Green precious stone / MON 12-25-17 / Charlotte rich dessert / Columbus campus / Cartoondom's Olive / Govt of the Rebs / Sorvino of "Mighty Aphrodite" / Hairlike projections on cells / "Slumdog Millionaire" setting / Vice president between Gore and Biden

Monday, December 25, 2017

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:08)

THEME: HIT PARADE — (58A: List of popular songs ... or a hint to the ends of the answers to the starred clues), all of which mean "hit," metaphorically.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Game-quickening timer in basketball: SHOT CLOCK
  • 28A: Snowbirds' destination: SUN BELT
  • 47A: Long vegetable with a yellow pod: WAX BEAN
  • 11D: Marinara sauce thickener: TOMATO PASTE
  • 24D: Dispenser of psychiatric advice to Charlie Brown: LUCY VAN PELT
  • plus a bonus related non-themer: 35A: Clobber in the ring: KAYO

Word of the Day: RUSSE (20A: Charlotte ___ (rich dessert)) —
A charlotte is a type of dessert or trifle that can be served hot or cold. It can also be known as an "ice-box cake". Bread, sponge cake or biscuits/cookies are used to line a mold, which is then filled with a fruit puree or custard. It can also be made using layers of breadcrumbs. Classically, stale bread dipped in butter was used as the lining, but sponge cake or ladyfingers may be used today. The filling may be covered with a thin layer of similarly flavoured gelatin. (Wikipedia)
• • •
Glad tidings, crosswordoblogosphere! Rex is taking a day off, and it is I, Laura, filling in for Christmas as Jewish friends have done from time immemorial. We've got ourselves a coherent little puzzle for a Monday, no holiday thematics at present. You have here your classic "bunch of phrases with words at the end that all mean something similar, metaphorically" -- which is standard Theme Type #Whatever in the panoply of theme types. Really, no aspersions cast; if you're learning to construct, this is a good one to practice and know, and Lynn is a pro at execution.

Like a Charlotte RUSSE, our container is filled with standard fare, including not too many difficult proper names -- we have a little Dick (12D: Vice president between Gore and Biden): CHENEY, MIRA (56D: Sorvino of "Mighty Aphrodite"), and (10D: "Jeopardy" host Trebek): ALEX, as well as grid staples ILIE (55D: 1970s tennis champ Nastase) and (51A: Mel honored in Cooperstown): OTT. I'm curious how many solvers might not know that LUCY of the Peanuts comic is a VAN PELT, now that the strip runs only in syndicated "flashbacks" and the TV specials air only intermittently, and then just as Gen-X nostalgia. Oh, right -- I always forget that (5D: Swede who developed a temperature scale): CELSIUS was an actual person.

What's on your HIT PARADE tonight? On mine ... it was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank. I can see a better time, when all our dreams come true.

  • 21A: Lyndon Johnson and George W. BushTEXANS. Or another vice president, plus the president that 12D was Vice for.
  • 27A: Columbus campus, brieflyOSU. Apparently, the official title of this institution is THE Ohio State University. If I omit the THE, will I be pelted with buckeyes? I grew up as a U of M fan, so pardon my (43D: Social gaffe): FAUX PAS.
  • 33A: Tie, as figure skatesLACE UP. I just saw I, Tonya, the Tonya Harding biopic (tinged with satire), just in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Think figure skating is about athleticism, about who is the best at the sport? Nah. It's a pretty-girl contest.  
That's likely it for my (25D: Notable achievement): FEAT of guest-posting for Rex in 2017. Best wishes for whatever you celebrate, if anything, as we wind down this year, with hope for peace and justice as we ring in the next one.

Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Eric NC 12:26 AM  

Great write up. Pleasant puzzle. Happy holidays to all..

Moly Shu 12:49 AM  

You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy.....

@Laura, thanks for the write-up and the link to the best Christmas song ever.

Dolgo 1:06 AM "Liebestod" is not technically an ARIA. Such a long stretch of fancy singing, even by one person, is a "szena," which, as most of you clever crossword puzzle solvers will guess, is Italian for "scene." "Aria" is simply a relatively short song or "air" which is it's cognate in English. We opera snobs use the word when somebody makes a big scene or social faux pas. Your pedant-in-residence thought you'd like to know

Dolgo 1:12 AM  

Example: "Mary got so upset when Frank called the "Liebestod" an ARIA that she made made a big szena right in the middle of the restaurant."

chefwen 1:28 AM  

Tomato purée before PASTE was my only 43D. Love a Monday Lynn Lempel puzzle, always easy and fun.

Merry Christmas all.

Tom 1:42 AM  

Nice write-up. KAYOed this one in typical Monday time despite the holiday festivities and the effects of the nog. Happy holidays to all with the exception of the Anonymous trolls. Lump of dirty energy bituminous for them ones😜

Anonymous 2:40 AM  

Could someone explain how bean and paste mean 'hit'?

Jyqm 3:39 AM  

I’m not sure what there really is to explain. They mean “hit” in roughly the same way all the other theme answers do. Actually, “pelt” is perhaps the outlier here, as all the other themers mean specifically to hit a person, with a single object (specifically a fist, with the exception of “bean”) in the head/face, whereas non-human things can also be pelted, and to pelt also generally implies multiple objects (e.g., raindrops or snowballs) doing the pelting.

Lewis 5:00 AM  

My favorite clues from last week:

1. Put an end to something (3)
2. What does follow? (4)
3. Way out (6)
4. Discuss thickness with a doctor? (4)
5. Beginning to do well? (4)


Dieter 5:28 AM  

Exquisite technical construction but the fill more boring than the entire holiday season in toto.

Barry Frain 5:36 AM  

A pleasant little Monday puzzle that will be entirely erased from memory within twenty minutes or so.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, California

P.T.B. 6:44 AM  

Nice puzzle.

But W. is actually from Connecticut. The family moved to Texas after he was born.

Z 7:12 AM  

BEAN (go down to the verb definition)
PASTE (I had to go to three dictionaries to get a relevant definition so I’m thinking this is a less common usage)

A fine Monday puzzle. Lots of theme and no dreck. Lempel and Michaels are the go to people for finely crafted Monday puzzles.

Doris 7:13 AM  

@Dolgo: It’s “scena,” not “szena.” Pronounced SHAY-na. Usually used only in reference to Italian bel canto operas, such as Lucia’s mad scene—“La gran scena della pazzia.”

Re yesterday: Both the topical puzzle and my fave, the acrostic, featured REINDEER. So that makes up for no seasonal reference today,

Doris 7:26 AM  

See below—it’s “scena,” not “szena.”

Teedmn 7:38 AM  

This is the perfect starter puzzle for new solvers; nothing mean to PASTE us with and no dreck PELTing like hail, nothing hitting below the BELT. You'd be a NUT to criticize this Monday. Thanks, Lynn Lempel.

mathgent 8:05 AM  

I would have liked a Christmas theme. When I was young and people listened to the radio, there was a lot of programming based on the religious meaning of Christmas during this season. Dramatizations of the birth of Jesus, for example. My favorite was called The Juggler of Our Lady, about the poor juggler who knelt before the statue of Mary on Christmas Day and did his act. This was all that he had to offer. It would bring tears to my eyes.

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

The Pogues’ s name comes from Pogue Mahone, which is Kiss my Arse in Irish. If you like Fairytale of New York it is on a great album, If I Should Fall From Grace With God. Also check the out Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash. Which was produced by Elvis Costello and may be their greatest effort.

A Lonely Jew on Christmas 8:17 AM  

On this day, I'd like to thank Christ that Rex ceded the reins to a skilled, competent, reasonable, and entertaining blogger.

chefbea 8:17 AM  

What a yummy puzzle...thanks to Lynn. And a great write-up thanks to Laura.....Charlotte Russe - I made a Christmas trifle for dessert to night. Did not use tomato paste, crisco or wax beans

Merry Chrismakwansakha!!!!

QuasiMojo 8:18 AM  

Odd theme for a Christmas, but better than sickly sweet sentimentality, I suppose. Thanks for filling in @Laura, but I since you mentioned it, I never thought of figure skating as being about "athleticism." It's supposed to be about grace. But obviously no one cares about that anymore. Today it's about money.

I agree with Dolgo about Liebestod not being an "aria." I thought that too when I read the clue. Wagner tended to avoid stand-alone arias. His music was more about a "wall of sound" (long before Phil Spector got into the act.) The "song" is integral to the entire work, not just an "air." It's organic. But if you google "Liebestod" it is often described as an aria so you have to let this one pass. It's only a silly crossword puzzle after all.

Merry Christmas to everyone here! Even those who don't celebrate it. Can you come join me for some Chinese food? Nothing else is open where I live. Not even the supermarket.

Kyle 8:19 AM  

It's hard to be a Jew on Christmas
My friends won't let me join in any games
And I can't sing Christmas songs or decorate a Christmas tree
Or leave water out for Rudolph 'cause there is something wrong with me
My people don't believe in Jesus Christ's divinity!

I'm a Jew
A lonely Jew
On Christmas.

Hanukkah is nice, but why is it
That Santa passes over my house every year?
And instead of eating ham, I have to eat kosher latkes
Instead of Silent Night, I'm singing 'Huhash Dogavish'
And what the fuck is up with lighting all these fucking candles? Tell me, please!

I'm a Jew
A lonely Jew
I can't be merry
Cause I'm Hebrew
On Christmas.

kitshef 8:22 AM  

Played harder than most Mondays for me, but that could have been due to an excess of Xmas eve cheer (of both kinds). Liked it, though.

TomAz 8:50 AM  

re @Anonymous 8:07 am

the first 3 Pogues albums are all really great. After that they get a little iffier mainly because Shane MacGowan became increasingly .. umm.. unreliable.

This puzzle was fine. A solid Monday.

Rex Parker 8:55 AM  

I liked this puzzle. There's your Christmas miracle.

Thanks, Laura.

Love to all,
Michael (REX)

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

@Rex, Whoville they say - that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then - the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!

Merry back atcha bud and thanks for all your hard work.

jessica cohn 9:13 AM  

Finished the puzzle without understanding the theme. Now I see it but having synonyms for hit seems odd on a peaceful day .

Masked and Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Cool Christmas Combat Crossword. Lynn Lempel pulls no punches. Enjoyed it.

Great write-up, @LauraSorceress darlin. Nice bullets. Best wishes for whatevs U celebrate, too.

To everyone: May all your very best wishes come true.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Two Ponies 9:28 AM  

Thanks for dropping by Rex.
Christmas miracle indeed! Ha!

Fiasco was my favorite word today.
Unfortunately it describes my house today
since we woke up to frozen pipes.

Thanks for stepping in Laura.
Being childless I can't remember a Christmas
that I didn't work so the other folks
could be with their kids.
As long as I had the day after St. Pat's
to recover I as happy to trade.

jberg 9:28 AM  

I wouldn't call Crisco an OIL, but then maybe they've diversified. Fun puzzle, nice write-up. Merry Christmas to all!

Roo Monster 9:34 AM  

Hey All !
Rex, LOL at the Christmas miracle. Good stuff.

Enjoyable for a MonPuz, thought we'd get a little Christmas stuff somewhere, but OK. Nice HIT themers. But, of course have a bit, (what would a puz be like without a bit? :-) ) having OTT and OTTER. Minor nit.

Fess up, who also put in FLORIDA for SUNBELT first? *Raises hand* Only writeover, and a simple fix at that. Liked clue for HOE. Puz not CILIA! I DO believe.

ALOHA, Merry Christmas.

Mohair Sam 9:58 AM  

Fun puzzle, fun write-up, and a delightful Christmas gift from OFL. What more can one ask?

All is well in Cruciverbia.

pmdm 10:14 AM  

About the ARIA misuse. I complained to Mr. Shortz about another such mistake and he replied to me that the clue was close enough for crossword use. I suppose he would consider a given usage of a word to be acceptable to the Common Joe, it is acceptable for a clue even though it may be technically incorrect. I don't think I agree with that line of thought, but I can see the point.

As with many Monday puzzles, I finished this one without knowing the theme. 'Twas a nice puzzle to start the holyday (that's not a typo). Happy and merry to all.

Birchbark 10:21 AM  

It is -21 degrees CELSIUS this morning. The snow squeaks when you walk on it.

I can only conclude that the real Santa visited us a little early last night. We're hosting a barbecue today, so yesterday I smoked three chickens and a six-pound pork shoulder. It was well into the evening before the the pork was pulled and cooling on the counter. All attention was elsewhere, i.e., gifts, etc.

When I ambled back to the kitchen, most of the pork had disappeared. My IMPISH lab Georgie sat there more or less with a halo over her head, as if to say, "Wasn't me, 'twas Saint Nick." Which I choose to believe.

We have some HAM in reserve. So we'll still be able to provide sufficient CALORIEs from FAT today. Merry Christmas --

Hungry Mother 10:23 AM  


Norm 10:44 AM  

BEQ had a new [to me, at least] and neat non-Mel clue for OTT today, which was one to tuck away in the memory bank.

JC66 10:44 AM  

Fine puzzle, but like @Quasi & @Jessica I'm stumped why Will chose to run it on Christmas day.

Thanks for stopping by @Rex and for providing us all with your daily offering and a venue for us to spar.

Happy Holidays everyone!

old timer 10:55 AM  

Thanks for "Fairytale of New York" Laura! That song was running through my head last night. I have some local friends who perform it regularly at this time of your -- or did, since they don't play as often as they used to, and I don't get out as much as I used to.

Roo Monster 11:06 AM  

Har. I don't have a "bit" ( twice, even!). That would be "nit".
Proofread? What's that?


Kim Scudera 11:36 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, although it seemed odd to me to have all that violence on a day devoted to peace (here’s looking at you, @jessica Cohn!) and I found an additional bonus themerat 49A: TAG.

Merry everything, inhabitants of Rexworld! many thanks to the Sorceress for her writeup and to RexMichael for his standards and his snark.

Joseph Michael 11:47 AM  

A Christmas puzzle with an impact. Were it not for the holiday, it might have taken more of a Mafia route and become a HIT LIST.

Funny to see ASIA clued as a landmass instead of a continent.

And, speaking of clues, 55D could have been reparsed and clued as Donald Trump's middle name.

kitshef 11:47 AM  

@Rex - Merry Christmas back and thank you.

Flogging Molly 1:25 PM  

Has anyone seen where Shane McGowan’s teeth have gone?

Jack the Lad 1:34 PM  

Happy Boxing Day Eve!

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

As I was solving, I thought "What is this theme (about hitting people) doing in a puzzle published on a day when we Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, the Prince of PEACE?" So a little weird for the theme. And did anyone notice the Fat Shaming starting at 22-Across? CALORIE, FAT, TEE (pronounced "Calorie, Fatty") A pleasant solve, but that theme on Christmas. Really?

Trombone Tom 2:42 PM  

@Rex is right where he ought to be today. Including showing up here. He and I don't always agree, but I appreciate and respect the effort he puts in. And, My Oh My, does he ever stimulate the Commentariat.

I liked this lovely (and very Monday) puzzle from Lynn L. and Laura's write-up.

Merry Christmas to all! BTW the highlight of our Jewish grandson's holiday is helping decorate our tree.

Unknown 2:47 PM  

He liked it! Mikey said he liked it!

Reaffirms my belief in Life (cereal).

Jonathan Norwich 7:12 PM  

GW Bush was born in CT, not Texas.

Anonymous 8:26 PM  

@Jonathan Norwich - born here but don't belong here. In the words of the Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers, who was born under the same circumstances and in the same hospital, "When God made me born a Yankee he was teasin'..."

Rex Parker 9:15 PM  

Anonymous 8:26 with the "Southland in the Springtime" reference. Deep cut. Nice.


vinothika 11:04 PM  

A great content and very much useful to the visitors. looking for more updates in future.

Python Training in Chennai

semioticus (shelbyl) 1:33 AM  

That Jeff Chen thought this was POW! makes me feel sad for the puzzles to come this week.

Fill: Short answers make up more than 50% of the puzzle, there is more crossword glue than I'd have liked, stuff like AAA, CSA, OTT, PJS, RAH, TSK, KAYO, LAYETTE doesn't excite me. Meh at best. 3x3 or 3x4 corners really tick me off, I guess.

Theme/long answers: I'm not a seasoned crossword solver at all, and I have seen a lot of "hit" themes. Not exciting at all. The theme entries were OK, otherwise I would have hated this. But that only makes this an average idea. Maybe it's the pacifist in me.

Clues: I don't know what was worse for VETOER, the clue or the answer. Nothing else really caught my eye.

Pleasurability: Bland. I don't expect Monday to blow my mind, but I wouldn't mind it if "hit" themes were banned. Just saying.

GRADE: C, 2.55 stars.

P.S.: Everyone seems to have loved this puzzle so I guess I'm the grinch here. Oh well.

Shelby Glidden 5:44 PM  

@Rex Parker 8:55 AM I took a shot at it after a couple of belts and the answers came to me like a hit parade. Just used the old bean. Merry Christmas.
@ Laura Braunstein Thank you. Ditto on the peace and justice. Let us hope. 😀

nick strauss 9:46 PM  

Vetoer was really hard, kept trying names, TAFT, ADAMS, etc. And Lucy was tough too. Ring in 2018!

thefogman 9:39 AM  

My pen hardly left the paper solving this one. Overall, there was nothing particularly bad about the puzzle. It was just a bit bland. TWOSTARS may be too harsh a rating, maybe two and a half? NEXT!

spacecraft 11:00 AM  

I liked it; it's a good deal smoother than, say, yesterday's. NOW is the time for "clean and lively." Okay, AAA ain't wonderful, but it has LL immunity. I note the appearance in the NE of TOM CHENEY, the villain in "True Grit," starring Kim Darby--the British pronunciation of 53-down. She might contend for the DOD SASH if not for the presence of MIRA Sorvino.

Nice theme & execution--though I thought the first theme entry featured SHOT as the hit, instead of CLOCK. But the revealer clue mentions "last parts," and come to think of it, I HAVE heard "CLOCK" used to mean hit. Might be back-formed from "cleaned [his] CLOCK."

Before rendering my golf score on this hole, I have to submit a mild rant about tour coverage. In the event just concluded Tiger Woods was never closer than 8 shots off the lead--yet the cameras hung on his every stroke. It's disgusting. And now for a score he wishes he had a lot more of: birdie.

Burma Shave 11:52 AM  


a YANK with TALC and some CRISCO


Diana, LIW 12:41 PM  

'Twas not the night before Christmas, but before the full moon.

'Twas fun to find the themers after flying thru this present of a puzzle.

On to the moon. Full. Blue (second full this month). Supermoon (close to earth, third in a row!!) Eclipse. What more could you ask of a moon? Cher in your driveway?

Actual full moon is early am on the 31st - check your local listings. Film at 11.

Lady, Diana, Goddess of the Moon

rondo 2:01 PM  

Nobody else had rEagan before VETOER? Sure, it was the First Lady and not the prez saying no, but . . . Other than that little inkfest this HITPARADE went smoothly. The middle latitudes had me feeling stuffed with Charlotte RUSSE’s OYL RICHES FAT CALORIE; need to LOOSEN up the old SUNBELT. And the SW had a TWOSTAR connection to OTT and OTTER, which OTT not be so close, unless you think they OTTER.

Never call HOGS FEAT HAM.

Can’t disagree with @spacey re: yeah baby MIRA Sorvino.

Wouldn’t call it AAA, but nothing SMELT too bad about it. NEXT. ALOHA.

rainforest 2:32 PM  

Lynn Lempel is one of a handful of constructors capable of creating intelligent and well-crafted Monday puzzles. I thought this was a fine theme, and LL managed to find some different terms for HIT.

Everything hangs well together in the puzzle. I had a write-over when, with SUN- in place, I entered CITY. I didn't know theme at that point, and I have several friends who annually go to SUN CITY, AZ.

Another blue moon coming and a super one to boot? Thanks, @Lady Di.

@rondo - har!

Michael Leddy 9:20 PM  

[Solving in syndication.]

Delighted to see charlotte russe in the puzzle. There are two kinds: the fancy-pants variety, and a much simpler item that many New Yorkers will remember, made of sponge cake topped with whipped cream and a candied cherry, all in a cardboard holder. Betty Smith and J.D. Salinger both mention charlotte russe in their fiction.

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