MONDAY, Sep. 3, 2007 - Sarah Keller

Monday, September 3, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: STALE anagrams

Finished this in record or near-record time despite flailing around in the SW corner like a crazy half-blind man chasing a pig - never stopped typing, but I was just throwing all kinds of letters up and hoping that they'd eventually make some kind of sense. As is typical with me and Monday puzzles, I never saw or thought about the theme - might have helped me polish off the SW more quickly if I had; I really needed SLATE ROOF, and without SLATE and without the word above it (PHONES - 43A: Items in a "bank"), which I also couldn't see, I just had to dive blind into the SW. Got IT'LL (55A: "_____ cost you!") right away, but put in RIND for PEEL (61A: Orange throwaway), which was a wrench in the system. Eventually (possibly seconds later, but it felt much longer...) I saw 44D: "To be or not to be" speaker (Hamlet), which was obviously a gimme and things came together from there.

Here are the theme answers:

  • 17A: Base for turkey stuffing, often (STALE bread) - hmmm. I was not aware of this. It makes sense, but the very idea of using something STALE to make something delicious seems improbable
  • 25A: Leave furtively (STEAL away) - also the title of 1980 hit by Robbie Dupree. Nice shirt.
  • 35A: What the easiest path offers (LEAST resistance)
  • 48A: Long-lasting housetop (SLATE roof)
  • 56A: Sob stories (TALES of woe)

So the theme isn't terribly imaginative - what about the rest of the fill? Well ... it's so-so. Nothing especially startling, though there are some nice words here and there, like DOODAD (10D: Thingamajig) and AIRLIFTS (37D: Emergency military transports). I doubt there is anything in this puzzle to give even the beginning solver any real trouble. ICE-T is Pantheonic fill, so even though the song "O.G. Original Gangster" will likely be unknown to most of you, you probably got ICE-T no problem (42A: "O.G. Original Gangster" rapper). There are a number of small challenges: GESSO (33D: Painting surface) is kind of a weird word, and AGATES (32A: They're seen at marble tournaments) comes from another era when kids actually played marbles. ASE (34D: Enzyme ending) is not as common (or perhaps well-known) a chemical suffix as OSE. The spelling of LAO TSE (28A: Taoism founder) gives me fits because I always want it to end in "U." The GSA gave me fits only days ago, so I was ready for it today (3D: Overseer of govt. office bldgs.). OTELLO (45D: Verdi opera) isn't necessarily the most recognizable Verdi opera. The one annoying and off-seeming clue to me in today's puzzle was 65A: Pal (kiddo). PAL is something one might call an adult male, like MAC or (my answer) BUDDY. KIDDO is something you call your impish son if you are a sitcom father.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


roxanne 10:18 AM  

gesso is an art term. It refers to a thick white pasty substance that is used to size canvases and walls for painting.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

NW started so easily I decided to go for speed. I saw where I lose time in a couple ways.

1) Not checking the top numbered clue in a column to see if I'm in the right column. In other words, if I'm looking for 44d, say, my eyes will find a down clue, like 29d, then proceed all the way to the bottom of the column, not finding 44d, before jumping to the next column, where it resides. Some sort of binary search is in order.

2) ADD. I just naturally seem to want to wander into a different area or clue, or get caught on something interesting in the clue list, rather than pursue the clue I'm after. Completely undisciplined.

Zero mistakes/redos, knew every answer, but took about 7 minutes. Do you 3-minute aces have any tips?

Didn't see the theme until I read Rex.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Laoste (28A) is part of the theme.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Hey, karmasartre, I ALWAYS wander around the puzzle page except on Mondays which I fill in easily beginning with 1A. Believe me, by Friday I have to wander, trying to find an answer to fill in.

Didn't like the answer of kiddo for pal either. I mean, would anyone address a friend as kiddo except in a derisive way?

I got the theme! I usually forget to look.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

As is Plates (43D)

BT 11:38 AM  

Rex and I are inverses. When he is fast, I am slow - and vice-versa. It's almost uncanny.

"Hey, Kiddo, how are you doing?" is something I'd hear from an older to a younger person in an appreciative way.

Finally - a little dissappointing no "Labor Day" theme... unless you count "ergs" (work).

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

"OK kiddo" or "OK pal" are interchangeable. I imagine a cop in a noirish movie saying it to a suspect and telling the suspect: "Ok kiddo (or pal) your free to go but you better watch your step."

wendy 11:52 AM  

I've taken to filling as many of the downs as I can on Mondays and Tuesdays first, and it makes for a completely different experience although I can't explain why or how. Certainly acrosses that might be open to interpretation at first are then more readily obvious, but I also won't even read some across clues because they're already filled in by the time I get to them. I suppose it could work both ways, but that wasn't my experience when I started with the acrosses first. I have no idea what it all means, but as long as it's fun who cares.

I did see the theme today which I often don't.

Orange 12:23 PM  

My grandpa used to say, "Wish you a lotta luck, kiddo," with the utmost of affection. Five-letter word ending in O, means "pal"? Must be AMIGO. Grandpa didn't call me "pal," but "kiddo" is certainly a friendly term.

Anonymi, guess what? LAOTSE and PLATES aren't anagrams of LEAST. They just happen to contain a lot of common are often seen in crossword answers.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Refering back to July 23 puzzle, 6 weeks ago is the clue "Jerry Lewis telethon time" 3D LaborDay which is Today for all of us in the delayed papers. very clever!

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

PROFPHIL - Don't forget PALLY, very popular in old gangster movies. Also PAL-O-MINE (not to be confused with a certain gold/white horse).

Doug 2:30 PM  

Spoken Chinese is transcribed into our Romanized system (i.e. our 24 letter Latin alphabet) using one of two common methods. LAOTZU/TSE transcriptions suffer from the differences in the methods causing headaches for puzzler solvers worldwide.

I just used Wikipedia to get the actual Chinese character in order to get the Romanized transcription and here's the "official" correct transcription assuming Wiki has the right character: LAO ZI. However LAO TZU is also a correct answer, and LAO TSE is only correct because it's commonly used, albeit incorrectly. I shall explain:

The problem is that until 1979 the standard transcription method (Wade-Giles, LAO TZU) is quite different from the current one (Pinyin, LAO ZI). Taiwan still uses Wade-Giles, but the rest of the world uses Pinyin. So until about 1979, LAOTZU would be fine, but now we all use LAOZI. I don't know where LAOTSE and the others entered the picture but they're just wrong, and is one of those things that just got picked up. Unfortunately because all these incorrect transliterations are published somewhere, they can be used as answers.

No system is perfect because Chinese has so many unique sounds and it's impossible to get them to sound right using the Latin alphabet. LAO is easy. ZI is not. Is it ZEE or ZYE or ZIH? To pronounce it properly, say "THAT'S" quickly and then cut out THA. You're left with a nice approximation of ZI.

Congratulations, you can now say "son" in Chinese. LAO is "old" and ZI is "son" so his name is actually "old boy" which is why a lot of scholars wonder if he really existed. The equivalent in our culture is the famous Monthy Python scene from the Holy Grail featuring the all powerful wizard "Tim."

ZAI JIAN or "Again See". See you later.

fergus 2:35 PM  

Speed solving causes me more problems than a more measured pace. Yesterday, for example, I was in a rush and read one of the clues (four letters) as Least Compliant, and got that stuck in my mind even after PEE_. So I run though the alphabet wondering what in tarnation is going on? Run through all the letters again, and then finally look back at the clue and discover, with a palm slap to my forehead that the clue is Least complaint. I recall Rex mentioning a dab of dyslexia, and with this little specimen, I can see where one little misread can cost a lot of precious time when you're on the clock.

The only challenge I found today was in filling in each square without reworking any letter. One goof: SNEAK instead of STEAL AWAY. Was hoping to be surprised to find an unusually difficult puzzle for Labor Day. Oh well, I still have the Saturday SF Chronicle Xword, which can sometimes be a fairly (or unfairly) stiff test.

Doug 2:40 PM  

Just to keep myself honest, I used "transliteration" in the 3rd para and not the correct "transcription."

Transliteration is the process of converting one written language to another. Transcription is the conversion of a spoken language to a written language. This is important for puzzlers: "PTUI" came up recently I recall, and very recently something about the "sound that a silencer makes" which I answered as the metallic, Sopranos sounding PEW but ended up being the more clever SSH or something like that.

Anonymous 8:06 PM  

A more interesting way to clue KIDDO would be "Name of the Bride in Kill Bill."

Anonymous 9:30 PM  

"ose: is the ending for a sugar/carbohydrate molecule(glucose, sucrose cellulose), "ase" is the ending for an enzyme (amylase,lipase).

Anonymous 9:33 PM  

Also, although I got it easily from the crosses, I kept wondering who "Icet" was. Thanks for the "Ice T" clarification, Rex.

Orange 9:33 PM  

Doug, the silencer in the clue was more along the lines of a librarian than a gun accessory. Rex probably has a pulp paperback involving both a lusty librarian and a gun with a silencer, don't you think?

Doug 10:47 PM  

Orange, yes, I got it right after a few crosses, but the first instinct PEW was the result of the CSI marathon I've been watching!

Unknown 10:23 PM  

With regard to not knowing John von Neumann: He is one of the founders of computer science, and von Neumann architecture is used to define basic computer architecture. So if you do not like your computer, now you know who to blame!

Michael5000 7:29 PM  

I don't usually do early-week puzzles, but I've been wondering how I would stack up against you studs who rip through a puzzle in four minutes. It wouldn't make sense to time myself on the Saturday puzzle, as I generally take more than a day if I'm working on it alone, so: the Monday puzzle it is, for a time trial. I expected 11 - 12 minutes.

Actual time: 6 minutes, 25 seconds.

I'm pleased.

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