Another good early-week puzzle. Similar, in a way, to the Big Five-O puzzle from last week, because there are so many Os, but this one has three sets of ON in each theme answer, including the revealer. Also, they're not all that familiar - especially the first one, TONYTONITONE (20A: 1990s R&B group with a repetitive-sounding name), so it played a little on the tough side. And speaking of tough, ELEMI (33D: Resin used in incense)?!? What the heck is that?
Some people say that solving using only the down clues is one way to improve your speed. Today that method would also bring you to the more interesting fill. Sure, you'd see ESPY, ALAI, and ROUE, but you'd also hit TRANSLUCENT (3D: Like sheer fabric or sautéed onions), WRITINGDESK (23D: Secretary), TEXTBOOK (8D: Required school purchase, maybe), and PINENUTS (38D: Ingredients in pesto) (Colum, did you have any of that while you were in Italy? Or see any VESPAs?), which are all quite good. I also liked SECONDS, PRONTO, ORNERY, and, of course, EROICA (45D: Beethoven's Third).
But the Acrosses also had a few nice non-theme bits, like COAX, YUKON, WAH (28A: ____ pedal (guitar accessory), ERUPTS, and RYE. Mmmmm…. rye….
And right in the middle, we get AOK (38A: Thumb-to-forefinger signal) with a better clue than Sunday. Still a little weird, but better, I think.
This one was AOK with me.