Butter knife of golf / SUN 11-28-10 / R&B funk trio with 1990 hit Feels Good / Chu legendary Confucian sage / Cry of self-pride / NBAer Smits
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Constructor: Jeremy Newton
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: THE TREE-LIGHTING CEREMONY at ROCKEFELLER CENTER — theme answers related to the ceremony, plus a rebus using "ON" squares to create the outline of a tree
Word of the Day: RAJIV Gandhi (96A: One of the Gandhis) —
Rajiv Ratna Gandhi (Kashmiri/Hindi: राजीव गांधी; 20 August 1944 – 21 May 1991) was the 7th Prime Minister of India, serving from October 1984 to December 1989. He took office after his mother's assassination on Oct-31-1984, later he himself was assassinated in May-1991. He became the youngest Prime Minister of India when he took office at the age of 40. He was the elder son of Indira Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi. (wikipedia)
As you can see if you look at your grid — especially if you have, as I have, marked all the ONs with yellow Hi-liter — the entire NW is devoid of rebus squares, so I was deeeeep into the puzzle before I realized there was a rebus component. I mean, I had THE WEDNESDAY / AFTER THANKSGIVING without having any idea what the hell was so important about that day. The Wednesday after Black Friday? Pink Wednesday? What the hell? Still blind to the rebus, I went poking around the north, trying to figure out what someone might call Judge Judy, when the AV(ON) (10D: Cosmetics giant) / ALL (ON) RED (24A: Roulette bet) intersection revealed the trick to me. Moved down a little and I was in some very dense ON territory. Noticed quickly that the rebus squares were forming some kind of triangle, and that the "ON" squares had mirror symmetry (which helped a lot). Took me a while to get TREE-LIGHTING CEREMONY, only because I'm not familiar with it (I know only the ceremony related to the tree at the White House) and I didn't know if it had specific name. Once I got the rebus trick, the puzzle wasn't *that* hard, but locating and writing in the ONs slowed me down enough that my time was well above average (true of the top solvers at the NYT site, too). Thus, "Challenging."
By far my favorite part of the grid was the bottom of the tree. I literally said "wow," stopped solving and drew a big circle around it with a smiley face inside. I think the answer that did it for me was T[ON]Y T[ON]I T[ON]É (R&B funk trio with the 1990 hit "Feels Good") — this is surely the best use to which their name has ever been put. Brilliant. Throw in the recently relaunched CONAN (110A: Big name in late-night), whom I love, and the very fresh and spot-on colloquialism "YAY ME!" (116A: Cry of self-pride) and this section just glows. Former TONY TONI TONÉ member Raphael Saadiq is an accomplished solo artist now. Love his album. Also, his name is crossword awesome. Hope he becomes more famous.
- 3D: With 5-Down, when 148-Across traditionally takes place (THE WEDNESDAY / AFTER THANKSGIVING)
- 15D: Where 148-Across takes place (ROCKEFELLER CENTER)
- 17D: Traditional centerpiece of 148-Across (NORWAY SPRUCE)
- 148A: Annual Manhattan event (represented symbolically in this puzzle) (TREE-LIGHTING CEREMONY)
- 8A: Home of Hells Gate State Park (IDAHO) — Wow, that place must really suck.
- 31A: N.B.A.'er Smits, a k a the Dunkin' Dutchman (RIK) — I watched basketball when RIK was in his heyday, so this was a piece of cake. He has one of those funny "K" names, like DIK Browne or ZAK whatshisname ... Ringo's son ... Starkey!
- 46A: Snack food with a Harvest Cheddar flavor (SUN CHIPS) — famous for having a biodegradable bag that was discontinued because it was "too loud." SUN CHIPS are packaged to make you feel that you are not doing what you are in fact doing: eating junk food.
- 50A: "Butter knife" of golf (ONE IRON) — I assumed this was some dude. Some dude nicknamed "Butter knife." John Daly?
- 59A: Escapee from a witch in a Grimm tale (GRETEL) — HANSEL also fits, so you're lucky if you solve this from the front instead of the back.
- 62A: It may be put down on a roll (ABSENCE) — a great, tough clue.
- 82A: Mythological triad (GRACES) — there are several such triads, or at least one other (FATES), but they didn't fit.
- 84A: Creatures known to lick their own eyeballs (GECKOS) — How do you not love a clue like that?
- 115A: When repeated, an old sitcom farewell (NANU) — always hard to see TV from my formative years called "old."
- 127A: Trattoria topper (PESTO) — wanted PASTA, but then realized that would be what's being topped, not the topper.
- 18D: "Diary of a Madman" author (GOGOL) — Me: ".... ? .... ? .... OZZY?"
- 48D: Movie co. behind "Wordplay" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (IFC) — Independent Film Channel. Nice semi-self-referential clue there...
- 58D: Magnetic disruption in space (ION STORM) — surprised at how quickly I got this and how confidently I entered it, considering my dearth of knowledge about astrology. [wink]
- 60D: 1960s girl group, with "the" (RONETTES) — Ronnie Spector! Wall of Sound! Cool...
- 80D: Chu ___ (legendary Confucian sage) (HSI) — Uh ... OK, if Chu say so ...
- 92D: Echo producer (CANYON) — Right in the heart of that beautiful bottom-of-the-tree section. Had an aha moment with this one.
- @kamies I'm killing the sunday nyt crossword. KILLIN IT. however if I finish soon the rest of my work day is going to be really boring.
- @Love_Liipstik There's alwyz somethin poppin off on the 196! This old lady KNOWS she should be holdin on to the bar instead she wants to do crosswords!
- @etc_etera Damn. No pen. Will Shortz you're being rescheduled and I'm sorry.
- @wildbookchase NYT Xword might be the saving grace of my afternoon. #Saturdaylibrarian
- @Mr_Inconsistant @MySecretLife01 If you arm wrestle, can beat me and then do the Times crossword quickly I am in
- @Dave_MensHealth So entranced by the crossword that I missed my stop and ended up in Brixton. Damn you, 12-down.
- @PuzzleGirl65 One of my commenters just called me sweetie. #TheCreepyOne
- @LissaGreene13 Its not #Thanksgiving unless Dad asks me to spell answers to #NYTimes crossword puzzle. Justifies my entire college career to spell "parade"
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