MONDAY, Jul. 23, 2007 - Randall J. Hartman

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: SPOT and its anagrams

Super-boring "theme" - not even identifiable as a theme until the puzzle is completed. Those are some of the shortest theme answers I've ever seen too - so much so that I had a hard time seeing them all, even when I was done.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Traps off the coast of Maine (lobster POTS)
  • 28A: Ball catcher behind a catcher (back STOP)
  • 34A: Source of disruption to satellites (sun SPOT)
  • 42A: Sleeveless shirts (tank TOPS)
  • 56A: Gotham tabloid (New York POST) - I was trying to think of a fictional newspaper from the world of "Batman"
My time was Terrible - the worst I've had on a Monday in ... well, forever. I had completed the grid in about 4 minutes, but my grid was wrong. And wrong. And wrong again. Because I had no clue about the "theme," I had LOBSTER NETS. This is what happens when you do the puzzle too fast. Now, my first idea about my error was a red herring - I had SALUT for SALUD at first (1A: Toast to one's health), and I had TEC for DET (5D: Investigator: Abbr.) - but when LOBSTER seemed inevitable, I figured out my error. Then when my grid came back bad, I started doubting SALUD / DET, even though clearly nothing else works there. So I lost time mulling that over. My main problem was a few places to the east, where I had RUNS as the answer to 7D: Steals, with "off" - runs off, steals away ... it made so much sense at the time that I actually believed it was a gimme. My super bad luck was that the wrong N from RUNS gave me the wrong NETS (instead of POTS). The more I looked at NETS ... well, let's just say I knew OULER was not a word - that OILER was a much better answer for 15A: Ship from the Mideast, but RUNS had to be right, so ... must be some arcane thing I've never heard of. But when I saw that I had ALEE for 8D: Skin cream ingredient, that's when I knew something was wrong wrong wrong with NETS. Once that dawned on me, my errors were gone within five seconds.

The rest of this was pretty easy, though CRANE could have been COUGH (6A: Whooping _____); CREEL's kind of challenging (63A: Fish basket); and San PEDRO Bay isn't necessarily familiar to non-Left Coasters (49A: Los Angeles's San _____ Bay). Oh, and ENESCO (12D: Georges who composed "Romanian Rhapsodies") is rough for a Monday. If I hadn't seen him before (commented on him, even), I would have been lost. At sea, even. Never heard of 45D: Aviation pioneer Sikorsky (Igor), but really, in a Monday puzzle, what other first name is this guy gonna have?

That's it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Campesite 9:32 PM  

I live in LA and have never heard it referred to as San PEDRO Bay. I would have gone with Vote For _____ .

DONALD 10:21 PM  

It's ENESCU, only in France is it Enesco!

Linda G 10:32 PM  

I started with the downs so got the theme PDQ. Didn't time myself, but it seemed fairly quick...for me.

Didn't recall your prior blog on ENESCO. IGOR was a gimme, but I don't know where it came from...

Anyway, I liked this one and thought the theme was quite clever. I do love anagrams ; )

blimey 10:40 PM  

Igor sikorsky invented the helicopter.

DONALD 10:49 PM  

I thought da Vinci did!

Linda G 11:30 PM  

Can't remember how to do a link from this section. Anyway, according to:

Igor Sikorsky is considered to be the "father" of helicopters not because he invented the first. He is called that because he invented the first successful helicopter, upon which future designs were based.

Anonymous 11:51 PM  

I didn't notice the theme until you folks mentioned it. Huh.

I like it when you post your times. Do you meticulously keep records of them? I started doing so, and now I can't seem to stop. They live in a folder next to hundreds of backgammon results and error rates that I also obsessively track. Maybe I have a problem.

Anonymous 12:51 AM  

I did the theme answers first (and correctly) so the puzzle fell together quickly. It DID take me some time to recover from whooping cough though.

Alex S. 2:29 AM  

I also didn't realize it was a themed puzzled until reading this. Personal best for me, I think. Unfortunately just as I started it I got called to dinner so my official time is 1:16:12.

Of the first 13 downs (that's how I'm starting every day now) it was 32 down before getting my third non-gimme (5D and 12D being the others). I don't think I ever even read the clues for most of the theme entries.

Anonymous 6:31 AM  

Enesco threw me off also. He's Enescu in Romania. My wife and I visited his home while on vacation in Sinaia in Transyvania. Many Romanian names end in "U".

I totally missed the SPOT thing. You guys are brilliant.


Anonymous 6:52 AM  

ENESCO is correct here, because the clue is Georges, not George.


Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Last night I solved DOWN (timed applet) and this morning ACROSS so I could print it out. Two different experiences. (The 8D gimme ALOE would have kept you from getting tangled in the nets also 9D NETS) The fun for me (not the theme since I totally missed it) was catching the few non-standard answers. EGGon RIPS off
DET not TEC (The Martin/Alex interchange about this on the forum is priceless). So often a Monday is more rote than right but this one actually made me pay attention.

So good to hear you on Faux pa.
Such a stupid useless clue.


Anonymous 8:38 AM  

Uh.... make that EXchange. It was a trip though!


Anonymous 9:20 AM  

I thought for sure someone would comment on OPIE finally showing up with the proper clue
(Mayberry lad) after Thursday, July 19th ET AL

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

The Opie comment brings up a point I've always wondered about: How do the puzzle-makers coordinate those "running" clue-answers? Does Shortz commission a group of, say, four puzzle-makers to do puzzles for Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat and tell them to make sure they have "Opie" somewhere in the puzzle?

fergus 12:53 PM  

Ron Howard has apparently petitioned puzzlers to keep his youthful legend alive.

Nice to finally learn this Enya's genre. I wanted to insert TEDIUM.

Unknown 1:09 PM  

Was delighted (momentarily) to think that 59A "kennel club classification" might actually be the term for a female canine.

fergus 3:47 PM  

Responding to Sarah's comment, I don't think I've ever seen 'that' word in a NYT puzzle, and I've been doing it off and on since 1980. Must be just over the borderline of propriety. Bart and Marge Simpson once had a very illuminating discussion on this very topic and its appropriate usage.

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

Fergus, I had all but the first letter in the Enya genre clue -- and I really don't know why, but my first thought was SEWAGE.... heehee.... definitely wouldn't pass the "breakfast table test".

fergus 4:48 PM  

That's gave me a good laugh.
Ultimately, the most appropriate Enya description would be INANER, as you'll recall from the commentary some time last week.

Anonymous 5:39 PM  

Yeah that southwest started funky when I decided, for no good reason, that sleeveless shirts was tube tops, making "street" urban (which doesn't fit), and enya boring (which does).

Rex Parker 7:14 PM  

Jeez, when did you all get so funny? Why do I even bother doing a commentary? You're upstaging me. STOP it!


PS I love all Enya-related humor. At the end of the year, as part of the 2007 Rex Parker Crossword Awards, I'm going to have to have a category of "Best Wrong Fill for an Enya-related Clue." I gotta write these down. So far I got SEWAGE, TEDIUM, and BORING, so we're off to a good start.

Anonymous 7:35 PM  

well, batch, botch, and butch show up in the cruciverb database, but no bitch. just yet...



Linda G 8:54 PM  

I said it elsewhere..."I'm so glad to see Opie back in his rightful place (52A: Mayberry lad). I take personal issues with the idiot clued last week as Opie." In one of his limericks on Diary of a Crossword Fiend, Lee Glickstein provided a link to a video clip showing what an asshole the guy is.

I enjoy Enya's music. You're all entitled to your opinions...even if they're wrong ; )

fergus 9:07 PM  

what about betch -- v.i. to kvetch existentially ?

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

I believe "pin money" refers to some extra money one (female) pinned to the inside of one's clothing incase things went badly on a date. At least, that was the meaning in the fifties.

Waxy in Montreal 12:49 PM  

6 weeks on, it's Labo(u)r Day and, incredibly, a clue appears that's date-appropriate for us syndicatees: 3D. Jerry Lewis telethon time (LABORDAY).

Did Randall J. Hartman actually plant this clue knowing the puzzle would appear again on Sept 3rd or is this just a coincidence. Some of my Jung friends believe strongly in synchronicity so maybe this is all part of a larger framework. Who knows?

One quibble: the clue is cute but shouldn't 28A. Ball catcher behind a catcher (BACKSTOP) more accurately be Ball catcher behind an umpire?

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

Sorry, I forgot to write my comments. I thought "Ball catcher" was just a bad clue. Neither the umpire nor the backstop catch the ball, unless you're counting the times the umpire asks the pitcher to throw him the ball. A backstop does just what it says-stops the ball.

I enjoyed this puzzle for a Monday. I thought it was a decent theme for Mon. For a 6wl'er, it was nice to have a correct holiday reference. I've been thrown off before when puzzle has clues or themes related to holidays.

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