Song of 1859 / FRI 12-24-10 / It has 3750 steps of penitence / Scrooge player of film / Sacred symbol to Zeus / Word on vin bottle
Friday, December 24, 2010
Constructor: Jay Kaskel and Daniel Kantor
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: SILENT NIGHT (59A: Song of 1959 ... or what the five circled letters represent?) — silent N, I, GH, and T can be found in circled squares in four Christmas-related theme answers
Word of the Day: IAN Ziering (52D: Ziering of "90210") —
Ian Andrew Ziering (born March 30, 1964) is an American actor best known for playing Steve Sanders on the television series Beverly Hills, 90210. (wikipedia) (so he *started* playing a teenage at 26 ...?)
Hot on the heels of the GHOTI / "Fish" puzzle, we get another puzzle based on the vagaries of the English language and its pronunciation. When I first finished, I did not get the "silent" part of the puzzle — I thought the fact that NIGHT was "hiding" in the circles (quietly?) was the feature signified by the word SILENT. That wrong conclusion lasted only a few seconds, as I realized it made no sense, and the circles didn't form a Christmasy shape that I recognized, so some quality of the letters themselves must be important (I reasoned) and bingo—theme solved. Helped (somehow) that NIGHT shares 4 out of 5 letters with GHOTI. The fact that the silent letters all appear in Christmas-related answers (including the date-specific CHRISTMAS EVE) is a nice touch. The puzzle felt a little slight for a Friday (possibly because of all the short, basic answers occasioned by the strange, black-square-heavy grid design), but there are very few weak spots and the theme is tight and clever. Thumbs up.
- 18A: Carols, often (CHRISTMAS HYMNS)
- 24A: Scrooge player of film (MICHAEL CAINE) — when was that?? Ohhh...
- 38A: Polar opposites? (NAUGHTY OR NICE) — okay, That is a good clue
- 51A: Time before the present day? (CHRISTMAS EVE) — again, good clue
- 14A: Feu fighter (EAU) — another great clue, punning (I assume) on this band name:
- 17A: N N N (NUS) — Greek letters. That "N" was the last letter I filled in, I think.
- 57A: With 67-Across, sacred symbol to Zeus (OAK / TREE) — I did not know this. Pieced it together with little trouble. Lots of ancient stuff today, what with two Latin words and Zeus and Greek letters and MT SINAI.
- 5D: Exclamation hear 12 times in Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" (RAH) — I am familiar with that part of the song, but somehow remember the syllable differently: MAH or BAH or LAH or maybe combinations of all those...
- 12D: Lady whom Don Giovanni tries to seduce (ANNA) — HMM ... opera. For me, this generally means "insert random woman's name here." And so it was today. Crosses: mercifully easy.
- 32D: "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" setting (THE RIVIERA) — this movie co-starred ... MICHAEL CAINE. Nice touch.
- 35D: Lily, in Lille (LYS) — as in "fleur-de-"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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