowing HAME left me with E--LENS, which could only be EYELENS, so that guess was correct.

I wasn't so fortunate up top. Didn't know DIRK or KENAI, so I guessed LATAnnA. So, officially a DNF. I am tempted to cry foul, but will attribute it to my own lack of knowledge.

The 15s were my favorite part of this one, but the overall experience left a sour taste.

Carola 8:51 AM  

This was a tough one for me - none of the 15s popped into my mind, and then my missteps entering "hop TO IT" and dea for AFT obscured the easy Harry Potter book and ONE AFTER.... Also wanted the Chicago franchise to be (Pizzeria) Uno and one of the familair septet to be pride or sloth. Tea and hen parties before KEG.

Had to make do with EIS, ICE, SNCC, MAJA, BASEL and chip away from there. Needed too many crosses to remember Regina RESNIK, whose name I know from Met broadcasts. Needed every cross for LATAKIA and MIA SARA. I liked DWARF + ELVES.

@retired_chemist - I think you overlooked the *Holy* (?)

Unknown 8:56 AM  

1:45, 14 googles but no errors. I won't list them all, but imagine every proper name in the puzzle except for KENAI, which I visited 2 years ago. (You have to go to Alaska.)

@jberg, SullEn and SOlemn before SOMBER. oozeSin and coMeSin before OSMOSES.

Rex calls it easy and does it in under 8 because he can sense a rabbit hole a mile away. It would really be useful to know what Rex just knows and what he susses.

I spent the first hour hating this puzzle. It got better. Still, unsolvable without heavy googling and 2 gifts from Mrs. Kid: B__S -> BICS and _WARF -> DWARF, which she triggered by trying to remember the name of the reality show with the mom with 7 children. AHA!

Dirigonzo 9:09 AM  

it took just under an hour to reduce the grid to two questionable squares and I guessed right on both of them. So yes, "easy for a Saturday" maybe.

@Casco Kid - maybe Spring hs finally come to our neck of the woods, you think?

Z 9:13 AM  

Hand up for all the WOEs mentioned already. LOTHAIR looks more like a Marvel villain than a HRE to me. ANd what's a "Roman" without a RRN? It seems like they've been emasculated.

@George Barany - My recent college graduate son who focused his senior thesis in this area would argue (and has with me) that non-violent change can not happen absent at least the threat of violence. Hence, no MLK without Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X. I remain hopefully unconvinced.

Is an Omelet Pan an EGG PAN?

joho 9:20 AM  

What I did fix: gEtonIT to SEETOIT, mace to DIRK, cPAs TO CFOS.

What I didn't: tEa to KEG, tENAh to KENAI. There could be an IaA, right? At least I got SNCC which was also unknown to me.

I liked the lack of ONES in the 15's.

@chefbea, I know, isn't it an omelet PAN?

This Saturday was LESSCOMPLICATED than some but I still DNF!

jae 9:30 AM  

Medium for me.  Some very nice three stacks and just the right amount of crunch for a Sat.   Lots of erasures for me:  DEA before AFT, Cpa before CFO, mace before DIRK, SCLC before SNCC, hEN before KEG, uno before IGA...

Like Rex et. al. I had to guess at the LATAKIA/KENAI cross.  I read the LATimes daily including the world news and I don't remember seeing LATAKIA.  Fortunately, Alaska stuff often ends in I.

I've seen the movie but MIA SARA did not ring a bell.  On the other hand, her character SLoane has shown up in puzzles more than once.

Liked this just fine.  Not as much fun as yesterday's but a solid Sat. workout. 

Stan Hinton 9:40 AM  

The long answers were all way too easy to guess today. I want to have to think a lot harder in a Saturday puzzle.

Benko 9:43 AM  

@Z: I have to agree with your son. Not to diminish their achievements, but there is a good reason white liberals prefer to think of MLK and his generation as the primary catalyst for the change in race relations in this country rather than the threat of violence in the streets and firebrands like Eldridge Cleaver.
My father was a member of "Snick", as they called the SNCC, in the later part of its existence.

Ludyjynn 9:47 AM  

Compared to my pathetic performance yesterday, this was a pleasant stroll in the park. But, unlike Rex, I guessed wrong at the messy 9Down/26Across MELD, so DNF for me. Oh well.

I'm off to celebrate impending life this afternoon... a surprise baby shower for a lovely young bride who miraculously survived a horrendous car accident as a teenager. Have PREWRAPped gifts and am good to go on this beautiful Spring day.

Overall, an enjoyable solve. Thanks, SO and WS.

Danp 9:47 AM  

@retired chemist - The Holy Roman Empire was connected to the Roman Catholic Church, but its emperors were not Roman. Most were French, German and Spanish. Lothair was king of Lotharingia, now known as Lorraine in Eastern France. We're talking the Dark Ages here.

Steve J 9:51 AM  

I share Rex's Gen X shame at not remembering MIA SARA.

I don't share his boredom with the 15s. Maybe I'm just happy because there's nary a ONES, but I thought the phrases were all pretty solid, with IT'S COMPLICATED and CLEAN AS A WHISTLE standing out.

I struggled with a lot of the stuff that was obscure to me, like LATAKIA (which is indeed Syria's primary port; its size relative to Syria's other cities isn't relevant to that status) and RESNIK.

Timely Gabriel García Márquez mention, as he passed away Thursday.

Z 10:03 AM  
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Z 10:05 AM  

Uh - ONE AFTER ANOTHER doesn't count? I know, it's not an indefinite possessive, so it is an atypical ONE. A ONE by any other name would smell as sweet....

@Benko - the Calvinist in me (Man is totally depraved and can only be saved by the grace of God) has a hard time arguing with you. Still, ONE can hope that we, as a species, have improved a little.

mac 10:09 AM  

Easy-medium for me today, much easier than yesterday's, fo' shizzle.

I had hen party before keg, and I always want a Y in Maja. I don't think I know Mia Sara, but Greta Scacchi is a wonderful actress, like a chameleon. I've always been surprised she did not make it bigger.

As I've said before, things like SNCC are tough for me, I need to rely on the crosses. Hame is a cute new word.

Casey 10:15 AM  

Surprisingly easy Saturday, guess it makes up for yesterday which was a bear! Now, off to get those Easter baskets ready!

Loren Muse Smith 10:20 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 10:22 AM  

This was one that I thought was impossible at first but as I chipped away at it, it all slowly osmosed into place. So @Casco Kid – my goal used to be simply to finish a Saturday with no help. Now it is to finish one that Rex labels "challenging."

@Carola, @Sir Hillary – me, too, for "hop" TO IT first. Then "get."

SOMBER, solemn, sober. . . so many solid solections.

@Dirigonzo – "it took just under an hour to reduce the grid to two questionable squares and I guessed right on both of them." Yep – me, too. The SNCC/SCACCHI and MAJA/MIA SARA crosses, right? (And then, like a good little romance language student, the A for NUEVA.)

@retired_chemist – I agree on wanting "order" for OTHER initially.

@Mohair Sam – re your Lawrence Fishburne comment. Hah! But wasn't Lawrence terrific in Snakes on a Plane?

I have to disagree with all the people who hated the KENAI/LATAKIA cross. KENAI/KEG were my second and third entries. (I'm buffing my fingernails on my lapel as I type.)

Like @Carola, I liked DWARF over ELVES. Also, Carola – I immediately went the continent or sea route for DWARF.

"Locker" before COFFER.

@Z (and @joho and @Steve J) – ONE used the way it is today doesn't feel nearly as contrived as the ubiquitous ONES of triple or quad stack notoriety.

I kept checking to see if I could fit "Prof. Dumbledore" in off that final RE.

It's weird how I coaxed DIRK and MELDING out of my cranius reptilius cruciberbilus. Yeah! I guess HAME was still in my cranius annelidus cruciverilus part; it wasn't osmosing forth nowhere.

HAL scared the bejeezuz out of me in 2001


The clues "must" and "can't take" – tricky, nay devious, that they're third person and hence the answer has an S. Look. If someone drops PRECIS in a conversation, I bet NAY used as "moreover" isn't far behind. I'm still giving this a lot of thought, and I think the snarkiness actually comes from a jealous place.

@mac - your news yesterday made me very sad. I had the pleasure of getting to know Sparky last year at the ACPT. What a firecracker! I hope when I'm that age I can have half her spunk. I enjoyed her company.

Stu – just yesterday I finished your LAT tribute from Thursday. Nice job on that and today's. Now it's off to the Stumper to put in my two D's and one S and call it a fine day.

Questinia 10:23 AM  

I'm sure Greta Scaacchi would appreciate her name needing to be "dredged up"! For me it was just "how many c's and a's in that?"
The flow of yesterday continued today I SPOSE as I found this easy (12mins incl. getting cookies out of oven and preparation of milk). Definitely easier than yesterday which was easy-ish.

I liked the clue for NAY (and moreover) and I SPOSE I like filling in long clues on a letter or two because it makes me feel like LOTHAIR or Mothra or some Giant Solving Creature Of The Grid. Speaking of which, interesting design.

Had snee before DIRK which was my only write-over.

I too, @ chefbea, wondered about EGG PAN but it receives 73,000,000 hits on Google.

Entered at ICI and went from "there".

@Z, I would intuitively agree with your son but how would he explain Gandhi? Or is the threat of violence needed in American culture? Also I wonder how the notion of civil disobedience enters into it. (Disobedience I SPOSE is passive aggression). In other words the form in which the movement derives power...

AliasZ 10:25 AM  

This one was LESS COMPLICATED for me than Friday's. ONE AFTER ANOTHER came instantly as I was reading the clue, which opened up the top portion without any resistance. The bottom 15's took me only a little longer. I too wanted IT TAKES ALL KINDS but the plural of BICS quickly took care of that.

My problem was in the center pocket north of the equator, where LATAK?A and KENA? was a total Natick. Running the alphabet took me until the ninth try. ?CACCHI and ?NCC in the SW took me longer for obvious reasons.

OS MOSES sounds like Biblical software, and PRE-WRAP is the shape a gift is in before you had a chance to wrap it.

EGGPAN? EYELENS? They sound like made-up words to me, much like HAME. In fact, HAME could have been a word in Jabberwocky:

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the HAME raths outgrabe

I had to smile at NOTALOT and CAMELOT symmetrically placed in the south. I always confused Leonie Rysanek (1926-1998) with Regina RESNIK (1922-2013). They both made their Metropolitan Opera debuts in the late 50's and were Met mainstays at the same time into the 1980's.

All 15's were CLEAN AS A WHISTLE, but none of them stood out as exceptionally memorable. Five of the six were NYT debuts, which is one of the things that made this one an utterly pleasant solve, if too easy for a Sat.

There are good musical references today like Regina RESNIK singing an aria from Gianni SChiCCHI by Puccini, but SEE TOIT suggested this absolutely delightful ballet by Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) titled Le bœuf sur le TOIT (the ox on the roof).

Enjoy your weekend.

Nancy 10:25 AM  

Easy, except for too much geography. I hate geography. I have always been terrible at geography. And thus (because I wouldn't Google), I had dENAI for KENAI, giving me dEb party for KEG party and IbA for IGA (well, I never heard of either of them!) To make a long story short, I thought I had successfully solved it until I came here. Quelle disappointment.

dk 10:26 AM  

OO (2 moons) More strained word use for clues and fill. SPOSE spose is a word and on the moors NAY has meaning. Those two messed up the bottom half for me.

The 15s and top half are fun.

Off to acquire the Easter HAMEy. That I shall coat with pomegranate molasses and bake. Hope the snow melts as I refuse to move any more off any thing..

Bartleby the shoveler

Steve J 10:28 AM  

@Z: Yeah, I was going for the indefinite possessive that always seems to show up in big stacks of 15s. That feels different to me than the ONE used in 16A. Probably because it's actually used like this in real life, as opposed to the fact that the indefinite possessive is rarely used by typical speakers.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

I'm continually amazed at how Rex can find something to gripe about with EVERY single puzzle. Is nothing ever good enough?

chefbea 10:51 AM  

Now - here is an egg pan

Bob Kerfuffle 10:52 AM  

For me, comparatively easy (*for a Saturday*) on top, difficult, NAY, impossible on the bottom, in that I finished with one wrong square, making the actress SCALCHI. (Not my generation, never saw The Red Violin", had no idea what Poirot's problem might be (some odd lisp?)

Didn't help that my one write-over was at 36 D, NOT MANY before NOT A LOT, which kept that corner a big mess until straightened out.

lawprof 11:07 AM  

This was a perfect Saturday for me: my grid is a total mess, but eventually got it all. Started out with virtually nothing, only gimmes being ANOS, MAJA and RESNIK (for this opera fan).

Writeovers: mace/DIRK; hopTOIT/SEETOIT; CLOSEto/CLOSEST; strangely seven/KENAI (even though I've been there); INASTew/INASTIR; and most problematic because it held me up forever in SE, Berne/BASEL.

As a (very) amateur astronomer, I take issue with 44D EYELENS as a telescope part. The term is "eyepiece," which contains lenses. Haven't googled "eyelens," but even if it exists somewhere on the net, it's still wrong, at least IMO.

PREWRAP is a concocted stretch. Never heard of a discloser of secrets being a SIEVE, but makes some sense in retrospect.

Enjoyed both triple stacks, although all but CLEANASAWHISTLE were slow to come. Good job, Mr. Ockman.

Unknown 11:07 AM  

Yeah EYELENS isn't a real term for a telescope part. Eyepiece or ocular. Eye lens sounds more like an anatomical term.

John Child 11:10 AM  

How many Naticks can you fit in a puzzle? I count six here. I guessed right on four. A very easy Saturday - I had all but four squares filled in half my average Saturday time - but Natick city from there on. Not fun.

Benko 11:13 AM  

@Questinia: I would argue that the UK was so destroyed by World Wars I and especially II that it was impossible for it to hold onto the imperial colonies, and that their resistance of Gandhi was merely the last gasp of a soon to be dead empire.

On a lighter note, I can't be the only person who confidently entered Gandalf for MAGNETO.

Moly Shu 11:23 AM  

MIASARA and SCACCHI were my first 2 entries. Knew the first cuz I hate HATE that movie and agree with @QUESTINIA on the second. The NUEVA/MAJA cross was a problem for me, don't think I remember ever seeing MAJA before. Also ANO atop ICI atop RET gave me fits as I didn't know LOTHAIR either.

@LMS, same experience, KEG/KENAI straight in, continent or sea first, locker pre COFFER, and " open the pod bay doors HAL" gets me every time.

@RetiredChemist, also wanted order for the sequential end, but young Mr. Potter helped fix that.

Medium for me. Exactly 43 minutes on the nose. I'm off to stare at my EGGPAN through my EYELENS. Really????

pmdm 11:25 AM  

As far as I can tell, there are three HREs named Lothair, which makes the clue for 1D incorrect. If a HRE scholar reads these comments, could we get some elucidation?

Badir 11:26 AM  

I got into all kinds of trouble near the end when I put in SOlemn for 38A and enJEWEL for 41D. I stared at 2 last empty squares in 47A for 5-6 minutes before finally deciding that SOlemn had to be wrong. Once I took it out, I found SOMBER and quickly finished. But it was still rough. And the SNCC/SCACCHI and KENAI/LATAKIA crossings were just ugly.

Elle54 11:31 AM  

Sang "wonder what the king is doing tonight" while I worked this puzzle. Still remember Richard Harris sitting in a tree. Ah...CAMELOT!

Fred smith 11:32 AM  

@pmdm --

Lothair II was King of Lotharingia, but never the Holy Roman Emperor.

This Lothair III was the second (and only other Lothair as) HRE.

-- Fred

RnRGhost57 11:41 AM  

LOTHAIR of the Hill People?

A real medieval/Dark Age mythology vibe today: HRE, DWARF, ELVES, DIRK, GOBLET, CAMELOT, BEJEWEL, BASEL, HAME.

Appropriate for Holy Saturday, the day Christ harrowed Hell.

jdv 11:53 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Spent most of my time in the middle section until I finally remembered Kenai from previous puzzles. I had to guess at 'and moreover/nay'; I still don't understand it. I also had to guess at 'part of plowing harness/hame'. I recently bought some pots and pans and it came with two omelet/te pans, so I wonder if omelet pans and egg pans are the same thing.

Unknown 11:57 AM  

@jdv I'd call this puzzle pretty tough, NAY, unsolvable without a boatload of googles. So there it is. A stretch, but we've seen much worse.

bigsteve46 11:57 AM  

If completing the puzzle with no mistakes is your goal and your definition of success - this can't be called easy. Too many Natick-like crosses: the whole "kenai/eggpan/iga" area; "latakia/dirk"; "scacchi/cas", to name a few. (My personal Waterloo was "tea party" with "IAA."
The 6 15-worders were easy enough even for someone who doesn't know Harry Potter from Colonel Potter.

GILL I. 12:02 PM  

Well I read 9D as Libya so I wrote in TRIPOLI lickety split and then Dopey for the DWARF and then just sat around scratching my ...
Went downstairs and got CLEAN AS A WHISTLE - yay me - then up to La MAJA desnuda and the whole basement area got done.
Went back upstairs and re-read the Syria [sigh] clue and had to Google that one. At least it opened up the attic and eventually I finished this puppy.
I enjoyed the cluing in the puzzle. CAMELOT was fun to see since I know all of the songs. My biggest question was NAY. I really don't understand why it's not and or too...
Good work out and enjoyable for moi. Thanks Stu

Unknown 12:03 PM  

I remember old LOT-HAIR from H.S. European History class because his half-brother was Charles the Bald.

relicofthe60s 12:12 PM  

The old joke about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) after the militants took over was that they weren't students, they weren't nonviolent, and they weren't coordinated.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Naticked again in an another fairly easy Saturday puzzle. Didn't know 26-A and 32-A could have been lots of organizations, so 26-D seemed as likely to be TEA as anything else. Did recall IGA when I saw the grid here.

Greta Scdoubleadoublechi 12:24 PM  

I'd rather be evoked than "dredged".

Mucchaas Graacciaas.

jdv 12:51 PM  

@casco kid thanks. It helps to see NAY used in a sentence like that.

I like this puzzle a little bit more than when I was solving it. The fill in the triple stacks is solid. The 6 grid spanning words appear to be unique and don't contain the nefarious 'one' or 'ones'.

Jisvan 12:54 PM  

@ Greta Scdoubleadoublechi, How do you like being Googled?
Loved the long stacks, and the NOTALOT / CAMALOT balance already mentioned.
Saturdays are crunchy at my house, this one was just a bit smoother. Off to ride the coast south on a bright spring day, flowers everywhere! Happy rebirth holiday of your choice, everyone!

mac 1:05 PM  

@chefbea: I have one of those! The problem is that my burners are almost too big for it.

@lawprof: this morning I bought a gift for a little boy I'm seeing at dinner tonight, and they gave me one that was prewrapped.

Beezer 1:08 PM  

Eye lens as "part of a telescope" bugged me. There is a lens inside and an eyepiece ( glass ) that you look through. Geez, when it gets down to it all lens are for " the eyes". Stupid made up answer.

mathguy 1:10 PM  

Agree with Anonymous 12:17 a.m. completely. I don't think that we have IGA stores here in San Francisco, so TEA seemed right. HAME popped into my head from some long-ago puzzle. Was delighted that I got ONEAFTERANOTHER cold.

Lewis 1:11 PM  

@Q -- what does preparing milk involve?

Plopped in SNCC right away. I do like the concept of a blabbermouth being a sieve. I found this easier than yesterday's puzzle, though not easy, Saturday has yet to be easy for me. I did like the clue for SPOSE.

Not sure how MELDING is putting one's cards on the table -- can someone enlighten me please??

Fred Romagnolo 1:17 PM  

Lothair was a son of Charlemagne's son, (Pepin, of the musical) therefore not a HRE. When the empire was divided into 3, he got the middle, in between the future France and Germany; thus Lotharingia (modern Lorraine). I zipped thru this one, my quickest Saturday ever. Italian-Americans have no problems with the c's in Scacchi (pronounced SKA'KY or SKAK-KY). Decades ago there was a cigarette company called OLD GOLD which advertised its tobacco as Latakia. The city has also been involved in the current troubles. ONE can get an egg pan for about 8 dollars today - too much for a pan that can only hold ONE egg.

Mohair Sam 1:18 PM  

@lms - That was Morgan Freeman.

Masked and AnonymoUs 1:31 PM  

"Alaska's ___Fjords National Park" = BETTY. Anyone else? Anyone at all? Was afraid not. Wrong again...

M&A difficulty recap:


Bottom half = HOSTILEREACTION. That S at square marker 35 wasn't happenin for me. Also had trouble gettin SPOSE, on account of the excellent blockin scheme executed by the Ferris Bueller actress and that mezzo-soprano lady.

Also, anyone else havin the HAME BASEL for Easter sitdown dinner? Whatevah.. as long as there's deviled eggs. Speakin of which, EGGPAN was a gimme, cuz I know little about the food prep industry, and it sounded logical.


M&Ajor Bucket List Check-off Event:
Have been out on the road for a spell. Durin which we stopped one night at a Chinese restaurant in Oklahoma. Tried, for the first time ever, that there General Tso's Chicken dish. It was a mite loud, but mixin it with rice sure helped tame it down to tolerable. Had always wondered what I'd been missin out on.

Hartley70 1:38 PM  

OMG! I did it! No googles. A couple of guesses. In 50 minutes. Slow, I know, but so satisfying :-)

Hartley70 1:48 PM  

Lewis, I believe that melding is what you do during a card game when you have a group (3 of a kind) that you can lay down and get points.

Mahatma Ghandi 1:57 PM  

@Z - Your son's a total douche-bag

retired_chemist 1:57 PM  

Thanks all for the LOTHAIRs lesson - HRE or Roman Empire, I had never heard of them before.

What's wrong with EYELENS? Haven't you all ever heard of the Hawaiian EYELENS? :-)

BASEL to Brussels is, as I recall, about a four hour drive. You are in Switzerland, then ONE AFTER ANOTHER Germany, France, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Amazing to this (transplanted) Texan who can drive four hours and not even be in Houston.

Lewis 1:58 PM  

Ah, thanks Hartley!

tensace 2:09 PM  

This puzzle was easy??? Is Rex just shown' off? And why is he so incessantly whiny? In any given week fully 5 of the puzzles he carps about.

As to SCACCHI, when you have to go to (as I did), then click on "see full cast", I'd say Greta is pretty obscure.

Further OSMOSES is at best slang for "Seeps". Osmosis is NOT seepage. It's a gradient/passive transfer. So the clue should have read "Seeps, say"

I have a dream 2:32 PM  

Eyes on the Prize had a central theme that MLK used the radicals to achieve his goals, somewhat along the lines of: do you want to deal with me or would you rather sit down with H Rap or Stokley ?

foxaroni 3:44 PM  

@Benko, thanks for the EMO explanation yesterday. Much appreciated....

wreck 4:32 PM  

For the most part, I found it easier than most Saturdays. I only googled 3 or 4 times, and the triple stacks came together fairly quickly. I finished at 1 hour -- but had MAJO/NUEVO in error.

Anonymous 4:57 PM  

People are being too scientifically literal about osmoses. The word osmosis has meanings that do not revolve around science at all. "The immigrant mostly learned English by osmosis". Also other cultural osmoses gradually acclimatized her to her new land.

This usage seems completely valid to me.

Unknown 4:58 PM  

@RnRghost57 Thanks for the chuckle. If the answer were LOTHAR I would have filled it in a lot faster.

I also noted the timely Garcia Marquez reference.

Started reading the blog, but once I realized it was the usual stacks rant I couldn't bring myself to finish. For some people, there is a simple joy in filling the stacks, regardless of the dip in fill quality, and for some there isn't. IT TAKES ALL SORTS.

OISK 5:19 PM  

Never saw Red Violin, but Greta Scacchi is the only Greta I know not named GArbo, and she was in The Coca Cola kid, a film I liked, as well as a film with Tim Robbins (the player?) that I didn't like. Nice to see her and Resnik, another easy one for me, after eno and foshizzle yesterday. Latakia is easy for any pipe smoker; it is an important type of tobacco. Really liked this puzzle, even though tea party - I really should have known Kenai- gave me a DNF. Am sure I have seen IGA somewhere, but IAA looked OK, which is why I dislike corporate abbreviations in the puzzles. A worthy Saturday, though.

chefwen 5:26 PM  

I usually dislike stacks of 15's, but it wasn't MAS so I thought I would give it a whirl. First thing a plopped down was CLEAN AS A WHISTLE and thought Geez, I hope that's right, if not, I'm toast! Yay for me, it worked out. Did have to Google a couple of proper names, but all in all I thought it was pretty easy (for a Saturday)

retired_chemist 5:26 PM  

@ Anon 4:15. Yes, there is a metaphoric use of OSMOSES and your examples fit. But neither connects in any way with Seeps (remember, the clue?). So, your point is not relevant to this puzzle. Seeps it evocative of the scientific, not the metaphoric, meaning.

michael 5:32 PM  

Just wanted to point out the Garcia Marquez clue/answer a day or two after his death.

sanfranman59 6:02 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 5:45, 6:04, 0.95, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:04, 8:32, 0.83, 5%, Easy (11th lowest ratio of 227 Tuesdays)
Wed 9:04, 9:54, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium
Thu 17:28, 18:26, 0.95, 38%, Easy-Medium
Fri 26:46, 21:24, 1.25, 89%, Challenging
Sat 21:40, 26:49, 0.81, 11%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:58, 0.93, 17%, Easy
Tue 4:27, 5:11, 0.86, 7%, Easy
Wed 5:36, 6:11, 0.91, 26%, Easy-Medium
Thu 11:33, 10:44, 1.08, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 17:28, 12:39, 1.38, 93%, Challenging
Sat 14:28, 16:43, 0.87, 24%, Easy-Medium

Z 6:44 PM  

@"Mahatma Ghandi"- "He that flings dirt at another dirtieth himself most."
--English proverb

Dirigonzo 6:45 PM  

@r_c - It seems to me that the metaphoric usage does imply "seeps" as when one "learns through osmosis" the information seeps into the subconscious, so I don't think we can dismiss @anon's point as irrelevant; in fact, it was the same reasoning that led me to the answer.

LaneB 6:51 PM  

If I Finish a Saturday, it must be "easy".
Nice to see Greta SCACCHI show up. Enjoyed The Red Violin, Presumed Innocent and another sexy flick about Picasso and a bevy of models, all 10s. Must Google to see what else she's been in.

kms 7:00 PM  

ONEAFTERANOTHER, like many folks was the crystallizer - I guess easy compared to yesterday. OSMOSES, don't really seem like seeps, osmosis being technically through a membrane, and seeps not necessarily. But that makes crosswords computer resistant (I hope). Like having my daughter chime in with answer from Harry Potter, and that got me to CFOs from cfas.

evil doug 7:15 PM  

Only if the dirt osmoses, Mahatma....


Questinia 7:23 PM  

@ Lewis. I prepared the milk by pouring it into the tumbler. I placed the tumbler on the plate. Then I arranged the cookies around the tumbler. This took many seconds!
@ Benko. I wonder what'll tucker us out.

M and Also 7:24 PM  

Grid's black square design looked sorta like a salute to S.O.S. Two large, regular S's, plus the morse "- - -", for the O. Pretty much sums up M&A's experience in the lower puz half, btw. But, wouldn't be a SatPuz, without some brain sprain. Still was fun to try.

Spent all the pm sprucin up the yard. Looks much better now, which would figure, cuz I sure don't.

Happy Easter, all U puz bunnies.

KarenSampsonHudson 8:19 PM  

Never heard of SNCC, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee? Ah, Rex Parker, the Baby Boomers who frequent your site are now thinking how young you are:-)

RnRGhost57 8:39 PM  

@KarenSampsonHudson, Rex has a bit of a history blindspot. I'm probably too sensitive since I teach history.

Unknown 9:26 PM  

Annoyinger and annoyinger. Next week: "girl who sat behind me in 4th grade."

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spacecraft 12:01 PM  

Easy? EASY??? With LATAKIA and KENAI and LOTHAIR and IGA and SCACCHI and...? And "under 8" what? Not minutes. Uh-uh. No way.

Me? I DNF, thanks to my ___party being--what else?--TEA. I don't know from Alaskan parks and Syrian ports. And IAA made as much sense (none) to me as IGA. So, two wrong squares.

The flag could have been thrown for that double-obscure natick, but it flies instead for a part of the puzzle that I (eventually) got: the two entries meeting at the SE corner. NO ONE EVER says ITTAKESALLSORTS. It's KINDS, end of story. The down? If EYELENS isn't green paint, then Fenway's left field wall is invisible.

My efforts weren't helped by the obvious gambling inits. (IOU) or by my geographic confusion that Berne might be that Swiss border city. Still, my HOSTILEREACTION is limited to those peoblem areas. Overall, I HASTO admire the wide-open construction, a prodigious feat, to me.

Perfect synchronicity: I've recently become addicted to BEJEWELed 3, the online game in which just last night I scored over 2 million. If you have a life, don't get started.

Finally, a decent (DRESSED?) hand: four 3's.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Amen to Spacecraft. There is no way anybody finished this in 8 mins.
I'm going to say this, finally: I like this blog a lot but do not care for the snarky comments of Mr. Parker.
I enjoyed this puzz even though it was a big DNF because of IGA and Keg. Thanks, Mr. Ockman.

Ron Digo 10:15 AM PST 5/24

rain forest 2:10 PM  

Count me among those whose DNF came because of "tea" and "IAA". I've always thought that IGA is a Canadian entity.

Speaking of Canadian, SOMBER and COLOR slowed me down because I spell them 'sombre', and 'colour' respectively and respectfully. Always have to be alert to American (mis)spellings.

8's full of 5's

As for the puzzle itself, I have to say I liked it, but I like all sorts of puzzles. Knowing RESNICK and LATAKIA was a big help.

DMG 4:01 PM  

After two days of abandoning puzzles that were so far beyond me that I didn't even want to check the solutions, I'm back. This one also stumped me for a long bit, but eventually I wore it down to a single Natick, square 35. Am somewhat reassured that some others had this problem. My other potential non-finish was with the word crossing a ? singer and a? movie star, but I threw down the unlikely, to me, SPOSE (which spell check firmly rejects) and, surprise, it works. Look forward to Monday to soothe this fevered brow!

Captcha today is asking for only a simple house address. No wonder the soothsayers get in!

Waxy in Montreal 5:28 PM  

Other than having the same issues as my compatriot @rain, found this to be one of the easier Saturdays for some time. HAME came as a surprise (spellchecker doesn't care for it) whilst CRIES OF DERISION were my boos for far too long.

And since it appears to have worked well here on Thursday: GO HABS GO!

Tyler James Young 3:59 AM  

DNF due to KEy party crossing a perfectly plausible IYA abbreviating a business I've never heard of

Prune 4:43 PM  

DNF in the center: I also put in SOLEMN, and had no way to get out. MIA SARA is new to me, as is NUEVA York. Where I've lived, SIEVE is not a term applicable to a blabbermouth: they don't let things slip through -- they assimilate and broadcast, an active process. The metaphor is too weak.
However, I'm glad that ENJEWEL was not correct.

I did get the Naticks at 21A (educated guess) and end of KENAI (recognized the park name).

Those damaged my enjoyment of the puzzle; the two weak 15s (LESS COMPLICATED and HOSTILE REACTION) kept the puzzle from redeeming itself. The crufty fill finished the thumbs-down for me.

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