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.

Theme answers:
  • 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
Started out tough for me and then opened right up. Then ended up tough again (started and finished in the NW). First things I put in the grid with any confidence were RARA (15A: Uncommon, in ancient Rome) and CRU (6D: Word on a vin bottle). Couldn't remember my lesser trigonometrical functions (i.e. ARCTAN, 4D: Inverse trig function), so had to move along and found GEHRIG (8D: The Iron Horse of baseball). From there I was able to get into the NE and once CHURCH HYMNS was in, I caught fire. The only real thorny parts were all part of that NW corridor that runs the length of MAURITANIA (2D: Its capital is Nouakchott) and MUSIC STAND (3D: Score keeper?). Never heard of the USAC (39D: Car-racing org.), so needed every cross there. Terrible trouble seeing MT. SINAI (didn't expect a mountain to have "steps") (29A: It has 3,750 "steps of penitence"). OH I and HEN were very well hidden (21D: "___ don't know" + 1D: Game ___), and it took me a while to give up on YES as the answer to 1A: Not an ideal answer to "Do these jeans make me look fat?" ("HMM...").

  • 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-"
Merry Christmas Eve.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Silent NIGHT. I guess it is that N, I, GH, and T are not pronounced in the answers where they appear. Merry Christmas.

Bah Humbug 12:58 AM  

But the letters are not silent in the down answers.
I liked [Score keeper?] MUSIC STAND. Is the "?" necessary for this clue?

The Bard 1:07 AM  

The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 1

SCENE I. On a ship at sea: a tempestuous noise
of thunder and lightning heard.

Enter a Master and a Boatswain


Here, master: what cheer?

Good, speak to the mariners: fall to't, yarely,
or we run ourselves aground: bestir, bestir.


Falconer 2:42 AM  

Some great clues in this one. Loved "time before the present day" and "feu fighter."

Had to google Nouakchott but that was OK because it was educational. I really don't expect to know the capital of Mauritania. Now I do.

Excellent puzzle for end of Xmas week. Thematic but not over the top or cutsey. Nice job.

ArtLvr 3:11 AM  

It took a mental tug to get Van GOGH, though it should have been an easy leap from sadly hidden Lunar Eclipse to a not-so-quiet Starry Night...

I thought maybe there was a silent K for Knight in tracing a line connecting the circles in order, < , with an invisible initial down stroke, I, along the MUSIC STAND, like a down beat from a podium.

Stille Nacht and unseen Knight, anyone? Kudos to Kaskel and Kantor!


andrea yak michaels 3:20 AM  

Wow, really struggled with this, got it, but missed several of the subtleties till I read Rex:
ie that N-I-GH-T were silent in their phrases,
The outloud pun of feu fighter,
and who knows what else.

My 1A YES slowly became MMM
(as in yes, mmm hmmm) so I had Game MEN (as in chess pieces) which I knew might be wrong but couldn't figure out what else it would be. So, one wrong letter, and at 1A at that!

ANNA could have been clued as another palindromic woman's name
and I did indeed first think ANNA till I saw but three letters at 54A, so malapopped again!

Thought overall it's an extremely impressive puzzle, and didn't realize that it wasn't Thursday and themed.

@Bah Humbug
I think you need the ? for Score Keeper? bec it looks like you are going for a sports clue.

TWO Michael Caine films in one puzzle...what's up with that?!
(Conspiracy theorists chime in here)

Biggest (conditional)pat on my own back today:
Putting in CELT for 34A "Bird, e.g. once" clue, but then I chickened out, thinking it should be CELTIC, no?

I can't decide if my FWAD (I'm going with this as Favorite Wrong Answer of the Day, haven't read the responses if any from yesterday yet) was trying to unscrew a GASket (but maybe that's just me being dumb about cars) or thinking that Zeus's symbol was a yAK!

r.alphbunker 4:13 AM  

This is a Thursday puzzle that cries out to be published as close to Christmas as possible. But it must have been irresistable for WS to tie this to yesterday's puzzle. The alternative would have been to publish the GHOTI puzzle on Wednesday but it is much too difficult for that day.

BTW, I really like consecutive puzzles with related themes. Two that come to mind are the recent Nothnagel dyad and a pair of Merle Reagle puzzles a while back that were about a detective in a library.

I like the FWAD concept but while I am solving I don't want to be thinking about it. Too bad there is not a way to play back my solution.

fikink 5:14 AM  

Knowing nothing about mathematics beyond basic Algebra, I must ask - does the crescent on the flag represent an ARCTAN? If so, very clever @Rex.

Like you, I began and ended (bombing) in the NW.

My FWAD (sounds vaguely like the Islamic fatwa) was boldly putting in Alastair Sim[s] for MICHAEL CAINE. I was married to that entry for too long.

Interesting puzzle. I don't know how I feel about it.

andrea car car carla michaels 5:47 AM  

Not to totally push the FWAD thing, but it's MUCH easier to see your progression of thoughts if you do the puzzle with pen and paper...your writeovers are staring right at you.

yes sounds like Fatwa...but @sethg says it stands for something much yesterday's late-in-the-day postings.) But it feels right already!

forgot to say thanks for the Lady Gaga video. Would be fascinating for you to blog about that video, maybe I would understand it better!
Love the song but what the hell is the plot of that thing? Who are the men with chinguards?
Is saying rah rah, it sounds like it's just the first syllable of whatever the word is she is deconstructing. Is there a blog about this?

David L 8:14 AM  

I made the same mistake as Andrea Yak M -- wasn't sure about NUS (thought the clue might be getting at something more cleverer than that), and I went back and forth on UMM and MMM for 1A, before giving up. I thought gameMEN was semi-plausible, at least.

I'm scratching my head at CHURCHHYMNS -- a hymn is a hymn, right? Is there some other kind? "Church hymn" doesn't seem at all a phrase one would ever use.

glimmerglass 8:15 AM  

@andrea. I had game men, too. I don't think that's a wrong answer to Game _____, and MMM is a better answer than HMM to 1A. "Mmm" is a vague "yes," and what I fall back on when I'm not really listening to the question.
CHURCH HYMNS, as opposed to some other kind of hymns? Marine hymns, olympic hymns? Easy but silly answer. "_____ doing" and "______ don't know" were both gettable from crosses but lame clues. "Tramp," as a verb, doesn't mean ROAM. Got it all right except square 1 (mMM), and there were some excellent clues ("Van follower," "Polar opposites" and others), but I disliked this one.

David L 8:17 AM  

Also, I plunked down UPPERVOLTA with immense satisfaction and confidence before deciding MAURITANIA was going to work out better with the crosses...

mmorgan 8:23 AM  

@Andrea also had my FWAD - MMM for HMM at 1A! (After I finally took out YES.)

Wanted NAUGHTY *AND* NICE as that seems to fit the clue better.

Bottom filled very quickly, top 1/4 took more time.

Also didn't get the theme until @Rex explained it.

plest - a bothersome pleasure

Rex Parker 8:25 AM  

GAME MEN is not a thing, and MMM is worse than HMM. MMM conveys enjoyment ("Mmmmm, donuts"), while HMM conveys cogitation ("Hmm, let me think about that ...".

joho 8:27 AM  

HMM ... Rex had to explain to me how N I GH T were silent. I can tell you that it if you connect the letters you get a narrow Christmas tree with an odd left foot.

Somehow LIETO and TOLET combined in my head to make toilet.

I really liked seeing MICHAELCAINE on THERIVIERA in "Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels."

I did not have a FWAD today but will report when I do.

mmorgan 8:35 AM  

BTW, I fixed my FWAD before I posted. (What a strange sentence that is.)

Technical question: Does a FWAD have to be one you ended up with, or just one you had for a while? (Mine was temporary.) Agree with @Rex, it was the off-puttingness of GAME mEN that got me to HEN. And MMM sounded more inappropriate than "less than ideal." And I think people now often put an H and the end of those M's to signify enjoyment (mmmmh, beer), though that looks clunky to me.

I'm a Michael Caine fan but had ALBERT FINNEY for a long time. Nobody else??

deerfencer 9:19 AM  

Fun puzzle and plenty difficult for those of us out of touch with MAURATANIA, the Greek alphabet and the like.

A bit surprised no one's mentioned what in my eyes is the most glaring weakness in the Christmas theme answers, namely the inclusion of MICHAELCAINE with CHURCHHYMNS,NAUGHTYORNICE, CHRISTMASEVE, and SILENTNIGHT.

Michael Caine?? WTF? So what if the I in Caine is silent--surely the constructors could have come up with a more seasonally thematic answer than a British actor who once played Scrooge.
Weak and inconsistent, to say the least, in what was otherwise an interesting and creative effort.

CaseAce 9:34 AM  

I had GEORGE C. SCOTT, at 24A, til I realized I Scrooged-up!
I also assumed 64A was an herbal TEA as a becalmer, instead of TEN minudos!
Must say, Kaskel & Kantor are two truly Krafty devils to whom I give their rightful dues!

Ben 9:47 AM  

Like Rex, I started slowly and then caught fire.

Also like Rex, struggled in the MAURITANIA zone.

Also like Rex, with like as a verb.

It would be hard to compete with last year's elegant Christmas-themed puzzle with tree-shaped grid from the classy Paula Gamache, but this is another Kringle-worthy effort. Difficult but fair with some fresh fill and excellent cluing. Ho ho ho!

Got the happy pencil in 13 min and felt pretty good about it, but didn't realize the silent letters were silent until I read Rex's post. So did I really solve the puzzle? As a Christmas gift to myself, I will conclude that I did.

As Merl Reagle says, happy hollandaise to all!

mac 9:48 AM  

I enjoyed the solve, but found it an odd puzzle. At one point thought the constructors were pulling our legs with the old crosswordese. I got the theme reveal early, so expected a rebus, but it quickly developed that n i gh t were in the circles.

Really disliked the Van (Gogh) clue, to me the weakest point.
Funny how Espana came up as the land of Papa Noel, in Holland kids believe St. Nicolaas comes from Spain on a steamboat, with his white horse and the Black Peters. (For a really funny description of this read David Sedaris' "Eight or Ten Black Men").

Had MMM and men as well...


Just a sec 10:00 AM  

I may take TEN to rest, but I count to TEN to calm down.

(Sometimes 20 in the case of this blog)


Howard B 10:07 AM  

I agree with those that think that Michael Caine is the iffiest of the theme answers. But if anyone can find a better theme answer that:
a) is exactly 12 letters long,
b) Can be directly Christmas-clued, and
c) contains a silent 'I' somewhere within,
then more power to you - I will buy that person a gift subscription to the blog. I'm serious. Take some time and try to puzzle this one out.

But hey, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is also referenced in there! So that's just fine to me.

Happy holidays to all, whatever you're celebrating. And if not, find something to celebrate this weekend and enjoy. :).

jyp0625 10:11 AM  

Lovely puzzle. I solved this one without aids in under an hour. This is a big achievement for me as I typically need a heavy dose of Googling on Fridays and even then I struggle.

I missed the silent letters until I read Rex's blog.

So I have to rate this one as easy but also very enjoyable.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

YES (too hot) > HEM (as in hem and haw, but too cold) > HMM (just right).

Loved the clue for CHRISTMAS EVE and this indeed is a Christmas Eve present.

Some great clues and a fun effort, ending in the NW where Rex perfecrtly decribed the difficulties and traps. Wanted EAST ICONIA badly even tho I never heard of it, but I also never heard of Nouakchott either,. That finally changed when I got HMM. MHP appeared with RIOT.

Didn't get the circled letters being silent until I came here.

This puzzle really is a tour de force -- a great transition from yesterday with a nice challenging holiday theme, something that is never easy to achieve.

For those working the puzzle on a computer vodka helps you remember the writeovers, whereas bourbon helps you forget the mistakes....

Happy Holiday Spirits everyone!

Oscar 10:21 AM  

I think this blows Paula G's ugly-a$$ grid from last year out of the water.

Yeah, let's see you do better, d-fencer.

davko 10:30 AM  

@mmorgan I'm with you on the Albert Finney interpretation -- still the best. Only the GEHRIG gimme (for baseball fans, at least) held me back.

I adore Michael Caine's work, but citing a role supported by -- ahem -- Muppets, is hardly his most memorable. "Educating Rita," "Sleuth," and, yes, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," on the other hand -- now those were some standout performances, to name a few.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

3am? ? U end the day with tomorrow's puzzle, or do u just not sleep? Cwd vamps?
Twisted, brilliant puzl

ksquare 11:05 AM  

The original unideal answer to 'do these jeans make me look fat?' was "No, your ass makes you look fat!", but that didn't fit.

Van55 11:08 AM  

Excellent puzzle. Regrettably I
I ended eith thar same MMM error that ACME and Glimmerglass did.

Please enjoy your Christmas whether you observe it as a holy day or not.

imsdave 11:29 AM  

Exactly what Van55 said - nothing to add.

Actually, I take that back. I'd like to add that I am very thankful to have a community like this one. You're fun and funny, and I'm happy to be part of it all.

Merry Christmas all.

Two Ponies 11:33 AM  

This theme fails for me because I pronounce the T in Christmas.
An awful lot of trouble for nothing.

Tic Tac is not a candy to me.

I won't let this stinker spoil my day. The boss gave me the day off and that was a gift in itself.

@ mac, Thanks for the Santa story. I love hearing how Santa appears in other places.

Jim 11:53 AM  

Ksquare: stole my thunder. Reminds me of that Kelly LeBrock Pantene or whatever commercial from the late 80s and a (since forgotten) comedian's take:

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful"
"We don't...we hate you because you're a conceited bitch!"

Laughed out loud when a (somewhat understandable) mistake is defended, even after learning the right answer here on the blog: "game MEN is a better answer". Uhh...sure, if you're my Mom and have delivered more babies than spent minutes watching sports. With that kind of interest-over-evidence, you must be a Republican.

Mauritania has a capital that sounds like it belongs in Greenland, or perhaps Kamchatka? Mauritania is in west Africa, right? Sheesh. Made that W side way too tough.

Middle-north made this a fail for me, as I just couldn't see HARDC, despite having -RDC and burning a hole through the paper with my eyes. ARCH? Really? The only way I can see that is in its adjectival form, and the only way I can see THAT is with archenemy (or archrival), which is of course one word, or at best hyphenated; therefore invalid. Any help?

Mel Ott 12:08 PM  

Fun Puzzle. I also did not get the silent part of the theme til I came here.

And I'm not sure the T in CHRISTMAS is silent.

@Jim: I'm also not familiar with ARCH as a standalone, but I suppose it exists somewhere.

syndy 12:30 PM  

Rex what did I say? just not feeling the welcome

Orange 12:30 PM  

The T in CHRISTMAS is silent, as the TH in ASTHMA is silent:

Piled-up clusters of consonants can be simplified by making some of the letters silent.

Loved the puzzle!

retired_chemist 12:48 PM  

Liked it, for all the reasons Rex et al. pointed out.

Did not grok GAME HEN when I had the H @ 1A, took GAME MEN in the sense of chess men, and put in the M. I still think it is arguably correct, but I would feel better about it if I could think of another game in which MEN was used in this sense. No prob with HMM/HEN being a better answer than MMM/MEN, though I have to disagree with those who say MMM doesn't qualify @ 1A. We all do our meaningless mumbles differently...

But my hands-down favorite wrong answer was YES @ 1A. I was sure I would not be the first to mention it, and I was not disappointed. YES is wrong on SO many levels and I am glad that my years of marital experience have alerted me to the danger I would be in if I said that...

Mildly disappointed to find that the circled letters are not the only silent ones in the grid, but to construct a puzzle with NO silent e's sounds well nigh impossible. But there are also the H in CHRISTMAS, the A in OAK, and some others.

Did not get the feu fighters pun until I got here and saw you young'uns yukking it up over that.

Gift shopping done, wife in MI with her family until tomorrow, it's raining, and I still need to go get some staples like laundry detergent (one thing NOT to run out of when you have puppies), milk, and sushi. Since I might not post again today, happy holidays to all.

Lindsay 12:49 PM  

"M" in square #1, and missed the theme, though little circles get my hackles up from the get-go, so maybe I was just closing my eyes to the theme. On the other hand, I don't see the moral high ground of defending "hmm" as a word.

Merry Christmas to All.

Masked and Snow-covered 1:01 PM  

Great puz. Well played, with those snugglin' tens in the down lanes. Gotta love a themed crossword on a Friday! Thanks, K & K. Thanks to Father Mohr, too.

Only real moment of truth was at ANN?/p?T. Had to choose between A & E. So that letter was the puz's last stand, right after the stuff at the front end of MUSICSTAND. Tended to like PAT better than PeT, as I don't think in terms of "congratulations" to the dog very often. But wouldnta bet the house on it. Just love it, when you have to sweat gettin' yer Christmas puz-bonus.

Hi-Yo, Round John virgin, away . . .

william e emba 1:13 PM  

Seeking the N/I/GH, I realized the letters were silent, the fifth circle was T and the theme revealer was SILENT NIGHT. That helped a lot!

I take the pun be be with "Foo Fighter", singular, WWII pilot slang for what we now call UFO.

I had never heard of USAC either, but I got it off of U--C. I mean, obviously the U was the start of United States, and Auto had to be in there somewhere? Not that I care, nor have I bothered to check.

I had CEL- for "Bird, e.g., once", and could only think of CELL. That seemed way too biological for the puzzle, and I was right!

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

I take "feu fighter" to be as follows. Feu is French for fire and eau is French for water. Water fights (kills!) fire. No Foo fighters for me.

retired_chemist 1:37 PM  

The pun presumably refers to the band, Foo Fighters.

michael 1:53 PM  

I had mmm/men and continue to think that this is just a good as hmm/hen.

mitchs 2:19 PM  

This M v. H stuff is cracking me up. Did anyone THINK of the H and then opt for M?

Jim 2:24 PM  

Top Google result for "Game hen" -- wikipedia.

Top Google result for "Game men" -- article on 'Head to Toe Beauty' blog entitled: "What's the Game [that] Men Play?"

To quote Rex, who said it best, "Game MEN is not a thing".

So, so silly.

chefwen 2:45 PM  

My husbands stock answer to my query, does this make me look fat? "HMM, do you want it to?"

Had a tough time with the puzzle yesterday and today. Had to Google a couple things i.e. MAURITANIA and ARCTAN, but unlike yesterday, I was able to finish this puppy.

Mele Kalikimaka to all.

CaseAce 3:01 PM  

If you've Scene 1, you obviously haven't met the 2 Krazy Kats, Messr's, Kantor & Kaskel, who redefine the meaning of Rara Avis's..."Etui, Brute, then fall my Sewing Circle!"
Only Zeus would have a son (Hercules)mighty enough to make his daddy proud---one might even say it was the original Loining process?

retired_chemist 3:08 PM  

@ mitchs 2:19 - yes.

Game Men.

R. McGeddon 3:13 PM  

George C. Scott
Alistair Sims

All played Scrooge in movies and have the same number of letters.

dk 3:23 PM  

Twas the night before Christmas and all through puzzleland

Not a creature was stirring not even an anon-o-mouse.

The squares were all filled with the greatest of care

In hope that Rex's blog post would soon be there,

The solvers were all rested, pens snug in their drawers

While visions of 5 minute Saturdays danced in their heads,

Andrea in her kerchief and I in my cap,...

Down the chimney Will Shortz came with a bound,

He was dressed all in fur from 1A to 65d,

And his clothes were all tarnished with edits and such:

A bundle of clues he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a constructor just opening his mac....

And I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight,

Thanks for the NYT as we will all have something to do tonight.


*** (3 Stars)

Xmas in Santa Fe -- life is good!

Happy Holidays

d(not Clement Clark Moore)k

Ulrich 3:26 PM  

Yesterday's longish dissertation on letters silent in English words by me prepared me well to appreciate this puzzle, even if I got off to a bad start at 1A by putting down YES confidently--well, I hail from a tribe known to be honest to the point of rudeness...

...and speaking of "Silent night"--I think Bill O'Reilly's War Against Xmas is raging in full force: The only songs I hear in stores are the one about that cursed snowman and the one about a similarly cursed reindeer--anything even vaguely religious seems to be banned.

And here's Lisa della Casa as Donna Anna, sorry for the tacky production--couldn't find a better one.

Happy Holidays to the gang!

Bah ! 3:52 PM  

Too bad his name was Alastair Sim, not Alistair Sims.

william e emba 4:31 PM  

There was a request yesterday, regarding which I thought I posted a link yesterday to three "essays" on spelling reform proposals that adopt the reforms mentioned progressively. But it seems not to be there, and since it is on topic for today's puzzle, here's the link. It should be noted that the "Mark Twain" essay is apparently unknown to Twain scholars, and the Shields attribution never gives the precise source. Also, certain versions (not the one on this site) of the Shields' attributed essay begin with a shoutout to GBS.

jae 5:10 PM  

Easy for me also except for NW where I got stuck for a while (MARUI.., MTSINAI, RIOT, and MUSICSTAND, all came very slowly). Plus I needed help from my bride to figure out feu. Fun holiday puzzle. Merry Christmas to all!

Sparky 5:57 PM  

DNF. Big hole in NW and gave up. A lot of driving around and visiting down here in Miami. I had all the circled letters but didn't catch the point till I came here. Wanted Alistair Sim too.

Re yesterday: heard similar thing while still in college many lunar eclipses ago, but it was spelled PHOTI.

Have a good weekend one and all. Merry Christmas.

treedweller 6:42 PM  

I won't defend M over H, but I will defend those who wended up there. When you have the concept of a board game or a sports game, it's easy to run the alphabet, hear "game HEN" in your head, and think, what game uses a hen? At least for me it is. I also waffled over INSO doing vs. "into" doing--again, I know only one of these is a phrase, but I just wasn't seeing it. Car racing is not a help to me in such situations, unless the answer happens to be NASCAR.

gotta GOGH.

sanfranman59 10:16 PM  

g day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:30, 6:55, 1.08, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 10:07, 8:56, 1.13, 85%, Challenging
Wed 11:35, 11:45, 0.99, 55%, Medium
Thu 18:16, 18:57, 0.96, 49%, Medium
Fri 22:48, 26:14, 0.87, 25%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:04, 3:42, 1.10, 88%, Challenging
Tue 4:49, 4:35, 1.05, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:56, 5:46, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 8:16, 9:08, 0.91, 36%, Easy-Medium
Fri 12:47, 12:51, 0.99, 55%, Medium

MyDaisy 4:54 AM  

don't forget Seymour Hicks...

Richard 10:13 PM  

Well, color me grumpy but the clues in this one leave much to be desired. N is not Nu. Mr. Hilarious should be a proper name. A Director is not a chairperson. Mt. Sinai has an abbreviation which the clue ignores. Intimate as a verb means hint at rather than get at. Polar opposites needs no ?. Likewise pique condition. Using "I" for "1" is offensive. Blue for erotic is flabby. class-conscious grp doesn't need ?.

There are about as many nice clues, as others have pointed out. But I did terribly with this one, and ... grrr.

Waxy in Montreal 2:14 PM  

Hmm, had a confident FWAD in NORTHANDSOUTH for Polar opposites? (38A). (Still think it's a better answer than NAUGHTYORNICE!)

At the syndicate, in many ways this puzzle felt like the ghost of a distant Christmas past. However, as tomorrow is apparently National Puzzle Day, let me be the first to wish a merry National Puzzle Eve to one and all. Rah, Rah, Rah,...

Jen 3:05 PM  

Howard B:
Receive gifts

NotalwaysrightBill 6:06 PM  

Many of the same nits as @Richard. Grr.

Are there a dozen "grr's" in the blog yet for this not-so-gaga Fripuz?

Still, ya learn something sometimes checking yer answers. Like the fact that a Game Hen hen mates with, NOT a Gamecock, but rather with a Game Hen cock. Grr again.

Part 4, where the pirates discover scuba: lots of bubbles, muffled dialog.

Gil.I.Pollas 9:14 PM  

Coming in on Jan. 28. Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.
I'm a huge fan of black and white films so I immediately plunked in Seymour Hicks (Sir) for the Scrooge player. Michael Caine is, in my opinion, over-rated. Further, his accent is grating - this from someone married to a Brit originally from Liverpool!

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