1966 Johnny Rivers hit / TUE 12-25-12 / Create skid marks, perhaps / One with lots of experience / Prison, informally / Combat pilots' missions / Philosopher Kierkegaard / El Prado works

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Constructor: Ellen Leuschner and Victor Fleming

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: 48A: LETTERS TO SANTA — three theme answers contain the letters S, A, N, T, and A in that order, as indicated by the disconnected circled letters

Word of the Day: TO —

1 expressing motion in the direction of (a particular location)
2 identifying the person or thing affected
3 identifying a particular relationship between one person and another
4 indicating that two things are attached
5 concerning or likely to concern (something, esp. something abstract)
6 governing a phrase expressing someone's reaction to something
7 used to introduce the second element in a comparison
• • •

My name is Milo and I'll be your Rex for this crossword. It seems the king himself had a few too many eggnogs last night and needed someone to take his place, and since even Ebenezer Scrooge gives his employees Christmas Day off I decided to cut him some slack. If it's between writing a blog post and being visited in my sleep by three preachy ghosts, I've got no problem dedicating my silent night / holy night to crosswords. Besides, winter break has left me with nothing to procrastinate, so this is a welcome change of pace. On to the crossword!

I didn't mind this puzzle. The theme isn't exactly a humdinger, but the revealer was fresh and the three entries were suitably juicy. The fill was nothing to write home about, but it gave us a POP TART and a GIN RUMMY and a DONE DEAL. Maybe it's the sound of carols or the smell of tree, but I'm feeling in the Christmas spirit, and I'm willing to be generous this holiday season and say that I enjoyed the minutes I spent entering letters in these squares, and thank Ellen and Victor for this fine gift.

If I were to complain, though, I might ask why the "to" in the revealer makes sense when the phrase is being reparsed for this theme. The original "to" is used in Sense 1 (see above) but I can't really imagine which option we're supposed to take on with regard to these circled letters. Maybe Sense 5? The letters which spell SANTA do concern (or are likely to concern) Santa, who is certainly "something abstract." Maybe we're supposed to read it as "letters which combine to Santa" in the same way we might say "summing to 100." But who complains on Christmas? LETTERS TO SANTA is a phrase, while "letters are Santa" and "letters spell Santa" are not, so this is fine.

I might also point out, in this hypothetical scenario in which I were complaining, that non-adjacent circled letters are aesthetically iffy and constructionally lazy. It's possible that I would also note that a more restrictive version of this theme with more theme answers and a kick-ass revealer ran in the Times eight years ago today. But SECRET AGENT MAN and SLAM ON THE BRAKES and SEASONED VETERAN are all solid 15s, so that complaint would be uncalled for.

Oh yeah, that reminds me—

Theme answers:
  • 20A: 1966 Johnny Rivers hit (SECRET AGENT MAN) — This is my favorite theme answer, and a good example of old pop culture (from the year 29 BM) that is still gettable.
  • 25A: Create skid marks, perhaps (SLAM ON THE BRAKES)
  • 43A: One with lots of experience (SEASONED VETERAN)
I had a weird solving experience with this one: I started by entering GTOS in the 1D slot, noticed that each theme answer had five circled letters and decided from the S that they would spell SANTA, and then filled in the three theme answers without crosses. I tried to stick SECRET SANTA into the revealer but it wouldn't fit so I went back to Square 1 (literally) and worked from there. I finished only slightly under normal my normal Tuesday time, so this may play more challenging for people who didn't stupidly guess the theme off of one letter, but I've given it a "medium" so as not to offend anyone.
  • 37A: Prison, informally (STIR) — Is this a thing? Cruciverb shows that this meaning has never been used for the NYT, and only once before in any publication. I've never heard of it, but a quick search checks out. I liked the clue repeat with the subsequent 38A.
  • 39D: Combat pilots' missions (SORTIES) — This word always sounds to me like a drunken pronunciation of "sororities," enough that I've never actually committed its actual meaning to memory. The crosses were all solid, though, so it was no big problem.
  • 31D: Philosopher Kierkegaard (SOREN) — Embarrassed to say that I blanked on this one, which put that section of the grid at a standstill until I remembered that the 34A: World workers' assn. (ILO) was just three quarters of my name.
  • 46A: El Prado works (ARTE) — You have no idea how convenient it is for constructors that romance languages exist. We can just add Es to things and nobody complains. Also—acronyms, European rivers, and Mel Ott. Seriously, we love that guy.
Signed, Milo Beckman, Acting Regent of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:36 AM  

The Walden puzzle had pretty awful theme entries though. I'd rather have this one.

I'm a bit surprised that this was the best of the best for a Christmas crossword, but it's Christmas so am not inclined to look too closely a that or the "LETTERS TO" problem. I'll look at it as 'letters needed to get to spelling SANTA'.

Super-fast Tuesday for me. Above, but close to, record time.

Ho! HO! Ho! Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.

Anonymous 12:50 AM  

It's the "to" of "I know the lyrics to the Gilligan's Island theme song", I think. --JanglerNPL

syndy 1:06 AM  

I know it's tuesday, but Hey it's Christmas! I already have my TURKEY!BAH HUMBUG!!!

jae 1:21 AM  

I too had problems with "TO". Other than that this was just fine for Christmas Eve. Easy for me too with a smidgen of zip...DONEDEAL, POPTART, FEDORAS, OLIVE (clue)...and no erasures or WOEs.

Nice one guys.

chefwen 1:36 AM  

Another super easy Tuesday, but it was so cute I smiled all the way through it.

Only one goof with 5A dyED before IRED. Thanks Ellen Leuschner and the Honorable Victor Fleming.

@Rex - A nice Bloody Mary in the A.M. will make you feel right as rain.

Mele Kalikimaka to all my virtual friends.

Eejit 3:12 AM  

Got a chuckle out of that guy in the suit dancing in the background. I'm guessing he didn't make a living at it. Fun puzzle. Happy whatever to all.

SANTreA Carla Michaels 4:10 AM  

Fabulous puzzle!!!!

No idea what this TO focus is about...they are the letters of Santa, the letters needed to spell
And maybe prison STIR is where they get the expression "STIR Crazy" .

Byron also had a fabulous puzzle, EIGHT years ago ON A SATURDAY with a different theme. Thanks for linking to that...but this one is this one... it is completely right on, for now, for the day of the week, for everything.

Totally energetic:

Plus RECANT, STIR/PEN ARGUE nods from the judge...
(who may have been VOTEdIN?)

Literally the only thing I'd do different is get fresher, newer names for the SNL cast members to bring it more clearly into this year.
(Oh, and I doubt you'd call someone who flew a kite a KITER, I'd save that for check scammers...)

One bleedover from yesterday: OAST.

I'd say this was a perfect Christmas puzzle!
Nice one, Ellen Leuschner and Judge Vic!!!

acme 4:16 AM  

and nevermind the Mondegren OLIVE...at exactly 2:00 into the video he definitely sings "Secret ASIAN man"!

evil doug 5:34 AM  

Look at you BFF girls, pretending to be someone named 'Milo'. Very clever!

Don't know if the Johnny Rivers song ever made it as the theme of 'Secret Agent'---the short-lived but creative Patrick McGoohan series---but it's good toe-tappin' stuff.

'Sorties' is a terrific word. Comes from a French verb, sortir: "to go out". Along with fries, finally we have another useful French import.

Saw enough of the 'seasoned veteran' yesterday. But put it in the military sense, and it fits in with 'sorties', in the combat 'arena', 'olive' drab uniforms, 'exec'utive officer, navy 'ships' manned by 'trim' seamen, 'honed' bayonets, blowing up a 'levee' or 'dams', surface-to-air missiles ('SAMs')---and 'done deal' when the sortie is accomplished.

Agree that a 'kiter' deserves to be incarcerated in a 'pen', not out in a park flying a box-kite.

Speaking of 'olive': My wife's spell-checker changed 'I love u' (she's xmas lazy!) to 'olive u', with the rest of her closing somehow morphed to 'alvarez'. So 'Olive U Alvarez' is now our special love code....

Joyeux Noel,


Glimmerglass 7:19 AM  

LETTERS TO "SANTA" uses "to" to mean "of," as in the phrase "pieces to a puzzle." Merry Christmas, everyone.

chefbea 7:52 AM  

When I first printed out the puzzle, I looked for the revealer - something I don't normally do - and knew the theme right away. So finished in record time. So now I can get on with cooking the Christmas feast. We will NOT have instant potatoes!!! Gotta get out my trusty ricer.

Merry Xmas to all.

Zygotic 8:10 AM  

Merry Christmas Everyone.

lawprof 8:53 AM  

"OLIVE the other reindeer" evoked for me another "mishearing" (if that's a word) of a song lyric that just happens to appear in this puzzle. I always heard the Johnny Rivers line as "secret Asian man" and thought the song was about a North Vietnamese spy.

Apropos of the season is the (perhaps apocryphal) story of the first grader who drew a creche scene in class. When asked by the teacher who the fat man in the corner was, the child replied, "Oh, that's Round John Virgin."

Happy Holidays to all.

lawprof 9:16 AM  

Now that I look over the comments, I see that Acme heard the same thing.

Qvart 9:20 AM  

Once again I jumped into the NW without thinking about the theme. Wasn’t surprised by it as I expected something to do with Christmas. Breezed right through most of the four- and five-letter answers, but didn’t know ILO or STIR (Prison? Seriously? Although it appears I would have to be from Jersey to know it. I’ll take not knowing it as a good thing. Hehe). Didn’t care much for IRED - which is a typical gimme - because the answer contained the clue (“Turned red, say”). Another iffy one: KITER (“Parkgoer on a windy day, maybe”). I guess the answer works, but KITER usually has a much different meaning.

You know the old joke about philosophy majors – “What can you do with a degree in Philosophy? Have deep thoughts about unemployment.” Don’t know if my degree is worth always being able to answer a crossword clue about Kierkegaard’s first name, but I’m never stumped by SOREN. Guilty as charged. And although I’m not a big fan of his writings, I did have my picture taken next to him in Copenhagen, which was pretty cool.

Lots of easy answers, but the long downs and 15s were nice. Time: 3:38.

Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus!

jackj 9:33 AM  

Bah humbug!

Technically, I suppose this qualifies as a Christmas puzzle but just being able to circle SANTA three times, with a lazy reveal that only tells you that those circled letters do indeed spell S A N T A, means it’s a holiday puzzle on the cheap.

Thirty-six four letter words, virtually every one a crossword cliché, doesn’t bode well for a scintillating session; too bad Christmas came on a Tuesday because that means we’re stuck with a Tuesday level puzzle and as usual, it ain’t pretty, McGee.

When the puzzle is tarted up by a cross-referenced clue that takes you from OAST to OVEN, that’s sad, sad, sad.

Not all is lost as SORTIES, GINRUMMY, FREEZE and SEESAWED are well clued and mildly interesting and of the theme carrying phrases, SECRETAGENTMAN and SLAMONTHEBRAKES are decent themeless answers though they seem diminished here, serving as SANTA bearing trams.

At least there was one legitimate Christmas bit in the puzzle as a cutesy mondegreen, “OLIVE the other reindeer” for “All of the other reindeer” is clued as “(common mishearing of a Yuletide lyric)”.

Ah, well, it’s only a crossword; Merry Christmas!

jberg 9:37 AM  

I'm too lazy to learn embedding this snowy Christmas morning, but paste this link into your browser for the comig "Secret Asian Man" by Tak Toyoshima - I never knew until today that the title was related to a song!


Other than that, what everyone said (good and bad) - except that ILO is not a worker's organization, it is tripartite -- employers, workers, and governments.

Oh yes, and cookies again today!

Rob C 9:45 AM  

Fine Christmas puzzle. Thought about the 'to' problem, but it didn't bother me. Some nice zippy fill and the theme answers were good too.

Completely drew a blank on SOREN too. Wasn't going to admit it, but since Milo did...

For all you Brooklynites, I'm currently enjoying day-old cannollis from Aliota's on Ave N for breakfast - the best cannolis there ever were. Annual tradition to wait on line for them on Christmas Eve (about 30 mins yesterday), but the payoff is worth it.

Buon Natale!!

ArtO 10:06 AM  

Too many Scrooge-like comments today. A perfectly nice Tuesday puzzle. Lighten up. It's day to think about being nice to your fellow men!

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Judith Ivey was in the 1997 version of "The Devil's Advocate" not the 1977 version

Qvart 10:18 AM  

@jberg: Click HERE.

How's this for bahhumbug - I'm rushing through Christmas with the family and then jumping in the car for a six-hour drive home to avoid the weather that's heading this way over the next two days. !@#$

Oh well, can't win 'em all. At least I got away for a little while. See y'all tomorrow!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:46 AM  

What @ArtO said.

Merry Christmas to all.

Have some more eggnog, but not too much if you are driving.

Carola 10:53 AM  

I was happy to see SEASONED VETERAN Victor Fleming as the co-constructor, as I always enjoy his puzzles. Especially liked the long downs in this one. TAXI goes well with SLAM ON THE BRAKES, at least in my experience on trips to the Big CIty (Chicago or New York). Liked SHIPS docked next to the LEVEE and PEN echoing STIR for "prison."

Thanks, Milo, for the write-up. Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Secret A-Gent Man dA 11:32 AM  

Milo seemed to feel strongly both ways to this one.

Me, I gotta go thUmbsUp. It was nice and easy and Christmassy. Got four SANTAs and yer seven lesser-known reindeer (so, kinda, like riendeer?): OLIVE, GREG, NEMO, EDIE, SAM, ELIZA and GINRUMMY.

Sorry old 31 ended up in the bag. Know how much he fancies puzs with the circles. Wave a ginger snap in front of his nose around 2pm, and I'll bet he comes around.

Off to visit the kinfolk. Looks to be snowin' sideways out there. Have a cool yule, all you nice people. And be safe.


Anonymous 11:52 AM  

I don't understand the '31' references of late. Please explain.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

@Anon 11:52 - Masked & Anonymous, or whatever he calls himself on a given day, likes to refer to Rex as '31', as his claim that he's the 31st greatest crossword solver in the universe.

JohnV 12:12 PM  

Good Christmas offering. Sorties was a Tuesday bonus; liked it. Easy to start the day.

Merry Christmas to all from CT.

Airymom 12:14 PM  

The puzzle was pleasant and appropriately themed. Milo's write-up, as usual, cracked me up.

Fifteen years ago, when my son was four, a lady on line at the supermarket asked him what he wanted for Christmas. He answered, "well, actually ma'am, I'm not a 'Christmas person.'" So my day will involve going with my family to see "Les Mis" and then Chinese. Those activities, along with today's crossword and working out at the gym make for a nice day.

I wish a Merry Christmas to all my fellow Rex devotees. In a world that on any given day seems to have gone mad, aren't we privileged and lucky to spend part of each day doing something we love and being part of a circle of like-minded friends.

Peace on earth.

Sparky 12:39 PM  

Children write letters to Santa. Just let it go at that. What me orry? A good Christmas and a good Tuesday puzzle.

I miss Patrick McGoohan. He became No. 6 in The Prisioner.

STIR no problem. Kind of think of George Raft saying "He was sent to stir." Perhaps used more in the 30s and 40s.

Thanks Ellen and Victor. SODOI @ArtO and BobK. @RobC: Hot Cocoa and Anisette Biscotti from Rocco's on Bleeker Street.

Merry Christmas, have a happy day.

Sparky 12:42 PM  

That's worry, of course.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

I don't get what "to" has anything to do with anything. Super easy puzzle. I printed it out and almost started to write in long hand because printing wasn't fast enough. I would have expected something more interesting but hey, it's a Tuesday puzzle

Ulrich 1:09 PM  

I see more to (sense 6?) the theme: Santa works very much like a secret agent man (if from the North Pole, not Asia, and only for believers). He has to slam on the brakes of his sled when landing on a roof to stop the reindeer from going over it, and he certainly is a seasoned veteran in a double sense--bravi Ellen and (almost namesake) Vic!

Season's greetings to all!

JC66 1:12 PM  

A little bit of STIR trivia:

The expression "up the river" as in "he was sent up the river" refers to the fact that Sing Sing prison (which is located in Ossining, NY) is about 35 miles up the Hudson River from NYC.

Bird 1:45 PM  

Nice Christmas Tuesday puzzle. No complaints about "TO" as the embedded S-A-N-T-A all lead TO SANTA. I wonder . . . if today was Thursday, would there be circles in the grid.

My problem was with the East Side. I drew a blank at 34A so I guessed ILA, which gave me SAXEN, which made sense to me. Unfamiliar with STIR as a prison term and STYX seemed plausible.

I also do not like the ugly KITER. This turning any noun into a verb thing needs to stop.

Merry Christmas!

Lewis 2:14 PM  

What @carola said.

If TO is the biggest problem of this puzzle, it must be good. Have a terrific day, all!

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Merry Christmas, all! Thanks for the nice comments. Ellen and I are honored to have the Christmas day slot. Thanks, especially, Andrea, Glimmerglass, and others, for recognizing that the theme (which was Ellen’s) is both clever and literal. S,A,N,T, & A are the letters to SANTA, like pieces of a jigsaw are parts to the puzzle.

For some the puzzle was worth what they paid for it (I can’t make someone enjoy anything). But "on the cheap"? C'mon on, man!

This puzzle was made in June 2011. Ellen came up with the theme and did a stellar job developing it! There are precious few good phrases of 15 letters or less that have the letters to SANTA in them in order. If that’s a theme one is predisposed not to like, then bah! The theme had not been done before. Finding themes about which that may be said ain’t easy!

Grid construction was tough, because we wanted a puzzle that could work early or late in the week. The fill was tough. It was especially hard to keep the proper noun count manageable. The result: 72 answers: 12 of 7-letters or more and only five 3-three-letter answers!

As for the comment “Thirty-six four letter words, virtually every one a crossword cliché,” again, c’mon, man! Yeah, I’d prefer not to have IRED, ARTE or AYES, but did you check out what they glue in? DONE DEAL, SEESAWED, SAT OUT, SORTIES, SNEERS AT. Oh, yeah! Those were the ones that everyone liked (can you say “cost benefit”?) Even those three, plus all the other 4-letter words, are perfectly acceptable for a Tuesday Times crossword! Crossword cliché indeed! Humbug!

The puzzle was submitted with easy clues, because to us it felt like a Tuesday. We volunteered to re-clue it to weekend difficulty, for the Friday or Saturday before Christmas, which was on Sunday last year. Will accepted the puzzle. Early week options were better in 2012 than 2011. We learned only days ago that it would run Christmas day. I believe it was fated to be a Tuesday puzzle from the start.

Happy Holidays!

Judge Vic

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

"If TO is the biggest problem of this puzzle . . ."

It's a thematic problem; kind of crucial. If it weren't Christmas I don't think it would pass muster. But it is XMAS, so I'm fine with it.

This crossword is for real people anyway, and I'd expect to be well received.

Ellen S 2:52 PM  

Your Honor, I plead guilty to liking this puzzle; my thanks to you and Ellen.

I'm typing this in QuickOffice so I can copy and paste into the comment section. For Christmas morning, when you tap and hold to select, you get not only the vertical cursor bar, but a 1-inch high image of a Christmas tree. Or air freshener, but I give them credit for seasonally spiffing up their mobile office suite. (I haven't used it on other holidays, so dunno if they have menorahs or dredels, Easter eggs, goblins.)

Anway, all day and at least most of last night Netflix wasn't working (problem with Amazon's servers I'm told). People for whom Christmas Eve means sitting in front of the television watching 93 episodes of Dr. Who were outraged. Oh, by golly, I was so unjolly I couldn't finish the puzzle last night! Got 1,2 and 3 down, and the first three rows of associated acrosses, but even with GIN--... filled in, I couldn't think of GIN RUMMY. I got about three other short ones, and my brain stopped. I should have had a glass of wassail, might have loosened it up. No puzzle, no Netflix, OMG, am I going to have to ***READ*** something????? Lucky for me, the other Roku channels were functioning, and on Crackle I found the amazingly appropriate Monty Python's "Not the Messiah: he's a naughty boy," an oratorio based on "the Life of Brian," written for a single performance in 2009 at Royal Albert Hall on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the troupe. All the surviving Pythons were there except John Cleese, plus the BBC Symphony Orchestra and chorus, and four real singers performing the main parts and admirably not cracking up while doing so except during the sex scene. The performance closed with Michael Palin and the lumberjacks doing "The Lumberjack Song", even though it has nothing to do with the story, but the fans require it. They didn't do the Dead Parrot routine, though. Guess that requires Cleese.

Was I going to talk about the puzzle? Oh, yeah, this morning, spiritually uplifted by last night's musical experience, I tackled it again and it fell apart nicely, as a Tuesday should, and didn't feel clichéd. Worst problem, I had "opTED for" before VOTED IN. I never heard of Judith IVEY but got her on crosses, and I knew Søren Kierkegaard and OLIVE, so does that compensate? @Acme, I think OAST is a bleedover from seemingly every puzzle I've done in the last 30 years, along with ADITs and ERN(E)s, but at this point I'd feel cheated if there wasn't at least one of them lot. I agree with you, @Evil and all about KITER-- they deserve to spend some time in STIR. (I've heard of STIR, btw, though not sure where -- definitely, as in "stir crazy" but also maybe Brit murder mysteries. Maybe like @Sparky said, George Raft movies from the 40s; anyway, not a new word for me.

Everybody here seems in a better mood this morning. AND netflix is back online. All's right with the world. Happy Holidays.

joho 3:26 PM  

Well, I absolutely loved it!

This was a like a present you really wanted but didn't know existed because it was so unexpected and new. All wrapped up in a bow.

Thank you Ellen & Victor!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Jeremy Mercer 3:47 PM  

Wonderful Christmas puzzle, but I'd rate it challenging after the holiday Champagne ... Perplexed by the negativity - is the quality bar traditionally higher for a Christmas puzzle??? (It is a Tuesday after all ...)

MetaRex 4:46 PM  

Low number of three letter words...their quality is fine, as is the quality of the fours...if ILO and IRED are your worst, you're doing well...decent thematic density, though that's kind of hard to assess with a letter puzzle like this one...SECRET AGENT MAN is a good semi-reveal at the top...LETTERS TO SANTA, on the other hand, is not the smoothest reveal...with all the long acrosses, you'd expect a lot of downs, but not so...35A, 37D, 38B...the long non-themes are fine, with GIN RUMMY nice and SNEERS AT not so nice..."Olive the other reindeer" is a nice X-mas clue...

My takeaway...there are a number of elements in which this puzzle is clearly better than average, and nothing in which it's clearly below average...logic tells me it's a good puzzle. I personally go for a puzzle with wows and flaws over this one, but I have no problem with someone who values steady quality more and prefers this puzz to a flashy one.

Merry Christmas to all and thanks to Ellen and Victor!


Unknown 9:19 PM  

Since I tackled this at 9:00 on Christmas night after logging 3+ hours of travel, eating way too much delicious food, and oodles of snuggling with nieces and nephews, this fluffy fun puzzle was about all my mind could manage.

Merry Christmas to all!

sanfranman59 11:25 PM  

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

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

Mon 5:46, 6:12, 0.93, 18%, Easy
Tue 7:32, 8:37, 0.88, 14%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:31, 3:39, 0.96, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:24, 4:57, 0.89, 13%, Easy

Milford 11:51 PM  

Sweet Santa-day puzzle, pretty easy. Loved GIN RUMMY and POP TARTS - used to live on them as a kid.

Merry Christmas from Michigan to all!

Joe The Juggler 2:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spacecraft 10:56 AM  

Our guest SEER SEESAWED about this. One blogger SNEERSAT it, doubtless grading it a DEE. But when the LEVEE breaks, brother, you better hope the water will FREEZE, or it might turn your house into PUREE.

ME? I rate this one "EEsy."

Waxy in Montreal 1:05 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 2:42 PM  

Bit surprised by the number of comments from people who weren't familiar with stir as slang for prison. Checked wiki and a "stir crazy" play on words must of made sense to most folks as recently as 1980: "Stir Crazy is a 1980 American comedy film starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor as down-on-their-luck friends who are given 125-year prison sentences after being framed for a bank robbery; while in prison they befriend other inmates and ultimately escape. The film was directed by Sidney Poitier."

Else, other than agreeing with @Space's rating, NADA to say about this puzzle except to wish all of us celebrating on the syndicalendar a very merry January 29th Christmas Day. HoHoHo.

DMGrandma 3:08 PM  

Came late to this Christmas party, but enjoyed all the good wishes still hanging in the air. The puzzle went easily, STIR is part of my vocabulary, and the philosopher filled from the crosses. Only surprise was GINRUMMY. I was looking for something with runs performed by players, not cards, and couldn't imagine what a "set" would be in that context.

Here it is a beautiful sunshine filled day, and all those people are talking about the rigors of winter. Ah, Syndiland. Happy January!

Spell check wants my Captcha to read "emoticon"-maybe the robot masters thought I should put one after that last comment?

Dirigonzo 5:28 PM  

And so the 5 week countdown to Christmas in syndiland comes to a close with LETTERSTOSANTA being fulfilled on Christmas day, as they should be. "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Re SLAMONTHEBRAKES, you know what else fits the clue, "Create skid marks, perhaps"? S&#TINONESPANTS - it has the right number of letters, too. C'mon, don't try to tell me I'm the only one who noticed that, I'm just the only one crude enough to mention it.

As to SEASONEDVETERANS, I drive vets to the VA Medical Facility once a week and I've never seen a seasoned one, but there have been a few who were pickled. (Rimshot!)

OK, I'll stop now

Ginger 7:47 PM  

@Diri - You got me snorting out loud!

Dirigonzo 8:25 PM  

@Ginger - my concerns about your tastes in humor aside, you probably shouldn't encourage me like that. On the other hand, thank you - I'll be here all week, and don't forget to tip the wait staff on your way out.

Anonyrat 6:39 AM  

Got Naticked (on a Tuesday no less) by the STIR/SOREN cross. Coal in my stocking (even though it's the end of January here in Cindyland). If you're going to use Medieval slang that no one has used in 400-500 years, and a first name of someone that lived 200 years ago that no one would know unless they majored in something really 'useful' like navel gazing, and that no one would recognize as a first name, can you at least not make them cross at a random consonant, at least not in a Monday or Tuesday? I'd appreciate it, your honor. Thanks.
SECRETAGENTMAN would have been an even easier get if it had been clued as a Devo hit instead of Johnny Rivers, but then again, even though everyone assumes I'm a grandparent, I'm still way younger than the target audience of these puzzles. Would it be out of line for me to suggest that the NYT and Mr. Shorts pay attention to the lesson taught to us by Oldsmobile?
And since no has mentioned it, there is now actually a Christmas show on TV every year called "Olive the Other Reindeer," which, I think, is about a dog named Olive who thinks she's a reindeer and somehow ends up leading Santa's sleigh. God I miss the good old days of "Santa Claus Battles the Martians" and other such great Christmas classics.
@ Dirigonzo 5:28 PM - My first thought was along those lines as well, but "shart" was way too short to fit ...

Anonyrat 7:00 AM  

Just out of curiosity, Judge Fleming, how many times, in your years on the bench, have you actually said to a defendant "I sentence you to X years in stir." My guess is zero, but if you haven't, you ought to at least once. The look on everyone's face would be priceless, I'm sure.

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