MONDAY, Nov. 12, 2007 - Harvey Estes

Monday, November 12, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Floral" Films - three theme answers all have a flower in their titles

Fantastic, non-boring Monday puzzle. Lots of wide open spaces and interesting words, and yet still Monday-level in terms of difficulty. The theme answers were all quite easy, except perhaps the middle one, which pop-culture haters (i.e. many of you) might not have heard of. There was some iffy fill here and there, but overall I'm happily surprised at how many cool, and often very contemporary, words and phrases Mr. Estes managed to cram into a Monday puzzle. Always a pleasure when the Monday puzzle isn't ho-hum. There was something wrong with the timer at the NYT applet - that, or my browser was just hanging up; at any rate, I lost at least 10 seconds when I pressed "Hide" to hide the timer and the whole grid froze; had to go back and reload, while all the while the timer is still running, of course. Sometimes when the applet is non-responsive, I have to open another tab, and then click back on the applet page, and everything will be back to normal. Weird. Anyway, given the snafu and resulting time penalty, I was very happy to get in under four.

Theme answers:

  • 18A: "Floral" film that was the Best Picture of 1989 ("Driving Miss DAISY")
  • 34A: "Floral" film of 2006 with Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson ("The Black DAHLIA")
  • 57A: "Floral" film of 1986 based on an Umberto Eco novel ("The Name of the ROSE")

As I said, the open spaces in this puzzle made it a kind of adventure - there are four 6-letter Downs in the NE and SW and three 7+-letter answers in the NW and SE, plus N and S regions that are roughly 5x6. My biggest problems was with the SW, where my balking at BRAHMA (35D: The Creator, to Hindus) cost me a good deal of time. I couldn't get VASSALS (43A: Feudal workers) right out of the box either, and so had to use ARETHA (49A: Motown's Franklin) to piece together the SW - a bit harder to get all those Downs when you have their second letters in place instead of their first. Luckily for me, my daughter's favorite comic, ARCHIE (44D: Jughead's pal), and one of my cats, SERENA (45D: One of tennis's Williams sisters), were down there, helping me out.

Other Highlights:

  • 16A: Win over (enamor) - this word looks ultra-strange to me; I think I only ever see it in its adjectival form, ENAMORED. "I'm going to ENAMOR you, baby." Sounds all kinds of wrong.
  • 30A: Celtic dialect (Erse) - here's something slightly funny. When I first clicked "Done" the applet told me that I hadn't filled all the squares in. When I went back to fix it, the grid came up, but The Clues Did Not. The one open square was the second "E" in "ERSE." The down cross was C-E. Rather than bothering to get the clues to reappear, I just hoped (perhaps for the first time in my life) for crosswordese and put in the "E" to make "ERSE." And ta da! Hey, it could have been a "T" - though I don't know what "CTE" could possibly be the answer to.
  • 1D: "You'll regret that!" ("Bad move!") - I had "BAD IDEA!" at first ... which is a perfectly good answer, I have to say...
  • 2D: Written up, as to a superior (on report) - is this a military term? It did not come to me quickly. Sounds like something a third-grader would be.
  • 38D: Noncommittal agreement ("I suppose") - this was tough for me; had to get many crosses first.
  • 39D: One who's making nice (appeaser) - Odd Jobz! At first I read the clue as [One who's making rice] - ASIAN MAN fit, but seemed way too racially iffy to be true. Speaking of rice, here is a fun site where you can test your vocabulary knowledge while at the same time helping provide free rice to hungry people around the world.
  • 42D: EarthLink alternative (NetZero) - this little company is starting to appear in my puzzle with alarming frequency (i.e. more than once a year)
  • 8D: Slug, old-style (smite) - Best Biblical Verb Ever

Enjoy your Monday. If it's a slow day, you can always check out the new paperback cover art commentary over at my other site, including covers from books by hardboiled masters Ross Macdonald and Horace McCoy. Or there's my new favorite time-waster, The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. Here is my favorite recent entry:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Wrote you an email about this then realized I should have done it this way.

Enamor as in "He tried to enamor himself to her"

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

I suppose I should have seen it but I kept asking myself what - is up pose -means.

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

I found this easy even for a Monday. Everything seemed to come from an area I knew something about.

The only word I needed crosses for was POLITY.

One thing that Orange mentioned: this is a 16 X 15 grid. I don't remember ever doing one of that size before, I always thought they were square.

wendy 9:20 AM  

I stumbled on that unnecessary quotation marks blog the other day when I was combing your links "list." It is laugh out loud funny. When I'm editing stuff at work, I spend a lot of time removing quote marks from stuff my erudite colleagues write - it's a true sickness.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

I find 49A amusing, in that nobody appears to question the answer "Aretha" for a Motown clue. Aretha never recorded for Motown nor any of the Gordy subsidiary labels. Columbia, Atlantic, Arista... those were the labels with her hits. (My first thought when I saw "Motown's Franklin" was "Melvin" for Melvin >i>Franklin the late great bass singer with the Temptations, who ARE Motown)

I suppose if one is using the word "Motown" as a generic term meaning "Detroit", it could be considered correct, since she IS from there.

Pop culture at its finest :) . R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me...

Unknown 9:31 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, too, although I got off to a slow start, maybe because I've been away from it for a few days. It took an unconscionably long time to come up with DRIVING MISS DAISY, especially considering that I live in the Miss Daisy neighborhood. I mis-remembered the Umberto Eco book/movie as THE SIGN OF THE ROSE so that slowed me done a bit. Finally, THE BLACK DAHLIA was made into a movie? Last year? Guess I have not been paying attention, luckily I remembered the phrase from other, older crime writing.

Thanks for the "link" to the quotation mark "blog." I will "check" it out.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

As I am stuck in the middle ages I could not let go of Romance of the Rose, once I did... I was smiten.

Is smote past tense?

to anon from yesterday yes it was Lennie not Lenny, my inability to spell, read my printing and concrete thinking all add to the joy of x-puzzle solving.

My lovely wife would like to add that she always found Veronica to be far superior to Betty.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

She did some excellent covers of Motown Records songs:"The Tracks of My Tears", "Until You Come Back To Me", "You're All I Need To Get By" and "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing."

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Otis/stax... of course you are right. So did many artists ... many of whom no-one would clue as "Motown".

"Respect" in fact was written and recorded first by Mr. Redding. That doesn't make Aretha "Stax" or "Volt", nor Otis "Motown".

So I'll stick with my rationale that the clue is only correct if intended to mean "Franklin who hails from Detroit". It's my nit and I'm pickin' with it! ;-).

Sorry for the digression, folks!

Anonymous 11:50 AM  


pp. of smite is smitten -- note no quotes around "smite" or "smitten" -- not to be a "nitpicker" or a "heaven forfend" "flat-out" "freak" about "quotes" either way -- but, Rex, who "TFCs"?

Unknown 12:03 PM  


Unknown 12:06 PM  

test 2

Unknown 12:09 PM  

test 3

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

A very easy, yet very satisfying Monday effort.

marcie -- I had the same thought re. Motown/Franklin, and you saved me the research time to pursue it. Thanks.

leon -- seeing your name, couldn't help but wonder if you are an EDEL? Uris?

I agree with rick -- POLITY required cross-help for me as well. I should have grapsed PENT immediately, as Whitman's "From Pent-up, Aching Rivers" is one of my favorite poems.

I remember reading "The Name of the Rose" (not in Italian) and marveling that the translator ended up with such wonderful and clever language.

Rex -- Is NetZero really little? I've heard ads so often I assumed they had mushroomed, or been bought, by now.

At the base of the stanchions holding up the grid that supports the roof of the Larkspur Ferry Terminal in Marin, which look like a wonderful Jungle Gym, the phrase "Do Not Climb" (including the quote marks) is stamped. For many years, I have wondered whom was being quoted, and if it wasn't an anonymous quote, why there was no attribition. Someone deserves some credit here, as it's a rather brilliant statement.

frances 12:17 PM  

This Monday offering struck me as easier than many that begin the week. I do have a couple of nits to pick with the clues, however. For 37d, "preceder" would be a better term than "predecessor." (Sorry about the quotes, but I really think they're necessary!) And those Atlantic swimmers(29d) look really odd. Yes, American Heritage does show "cods" as a plural, second after "cod", but I've never seen or heard it used.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Rex, your last letter could have been H, for CHE and ERSH (which is ERSE after a few ales). :)

My only issue with this puzzle is CODS. Seems to me cod should already be plural: "We caught a dozen cod." Just feels wrong to say "cods".

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

First I think Rex should approach the NYT for some sort of remuneration – since I found this blog I now buy a Times everyday instead of just Thursday thru Sunday. Like others above I hated CODS and never heard of POLITY. I do love PATOIS – whenever I hear the word I think of a recording I have of Bob Marley conversing with a Deejay: can understand about three quarters of his responses but simply love the primitive poetic feel of the reply.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

ON REPORT is indeed military. It is what superiors do to inferiors when they want to subject them to discipline for an infraction.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

Definitely a fun Monday puzzle with all the great six-letter and two-word answers. I blazed through it and might have had a record-breaking time for myself had I not stopped to pull out a Rolling Rock and some chicken wings right in the middle. Particularly liked pigsty, patois, and polity and wasn't bothered by any of the clues. Very nice Mr. Estes!

Now I'm off to check out the "unnecessary" quotation marks.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

This was easy for me, but to no avail. It seems that I can not complete any Monday puzzle in less than 9 minutes. Am I doomed by my manual ineptitude to a life of puzzling mediocrity? I think if I had the answers in front of me, it would still take 8 minutes to fill the grid.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  


Cod has also entered the language from Scottish, as a pillow (hence Codpiece), and Cods is the plural of this definition of cod.

Cods could also refer to multiple species of the cod fish, but there is only one Atlantic species of Cod, and since the clue was 'Atlantic swimmers', I have to agree with all who objected to this clue/answer pair.

Anonymous 2:54 PM  


I am thinking of tatooing smite and smitten on fingers ala Cape Fear. It would cover love and hate as well as what is and what was.

Quotes, quotes, we don't need no stinking...

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

A fun puzzle. Enjoyed all the long answers. Also did not know POLITY and agree that CODS is a stretch.

RE: Solving speed (Orange dislikes..). Age is probably a significant factor in solving speed. (Another major factor is how you are hard wired but that's a different discussion.) Orange and Rex, for example, by my guess are in their late thirties. If you are 60 or older you potentially have 50% more stuff in your head to sort through plus age related declines in reaction time. Bottom line is if you're a senior and doing a Monday in under 10 min. don't feel too bad! That said, I'm sure there are older folks out there who are whizzes as there are always exceptions.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

"Cod" can mean any member of the family Gadidae, with many Altantic representatives. A personal favorite is the Atlantic tomcod, a very tasty panfish. I love its Latin name, Microgadus tomcod, which resides with Boops boops and Zeus faber in my "fish with Latin names that make me smile" collection. Yes, I do have bookmarked.

"The cod and tomcod are two of the many Atlantic cods."

PuzzleGirl 3:46 PM  

57A ("The Name of the Rose") reminds me of a story. I worked at the B. Dalton store on 5th Ave. in New York when the book first came out. Apparently, the original dust-cover to the book was risque in a sort of romance-novel way and, when our store manager refused to put it in the front window, the publisher changed it.

Fun puzzle today. I was just telling my husband yesterday that I can finish a Monday puzzle in about four minutes. Turns out I was exaggerating. Finished in 6-1/2 and that seems about right. I think I had my time confused with Rex's. haha

I had to erase twice on this one, which is pretty discouraging for a Monday. I had HIE for RUN at 69D and AYES for YEAS at 63A.

Love love love the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotations marks. The entry right under the one you included here completely cracks me up.

fergus 3:56 PM  

What an excellent puzzle. Now I've got the Simon and Garfunkel song "Richard Cory" running through my mind. "... and I curse my POLITY. He had everything a man could want, power, grace and style."

Does it not seem like variants of TITHE keep showing up with alarming regularity? Is this a hint somehow? Should Rex be getting a cut, as Rafael suggested? If it weren't for the Puzzle I wouldn't buy the NY Times every day.

Pardon the slightly crude reference, but wasn't it Onan who SMOTE himself somewhere early in the Old Testament, earning God's unyielding wrath? I was just reading Mark Twain's account characterizing the Deity, and regardless of one's religious persuasion, it is an astounding observation. Tempted to elaborate but won't.

I hadn't thought of PATOIS achieving the status of a Dialect, but the dictionary tells me it is. Thought it was merely slangy phasing ... .

Also the Jenny LIND reference brought up a great article I read a couple of days ago about the amazing showmanship of P.T. Barnum, and how he managed to turn her into a huge American celebrity.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  


Onan was smitten with himself, but his capital crime was coitus interruptus in order to preserve his seniority. Leviticus makes it clear that self-smiting is an awful thing to do, but not deserving of the ultimate sanction.

Whether he actually practiced the activity for which he is eponymous is not recorded.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

Fergus, I always thought it was "I curse my poverty."

Rex, I recognized "on report" from M*A*S*H, where Hot Lips was alwasy threatening to put Hawkeye "on report." So I guess it is military.

fergus 5:35 PM  

Martin, you sent me on a search for the Bible. In Genesis 38:10 "And the thing which he (Onan) did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also." Capricious Lord, bolstering Twain's point. You're right, I don't think his namesake sin is ever spelled out as such, though not fully knowing a sister-in-law is. Odd how that got twisted.

And I just looked up the Richard Cory lyrics -- it is poverty. Changes the meaning a bit.

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

Do y'all New Englanders ever have trouble with the letters RN in a clue looking like the letter M? My Fort Worth paper uses a font that has thrown me several times. September 29's puzzle (I'm six weeks behind; some would say even further) 44A read COMMEAL CONCOCTION to these old eyes, rather than CORNMEAL CONCOCTION.

Anonymous 6:06 PM  

Rex: Kindly begin a blog for an even more egregious problem than misused quotation marks. The poor apostrophe needs help, and the world needs to be educated about the difference between a plural and a possessive.

Love this site.

Anonymous 6:09 PM  

For me this was more fun, interesting and challenging than the usual Monday fare. I had to "think"!

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

marcie, if you check back in, I'm from Detroit and the reference to Motown didn't even make me think of the record company, although I am suprised she didn't record with them. Nice piece of trivia.

While we love her for her music she has lately been known here more for tax problems, arson accusations and her father's suspicious death.

Anonymous 7:04 PM  

OK victor: "it": plural and possessive and why?

Anonymous 8:19 PM  

rick... Thanks for that info, which goes right along with my thoughts on the correctness of the clue. Being on the left coast, to me Motown means the record label, even though it hasn't been located in Detroit for ummmm 40 years? or so!

Now I'm on a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" quest, to see if I can find out where the word Motown actually originated. Early on the label started out having its "MotorTown Review" tours and I'm wondering when/how the word got shortened to Motown. Was Motown a term used a lot to refer to Detroit, prior to the establishment of the label?

Wikipedia doesn't say much about it. (It also doesn't mention the Miracle label, which always cracks me up. Their slogan... "If its a hit, its a Miracle", and the double way it can be taken.)

Anonymous 9:31 PM  

This was a great puzzle and I'll tell you why.

My first NYT done in under 5 minutes. Oh, yeah, baby!

Oh, yeah! I'm dancin' now!

Now, I know for some of you, you're probably thinking I'm like the snail on top of the turtle yelling "Wheeeeee!" but I don't care.


Unknown 9:42 PM  

I'm sorry, but isn't it our of the ordinary to have a puzzle that is not square, or to have a non sunday-puzzle that is anything but a 15x15 grid? I try to do monday and tuesday diagramless and was seriously hindered today.

Anonymous 10:06 PM  

It was an easy Monday puzzle, used my turquoise ink again and had only one repair: "yeas" instead of "ayes"... Cods are odd, and polity was completely new to me. Haven't we seen matte a little too often lately? What happened to Orange today, I miss her daily treatise.

Anonymous 10:25 PM  

It boy: Too often you see a plural with an apostrophe--our local bagel shop, for example, gives me a klong every day as I go in to get my bagel and see the neon sign in the window "Hot Bagel's".

Anonymous 12:55 AM  

A Monday puzzle with PATOIS _and_ POLITY _and_ VASSALS counts as a challenging Monday, to my thinking.

THE BLACK DAHLIA was an adaptation of the book by James Ellroy. Didn;t see the movie yet, but I didn't think it got great reviews. I thought the book was OK; I much prefer the next two books in Ellroy's LA Quartet (THE BIG NOWHERE and LA CONFIDENTIAL).

Glad to see Nero Wolfe show up. Speaking of detectives, Rex, thanks for the paperback cover of THE THREE ROADS. I'm a BIG fan of Ross Macdonald, especially the Lew Archer books. (Warren Zevon dedicated his BAD LUCK STREAK IN DANCING SCHOOL album to Ken Millar, who I think tried to help Zevon quit drinking.)

Orange 1:43 PM  

Mac, I was in Hollywood taping a game show! I blogged about it at Crossword Fiend. Would you believe you can't use a laptop in the green room? Nor a cell phone. It was kinda nice to be off the grid, actually—it made the contestants spend the day chatting instead of going off into their own mental space.

Victor, see here for the most flagrant apostrophe abuse I have ever seen. Frie's!

Levi, on rare occasion the Times crossword has a 15x16 or 15x14 grid to accommodate a theme that won't fit a 15x15 grid. (The New York Sun puzzle goes 15x16 a little more often.) And occasionally a Sunday puzzle is 23x23 if the theme's too big for 21x21. A couple years ago, Michael Shteyman made a terrific pool-table Sunday NYT with a rectangular grid.

Anonymous 8:40 PM  

Orange, you are the best! I'm sure you gave them all a hard time at the game show. I don't google that site, have only so many hours in the day.... I always check for your icon, you and Rex really keep this together. I'm voting for two Thursdays, two Fridays, and Three Saturdays. Sunday is just bigger, not better.

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