Saturday, November 27, 2010

NYT Sunday 11/28/10 Jeremy Newton - All Spruced Up

This Sunday New York Times crossword seemed fairly tough even allowing for it being a supersized 23x23 grid, rather than the usual 21x21. With Henry aka Hub 1.0 here to help, I was hoping to finish in well under 30 minutes, but we spent a lot longer in the end.

We struggled to get a start in the NW, largely due to that elusive gets an A {Passes with flying colors} at 1-Across. The work in this area proved worthwhile, though, as we got the key 3-Down and 5-Down within five minutes of starting. It was another five minutes or so before we started scenting a rebus at work, when answers like 9d Del Monte {Canned foods giant} failed to fit.

Trafalgar SquareOnce we'd seen the pattern of ONs emerging, we realized they must relate to Christmas trees, although this was the first I'd heard of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. It is presumably as iconic as the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, donated to the people of London by the city of Oslo each year since 1947 (it is also a Norway spruce, generally over 20 meters tall).

At one point we confidently predicted the ONs would always descend in knights' moves down the grid, but we had to revise that view when the tree started to splay out at the oblongs/ironist level. Further adjustments were needed to cope with the surprising (but delightful) Tony! Toni! Toné!, and the isolated "light" on the trunk at the none/Etons crossing.

The un-rebused ON in Conan at 110-Across bothered us towards completion - we thought he must be the answer, then hesitated to put him in because we had so much got into the habit of squeezing ONs into a single square. However, it has to be said that we'd happily dealt with several others of these earlier on without confusion.
Solving time: 42 mins (with Henry, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 104a nacho {What might go for a dip?}

Jeremy Newton
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"A shining moment". The puzzle celebrates 148a The Tree Lighting Ceremony {Annual Manhattan event (represented symbolically in this puzzle)}, the following answers being relevant to the theme:
3d/5d the Wednesday after Thanksgiving {When 148-Across traditionally takes place}
15d Rockefeller Center {Where 148-Across takes place}
17d Norway spruce {Traditional centerpiece of 148-Across} 
The shape and lights of the tree are represented by rebus squares containing ON, affecting the following answers:
24a all on red {Roulette bet}
36a onion {Source of some rings}
50a one iron {"Butter knife" of golf}
64a on auction {Up for bidding}
79a on the button {Exactly right}
89a big on {Nuts about};
94a on-set {Kind of romance between actors}
108a emotional {Worked up};
112a I'm on to you! {"Don't try any more tricks!"}
119a oblongs {Stretched figures}
121a Tony! Toni! Toné! {R&B funk trio with the 1990 hit "Feels Good"}
124a ironist {One using twisted humor}
153a none {Zero}

 9d Del Monte {Canned foods giant}
10d Avon {Cosmetics giant}
11d her honor {Title for Judge Judy}
43d Fonda {Hardly a plain Jane}
44d long I {Capital of Iceland?}
58d ion storm {Magnetic disruption in space}
60d Ronettes {1960s girl group, with "the"}
72d monk {Man in the hood?}
75d Bono {One-named rock star}
85d con man {Fraudster}
87d mon ami {Frenchman's term of address}
92d canyon {Echo producer}
109d on a spree {Bingeing}
113d on simmer {Just below the boiling point}
120d on switch {Start for 148-Across?}
122d on the ice {Not benched, as in hockey}
123d on budget {Not overspending}
125d on a timer {Set to go off, say}
143d Etons {Wide-lapel jackets}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJeremy Newton / Will Shortz
Grid23x23 with 93 (17.6%) black squares
Answers171 (average length 5.10)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points693 (average 1.59)
Video of the Day

121a Tony! Toni! Toné! {R&B funk trio with the 1990 hit "Feels Good"}. Tony! Toni! Toné! is an American new jack swing/R&B group from Oakland, California, popular during the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s. During the band's heyday, it was composed of D'wayne Wiggins on lead vocals and guitar, his brother Raphael Saadiq (born Charles Ray Wiggins) on lead vocals and bass, and their cousin Timothy Christian Riley on drums. Other members were Elijah Baker, Carl Wheeler, Randall Wiggins, and Amar Khalil, who is the current lead singer of the group, and Antron Haile.

The group's name is derived from Andy García's portrayal of an Italian American sharpshooter in The Untouchables. In high school, a friend of D'wayne joked that the teacher would call him "Tony, Tony, Tony" if they saw the way he was dressed. Originally, the band went by "Tony, Tony, Tony" as a joke, until they realized it had a nice ring to it.

Above is the number-one R&B single Feels Good.

The Doctor is IN

71a PMs {10 Downing St. figures}. PMs = Prime Ministers who reside at 10 Downing Street.

73a KOA {R.V. refuge org.}. KOA = Kampgrounds of America, a franchise chain of North American campgrounds.

115a Na-Nu {When repeated, an old sitcom farewell}. Mork's greeting on Mork and Mindy is "Na-Nu Na-Nu" (pronounced "nah-noo nah-noo").

152a loc. {Footnote abbr.}. As in loc. cit. (short for loco citato, meaning "in the place cited").

155a Seger {Leader of the Silver Bullet Band}. I.e. Bob Seger.

8d isla {La Palma, e.g.}. island = isla is in Español para los crucigramistas.

16d is a {"Yes, Virginia, there ___ Santa Claus"}. See Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

63d EAP {Literary inits.}. EAP = Edgar Allan Poe.

Image of the Day

gecko licking its eye clean

84a geckos {Creatures known to lick their own eyeballs}. Geckos are small to average sized lizards belonging to the family Gekkonidae, found in warm climates throughout the world. Geckos are unique among lizards in their vocalizations, making chirping sounds in social interactions with other geckos. Gekkonidae is the largest family of lizards, with an estimated 2,000 different species worldwide and many others likely yet to be discovered. The name stems from the Indonesian/Javanese word Tokek, inspired by the sound these animals make.

All geckos, excluding the Eublepharinae family, have no eyelids and instead have a transparent membrane which they lick to clean. Many species will, in defense, expel a foul-smelling material and feces onto their aggressors. There are also many species that will drop their tails in defense, a process called autotomy. Many species are well known for their specialized toe pads that enable them to climb smooth and vertical surfaces, and even cross indoor ceilings with ease (it is believed that the van der Waals force may contribute to this capability). These antics are well-known to people who live in warm regions of the world, where several species of geckos make their home inside human habitations. These species (for example the House Gecko) become part of the indoor menagerie and are often welcome guests, as they feed on insects, including mosquitoes.

The largest species, the Kawekaweau, is only known from a single, stuffed specimen found in the basement of a museum in Marseille, France and one documented sighting in the wild in 1870. This gecko was 60 cm (24 in) long and it was endemic to New Zealand where it lived in native forests. It was probably wiped out along with much of the native fauna of these islands in the late 19th century, when new invasive species such as rats and stoats were introduced to the country during European colonization. The smallest gecko, the Jaragua Sphaero, is a mere 16 mm long and was discovered in 2001 on a small island off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

Other Clues

1a gets an A {Passes with flying colors}; 8a Idaho {Home of Hells Gate State Park}; 13a strings {A lot of an orchestra}; 20a ache for {Really, really want}; 21a sever {Break off}; 22a too soon? {"Are we not joking about that yet?"}; 23a bleated {Sounded sheepish?}; 26a in cargo {How pets may fly}; 27a saw {Came to realize}; 28a Eno {Avant-garde composer Brian}; 29a lam {Quick flight}; 30a hoe {Something groundbreaking?}; 31a Rik {N.B.A.'er Smits, a k a the Dunkin' Dutchman}; 32a wow {Amaze}; 33a tear-drop {Shed thing}; 38a visceral {Felt in the gut}; 41a Dr. T {Richard Gere title role of 2000}; 42a soft color {Peach, e.g.}; 45a Fey {Onetime "S.N.L." regular Tina}; 46a Sun Chips {Snack food with a Harvest Cheddar flavor}; 51a assess as {Deem}; 56a NNE {Austin-to-Waco dir.}; 57a afraid {Frozen, perhaps}; 59a Gretel {Escapee from a witch in a Grimm tale}; 61a PGA {Swingers' grp.}; 62a absence {It may be put down on a roll}; 68a allergy {Strong aversion, colloquially}; 70a Kodak {Kind of moment}; 74a ebb {Reflux}; 76a étuis {Places for needles}; 77a elapse {Go by}; 82a Graces {Mythological triad}; 83a sty {Porker's place}; 86a atomic {Itty-bitty}; 88a eso {"Cómo es ___?" (Spanish "Why?")}; 90a ribcage {It guards the heart}; 96a Rajiv {One of the Gandhis}; 99a MGM {___ Grand}; 101a Las {Vegas opening?}; 102a Sha {___ Na Na}; 104a nacho {What might go for a dip?}; 110a Conan {Big name in late-night}; 114a Mel {Brooks or Blanc}; 116a yay me! {Cry of self-pride}; 117a rise {Beginning}; 118a nus {Preceders of xis}; 126a pays {Is worth doing}; 127a pesto {Trattoria topper}; 129a I-beam {Letter-shaped support}; 131a aces {Provides service that can't be beat?}; 132a ward {Stave (off)}; 134a hue {Part of a sunbow}; 136a Tzu {Shih ___ (dog)}; 137a smut {Blue stuff}; 139a strifes {Bitter quarrels}; 142a entered {Input}; 144a Let It Be {Beatles' last studio album}; 151a AAMCO {Transmission repair franchise}; 154a Eve {Christmas ___}; 156a Gish {Lillian of silents}; 157a sue {Seek damages}; 158a OSS {Org. that infiltrated Nazi Germany}; 159a tsp. {Rx amount: Abbr.}; 160a rage {In thing}.

1d gabs {Doesn't shut up}; 2d éclat {Razzle-dazzle}; 4d sea {Pirate's realm}; 6d no end {Ceaselessly}; 7d ardor {Intense heat}; 12d Oreo {Cookie with creme}; 13d stirs {Wakens}; 14d tonic {Picker-upper}; 18d Gogol {"Diary of a Madman" author}; 19d snow {December fall}; 24d Alpo {Dinner in a can}; 25d Devo {"Whip It" band}; 34d arc {Discus path}; 35d Ossa {Mount in myth}; 37d ici {Here, in Dijon}; 39d Irae {"Deus ___" (1976 sci-fi novel)}; 40d res {Low-___}; 46d snakes {Winds}; 47d unbolt {Detach, in a way}; 48d IFC {Movie co. behind "Wordplay" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"}; 49d prep {Ready}; 52d stab {Blind guess}; 53d sel {French seasoning}; 54d Aggies {Texas A&M athletes}; 55d says so {Asserts something}; 65d uke {It's picked in Maui}; 66d cob {Part of an ear}; 67d tau {Torque's symbol}; 69d ETA {Gate projection, for short}; 78d EEG {Stream of consciousness, for short?}; 80d Hsi {Chu ___ (legendary Confucian sage)}; 81d tag {What it must do}; 82d GIs {PX patrons}; 89d bit {Shtick}; 91d bloat {Swell}; 93d as am I {"Right there with you"}; 95d Tao {Chinese "way"}; 96d remop {Clean again, as a floor}; 97d ameba {Tiny creature}; 98d jolly {Like St. Nick}; 100d gluts {Overfills}; 103d hiree {Firm newbie}; 105d cynic {Sarcastic sort}; 106d house {Take in, as guests}; 107d ousts {Sends packing}; 110d Cy Young {Award named for a Hall-of-Fame pitcher}; 111d netizen {Blogger, e.g.}; 128d Edsels {Flops in lots}; 130d asleep {Out}; 133d afro {Extra-large top?}; 135d ethno- {Start for -centric}; 136d tries {Essays}; 138d Utes {Western tribe}; 139d stag {Kind of party}; 140d Thai {Cuisine with pad see ew noodles}; 141d REMs {Signs of dreaming}; 145d toga {It was wrapped around the Forum}; 146d B Neg {Rare blood type, for short}; 147d Eyre {Jane at Thornfield}; 149d Lou {Funny Costello}; 150d CVS {Walgreens rival}.


Anonymous said...

I was thrown off by the "ON" at the bottom center of the puzzle. I had taken the "ON" squares to represent the lights on the tree, and the t-shaped set of black squares below 121a to represent the trunk of the tree. I didn't see any reason for there to be another "ON" below the tree. (It didn't help that I wasn't familiar with the meaning of "essay" used in 136d.)

Crossword Man said...

Yup. We speculated that extra ON might be the ON/OFF switch for all the lights!