04.11 Mon

April 11, 2011
Gareth Bain

Theme: Signed, Sealed, Delivered — Theme answers begin with words that can be words for the elements of a postal address.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: "I'll pay whatever you're asking" (NAME A PRICE).
  • 30A: Cost to the customer, as of illicit drugs (STREET VALUE).
  • 36A: Smooth urbanite (CITY SLICKER).
  • 44A: Subject of a highly classified file (STATE SECRET).
  • 59A: "Not another word!" (ZIP YOUR LIP).
Looks like we're starting the week off with a fine Monday offering from Mr. Bain. This is one of those puzzles where the theme was no help to me at all — I didn't actually figure it out until after the grid was completely full — and on a Monday that means my time turns out to be significantly slower than usual. I don't talk a lot about speed here on the blog because I know a lot of people aren't speed-solvers and don't care, but I enjoy the challenge of speed-solving and if I happen to be either particularly slow or particularly fast on a particular puzzle, it's interesting for me to try to determine why. I think of myself as a four-to-four-and-a-half-minute Monday solver, although I think that's actually being kind of conservative these days. Since I started solving puzzles obsessively regularly, my speed has definitely improved. I actually finished today's New York Times puzzle in 2:59, which is wicked fast for me. And this one? 4:45, which is quite a bit slower than usual. Like I said, though, I think the main thing that slowed me down was not getting any help from the theme. And I want to be clear, that's not a complaint, it's just an observation. Did the grid also include some un-Monday-ish entries? Hmm … I'm thinking TO BOOT and PHENOL and LACE-UPS are pretty high end for a Monday. (Ouch though! Just noticed BOOT in the grid and "Hiking boots" in the clues. That's a no-no!) So what do you all think? If you time yourself, were you slowed down today? If you don't time yourself, did it just seem a little harder than usual for a Monday?

I also noticed a lot of names in this grid. Personally, I like seeing names in my puzzles, but I know some people don't. Let's see who we've got lurking around today:
  • 33A: Toon storekeeper from India (APU).
  • 66A: Moorehead of "Bewitched" (AGNES).
  • 11D: "The Guns of Navarone" author MacLean (ALISTAIR).
  • 40D: Pres. after GWB (BHO).
  • 46D: Director Hitchcock (ALFRED).
  • 47D: "Cosby" actress Phylicia (RASHAD).
  • 48D: Jerry's female friend, on "Seinfeld" (ELAINE).
  • 59D: When doubled, a Gabor (ZSA).
That might be an interesting party.

Just a couple more things to mention and I'll be off to enjoy the rest of my Monday. Hope you do the same.

  • 22A: Holy smoke (INCENSE). Nice clue.
  • 34A: Problem for Pauline (PERIL). According to Wikipedia: "The Perils of Pauline is a motion picture serial shown in weekly installments featuring Pearl White as the title character. Pauline has often been cited as a famous example of a damsel in distress, although some analyses hold that her character was more resourceful and less helpless than the classic damsel stereotype." So, I hate to ask the obvious question here, but how is PEARL the title character when the character in the title is PAULINE? Just asking.
  • 40A: Campus VIP (BMOC). Big Man On Campus.
  • 51A: Mustard's rank: Abbr. (COL.). Clue!
  • 67A: Chess standoff (DRAW). I thought it was called something else in chess. A stalemate? Oh I guess if you get to a stalemate in chess, then the games ends in a draw.
  • 35D: Genealogy abbr. (DESC.). Descendant.
  • 41D: Chopping, as garlic (MINCING). Are chopping and mincing the same thing? I mean in anybody's kitchen besides mine.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 17A: Bird sacred to Tut (IBIS).
  • 20A: Doves' homes (COTES).
  • 24A: Sportage automaker (KIA).
  • 33A: Toon storekeeper from India (APU).
  • 42A: Double-reed winds (OBOES).
  • 68A: Yemen city on its own gulf (ADEN).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: Dance move (STEP); 5A: Give a free ticket to (COMP); 9A: __-Abyssinian War: 1936 Mussolini triumph (ITALO); 14A: Task list heading (TO-DO); 15A: Foot's curve (ARCH); 16A: Grinding tooth (MOLAR); 23A: "Rock and Roll, Hoochie __": 1974 hit (KOO); 27A: As __ as Methuselah (OLD); 28A: "... three men in a __" (TUB); 35A: Brake component (DISC); 43A: "She Done __ Wrong": Mae West film (HIM); 50A: Small bill (ONE); 52A: Audible dance style (TAP); 53A: Pub purchase (ALE); 54A: Homemade shorts (CUT-OFFS); 57A: Lazy __: revolving tray (SUSAN); 62A: Use UPS (SHIP); 63A: Sound that might accompany 37-Down (SNORT); 64A: French franc successor (EURO); 65A: "The __ Love": Gershwin song (MAN I); 1D: Pick-up __: toy (STICKS); 2D: Also (TO BOOT); 3D: Newspaper bigwig (EDITOR); 4D: Model's stance (POSE); 5D: Is able to (CAN); 6D: "... man __ mouse?" (OR A); 7D: Early 20th-century year (MCMI); 8D: Early antiseptic compound (PHENOL); 9D: Get in the way of (IMPEDE); 10D: In a dilemma (TORN); 12D: Hiking boots, e.g. (LACE-UPS); 13D: Galena or hematite (ORE); 19D: Civil rights gp. (ACLU); 21D: Trapshooting (SKEET); 25D: "Lord knows __!" (I TRY); 26D: Rent-a-car option (AVIS); 29D: Tampa NFLer (BUC); 31D: "Beowulf," e.g. (EPIC); 32D: Dole out (ALLOT); 36D: Discover fortuitously (COME UPON); 37D: Scoffer's words (I BET); 38D: __ Nostra (COSA); 39D: Hangs on to (KEEPS); 44D: Runs fast (SCOOTS); 45D: Vegan staple (TOFU); 49D: Part of a daunting split, in bowling (TEN PIN); 55D: Rugby radial (TYRE); 56D: Cast aspersions on (SLUR); 58D: West Point inits. (USMA); 60D: Savings vehicle for later yrs. (IRA); 61D: Comics punch sound (POW).


Al said...

Perl Fay White is the name of the actor/stunt woman who played the character Pauline. She followed this up starring in "The Exploits of Elaine", which had even larger box-office sales.

Anonymous said...

So, I hate to ask the obvious question here, but how is PEARL the title character when the character in the title is PAULINE? Just asking.

Pearl White was the actress who played the title character: "...featuring Pearl White as the title character [Pauline]."

(My first comment, BTW, though I've been following the blog for a while. Fine stuff. The clipart accents are just dandy.)

Nighthawk said...

Didn't see the theme until I read @PG's write up. A quick scan initially led me to think the theme was going to be something about economics (-----PRICE; ------VALUE), but no. It was head first, and I had picked tails. Oops!

SE was one speed bump area for me in the two down names I just couldn't jog immediately and on the bowling split, misread the clue to believe it called for both pins and sevenTEN just didn't fit.

Also, was thinking stumbleon for 36D. Wasn't particularly enamored with the cluing for 12D either ("Not loafers" might have been an improvement), which also needed crosses, but not bothered by the clue boot and 2D answer.

So, yes, about 50% longer time for a Monday for me.

Still fun and no egregiously clunky fill. And like the "something old, something new" span of the cluing from MAN I love and She done HIM Wrong of Porter and West to Rock and Roll, Hoochie KOO, Lordy Mama light my fuse (which I strongly suspect will be my earworm today).

captcha: railist = ranter

Pete said...

The pair of boots was a clunker, which could have easily been corrected by cluing LACEUPS with wing-tips rather than hiking boots. Each are prototypically laceups.
I've never said, nor never heard said, NAMEAPRICE. NAMEYOURPRICE, quite often. I've heard it, never said it because I'm not a fool.

Anonymous said...

I also like timing myself and I like to see times from other solvers, infrequent as they are. It gives me a better read to my mental acuity for the day.Today's puzzle did take me a little longer to finish and knowing it was a Monday puzzle, which typically is a fast solve, I wondered about the state of my grey matter. Thanks to PG for making me feel better!

CarolC said...

@PG, love the vampire cartoon. I don't time myself, but it did seem a little harder for a Monday.

I would say that chopping and mincing are related but not the same. Also trap and skeet shooting are related but not the same. But my TODO list is long, so I'll stop nit picking and ZIP MY LIP.

Happy Monday, y'all.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a smooth solve. I haven't been doing this long enough to rely on themes to solve so today's made no difference to me. Altho, about half way through something niggled in my pre-coffee brain about shipping.

TWG said...

In hindsight, this could very easily pass for a Wednesday puzzle given the not-obvious theme and trickier fills here and there. I was just under 5 minutes, which is a little longer for me for a Monday.

Loved "Holy smoke" for INCENSE. Great, great clue.

Aside from the random Roman numeral and DESC, I didn't think there were any clunkers. Very enjoyable.

tkamom said...

Shouldn't BMOC be a no-no because it stands for Big Man On Campus, and the word Campus is in the clue? I tried DEAN first because of that. Otherwise, a smooth solve. I need that on a Monday!

syndy said...

such a loverly puzzle! So much more crunchy than the NYT.TO BOOT doesn't refer to footwear does it? isn't it different??also a mince is a fine chop,but a chop is not neccessarily minced!secret message "CAN I TRY TOFU"

hebow44 said...

I really enjoyed the puzzle this morning. It tested me with clues and answers I didn't know, but allowed me to finish with adjoining crosses. Perhaps a sign of a well designed crossword ... and the reason we ultimately enjoy them so much. My favorite answer today was "cutoffs". Takes me back to the '70's and heading to the river. Nothing like a long day in wet denim.

sjok said...

Using a 1914 movie title as a basis for a clue is really a stretch for those of us who are not avid movie fans.

Also, I despise "BMOC" as being a campus VIP. They are usually "BJOC's" (biggest jerks on campus")

the redanman said...

BMOC not being OK is being too PC.

This was a really good effort for a Monday, way better than today's NYT.

More like this please

C said...

Groovy puzzle with groovy words. I didn't notice any difference in solving time for me. I'm not a speed solver but typically, M-F puzzles take between 5-8 minutes on paper. This one took a little more than 5 minutes.

Very good Monday, I hope this is a precursor for a good LAT puzzle week.

For the record, I don't mind speed solvers pointing out their times, everyone does the puzzle differently, some Google, some don't, some speed solve, some don't, as long as your having fun with the puzzle, it's all good to me.

Doug P said...

Great theme for a Monday! Gareth is becoming one of my favorite LA Times regulars.

Anoa Bob said...

PG, if I remember correctly, there are several ways a chess game can end in a DRAW (67A). A "Chess standoff" usually occurs when neither player has enough fire power to mate the other or when one player makes the same move three times in a row.

A stalemate occurs when one player cannot move without putting his/her king in check, which would be an illegal move

All stalemates are DRAWs but not all DRAWs are a because of a stalemate.

*David* said...

I keep on hearing peope complaining about a specific clue for example, Roman numeral ones and how they are impossible to figure out. There is a reason why these are called crossword puzzles, sometimes you get a crazy clue and the idea is to get it from the cross. For my way of thinking these are sometimes put in on purpose to ramp up the difficulty of the puzzle. A more legit complaint is when you got the across and down being obscure fill. Of course obscure is also in the eye of the beholder but that is another conversation.

imsdave said...

What a fine Monday puzzle. Zippy fill and a wonderful theme (got lucky today uncovering it after NAME and STREET). Keep up the great work Gareth (and keep posting those rejects at Amy's site - I love them).

Anonymous said...

Aren't tramp and skeet two different shooting activities?

the redanman said...


I'm generally OK with 1 cross in each direction in a grid corner, but when they are side by side by side ... yuck I say

captcha: scratsn seems a little naughty somehow (smiley)

mac said...

Fantastic Monday puzzle. I'm driving a rental Kia right now, and it's great! Very high top, good for tall people (my big brother-in-law is coming in next Saturday).
Loooved Holy Smoke, to boot and Rugby radial.

StudioCitySteve said...

Back from my trip across the pond, and delighted to see TYRE today. There was some kerfuffle last week about anglicised spelling, but just treat the words as "foreign" and there's nothing to get too upset about.

Really nice puzzle today - same-same thoughts about LACEUPS and NAMEAPRICE/NAMEYOURPRICE though. Loved INCENSE.

My captcha today - MADBARYZ - When Zito can't throw a strike?

Anonymous said...

liked puzzle dont really speed solve but the early week ones i do always solve quickly i take my puzzles to work and do it on breaks between clients so it can take hours as i dont have a regular lunch

backbiter said...

I'm still waiting on the "48 Hours" recital. I am not letting this go! Theme was so-so. Not bad, but not good either. I always like "Comp". For whatever reason, it's one of my faves. Really don't know why.



Anonymous said...

Anyone else miss sfingi? She would have liked this puzzle as much as I did.. Garett Bain is a star.

CrazyCatLady said...

Liked this puzzle and although I didn't get the theme until I had the grid filled in completely, I thought it was pretty cool. Took me longer than the NYT.

I actually do miss Sfingi. She's a quite a character and very knowledgeable about some pretty esoteric subjects. I think the comment by the blog host inre: out of control ranting Brit was quite rude. That's about all I have to say on this blog.

backbiter said...

I guess I have to get you started.

Not a very popular place with the brothers.
My kinda place. I always did like country boys. They're sure as hell gonna love you!

Okay PG, GO!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm missing something... Where are you seeing the theme? When I view and print the day's puzzle on LA Times, I don't see a theme listed. Sorry to be slow, but could someone please explain?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - The theme is not explicitly stated. You have to figure it out based on the answers to either the longer fills, or (sometimes) starred(*) clues.