Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013, Allan E. Parrish


It's always a bit of a shock to do a Monday puzzle right after making it through the weekend, and that seems even more true if, like me, you didn't work on the Sunday much at all. Encountering clues like 27D: "Thank you very ____" (MUCH), 55A: "You ____ what you eat" (ARE), and 39A: New Jersey's capital (TRENTON), after dealing with the Friday and Saturday puzzles – well, it's very different. I can't really complain about simplicity on Mondays, and so I won't, but today's puzzle, while having the above clues and many more like them, also had a few clues that seemed incongruously difficult. 21D: Circumference (AMBIT), 51D: Small Indian drum (TABLA) (I got this one immediately, because a girl I had a crush on in high school played it, but I don't think it's a household word in too many American households), and 66A: Philosopher John who posited a theory of social contract (LOCKE). They're not impossible, but it seems like a big jump from one group to the next. Maybe I'm wrong... I don't know.

Also, I read a comment from the constructor Matt Ginsberg, who made last Saturday's puzzle, wherein he said that that very puzzle was submitted to the NYT more than two years ago, and just ran two days ago. It seems that with that kind of lag time/preparation time, they could avoid having a clue like 9D: ____ passage (NASAL) yesterday, and 41D: ____ decongestant (NASAL) today. Or 17D: Lunchbox treats (OREOS) yesterday, and 52D: Nabisco cookies (OREOS) today. A conservative estimate would claim that there are at least 200,000 distinct words in the English language. Add to that a smattering of acceptable foreign words, proper names, and abbreviations, and it seems that one shouldn't have to have multiple duplicate words in subsequent puzzles. I know, I know– I haven't made a puzzle myself, and I don't understand how hard it is to fill a grid, but my job today is critic, and that, dear reader, is my criticism.

The unannounced theme today is a simple one that I enjoy: an anagrammed word in four theme entries. MESA, becomes AMES, SAME and SEAM at the beginning of four long answers. Not bad.

Lastly, I've decided to drop our cumulative scores. I have found them troubling, slightly unfair, and ultimately unnecessary.

- Horace

p.s. I almost forgot to mention my favorite entry today - ROTTENEGGS (18A: Last ones in the pool, say). Loved it!


  1. 11:04
    By "cumulative scores" do you mean time that it takes to complete the puzzle? That would be fine if you'd like to drop it. I didn't know TABLA, but filled it in, and didn't have any trouble with anything else, especially after Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as you mention. ROTTENEGGS was great, and I never remember to look for the theme, but I agree that today's was a good one. I should start looking for those.

  2. No, about a week ago I decided that if we saw the same constructor more than once, I'd grade him or her depending on how we liked the puzzles. There were three people so far, and they all got 2-0 grades. I just decided it was irrelevant. I would like to try to recognize names and develop a feel for each constructor, but I will try to do that without the ridiculous and too-stringent "scoring" system.

    I am also conflicted about the times. I originally wanted to include them to give crossworders a more realistic option than Rex Parker's 3-10 minute range all week long. Then you and English teacher both started including them, and it started to feel too much like a competition. We may yet scrap the idea. Not quite yet, though.