MONDAY, Sep. 1, 2008 - Andrea Carla Michaels (Hersey’s “A Bell for ______” /Actor Sal of “Exodus” / Herb who played “Tijuana Taxi”)
Sunday, August 31, 2008
- It’s Labor Day, so Rex shouldn’t have to Labor
- Hey! Then why are we laboring? Oh yes, women labor, that’s what we do … we even go thru labor (well some of us, personally I have cats)
- No one reads the paper on Labor Day. My little puzzle will never even see the light of day, much less this blog! Seriously, why are you reading this once you saw it wasn’t Rex?!
- But the real reason is because it’s a puzzle I wrote, so Rex thought it would be fun to have a constructor deconstruct … or self-destruct … sort of like “Deconstructing Harry” (obligatory Woody reference, I’m still under his spell!).
- 17A: “Shhhh!” prompter (Silence is golden)
- 37A: “Shhhh!” (Mum’s the word)
- 59A: “Shhhh!” response (My lips are sealed)
So, I solved it as I would solve it and only stumbled on the spelling of PSIS (5A: Greek letters that resemble pitchforks). I wrote in PSYS … and then later when I looked up the original puzzle submission, I discovered that that was the only word changed in the whole puzzle!!!!!!!! Literally one letter. I originally had ASIS/AEC, which was changed to PSIS/PEC (5D: Chest muscles, for short). [RP~ what the hell is "AEC?" And what is with you and the exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?]
This was amazing to me, because last week’s puzzle (PACK, PECK, PICK, etc.) went thru nine grid versions with my co-writer Michael Blake and Will still changed 43 letters in the grid!!!!!!! So to have one letter changed seems like a miracle to me. That said, it was my third version of the puzzle. More than a year ago, in August 2007, I submitted a puzzle with the following theme:
- MUM’S THE WORD (11)
- SILENCE IS GOLDEN (15)
- TALK IS CHEAP (11)
Luckily at some point (around Feb. 2, 2008, according to my files) I had an epiphany and thought of MY LIPS ARE SEALED which is even better because it’s 15 letters. SO I drew up a grid … and sent it in.
Here is where things got tricky. I do not know how to make grids. Crossword programs do them in about three seconds but I’m a total Luddite. So I have two choices: beg my saintly pals Michael or Patrick or Myles to whip up a grid for me if I supply the theme, or take an already existing one and alter it with a square here and a square there to suit my needs.
The problem was, I made a brand new puzzle from scratch, but it had 80 words instead of 78 because, god forbid, I had added two previous squares that hadn’t been there before! Busted! I swear, I didn’t know there were black square limits or word limits. But apparently there are. There are even boys out there that are determined to break records over them. My feeling is if you have a great theme, who cares? Who notices if it’s 80 words or 74? Well, um, I guess that’s why I’ll never be a real constructor. I’m a solver who occasionally writes puzzles … and that’s why I’m no Paula Gamache or Lynn Lempel or whoever the true Queen of Mondays is. I am a pretender to the throne. A Lady-in-Waiting. And (if I may mix metaphors) that blonde chick from “All About Eve.” [RP~ Marilyn!!? You're Marilyn Monroe!?" You are blond, I'll give you that.]
Speaking of which, my favorite clue, “Woman of Honor?,” was changed to “Bride’s ____ of honor” (40A: MAID). Yuck. I agree with 99% of Will’s changes, and this puzzle was left pretty much untouched, but it’s frustrating with Mondays to have to be so straightforward that even little attempts at wit are bled out. (Just like this blog! Trust me, my original draft was hysterical! I blame PuzzleGirl and her backstabbing ways!) [RP~ What is a "Woman of Honor?" Is that a pun, a play on ... something?]
SO the long and short of it is I had to/chose to write a third version, from scratch, on spec, to maybe/maybe not be published, a year later, on a holiday where no one reads the paper! (And don’t get me started on no reprint rights!)
Ok. I feel better.
May I comment on the actual puzzle now as a solver?
MIA (25A: Actress Farrow). (Okay, second obligatory Woody Allen reference, so shoot me.) Total coincidence, synchronicity, malapop, whatever you want to call it, I swear I wrote this puzzle a year ago!
As some of you have detected on this blog, I occasionally try and slip in something self-referential, like ACME. This is a holdover from my TV Guide construction days (as is GINA (19D: Actress Lollobrigida) and AVA (41D: Actress Gardner)) where they would not give us a byline and paid $75 despite a 70 million readership … or was it 17 million? … whatever. So every puzzle I would slip in “The Streets of ___ Francisco” so friends would at least know it was mine.
On this puzzle, the secret shout out/kiss up word was, you guessed it, WILL (38D: Not just might). I originally clued it as “NYT crossword puzzle editor Shortz.” I have no idea why he changed it. Probably too hard for a Monday.
I also slipped in BERG (65A: Ice in the sea) as a nod to my birth name, Eisenberg, because my dad used to complain when I changed it that if I was published, no one would know I was his daughter. So much for that … when I told him I was having my first puzzle published in the NY Times, he asked what day. I said “Monday.” He said “Let me know when it’s a Friday” and hung up. And one asks why I plugged my therapist in the last blog!
By the way, my therapist Nanette Gartrell’s book, “My Answer Is No, If That’s OK With You,” is clearly working as I had NO SALE (1D: Key on an old register), NO RUSH (34A: “Take your time”), and NONCOM (18D: Sarge, for one) in the puzzle!
I’m such a Beatles fan, I had clued GOT TO as “____ Get You Into My Life” and it was changed to (63A) “What’s Love ___ Do With It” (Tina Turner #1 hit) which is fine by me, I love that song! My friend Johnnie even dressed as her for Halloween that year (where is THAT picture!??!!)
What’s love got to do with it, indeed. Speaking of which, I would end on a third obligatory reference to Woody, and our correspondence with me as a 14-year-old … but MY LIPS ARE SEALED. (Which is going to make it awfully hard to say thank you properly to Rex and PuzzleGirl … it will be more like “MMMANKU … ANKU … OILCAN.”) [RP~ o my god I so don't understand whatever you are doing there ... it's a bit scary. Otherwise, thanks for the insider's view, Andrea. RP is back tomorrow. See you then]
PS here's a drawing you'll like, Andrea - Emily's drawing based on last Saturday's puzzle. Enjoy.
[drawing by Emily Cureton]
PPS - testing testing. I'm experimenting. You should see a "Toughie" cryptic from the Telegraph below ...