Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ian who won 1991 Masters / WED 1-25-12 / City of Kyrgyzstan / Palm smartphone / Sweet filling in commercial names

Constructor: Gareth Bain

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: TREE RINGS (38A: Indicators of age ... and a hint to this puzzle's theme) — CIRCLES in the grid hold three-letter TREE names

Word of the Day: Ian WOOSNAM (2D: Ian who won the 1991 Masters) —
Ian Harold Woosnam OBE (born 2 March 1958) is a Welsh professional golfer.
Nicknamed 'Woosie', 'Woosers', or the 'Wee Welshman', Woosnam was one of the "Big Five" generation of European golfers, all born within 12 months of one another, all of whom have won majors, and made Europe competitive in the Ryder Cup. His peers in  this group were Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, and Sandy Lyle (wikipedia)
• • •
Four sad, sparse circles in the grid don't make for a very strong visual statement. The theme is a cute repurposing of the phrase "TREE RINGS," but I didn't enjoy it as much as I might have since a. there weren't very many trees, and b. I've done a much more difficult and more satisfying tree rebus before. I know it was by Byron Walden, and I'm almost certain it was in the NY Sun several years back. Plus, this grid has some fill I'd try *really* hard to keep out of my grids, including BAI—I'd have gone HAMAS / SALTS / BAT or something like that; my guess is Gareth wanted to get "original" answers in there with MILLARD and HAMID, but being first with an answer just isn't good enough reason to make a corner rougher than it has to be. BAI is too high a price to pay for virtually anything. I mean, good god, even BAE is better than BAI. Other less-than-great stuff: OSH, INNO, KREME, ANGE, TREO, SSGT, OTIC, SIG, TROU, "ADIA," and (singular) BEE GEE (coincidence: I listened to Side A of "Spirits Having Flown" on vinyl today. Several times. While cooking. Good stuff). To the puzzle's credit, it has KAN[YEW]EST and COLD[ASH]ELL (an oath! EGAD!). I just tested a puzzle with KANYEWEST in it yesterday. That constructor is not going to be happy ... but I guess KANYE still hasn't appeared in full-name, unrebused form, so it'll still seem like an original answer.

Theme answers:
Had a pretty easy time with this one. Always easy to solve rebuses when the relevant squares are marked for you. First indication of the rebus came with the short answers up top, actually—the bull name and the river both looked ridiculous, so something had to be up. Once I figured it out, the rest of the puzzle was a cinch. Had no recollection of WOOSNAM at all—needed every cross there. Briefly blanked on SNERT. Needed a nudge to get TAY. Otherwise, no trouble.

  • 5A: Classic sci-fi terror, with "the" ("BLOB") — is "terror" the creature itself? Or is the movie the "terror?"
  • 26A: Followers of lambdas (MUS) — better than short for "music," I guess.
  • 32A: Phyllis's never-seen TV husband (LARS) — from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." How long will it be before this sitcom reference (very gettable to people over 40) is seen as unfairly obscure?
  • 47A: Pursuers of the Sopranos, for short (GMEN) — I wrote in GATS at first ... 
  • 40A: Sweet filling, in commercial names (KREME) — I think you mean "commercial name." Singular.
  • 28A: Song title for both Fleetwood Mac and Starship (SARA) — only one of these is listen-to-able. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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