MONDAY, Oct. 1, 2007 - Allan E. Parrish

Monday, October 1, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Junk Drawer" (30D: Location for the ends of the answers to the four starred clues) - final word in each theme answer is something you might find in a JUNK DRAWER

This was a fun but challenging puzzle. On Mondays, I'm always trying to break 4 minutes. Today, I failed (4:15). Felt like I was flying pretty fast, but I got held up in a number of places where I had wrong answers, or where longish words just wouldn't come to me. First, the theme answers:

  • 18A: *Popular Sunshine State vacation destination (Florida KEYS)
  • 3D: *Material for an old-fashioned parade (ticker TAPE)
  • 61A: *Like players below the B team (third STRING)
  • 24D: *Sties (pig PENS)

Most of my trouble came early, in the northern part of the puzzle, where I got smacked by a word form I've never seen - EFFUSE (4A: Gush); I know EFFUSIVE, but I've never heard/seen anyone use the verb EFFUSE. Or maybe I have and just forgot. Who knows? EFFACE is slightly, but only slightly, more common (4D: Wipe off). I don't even remember what, if anything, I had in these spots before I eventually got the right answers. Also made the mistake of spelling Erich FROMM (6D: Erich who wrote "The Art of Loving") like Ethan FROME.

I misread "Deck" as "Desk" in 58A: Deck covering to keep out moisture, so SEALANT took far longer than it should have. Also stopped cold at 48D: _____ fin because the only possible meanings of "fin" I could think of were 1. French for "end" and 2. slang for a $5 bill. Sealife context never entered my head until I had several crosses. I also blanked, initially, on 15A: Last words of the Pledge of Allegiance ("for all"). I thought briefly about reciting the whole thing in my head on the spot, but the only words that came to me were "My country, 'tis of thee..." (which, like the Pledge, I also had to say every day in elementary school in the 70s), so I moved on and came back to it. A couple of old-timey names gave me slight pause, but then I realized I knew them both from former stints in the grid: ETTA (57D: Kett of old comics) and LIONEL (37D: Hampton of jazz fame). I know Rupp Arena, but it took me a while to remember Rupp's first name: ADOLPH (19D: Coach Rupp of college basketball). TOPER is a weird word to see on a Monday (though probably no weirder than EFFUSE) and ENGAGE, while a common word, is clued in a slightly off-the-beaten-path way that made me trip over it (21D: Take on). Actually, it's a perfectly good clue, but it's also a perfectly vague clue. Hence my trouble. But I'm not mad. How could I stay mad at a puzzle that includes both REX (69A: King, in old Rome) and REX's favorite breakfast eatery, IHOP (55D: Breakfast restaurant letters)? I couldn't.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Rick 8:19 AM  

You left out PIGPENS as one of the theme answers.

Rex Parker 8:37 AM  

Problem fixed. Thank you.


Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Though it doesn't fit, aren't the last words of the pledge of allegiance: "please be seated"?

jump the snark 11:15 AM  

I found this one very easy, i.e. just kept going without any real pauses. My worst glitch was deskDRAWER instead of JUNK, but it fell into place as soon as I remembered that "schussed" is not "shussed". I also momentarily considered reciting the pledge, but only got as far as standing up and it hit me. (Anon 9:56 -- good one!) OKIE looked funny over on the Atlantic coast. Oh, and I thought I.M.F. stood for "Impossible Mission Force" (wasn't that in Peter Graves' intro?), so my "International Monetary Fund" "I" abbr. looked funny for a couple of seconds.

Karen 12:29 PM  

I did recite the end of the pledge, and got that answer. I had trouble confusing ASTOR with ASTIN. I agree that for Monday it was challenging.

Jim in Chicago 12:46 PM  

Put me in the "easy" column on this one. There were a couple things I didn't know, but the crossed words just took care of them. Buzzed through this one in record time. Probably the first time I've done better than Rex!

Westie 12:56 PM  

Loved this puzzle for a Monday. Was it my imagination or were there an unusual number of answers that began with "e": effuse, efface, eldest, encamp, edge, ere, emi.

Go Sox!!!

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Had desk drawer for junk drawer. Knew Urdu was similar to Hindi but couldn't reconcile the across with the down. Got angry in the East (I guess the Far East?...though Okie is right below Hindi and that word implies nowhere near the Far East) and gave up there.

But overall I didn't find the clues to be any more "relatively" challenging than a typical Monday.

Fergus 1:53 PM  

The contents of this drawer wouldn't be junk to me. Since I went with Plonk (not in a TOPER way) instead of PLUNK I figured that the answer was WONK DRAWER. Seems a little more likely than a JUNK one, or a YONK one, which I was also musing about, yet knew must be nonsense.

The Pledge of Allegiance has always struck me as one of the more contradictory and self-canceling aspects of patriotic encouragement. It even seems un-American in a coercive loyalty oath sort of way, and yet I seem to be in a distinct minority, even among my most left-leaning friends and associates. Maybe it's just the ritual, like the comfort that some skeptics and agnostics get from church? Anyway I don't mean to offend either type of observant -- I'm just curious why the Pledge issue seems to me to be antithetical to American ideals, while causing so little consternation among others?

Sue 2:45 PM  

Julia Child's famous kitchen has been recently reassembled at the Smithsonian, so authentic that it includes her junk drawer.

Alex 3:39 PM  

I haven't said the Pledge of Allegiance myself since I was 7 years old and I think I've only been in the presence of other people saying it once since I graduated high school (a friend's citizenship swearing in ceremony).

So I actually had to wait for a couple crosses to give it to me.

Otherwise the puzzle is mostly a surprise to me. I'm looking over the grid now 15 hours later and am mostly surprised to see the words that are in it since I don't remember writing them when doing the puzzle.

jae 5:52 PM  

A very nice Monday effort. Very little orosswordese. I liked the EFFUSE/EFFACE corner, clever. I got slowed down by typos, I'm still trying to get used to AcrossLite and typing vs. paper and pencil. I'm pretty much always faster on paper than on the oomputer.

Doug 6:00 PM  

Didn't have time to futz in the SE, starting with the error of TWIX instead of TRIX. This contradicted my answer on the cross This Means YOU (WAR), and left This Means xxW, so of course this was NOW. Wrong-o, as the cross letter was R not, and I completely missed WAR.

Had PLANT not PLUNK, so had JANKDRANER. Of course this was wrong in a couple of places so the lack of time meant...RP to the rescue. Thanks!

First Monday I haven't completed, I think ever!

barbara 7:58 PM  

did everyone watch wheel of fortune tonight? the final answer to the question was JUNK DRAWER
Wow .how often does that happen??

Michael 8:32 PM  

I don't know quite what to make about grading the difficulty of puzzles on a curve (i.e. medium-challenging for a Monday). I don't time myself but this seemed just like an ordinary easy Monday, though perhaps it took me a half-minute longer than usual. (Like many others, I had "desk drawer" for a short time.) Does that make the puzzle medium-challenging?

vana black 8:32 PM  

barbara -- use "spoiler alert" please. No fortunate wheel on the west coast as yet.

mac 8:37 PM  

This one was just slightly harder than the normal Monday puzzle. Not a lot of fun, though.
Why do we have so many "anonimi"? What do you have to hide?

flailer 10:56 PM  

Jae, I felt on the contrary that this was full of crosswordese, so it wasn't too hard for me. Seems there's always an ETTA (be it KETT or JAMES); ALOE is just constantly in the xword (though I liked its cluing this time); ASTA also another frequent answer, as was OPT and DESI (though I haven't seen him in a while).

Anyway, my favorite was "part of a suicide squeeze" as baseball madness is upon us! Go Cubs! Go Sox! I totally want those two to face off in the World Series.

test 8:36 PM  


Michael5000 12:20 PM  

So, I picked a bad day to try my second crossword time trial. This puzzle seemed more Tuesday than Monday to me, and with a piece of baseball arcana right up front, I was screwed from the get-go. "Suicide Squeeze" indeed. I must have burned 40 seconds trying to come up with a four letter liquor starting with BU__.

Well, I'm glad that (69 across) REX thought it was a tough Monday puzzle. But notwithstanding, with a time of 9:49, I don't think I'm what you would call an "elite solver."

Note to self: lose timer.

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