Gen Pershing's grp in WWI / FRI 12-25-15 / Middle of three-part maxim / High Priest of Shiloh / Performer of Green Hornet theme in 1960s TV / Literary character on whom Captain Hook is based

Friday, December 25, 2015

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: CANDY CANES (29D: Four things represented visually in this puzzle's grid) — four candy cane shapes. One other "theme" answer (ST. NICHOLAS) and then unchecked squares that (when read clockwise, starting with the "X" in 9D: MARX) spell out XMAS.

Word of the Day: AEF (35D: Gen. Pershing's grp. in W.W. I)
The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) consisted of the United States Armed Forces sent to Europe under the command of General John J. Pershing in 1917 to help fight World War I . During the United States campaigns in World War I the AEF fought in France alongside French and British allied forces in the last year of the war, against German forces. Some of the troops fought alongside Italian forces in that same year, against Austro-Hungarian forces. The AEF helped the French Army on the Western Front during the Aisne Offensive (at Château-Thierry and Belleau Wood) in June 1918, and fought its major actions in the Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives in late 1918. (wikipedia)
• • •

One of those no-man's-land puzzles that can't seem to decide if it's themed or not, and so ends up with this light (sugar?) coating of theme. That's not really fair—there's clearly a XMAS theme here, however thin/scattered. It's just that after CANDY CANES (the most obvious answer in the grid), there isn't much space given over to theme material. Not white space, anyway. Just ST. NICHOLAS and the four XMAS squares. Visually, this (kind of) says Christmas, but content-wise, it's overwhelmingly a themeless.  Feels like there's not much there there. The CANDY CANES element is transparent. The only thing there really is to "get" is the XMAS bit—I like that part. As a themeless, this has strengths and weaknesses, though I think the former outweigh the latter (the latter mostly have to do with a preponderance of short answers, due to the grid shape). "END OF STORY!", HALF-COCKED and NO-LOOK PASS are all wonderful. KGB SPIES totally confused me; that answer, with its massive initial consonant pile-up, was a major contributor to my considerable struggles in the NW. Couldn't come up with BOARDS (kept trying to stretch MCATS ...). Also hard: RIMS (4D: Goes around). Couldn't find the handle on BASK, and kept doubting OLEG because of the improbable "-GB-" juxtaposition it gave me in the answer that turned out to be KGB SPIES.  Struggles in that corner were totally offset in the opposite corner (i.e. the SE), where I threw AD AGENCY across and got every Down, one after the other, with no hesitation.


Interesting to cross ALI with SOMALIS, since she is Somali-born (now a U.S. citizen). Also interesting to call a SLED a [Traditional Yule gift] because ... that's news to me. Was Rosebud a Yule gift? Do people still say "Yule" when it's not followed by "tide" or "log" or ("Brennere")? If I've ever heard of / seen AEF before today, I can't recall. Luckily the grid doesn't rely on anything else that antique and abbreviated. I had HE'S A KEEPER! instead of IT'S A KEEPER! at 12D: "Hang on to that one!" I feel like the clue was designed with that mistake in mind. I also had ENTICES instead of ENTRAPS at 36A: Inveigles, as in "He was inveigled / entrapped / enticed into HE'S A KEEPER!—the Charybdis of this grid's eastern half." (Get it? 'Cause the western half has Scylla  ... the SEA MONSTER? ... yeah, you get it). Actually, enticing is more the Sirens' job ... hmmm ... rather than mull Odyssean metaphors, I'm gonna pack it in.

Merry Christmas if you celebrate (and Merry Friday if you don't).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

51 comments:

jae 3:04 AM  

Medium for me mostly because of the problems @Rex described in NW. 

Looked at the grid coming out of the printer and said to myself  "candy canes?"

Delightful with just the right amount of Fri. crunch.  Nicely done Jeff and Mary Lou!  This one made me smile.

And, speaking of TELENOVELA, Eva Longoria's new show of the same name on NBC is actually pretty funny.

Merry Chrismas folks, thanks for being a part of this "thing".

chefwen 3:09 AM  

Mele Kalikimaka everybody!

Got a sudden urge for a CANDY CANE as I watched this come through the printer. You would think there would be ONE in this house, but Nooo, I had to settle for chocolate. Things could be worse.

Started off on the tough side for me, had to put a lot of thought into things like sea monsters, KGB spies, no look passes, etc. After we got a few of those worked out we shifted into medium mode and finished up on the easy side. My puzzle partner nailed the XMAS dealio and he was pretty proud of that, so much so that he requested a fist bump.

All in all, a fun little XMAS puzzle that we both enjoyed.

Anonymous 6:33 AM  

Liked it more than Rex. Not sure they are still teaching American History in schools these days. Probably one of those programs they cut, like Art and PE. Oh well.

AEF brought to mind those famous stories about the "Christmas Eve truces" along the front lines. The warring parties would put down their arms, share a beer, kick a ball around, and all that.

Two songs to stream before the end of the day: Happy Xmas (War is Over) (Lennon) and Do They Know It's Christmas (Band Aid). If only...

Happy Holidays everyone.

Zippy

Hartley70 7:20 AM  

Easy and speedy! It's just right for Christmas morning when there's breakfast to cook and presents to be opened. My only sticking point was the Natick of ELI crossing ALI. I didn't run the alphabet. I just picked the most likely middle letter and hit it on the second try. The other entries were interesting and on my radar. I'm glad we got a XMAS theme, even if it's a bit thin for Rex. It did me just fine! HoHoHo!

George Barany 7:32 AM  

Thanks for the lovely puzzle, @Mary Lou Guizzo and @Jeff Chen, and for the gracious review, @Rex.

It's always nice to be reminded of an OPERA_CAPE at LA_SCALA. Too bad there was no way to work in a traditional Christmas opera like Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors," or for that matter, Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" with its CANDY_CANES and gingerbread houses that is often performed at this time of year.

The other day, this NO_LOOK_PASS was featured on our local sportscast.

Seeing the unchecked squares spell X M A S when read going clockwise from the X of MARX was a lovely touch. On the other hand, I felt that the unusually difficult clues for ALI and ELI, crossing each other, were not exactly an act of holiday charity.

Today is a special day for a friend of mine, and I bet he would be thrilled to see this puzzle [and the corresponding "midrash" mentioned on this blog.

Chuck McGregor 7:55 AM  

To "Echo" (title of a book I got for Christmas) @Rex, Merry Christmas if you celebrate and Merry Friday if you don't.

Up early, and being the only thing stirring, did the puzzle.

Hmmm…..

With a SEA MONSTER KG SPIES, someone in an OPERA CAPE (possibly going off HALF-COCKED), MARX, a ne’re-do-well CLEO, an OWL, SOMALI pirates, the dark of an ERI NITE, A TAD of OCT GORE (Halloween, I assume), AHAB / Capt. Hook, a hole-eating MOTH, and the usually never-a-good-thing ENTRAPS all lurking throughout, not exactly a Holiday-Cheery grid. One could spin quite a YARN, maybe a TELENOVELA, with that NEST-full of EVIL characters.

However, to save the day and SET us APART from the aforementioned onslaught, there is that SLED, all those CANDY CANES, and what to our wondering eyes should appear but ST. NICHOLAS himself, who has oft CHORTLED his patented Ho Ho Hos. To have some peace on earth some chant with OHMS.

Wishing that any traveling this day and for the rest of the winter SEEs you BASKing in an ICE FREE RIDE, listening to an RCA recordings, such as AL HIRT or some REHEARSED ARIas from LA SCALA.

END OF STORY, except to pour myself a “Shirley Temple” egg nog. It is A TAD early. Later I MIC EVAN just AIM to DROP in some brandy and ALSO have a hot bath with some EPSON Salts. WEI!!

Cheers

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

Wouldn't it be Yul(e) Brynner(e) or are there alternate ways to spell his last name?

jberg 8:54 AM  

I really got stuck in the NE -- put in ENTiceS, thought maybe there was an OPERA Coat, plus instead of ALSO, and thought that K must be part of some kind of 'fake' rather than NO-LOOK PASS. I was also looking for 'buzz' or 'crew' at 10A, though I didn't write it in.

Finally got it, helped out by ROAN, which seems to be a new NYT favorite.

Thanks to anonymous for reminding me of John McCutcheon's "Christmas in the Trenches."

tb 9:02 AM  

@George Barany
Are you a professor of music? Your depth of knowledge of opera is almost awful in it's profundity.

And thank you for once again self-promoting a puzzle which I would never in the world have found if you hadn't linked to it on the popular crossword blog of a well-known solver and constructor.

Teedmn 9:11 AM  

Happy XMAS to all who celebrate today!

Nice easy present of a Christmas Friday puzzle, thanks MLG and JC. Shocking to see unchecked squares in the NYTimes but a cute grid and the tie in with today makes it legitimate. But I couldn't PASS up my daily DNF - my lack of basketball knowledge made "NO, LOOK PASt!" a perfectly good description of a deceptive court move, even though MtRP didn't look right.

I liked the clues for ERASER and GORE; I liked getting HEAR NO EVIL off just the A in LA SCALA, and liked seeing CHORTLED. Lots of good stuff here, even if I do miss my Friday challenge.

AliasZ 9:16 AM  


Oh look, today Will got it right: "Who said history repeats itself...", not "Whom said...". Bravo! I only can't figure out if it was Groucho or Harpo who said it, because it ceytainly don't sound like Chico. And I just remembered, Harpo never said much. Anyway, the quote is catchy, but it's a rather empty statement that doesn't make much sense to me. I much prefer George Santayana's version: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." This one's equally catchy, but it also has teeth and profound truth in it. We see it every day.

But there is so much other good stuff in this puzzle, like discovering that hidden XMAS gift, it is hard to pick a favorite -- akin to having too many gifts under the Christmas tree.

Once I went deep-sea fishing with a friend who was just slightly misundereducated. He caught something really monstrous. "Look, a SEA MONSTER. IT'S A KEEPER!" I also remember being stopped from entering LA SCALA because I forgot to wear my OPERA CAPE. I wore my opera galoshes, my opera lorgnon, and my opera Fedora with half a rooster feather in it, but forgot my OPERA CAPE. How gauche! Note to self: never go to the opera HALF COCKED. I will not repeat that part of my life's history unless I forget it.

All this just to say I really enjoyed today's puzzle. As proof, allow me to offer a portion (a little over one-third) of one of my favorite Christmas cantatas, titled Lauda per la Natività del Signore by Ottorino Respighi. There are many fine complete versions on YouTube that I strongly recommend you try (23-to-25 well spent minutes), if you are so inclined. Look for Janet Baker, Anne Sofie von Otter or Marilyn Horne.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Spreading joy and good will, even to those who do not celebrate Christmas, is not a bad thing.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Needed rex to see xmas. I almost never can do Friday but this fell easily so I rate it a Christmas present.

Mohair Sam 9:21 AM  

XMAS. Well I see that "Keep the Christ in Christmas" campaign from 50 years ago didn't work out so well. Nice to see that ELI made the cut however.

kozmikvoid 9:53 AM  

Was heading toward a sub-10 min Friday for the first time ever until I worked my way back to the NW, then...stuck. I stared at that section for quite some time before getting the Russian connection. Once KGBSPIES fell, it was plodding completion that ended up far below my average. Didn't care for the cluing for RIMS, but enjoyed mostly everything else. Overall a fun Friday. Merry to all.

chefbea 10:03 AM  

Fun Xmas puzzle. Saw the candy canes right away. Didn't realize XMAS was hidden in the curves of them
My favorite present is my new crossword puzzle book "Will Shortz's favorite Puzzlemakers!!

Merry christmas to all and to all a wonderful New year

ArtO 10:22 AM  

Loved the NOLOOKPASS but completely failed in the NW when MCATS wouldn't fit. But for me a 90% Friday is a victory. Also liked HALFCOCKED and ENDOFSTORY.

Overall a pretty darn good XMAS puz.

Ludyjynn 10:25 AM  

For a while I had 'Ricohs' before EPSONS, making Lutherans a 'cult' instead of a SECT and 'chuckled' instead of CHORTLED. But I got religion thanks to HEAR NO EVIL.

As usual two pop culture clues and answers, EVAN and TELENOVELA, opened the puzzle for me. Sorry about that, @Oisk and @Nancy. Toeholds, baby, toeholds.

My two adult godchildren took time out from their hectic 20-something lives to create beautiful CANDY CANE confections for me, their two sets of grandparents and other family members, which they personally delivered yesterday. They used two candy canes facing one another to make a heart shape, filling in the middle with either milk chocolate or white chocolate and adding peppermint sprinkles. They even wrapped them in cellophane baggies with tags. These little hand made gifts meant more to me than any expensive, impersonal offerings ever could.

Hand up for Yul Brynner, Rex.

I believe there are more themers here than Rex noted: obviously, St, Nick CHORTLES and uses a SLED to deliver toys, which may be re-gifted or SENT ON by donees. OTOH, many kids are yelling, as I type this, ITS A KEEPER!, if they received a wished-for present. That's because they trusted Santa would not go off HALF COCKED in the POURing rain and over the ICE as he made his rounds on the world's most anticipated FREE RIDE. END OF STORY.

As I BASK in the glow of an error-free Friday solve, thanks to you, MLG, JC and WS.

George Barany 10:32 AM  

After reading several comments, I'm also reminded of the opera Silent Night, which premiered at the Ordway Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 2011, and won its composer, Kevin Puts, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for music. One of the interesting aspects of the opera is that its various arias and choruses are sung in three different languages, English, French, and German [and thankfully, translations of the lyrics are projected for all three languages].

Here is a New York Times review of the Philadelphia co-production, and here is a 6-minute clip about the European premiere, which includes some excerpts.

The Christmas truce has also been subject to cinematic treatment (2005). Finally, this 42-minute documentary focuses on the historical record, and might be of interest.

OISK 10:42 AM  

Merry Christmas, all. This one was fine, and with one exception, appropriate for a Christmas Friday. I don't like the cross of novela with Evan. Never heard of Evan Rachel Wood, nor the Spanish language soap. I put in the "v" because novela looked right, despite worrying that Evan is a man's name.

Otherwise, loved the clue for KGB spies. That's what a good misdirection should be. When one goes from Wha? to Aha!! - that is the real fun for me in solving puzzles. Hoping I can end a clean week tomorrow, avoid an Ozzfest, and have an "eazy" time.

Joseph Michael 10:50 AM  

Sweet Christmas puzzle with lots of good fill, such as all of the long Downs and the surprise of XMAS in the crooks of the candy canes. All in all, I'd say IT'S A KEEPER.

Roo Monster 10:53 AM  

Hey All !
Merry XMAS! Groovy mini-themed FriPuz. Good old St Nick slid down the chimney and landed in the puz! Replete with CANDY CANES and a SMART CAR! Wanted Saint nick first, didn't fit, so went with SaNta clauS, until I filled the NE and saw HALFCOCKED. Aha, lets try ST NICHOLAS. Viola!

As with Rex, the NW did me in. 17A, if a Christmas miracle happened, could've been rooMONSTER!! But as it was, had ---MONSTER and ---SPIESin, and just couldn't grapple out the fronts. RIMS as clued was way odd, the ole brain not wrapping itself around that meaning. Also BASK was never gonna happen, so after many minutes of stress, hit Reveal for 1D. BASK! That got the SEA and the KGB and the rest. Yeowch.

Agree with the ALI/ELI Natick-as-clued spot. And WEI under OHMS was a tough little spot. Also, nice misdirect on the NO LOOK PASS. Had NOLO in, and wanted something to do with actual court, but -contendere- wouldn't fit!

Too many writeovers to mention, however, my funniest one was for HEAR NO EVIL. Had POUR in, so off the O, put mOnkey in! Ha! Good stuff.

Overall nice semi-easier/semi-hard FriPuz-so-you-won't-go-nuts-solving-Christmas-Day-type-puz. Or something. So cool puz, wasn't HALF COCKED, but doesn't SET APART too much, nor ITS A KEEPER. I CHORTLED A TAD at rhe XMAS-ness. END OF STORY.

MIC DROP
RooMonster
DarrinV

Charles Flaster 11:15 AM  

Enjoyed this easyish puz.
In agreement with Rex and missed the XMAS.
Thought the CANDY CANES were the letter J and there was a fifties group called The Four Jays which made me originally think it would be a retro romp.
NW was a little sticky. Thought 1 Across should have plural in the clue.
Write overs--KGB MOLES for red MOLES, FREE RIDE for FREE Rein, and A TAD for A bit.
I hope someone appreciates 11 Down as the first four letters were. NOLO -- leading me to a misdirect , thinking it was a "legal" term.
Loved it.
Thanks MLG and JC.

Aketi 11:32 AM  

@Hartley 70. Hot chocolate sales have plummeted in NYC due to the lack of ICE and snow ithis year. I too forgot to buy CANDY CANES and hot chocolate for the holidays. So it was nice to see them in the puzzle. Wouldn't have felt like XMAS without them.

@Anonymous 6:33 am. Last night the weather was so warm that we ate our Christmas Eve dinner in a restaurant that had the doors open and sidewalk seating. A Christmas miracle occurred and our teenage son never once pulled out his phone to text his friends. Not once. Instead, he was uncharacteristly chatty and spontaneously told us amusing stories about John Brown, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, the Know Nothing Party, the Whigs, and the Federalists. I've learned more about US History from my son than any teacher I ever had. So, yes in some schools they still teach US History and there IS hope for the next generation.

@jberg, thanks for the link to the song.

Happy holidays everyone.

Z 11:42 AM  

We got to spend Christmas Eve with a one year old. Is there anything better in the universe?

Merry Christmas everyone whether you celebrate it or not, especially you @tb. May a candy cane brighten your day today.

Numinous 11:47 AM  

Like the @Roo, I had NOLO and was thinking law court but very soon I had NOLOO so I had to come up with something else. Sadly, I never did. The whole NO LOOK PASS just came with the crosses. I also started with SaNta clau but the Oregon portion of the west messed that up. I had lAze before BASK but Scylla fixed that when I had to look it up, having forgotten about the rock and the hard place. I also had to look up AL HIRT. I was never into the Green Hornet, heck, I didn't even know it was a TV show until I learned about it from KOBE and crosswords.

I didn't even notice the unchecked squares at first, not until I read the clue for 29D. Looking back, I can't see how I missed them. Talk about feeling foolish.

This was the Christmas present I wanted from the NYT. Not so heavy handed as the seven-themer we had a while back, just a subtle Yule here and a CANDY CANE there with "a right jolly old elf" to lead it off.

Thanks, MLG, JC, WS and JF.

Merry Christmas to all y'all who do and best holiday wishes to those who don't. Come to think of it, it's Saturnalia and the days will now start to lengthen. Huzzah!

Joseph Welling 11:55 AM  

I'd rate it easy for a Friday. I'm glad the candy canes weren't oriented tails to the center because then it would've looked like a swastika.

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

Loved it! Maybe the first Friday puzzle for me where I didn't have to Google once.

A sled is most definitely a traditional Christmas gift, IMO. At least if you live where it snows. As a kid in Wisconsin, I can remember many times going sledding on Christmas afternoon, with everyone out there trying out their new sleds.

Merry Christmas to all! (or Happy Whatever-You-Celebrate!)

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

Keep the Solstice in XMAS!

Master Melvin 1:44 PM  

Yes, a SLED is a traditional Yule gift. Our oldest son was born on XMAS Eve (he was 49 yesterday). My father in law showed up the next day with a six-foot Flexible Flyer, saying, "A boy's gotta have a SLED for XMAS." This for an 8-pound something infant. Took him years to grow into it.

BTW, as has been noted here many times, the X in XMAS is the Greek letter Chi, the initial for the Greek Christos. Nothing disrespectful or anti-Christian about it.

old timer 2:00 PM  

My name is Francis Tolliver .... (or did his family spell it Talliaferro?

Great song.

Perfect Christmas puzzle. Easy! With grandchildren home, it was a nice break between opening presents under the tree and starting the stuffing, then the turkey.

Couple of comments on earlier posts:

(1) Not only do they teach American history in schools, they teach it both in elementary school and high school -- the latter is a requirement in California and probably everywhere.

(2) Xmas has Christ in it (the X being the first letter of "Christ" in Greek -- X or Xt were common abbreviations back when everything was written out in longhand, just like Thos and Jno and Wm for common men's names. But it seems to me you don't hear the good old carols so much on the radio these days, which makes the Christmas stories less well known than they should be.

I dislike candy canes and therefore did not know the shapes, other than J, which was missing from this puzzle.

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

I think the comment about not teaching america history was a subtle dig at Rex who could not remember if he'd heard of the AEF. "Blackjack" Pershing isn't a name you'd soon forget. It's right up there with "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell.

The military nicknames are the best. Poitical, not so great. Who's going to remember "The Decider" in 100 years?

And don't get me started on those pathetic combo names like J-Lo, A-Rod, J-Law, and whomever Ben or Jerry is dating now. Ad upchuckium.

Later.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  


Rex

WW I, AEF too antiquated for you. Would it have helped if the 35D clue read: the group led by supreme allied commander of the US forces World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower

Mohair Sam 4:15 PM  

@old timer - Yeah, we were talking today about the dearth of Christmas carols on the radio and over store speakers these days. Endless "Santa Baby" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" just doesn't cut it. We created a Norman Nabertwackle Choir Christmas channel on Pandora and got all that great music in the house. Pandora mixes in some Nat King Cole type stuff too, nice.

XMAS II - When the Keep Christ in Christmas thing was going on I was told that the "X" stood for the cross - the Chi explanation makes much more sense. Remember a bumper sticker at the time: "Keep Christ in Xmas". Neat.

Declaring no harm/no foul on OFL for not knowing AEF. Gimme for this history nut, but a war too far for non-buffs.

beatrice 4:31 PM  

@AliasZ - thank you for your Christmas Eve posting - this is, to me, the most beautiful of all Christmas carols. The first section of the video is both stunning and very moving.

I'd like to add another of my favorite Xmas tunes, 'In Dulce Jubilo' - also harmonized by Praetorius. Apologies for the ad, but this is an especially nice version that 'intersperses' versions by other composers.

@Leapfinger - I hope you will or have enjoyed those two pieces! I appreciate your note, and loved the one to AliasZ!

@GeorgeBarany - as usual, your blog-puzzle was delightful. This is as good an opportunity as any to tell you how much I appreciate the blog, as well as your apparent generosity with this collective undertaking. It does, indeed, seem like great 'fun'!.
'

Masked and Anonymo1Us 5:26 PM  

YesterPuz's grid was ohso prophetic... ETHOOKs! The hooker that stole XMAS! Sweet. I'm in.

Initial M&A gets, on this FriPuz:
* ALHIRT. RCA. Have his "Java" 45.
* AIM. ICE. Note how answers were fallin in pairs, to save precious nanoseconds.
* MARX. Groucho had some downright primo quotes.
* XMAS. After gettin the X in the crook, went lookin for a clue to support it. Found 29-A (which yielded CANDYCANES) and 25-D (which turned out to be no help). But guessed XMAS from the canes and a suspected MSRP.
* OWL. LASCALA.

Late M&A gets:
* ATAD. Had ABIT. Backed that pony, way too long ...
* TELENOVELA/not ABIT/EVAN/ELI.

fave WEIject: WEI. Never got much education on Chinese Dynasties, in grade school. Fourth grade teacher Miss Downey did give little M&A long lists of questions to research in books scattered one place or another within the schoolroom, to keep him out of the way. Some questions may have been China-related, but no WEI, Jose.

fave Xmas Gift: DVD version of "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell, No".

Thanx to Guizzo darlin and the Chenmeister, for gangin up on us, for Xmas.
Special holiday greetins to:
* The Shortzmeister, who manages to make M&A look forward to every mornin except Saturday, all year long.
* @009, who I hope has all his Xmas dreams come true.
* Evil Doug, who likes to take long sabbaticals and short, funny potshots.
* The Letter U, who took a short sabbatical, this Xmas.
* r.alphbunker, who gave M&A a home, when there was no room at the inn.

Hope everyone in the Comment Gallery has a super-fun holiday, of their fave kind.

xM&As


**gruntz**

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

Yet another NYTimes contribution, this time buried in the puzzle, to the Left's War On Christmas. On this, the most holy of days, we get as the theme 'Sam X', Malcom's younger brother.

Have they no shame, have they no decency?

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

X as an abbreviation for Christ. http://www.religionfacts.com/chi-rho
I always wondered about the X and P on the vestments of Catholic priests during mass.

I used to have a book about plantations in Connecticut that included may excerpts from the diary of a minister. He used X as in Xmas in his entries as pointed out by old timer as a shortcut. Nothing irreligious about this man.

Charles Flaster 10:03 PM  

SPIES not MOLES.
SORRY

Bob Kerfuffle 10:37 PM  

Good puzzle. Sorry to drop in so late, but today, family first.

In part because my sister's mother-in-law is 103 years old, today they had the TV on much of the time, one of those new-fangled computer/TV hybrids. After viewing the latest pictures of great-granddaughter and a few cat videos, we watched an animated marionette TV show about the Nativity from about 1949, presented by "the telephone company," the Bell System. For MIL's sake, the subtitles are always on, and we were debating whether they were created by humans or computers. Not conclusive but crossword echo when we read that "there was no room at the in." But no question when we read that the Three Wise men, "brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and murder." Can't make this stuff up!

Gregory Schmidt 1:49 AM  

ELI/ALI - insert random consonant to make foreign-looking name. Fail.

Tita 11:27 AM  

I was glad to notice XMAS, as it helped me to DNF.
Hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas yesterday, along with celebrating the return of the Sun, and with a full moon to boot!

Fred Romagnolo 3:07 PM  

Actually, Easter is a far holier day than Christmas; anybody can get born.

kitshef 9:04 PM  

@Rex: yes, Yule is used without tide or log. You need to spend more time hanging out with Pagans.

Burma Shave 11:37 AM  

KGBSPIES’ NITE YARN

OLEG wanted a FREERIDE to SEE some SECT SETAPART,
“ITSAKEEPER and I HEARNOEVIL”, he CHORTLED as he walked.
But he was ATAD MISEDUCATEd, bless his POUR heart,
ENDOFSTORY? He REHEARSED, but ALSO went off HALFCOCKED.

--- CLEO EVAN GORE-MARX
today’s stream of unconsciousness brought to you by ST.NICHOLAS’ ADAGENCY ARTSALE

rondo 12:11 PM  

I guess sometimes it doesn’t pay to get a comment in too early. My comment from yesterday must have gotten lost in the top of the shuffle and I see that @BS appears to have had to re-post today. Two points I had were: One write-over was down at that song title where I had MMMmmm, thinking of the Crash Test Dummies song, but even so I was only half way there on the Ms. And - I wouldn’t mind a little BANTER with acting yeah babies elegant RENE Russo and red bikini clad Phoebe CATES. A hundred years ago I suppose PEOPLE sad the same about Mata HARI. Otherwise, kinda what @spacey said.

As for today, I saw the funny shapes and unchecked squares, but CANDYCANES was not on my radar as I am in post XMAS candy mode.

ALHIRT was a bit of an idol in my youth when I was a trumpet player, but no matter how much I REHEARSED . . . Turns out I could play more like Herb Alpert.

Was expecting to see a link to the Edgar Winter Group’s FREERIDE. Now I’ve got that tune in my head for the day.

No doubt about it today as (the grown up) EVAN Rachel Wood is the yeah baby of the day.

Highest concentration of SOMALIS outside of Somalia is right here in the Twin Cities. Seems kinda odd with the cold and all.

ENDOFSTORY for me, and to all a good NITE.

spacecraft 12:28 PM  

Finished correctly (not easy-medium for me, by a long shot!), but had to come here to discover that the four unidirectional squares spelled out XMAS. That they do, and it adds depth to the theme.

I had the devil's own time getting started. ALHIRT/AHAB went down in the NW...but then nothing. I had expected 6-down to be SANTACLAUS; don't know why STNICHOLAS didn't occur sooner. Wanted HEARNOEVIL in the SW but couldn't corroborate. Finally remembered LASCALA (duh!) and found my corroboration. Things spread quickly then, but stalled in the SE with ADA_____. This was very tough to parse into ADAGENCY, and even after that, that whole southern CANDYCANE was one giant natick. I mean really--ALI clued as...who??? and ELI clued as...WHAT??? I put these babies in as pure guesses. Just lucky.

In the NE my hole maker was a MOle before it was a MOTH, and so my mind was on the four-legged variety in the "Red moles" clue. At last the old KGB gave me my ultimate aha! and I was done.

"One TOKE over the line, sweet Jesus..." Days better left in the murky past. What do I think of this puzzle? ITSAKEEPER. A-.

Diana,LIW 2:39 PM  

When I saw Scylla I thought it sounded like some kind of bacteria that could cause an awkward skin disease. So I looked it up. And, of course, SEAMONSTER was so obvious in the definition - a huge cheat, but my only. Guess I'm MISEDUCATED regarding myths.

Had Santa Claus before STNICHOLAS, but the Chicago Transit Authority and La Scala whispered in my ear that something was awry. Also had CackLED before CHORTLED - hardy har har. No fair Ali crossing Eli, but I guessed the L when it was correctly surrounded.

Other than that, one good solve led to another. A successful, if not completely unassisted, Friday. Enjoyed it.

If you haven't gone back to yesterday, Burma Shave outdid himself with his Ode to the Greeks. Bravo!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 4:20 PM  

I didn't find this easy at all. I put in BASK and SANTA CLAUS right off and was stalled in the NW immediately. The South was more malleable, but I certainly didn't know TELENOVELA, and it took a few risky moves to eventually get that SE. I actually think that teaching myths, especially Greek ones, is a good thing, and so it took a long time to get MISEDUCATE (strange word, too).

However, OWL, OHMS, and HEAR NO EVIL, gave me LA SCALA, which made me see ST NICHOLAS and remove SANTA, and from there the NE came labouriously.

I liked HALF COCKED (@BURMA SHAVE...?) and loved the hidden XMAS. Overall, a nice Christmas puzzle even if the Christmas spirit has long since evaporated.

OK, guys, I'm hanging in, but as of 1:00, I'm the only syndi here. Hello?

Diana,LIW 8:21 PM  

Yo Rainy! 1 am or pm - EST, CST, MST, PST in crosswordeseland? I posted at least 7+ hours before I saw any newer posts. Bummer, but it is what it is. Maybe Rex will open a school for monitors to help him.

Maybe we Syndies need to get up at 3 am and post quickly. ;-)Or....just come back the next day.

One good thing about the "moderated" posts is you see everyone's opinion unaffected by the others. A small thing, but still...

Hey guys/gals - wouldn't it be fun to invade the future as a group? Just sayin'

Lady Di (you know who I am)

Diana,LIW 10:20 PM  

OK. We Synders have had some communication of late. I was thinking of a way of identifying ourselves since Rainy considered cutting out. He/she is still perturbed re: our time status.

What do you think? We could put "Synd" or "Syndie" or 5-weeks-later-waiter" or (well, I am the lady in waiting...) somewhere after our name or title or post comment or ....

Thots? Saving the best for last? In the meantime, we ought to be coming up with poems for Burma Shave's anniversary - yes?

I think that I shall never see
a crossword lovely as a ....

Go for it!

D, LIW

Teedmn 11:26 PM  

So, Diana, LIW, one could say you weren't myth-educated?

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