Old-time actress Normand / TUE 12-11-12 / Persian fairy / Havana beauty maybe / Sot's peril / Licorice flavorer / Illusory pictures / Loamy soil

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Constructor: Gene Newman

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging



THEME: The eight reindeer of SAINT NICHOLAS (35A: Figure associated with eight answers in this puzzle) — eight reindeer names appear in the grid, each clued in non-reindeer fashion

  • DASHER
  • DANCER 
  • PRANCER 
  • VIXEN
  • PILSENER
  • MABEL 
  • CAPRA
  • BLITZEN

Word of the Day: ARIANA Grande (2D: Actress Grande) —
Ariana Grande-Butera, (born June 26, 1993) known professionally as Ariana Grande, is an American actress, singer, and dancer. She made her performance debut on Broadway at age 15, originating the role of Charlotte in 13 in 2008. Recently, she has gained attention for her role as Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious, which she will reprise in Sam & Cat, a spinoff of iCarly and Victorious. (wikipedia)
• • •

It's weird when you guess a theme based on an answer so bad you realize it can't be serious (today, 1D: 100-meter competitor, e.g. for DASHER). There's no way you would clue DASHER in a non-reindeer way ... unless! And so the rest of the puzzle was essentially themeless puzzle with reindeer names. Puzzle gave me more trouble than Tuesdays normally do. First off, I couldn't get out of the NW. 21D: "Good as done" didn't scream "I'M ON IT" to me. "I'M ... something! Who knows?" And since that was the only way out of the NW, I had to reboot, but had some trouble in the middle, as clues on stuff like NEW AGE (31A: Kind of music not known for its beat) and SEA LIONS (35D: Fish-eating creatures) and even CHAIR (27A: Professorship) were not at all obvious to me (I know many professors who do not hold CHAIRs). Then there was the self-imposed difficulty brought about by my forgetting the theme, i.e. who the hell knows [Flash: Ger.] except Germans? Then there was the utter made-up-edness of MISS CUBA (11D: Havana beauty, maybe), which I actually kind of like for its brazen arbitrariness (I assume I can go ahead with MISS BELIZE in my next themeless puzzle). Then there's CWT, which I never see outside of crosswords (27D: 100 pounds: Abbr.). The end result was slower than normal time and a mildly interesting reindeer hunt.


Bullets:
  • 20A: Home that usually has a tile roof (HACIENDA) — as usual, the longer answers are the more interesting answers. As Spanish answers go, I much prefer this one to the strange-looking RARO nearby (26A: Uncommon: Sp.). 
  • 33A: Old-time actress Normand (MABEL) — I had the "M" and wrote in MERLE, which is kinda funny, if you know anything about cosmetics.
  • 8D: Sot's peril (DTS)delirium tremens, an affliction I learned about from crosswords circa twenty years ago. I feel as if there's been a serious fall-off in the number of sot-related clues and answers lately. Puzzle used to be loaded (!) with them.
  • 51D: Persian fairy (PERI) — rhymes with "fairy" and all its letters are contained in "Persian." Alternate clue: [Actress Gilpin of "Frasier"].
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

95 comments:

jae 12:14 AM  

This seemed about right for a Tues., so medium for me.  I have no idea how tricky it is to get all eight reindeer into a grid, but it seems impressive.  So, I'm going with I like it.

Erasure:  atonal for NEWAGE

WOE:  TINEA, but I never saw it.

Not Tues. answers:  ESTHETE, PERI

Only reason to pay attention to pop culture:  MTV

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

There used to be VW DASHER. And the plunger for a churn was sometimes called a DASHER.
DASHER
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

DONDER instead of DONNER might do in anyone that doesn't specifically know the NIT from basketball. I had DONDER first, and DIT threw me until I recalled NIT. Anybody that throws down DONDER and doesn't know the cross will be in a bad spot.

ACOA Member 12:35 AM  

It's only in my father's drunken xmas sing-alongs that PILSNER is one of Santa's reindeer.

Anonymous 12:49 AM  

Is what universe is "Is down with" equal HAS? I could not figure that one out at all, since I forgot what Loamy Soil was.

Bookdeb 12:58 AM  

If you have the flu, one could say you are down with the flu,
Liked it. I caught on at prancer.

Danny 1:00 AM  

@anonymous 12:49

"He is down with crabs" = "he has crabs"

Elle 54 1:01 AM  

Is down with a cold= has a cold.
Was Rex joking about the Pilsner instead of Donner? I thought his name was Donder too. Will have to check The poem. My dad used to read it to us every Christmas Eve.

Ellen S 1:40 AM  

Pilsener, Mabel and Capra --@Rex's reindeer are so much better than Comet, Cupid and Donner/Donder. Speaking of which, is "Donder" another thiing I have to give up, along with "eke out" meaning "supplement? It has only been "Donner" since 1949 (according to Wikipedia) when Montgomery Ward commissioned Rudolph as a marketing gimmick.

One of the easiest puzzles for me -- I got the theme at DANCER, figured some professors are CHAIRs so good enough, flinched at DONNER. I think all my erasures were because I can no longer type. Oh -- "Sexually attractive woman" just strikes me as one of the most unattractive descriptions of a woman I can think of. But then, I'm a robot, what do I know?

Rube 2:13 AM  

Having been a sprinter in my youth, I thought the clue for DASHER was particularly bad, particularly when the paddle in an ice cream maker or a butter churn is, as has been pointed out, called a DASHER.

Otherwise, I'm impressed with getting all eight reindeer in a 15x15. You can see where Mr. Newman was trying to make the names symetrical, but couldn't quite make it.

I'd call ARIANA and MABEL pretty sophisticated for a Tuesday.

chefwen 2:14 AM  

Easy/medium for me. One write-over at 4A orion before CUPID. Forgot about the E in PILSENER so I had to leave that blank with just PILS in place, ALSACE fixed that.

A very cute, timely puzzle. Thank you Mr. Newman.

@Rex - I, too, liked your array of reindeer better than the usual line up.

Anonymous 3:05 AM  

Pilsener, Mabel, and Capra?? What happened to Comet, Cupid, and Donner?

Ariana Capra Memos 3:12 AM  

LOVED it!!!!!
yes, to get all 8 in, y compris BLITZEN is pretty magnificent!
(I was gonna make the same MABEL joke, but @Rex beat me to it...)

Lots of non-early week fill (RARO, MABEL, ARIANA, maybe ARA, LOESS and ESTHETE) but it's a Monday/Tues theme, so if you need words to stretch it to make it fit, so be it, including MISSCUBA!!!

Completely fabulous.
I didn't notice the theme till the reveal
(Might have earlier if BLITZEN and VIXEN were in the top half of the grid, but I put in DASHER, PRANCER, COMET, CUPID (and MABEL!) without making any connection to anything...
Then again I'm Jewish and just came from a Latke party.

Had dinner with an old highschool pal, PERI, on Thurs and hadn't seen her in 25+ years but always had smiled when she would turn up in a crossword.

Everyone would have bitched about it, but I'd have circled the letters to make RUDOLPH!!

Anyway, loved it! But just to make it more Christmas-y, why not clue CAPRA as the director of "It's a WOnderful Life"???

JackLee 4:40 AM  

Can't believe Rudolph is missing!

JackLee 4:42 AM  

Also, my only mistake was ORION for 4A instead of CUPID.

r.alphbunker 4:42 AM  

I tried to find Rudolph. The closest I came was GLEAM until I read the writeup and saw the red square. The software I use colors the current square blue.

Tita 5:10 AM  

My grid was trimmed with green and red highlighting, which I used to make sure I found all the team members.
I went ahead and highlighted the letters of RUDOLPH just to complete the festivities - thanks for the idea, ACME!

I'd upload a screenshot, but am too frenzied today.

Rookie 5:30 AM  

@Rex: I don't know German either, but I got BLITZen from blitzkrieg.

It never ceases to amaze me how we differ in solving ease/difficulty from day-to-day. This one was really easy for me while I struggle with things others find simple. The differences in our wheelhouses and/or the way our brains work never cease to amaze me.

Gill I. P. 6:32 AM  

I SORTOF got the theme at PRANCER. Wanted Frisian but I guess that would be out of the question for a Tue. By the way, those beautiful images you see of high-stepping horses are possible because of a technique used on them called soring. I'll spare you the gruesome details but suffice is to say they are not happy PRANCERs.
I forgot the order of all the reindeer names but my two favorites were always BLITZEN and VIXEN.
The only MABEL I know is the princess of the Netherlands. Mabel means lovable dear/deer?
Now, I'm going to try to circle Rudolph in the grid.....

OTD 6:32 AM  

Another easy puzzle. Impressed with getting those reindeer names included so well. But PILSNER, MABEL, and CAPRA instead of Comet, Cupid, and Donder? Where have I been all these years?

Loved BLITZEN.

Glimmerglass 7:02 AM  

The boards around a hockey rink are called "dasher boards" or just "the dasher."

Milford 7:10 AM  

Had a spit-take at Rex's list of reindeer, totally didn't see that coming.

Started the puzzle with 1D DASHER and kinda groaned, but since the theme turned out to be reindeer I can forgive it. Thought I was going to be the only one who thinks a DASHER should be churning butter, but I see it's what others thought as well.

Pretty impressed that all eight themes made it in, plus SAINT NICHOLAS right in the middle.

I'm usual good with actresses' names, but MABEL and ARIANA were unknown to me. (And who knew Merle Norman still existed?)

Got the German BLITZEN only after I knew I was looking for reindeer, but I remember that DONNER (or Donder) and BLITZEN mean thunder and lightning.

Liked SEA LIONS and PILSENER (I would have spelled it wrong). Never seen the word ESTHETES before.

Anyone else first think quiche Lorraine, just for a moment?

My captcha number is a warehouse with 51 on it, no joke.

Z 7:54 AM  

Easy Peasy. Had the theme at DASHER and nothing slowed me for very long. I was going to make the same joke with ONEIDA and IRISH and NORMS, but Rex is the blogger, so he has dibs.

Besides the DTS reappearing, I see that NORM'S in his CHAIR getting BLITZEN on PILSENER. CERTS will not be enough to cover his SIN if he gets pulled over on the way home.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

This puzzle was terrible, particularly for a Tuesday. For a start, Saint Nicholas Day was December 6, so it should either go there (although St Nicholas has no reindeer - read David Sedaris' "Six to Eight Black Men" for an amusing explanation) or closer to Christmas. Secondly, the fill was appalling. Miss Cuba? Esthete? Mabel Nrmand AND Ariana Grande? Bad fill, and badly clued to boot.

Puzzle fail.

Bob Snead 8:06 AM  

@Anon 8:02:

Totally disagree -- I think this puzzle was exactly what it needed to be, no more, no less. That's what I would say about lots of Tuesday puzzles.

I might argue, however, that this should have run yesterday, and yesterday's today, but what do I know?

ESTHETE is a fine word. And MISS CUBA? I dunno, I kinda like it.

Maybe everything will be OK.

dmw 8:15 AM  

Just another example of how individual-specific puzzles can be: did this one with wife in about 5 minutes without stopping using across lite. All seemed easy except for tinea,which Australian wife said was commonly used there.

spinfan47 8:23 AM  

The only thing that makes me crazier than Donder getting called "Donner" is people who don't pull halfway into the intersection to make a left turn.

loren muse smith 8:32 AM  

DASHER and DANCER were my first two entries. I winced at the er suffixes about one second before I realized they were reindeer. I was fully expecting DONNER to be "one putting on clothes."

I didn't object to MISS CUBA relaxing on a CHAIR on her HACIENDA.

"Zippy" before ZESTY.

I agree with @Bob Snead about anon's 8:02 post.

I agree with anon 8:02 about David Sedaris' "Six to Eight Black Men."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYdpte1W0vk

Nice one, Gene! Hi, MOM! Hi, DAD!

dk 8:41 AM  

followed Andrea and Tita's advice and circled RUDOLF in red. If you know where I can get lawn deer made from birch logs (looks like a stick figure deer) please let me know. I want three or four that I can wire up with red noses.

Perhaps i will watch Bad Santa tonight.

Some of the fill makes me groan but this one captures the holiday spirit.

�������� (four X-mas trees) Gene, Tonight I will raise a PILSENER to you (err... sounds more naughty than nice)

joho 8:46 AM  

I like anything that will help get me in the Christmas spirit and this puzzle certainly did!

@loren muse smith, I wrote in my margin, "It not RARO to find ARIANA, the most recent MISSCUBA, at her HACIENDA."

IRISH over PRANCER made me visualize Riverdance.

"On MABEL, on CAPRA, on PILSENER!!!"

jberg 8:46 AM  

@Anonymous 8:02 - Huh? Clement Moore, our only historical source for the reindeer, as far as I know, refers to "Saint Nicholas" and "Saint Nick" throughout the poem. Nary a mention of Santa Claus--which any way is just the same name in another language (SORT OF like fairy and PERI - why is that legitimate cluing?)

Easy for me - Got 1D and 3D right away, and that didn't leave much room for doubt; and knowing the that there had to be BLITZEN, etc., somewhere in the puzzle really helped.

Given the CERTS, a better clue for 33A might have been "_____! Black Label!" - cross-referencing PILSENER.

joho 8:48 AM  

typo: should be "It's not ...

jackj 8:48 AM  

When two of the first down entries, DASHER and DANCER, as clued, seemed like they were rejects from a supermarket crossword book, (and the other opening entry was for an unknown actress named ARIANA Grande), it was easy to assume, (or at least hope), that something was afoot. (Will Shortz not usually being prone to such careless cluing).

And, sho’nuff, when we get the reveal of SAINTNICHOLAS from Gene Newman, (a contributor of 14 puzzles to the Times over the last 16 years), it’s obvious we’re looking for Santa’s reindeer (sans Rudolph).

The puzzle had lots of familiar (read meh) answers, IRMA, DTS, ENS, ADOS, ECONO, IRR, RARO (RARO?), et al but also a few clever offsets like NEWAGE, ESTHETES, CHAIR and IMONIT.

But, all in all, the puzzle plays “old” and mirrors a 12/25/03 puzzle by John Underwood that also had the eight reindeer but with SANTA as its reveal. Veteran solvers certainly knew instinctively that this theme had to have been done before.

Oh, well, it’s Tuesday after all.

Bookdeb 8:55 AM  

@spinfan47 An edition in the Library of Congress has "Dunder". I think spelling varied across printed versions.

Susan McConnell 8:58 AM  

Suspected the theme when popping in DASHER, confirmed right quick with DANCER, CUPID, & COMET. Seemed like an easy Tuesday.

Guess I need to either get up earlier or stay up later if I want to be the first with the DASHER ice cream/butter connection :-)

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

@Gil I.P. - Many breeds of horses have natural high-stepping gaits. It's only those few unscrupulous trainers trying to get the extra 10% of action that will win them prizes that resort to soring.

Pretty much like everything else in life-- most of it's natural, the cheaters get the headlines.

Barb 9:11 AM  

@Rookie: me too for "blitzkrieg", & me too for our personal wheelhouses. My somewhat broad but quite shallow knowledge makes so many clues that Rex carps about easy-peasy for me. But then a Shakespeare clue goes beyond Hamlet or some hockeyball clue leaves me flummoxed. Good puzzle today. Not too too anything.

Lewis 9:17 AM  

I had no idea Rudolph was a relatively modern creation and not included as part of Santa's original eight. That's my new fact for the day.

My solve didn't flow as quickly as usual on Tuesday, but I liked that. I liked having MOM and DAD and a couple of Indian names...

OldCarFudd 9:21 AM  

I enjoyed this, but I stumbled on Blitzen. I believe the German word for flash, singular, is Blitz, which also means lightning. The plural is Blitze. I don't know how I'd clue Blitzen, since I don't know whether there is such a word in the real world. That said, there was once a famous German racing car called the Blitzen Benz, so maybe I'm missing something.

John V 9:21 AM  

A great Tuesday! Felt challenging as I was going along, but finished in 5 miles, Stamford to Greenwich, which is in line with an easy/medium Monday. Like many, got the theme right away with DASHER and DANCER. Liked the variety for a Tuesday. The crazy words, TINEA, DONNER pass all nicely crossed. MISSCUBA was made up, but so what? Easy.

Re: MABEL Norman, have a listen to I Won't Send Roses

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

If you're going to have such a heavy themed puzzle, it should run on appropriate days, hats my point. If you want something about Saint Nicholas, you either run it on Saint Nicholas day or Christmas/Christmas Eve. Otherwise we might as well put Election Day themes in April, and Hallowwen ones in June. The NYT is usually pretty good about this stuff, so I don't know why this random Tuesday got Saint Nicholas, particularly as Saint Nicholas Day was only last week (Wednesday night is when the kids leave their shoes out. Difficulty level this could have cut Wednesday, apart from the fact that the difficulty level was because the clues and cluing was just bad as opposed to clever.)

But even leaving the timing aside, I thought this puzzle was just bad, for many of the reasons Rex did. I think I just felt them so strongly because of the bad timing adding into the mix.

chefbea 9:30 AM  

I too got the theme at Dasher. A bit tough for a Tuesday but I managed to get it all. Maybe tomorrow we'll have a Rudolph puzzle

Cathyat40 9:51 AM  

On Anise and Agile, Econo and Irish; OpArt and NewAge, Miss Cuba and Loess...

Lojman 10:02 AM  

Almost threw up in my mouth during the first third of the puzzle, when I realized I was being asked to confess my SIN in a confessional, and cheer for coach ARA and the fighting IRISH. Some sort of Yeah-Irish-let's-get-fired-up-for-the-national-championship! tribute? Is Manti Teo that 8-letter job in the lower right corner? When I saw the start of the revealer was SAINT, I just about gave up altogether.

Fortunately, it was SAINT NICk and his merry band of flying cervids, and all was well. Overall enjoyable, especially for the technical challenge.

I hear MISS CUBA is a real VIXEN...

Cheers,
Lojman

Carola 10:10 AM  

This one flew by, although it took a while for me to catch on to the sleigh. Even with DASHER and DANCER in place, I needed to see CUPID and COMET teamed up at the top in order to get that we were talking about reindeer. Fun! Liked it a lot.

Also liked the pairing of MOM and DAD (brought together by CUPID?), ESTHETE and OP ART, the IVIED walls and the CHAIR for the named professor (who wrote a college application ESSAY way back when).

@jae - I smiled at the double meaning for your "WOE: TINEA" because it really is a woe when one HAS it.

Ulrich 10:15 AM  

@OldCarFudd: Blitzen is a verb--that's what a Blitz does (kudos for knowing the plural!). It can also mean "to flash"--so, one has to take the clue as a verb.

@Milford: Close! Blitz und Donner means "thunder and lightning", which brings me to my second nit (the first being that the puzzle should have run last Wednesday, St Nicholas Day, as someone said before, with whom I otherwise disagree):

There are several correspondences in the puzzle (like Mom and Dad)--why not use also the relation between Blitz and Donner in the clues, for example, by cluing "Donner" as "Thunder: Ger" (note that this is a noun!)? Too German-centric? Perhaps, but pleasing to esthetes!

Sandy K 10:34 AM  

Literally Laughed Out Loud at @Rex's Reindeer Games!

Agree with @acme - would've been cute to circle Rudolph in grid as an extra.

RARO, IMONOT, MISS CUBA, ARIANA, CWT were SORT OF PESTy, but enjoyed finding all the reindeer and their leader anyway!

Enjoyable! On MABEL! ON PILSENER!

Two Ponies 10:35 AM  

I enjoyed the reindeer hunt and learned some German along the way.
@ Andrea, I couldn't believe the Capra clue either.Why not use the tie-in to the theme. Love your Rudolph idea.
No idea who the Mabel is/was. The first Mabel that comes to my mind is an old beer commercial "Mabel! Black Label!"

Two Ponies 10:55 AM  

P.S.
Just in case the world does end tomorrow it was nice knowing all of you.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:59 AM  

One write-over: 28 D, HOLD ON before HANG ON.

Otherwise, nice puzzle even if timing less than perfect.

lawprof 10:59 AM  

This was just what a Tuesday (or maybe a Monday) should be: quick, fun, topical.

I've been doing the Times crosswords for 30-something years, and I have a vague recollection (maybe just a "feeling") that this reindeer theme has appeared before. Not a problem for me; sometimes these old chestnuts are just as tasty the second time around. Just last week I reread Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" for the first time since high school. Even better now.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 12:35 PM  

This one sleighed me. ARIANA killed me in the HACIENDA room with her RARO. Sounds like a fun game of Clue, actually. If I'm not mistaken, I believe Raro is Rudolph in Japanese, after about 4-5 sakes.

Symmetry of the reindeer was cool in the NW and SE:
DASHER
DANCER
DONNER
SORTOF
And to all a good night.

Gareth Bain 12:50 PM  

Another clue for PERI "Doubled, a South African sauce". Not gonna happen; although there are few branches of our Nando's franchise in the States that will serve you Peri-peri chicken :).

Gerrythek 1:01 PM  

Don't do it if you're not going to do it right. It's DONDER and not DONNER. See http://www.donder.com

Hermie 1:11 PM  

Rudolph was a one off. Helped out the team once during a Christmas Eve blizzard. I refer you to Clement Clarke Moore's poem A Visit from St Nicholas:"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

jackj 1:21 PM  

More on DONNER/DONDER from Infoplease web site:


"The Question:
Is Santa's reindeer named Donner or Donder?

The Answer:
Yes.

Santa's reindeer were first named in "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (better known by its first line, "Twas the Night Before Christmas") in 1823. In the original printing, the final two reindeers' names are Dunder and Blixem, which are Dutch for "thunder and lightning." In an 1844 printing by Clement Clarke Moore, who is credited as being the author, these names are changed to Donder and Blitzen.>

(This figures into a debate over whether Moore really wrote the poem in question, which is too complicated to get into here.)

The 1949 song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" calls them Donner and Blitzen, which are German for "thunder and lightning." This is how they're most widely known today.

For more information, see The Donner Party's Over at the Urban Legend Reference Pages.

—The Editors"

FWIW.

Masked and Arianamous 1:22 PM  

@Gerrythek.
"Some prefer Donder. On the other hand, there's that there Donner und Blitzen river in eastern Oregon. On the third hand, there was that there Donner Party bunch, so maybe the river was half-named after them..."
[source: Wikigibberish]
QED
Like I said in my #1 message, DONNER (SORTOF). Newman dude thereby covers his reindeer tracks sufficiently, in my Christmas book.
M&A
p.s. Puz was funky and loveable. Thank U.
31's writeup was har-larious.

mac 1:35 PM  

Easy-medium for me, got the theme at 1D. I am not sure I could have named all the reindeer, but I did know of the Donner pass! The Dutch word for thunder or Donner is donder.

I was surprised by Saint Nicholas. Does that mean there is no Mrs. Claus?

I'm fine with the Christmas theme today, I'm in the mood already!

mac 1:37 PM  

@jackj: Right, lightning is bliksem in Dutch.

Bird 1:44 PM  

This was a good effort and I appreciate the difficulty of putting all this together, but I would have liked to seen regular crossword symmetry. The obscure material, and odd cluing, that increased the difficulty level however, did not make up for the stale fill (in one corner we have EDO, NIT and RAF).

I did like that both MOM and DAD were in the grid. MISS CUBA is also good – I’m picturing her in a HACIENDA, wearing a black and gold bikini and enjoying a Cohiba.

PILSENER is spelled PILSNER in my book (and in Word). I could care less for the ugly IVIED and RARO (really?). 4A was ORION and 37D was originally HEP off the H in 35A.

I too miss RUDOLPH.

MABEL was also the daughter of Jamie and Paul in Mad About You.

M and A's Last Silver Ornament 1:45 PM  

p.p.s.s.
Gosh darn it. Keep forgetting to mention that I was desperately tryin' to shoe-horn SHARP into 27-Across. Wouldn't let it go. Cost me valuable nanoseconds. snort.
M&A

zoowing 1:51 PM  

Was an easy one for us. As soon as Dasher, Comet and Cupid went down, we were just waiting for the rest. No, I did not know the German word, but I knew that Blitzen *had* to be coming along somewhere.
One of our faster Tuesday puzzles.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

@Rex - Congrats on being the new Iron Man, eclipsing that chump Cal Ripken. Or, as the TNT editors give as his name in the crawl, Carl Ripken. While he's on air.

Bird 2:17 PM  

I need to add that Burl Ives is in my head singing "A Holly Jolly Christmas" again and again and . . .

OldCarFudd 2:22 PM  

Thank you, Ulrich. I was hoping you'd come along to explain!

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

CAPRA? I thought the other one was CONEY.

Gill I. P. 3:05 PM  

Anonymous 9:09 - Yes, you are right. Unfortunately, and although this practice is illegal, it still occurs. That's why I mention the Frisian - a beautiful PRANCER with a natural high gait.

chefwen 3:30 PM  

@Gill I.P. - My neighbor has Two Frisians, mother and child. Don't know if it is a colt or filly yet, but they sure are gorgeous animals.

Whenever I see the name Mabel I think of that little ditty. Get off the table Mabel, the quarter's for the beer. HAH!

Anonymous 3:36 PM  

It is Donder NOT Donner.

Mabel?

Capra?

Pilsener?

These are not Santa's reindeer names

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

DONNER & BLITZEN = Thunder & lightning (Ger)

some lame fill today

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

Dear me. I am from another planet on this one.

Ulrich 6:08 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 6:25 PM  

@Anonymous at 5:20: No German would ever say "Donner und Blitzen" because it would mix a noun and a verb (as I explained above). It's either "Donner und Blitz(e)" (all nouns) or "Donnern und blitzen" (all verbs).

Anonymous 6:37 PM  

Delirium Tremens is known to me first as a delicious Belgian style beer

Mr. Benson 6:37 PM  

I got a hearty laugh thinking about "On Pilsener, on Mabel, on Capra, on Blitzen!" And then an even bigger laugh reading comments here that didn't get the joke.

Also, anon@3:36: no, it is not Donder. It is Donner. German for thunder.

Mighty Nisden 6:43 PM  

I figure that Will had so many Christmas Tuesday themes (since it IS on Tuesday this year), that he had to start early. I look forward to the next two installments.

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

For Christ's sake people, there are varioius versions of the poem. In some it's Donder (Dutch), in some it's Donner (German). Donder tracks to the original (though even that's in dispute), Donner to the one that's been in common use for the past 50 years. Quit telling people who's frame of reference is the on other than yours that they're wrong.

Milford 7:29 PM  

@Ulruch - Thanks so much for the DONNER/BLITZEN noun/verb clarification (twice, now). Makes a lot of sense with how the word was clued, also.

@Mr. Benson - I agree with both!

Ellen S 8:05 PM  

I knew MABEL Normand - anything really old, I'm good with. ARA Parseghian -- had he disappeared from puzzles? Maybe it was in the Maleska era he was a regular. Never heard of ARIANA Grande, too new, but I'M ON IT shows up every week or so seems to me. But here's the best: I knew reading the works of Karl Marx would be good for something. All through Capital he gives examples of hundredweights of wheat and stuff -- all indicated as CWT (you know, like centimeter is a hundredth of a meter.) So it was a total gimme!

p.s. @OldCarFudd, my iPhone translator says BLITZEN means "flash." Who am I to argue? I was hoping the reindeer would be clued in vertical pairs or maybe four across, something that might be a harness for a sleigh, so I didn't realize CUPID and COMET were part of the theme until a few deer later. It's like Santa crashed, and reindeer scattered all over the place.

syndy 8:18 PM  

Okay so I had DONDER is that a dnf or not? crossed by random sports initials I'm gonna take it! yes QUICHE was my first impulse but the dash made me pause.Hey for a tuesday this is primo

Zahid Ali 8:21 PM  

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chefbea 9:00 PM  

Robot got in????

michael 9:17 PM  

Tinea seems not right on a Tuesday.

I got stalled on professor/chair because, as Rex says, not all professors are chairs. In fact, most aren't. Think of it the other way -- if the clue were "chair," would professor seem like a reasonable answer? [Yes, I know that many clues are not reversible.]

sanfranman59 10:04 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 5:56, 6:16, 0.95, 22%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:13, 8:57, 0.92, 20%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:33, 3:39, 0.97, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:50, 5:03, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium

Z 10:06 PM  

@sanfranman59 - It seems your adjustment has brought the two ratings back into alignment.

ANON B 2:09 PM  

One more thing. Why did Rex call this the Egbert Tribute puzzle?
The guy only showed up once?
What did he have to do with
Lawrence of Arabia?

ANON B 2:14 PM  

I left an earlier question that has disappeared.
Why did Rex call this the 1200th
anniversary of Egbert? 1200 years
ago was 812. Egbert became king
in 802

RonL 8:43 PM  

You had the 8 reindeer in Clement C. Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" wrong! They are not:
DASHER
DANCER
PRANCER
VIXEN
PILSENER
MABEL
CAPRA
BLITZEN

They are:
DASHER
DANCER
PRANCER
VIXEN
COMET
CUPID
DONNER
BLITZEN

PILSENER, MABEL, and CAPRA are not part of the theme!!!

Anonymous 9:25 PM  

thanks for sharing.

Waxy in Montreal 11:00 AM  

From the syndicate: great festive theme for the 22nd day of Christmas.

After their stunning LO(E)SS to Alabama in last week's championship game, the description of Notre Dame's football team as the "fighting" Irish now seems a bit dated - perhaps belonging to the ARA (or Knute) eras.

Mini-WWII theme: RAF, BLITZ(EN), ENEMY, Operation SEA LIONs. Others: ONEIN & ONEIDA, CUB & MISSCUBA,

Spacecraft 12:05 PM  

Two puzzles within a week whose 1a is DAD. The clues tell you which was farther on into the week: "pop" is certainly more open-ended than "June honoree," which leaves nothing to the imagination. So 1d being obviously DASHER, the Flying Dutchdeer came immediately to mind--confirmed a moment later with DANCER.

'Course, here in Syndiland it's already the ides of January, so timing doesn't have the same impact with us.

Wanted ELLIS for the N.Y. island, but that wouldn't square with HACIENDA, so I left it. Forgot about CONEY till I reexamined the "mythical archer" clue. Duh! Thus the north central proved a bit sticky, and moved my rating for today to "easy-medium." I had none of OFL's problems.

What a flap over DONNER/ Donder! I've heard both. I accept both. Too many people are quick to say "You're wrong!" Lighten up already! We have bigger worries.

PILESNER is a great word to work into a grid. Here's to ya, Gene!

Dirigonzo 3:37 PM  

I knew we were dealing with reindeer before I left the NW corner so I just hitched on to Santa's sleigh a flew through the grid - only miscue was having the Omahas where the ONEIDA roamed.

I read right through Rex's little joke about the 8 names - I sometimes forget how subtle his wit can be and I forget to look for places in the write-up where he is putting us on.

@spinfan47 - I'm with you on the left turn issue - where did those folks learn how to drive?

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

I have a nephew who's a real pest. After I kill him, I can tell my sister "Hey, it's okay. The NYT crossword says pests should be exterminated."

That'll cut down on shopping for crap at Toys 'R Us.

Ginger 10:47 PM  

Strange to be solving a Christmas theme puzzle while watching the Australian Open, always played in January in unbelievable heat. Such is Syndiland, or what @Diri calls the Twilight Zone.

I enjoyed this puzzle, especially the theme density. Eleven reindeer (wink wink) in a 15x15 is quite a feat. I also enjoyed the many comments on all those reindeer.

@Spacecraft - re PILESNER, I'll drink to that, however it's spelled.

Anonyrat 5:43 AM  

@ RonL 8:43 PM - Don't forget to wear your helmet!

Syndi Solver 2:12 PM  

I thought it was cute even though I'm solving it in January. At first I had RET (Retired) instead of REL for my reunion attendee. For a second or two I wondered, "What kind of name is MABEt?" :-)

I agree with the comments that more clues should have tied into the Christmas theme, e.g., clue CAPRA with reference to It's a Wonderful Life.

On a similar note, why not change LOESS to POESY? (which makes the crosses HAY and PED) I think it's a more interesting word and it ties in the fact that most people know these reindeer names from an old fashioned poem. Even GOEST ("whither thou goest ...") seems like a better choice (makes crosses GED and HAT). Just my two cents. I knew LOESS from previous crosswords, so it didn't stump me. I'm just wondering why that word was chosen.

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