MONDAY, Mar. 19, 2007 - Richard Chisholm

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Solving time: 4:27
THEME: POT _____ - first words of four theme answers can all be preceded by POT to form a familiar phrase, e.g. 17A: Sinuous Mideast entertainer (belly dancer)

SINUOUS!? That word always makes me think of some ropy, wiry guy whose SINEWS I can see. Turns out, those two words (sinuous / sinews) are unrelated, "sinuous" being derived from L. sinus, curve (I thought sinus mean cavity more precisely, but whatever). The adjective to describe the ropy, wiry guy above would be "sinewy." Clearly "sinuous" is not in my vocabulary. I would never, ever, in a million years, have called a BELLY DANCER "sinuous" (not the one I have in my mind, anyway). The word now makes me think simultaneously of sinews and sinuses, neither of which are sexy. To me. I like the gender equity of the puzzle, as BEEFCAKE (37D: Muscle mag photos) balances out BELLY DANCER in the opposite corner of the grid. Eye candy for everyone.

Other Theme Answers

26A: Chance, at cards (luck of the draw)
42A: One way to fall in love (head over heels)
56A: Host of a Friars Club event (roast master)

I had TOAST MASTER for ROAST MASTER, briefly, because that phrase is way more in my (if not The) language, and ... because I don't think I'd actually looked at the clue at the point that I wrote it in. Happens sometimes on a Monday.

The one major problem I had with this puzzle was the abundance of plurals, especially plural names, which should really be kept to a minimum (0-1 per puzzle, IMOO). Here we have:

7D: Raggedy _____ (dolls) => ANNS
13D: Senators Kennedy and Stevens => TEDS
44D: Tara plantation family => O'HARAS

Then there's URLS (21A: www addresses), ATMS (25D: Places to get quick money, quickly), OAFS (47A: Blockheads), RUSES (28D: Stratagems), and (worst of all) ALLS (38D: Cure-_____ (panaceas)). Further, many of the celebrity names were very lazily and uninterestingly clued. Consider the monotony of the following:

6A: Designer Lauren (Ralph)
18D: Explorer Sir Francis (Drake)
39A: Comic Caesar (Sid)
30D: Poet Whitman (Walt)
31D: Poet Ogden (Nash)
51A: Novelist Ambler (Eric)

And with just slight embellishment:

35A: Golfer Palmer, familiarly (Arnie)
10D: Jazz's Hancock or Mann (Herbie)
13D: Senators Kennedy and Stevens (Teds)

I know Monday is supposed to be easy, so you clue these answers more obviously / directly than you do on other days of the week. Fine. But easy does not have to be colorless.

The best name in the puzzle is AMY, first because it's my sister's name, second because it's the name of another crossword blogger of note, and finally because it's clued 33A: David Sedaris's comic sister, and AMY Sedaris is hilarious to me.

REAIM (41D: Adjust one's sights) is crap fill. CRY UNCLE (5D: Throw in the towel) doesn't fill me with joy, either. SAY UNCLE = way more in-the-language, as Google can attest.

Other observations
  • 6D: Theater district (Rialto) - what? I know it's a common theater name, but a district?
  • 14A: How most mail goes nowadays (by air) - I wanted a five-letter word for "electronically," which is surely the right answer
  • 11A: Lunch counter sandwich, for short (BLT) - I had SUB, perhaps because that's what I had for lunch yesterday
  • 20A: Ballpark fig. (est.) - I had RBI; then when the "E" went in, I thought "Oh, it's E.R.A." Wrong again.
  • 51D: To be, in old Rome (esse) - ESSE wants into the Pantheon, as does AUDI (24D: BMW competitor). New inductions coming in the spring, so ... keep your fingers crossed, boys.
  • 1D: French cleric (abbĂ©) - It's a crossword standard (Pantheon-worthy?) but as French goes, it's a little off the beaten path. For a Monday, that is.
Countdown to ACPT in Stamford: 4 days

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:38 AM  

I agree that today's puzzle was a little lackluster. The best Monday puzzles, in my HO, are easy but cute & fun. And the words formed by adding POT to the beginnings of the themed answers weren't so attractive either (POTBELLY, POTROAST, POTHEAD...).

But this is partly because I am getting excited about ACPT in 4 DAYS, making many things seem dull right now. Like...reading fellowship applications, attending meetings, and answering email...

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Merriam-Webster dictionary: Rialto (2) a theater district

Rex Parker 11:36 AM  


Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Anywhere. This from

1. A theatrical district
2. A marketplace

[After Rialto, an island off Venice where a market was situated.]

Alex S. 12:53 PM  

The usual sources on etymology don't seem to be helping but it seems that "the Rialto" is an outdated term for New York City's theater district and is generalized (though I've never heard it used) to all theater districts.

Using Google Books I find this passage in The Greatest Street in the World: The Story of Broadway, Old and New, from the Bowling Green to Albany by Stephen Jenkins, 1911.

"A quarter of a century ago, the south side of Union Square was the lounging place of many actors seeking employment at the theatrical offices in that neighborhood; and the section was called the "Rialto." With the upward trend of the theatres and theatrical offices, the "Rialto" has moved to this section of Broadway; and in the "off" season, the sidewalks are crowded with actors and actresses seeking engagements."

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

Hello, blog readers. I'm from the land-of-six-weeks-back and am popping into the present to ask a quesiton that was brought up in response to the Feb. 5 puzzle.

There was a puzzler who commented that s/he enjoyed the "pencil and paper" aspect of the puzzle experience. I shy away from the online version for a similar reason. But for me, it's a medium point black ink Bic and it MUST be on newsprint-type paper to get the full, tactile satisfaction. Something about the way the pen glides so smoothly and the ink kind of sinks into the paper. Am I totally weird or are there others who share this proclivity?

D in CO

Linda G 4:21 PM  

D in CO,

Before I subscribed online, I did the six-week-old puzzles in the local paper, and I always used purple ink. I know what you mean about the tactile satisfaction, the way the ink sinks. I miss it. I print out the current day puzzle now, but the ink just doesn't sink into inkjet or laser paper. So I've gone to using a mechanical pencil. While my pencil is purple, it's just not the same feel :(

So, no, you're not totally weird. Unless I am, too, which is totally possible.

P.S. I've lived in CO for 22 years. Lovely place.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

Dear D in CO--

I have a similar ink fetish. I actually can't stand using a pencil on crosswords, either on newsprint or on a puzzle I've printed from online.

Right now I like a blue retractable gel ink pen with a medium point - it's pretty bold, and any crossovers are terribly heavy, but...that's my story!

Have fun with your BIC!

sonofdad 5:27 PM  

I actually hate doing the puzzle on paper. I can't read my own handwriting (D's and P's are confusing, V's and U's, U's and O's, L's and C's, C's and O's, etc.), so it's really difficult for me to scan the grid efficiently when I solve on paper. Plus, I like being able to look at the same spot every time for clues instead of scanning the list and losing my place on the grid.

It takes me approximately twice the time solving on paper than solving in AcrossLite, so it's just much easier and more enjoyable for me to solve in AcrossLite.

DONALD 6:02 PM  

Pencil is too light -- plain and simple! Harder to see, plus the eraser makes holes in the newspaper. What then to do about one’s mistakes? -- BIC makes a “Wite-Out” correction pen which is excellent and can last up to a year with the infrequent use on crosswords -- the advantage being less area coverage (just the errant letter) and the substance is fairly quick to dry. Monday, Tuesday and sometimes Wednesday, it is unneeded, so it could be the Wite-Out pen could last quite a long time if used as directed.

Rex Parker 6:02 PM  

I enjoy all kinds of solving. For pure oldskool enjoyment, I require a newspaper and PEN (emphatically, pen). I like applet / AcrossLite because it's clean, and yes, I can read typed fill better than I can read my own handwriting, most of the time. And I type way faster than I write (though perhaps not as accurately). I actually DON'T like the fact that I can't see all clues at once (as with paper) when solving on computer. I feel as if I can take in more info when it's all w/i sight.

All that said, my current most-used method of solving is on printer paper with a magical new pencil that I discovered by chance, and which I will buy dozens of very soon. It's mechanical, and I have always hated mechanicals (I bite off their lousy erasers, among other problems) - this one, however, writes Beautifully, and its erasing efficiency is glorious. I totally want to do an ad for this pencil, so much do I love it.

Still, for pure pleasure: newspaper + ink, any day.


Rex Parker 6:04 PM  

PS erasable pens are the spawn of the EVIL ONE (despite being the preferred solving implement of some very, very good solvers).


Anonymous 6:09 PM  

Getting there is half the fun.

Linda G 6:31 PM  

Rex, who makes your magical pencil? My Papermate Grip is pretty nice, but I'll do my commercial for the eraser I (often) use. The letters have worn off, but I think it's a BIC CLIC. It's a pencil-sized eraser only, and you just click what you need. Takes a little more time to deal with two instruments, though, so you wouldn't want to do it when competing.

Rex Parker 6:47 PM  

It doesn't look magical, but here it is:

I take mine black.


Alex S. 7:07 PM  

I hate the feel of a writing pencil so I never use them. I also feel that the easy ability to fix a mistake promotes mistakes. So ink is best anyway.

When I first started this job last November I bought a New York Times every morning on the way into work,cut out the crossword, taped it into my notebook and then worked on it throughout the day in meetings and on conference calls. But eventually spending $11 a week just to do the crossword got to be unjustifiable so I bought the online subscription and just to it in the applet.

Where easy ability to fix mistakes seems to promote them.

Anonymous 11:37 PM  


Thanks for the"tip." I haven't found a pencil I can happily use yet.

Funny name for it, though - the E-Sharp. In music, E-sharp = F natural. No one likes to happen upon an E=sharp! They require way too much thinking!

Linda G, I like the thought of your purple ink! Nice!

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Solving in INK! Are you people mad? Who do you think you are, Morse?
I use pencil on newsprint and lots of erasures on a six-week-old puzzle (that REX won't give me a short-cut click to), my time sucks and I'm happy just to finish without using google on the (many) things I don't know.
But I wonder. Is it a generational thing to have to print stuff out before its real? I mean, the kids up here don't know what inches are any more but I don't think in metric; they thrive on screens but I often need hardcopy.
But not ink!


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