MONDAY, Mar. 12, 2007 - Kevin Der

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."


Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Whew. Glad I am not the only one who found this less breezy than the usual Monday puzzle. It all came together, but slower - more like a Tuesday.

I had the very cool answer of "Moi?" for 63A: [Rhetorical question, possibly], making the tanner's sign read, "This time up." Not grammatically feasible, but it convinced me until I remembered what a faux PAS was. Then I had the task of trying to figure out what kind of French word was DOI, still stuck on the MOI idea. OK, so it was "DO I" not "DOI." I still like "MOI?" better!

My best friend Mark often says ANYHOO. I've never heard it anywhere else, so it pleased me to see it in the puzzle last night. And a twisted part of my brain incorporated 10A and thought, ANYHOOHAHA.

Rex Parker 10:55 AM  

Yes, MOI?, me too! Forgot to blog that. Damn DST...

The MOI? must be in the voice of Miss Piggy.


Anonymous 11:31 AM  

I liked that "Do not stack" was stacked, and was curious that "This side up" was down and on the "bottom."

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Anonymous, I think you're on to something: the fragile contents were packed neatly on top; the ones which needed to stay cool were on the bottom, away from all that rising hot air, and the moisture-sensitive ones were in the middle, away from any stray drops of water (but dangerously close to 29A: DAMP).

Though I must say, this is really stretching it to try and make all this carton-signage more entertaining...

Orange 11:58 AM  

Look, you can buy your own roll of DO NOT STACK stickers. They also sell DO NOT FREEZE stickers that really look like they're advising against penguins in formalwear. (The KEEP FROZEN sticker displays the same penguin with a bowtie, without a slash through him.) KEEP DRY, PROTECT FROM HEAT, CONTENTS FRAGILE, and THIS SIDE UP stickers are also available. I'm going to buy them all and place them on inappropriate objects.

Alex S. 2:05 PM  

I didn't really have an issue with the theme. Take the stickers you'd normally put on a shipped package, put them on something else instead and clue.

Back in my mailroom days I had stamps for all of those phrases so none seemed odd. Connecting them to the specific clues wasn't smooth, however. The sunbather one was particularly weak since presumably over the tanning session both sides are going to be up for a while.

Rex Parker 2:10 PM  

I continue to object to the word "sign" to describe these phrases. These are "signs" only in the most attenuated sense of the word.

Anonymous 3:35 PM  


Sign -- 5, a publicly displayed board, placard, etc. bearing information, warning, advertising, etc.

Label -- 2, a card, strip of paper, etc. marked and attached to an object to indicate its nature, contents, ownership, destination, etc.

I vote LABEL.

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