Monday, March 12, 2007
Solving time: 6:40
THEME: Signs - all theme answers are (allegedly) common "signs" (printed warnings or directions would be more accurate), clued in some clever fashion, e.g. 17A: Sign for a person in therapy? (Contents Fragile)
Not sure what the problem was, but this is my worst Monday time in as long as I can remember. I blame a. this disturbingly early DST, and b. the theme, the answers to which were far from readily graspable. "Signs" are things you see on the roadside; as I said above, these are all warnings or directions, such as you might see on packaging. The best of these:
32D: Sign for a sunbather? (This Side Up) - even though the clue doesn't really make sense, the phrase is at least readily recognizable.
The worst of these:
3D: Sign for a jury selector? (Do Not Stack) - I just don't run across this "sign" in my daily, or weekly, or yearly life.
All in all, this felt like a Tuesday puzzle, one whose theme is just OK. The non-theme fill has some coolness about it, though.
1A: More eccentric (odder)
14A: Old pal (crony)
2D: Pilotless aircraft (drone)
This NW corner was semi-brutal for me, in that my first pass at all the Acrosses yielded nothing. I have to dispute the accuracy of [Old pal] for CRONY. The clue seems positive in its connotations, while the answer - well, I have never heard it used anything but negatively. DRONE was tough for me to get, but then I recalled that DRONEs are currently being used as a plot device on "24." Sometimes TV helps. I also had a little trouble with 15A: Food that may come in small cubes (tofu) - TOFU was the first answer that came to me, but I thought "no way, too weird." I eat TOFU on a regular basis, so I'm not sure why I imagined it to be too strange for a Monday puzzle. TOFU does not come in small cubes unless you order it at a restaurant. In the store, it comes in one big slab. Tasty! Seriously.
23A: Like college aptitude tests, for many students (retaken)
This was very hard for me. I could not see the answer for the life of me. I always hated the kids (in my day, not so many) who retook their aptitude tests - seemed desperate, and vaguely like cheating.
10D: Religious time (high day)
What? Where's the HOLY in that phrase? This is monumentally iffy, especially for a Monday. CONTENTS FRAGILE, indeed.
27D: Eye-catching designs (op art)
Like RETAKEN, I could not see this, even (especially) with the -RT at the end. I don't think I actually know what OP ART is, though it's a phrase I've heard enough. Oh, it's short for OPtical ART. Go here if you want to see an example (but beware: "This page may feel you sick"!). On second thought, no! Don't look at it. It's giving me a headache. God, make it stop! Put the "P" back on the beginning of this phrase and make it tolerable again.
Ah, that's better.
62D: In that case (if so)
Nope, don't like this cluing at all. The clue is definitive, where the answer is conditional. Ick ick ick. I see how they are vaguely synonymous, but I still cry foul.
61A: Level (tier)
Very fair, and yet I had several different answers here before I had the right one. I know I had TRUE at some point. Ooh, I think I had EVEN first, then TRUE. That kind of one-word ambiguous cluing isn't typically seen on a Monday. Still, as I said, fair; just frustrating.
38A: "Well, then..." ("Anyhoo...")
46A: "Hmmm...." ("Let me see...")
Loving the ellipses-containing colloquial clues and the fresh answers. I think Ned Ryerson, a very memorable character from the movie Groundhog Day, says "ANYHOO" (possibly multiple times, since that movie, you know, repeats the same day over and over again).
Lastly, a lesson for aspiring solvers (and for idiot me):
SAKE = Japanese drink (48A)
SAKI = Pseudonym of British short story writer H.H. Munro
A small but very, very important distinction.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Best / Worst fact about H.H. Munro (from Wiki): "His mother, the former Mary Frances Mercer, died in 1872, killed, essentially, by a runaway cow."