MONDAY, Oct. 8, 2007 - Steve Kahn

Monday, October 8, 2007

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: metal + body part

This felt like a Tuesday puzzle, and a moderately challenging one at that. First 3 Across answers yielded nothing, which almost never happens on Monday. The grid structure is kind of brutal, with only one tiny way out of both the NW and the SE corners. Then there's wide open middle, chock full of slightly strange words composed of super-common letters. I was just swimming in the middle of that puzzle. Oh, and the theme ... is fine, but figuring it out for some reason didn't make getting subsequent theme answers easier. Did puzzle on paper, in bed, so I don't know how long it took. But longer than usual, that's for sure.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Bond villain (Goldfinger)
  • 29A: Certain trout (steelhead)
  • 42A: Classic blues musician (Leadbelly)
  • 52A: Patriarchal gorilla (silverback)

Favorite answers:

46D: Filmdom's Close (Glenn)

I had just finished comparing the Yankees to Glenn Close's character in "Fatal Attraction" last night (see yesterday's Comments) when I lay down to do this puzzle. So this answer made me laugh, though it also felt ominous. Close's character's name in that movie: Alex.

31D: When repeated, cry by Shakespeare's Richard III ("A horse!")

Fantastic answer, though mildly tough for a Monday

Other answers that felt troublesome:

1A: Witty sorts (wags) - another coincidence: just had a longish conversation last night with friends about the origin of the term "scallywag." OK, this isn't really a coincidence, since WAG does not derive from "scallywag," but still. They both have WAG in them.

How did the term "scallywag" come up? One of my friends was telling a story about a colleague of his who was lecturing to a room full of students about the Reconstruction Era South. The professor kept talking about "carpetbaggers" and "scallywags." He finally realized that maybe his students weren't familiar with these terms, and so he asked the class, "You know what a 'carpetbagger' is, right? Who knows what 'carpetbaggers' are?" To which one girl, having tentatively raised her hand, answered: "Lesbians?"

5A: Make sense (add up) - had to get multiple crosses before I figured this out!

10A: Choice word (else) - wanted TRUE

34A: Endless, poetically (eterne) - wow. This form isn't that common even in Olde Poetrye. I knew it, but I teach that stuff. Come on.

37A: Some red wines (clarets) - coulda been MERLOTS

37D: Pole tossed by Scots (caber) - I love All Things Scottish, but could Not retrieve this word. Still looks wrong to me.

Must get to work.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:20 AM  

If you ever venture west to Minnesota you can go to Macalester College and their Highland Games, where you will surely see Caber tossing, along with many many deep-fried items, which reliable sources tell me is a central feature of Scottish "cuisine."
And I think that carpetbagger story is urban legend--no way.

Rex Parker 9:23 AM  

I had no idea there were urban legends about carpetbaggers. I thought they were all about pop rocks and saying "Candyman" three times.


Orange 9:25 AM  

I love a good caber toss. We saw it once, about five years ago at the Highland Games outside Chicago.

I love WAGS. It's one of those words I actually use in conversation that perhaps mark me as an oddball.

I love this crossword. I thought it was utterly Monday-easy, but I liked the theme and found more fun clues than usual so early in the week.

(I'm a lover, not a fighter, Paul.)

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

I'm with Orange. Loved this puzzle!
Clarets came easy---reminds me of the time we were in Windsor eating at Ye Olde Steak House.
And I am still collecting caber tossing pics for a friend up in Wisconsin.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Fun, but a gerund is NOT a noun, but a verb form functioning as a noun.
Got stuck for a bit having put in soda instead of cola, but Woods or Irons helped out. Otherwise, no prob.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

I liked saw red and irons NOT being ired or clubs.

Doug 10:07 AM  

Went through a big blues phase and bought a Leadbelly CD a few years ago. Great stuff!

I also had VERB for GERUND, but SUET forced the NOUN. It's Canadian Thanksgiving today, and am reminded of our Brit friends all foaming at the mouth for SUET at Xmas. It appears to be not for everyone in the UK though--For some reason the youngsters don't have a taste for that English delicacy of fat and flour...

Liked this puzzle a lot. Did it last night after a couple glasses of wine and couldn't do it 1-2-3 so figured my brain was just slow. Did it just now and reckoned it's just a good puzzle.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Nothing like starting Canadian Thanksgiving with a rousing toss of the caber and a steaming dish of Haggis

Orange 10:31 AM  

parshuter, the word gerund itself is a noun. What it describes is a verb functioning as a noun, but the word itself is a noun. We usually don't see tricky misleads like this in Monday clues. Love it!

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Sometimes a noun is only a noun. In the sentence:

Singing is my passion.

"Singing" is a noun. I think that's all the clue means.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Very good Monday puzzle. I cynically thought it would let me down, and the theme would be just "metal", and concidentally three body-parts, but when I got to SILVERBACK and saw the dual theme was consistent, I was quite pleased.

Nice stacking of RHO and ROW.

Is ALGA singular and "alge" plural? I never know, just complete it from the crosses. Better at HogLatin than Latin.

N.B. If you need to utilize one of those 29d (STALLS), I strongly recommend a "narrow stance", lest you be mistaken for a Senator, or end up on Craig's list.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

I thught this was a hard monday too. I found the acrosses difficult, but the downs were Monday easy. (Is there a word for using a preposition as a noun?)

On mondays and tuesdays I try to get the first clue and then work the rest of the puzzle off of that first clue with out jumping to new areas. with the tight passages between the corners I couldn't do it. Tough grid for a monday.


Anonymous 12:32 PM  

I moved right along until my Homer Simpson momment (DOH) occured with ACTOR that I was sure, just so sure, was clubs.

This was a fun Monday.

Speaking of stalls here in Minneapolis we are remodeling certain rest rooms (30k per room)so one will not be bothered with/by bits of paper.

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

I liked DVORAK, which I type (and occasionally listen to).

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Speaking of STALLS,

It crosses STEELHEAD which we are also famous for in Idaho, and is the name of our local minor league hockey team.

Whitey's mom 12:56 PM  

Good puzzle for a Monday.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

I agree with Orange.
My only holdup was 16A - had VERB, changed it to NOUN. And ETERNE 34A I got from the crosses.
Finished under 10 minutes.

MBG 3:06 PM  

For a change, I thought this puzzle was fairly easy. Zipped right through. Only the NE hung me up a bit. I couldn't for the life of me see "enough" for "stop", though I must have said it to my kids a million times. But I got eterne right away. Go figure!

Rex, thanks for the Fatal Attracion/Alex Rodriquez pix. Made me lol.


Anonymous 3:56 PM  

I am a crossword struggler rather than a solver but found this one blessedly smooth sailing. I got Dvorak right away but was stuck on the spelling as I thought there was "j" in there somewhere. Although I come from Ireland, I had never ever heard of a "caber"---don't even like the sound of the word.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

I'm glad to see you thought this was relatively difficult. And here I thought my brain was just fuzzy this morning.

I like the Yankees/Glenn Close analogy as well. I'm rooting for them just so the post-season stays interesting. Hard not to root for the underdog Rockies as well, though I think they should wear leggings to go with their Peter Pan tops.

- Joseph

Anonymous 4:16 PM  

alga is singular and the plural is algae.

Unknown 4:32 PM  

I thought this was pretty challenging as Mondays go. At first, I thought it was going to be LEAD (as in, leader) and then an instrument, and then I was worried that the metal words were not all pronounced as they are when they're metals. But then I was happily mistaken. I agree with the analysis that there were lots of tricky-ish words in the middle parts, and none had scrabbly letters to help things out.

Anonymous 5:12 PM  


If you are using the term "wag" in conversation, you ARE the wag! Too funny!

Eric Selje 5:39 PM  

Glenn Close does eventually die in that movie, right?

fergus 6:00 PM  

Wow. To be misdirected and flustered in so many instances on a Monday is very strange. Have no idea how long it took but it surely wasn't swift. And there was a theme, too? Typical mislead was having FARE instead of FINE for 18A Ticket cost? The RULES for Game sheet sounds odd, but plausible. CLARETS cued up the scene where Basil Fawlty gets sneered at by a guest for failing to know that a Bordeaux and a Claret are different names for the same wine. There really weren't that many answers that were obvious. I probably had more trouble with this puzzle than the one from last Friday. Most peculiar.

Anonymous 6:53 PM  

Thanks for replying yesterday, Jerome, the problem turned out to be my firewall. I can see again.

I liked the clues; I didn't like the structure of the puzzle, with only one connection between the different parts of the puzzle. I don't like starting in a new blank section.

Unknown 7:00 PM  

Are you playing with our heads? Rex Parker, How can you call Monday's puzzle challenging and call last Saturday's puzzle medium? Where do you get your criteria?

Anonymous 7:26 PM  


RP grades on the curve. "Medium for a Saturday" versus "Challenging for a Monday."

Michael Chibnik 7:50 PM  

Even grading on a curve, I can't imagine calling Saturday's puzzle medium. And thought this was of average difficulty for a Monday. No pauses, no scratch outs...

I guess Rex and I just have different stores of knowledge/trivia.

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

Excellent effort. Lite on the crosswordese for a Monday. Thanks for the alga algae clarification hobbyist, now I know why DVOREK didn't look right.

fergus 7:59 PM  

I just had the SCREW IT experience, having left the Saturday paper over at friend's house. Good puzzle and lively Commentary. Curious about the Lumiere theater in SFO. Wasn't that a rather off-color joint in the Tenderloin? I would have loved to see the Green Mantis surreal picture drawn up from the word associations in that puzzle.

Anonymous 9:12 PM  

How about evening and wedding for former gerunds that are now just nouns?
I too thought it pretty easy, but clever. But I didn't realize it had a theme till I read rex.

Anonymous 10:11 PM  

Again I missed the theme. I got the element but not the body part.

I I amaloser why don't you just kill me (well not really)

BT 10:18 PM  


Was tired 'cause it was Monday. THEN I couldn't finisht the MONDAY crossword puzzle? wow.

So finished it late at night on 2nd try.

wendy 10:28 PM  

I too had Clubs for ACTOR. That's what happens when you glance too casually at something and fail to see the capitalization on two letters that don't look very different one way or the other. Intentional on their part, I suppose.

I didn't realize HEREBY meant "as a result of this." I guess I use it as a synonym for "now."

Anonymous 12:43 AM  

Ack. I did NOT do well with this puzzle. I agree that it was challenging for a Monday. Sheesh!

The ACTOR clue stumped me. I figured it had something to do with Jeremy Irons, but I've never heard of an actor with a last name of Woods.

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

As a golfer, I was determined to make CLUBS fit instead of ACTOR. This makes sense, until I tell you that I am a Casting Director and should have immediately gotten this clue. Cruel Monday.

Anonymous 2:12 AM  

mydog -- try James Woods currently starring in Shark on CBS.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

Hi !

I just discovered your NYT X-Word
Puzzle Blog, and I think it's great !

I do the puzzle four days a week (I'm a M - Tu - W - Th puzzler) and
and it's nice to see commentary about the puzzle. Up until a few
years ago, I rode to work with a
friend who's also a big fan of the
puzzle, and she and I conducted a
daily post mortem on the previous day's puzzle.

You're right...the 10/8 puzzle did
feel like a Tuesday puzzle. I was
stuck for a few minutes and I was surprised that it seemed I wouldn't
finish it. But then something clicked, and Voila, I got it done.

Cheers !

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

Six weeks later...
Was anyone else bothered by 2/3 Down? "Brouhaha" is ADO, followed by the clue "Goo in A DO." Seemed a little sloppy to me.

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

Since it was a Monday puzzle I "knew" it would be easy and found it to be. It was a fun puzzle. But now I'm wondering how much mind set vis-a-vis day of the week affects my sloving ability...

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