MONDAY, Aug. 27, 2007 - Steven Ginzburg

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: ANTS (68A: Tiny critters found twice each in 17-, 38- and 60-Across)

Blew through this quickly except for the NW, which was clunky as all hell. In the end, I had an error that I spent a good three minutes tracking down. The error produced valid-looking entries in both directions, hence the long delay. I started at 1A: It's rounded up in a roundup and couldn't think of anything. When I came back to the NW at 14A: Hawaii's "Valley Isle" I wrote in OAHU. Wrong. Eventually 1D: Insurance grp. (HMO) gave me the "M" for MAUI. Eventually had HE-D for the 1A clue, and wrote in HEAD - as in, HEAD of cattle. It made total sense at the time. Didn't check the cross, which was AUG (totally valid abbrev.). Sadly, the clue was 3D: Oriental _____, making AUG unequivocally wrong. HEAD and AUG eventually became HERD and RUG.

Two-ANT answers:

  • 17A: Operation for a new liver or kidney (organ transplant)
  • 38A: Beneficial substance in fruits, vegetables and tea (antioxidant)
  • 60A: Literary genre popular with women (romantic fantasy)

Most inventive answer in the grid is 27D: Four (two x two) - I've never seen the letter "X" used as a multiplication symbol in a grid before. Hot. The phrasing on 43A: Picking _____ with (nits) seems off, or awkward. The positioning of "with" is bugging me for some reason. Apparently FOIE gras (36D: _____ gras) is illegal in Chicago, but nobody, especially law enforcement, cares. It is Chicago, right? Some big city, anyway. I didn't know that ROMANTIC FANTASY was an established genre (60A: Literary genre popular with women). FANTASY tends to skew toward the Sci-fi in my mind. Just learned today (from wife) that linen is made from FLAX (16A: Linen fiber). Wife also had the decency to point out actual, real-live I-BAR (47A: Letter-shaped building support) in the parking lot of the Carousel Mall in Syracuse last weekend.

Tripped slightly in the SW, where having SOON for ANON (66A: Shortly) caused a minor typing and retyping kerfuffle. TASSEL (50A: Mortarboard addition) just looks wrong, as a word. TASSLE looks right. Don't argue with me. CLASS ACTION (11D: Kind of suit) is a fun, fancy phrase for a Monday. Lastly, I like the musical pile-up where G MINOR (29D: Key of Saint-Saens's "Danse macabre" - a great piece) pierces right through VOICE (44A: Alto or soprano) and CAROLS (49A: Yuletide songs). And we get a Yuletide reprise, despite its being all out-of-season, at 71A: Yuletide (Noel).

Long day ahead of me tomorrow. Must get some rest.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS many new vintage paperbacks and commentaries at my other blog


Anonymous 11:17 PM  

As soon as I got to the TWO X TWO answer I said to myself, I bet Rex is gonna love that one.

I agree about the "with" - but I don't want to nitpick.
I also agree about the Fantasy issue - I first tried Romantic Fiction to no avail.

I least I got started fast - put HERD down right away. What got me stuck was the NE - "Extents" for "spreads" (evidently a noun formation but a strange use of "spreads" - I wanted to use Extends, the verb).



Orange 11:29 PM  

Yes, it's Chicago that has the foie gras ban.

You're right about TASSEL looking funny. I'm sure you just have David Hasselhoff's autobiography, Don't Hassel the Hoff, on your mind.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

No big deal, other than a time of "ridiculous" as compared to O-fruit's 3:16. An otherwise blah puzzle that Rex, fortunately, can extract some interest from, and add value to. TASSEL / tassle. Cubical / cubicle. Is there some rule, like for SNOBBISH? Guess I'll go watch Iron Chef (unfortunatley) America. Bring me a higher love.

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

Yes, it's Chicago with the foie gras ban, but the cops did actually issue one citation - a $500 fine to Hot Doug's, an upscale hot dog stand. Not the first place that comes to mind for tortured fowl organs.

I agree with Anonymous about the problem with extents, even though spreads is a legitimate snyonym.

ScottK 8:04 AM  

That "with" after NITS bothered me too, and added a few seconds to my time. I think somebody is confusing "picking nits" with "having a bone to pick with".

Orange 12:42 PM  

"The chimpanzee picked nits with her brother, and they shared their tasty findings with the nitpickees."

BT 2:17 PM  

I wrote in "like" as a placeholder for the first half of the metaphor clue.

Chicago beat San Francisco to banning something for a "PC" type reason? Amazing. That says something about the current state of Chicago.

fergus 4:37 PM  

What's Chicago's policy on plastic bags; how about bottled water? Those are the two hottest issues in SF at the moment.

Thought that this was the most interesting Monday puzzle in ... as long as I can remember. Who cares about double ants -- jack up the clues a notch or two and you could have a very engaging puzzle.

Orange 5:24 PM  

Fergus, I don't think Chicago's got policies on those. Hell, it's hard enough to find a recycle bin out in public.

FaithdoesAsia 6:51 PM  

Sounds as though your wife was the winner today!

Anonymous 11:05 PM  

My first puzzle to do "in real time" (subscribed to the NYT Website today). No more six week time warp for us! My time wasn't good, but I'm recovering from arthroscopic surgery from this morning, so I'm blaming it on the vicodin.

I am a Mauiphile so I was happy about the "Valley Isle" clue. We also have an ant infestation, so the theme resonated as well. This is the second time I've encountered kerfuffle (which doesn't pass Firefox's spell checker, by the way), and I had to look it up AGAIN. I got tripped up with the EL/LE thing on Tassel too, and extant/extent.

I'm not too proud to say that I still love the Monday puzzles!

Anonymous 11:18 PM  

I liked the swarm of ants. And I was thinking a lot of the same things as you, Rex, like "TASSEL!?". And I thought you would like CAROLS and NOEL. For some reason I took an extra 30 seconds or so at the end for the crossing TUNERS/BEAUS.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

No one mentioned "The ants go marching TWO (by) TWO, hurrah, hurrah," a song I heard as a kid in various settings. Seems like an amazing center clue for such a puzzle. Sorry if that was just really obvious, but I thought someone would have noted it earlier.

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

In case anyone is still reading six weeks later...

I thought that "two x two" was terrible, and then driving to work I suddenly burst out laughing when "the song" started going through my head.

Strictly for that reason I'm voting this the best Monday puzzle I've seen in a while.

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