MONDAY, Jul. 2, 2007 - Peter A. Collins

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Beforehand" (58A: Earlier ... or a hint to the words circled in 17-, 21-, 37- and 51-Across) - circled letters form words that might precede "hand" in well-known phrases

As with most Monday themes, I didn't see this one until I was done, or nearly done - figured it out as I was writing in BEFOREHAND, but didn't look up to see exactly what all the circled words were. I thought this grid was pretty lively and interesting for a Monday. I'll just give you a handful of answers that caught my attention (in good and bad ways, but mostly good). But first, the theme answers (letters circled in the grid appear capitalized below):

  • 17A: Masonry work that may be smoothed with a trowel (stucCO Wall) => "COW hand"
  • 21A: Shoving away, football-style (stifF-ARMing) => "FARM hand"
  • 37A: More rain and less light, e.g., to a pilot (worSE CONDitions) => "SECOND-hand"
  • 51A: Some memorization in arithmetic class (timeS TABLEs) => "STABLE hand"

And now, your Featured Five:

12D: Concerning (anent)

Yuck. This is one of those horribly pretentious words that one should never use. I can tell you that I once saw one of my grad school advisers (an academic through and through) recoil in disdain when she came upon this word in something we were reading together. That is to say, the word offended the sensibilities of someone who reads pretentious academic jargon Every Day - that's how horrible it is. The only time anyone should ever write ANENT is when that person is discussing the work of J.R.R. Tolkien.

3D: Sign on, as for another tour of duty (re-up)

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: this word has a special place in my crossword career, as it is the very last answer I filled in the very first time I completed a Sunday puzzle (in college) - I had never heard of it at the time, and it sounded so completely made-up, but I didn't care, because ... I had finished the Sunday puzzle! I have never forgotten the word (clearly). I like to use it whenever I can (not often, but more often than I use ANENT).

39D: Laundry implement that might make a 43-Down (iron)
43D: See 39-Down (crease)

You don't normally see this kind of unclued cross-referencing (at 43D) in a Monday (do you?). I had already figured out IRON, but when I got to 43D, because I was going fast and didn't want to move the cursor back to see what the hell 39D was, I got a bit held up and had to get nearly all the answer from the crosses. So CREASE and one other answer in the SW held me up somewhat. That answer...

46D: Radio word after "Roger" (Wilco)

This threw me badly. I was thinking that ROGER was the "R" equivalent of ALPHA, BRAVO, etc. so I was trying to think of "S" words. Had to wait for several crosses before I had the "aha" moment. WILCO is a band, and I would have liked the word clued that way, though I realize that that would likely work better in a Thursday+ puzzle (i.e. too obscure for Monday).

28A: Hen's place (coop)
22D: Hen's place (roost)

And yet a ROOSTer is ... not a hen. I normally don't like the doubled clues, but these were simple enough not to tick me off. Also, COOP complements RE-UP nicely, because ... The COOP was the name of the campus cafe I was sitting in when I triumphantly completed that Sunday puzzle with RE-UP in it. I had no idea until I did this write-up exactly how formative that solving moment was. The cafe was called The COOP because ... well, our school mascot was the sagehen. No, I'm not making that up. Chirp chirp!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

17 comments:

Orange 10:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
barrywep 11:24 PM  

I didn't even know ANENT was a word. As we add new ones, like Amy's HANGRY we should drop words like this.

Alex 12:13 AM  

Relatively smooth, though the mid-Atlantic region caused me problems.

My brain, for some reason, absolutely refused to see GOIN as GO IN. It was pronouncing it as rhyming with JOIN, which is what I had in there for a long time, making things difficult.

Only other complaint about the puzzle is ABFAB. Not the fill, but the clue. "Popular BBC import, for short." I'd like some recognition that the popularity of Ab Fab is about a decade in the past.

I've never heard the word ANENT so I waisted 30 seconds reviewing everything in that corner before deciding I couldn't come up with anything better. Probably couldn't use a Tolkien clue because that would be AN ENT with ENT already in the puzzle at 33D. Though one of them should have been clue via Tolkien.

Anonymous 5:02 AM  

ROGER is (shortwave) radio talk for UNDERSTOOD. WILCO means WILL COMPLY.

crossnerd 9:47 AM  

Haw. I thought exactly the same thing about ANENT.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

I musta been really "In tune" with this puzzle. I went through it like Grant took Richmond. Alas, I wish others were this easy.
Anent, annoint? What could possibly be the difference? Hmmmm.......

Alex 12:29 PM  

I can't believe I wrote "waisted 30 seconds."

Evad 1:57 PM  

Amy, that link to COOP didn't work for me...are you referring to this guy?

Orange 3:14 PM  

Thanks, evad. I must've mangled the html.

Yes, the site I was trying to link had a particularly fetching head shot of that handsome news devil, Anderson Cooper.

Fergus 3:52 PM  

Never even looked at the clue for BEFOREHAND so was baffled by some barnyard notions.

Thought I would try creating a puzzle yesterday, and (surprise) it's a lot harder than one would think. I have more sympathy now for the use of ANENT and such tedious filler like ADES.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

According to Wikipedia, Wilco the band got its name from wilco the "radio word".

carolion 5:36 PM  

from one sagehen crossword fan to another -- chirp chirp!

kratsman 6:32 PM  

Any time the clue is "considering" or "regarding" and the fill is 5 letters, the answer is gonna be ANENT. This was pretty common fill in the Maleska era (and I think it even appeared sometimes in the early Shortz era), so it was a gimme to me. Never had any curiousity about the word...never looked it up...knew instinctively that it was crossword fodder and nothing more.

Michael 12:15 AM  

I agree with Alex -- I thought enter was JOIN not GOIN. Which made me wonder what a JUY was.

Regarding the theme of this puzzle, while I liked the hidden words (worSECONDitions and timeSTABLEs is clever IMO, and stiffarming makes the 12-yr-old in me laugh), I thought cow hand, farm hand and stable hand are kinda all the same thing, no? At least to us urbanites who only deal with horses when we're betting on them at the track.

Anonymous 1:07 AM  

Without really paying attention, I put in "SHUT UP" instead of "CLAM UP" and had a brief moment of amusement when the circled clue in 21 across read "FART". It didn't pass the Sunday breakfast test though, so I had to change it to CLAM...

paulo 3:32 AM  

My only disappointment was that three of the answers were farm related but SECOND HAND (or SECONDHAND)wasn't. Working HIRED HAND in would have made it a double theme.

Waxy in Montreal 11:21 PM  

6 weeks on...

What's with the sudden popularity of STE as fill of late? Either as a component of Sault Ste. Marie or a common Quebec road sign, this must be its third appearance in a week.

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