Branded baby carriers / SUN 12-24-17 / Plot device in Shining / Restaurant chain founded by Raffel brothers / avoid a bogey barely./ 1990s tennis great Huber

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: "Making a Fast Buck" — the theme is RUDOLPH the red-nosed reindeer, THE MOST FAMOUS / REINDEER OF ALL. If you connect the circled squares, alphabetically, you get the profile of what purports to be a reindeer—RUDOLPH, actually. A rebused "RED" provides the nose (see above). Other theme answers:

Theme answers:
  • GENE AUTRY (44A: Singer with a #1 hit about 123-Across)
  • SHINY NOSE (45D: Feature depicted in the upper left of this puzzle) 
  • NORTH POLE (82D: Starting point for an annual flight) (why would you put this in your puzzle without a corresponding symmetrical answer? Is TOOK A SIDE thematic? Is that something Santa did when he made Rudolph the guider of the sleigh? Also, SANTA is in this grid (94D: Deliverer of Christmas packages), and he also has no symmetrical theme equivalent ... anything goes, I guess)
Word of the Day: DO LOOP (100D: Repetitive bit of computer code) —

Noun

do loop (plural do loops)
  1. (computing) A section of computer code in which an instruction or group of instructions is executed repeatedly depending on the value of a Boolean condition. (wiktionary)
• • •

Just did a red-nose themed puzzle like three days ago, so this one ... was anti-climactic. Also, just not as good. The other one was a superior puzzle on every level. This one is a child's placemat game. Once you get that it's RUDOLPH, the theme stuff just fills itself in (mostly), and then it's just ... you know, drawing. And, as you can see in grid image above, I followed that damned alphabetical dot-to-dot puzzle to the letter (!) and got ... some Dr. Moreauvian abomination.  These draw-on-your-puzzles puzzles almost never work out, and the more complicated the drawing, the worse it usually is. Some will find this idea cute. Some who don't solve a ton of puzzles. That's fine. It is cute, in its way. But it's unsatisfying as a *crossword puzzle*, except for that sneaky little single-rebus-square trick. That was kinda neat. But DO LOOP and NOM DE and ECARD *and* ESIGN (!?) and the idiotic ONE-EARED (48D: Like van Gogh, in later life) ... all of that can get lost. Also TAUTOU (114A: Actress Audrey of "Amélie"). Come on. I know you've got a proprietary gigantic wordlist or whatever, but you're not Required to use everything on it. New isn't always good. Knowing the difference between "new" and "good," well, that's the heart of crossword artistry. Don't get enamored with crap just because no one's used it before. That is not, necessarily, a virtue.


What's a DREW / SCOTT? What's "TV's Property Brothers?" ... ??? ... What's a LEFT KEY? Is that like "Back space" or "Delete"? Oh, wait, do you mean "left arrow"? LEFT KEY, pfft. Again, why cram your wordlist full of marginal baloney? I don't get it. GRADEAEGG ... sigh. Does this mean GRADEAAEGG is a better answer? I doubt anyone would agree. The clue is off on this one, too (21D: One of a dozen good things?). Grade A appear to be defined by how *not* good they are, i.e. they have a lower "interior quality" than Grade AA eggs, which are the real "good eggs." There's also a Grade B, but those aren't sold in supermarkets. They're used in egg powders and other products where appearance doesn't matter. So, if nothing else, this puzzle turned into a lesson on egg classification. Which leads me to my primary cluing question today: why would you clue SEXES as a verb related to chicks?! (126A: Sorts, as chicks) I mean, SEXER, yeah, you don't have any other options, but SEXES is a perfectly good noun. I just don't get people sometimes. Interesting trivia on that ARBY'S clue, though (23A: Restaurant chain founded by the Raffel brothers (hence the name)). So "R" for Raffel and "B" for "brothers" = R + B = Arby's. Neat. I won't remember it, but neat.


Probably the hardest part of the puzzle was the rebus RED square, largely because I know very well what's written backward in "The Shining," and I was none too happy to have DRUM in there? Also, weird to call a "word" a "plot device" (22A: Plot device in "The Shining" that has significance when spelled backward) Alright, enough of this. I hope Christmas brings you all a nice puzzle. See you later.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. [Descartes's conclusion] was SUM. There's a difference between "tricky" and "wrong."

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

144 comments:

Anonymous 12:03 AM  

Merry Christmas Michael. Get another hobby.

Patrick O'Connor 12:10 AM  

I liked how you "filled in" the rebus letter last so that it would look red on the solution. You *do* have the spirit of Christmas!

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle. The NE corner took me a sec, but I liked the fill barring Grade A Egg.

David Miottel 12:35 AM  

I’ve been lurking here on Rex’ blog for a few years. Howdy all. I was absolutely convinced that the circled squares were the notes to “Rudolph” that I kept leaving obvious answers open with the corosponding note in place for far too long. Got the rebus off the go, so wasted time looking for a “nose” or in the SE. a little disappointed in the puzzle overall. Had misspelled LARRIATS (63a, they might be thrown in a rodeo) so confidently threw down OH TANNENBAUM off of the OT. That slowed things down for awhile. DOLOOPS took every cross. Interesting idea, but I couldn’t be bothered with the picture until I got here.

Happy Christmakawnsaka to everyone. “Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.” (JL)

pmdm 12:38 AM  

Jeff Chen explains how difficult it was to construct this puzzle on his web site. To fit the themed entries as well as the 26 alphabet letters certainly turns filling the grid into a very hard job. While I did have to do some research for the proper nouns, it seemed typical for a Sunday and I don't really mind that, since I'm not good with names (as QuaisiMojo will attest).

I don't bother to complete the fill-in lines. I go to the XWordInfo site to look at the art. The completed artwork is, in my opinion, a little better than good. In no way is it an abomination (which has sometimes been the case).

Michael Sharp seems to dislike almost anything Jeff Chen does, which sometimes results in what I consider laughable criticisms. (The snide comment about a "proprietary gigantic wordlist or whatever" is an example.And I would think that most people might not call a grad A egg the best egg in the world, but they (as well as I) would call it a good egg. And you can't determine the sex of a baby chick[en] by looking at it, so sexes (as a verb) is a perfectly good answer to the clue, a clue which sneaks in a bit of humorous wordplay (although some would call it sexist wordplay).

Yes, Mr. Sharp, sometimes you don't get people, and you never seem to get Jeff Chen.

Of course, many may disagree with me. There are no comments posted here yet as I write this. I will be very interested in reading others' comments to learn the relative frequency of positive and negative reactions to this puzzle.

Joe Welling 12:43 AM  

I always thought Arbys was RB for Roast Beef.

Frank Perdue 1:12 AM  

@pmdm - How do you think sexing a chicken is done? Imaging the chromosomes looking for an XY pair? You look at the chick, very closely.

zevonfan 1:23 AM  

Rex, you always complain about crossword-ese and stuffy Maleska-era fill. Yet whenever an NYT puzzle has a Jeff Chen byline, you always throw a temper tantrum about clues from his Word Lists --- especially any proper noun you've never heard of. And, by gosh, if you have not heard of a proper noun that Jeff uses, it must be his fault... Of course, I shouldn't expect anything different when you once called xwordinfo.com the "House Blog"
https://twitter.com/rexparker/status/866082593481125889

Thought it was a tremendous puzzle myself.

Trombone Tom 1:25 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this, including the artwork. It's unfortunate that OFL chooses to belittle Jeff Chen's work.

C'mon, @Rex, 'tis the season . . . and all that jazz.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night.

Churlish Nabob 1:29 AM  

Clearly Sharp has some deep-rooted anger issues that are getting progressively worse. Fascinating to watch the slow train wreck in real time, but oh how his family, students, and co-workers will suffer before the final meltdown.

And what’s with the hard-on for Jeff Chen, who seems to be an eminently likable guy?

Uncle Alvarez 1:37 AM  

“so this one ... was anti-climactic. Also, just not as good.”

Not what your mother said last night!

Anonymous 1:45 AM  

How have you not heard of the Property Brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott? They’re everywhere!

I liked this puzzle quite a bit.

chefwen 1:51 AM  

Unlike others, I love circles and drawing on my puzzle. Obviously, I loved this one. My Reindeer was green and, of course, I colored his nose red. If I were 10 I’d make Mom put it on the fridge.

Diet before CROP at 127A was my only hiccup.

Cute Sunday before Christmas puzzle.

Anonymous 2:04 AM  

There's a difference between tricky and wrong? So every time, "I came" is clued as "start of Caesar's boast" it is wrong? Because that happens ALL. THE. TIME.

There's a difference between being critical and being mean. Or petulant.

Get a grip.

Anonymous 2:20 AM  

"RB" also stands for Roast Beef........the main menu item at Arby's when it opened (dunno what they serve now).

Kenneth Wurman 2:47 AM  

I do not understand how "redrum" is a plot device.. I had this immediately but was hesitant to fill it in because of the clue,,

JOHN X 3:00 AM  

Wow, Rex, that what some review! Did you already receive a lump of coal? Was it thrown at your head?

(I'm somewhat amazed by how long you went off on the egg clue; that's impressive in a Rain Man kind of way)

I liked this puzzle even though it took me an hour to solve. I fell asleep in the middle of it too, so that slowed me a bit. The top was the hardest but those circles up there helped because I figured out what they were and that's what got me to the finish line. Then I did something else.

Dolgo 3:15 AM  

I tried to make COPeLAND. Should have figured it out right away since I knew that he changed his name from Kaplan. Your pedant-in-residence is blushing.
I'm old enough to remember Christmas without Rudolph. We had a 45 of the Autry record when it first came out. He also had a radio show (also early TV) and was known as the singing cowboy. We all thought it was all pretty dumb, but he made lots of money and Rudolph is not likely to disappear. I always thought that the song had a hidden message for kids with features that others made fun of.

Cathelou 3:57 AM  

I watch TV maybe once a month and even I have heard of Drew Scott.

Charles Flaster 5:55 AM  

Easy solve but never got the RED answer.
Agree with Rex about the fill as it was quite a slog.
Appreciate the difficulty in construction.
Thanks MLG and JC.

BarbieBarbie 6:13 AM  

The drawing was cute, the rebus was clever, and LEFTKEY is the worst fill ever. It wasn’t even relieved with a black-square arrow, or some kind of symbol in the clue. It was just tossed down, and it was just wrong.

Bad fill ruins a puzzle like this because it’s so obviously forgiven in order to meet the publication deadline, which is like a slap in the face to the solvers.I usually like anything Jeff Chen does, but he should be massively ashamed of this one. And Mr. Shortz was obviously more concerned with the office party than the puzzle when he let that through. For shame.

Back to the drawing. It was not only cute, but it was complicated enough so that you couldn’t just go around filling in the circles once you had it grokked, which I did early. So on the positive side, this could have been a great puzzle.

Rob 6:58 AM  

I want to register how much I liked the inclusion of DO LOOP. I work in IT and have some coding background, and usually when there's any "computer stuff" in a crossword it's super vague and sometimes inaccurate because for some reason computers are the one everyday thing about which it's socially acceptable to know nothing at all. Nice to have an actual real programming concept included. (I can see how this might actually sound like it's not real -- do loops are a real, frequently used programming construction, along with while loops and for loops.)

The other computer thing is hot garbage, unfortunately. No one calls it a LEFT KEY.

Theme didn't do much for me, but at least it doesn't hurt much. I didn't really like the one rebus square for all the reasons others mentioned, but, you know, fine.

RE: Property Brothers, I am only vaguely aware that that exists, and it's not because I don't watch TV, because I do. I am honestly shocked that the names of the individual people on it are considered common knowledge by some, to the point that it's remarkable that others don't know them. I have seen people complain at length about the inclusion of what I would consider far more common knowledge in a crossword.

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

Well, it's Christmas Eve and a very cute puzzle.

Mikey, maybe you need to eat more roughage.

Curmudgeon in training 7:33 AM  

I just realized that I'm critical of criticisms of crossword constructors because I'm almost uncritically complimentary and appreciative of their work.

Something is wrong with me. I'm glad to see that so far, I'm in the majority of today's commenters in liking this puzzle. It went very fast (13:03) but it had its share of "aha" moments.

Ho ho ho!

'mericans in Paris 7:34 AM  

One of the fun things about this blog are the comments on @Rex's comments. Thanks, JOHN X: your remarks made me LOL.

Unlike some, we didn't feel this puzzle was a load of CROP. We appreciated the craft that was required to construct it. And, like @chefwen, we're OK with after-solve drawings. But in terms of enjoyment, I'd put this one at average for a Sunday. We would contend that Audrey TAUTON is perhaps a bit tough, but as well known as a lot of other actors whose names we're supposed to know.

Likes: CARIB, ARBYS (especially as clued), PLINTH (The ALDER?), SEXES (as clued -- I grew up on a farm), EMBLAZONS, BESEECH, GRADE A EGG, COPLAND, MILLINER (with an ever-growing bald spot, I use their products all the time), VICUNA, and DO LOOP.

I was first exposed to DO LOOPs in a FORTRAN course in the late 1970s. It's still used in Visual Basic, I gather. The metaphor of "nested DO LOOPs" has proven very useful for some concepts, like how German grammar is structured. (OK, I know the simile is not perfect.)

So, no EGRETS for sticking with the puzzle. Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it!

P.S., Mama CASS would have made a great Mrs. Claus.

chefbea 7:43 AM  

Fun puzzle!!! DNF however because there was a lot I did not know. Got most of the themers and drew the picture of Rudolf. I have a shirt that says Merry Chrismaquansikah on it. Wish I new how to send a picture of it!!!

Lobster11 7:54 AM  

So, sure, I totally get why this was a difficult grid to construct. The problem is that as I solved it, I could tell how hard it was to construct. I could feel the constructors' pain at every turn. As a solver, I want it to feel as if it were a breeze to construct.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Happy New Year, Anonymous. Get another blog.

kitshef 8:05 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle. Happy Holidays to all.

Skews Old 8:18 AM  

OFL supplies Crossword buffs with a forum every day of the year, all year. That is dedication, and I can put up with his idiosyncracies just to read some of the more intelligent commentators on this site.
Whiners shouldn't bother reading it, if all they can do is whine.

Robert A. Simon 8:19 AM  

Having the rebus RED be where it is forgives all the other shortcomings. Just a very cool thing to do, methinks.

I am, BTW, constructing a Hanukkah puzzle which I hope will appear next year. So far, my theme answers are:
--WHERETHEHELLARETHECANDLES
--WEGETEIGHTPRESENTSSOTHERE
--NOYOUCANTPLAYDREIDELFORREALMONEY
--THECHOCOLATEGELTFROMLASTYEARISFINE
--YESIKNOWYOURMOTHERSLATKESAREBETTER

A work in progress, but I think I'm getting there...

Hmmmmm 8:20 AM  

Firstly, sexes is a perfectly good verb. Chicks look alike so they are "sexed" to determine male or female.
And, please, make your New Year's resolution "I will not have a cow every time the name of a tv personality appears from a show I have never seen."
I don't lose it over Harry Potter and GOT references.
Merry Happy to all!

SteveCFL 8:23 AM  

The hardest part of the puzzle for me was reading your pointlessly grumpy inane comments. You can’t even give it a rest on Christmas Eve? Thanks SO much on the egg grading lecture.

QuasiMojo 8:30 AM  

MURDER/REDRUM (mirror image) is a plot device in "The Shining" because the former hotel manager had murdered his wife and children. I find it distasteful to use that point to create the nose on a much-loved children's Christmas figure.

Rex seemed unusually cantankerous this morning. I feel his pain. I disliked this puzzle too but not for the same reasons. I'm sorry Jeff Chen had to toil very hard at it. But I'm glad he got a big fat check at the end. I did like the parallel of AM I and I AM. Something spiritual to ponder amidst the holiday hype.

@pmdm, lol, you're still a bit off though. It's QUASIMojo, not Quaisi. I'm not CWAZY yet. Not much.

mmorgan 8:33 AM  

I tend not to like anything with a Christmas theme, especially crossword puzzles -- I've done too many this week. Bah humbug! That said, I did admire the difficulty of constructing this puzzle, even if it gave us some less than ideal answers such as LEFTKEY. (I got it, but still...)

TAOTOU was a gimme for me, but then again, I drove through Natick yesterday.

mmorgan 8:35 AM  

Typo! TAUTOU!!

Brent Craft 8:44 AM  

Let's face it: Rex is a pitiful, jealous, petty, spoiled brat. He is that typical sad critic: a failed practitioner of the art he loves but cannot do well. The talent eludes him, so in his rage, he attacks those with actual success and skill at their craft. Because he can't succeed, he tries to destroy those who have. He fails.

Glimmerglass 8:46 AM  

Did anyone else appreciate the timely tribute to the (recently) late Dick Enberg in 68A? @Rex, this is a terrible review, petty and petulant. The puzzle was more “medium” than “easy.” A constructor’s tour de force and the fill was more than usually challenging. Yeah, the Christmas theme was easy to unravel — so what? The art was better than the average draw-on-the-puzzle stuff (like some others, I don’t usually bother to draw it myself). My only criticism was the one-off rebus, which was the only thing you liked!

Leon 8:54 AM  

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all !

Plenty of other Christmas answers sprinkled throughout, 15d is amusing:

Across:

51. Christmas ___ : TREE

66. Sleigh bell sounds : JINGLES

84. Nicholas, e.g. : SAINT

108. Airer of "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" : NBC

Down:

15. Notably nonunionized workers : ELVES

79. Three ___ Men : WISE

104. Boy in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" : LINUS

116. ___ Father Christmas : OLD

John McKnight 8:57 AM  

this was like getting coal in my stocking tbqh

Nancy 9:00 AM  

Didn't notice Jeff Chen's name till I'd done most of the puzzle. Was surprised to find him involved in an enterprise that seemed so tired to me. Yes, the theme entries were dense, but also predictable and ho-hum. Of course I didn't draw the reindeer. I guess it's a different experience if you do. Better? Worse? Different strokes for different folks, pun intended. I'm off to CT for a few days and won't be able to post, though my brother gets the NYT and I'll be able to do the puzzle. Wishing everyone a happy holiday.

The Grinch 9:03 AM  

X-Word info hosted by Mr. Chen links to blogs Wordplay and Fiend, not Rex Parker... Hmm.

Teedmn 9:04 AM  

Mary Lou and Jeff, wow, what a great job. The stylized RUDOLPH is very nice, the bonus RED nose rebus which was nearly my last entry (brilliant to use REDRUM as the revealer) and the bonus themers all make this a delightful Sunday Christmas (eve) puzzle.

I found this pretty easy though not really fast. My big hangup was in the far NE. 25A "Turns briefly?" was uEyS for most of my solve. I dumped that when the ELVES came along but I had decided that 21D was a really awkwardly clued GuinEAEGG. So who decided GuinEA EGGs were good?, my brain grumbled. IMPEDES stymied that IMAGE and I was able to see the GRADE A and all was well.

I liked the clue for NE'ER (Beginning to do well?); I was quite surprised to find the birds in my dove cote BLEATED at 28A. I made a sad face for Van Gogh's ONE EARED status. I found the ALBANY NY clue clever and the bonus theme answer of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" = LINUS was fun to see, that cartoon along with the Grinch being my favorites of OLD.

I solved online so I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't going to be able to connect the dots. So I took a piece of paper and free-handed it, trying to keep the relative distances of the circles the same as what was on the grid. While my RUDOLPH's snout looked closer to an aardvark's than a reindeer's, I was able to get a good glimpse of the actual, which I confirmed over at xwordinfo. Nice!

Merry Christmas Eve to all who celebrate.

Adam 9:08 AM  

One of my last clues was Stymies (35A), which I was blanking on, which made me smile.

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Stumped at the TA?TOU - VIC?NA cross. Does this qualify as a Natick? Had to run through the vowels to get it.

Doug Matthews 9:17 AM  

.
Rex is getting more I dare to say Trump-like in his egoistic tantrums. You know, one can offer evaluative criticism the without over-the-top anger of an internet troll or the POTUS.

Yule be sorry 9:24 AM  

Another Christmas answer:

73. Yule sound? : LONGU

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Hey @Nancy is whining again. Anyone surprised?

Scrooge 9:36 AM  

Rex Parker, king of crossword trolls.

Exubesq 9:38 AM  

This made my day. I only wish you weren’t kidding.

Roo Monster 9:41 AM  

Hey All !
I gotta go with Awesome Puzzle! Every puz has dreck, yes, even a Michael Sharp puz will have it. This puz had a little bit, but very forgivable giving the end result. The embedded REINDEER was amazing! Having to put all the letters of the alphabet in to get your Reindeer, and THEN build your grid around that, PLUS add the RED for the nose, and only end up with a few pieces of dreck is unbelievable. Go ahead, try to make a puz like this. I'll wait...

So a very cool Christmas Eve puz. I envy (and also a bit mad/jealous) of Jeff. Man, and I thought my puzs were good! :-)

Agree with @pmdm 12:38. And liked
@Leon 8:54 list of other Christmasey things thrown in. Learned that Scotland-ers are a silly bunch with a UNICORN on their Coat of Arms. Have heard the name TAUTOU before. Just right now got the ALA clue. Ha! The city, Mobile. Nice. And I always tell people (whether it's true or not) that ARBYS stands for Americas Roast Beef, Yes Sir. Wasn't that their slogan for a while?

So a terrific puz, Jeff and Mary. SANTA would approve! Now to eat some GRADE A EGGs. Merry Christmas all!

When whiz kids go bad - PRODIGIES ROBBERIES.
RooMonster
DarrinV

Aketi 9:49 AM  

@Robert A Simon, thanks for starting my day off with a chuckle. I hope you really do construct it,

@Nancy, enjoy your trip. I did connect the dots but even I found them a bit tedious. I did like the JINGLES on RUDOLPH's read end.

I initially spelled RUDOLff thanks confusing it with to RUlloFF's, a restaurant bar in Ithaca which recently reopened. It has a story of backwards REDRUM associated with its name.

I guess I was thinking of Ithaca because of the story about a different set of brothers. The kind of heartwarming story that you might label ADORBS that involves real life reindeer.

Z 10:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 10:05 AM  

I liked this more than Rex, but then I missed the other RUDOLPH puzzle. I did, however, saw this interesting take on RUDOLPH.

I agree with all the opprobrium sent LEFT KEY’s way. The sweet scent of desperation oozes from that one. Let me also join @QuasiMojo in casting opprobrium at REDRUM. Nothing like a little murder and horror with our Christmas GRADE A EGGnog. LEFT KEY might be forgiven, but having REDRUM at Rudolph’s nose seems like a good reason to start over. Unless Chen and Guizzo have a darkly humorous streak....

There’s an bit of wisdom that appears in leadership training from time to time, “the good is the enemy of the great.” Rex is the blog embodiment of this notion. If a reader wants less critical discussions of the puzzle they have options. However, choosing to read a blog and then criticizing the blogger for his lack of Christmas Cheer is revelatory.

Have a merry Christmas, happy Hannukah, joyous Kwanza, festive Festivus.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Lots of people sitting at @Nancy's table. No one sitting at yours, 9:34. Anyone surprised?

pmdm 10:12 AM  

Seems like so far most (but not all) of the comments take a positive view of the puzzle or at least don't express a vicious reaction to it (see Nancy's comment for an example). As I thought. And I also thought there would be many reactions to today's diatribe posted. Once again, correct. Thank you, Doug Matthews and others for (perhaps unintentionally) injecting a little humor here. Ho ho ho,

QuasiMojo: That was just an early morning type. I was somewhat distracted after watching the movie Psycho. No matter how many times you watch it, it still grabs onto your mind. So I proofed how I spelled your name in this comment three times. Give my regards to Elmer Fudd.

Frank Perdue: My point was that you just can't look at the chick in a casual manner as you might with most objects. You have to look at it in a specific manner, which is what the verb describes.

Skews Old: It seems to me the point of this blog is to allow everyone (Mr. Sharp and all those who leave comments) to express their emotions truthfully. I don't think most of the comments are whining. They are complaining that Mr. Sharp's comments often express his emotions in a seemingly overly vitriolic manner and sometime they attempt to seem objective when in reality they are subjective expressions that many do not agree with. (OK, some of the comments from anonymous posters are also over the top.) If Mr. Sharp didn't want such comments posted on his blog, he could communicate that and/or remove the offending comments, But he doesn't, unless they become disruptive. If he can accept the comments, so should you.

Two Ponies 10:15 AM  

I am so tired of commenters who come here with absolutely nothing to say about the puzzle. Personal attacks aimed at Rex serve no purpose unless being mean gives you satisfaction.
Luckily Rex seems able to trudge on day after day so he must enjoy it. If he suddenly decides he's had enough and shuts down the blog where would we go?
Slam the puzzle, disagree with the review, shred the validity of the answers, but questioning another persons mental health adds nothing to the blog at all. Glass houses and all that.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Seems like Jeff Chen puzzles ooze three-letter crap. Every. Single. Time.

jackj 10:34 AM  

Whatever the source of the restaurant chain's name, their advertising tagline, as voiced by a booming James Earl Jones soundalike in their tv commercials, never fails to elicit a chuckle when I hear "Arby's: We have the meats!"

QuasiMojo 10:46 AM  

“Christmas in Connecticut” @Nancy. I just saw it on TCM. Sounds jolly. Enjoy!!

Barry Frain 10:47 AM  

“I am so tired of commenters who come here with absolutely nothing to say about the puzzle.”

And then you proceed to do exactly that. For three short paragraphs.

Thank you for a delicious start to Xmas Eve.

Barry Frain,
East Biggs, California

Birchbark 10:47 AM  

ALDER bark is smoothish, admittedly more so than birch.

Descartes wrote in Latin, but I AM is right. Caesar said "I saw."

GRADE A EGGs are good.

DNF because started with ANISETte --> ANISETtA, guessing 'twas a variant spelling even while thinking "not a thing," and guessing DR tW SCOTT must be somebody. ANISE TEA? Just picturing someone offering that in a postprandial living room setting, to mixed and muted reactions.

retired guy 10:49 AM  

Given the tenor of so many of these comments (and of the blog itself), perhaps the NYT should run a Festivus-themed puzzle, on the occasion of which the airing of grievances would be very much in order.

I myself was not enamored of "stripy," but the OED says it's a word, so who am I to argue?

GILL I. 10:49 AM  

I thought I wouldn't have time to do this AWESOME puzzle. Everyone's still asleep so I had peace and quiet all to myself. Draw me a puzzle like this any day. And I did...at the end....with my yellow highlighter. Wish I had some red just to finish the nose.
@chefwen: I've been an AARP member for a long time and I'm going to cut this one out and stick it on the fridge. I'd ask my mom to do it but she's not around!
@Rex, your word of the day was my DNF. I knew the word ended in P because it was the only one missing. Never heard of a DO LOOP. I'm glad others have.
Wasn't exactly sure why you were commenting on the EGG. One of a dozen good things for me is a free range chick's EGG. I like my EGG laying hen out frolicking in the back yard eating bugs.
RED RUM was my last entry. I knew it had to be the answer but there were no other rebus in the puzzle so I was puzzled. But then I drew RUDOLPH and when I got back to his nose I really let out a loud AHA. How clever was that? However, like @CWAZY, I thought what a mean way to clue his nose. God, The Shining scared the pants off me. Both the movie and the book. I'd like to sit down to dinner with King and ask him how he comes up with things like "IT."
DREW SCOTT is the handsome one on Property Brothers. I watch them all the time along with the Food Network.
Someone came up with a name like SNUGLIS for a baby carriage?
Have a safe trip @Nancy and all others traveling.
Merry Christmas and all the others.

Kingdaddy 10:49 AM  

“What's a DREW / SCOTT? What's "TV's Property Brothers?" ... ??? ... What's a LEFT KEY? Is that like "Back space" or "Delete"? Oh, wait, do you mean "left arrow"? LEFT KEY, pfft. Again, why cram your wordlist full of marginal baloney? I don't get it. GRADEAEGG ... sigh. Does this mean GRADEAAEGG is a better answer? I doubt anyone would agree.”

Pour some booze into a mug of eggnog. Drink deeply. Enjoy the holiday season.

Merry Christmas and Happy Saturnalia, everyone.

GeezerJackYale48 10:50 AM  

We all thought it was kind of dumb too. Whiney voice, hokey words - who knew?

Stanley Hudson 10:54 AM  

I liked the puzzle but enjoyed the comments even more.

Wishing everyone, including Rex (maybe especially Rex!), a wonderful holiday. A Cantie Yule.

Norm 11:00 AM  

I think the comments are even more mean spirited than usual today. And I have to agree with Rex for the most part. I found this an annoying little puzzle. A pangram! Big whoop.

Chris 11:08 AM  

OK-decent puzzle. I wasn't CRAZY about a few of the clues, but some of it was on me, plus I misspelled SIEGE which took a while to get fixed.
I generally am anti-complaining, but I do want to register a problem with LGA as an alternative to J.F.K. To JFK, I'd be fine, but with the periods, the answer is RMN.

Mohair Sam 11:12 AM  

Well it was Christmasey and easy and fun for us - thoroughly enjoyed. And we thought the grid art was exceptional too, a fine Rudolph.

We struggled for ten minutes over RED, only saw the flick once ages ago so had to wait for SHREDS. What's OFL's problem with Audrey TAUTOU? She starred next to Hanks in the $200 million grossing "DaVinci Code" a decade back - big enough name for me. Odd clue for ELVES. Surprised no argument here over IAM vs. "sum" for Descartes's conclusion - would've been fun.

@Shelby Glidden (from Friday) - Just caught up on Friday's comments. I see we share a favorite philosopher in Shaw's Alfie Doolittle. Why sell your daughter for 10 pounds when 5 quid drinks the night away and avoids all those middle class morality problems?

@Rex - Was hoping you'd link us to Jennifer Nettles doing "O Holy Night/Hallelujah" in studio on YouTube, is her heart ever in it. You'd said on Friday that "O Holy Night" was your favorite Christmas song, mine too.

Terrific Christmas Eve puzzle Mary Lou and Jeff - Thanks much.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

People refer to someone as a Scrooge or a Grinch to mean someone who is miserly and perpetually angry. Just remember at the end of each story the protagonist was generous and friendly. Here’s hoping the same for Michael Sharp. Merry Christmas to all (who celebrate) and a Happy New Year.

Numinous 11:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Numinous 11:36 AM  


Well, I liked this puzzle and find nothing wrong with [RED]RUM at all. In fact, my very first encounter with a REINDEER was in Alaska when, as a 13 year old, I visited my estranged father for the summer. The first meal I was served there was lunch and we had caribou burgers. It didn’t dawn on me then and it was much later that I realized that caribou and REINDEER are the same critter. Easy enough to eat caribou but not, especially for children maybe, to eat RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER.

I found this puzzle to be of about average difficulty for a Sunday and I found @Rex’s vitriol to be above average but that’s not all that uncommon. I even decided, after a little thought, that I would buy the ideas of the LEFT (back), right (forward), up (top), and down (bottom) KEYs. The words in ()s are what I tend to think of them, if I do at all, when I use them.

It seems that at this stage all of the negative comments on the fill have been made though I’m sure there are many more to come. If I have anything to whine about, it’s that my coffee has gotten cold throughout all this.

By the way, I really enjoyed eating the RUDOLPH my father REDRUMed the previous hunting season.

Happy Saturnalia, y’all.*

*Probably the true predecessor of Christmas.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

If you watch anything on their channel (say house hunters international) then ads for the property brothers are impossible to avoid. I’ve heard this channel (I think it’s HGTV) described as ‘white peoples TV channel”. I personally think those brothers are creepy.

Blue Stater 11:54 AM  

Our leader, as usual, hit the nail right on the head. "There is a difference between tricky and wrong." Indeed. This puzzle was beyond outrageous: error-ridden, inconsistent, sophomoric, bleahhhh. I can't remember a worse Sunday puzzle offhand -- but there are many competitors for that title.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

Bah Humbug NOT deserved this time. Good puzzle. Lots of theme answers. Good art. Must have been very difficult to construct.

Tom Rowe 12:02 PM  

When is someone going to do a theme based on the 10th reindeer - Olive?

ArtO 12:11 PM  

A truly awesome construction. Well worth the occasional “crud”.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Ho ho hum

Franklin Graham 12:23 PM  

Let’s put the “Christ” back in “Christian.”

Two Ponies 12:29 PM  

Well Barry Frain 10:47, you are right that today I did not discuss the puzzle but neither did you. Thank you for proving my point with your useless post.

Within the last week I compared a puzzle to something like crayons on a place mat and today that criticism again applies. For once Rex and I agreed!

I heard once that Gene Autry's wife was the one to encourage him to record the song. He was shocked that it was a hit.
The voice I seem to remember is Burl Ives.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Rex really is a pill. He seems to never like anything. This was great. Not easy and not hard, somewhere in between for me. The Property Brothers are all over the place these days Rex, thus very well known. Most of what he wrote was very nit picky. He does not seem to enjoy doing this any longer.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Descartes wrote in French---"cogito ergo sum" was a (mis-)translation by someone else.

Joseph Michael 12:45 PM  

Mikey no like Jeff.

A predictable harangue that reads more like a jealous snit than a crossword review.

Not usually a fan of grid art or connect-the-dots puzzles but this one had enough going for it, especially the RED nose, and the resulting image does kind of look like a reindeer. I can't imagine what it took to get those lettered "dots" in all of the right places.

Liked the clue for ALBANY and the distinct sound of the word PLINTH. Also liked learning about DO LOOPs, RELAXERS, and VICUNAs.

ArtO 12:53 PM  

P.S. to your p.s. @Rex...Descartes latin quote "cogito ergo sum" translates to "I think, therefor I am." The puzzle is correct, you are wrong! Check Wikipedia.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Audrey Tautou is awesome. Great to see her in the puzzle. Relax, Rex.

Sir Hillary 1:06 PM  

Puzzle is just fine. @Rex’s biased review is a joke, but par for the course when he reviews a Chen puzzle.

Carola 1:17 PM  

I thought it was a pretty nifty looking flying REINDEER, his chest swelled with pride at being (to go with another song) the leader of the pack. My first inkling of the theme was the rebus for RED, but, knowing nothing about "The Shining," I had trouble coming up with the "RED what"? RUg? Once I understood what we were sketching, I went on a circle-filling jaunt - it made the puzzle more interesting and also made it go faster.

I admired how the constructors worked in all the theme answers to fit with the alphabet run and the image. As for NORTH POLE not having a parallel theme answer, I classified it with the other theme-related entries noted by @Leon and @Yule be sorry.

@Teedmn - I, too, first wanted cooing doves, but then I remembered this delightful depiction of a sheep cote.

Happy days to all!

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

@blue starter, you are like the Pence to Rex's Trump.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Been playing and studying chess for forty years, and have never seen the abbr. KNT. It doesn't Google, either.

Malsdemare 1:28 PM  

I really liked the puzzle. I think having just one rebus is quite brave and while I didn't remember the backwards MURDER in The Shining, it worked for me. Of course, because I solve on my iPad, I can't draw the outlines so totally missed both Rudolph and the whole alphabet thing. Yet even having missed a large portion of the trick, I still had fun. Loved seeing GENE AUTRY in the grid, a PLINTH, some HOTRODS for my spouse, and yeah, DOLOOPs. I'm fine with the English version of sum, didn't know the Property guys even though they have these commercials for DISH on MSNBc in the evening, and have no idea who the actresses are. But I always expect to be left in the dust by current movies and such.

This past summer my granddaughter and I went falconing in WV and the falconer used two-day-old boy chicks as a reward for the bird. Turns out there's not a lot of use for boy chicks other than as falcon food, but if you want to make the life or death decision about the tiny hatchlings, you need to go to — I kid you not — the Nippon Chicken Sexing School, or some place like it. I seriously contemplated a new career when I heard about that.

We are going to have a white Chrismaquansikah, which is most excellent except that five of the six most important people in my world are driving IN FALLING SNOW from Rockford, Madison, and Philadelphia. White knuckles until they are all safely tracking slush into the house.

Be happy and stay safe, fellow bloggers.

Tarheeled 1:28 PM  

OK puzzle. Just another Sunday, but it's Christmas time. Missed getting the red square even knowing all about REDRUM. Dumb. Also DNF in the opposite corner. Never heard of a do loop. Is it related to a do rag? And, if I had done an alphabet run I would have got the P in CROP, but I didn't, so I didn't. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you, and you too, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!

Black Sun 1:44 PM  

Before you toast Happy Kwanzaa google Maulana Karenga (aka Ronald Everett).
Spoiler alert: He is a deranged Black Nationalist once imprisoned for torturing two women who he thought were trying to poison him.
Of course he is a California university professor now.
Now there's some diverse holiday cheer.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

@two ponies I see you are now the official moderator of this discussion. Congratulations on your new appointment. I guess free speech (or grammar) isn't so important to you after all. Best of luck in your new job.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

The most difficult part of this boring puzzle was summoning the will to finish it. E-SIGN and E-CARD in the same puzzle? Really? And my rule is, if you have to draw on the d___n thing to finish it, or make sense of it, it's not worth the effort. But this is worse than the usual draw-on-the-stupid-thing. Michael calls it a child's placemat game, but this isn't even that good. And what's with the abbreviations QTR and KNT? Can't you dear constructor find a way to use actual words?

I also knew redrum/murder from The Shining, but couldn't see the rebus because it was the only one. Rule: either go all-out on rebussing (is that a word?) or don't do it at all. And did anyone else notice that the red nose didn't connect to the rest of Rudolph's face? Just sitting out there in space, guiding the sleigh.

White Son 2:10 PM  

Before you toast Merry Christmas google Dylan Roof.
Spoiler alert: He is a deranged white supremacist Christian imprisoned for murdering nine people in a church.

Now there's some diverse holiday cheer.

GHarris 2:11 PM  

DNF because I had execs for nonunion workers and never changed it. That left the NE a shambles. Otherwise got it all and found it entertaining . Certainly not the bete noire Rex made it out to be.Happy holidays if I dare be so unPC.

Officer Joe Bolton 2:14 PM  

The REDRUM Team in the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force consists of agents and detectives of the NYPD, DEA and New York State Police and is tasked with identifying violent drug traffickers.

Kimberly 2:32 PM  

“Some will find this idea cute. Some who don't solve a ton of puzzles. ”

Translated: “If you liked this, you’re naive and inexperienced.”

You probably consider yourself a curmudgeon, but sometimes you’re just a brat.

Masked and Anonymous 2:37 PM  

On the 12th Day of Christmas, my true luv gave to m&e…

Twelve REINDEERs pangramming! Using The Circles! With East-West symmetry! With a runty rebus! Day-um!! Thanx, Chen-Guizzo deers.

Eleven SATRAPS RAPP-ing,
TEN U-SHAPEs PONG-ing,
Eight Y-FORKs TUNING,
NINE NINES a-FUELING,
Seven LOREes LAI-ing,
Six AYS a-SOAPING.
Five. Gold. U's.*
… Four POT SHOPS,
Three ENTREPRENEUR do-OEUVREs,
Two Tiny Feys,
And a SIRENE in a FERRITE tree.

* or more.

Peace on Earth, Good Will to all constructioneers, crossword editors, Comment Gallery folks ... and liquored-up blog writers in need of subs, tomorrow!

Masked & Anonymo10Us


**gruntz**

jberg 2:39 PM  

For me this was a perfect example of the puzzle that is infuriating until you suddenly get the gimmick. I mean, it had a rebus (and I had to finish it before I knew there was only one, so every time I got stuck I thought maybe I was looking at another one), it had circles, and it had a theme -- it was only when it was all done that I could see how they fit together, whereupon I loved it. And it's an excellent drawing, as well.

In addition to the aforementioned ANISETte, I had pImA before GILA, for some reason -- both of those made me spend too much time looking for rebuses of blue or green.

It's the quality of the drawing that really does it for me. You've got no choice at all about where to put those 26 letters, so it's an incredible feat (or gest) of construction.

I've never seen or heard of the Property Brothers either, but apparently it originate somewhere north of our own country, so it you don't like them in the puzzle ... Blame Canada!

Unknown 2:40 PM  

There seems to be a Rudolph obsession on the puzzle desk. It has infected the acrostic, too!

thefogman 2:41 PM  

Ahhh Rex! He's at his Cratchety crotchety best today. Somebody give him a big old cup of spiked eggnog please. I don't know why connect-the-dot puzzles are such a trigger with him. He went bananas on that Seattle Needle puzzle a while back which I thought was a masterpiece. But to each his own. If JIMI were to ask I guess I would have to admit I am not experienced as much as Rex, but I do know what I like and I really enjoyed solving this puzzle. It was creative and crunchy with a festive theme. Perfect for a Sunday in front of the fireplace (channel). Happy Holidays everyone!

Hungry Mother 2:58 PM  

I needed to call in my movie buff son for the RED rebus, even though I had SH S and though about “muder” as the backward rendering. Couldn’t bring myself to the single rebus. Must have lost a critcal amount of brain celss from all of my years of drinking martinis.

JC66 3:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 3:04 PM  

DNF due to (like others) ANISETte/ANISETta/ANISETea and the resulting DrtW cross.

Also frustrated because I couldn't get my printer to print out the completed puzzle. Thanks for the XwordInfo suggestion @pmdm.
I (hope I spelled that right. ;-)

Happy Holidays everyone!

Andy 3:13 PM  

Another Rex rant! The guy probably would boo Santa Claus. I loved this puzzle - tough enough to stretch my brain on a snowy Sunday morning, but do-able and fun. The Rudolph I drew is going on my fridge! Rex deserves a lump of coal in his stocking.

Masked and Anonymous 3:16 PM  

p.s.
Extra-special holiday greetins to old-time Comment Gallery regular and former runtpuz constructioneer @Numinous. Good to see U home, for the holidays, dude. Thanx for thinkin of us.

M&Also

Birchbark 3:33 PM  

@Anonymous 12:40 -- Correct and not correct, but glad you said it. In the Discourse on Method, Descartes wrote in French, "Je pense, donc je suis." In the later Principles of Philosophy, he wrote in Latin, "Ego cogito, ergo sum."

And as John Cleese said in an old Monty Python skit, "Ecce homo, ergo ELK."

@M&A, "A SIRENE in a FERRITE tree" -- perfect.

Anon 3:35 PM  

Yeah. Me too

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle! Don't care if there are occasional minor issues with fill—what matters most is a clever, interesting theme. This puzzle was especially fun from start to finish—look forward to more like it!

C zar 3:51 PM  

Yeah, not expecting a rebus square, the NW was slow to come together for me. Life would also have been easier for me if I had realized earlier that Audubon has a EGRET, not a HERON.

Stu

Joe Dipinto 4:23 PM  

What exactly is wrong with Audrey TAUTOU as an answer, Rex? Her film "Amelie" was an art house success, boosting her career enough that she was cast opposite Tom Hanks in "The Da Vinci Code" -- boring movie and book, yes, but she would seem to have the relative currency you are always whining is lacking in the puzzle.

I did the same thing as Birchbark -- put in ANISETTE, changed it to ANISETTA as a dubious variant, and was left with DR. T.W. SCOTT as one of those two whoevers. I refuse to believe that ANISE TEA is a thing that anyone anywhere has ever made, just like the oft-included SAGE TEA.

What else can I complain about? LEFT KEY is idiotic, as everyone here has noted. I would have preferred to see 81d clued in terms of TOOK ASIDE, as in "pulled away to have a talk with." NESSMAN I knew right away but it seems maybe a bit esoteric at this point (far more so than TAUTOU).

And that drawing is a rather sad excuse for a reindeer. But overall I enjoyed solving this. I did like the red nose rebus. And bonus points for EMBLAZONS, and the UNICORN sitting on top of RUDOLPH, presumably trying to get SANTA's attention over in the corner ("Pick ME! My horn can cut right through fog!!!")

TCProf 5:01 PM  

The problem with Rex's irrational screeds is not that they reveal a mean-spirited, cramped soul, although they do. Too many of my colleagues in the professoriate are bullies of this sort, alas, are still smarting over being snubbed by the cool kids in middle school, and are determined take out their anger and shame on others, especially students over whom they have considerable power. The real problem is that his negativity and vendettas blunt his critical acumen.

I liked this puzzle quite a bit. I don't consider "left key" a crime against humanity, just an awkward compromise. The comment on Descartes seems to be willfully dumb. How many quotations or parts thereof have we seen in translation? How many authors who write in languages other than English do each of us read in the original?

The drawing was brilliant, as was the well-placed rebus.

The Grinch 5:50 PM  

Just noticed Rex does not link to Blogs Wordplay or X-Word info. He only links to fiend...Hmm.

Aketi 6:14 PM  

@M&A, love your 12 days list. That and the REINDEER brothers who are now happily reunited and healthy put me in the holiday spirit.

Shelby Glidden 10:08 PM  

@TCProf 5:01 PM The puzzle seemed competent given that it was tied to a holiday theme. There are good eggs that participate on this blog, definitely grade A. May I ask what it is that you teach? Psychology? Then, why lead with a tedious paragraph attacking someone? Could you possibly share some of your 7th grade experiences? It’s quite clear that you “took a side.” Why was that important to you? In the future, could we could discuss know thyself, proactively, in English or the original Greek? Descartes’s conclusion, I am (I had the m, first, and thought about sum - alas, suis wouldn’t fit) was due to the fact that he could perceive himself thinking and felt that proved he existed (and without tweeting from the toilet at 3:00 AM.) But wouldn’t existence precede thought?

GENE AUTRY 10:40 PM  

Rex drooling over Rudolph’s beautifully sleek rear haunches.

Andrew Heinegg 11:01 PM  

The nice thing about posting this late is that no one will notice. It is like if you need a quiet place to talk to yourself, no prob.

I am in complete agreement with Rex about Jeff Chen puzzles. I have nothing against Mr. Chen, who apparently has great personal charm and a loyal following. Good for him. I find his construction to be tedious, overly commercialized and generally a un-fun solve. I regret any personal offense as none is tended.

There is no arguing with taste.

Ando 11:02 PM  

Why does Michael Sharp (or an admin) delete his comments? I want to understand the drama :)

Rex: Descartes's conclusion was indeed "I AM". We translate things people say so we can understand them. Saying we should only quote people in their original language is just silly (and seldom followed).

Dolgo 12:34 AM  

Hey, I'm just a sheygets, but how about OURROCKOFAGESISBETTERTHENTHEIRS?

Fitzy 1:34 AM  

I AM is correct.

thefogman 10:42 AM  

All this fuss over IAM

If Popeye was a sweet potato...

"I am what? A yam!"

Robert Konigsberg 10:48 AM  

This is the last post of yours I am going to read. I used to enjoy this blog for its high standards. But your posts are unnecessarily mean. Or at least too mean for my tastes. It's neither entertaining nor educational.

Whether this impacts what you choose to write in the future or not is up to you. Probably not. But getting you to change is not my goal. Saying my piece before moving on is.

Ando 1:36 PM  

@Robert Konigsberg -- I'm with you. I've liked this site for a while because I know I can always find an explanation of an unclear on interesting clue from that day's puzzle, but I've come to mostly count on an iteration of the ways in which today's puzzle sucked. I usually like the NYT puzzle and I'd rather continue to do so in peace.

unclejohn 1:21 PM  

As usual, late to comment but this allows me to peruse all of the comments to this point, which I find enjoyable.
I liked this puzzle and appreciate its' construction. We all have our opinions, hence this site,eh? I ,like some others, got the Red Nose last. Of all the comments, I am in accord with chefwen most and the "roughage" comment induced me to LOL.
Advice to any laggards reading this missive; Be/Think Positive. End of $.02.

Maddiegail 11:16 PM  

As no one will read this, I feel it's safe to say I enjoyed the comments far more than the dammed puzzle!

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:52 AM  

Very late review because I just finished the puzzle. Since no one will read it, I'll keep it short.

This was bad. The theme didn't mean anything to me (solving online, and sorry, I'm not gonna go buy a print edition just to do a kid's game), and when the final drawing was revealed it was hideous. Now, if the theme was "Rudolph re-imagined by Picasso" or something I would have liked it.

Crummy fill, an unnecessarily tricky NW-W section, just meh drooping all over.

GRADE: C+, 2.7 stars.

spacecraft 10:23 AM  

That's a REINDEER? My first impression was: the id monster from "Forbidden Planet." Then I squinted...well, OK. He does have a cute little CROPped tail at LMN.

Hoo boy, was I fooled till I caught on. Why didn't I SAVE the NW for last, like I usually do? But no, I plowed right in--and discovered a rebus. The whole time, practically, I'm tiptoeing through the rest of the grid watching out for rebi. Turns out, that was the only one.

When the big aha! hit, things got ALOT easier, but there were still plenty of snags along the way. Cluing ALI that way is just mean. TAUTOU and DOLOOP were other headscratchers.

I put letitrIDE before TOOKASIDE, and Joan before JIMI, so it didn't do much good to write the circled letters heavy. The whole thing looked like I had a severe INK leak.

Wonderfully inventive theme and execution, but doing the fill was a slog. Overall, today's team will SAVEPAR. PAULA Abdul will do for DOD, but a sentimental shout-out for a great voice gone way too soon: Mama CASS. Happy new year, and stay safe!

P.S. I just saw EAGLE, and my team ends its regular season today vs. the Cowboys. By golly, that's worth an upgrade! Birdie!

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

so 21 down made me run thru the 12 days of Christmas- a big fail finally got theme with Rudolph - but Gene autry - guess he was the first- before my time . and the creepy clue from shining did not belong in a Christmas themed puzzle. also nra axe. too much death. esign and ecard? so not cool. I had tat before I got ink. and save par??? what is that- I had make par but manta didn't work. not a fan of this crazy puzzle. had cedar before alder- anyway again always a week behind w/ puzzles as I live upstate. Happy New Year- which I assume will be this sundays theme that I will do next week.

Burma Shave 12:37 PM  

ELK JINGLES

At the NORTHPOLE the ELVES heard as RUDOLPH BLEATED a call,
after SANTA, being absurd, LASSOES THEMOSTFAMOUS REINDEEROFALL.

--- GENEAUTRY

BS2 1:15 PM  

HOTRODS TOOL?

IAM here to PROPOSE you PROD PAULA quicker,
OMY, she'll BESEECH you for 'SNUGLIS' to SAVEPAR,
then YOURE EGRET if you do NOT LIQUOR,
NOLIE, the SEXES MAXI, no matter how LONGU are.

--- "CRAZY" CASS NESSMAN

rondo 1:35 PM  

Don'r really need any NORTHPOLE reminders as it was minus 21 degrees at 8:00 this morning. But a decent Christmas puz. Answers scattered all over. Got the RED thing right away and kept looking for *green* until realizing it was ALL about RUDOLPH. Not much in the way of write-overs except UNC for UNH.

Another OLE, no Sven.

We'll see about the EAGLES, if they should meet up with the Vikings.

TAR is finally in a more suitable construction use, though I think roofers use asphalt these days. Stick with TAR as feather's partner.

Yeah baby is hardly *new* per OFL. She's one of those STARS that's been around for at least 20 years and in a puz more than once.

Happy new year to all the syndies. YOURE the best!

rondo 1:37 PM  

That's yeah baby Audrey TAUTOU, BTW.

rainforest 3:19 PM  

I had a lot of fun with this one. Transparent theme, but lots of theme material, decent fill and very little dreck. Kinda weird to have the RED at the end of DRUM for the nose, but of course I didn't connect the circles. Wish I had because the drawing looks kinda neat.

Cute to have NOM DE at 75A, and PLUME at 3D.

w/o's at ANISETte and UNh - didn't know there is a Durham in NH. Other than that, a clean solve and a much better feeling that the one yesterday on that beast.

Good Sunday; good Christmas puz.

Diana,LIW 3:29 PM  

I was having a jingle bell good time with this up till the end. I think the reindeer is cute - what does @Rex want? Van Gogh?

Lots of Christmasy theme to love. Nice to revisit the holiday on another holiday.

Then, I dnf'd on, wait for it, RED. Cursing like Ralphie's old man in A Christmas Story, dag nub it! Bleeping rebus. Fie!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and 2018

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

Michael ( or anyone) can you please explain 43A “eightysix “ clues as “pitch” ?
Happy New Year !

rainforest 4:32 PM  

@anonymous 4:22 - eighty-six is a term (naval, I think) meaning to toss out, or "pitch".

AnonymousPVX 6:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
AnonymousPVX 6:51 PM  

It’s easy if you live in a box...or watch no TV.

AnonymousPVX 6:53 PM  

Good to have a practicing psychologist able to make a diagnosis based on....oh, wait, never mind.

AnonymousPVX 7:04 PM  

Wow...lots of anger here for a Christmas puzzle whether liked or not. I realize it’s a stressful holiday but really....it’s just a puzzle.
I got the solve, didn’t care for some clues, and didn’t bother doing the drawing.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

Thanks Rainforest ! (Anonymous at 4:22)

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Fun. Not great fun, but fun. ecard and esign in the same puzzle is just plain lazy though.

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