I Googled a-plenty with this one, and it still took me way too long. We're heading out of town for the weekend, and I really should have been getting my things together.
That's got to be one of the nicest things about having older kids--not that they're coming along this trip. I remember having to pack everything for the two of them, including a box of puzzles, games and goodies to keep them occupied in the car (or on the plane, or on the train). Whew! Don't miss that.
And as long as I'm digressing, a quick shoulder update. The good news--surgery isn't needed at this time. The bad news--I had to get a cortisone shot. That is, it was bad at the time, but now I feel soooooooo much better. Must remember not to overdo it, though.
One more quick digression, then on to the puzzle. Since this blog is relatively new, I didn't think guest bloggers were needed for a weekend absence. By now you know that you can visit the links at the right. Rex will have a solution and lengthy (no matter what he says) commentary on the New York Times, Orange (who has no life outside of the crossworld) does multiple puzzles, and Donald's NYT is always chock-full of artsy photographs. Green Genius does the Sun, which only runs Monday through Friday, but he generally posts something fun (non-puzzle-related) on the weekends.
I've already printed out the NYT Sunday puzzle, which I'll do on the way to Denver (no need to panic--Don's driving), and I'll try to sneak away from my family to read all the blogs for Sunday and Monday. Don likely won't be willing to bring his laptop...I think he's on to my addiction.
Okay, the Saturday puzzle...
I can't lie (54A: Intro to an unvarnished opinion), Byron Walden kicked my butt with this puzzle. The good news was that I was able to get a couple of the long entries, which helped open things up:
7D: Groundwork? (planting the seed). I had planting for a long time, then finally had an aha moment with 40 and 41A: Go out nicely (end/on a high note). Then I knew we were talking about planting the something, and seed fell into place.
2D: Coupling device? (civil union). Great clue and concept. My friend Leigh and her partner had their ceremony in England a year ago.
30D: Candlenut and buckeye (state trees). Most everyone knows that buckeye is the state tree of Ohio. Candlenut is the state tree of Hawaii. I have a beautiful lei made out of candlenut seeds that was given to me at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel.
29D: Sizable, as a hamburger patty (eight ounce). Gag! That's half a pound! Had ounce and E, guessed the rest.
45A: Western__ (omelet). We call them Denver omelets out here.
26A: "Hänsel und Gretel" composer (Humperdinck). Although I didn't know that, once I had a few letters in place, it was pretty easy to guess the rest. No one else has a name like that.
Prior to doing puzzles, I knew absolutely nothing about sports. Now I'm getting good at guessing. 11D: Super Bowl XLI winners (Colts), 14D: Georgia Tech football coaching great Bobby (Dodd), and 21D: Many an 11-Down fan (Indianan).
Nice to see fellow puzzler/guest blogger/constructor evad in the puzzle, if only as part of an answer. 17A: Got around (evaded).
I hesitate to point out 50A: Sour orange, in French cuisine (bigarade). I want to go on record as saying I don't think there's anything sour about her, but I want to acknowledge Her Orangeness.
:D in an e-mail (grin) appears at 33D. A very clever clue. Nice cross with 33A: Nerve (grit), as in the movie, True Grit. Holy cow! Was that really in 1969? Seems like just yesterday.
I hope reader/commenter Ultra Vi was able to get 42D: Scoring leaders? (G clefs). Would be a shame if she missed it ; )
Two more disgusting answers. 49A: 52-Across, for example (fur); 52A: White 49-Across (ermine). They are the sweetest-looking little guys. I'm appalled that they're killed for their fur.
Stepping off my soapbox now...
There were a lot of words I was completely unfamiliar with. Some I guessed easily, some I struggled with forever.
1D: Marked difference (step change). What am I missing?
41D: Gag rule, of a sort (omerta). Never heard of it.
There are probably several more, but it's late and I'm tired.
Have a restful weekend. I'll see you Monday night--same place, same time.