Introduction of 1927 — THURSDAY, Nov. 26, 2009 — Rabanne who was costume designer for Barbarella / Time manager's directive / Introduction of 1977
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: PARADE BALLOONs in the MACY's Thanksgiving Day Parade — three theme answers are famous characters clued by when they debuted as balloons in the MACY's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Word of the Day: PACO Rabanne (17A: Rabanne who was the costume designer for "Barbarella") — Paco Rabanne, born Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo on February 18, 1934 in San Sebastián (Donostia in Basque) in the Basque Country, Spain, is a fashion designer. He fled Spain for France with his mother when the Spanish Civil War broke out. He originally had an architect's education but became known as the enfant terrible of the French fashion world in the 1960s // Rabanne started his career in fashion by creating jewellery for Givenchy, Dior and Balenciaga. He started his own fashion house in 1966. He used such unconventional materials as metal, paper and plastic for his outlandish and flamboyant designs. // Paco Rabanne is known for his costume designs for such films as Barbarella. Also Françoise Hardy was a big fan of Rabanne's designs. // Rabanne also has an interest in paranormal phenomena, and became infamous for his false prediction of the Russian space station Mir falling to Paris in 1999. Some media referred satirically this episode as "Pacolypse". (wikipedia)
Good morning and happy Thanksgiving (U.S.). I plan on doing a whole lot of nothing today, so much as I love Paula and her puzzle, I'm going to make this reasonably short. This seems a really original and fitting idea for a puzzle. Nice bit of serendipity getting the three different fictional animals and the theme-revealer to come out symmetrically, especially since other float possibilities would likely not have had the same ["x THE animal"] syntax that all of these do. For the second day in a row I blew through the puzzle like the Blackhawks through the Sharks' defense last night (that's for Tyler). Misplaced by a day, difficulty-wise, but I have no problem with the idea of throwing people a (relative) softball on Thanksgiving. Don't stress folks out — give 'em something they can do easily, perhaps with family (you could even show this one to your kids, as they'll at least know who KERMIT is ... right? They know KERMIT, right? Tell me they know KERMIT!).
- 20A: Introduction of 1977 (Kermit the Frog)
- 31A: Introduction of 1927 (Felix the Cat)
- 40A: Introduction of 1963 (Elsie the Cow)
- 51A: What 20-, 31- and 40-Across were each introduced as by 47-Down (Parade balloon)
- 47D: See 51-Across (Macy's)
New to me was ADORA (11D: Marie Osmond's _____ Belle dolls). That's by far the most desperate answer here, and it's completely inferrable from the pun the answer produces — ADORA Belle = adorable, good one, Marie. I had issues with ROUX (21D: Gumbo thickener), mostly involving spelling it ROUE, aargh. "ROUX" Means "red-headed" in French, so I figured the thickener must be the other spelling, but no. A ROUÉ is a "lecherous, dissipated man" (answers.com). Then there's RUE meaning "street" and RUE McClanahan from "Golden Girls" and "You'll RUE the day!" and ROONE Arledge ... so much to keep track of.
Loved YESHIVA and JACKKNIFE. Learned IMARET and RAREE from constant crosswording. AS FIT and EMAGS can bite me. Thankfully (thankfully!), they're outnumbered by good stuff.
- 14A: First step in a series (A to B) — I probably had more trouble in this wee NW corner than I did in the whole puzzle. Was looking for a command, e.g. "Put tab A in slot B" or the like.
- 55A: Big diamonds, maybe (aces) — did Not get this until I was done. The ACES are cards. Couldn't think only of rocks or baseball.
- 28D: They may be found in a tank (GIs) — same as with ACES. Couldn't parse it, and when I did, couldn't imagine what GIs had to do with tanks. How's that for dense? I was thinking "... like a drunk tank??"
- 1D: Sound on "Batman" ("Zap") — Did I miss the part where he carried a laser gun around?
- 22D: Time manager's directive? (edit!) — "Time" here = magazine. Feels a *little* clunky, this clue.
- 24D: "Solomon and _____," 1959 biblical epic ("Sheba") — Come back, little Sheba!
Two final things before I wrap up. First, Doug Peterson and Andrea Carla Michaels made a birthday puzzle for me entitled "King of the Blog." It is brilliant, but also sooooo insidery (all about this blog and its comments section) that I'm not sure how doable it will be for someone who reads me only casually. Still, you are more than welcome to give it a try. Get it in .puz or .pdf form here. Thanks, Andrea and Doug. It's an amazingly detailed and thoughtful puzzle, as well as an incredibly sweet gesture.
Lastly, please please please check out / distribute the puzzle I wrote to support Christina Applegate's breast cancer foundation. I wrote it a couple months ago, rewrote it over the past 48 hrs, and released it yesterday (Christina's birthday). To read about the puzzle and print it out or download it, go here (or just scroll down if you're on my main page — it's the post immediately before this one). And anything you could do to promote the puzzle to solvers you know would be greatly appreciated. (Thanks to Amy Reynaldo / Diary of a Crossword Fiend for hosting the .puz versions of the above puzzles)
I'm thankful for all y'all who read this, and to Will Shortz for putting on such an interesting show.
Signed, Rex Parker, 40
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