MONDAY, Sep. 1, 2008 - Andrea Carla Michaels (Hersey’s “A Bell for ______” /Actor Sal of “Exodus” / Herb who played “Tijuana Taxi”)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hi! Andrea Carla Michaels here as a guest blogger with the technical, emotional, and moral support of PuzzleGirl who is giving up part of Labor Day weekend, because:

  1. It’s Labor Day, so Rex shouldn’t have to Labor
  2. Hey! Then why are we laboring? Oh yes, women labor, that’s what we do … we even go thru labor (well some of us, personally I have cats)
  3. No one reads the paper on Labor Day. My little puzzle will never even see the light of day, much less this blog! Seriously, why are you reading this once you saw it wasn’t Rex?!
  4. But the real reason is because it’s a puzzle I wrote, so Rex thought it would be fun to have a constructor deconstruct … or self-destruct … sort of like “Deconstructing Harry” (obligatory Woody reference, I’m still under his spell!).
If only I read, and wasn’t such a pseudo-intellectual, I could insert a Jacques Derrida joke here! (Yes, the Rosenbaum article still rankles … mostly because he got it so wrong!!!)

THEME: SHHHHHHHHHH!
  • 17A: “Shhhh!” prompter (Silence is golden)
  • 37A: “Shhhh!” (Mum’s the word)
  • 59A: “Shhhh!” response (My lips are sealed)
My first idea was to simply solve this as I normally do and then go on either a rant about how much was changed or go on and on about how fabulous this puzzle was, the perfect Monday, etc. etc. and pretend not to notice it was mine! But because Rex has generously honored me by allowing me to lift the cover on the process a bit, I will play it straight (despite a nod to my fabulous gay friends with LATENT (22A: Present but not visible) and CAMP (29A: Kitschy)).

So, I solved it as I would solve it and only stumbled on the spelling of PSIS (5A: Greek letters that resemble pitchforks). I wrote in PSYS … and then later when I looked up the original puzzle submission, I discovered that that was the only word changed in the whole puzzle!!!!!!!! Literally one letter. I originally had ASIS/AEC, which was changed to PSIS/PEC (5D: Chest muscles, for short). [RP~ what the hell is "AEC?" And what is with you and the exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?]

This was amazing to me, because last week’s puzzle (PACK, PECK, PICK, etc.) went thru nine grid versions with my co-writer Michael Blake and Will still changed 43 letters in the grid!!!!!!! So to have one letter changed seems like a miracle to me. That said, it was my third version of the puzzle. More than a year ago, in August 2007, I submitted a puzzle with the following theme:

  • MUM’S THE WORD (11)
  • SILENCE IS GOLDEN (15)
  • TALK IS CHEAP (11)
I defined them each simply as “SHHHHHHHH!” Will, rightly, rejected it, feeling that TALK IS CHEAP didn’t really match the other two. And since I have trouble taking no for an answer, I tried to come up with another phrase .… But it had to be either 11 letters or 15 letters long, be a catchy phrase and have the same feel as the other two. It really isn’t as easy as it looks, and some people don’t even realize Mondays have a theme! (I mean, I ain’t no Kevin Der, but feel free to fold up today’s puzzle and make an airplane out of it! Or perhaps an origami sculpture of a swan.)

Luckily at some point (around Feb. 2, 2008, according to my files) I had an epiphany and thought of MY LIPS ARE SEALED which is even better because it’s 15 letters. SO I drew up a grid … and sent it in.

Here is where things got tricky. I do not know how to make grids. Crossword programs do them in about three seconds but I’m a total Luddite. So I have two choices: beg my saintly pals Michael or Patrick or Myles to whip up a grid for me if I supply the theme, or take an already existing one and alter it with a square here and a square there to suit my needs.

The problem was, I made a brand new puzzle from scratch, but it had 80 words instead of 78 because, god forbid, I had added two previous squares that hadn’t been there before! Busted! I swear, I didn’t know there were black square limits or word limits. But apparently there are. There are even boys out there that are determined to break records over them. My feeling is if you have a great theme, who cares? Who notices if it’s 80 words or 74? Well, um, I guess that’s why I’ll never be a real constructor. I’m a solver who occasionally writes puzzles … and that’s why I’m no Paula Gamache or Lynn Lempel or whoever the true Queen of Mondays is. I am a pretender to the throne. A Lady-in-Waiting. And (if I may mix metaphors) that blonde chick from “All About Eve.” [RP~ Marilyn!!? You're Marilyn Monroe!?" You are blond, I'll give you that.]

Speaking of which, my favorite clue, “Woman of Honor?,” was changed to “Bride’s ____ of honor” (40A: MAID). Yuck. I agree with 99% of Will’s changes, and this puzzle was left pretty much untouched, but it’s frustrating with Mondays to have to be so straightforward that even little attempts at wit are bled out. (Just like this blog! Trust me, my original draft was hysterical! I blame PuzzleGirl and her backstabbing ways!) [RP~ What is a "Woman of Honor?" Is that a pun, a play on ... something?]

SO the long and short of it is I had to/chose to write a third version, from scratch, on spec, to maybe/maybe not be published, a year later, on a holiday where no one reads the paper! (And don’t get me started on no reprint rights!)

Ok. I feel better.

May I comment on the actual puzzle now as a solver?

MIA (25A: Actress Farrow). (Okay, second obligatory Woody Allen reference, so shoot me.) Total coincidence, synchronicity, malapop, whatever you want to call it, I swear I wrote this puzzle a year ago!

As some of you have detected on this blog, I occasionally try and slip in something self-referential, like ACME. This is a holdover from my TV Guide construction days (as is GINA (19D: Actress Lollobrigida) and AVA (41D: Actress Gardner)) where they would not give us a byline and paid $75 despite a 70 million readership … or was it 17 million? … whatever. So every puzzle I would slip in “The Streets of ___ Francisco” so friends would at least know it was mine.

On this puzzle, the secret shout out/kiss up word was, you guessed it, WILL (38D: Not just might). I originally clued it as “NYT crossword puzzle editor Shortz.” I have no idea why he changed it. Probably too hard for a Monday.

I also slipped in BERG (65A: Ice in the sea) as a nod to my birth name, Eisenberg, because my dad used to complain when I changed it that if I was published, no one would know I was his daughter. So much for that … when I told him I was having my first puzzle published in the NY Times, he asked what day. I said “Monday.” He said “Let me know when it’s a Friday” and hung up. And one asks why I plugged my therapist in the last blog!

By the way, my therapist Nanette Gartrell’s book, “My Answer Is No, If That’s OK With You,” is clearly working as I had NO SALE (1D: Key on an old register), NO RUSH (34A: “Take your time”), and NONCOM (18D: Sarge, for one) in the puzzle!


I’m such a Beatles fan, I had clued GOT TO as “____ Get You Into My Life” and it was changed to (63A) “What’s Love ___ Do With It” (Tina Turner #1 hit) which is fine by me, I love that song! My friend Johnnie even dressed as her for Halloween that year (where is THAT picture!??!!)


What’s love got to do with it, indeed. Speaking of which, I would end on a third obligatory reference to Woody, and our correspondence with me as a 14-year-old … but MY LIPS ARE SEALED. (Which is going to make it awfully hard to say thank you properly to Rex and PuzzleGirl … it will be more like “MMMANKU … ANKU … OILCAN.”) [RP~ o my god I so don't understand whatever you are doing there ... it's a bit scary. Otherwise, thanks for the insider's view, Andrea. RP is back tomorrow. See you then]



PS here's a drawing you'll like, Andrea - Emily's drawing based on last Saturday's puzzle. Enjoy.


[drawing by Emily Cureton]


PPS - testing testing. I'm experimenting. You should see a "Toughie" cryptic from the Telegraph below ...

Read this document on Scribd: Telegraph Toughie

49 comments:

Gnarbles 7:53 AM  

I hope Dorothy comes by quick to get the oil can for you. Very interesting history of your one adventure to publish today's puzzle. Thanks for the blog.

joho 8:32 AM  

@Andrea Carla Michaels: thanks so much your inside take on the puzzle construction process. It's fun to see your name at the top of the page before embarking on the day's challenge.

I got 37A first so thought this might be a "Mom" theme. Maybe that's something to think about for future efforts: Mommy Dearest, Mother of the Bride (whoops! too many letters ... see, I wouldn't even have known that before coming to this blog.)

I liked the clues for 4D: SCENE & 47D: STOLEN. I didn't like the answer 33D: PERF and thought 60A should have been SEE YA. These are nitpicks .... especially now knowing how difficult it is to build a puzzle of any degree of difficulty.

I'm looking forward to your next creation ...

ArtLvr 9:16 AM  

Thanks very much, Andrea -- it's a very smooth and enjoyable puzzle! Did your father really respond as noted? It struck a painful chord. Maybe we all have a family member or acquaintance who's a put-down pro... I wish I had your sense of humor about it, or could say "Put a Sock in it!"

∑;)

Crosscan 9:18 AM  

My how times have changed. This used to be a little blog by a solver just trying to improve his ability on the crosswords. Now it has turned into the ultimate insider report, with the constructor guest-blogging on her own puzzle, Rex being a test solver and for all I know Will editing the blog and changing half of it.


How do I comment on this? These are not strangers. I have "talked" one way or another with all of you. Judging this puzzle is like being on a reality show. So You Think You Can Construct With the Stars Crossword Idol.

Even the puzzle mocks me. SHHHHHHHHHH! Sigh.

I guess this was an "Easy" as my 3:45 time is my fastest on any puzzle since February.

Nice puzzle, dawg. Good word choices. You deserve to return next week.

Shall I go on? SILENCE IS GOLDEN.

greene 9:23 AM  

@andrea: Thanks for filling in today. I really enjoyed learning about the changes these puzzles go through on their path to publication, not to mention all the hard work it takes to create a seemingly effortless Monday puzzle. I feel like a bit of a heel because I was so busy enjoying my Google-free triumph over yesterday's puzzle that I felt empowered to take a dump on the theme, which was, in retrospect, pretty darn good. Mea culpa. I think I/we take it for granted that there's always going to be another perfect puzzle waiting for us every morning with just the right degree of difficulty. Well...I guess there generally is, but you know what I mean. Thanks for what you do.

Now to unveil my ignorance: what the hell is snick and snee?! I have never, ever heard of this. Got it from crosses and looked it up later. Something to do with swordplay or knife fights? Was there snick and snee in "West Side Story" that I missed? Help, anyone?

Also was not aware of the word odic. Lyrical? It sounds like it's short for odious, as in: "That's an odic clue."


Liked seeing "A Bell for Adano." Never read the book, but I've seen the movie once or twice.

Oh, and Andrea don't worry about your puzzle being published on Labor Day. Maybe people won't read the newpaper, but the puzzlers will be out in full force.

Hassle-Free Blog 9:35 AM  

Andrea,

Your puzzle made a great start to a relaxing holiday. Usually I rush through the Monday puzzle because I am running late for work and I don't remember it or have time to read Rex's blog. A holiday publication date isn't all bad.

john in NC 9:47 AM  

It's interesting to think about constructors putting in fill that has meaning for them (Woody Allen refs, e.g., or the name of your favorite song, or whatever). Doing the puzzle, it just goes in like regular xword fill -- never occurred to me that it meant something to the constructor. Thanks for that insight!

As for the puzzle itself, I found the NW very difficult for a Monday. For some reason, ODIC, ADIDAS and ADANO just were not coming (I mean, I'd never heard of the Hersey thing, so there's a problem right there). Otherwise, the puzzle was a lot of fun -- good theme, good fill.

Margaret 10:00 AM  

Thanks for the comments, ACM. It's interesting to get the background from a constructor. I haven't yet determined whether this makes me more or less likely to try my hand at constructing. (BTW, Rex, I recently read Gridlock after finding the list of Christmas recommendations that you and Orange put together. I thought the most interesting part of the book was the comparison of computer generated puzzles vs. "hand-made" ones.)

Nice sweet theme for the puzzle. Best word: TARIFF. And isn't PSI a carryover from yesterday? My only quibble (ooh, THAT's a good word!), is with CAMP for Kitschy. I guess I can see how they could be used interchangeably but it still feels like it should be CAMPY.

mac 10:02 AM  

What a pretty puzzle with my first cup of tea on Labor Day. And on top of that Andrea's explanation and hilarious commentary! You must get so defensive of your handiwork when the powers that be change it behind your back.

After I got silence is golden, I was looking for silver and bronze, but NOT. It all fell into place smoothly. From now on I will be looking for your personal catch words in all you work!

Thanks for the double job today.

jannieb 10:03 AM  

ACME - Glad your feet warmed up and you decided to blog after all! It doubled the pleasure of the puzzle to learn about the creative/collaborative efforts that went into producing it. Maybe one of my fastest Monday times ever, but IMOO perfectly pitched for a holiday Monday. Thanks!

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

@acme
Nice job(s),puzzle & blog. From RP's interjections he's now revealed that he can have some of the same reactions as we have to his *creations* --- but maybe he should have put the *on topic* remarks in the comment section ;-)

@greene

snee is the swordlike dagger in the phrase you looked up & comes up often, at least when dirk (the old dagger) dosen't fit.

Odic refers to the Ode, the lyrical poem form favored by Pindar.

I'll let you explain the Hershey thing to John of NYC :)

.../Glitch

chefbea1 10:33 AM  

Andrea - great puzzle and great write-up. Thanks for both. And you even managed to include some food - like oranges and tangerines!!

miriam b 10:45 AM  

It seems to me that a holiday would allow leisure time for reading the paper, provided one is taking a staycation on said holiday. I'm retired, so what do I know?

I did the puzzle while eating breakfast on the surprisingly cool porch. It will warm up later, and then I'll head to the neighbors' for a barbeque, bearing a huge pasta salad. I'll enjoy their company, but as always I'll avoid meat and try not to seem awkward and ungracious. I'm not an out-and-out vegetarian, but I'm close to it. They, OTOH, are highly carniverous.

Back to the subject at hand: I loved both your puzzle and your writeup, Andrea. About Emily's drawing: How about having it reproduced on a TSHIRT?

jeff in chicago 11:03 AM  

Nice puzzle and write-up, Andrea. I liked how there were other references (sorta) to silence embedded in the puzzle: LISTEN, NAPS, MUSED. Your musical taste ranges wide, From IGGY Pop to Herb ALPERT. Helluva mix tape you got going there.

And thanks for the further insights into the process. As I'm about to submit my first puzzle to Will, I'm feeling better prepared for what might happen.

Wade 11:05 AM  

I forgot about the TV Guide crossword. My mother used to do that one. Hell, I forgot about TV Guide. People still buy it? Why? Isn't it just page after page of "Deal or No Deal"?

When I consider the psychology of crossword constructors and the role puzzles play in our lives, I'm reminded of Sumarokov's brilliant line in which he has Cephalus say to Prokris, "Indeed, tis a fragile adhesive that binds us!!!!!" It loses something in translation from the original Russian. But you guys really are like sidewalk chalk artists or sand sculptors. Your work lasts only until the next rain. Nothing gold can stay, Ponygirl.

archaeoprof 11:15 AM  

Some of us are working on Labor Day. Here at the college where I teach, it's the first day of classes. So it brightens my day to get a glimpse into the process of constructing and editing.

Haven't thought of Sal Mineo in years. My older sister said he was cool, so in junior high I tried to look and act like him.

ACM, you are the queen of Mondays. All others are your ladies-in-waiting.

Doug 11:35 AM  

It's nice to be back reading the RP blog--I was able to do the puzzle while in Soho, NYC last week and really enjoyed that. I was waiting for Ellen Ripstein to walk by with a bag of books en route to a movie, but alas no.

Almost 100% fresh fill-Nice Job ACM. And "fresh" in many ways you naughty, naughty girl. An erect WILL by his OFFICE, beside a NUDE, under GINA Lollobrigida, near AVA Gardner with a TRIPOD in the vicinity no less! I really believe you when you say that you put in a lot of secret fill. OK, OK, just having a bit of fun on Labor Day! This must be how David Duchovny thinks (if you don't get this, just google.)

I just subscribed to the NPR Sunday Crossword with Will Shortz podcast that has been mentioned here a few times. It provided a nice diversion while I turned over my mulch pile.

Merry Labor Day? Happy LD? Unlabored LD?

Ulrich 11:45 AM  

To a Gleichgesinnte: Actually, I like this one better than last Monday's (not that there was anything wrong with that one)--but to me, this one is more "Andreatic"--except for the reference to some gorgeous women, I can't point to anything specific, just to a general air of light-heartedness that may go out in a collaboration. Or is it the irony of having a silence-themed puzzle come ACM? Anyway, it's amazing that such a fragile flavor can survive what seems to be a torturous gestation period.

BTW Gina Lollobrigida is the origin of my life-long infatuation with Italian women.

Bill from NJ 11:45 AM  

When my grandmother died, we found a 15-year collection of TV Guides -with the crossword puzzles neatly filled in - under her daybed in the dining room, filed by date in shoeboxes. We had no idea.

Congratulations, Andrea, to the true Queen of Mondays. A very tight theme, well executed with great fill ADANO TARIFF CITRUS.

By the way, how were you going to clue AEC? Atomic Energy Commission?

Orange 12:07 PM  

Rex asks what Andrea is doing with "MMMANKU...ANKU...OILCAN." I think Gnarbles understands. Trying to say thank you to Rex and PuzzleGirl while one's lips are sealed would make one sound like the Tin Man in need of oil? I don't remember that part of The Wizard of Oz.

"Man of honor" is a familiar phrase. (Googling bears this out and provides many usage examples.) So [Woman of honor?] evokes that while also pointing toward "maid of honor." I like Andrea's original clue, but [Bride's ___ of honor] felt clunky to me.

Rex Parker 12:09 PM  

If he can't even say "Thank you" properly, how in the world is he going to say "OILCAN?"

rp

calpoet 12:09 PM  

Nice write up Andrea. A pleasure to hear from a constructor. Mondays are always a relief to me after the many hours I spend on Sat and Sun trying to figure those beasts out...This one was a special relief. Though I never measure my solving time, I breezed through this one with all the familiar references to the culture of my generation: Ava Gardner, Herb Alpert, Gina Lolobrigida, even John Hershey's A Bell for Adano. And 1 down reminded me of when I was a kid and would go into a candy store in Brooklyn and ask for change for the bubble gum machine, and the guy behind the counter would press the key on the register, cha ching, NO SALE.

CAlady 12:25 PM  

I've just taken a wormhole trip to visit you all from 6 weeks out, where I live in a rather strange xword world. Saturday Rex was in NZ, yesterday, back home, and I'm sure when I return to my world today, he'll be back in NZ. How does he do it? I digress.
I made this trip to say how wonderful it is to have all you mainlanders(?) ahead of me to untangle the knotty world of strange words and ideas! There is always someone who answers the questions I won't ask for weeks! i wish I could come to your picnics!
Now I must return to my world where it won't be Labor Day for another six weeks. But,before I go: Hi to Juliebee, cogito ergo sum! Byeeee..ee.ee

fikink 12:29 PM  

Happy Labor Day Everyone!
Nice puzzle and write-up, Andrea. Brought smiles all around, but mainly because we cannot come across TRIPOD anymore without conjuring up this:
Tripod

Doug 12:49 PM  

@calady

If you want to get up to speed and off your syndicated puzzle you can buy the NYT online or just go to www.cruciverb.com to get the recent puzzles. I ask for the online subscription as the perfect gift for the guy who has everything.

Jet City Gambler 12:57 PM  

Fun Monday puzzle and interesting write-up, Andrea. As someone who works in the video game industry, there was one clue that bugged me. "Nintendo rival" for SEGA is not technically true any more. After the Dreamcast, Sega dropped out of the console business, and now makes software for all three current platforms. They aren't rivals, and there's even a Mario/Sonic game out for the Wii. "Sonic the Hedgehog creator" or "Nintendo rival of the 90s" might have been better.

physsciteacher 1:58 PM  

@Rex

I believe it is somewhat possible to say OILCAN in the back of your throat without moving your lips but it would be impossible to make the "th" sound in THANK YOU without pushing your tongue forward and slightly opening your mouth. (I tried it - don't ask why)

@Andrea

Thank you for the lovely write-up and puzzle. I appreciated the inclusion of ON EDGE which is how I have been feeling since my summer vacation is over and I am back to teaching. As it is - the NYT puzzles help take the edge off the beginning of the school year for me.

fergus 2:02 PM  

Maybe Andrea's reference to the Tin Woodsman was really alluding to his release from rust-enforced silence?

A friend and I watched The Wizard of Oz not too long ago, and she was insisting on the gayness of said woodsman. Never saw the Celluloid Closet, so maybe there's something to that. Or maybe, Andrea's fabulous friends have something to say?

Anyway, PSIS are a pretty close carry-over, so there is more to WILL's lack of intent.

In deference to ACM, I did the puzzle very slowly and fastidiously in fountain pen this morning, even though this is seldom a good idea on newsprint.

foodie 2:26 PM  

Yesterday evening, I was in my backyard near the woods, and it was perfectly quiet. I thought, there really is a sound of silence, I love it. We don't get enough of it in our world. I imagined people in the desert at night, looking at the stars in total silence. Then this morning, there's Andrea's puzzle!

But the theme was more airy, playful, really lovely. It also had something that evoked the mediterranean for me-- I loved seeing my hometown, Damascus, as a clue; then there was Gina, and citrus, and siestas/naps. A perfect feeling for the end of summer.

Thank you Carla for a delightful puzzle and an equally delightful write up!

chefbea1 2:40 PM  

Just realized there are more food related clues.

garlic
sushi
hero sandwich
ate

Omnie 3:28 PM  

Delightful and easy puzzle! In fact this is my first sub 10 minute solve for me ever! Yeah! I've come very close before but this is the first time I've been able to do it.

Only clue I didn't get (but got on the across) is PERF. What the heck is a PERF? I realize the "b'way showing" means it is an abbr but what does b'way mean? Perfect?

Who knows but it was a superb Monday puzzle.

Rex Parker 3:32 PM  

PERF = performance (unless I'm overthinking it ...)

rp

Rex Parker 3:33 PM  

Oh, and b'way is very common (in xwords) abbr. for BROADWAY.

rp

Omnie 3:42 PM  

@Rex.

Thanks! I've seen B'way before but I guess I just didn't connect the dots.
D'oh.

fergus 4:02 PM  

I thought that PERF was going to be a chance to use that new word I learned, PELF, like perhaps the price of an overpriced show?

Michael 4:09 PM  

Andrea Carla Michaels and Lynn Lempel and perhaps other constructors seem to specialize in Monday puzzles. I wonder if Andrea (or anyone else) could say why they specialize in Monday (or or Tuesday) puzzles. It seems to me under Will Shortz, the answers for Fridays and Saturdays aren't much more obscure than the answers for Mondays and Tuesdays. The big difference seems to be in the clues. [Perhaps others disagree.] It also seems that Will has quite a bit of input on the clues (perhaps not today).

Badir 5:23 PM  

Thanks for a fast Monday time, Acme, that I didn't have to labor over. :)

evil doug 5:36 PM  

@michael:

I think you've hit on a great point. While there are certainly some unusual answers on a typical Saturday that might not show up much on Tuesday, the vast difference in difficulty may well be the clever, option-laden, disguised and obscure clues that make us grind as the weekend approaches.

I bet Rex or acme or other creative minds here could take today's rather straightforward puzzle and its unnecessarily pedestrian clues (I mean, really: "Bride's ___ of honor"? You're right, Andrea; yours was better) and turn the identical grid of solutions into a good Thursday or Friday challenge just through creative, worthy recluing.

Doug

dk 5:42 PM  

My goodness do you go on and on and on when you and @puzzleirl do these write-ups, the good news is you write well as a duo although I am thinkin pgirl has to fight to get a word in. That said I was ready for some NAPS after reading it :)

I rose (literally) to acme's puzzle challenge, downloaded the puzzle this am and checked to make sure son and sister are well out of NOLA on what they are calling a hur-a-fi-ca-tion.

The puzzle was a dream. My favorite part was spelling ALPERT as Albert and wondering what a berf was (no espresso at Stout's Island Lodge).

As a member of the APA I got the PSI.

ACM it is thoughtful Monday Queen who labors long for her subjects.

mac 5:44 PM  

@michael and evil doug: of course you are both right. At the finals of the tournament the same puzzle is clued easy, medium and hard for the different categories. The audience (I was there, just to get a taste of the event) got copies of all three, and it's amazing what a difference a clue makes!

alanrichard 7:11 PM  

I took the puzzle and some hard and very hard sudokus to Point lookout today. The puzzle took about 5 minutes, which is much less time than it took to read the ACM blog. I was sort of hoping for a labor day theme. Something to do with labor: unions, birth, Hercules, etc....I think that would be a little ambitious for a Monday puzzle though.
I started with 1A and just did acrosses and by the 3rd round I was done. That makes the easy Monday puzzles more fun and challenging.
I have some Iggy Pop videos. He's one verrry skinny guy. When someone is his age and is as vascular as he is, and not an athlete, you can bet there was some serious substance issues!
I also agree that as the week progresses the answers get more obscure and the clues get increasingly vague. If this was Saturday 48D might be bygone camera maker, and 2D might be German stripers.
Anyway, I enjoyed the puzzle and Andrea's history of its production.

qv 7:46 PM  

Hey, many thanks as well for the brief glimpse behind the discreet corporate veil which usually lies over the financial world of professional crossword makers... so the TV Guide only pays $75... the NYT is presumably rather more generous, but what's the going rate, and is it the same for each day of the week, or is there a graded increase in pay along with degree of difficulty, culminating in a river of shekels for the creator on Sunday? And what's all this about residuals? Could it possibly be that the original artist does not enjoy a share as their creation is endlessly recycled through paperbacks large and small, magazines, software packages, websites, and the odd electronic gizmo? Just like the fabled starving artists in their garrets who watch helplessly as their $400 canvases change hands for millions in the auction rooms?

Rex, in the interests of transparency and the perfectly informed market place so beloved of classical economics, perhaps we could have a learned discourse from you (or perhaps from a disgruntled, indiscreet, garrulous, slightly tipsy guest blogger) on this mysterious aspect of the avocational cruciverbal sub-universe we all cherish?

More specifically, is now the right time to plunge into crossword futures, or should I be short(z)ing the Monday puzzle?

Anonymous 8:03 PM  

QV what was that all about????

Howard B 8:05 PM  

Thanks Andrea! Was a fun run through Monday's Times.
In contrast, I am forever a Monday-level British cryptic solver, I'm afraid. I am happy to have solved exactly one of the Telegraph clues so far (3-Down). Do I get a copy of the home game? Or at least a spot of tea and a scone crumb?

jae 8:17 PM  

Charming puzzle Andrea. Only thing that felt odd to me was "Fishing stick." So many other ways to clue this

Retina cell.
...thy ___ and thy staff
Hot ___.
____ Serling.

....

paula gamache 8:40 PM  

I'm completely crispy after a full day of relentless sunshine at the US Open (I heart Rafa). Need that oil can.

Congrats to you, Andrea, on another fun Monday puzzle! Is there a three-peat in the works? :-)

To all who wonder, it is perhaps more difficult to make a Monday puzzle that any other day because said puzzle a) must have a straightforward theme accessible to all, b) must have a very easy fill, and c) must be entertaining, despite a and b.

I leave the Monday mission to Andrea, Lynn, et al, and crossword solving and critiquing to everyone else, at least until after the election. Am off to secure Pennsylvania for Obama.

--PG

Joon 9:39 PM  

qv, the NYT pays the same rate ($200) for any day of the week except for $1000 on sundays, because they're much bigger (and the standards are a skosh higher, perhaps).

as for whether it's harder to make easy puzzles, ... well, it might be. it certainly restricts the kinds of fill you can use, and the theme also has to be totally accessible. however, fridays and saturdays are difficult in their own way because they are limited to 72 words. that means the words in the grid are longer, on average--there are a lot more 6-7 letter words on a friday or saturday puzzle. but they can't all be boring words like REPLIED or SEEING, because in a themeless puzzle, the fill has to carry the day.

in my rather limited experience, i've found it easier to make themelesses that are NYT-worthy, but that could just be because my particular talents lean more towards filling wide-open grid and thinking up challenging clues, as opposed to thinking up fresh but accessible themes. i'm not sure i'll ever come up with anything as good as that anagrammed names idea.

i haven't done a hard cryptic in forever. i'm looking forward to cracking that telegraph toughie, although i don't really know why it's there.

jubjub 2:12 AM  

everyone seems to be on holiday today, with all kinds of zany posts about the wizard of oz :). well, i am going to ask a puzzle-related question. maybe it's too late to ask questions. in any case, i didn't understand why the clues for the theme answers were not just "Shhhh!". my reading of the clues is that "Shhhh!" prompter = SILENCEISGOLDEN means that silence is golden would prompt someone to say "Shhhh!", when in fact they are synonyms. Same with "'Shhhh!' response".

There was some video/film strip I saw in elhi, in which, in the future, there was music piped into every corner of the world, and a guy started a cult where they would put their arms in an arch over their heads and whisper-yell, "Silence is golden". Child-me thought that was incredibly funny, funny enough to remember 20 years later...

andrea carla michaels 5:04 AM  

I thought i could do it, I thought I could keep my lips sealed all day... but Ulrich, you're right, it's too much for me to bear and too many people to thank!

@ everyone
Thank you for your extremely nice comments today! What fun to be able to create and then explain and then get nice feedback. You've made my year!

@gnarbles
Esp you gnarbles for totally getting that I was paying homage to that great scene where DOrothy first meets the Tin man and he is pleading for the Oil Can...
and this was supposed to be a peek a la the Wizard and the whole "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" in revealing how it was all put together

@greene
Orange's blog had a great explanation of snick and SNEE which I admit I didn't even know what it was...as well as ODIC as well as a sort of Crosswordese 101 lesson that my puzzle inadvertently seemed to be a poster-child for today!
Check her out!

@Jeff in CHicago
Thank you for getting the "silent" nod to LISTEN and MUSED. I didn't want to explain everything (lest I put DK to sleep!) and yes, I also wanted to include a youTUbe of Herb Alpert, I grew up with his music and love him, but it seemed one thing too many.
Iggy I don't know from musically, he was indeed just random fill!
And it was Puzzlegirl's once again inspired brilliance to suggest that Gogo's song in!!!!!!

Fikink
Thanks for that wonderful TRIPOD video, those of you who skipped over it, check it out, very funny,
I esp think jet city gambler would appreciate it!

@jet city gambler
Thank you for that explanation, I will pass that on to Will and retire this whole Sega rivalry thing! It will be one of many small steps towards world peace I am working on!

@jae
Yes, I had "Fishing equipment" I think it was changed, perhaps, to make a colorful little play on fishsticks ...and I love Rod Serling but had decided that was more Tuesday than Monday, isn't that sad?

@jubjub
EX-act-ly. I DID have SHHHHHHHH! for all the clues but I'm guessing Will wanted to make it a little story: one prompts, one is, one responds. Or something like that
(in other words, got me!?)

@qv
yep, you got it. you really got it. ZERO reprint rights.
I'm going to go cut off my ear now.
;)

THANK YOU AGAIN EVERYBODY!!!!!!!

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