Home of groundhog Punxsutawney Phil / MON 2-18-13 / Green with 2010 hit Forget You / Los Angeles district near Sherman Oaks / Stringed instrument for madrigal / Mortise's partner in carpentry / Singsongy cadence / Set of people receiving placebo
Monday, February 18, 2013
Constructor: Jeffrey Harris
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: CONTROL GROUP (46A: Set of people receiving a placebo ... or what the ends of 20-, 28- and 41-Across belong to?) — theme answers all end with words that are kinds of controls (such as one might find on a TV or dashboard)
- GOBBLER'S KNOB (20A: Home of the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil)
- CUTE AS A BUTTON (28A: Simply adorable)
- BAIT AND SWITCH (Underhanded commercial ploy)
Word of the Day: GOBBLER'S KNOB —
Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby is a groundhog resident of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. On February 2 (Groundhog Day) of each year, the town of Punxsutawney celebrates the beloved groundhog with a festive atmosphere of music and food. During the ceremony, which begins well before the winter sunrise (which occurs at 7:26 AM Eastern Standard Time on February 2 in Punxsutawney), Phil emerges from his temporary home on Gobbler's Knob, located in a rural area about 2 miles (3.2 km) east of town. According to the tradition, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he has predicted six more weeks of winter-like weather. If Phil does not see his shadow, he has predicted an "early spring." The date of Phil's prognostication is known as Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada. He is considered to be the world's most famous prognosticating rodent. During the rest of the year, Phil lives in the town library with his "wife" Phyllis.
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Oh, puzzle, you had me at GOBBLER'S KNOB. I watched "Groundhog Day" this past Groundhog Day, and am more convinced than ever that it's among the greatest comedies of all time. Probably one of the ten best movies of the '90s. Just perfect. Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the film's release, so this answer is all kinds of timely. However, it is likely to slow most Monday solvers down, since unless you've seen and know the film Really well (as I do), it's possible you fumbled around a bit there. Also possibly at ACRED (wtf?), and, if you're like me, at JEEZ (I swear I *just* did a puzzle where it was spelled GEEZ ...). Oh, and THE BLUES—that was a pretty tricky clue (4D: Low spirits, as experienced by St. Louis's hockey team?). So tricky, I actually thought it was a theme clue at first. So there are a bunch of places one might get briefly snagged, but the rest was typically Monday-easy, so overall, it was a Monday. A Monday Monday, albeit one I liked more than I typically like Mondays. The theme is of a very basic (last words) type, but with theme answers like those, the unoriginality of theme type is meaningless. Theme works, fill is great, so: success.
Oh, and maybe you didn't know CEE-LO (39A: Green with the 2010 hit "Forget You"). The clue is accurate but misleading, as the song is really called "F*ck You," but for radio play they obviously had to change it. I know his name well and still froze a bit when trying to enter it. Somehow I want it to be C-LO, like J-LO ... but with a C.
CANOERS (39D: Ones paddling down a river, say) made me wince a bit, but in retrospect I don't see anything terribly wrong with the word. It's just that when words get -ERed and pluralized at the same, that's usually a bad sign. I mean, fine for, say, BOMBERS, but bad for, say, SCARERS. I didn't set a personal record time on this puzzle, but I did manage to put my name on top of the leaderboard at the NYT site for the first time ever. That bit of glory lasted all of thirty minutes, and since then many of my friends have posted times *well* under mine. Oh well. At least I'll always have this screenshot (that's me at #1):
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld