Ancient Mideast language / WED 12-25-13 / Aa pahoehoe / Rebellious region of Caucasus / Via main street of ancient Rome / Perino George W Bush's last press secretary / Anything 1994 Nick Nolte Albert Brooks film / Second-highest peak in Cascades

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: FIVE GOLDEN RINGS (41A: One set of gifts in "The 12 Days of Christmas" … as suggested by the circled squares?) — Five "rings" (indicated by circled squares) spell out words that can follow the word "Golden" in common phrases.

The Goldens:
  • RULE
  • MEAN
  • HORN
  • GATE
Word of the Day: OSSETIA (47A: Rebellious region of the Caucasus) —
Ossetia (/ɒˈsɛtiə/ Ossetic: Ир, Ирыстон IrIrystonRussian: Осетия, OsetiyaGeorgian: ოსეთი,Oset'i) is an ethnolinguistic region located on both sides of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, largely inhabited by the Ossetians. The Ossetian language is part of the Eastern Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages family. The Ossetian-speaking area south of the main Caucasus ridge is recognized by most countries as within the borders of Georgia, but under the control of the Russian-backed de facto government of the Republic of South Ossetia. The northern portion of the region consists of the republic of North Ossetia–Alania within the Russian Federation. (wikipedia)
• • •

Fortuitous discovery that FIVE GOLDEN RINGS is a perfect (i.e. grid-spanning) 15. It also works very well as a theme revealer. These aren't really rings, though. They're squares. I'm sure you could draw a circle that technically touched all the letters involved, but rings are rings and squares are squares and these are squares. Still, it's a cute idea, and it's probably close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades, ring-wise. I don't know what a Golden HORN is. Turns out it's the "inlet of the Bosporus dividing the city of Istanbul." Cool. Good to know. The fill on this one is average to below-average, but that's largely due to the theme, which sets up major restrictions all over the grid. I'm not sure that excuses the atrocious EAU DE, but it probably does excuse (or at least explain) the SSRS SYS SYRIAC business, or STET EELS, or DONEE ALEE I'LL DO ELL, etc. Actually, KABUKI (9D: Japanese dance-drama) is quite a nice answer. Always good to be able to shoehorn a winner into such a thematically dense grid.

This one played harder than normal for me. Couldn't remember Monsieur HULOT (more used to seeing TATI's name than his character's name in the grid). Had the squirrels eating SUET there for a bit. OSSETIA was slow coming, largely because I know the "rebellious region" as *South* OSSETIA and can't remember ever hearing OSSETIA on its own. Had SYRIAN instead of SYRIAC. You'd think that corner could've been worked out in SYRIAN's favor—would've been a major improvement. No one likes running into an [Ancient Mideast language]. Plural LAVAS is probably something a grid could also do without, though it's mildly interesting that there are, in fact, multiple kinds of lava, and that they have such curious (and, unsurprisingly, Hawaiian) names (29D: Aa and pahoehoe).

OK then. That's all.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate (or simply appreciate the down time)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Steve J 12:21 AM  
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Steve J 12:26 AM  

Nice holiday-themed puzzle that recognized the occasion without going overboard. The revealer was nice, and the fill in each of the square rings was good. (And there's plenty of precedence for non-round rings; witness the boxing ring, as well as other similar metaphorical uses.)

The grid felt slightly claustrophobic, with only four entries outside the revealer longer than 7 letters, which felt like it would limit the opportunity for some good, zippy fill. But there was some very good stuff within those constraints: I particularly liked KABUKI, ICARUS, PULSAR and EMBERS. Clunky fill was spare and didn't detract from the good stuff.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.

AliasZ 12:30 AM  

Congratulations to Mr. Stulberg for a terrific debut on Christmas Day.

Loved the FIVE GOLDEN (square) RINGS, all of which were excellent. My favorites were the GOLDEN HORN, a HORN-shaped inlet of the strait of Bosphorus dividing the city of Istanbul, and GOLDEN SLUMBERS. I admire Jacob's courage for attempting and succeeding with such a restrictive design. Snazzier entries would have taken even STEELIER nerves, and a 21x21 grid to accommodate them: oldies, state, retriever, delicious, parachute, fleece, horde, etc.

A few entries were less than perfect: NUMB and DUMB, GETAT, NORI, EAUDE, ILLDO, OFFTO and HOHO crossing OHNO come to mind, but Monsieur HULOT was a welcome sight. I loved LACROSSE, KABUKI, ICARUS, PULSAR, OSSETIA and RECESSION. Only the AFORESAID Maleskaesque OSSETIA and the brainiac SYRIAC, as well as the clue for LAVAS (ʻAʻā? Pāhoehoe? Wah, wah!) were a bit unfair, but easily gettable from the crosses. Loved the ANGEL sneaking in at 70A. Too bad he wasn't sitting atop a Christmas tree drawn by Ms. Gorski. (No CORNY jokes about how the ANGEL ended up on top of the tree.) In conclusion, IRATE this one an easy-medium, and a solid first effort with nary a MISSTEP in it.

Who didn't enter Appia before SACRA and MUcK or gUnK before MURK? Or SYRIAn before SYRIAC? Don't lie now, Santa will know, and you'll find a lump of coal in your stocking.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

jae 1:14 AM  

Mostly easy except for the mid-west...WEIRS, SACRA, OSSETIA, and the FEAR quote required some solving skills.  So medium seems right.

@Rex & AliasZ - me too for SYRIAn before SYRIAC.

Liked it.  Nice use of circles with a bit of Beatles/Dekker in the center. The only really cringy clue/answer was STEELIER.

Benko 1:52 AM  

I liked learning about SYRIAC! As the major language of Christian communities in Asia throughout centuries, it has a nice Christmas connection. And OSSETIA is the major place of contention between Russia and Georgia and therefore important in geopolitics in the modern era.
Merry Christmas!

Andy Corny Missteps 2:20 AM  

Jacob Stulberg, I'll go out on a twig and guess he's a nice Jewish boy working on Xmas so others can celebrate. bravo!
So nice.

Especially that not only does FIVEGOLDENRINGS span the grid, as @Rex pointed out, but contained IN THE RIGHT PLACE the L and E in SLUMBERS... Brilliant!

No reason to be petty about the shape of the rings, just go with how cool this is!!!

I hade the U-L-E in the first ring so over anticipated an Xmas Xword and popped in Y for yULE.
When I got the second, I didn't know if it was NAME, AMEN, MEAN or MANE. (hey, that might make a cute puzzle itself...
Do I hear an AMEN?
(i didn't know Golden HORN nor MEAN. I only know OLDIE RETRIEVER and AGER.)

Fittingly I had MIStake for MISSTEP, which made TUNIS Accra. Mess.

KABUKI is great, crunchy and we have a movie thater here in Japantown that used to be a bowling alley, otherwise I would have tried to make NOH into six letters!
Merry Xword Xmas!

Hand up for that corner was messed with... Was NeSTS or NaSTY. No reason for SYRIAC crossing with unpleasant CYSTS.
Or maybe not. Who knows.

Anyway, liked this "all around"

Evan 5:32 AM  

I hadn't heard of the Golden HORN either, though it didn't slow me down too much and the fill in that corner is fine (and seasonally appropriate with HO HO). Still, I wonder how the resulting puzzle would have looked with something arguably more familiar like Golden AGER or GIRL.

In a way it almost looks like there's very little theme material -- just 37 squares occupy theme spaces. But, with the way they're arranged, they limit the fill options pretty substantially, especially in the center. I'm not in love with the fill -- nothing really stood out to me except for KABUKI; partials EAU DE and I'LL DO, ELL, SSRS, SYS, SRO, SACRA, WEIRS, ALEE, LAVAS, SYRIAC, and STET aren't my favorite entries -- though some of that is certainly due to theme constraints. Some of it isn't.

I tried my hand at the southeast corner -- here's an alternative without SYRIAC or CYSTS (though I mind CYSTS less than STET as an entry). It's not the flashiest corner, but I think it's at least a little cleaner.

Elsewhere, there's nothing one can do about SSRS given the ring from SLUMBERS, not without changing the entire grid structure (for instance, by running SLUMBERS in a counterclockwise direction and having a completely different configuration of black squares).

Happy holidays, all.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

My uncle had SYRIAC disease and had to give up wheat entirely.

John Child 7:26 AM  
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John Child 7:28 AM  

This took me longer than most Wednesdays, but I enjoyed it all. The longer answers were very nice, and the fill was fine given so much constraint. Nice debut.

Mohair Sam 7:38 AM  

Very nice Christmas puzzle, and very nice debut Mr. Stulberg.

Like Rex I blocked on OSSETIA without the South, and like probably everyone I had SYRIAn before SYRIAC.

Merry Christmas to all.

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

"largely do to the theme"

That's a typo, right, Rex? You know it's really "due".

August West 8:04 AM  

Your second sentence answers your first, doesn't it Anonytwod?

jberg 8:05 AM  

Fairly easy, and very educational -- all my life up to now I had thought the lyric was "five gold rings" - I had to look it up to convince myself that this was right. Live and learn!

I did want "Appia," but couldn't do it because of RECESSION. I didn't want SYRIAn - it's not a language! - but thought it was going to be the answer. And I still don't know from golden SLUMBERS. But I loved seeing M. HULOT. The Golden HORN is the locus of a lot of history, worth knowing about.

My only regret is that 63D wasn't clued as 'traditional Christmas dish.' Enjoy the holiday, everyone! I'm off to get the goose ready for the oven.

Glimmerglass 8:12 AM  

Lived in Hawaii just out of college. Aa is rough; pahoehoe is smooth. Just got back from Istanbul. The Golden Horn makes travel a mess because there are only two bridges between the old and new parts of the city. The ferries are the way to go. Merry Christmas all.

Milford 8:12 AM  

@Anon - yes, of course he does. We all make typos. Especially when working to get a blog done on a holiday and possibly tipsy :)

@August West - Anonytwod, LOL.

Chewy Wednesday, with that whole LAVAS/WEIRS/OSSETIA area.

Yeah, they are squares, no biggie. Maybe the circles are the rings? Never heard of the GOLDEN HORN, thought it was maybe something Herculean?

Liked the clever clue for EMBERS, and the trivia about LACROSSE (wow, really? I wonder why?).

Hand up for both SYRIAn and appiA.

Merry, merry Christmas, Rexworld! Have a lovely, peaceful day everyone.

Blue Stater 8:17 AM  

Well, it's already been a Merry Christmas for me -- usually if Rex says a puzzle is medium-challenging for him, it's absolutely impossible for me. This one I breezed through pretty easily. I didn't get the gimmick until I was finished -- I rarely do. But it was a nice little romp. Enjoy the holiday, Rex and all.

Unknown 8:25 AM  

Cute. Didn't know Golden HORN, so Googled it after and learned something.

Off to my folks' in MA for the best part of Christmas: Mom's amazing breakfast! Enjoy, everyone!

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Hard to believe so many did not know the Golden Horn.

Zwhatever 8:53 AM  

I had my CYST first, so avoided the SYRIAn problem (wonder who will be labelled "terrorists" and who will be labelled "freedom fighters" in 20 years). My only real problem was the OSSETIA/LAVA/WEIRS area. In part it was do to having dErisSION at first (sure, I know how to spell "due," but I don't wanna) and in part do to forgetting that OSSETIA was a place. Tried georgIA until it dawned on me that 'derision' a)only has one S and b)didn't really fit the clue. Once I fixed RECESSION I was able to piece it all together. So, 80% easy and 20% "duh."

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and if you don't celebrate may your day be merry, too.

AnonyTWOD #43 8:59 AM  

Just had to pipe up and say that the FIVEGOLDENRINGS of the song are pheasants, not rings made of gold. I had to swallow that piece of trivia last night, lest my wife smack me for mentioning it once again, and it's been bubbling up inside me ever since.

Leaping Lord 9:01 AM  

All the "ring words" start in the lower left --- a nice touch (and added constraint).

joho 9:09 AM  

Sure the theme letters are in squares but you can easily draw a perfect circle connecting the letters. You could even use a compass if you want. Perfect circles.

Thank you, Jacob Stulberg, for your Christmas puzzle and congratulations on your debut!

And Merry Christmas to all!!!

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Mary says that the customary wording and hence singing of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" is NOT five golden rings, but five gold rings, but in the spirit of the season she is willing to overlook this liberty since she easily solved and thus enjoyed the puzzle.

chefbea 9:36 AM  

Tough Wednesday Xmas puzzle!! Never heard of golden mean or golden slumbers.

Merry xmas to all. Enjoy your day

August West 9:41 AM  

This one played tough for me in the midwest, as I'd never heard of Caucasus, OSSETIA, the names of those LAVAS or Via SACRE. Thankfully, enough crosses were easy enough to help me suss it out, including ICARUS, PULSAR, RECESSION and the 15. Also glad to have learned some new stuff. Loved the clue for AFORESAID, but wonder if the ? is even necessary. Liked ANGEL running through one of the rings, and always appreciate when LACROSSE gets some ink. Didn't really notice/become annoyed by the icky fill while solving, testament to a nice construction despite its constraints. Good debut, Jacob!

A very Jerry Christmas to the WEIRS and everyone here!

dk 9:50 AM  

A delightful bon moot.

Boring story ahead.

One xmas was spent on Mount Shasta looking for a young man who after an excess of nog, drove off the road (no chains) and wandered off. It wss one of the first times i was able to demonstrate that right handed people, when lost, walk in circles to the ..... Drum roll ..... Right.

He was found just a little worse for the wear. I suggested that next xmas he ask for an ounce of sense. As a volunteer i can say poop like that.... Good samaritan law and all.

Yuletide greetings to all from NOLA.

*** (3 french hens)

J-P 10:07 AM  

I'm surprised no one mentioned the CHIs! That was the first clue I encountered and last solved. Had a mental block in that corner, kept thinking Pulot, not Hulot. CHIs gave me a pleasant surprise!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:10 AM  

We all have our lacunae, so . . . Count me among the few who did not know GOLDEN SLUMBERS; had to Google it - OMG! The Beatles! Based on a poem from 1603! How could I not know it? But I didn't.

Merry Christmas to all, and enjoy your 63 D and 64 A, EELS and NORI.

Airymom 10:16 AM  

Re: "Golden side 2 of "Abbey Road".

The "weirs"/"Ossetia" cross stopped me cold. I went to the gym and came back, thinking in the midst of step class, I would "get it". No dice. Thank you Google.
Solid debut puzzle.

Merry Christmas. I am enjoying having my son home from college.

Jonpaul Guinn 10:22 AM  

I liked the puzzle. Unlike others, I had no problem with OSSETIA. My nerves were shot by AFORESAID, which was easy with the crosses, and the entire southeast corner. I had CRASS instead of CORNY and TUNA instead of EELS. Not having the blank squares made me try to work the letters instead of the space and even trying to figure out if BACKRAFT was ever a sport, let alone an Olympic one. And don't get me started about trying to figure out if people decorate their tree with ASIAN or ASLAN. ("Sure, it's a lion from a fantasy book but Lewis was deeply Christian and Aslan is basically God. I've never seen it but a lion would look nice on a tree.") Amazingly, SYRIAC actually made the problem less intractable.

Nice puzzle. Merry Christmas.

John V 10:37 AM  

A very nice Christmas puzzle and a terrific debut, Jacob!

A tale of two puzzles, SE and everything else. SYRIA/CYSTS was a bear

Anonymous 10:54 AM  


Sandy K 11:01 AM  

FIVE GOLDEN RINGS was festive.

HO HO HO! Merry Christmas.

Ronghoti 11:02 AM  

Missed SYRIAC/CYSTS for SYRIAN/MYSTS. Also didn't get the GOLDEN___ answers! But a fun puzzle.

Masked and AnonymoUUUUUUUUs 11:03 AM  

U. Can. Not. Be. SYRIAC!
Eight golden U's! Santa has arrived at M&A's house!
Golden debut. thUmbsUp.

Thanx U, Mr. Stulberg. U are now in charge of the Christmas puzs. QED.

I thought The Golden Horn was some sort of novel that I read long ago? Or was it some other Horn? Arrggh... c'mon, brain...

Yo. Cool Yule, Y'all.

retired_chemist 11:09 AM  

Easy here.

Enjoyed all the learning there was here: SYRIAC, OSSETIA, Golden (HORN, SLUMBERS). Nothing much crummy IMO. Info about the Golden MEAN here if you are into mathematics or architecture, or here if you are more into Aristotelian philosophy.

Thanks, Mr. Stulberg.

Merry and Anonymo8Us 12:02 PM  

U & U



kept hoping for one of the rings to be SHOWER, but alas.

Lane B 1:18 PM  

Lots of erasures until I finally struggled through. Never did connect GOLDEN to the boxes, but I didn't try very hard. Stumbled for a time with AFORESAID (tough clue), MISSTEP ( tried mistake first) , OSSETIA (Georgia fits) and SYRIAC (used SyriaN.). More difficult than your average WednEsday.

retired_chemist 1:42 PM  

SHOWER wouldn't work because the rings, as formulated in this puzzle, must be 4, 8, 12.... etc. letters long.

John (not in) Philly 1:52 PM  

had Georgia for rebellious zone and of course Syrian and my geography was generally a mess today. but hey, am sitting under a palm tree in Old San Juan, PR, so my geography isn't so bad for a Christmas Day in the northern hemisphere.

Loren Muse Smith 2:03 PM  

@Steve J – I had the opposite reaction to the DUMB/NUMB pair; DUMB fell first, and when I saw the clue for NUMB, I thought I had goofed. I loved the pair!

Would have preferred " __ __ toilette" for EAU DE. Just kidding.

Rex – me, too, for "suet" and "Syrian (Hey, @jae!) " first.

My non-puzzle daughter was sitting next to me as I worked this and wanted "tease" for TRACE. Not bad for a start, huh?

@Unknown – I got a kick out of your mess in the southeast. That's why I love this place – neophytes see that even the experienced solvers can make funny MISSTEPs. The thought of "Aslan" as a Christmas tree decoration makes me laugh. And "backdraft" as a sport! Hey - how "bout just a football play? "Yeah, we took a chance and ran a Backdraft up the naked bootleg since they had started blitzing." Ok. So I'm DUMB when it comes to football. At least I RATE a nod for knowing "naked bootleg." (@M&A – Happy Fleaflicker! And how 'bout that "not new" – UUU-ED?!)

I always say, "Well. That's sure a POSER, isn't it?" And no one ever knows what that means. Next step – asking if someone has an ETUI so I can sew on a button. And on the same subject – my avatar is the t-shirt my son gave me for Christmas!

With KABUKI, I can't help but see NORI and crave some makizushi with my turkey and dressing.

@Leaping Lord – great catch that they all start in the lower left corner.

As I type, my son is out teaching his new-to-LACROSSE younger cousin all his tips on being a LACROSSE beast. (@August West – he was shooting on goal at 90 mph as a junior in high school! I swear.)

DIET in the grid on Christmas Day is just plain mean and hateful.

Congratulations on your NYT debut, Jacob! With magnificent disregard to DIET, I'm OFF TO stuff my face.

Happy Holidays to all my blogger friends – I consider you my best friends, and I'm not just being all sentimental and CORNY.

MikeM 2:33 PM  

This is weird, a few Christmases/christmas eve's ago there was a "red" theme and I happened to do the puzzle in a red pen. I posted about it here. It was eerie. Today, I swear this is true, i asked my daughter to grab me a pen after we opened all the gifts. She gave me a gold pen that she got for Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone.

mac 2:43 PM  

Crunchy Wednesday, but good! Hope my duck fat roasted potatoes will be too.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Steve J 2:54 PM  

@Loren: Funny, either you've either gotten very good at predicting what I will or won't like, or you mixed me up with someone else. While I didn't note anything about DUMB and NUMB (that was AliasZ), I agreed with him that it was not one of the more elegant bits.

Fun reading people's various missteps. Some caught me too (like seemingly everyone, I also had SYRIAn), some didn't catch me (I picked up OSSETIA quickly, in large part because it factored in one of my favorite video games from about 10 years ago). But I think the best one has to be @Unknown's Askan tree topper. That made me laugh.

Hope everyone's enjoying the day, eating well, and keeping warm.

Loren Muse Smith 3:02 PM  

@Steve J – My MISSTEP – I even have your name with DUMB/NUMB written in my margin! I guess I was doing the SYRIAC Mind Meld. I still like the pair!

Steve J 3:18 PM  

Oh, one error I didn't see mentioned that I had: MT HOOD instead of. SHASTA. this, despite my knowing SHASTA is the second-highest peak in the Cascades. For some reason, I thought I needed a Mt. designation in there.

Also, I meant Aslan in my previous post.

And now, more beer while the turkey roasts and now that I've finished making the dressing. DIET be damned.

Sfingi 3:34 PM  

Glad it wasn't suET, since I know my squirrels are herbivores, but was a bit afraid, since TUNIS has been known to be spelled with two "u"s.

Didn't know DANA, OSSETIA, or I'LL DO.

Merry Christmas.

Doc John 6:12 PM  

Oh yes, there are many types of LAVAS. One particular type is softer than most and is building up on the big island of Hawaii. One day in the (hopefully very, very distant) future, a whole chunk of it the size of Manhattan will slide into the ocean causing an enormous tsunami that will wipe out LA (and, unfortunately, San Diego, too). There's evidence of this having happened several times in the past. Oh, you east coasters won't get off so easily- there's a similar process happening in the Canaries. This what I get for watching the Smithsonian Channel. But at least I got the LAVAS answer!
Otherwise, Merry Christmas to all!

Anonymous 7:20 PM  


UUU ...?

Golden ewes, perhaps? Moses would be pissed.
"U rang?", maybe?
Not circle of use, surely.
Hope to see U around?
And with this ring?
Probably just your original Eight Golden U's concept.
Or is it the M&A Christmas Wreath design?

Anyway... fun trying to guess.

Happy Holidays from up near the North Pole.

David 7:53 PM  

It's a folk song that people can sing however they like, but the lyric is "FIVE gold RINGS", and GOLDEN is wrong.

Slightly more of a problem than, SYRIAC, I'd say, but at this point the troll-splinterish character of this blog is one of it's main attractions.

Well, I'm off to watch my three hens frenching. Eww!

OISK 8:02 PM  

Never heard of "golden slumber," someone said it had something to do with the Beatles? I am one of the rare 68 year olds who never owned a Beatles album. Thanks the the Times puzzle, I now know that there is a person, or a group, called NSYNC, and I now know that they sang "I Promise you." I promise you that I have never heard of them(him) outside of the puzzle. In fact, I like to tell myself that NSYNC and INXS, and a few others are not real groups (people), but invented titles, created to provide odd linkages of letters in crossword puzzles!

Nice puzzle! Timely, clever, and above average difficulty for a Wednesday, for me, but fun. Good job!

retired_chemist 9:11 PM  

"but rings are rings and squares are squares ..........."

Not that anyone cares (or even should) at this late hour, but what about boxing rings?

Zwhatever 9:37 PM  

@David - Wikipedia tells me that 'golden' is a common North American variation.

@OISK - Some might argue that the scrabbly groups you cited have made a bigger contribution to xwords than to music.

spacecraft 11:12 AM  

Lots of folks seem not familiar with the Golden Horn, but no one mentioned MEAN. WOE is the golden that?? Must be a math thing, like the ratio. Good ol' Fibby.

We have a couple of title contenders--and today only Wedensday! I shudder for the rest of the week when I have to deal with: Obscure Region of the Year nominee OSSETIA, and Obscure Language of the Year candidate SYRIAC. Those two things have never touched my life before, and are 99.99% to never touch it again.

And thank goodness I didn't have to come up with aa or pahoehoe as grid entries! Luckily, LAVAS (I correctly assumed the common plural form for that S in the unknown 47a) forced their way in.

I avoided the MISSTEP of writing in MIStake too early; I usually "daable-check" a crossing entry or two before filling in something I'm not 100% sure of, and couldn't make the K work for a lawn tool.

I liked it. Sure, the SSRS/SYS complex was a bit much, but theme constraints prevail. I think he did a great job with it, even if STEELIER grates on the ear. Say, as the band improved through the years, they became "STEELIER Dan?"

I know, that was CORNY. Sorry. A yucky two pair, this pot's not mine.

Ginger 2:58 PM  

The Golden HORN is vital to the history of civilization, yet I didn't remember it until I came here. Learn (relearn) something every day.

Also learned more about OSSETIA and SYRIA(n)C. My barn red turned into and OWL. Took forever to see RECESSION, but in the end this Christmas Present was unwrapped.

Shout out to the Pacific NW at 56-A. (Hi @SIS) Shasta, at 14,179 is only 232 feet shorter than Ranier. Mt Hood seems taller though, because it's base is so close to sea level. Mt St Helens (which I can see from my bedroom) at 8365 is about 1300 feet shorter than it was pre-eruption. Another mountain reference at 30-A.

Never heard of STELLA Artois. Is it a regional beer? Anyone.

Impressive debut, Mr. Stulberg. I enjoyed it.

Two measly pair, 4's and 5's, won't beat much of anything.

DMG 3:12 PM  

Didn't realize this was a Christmas puzzle until i came here! Probably should learn to look at the date and such before I start, but somehow never do. I liked the puzzle, glad that OSSETIA and SLUMBER filled from the crosses. My only write over was MURK for MIst. And, with KABUKI, I wonder why NORI wasn't clued as Japanese food?

Think @OISK and @Z have figured out some kind of truth about these strange "names" that keep cropping up in puzzles!

Three 9's, two 2's. Is that what you poker players call a boat?

Happy Jan. 29th!

Dirigonzo 3:15 PM  

Even with LAVA_ staring me in the face the possibility of a simple plural ending evaded me; Caucasus was no help so I left it blank.

@Ginger - STELLA Artois is a Belgian beer common in these parts but maybe it hasn't reached your region?

I have fours and fives, too, but my boat is full with 3 fives.

Solving in Seattle 3:46 PM  

Jacob Stulberg, this was a golden debut for you! Really hope to see your puzzles again. I love the symmetry of the rings and how you cleverly have each of the golden things starting in the same place. (I think it was August West who pointed that out first.)

@Ginger, I really don't think of Shasta as a NW mountain because it's in California. Go north to the Sisters, Hood, Adams, St.Helens, Rainier and Baker. Yeah, they're in the NW. Cool that you can see, albeit 1300 feet less of, St Helens from your window.

BTW, the Belgian company that owns Stella Artois bought Anheuser Busch a couple of years back, so all those patriotic Budweiser commercials you see are really Flemish.

MIStake before MISSTEP, SYRIAn before SYRIAC, and I was on the pga tour before entertaining the troops on the USO tour.

@Spacy, from Wiki (cause I didn't know, either) "In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency."

@Diri, hope you're snug at anchor in Syndy cove. I'm snug in my full boat with fours over threes.

Go Hawks!

Zwhatever 3:54 PM  

@Ginger - STELLA Artois is one of the many labels owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, a multinational company that has a 25% share of the global beer market. Wikipedia says the original brewery has roots in the 1300s and this particular recipe began in the 1920's. I will hazard a guess that if you look closely the next time you are at your local beer retailer you will find it available. I suggest that you pass and pick up something by Pyramid instead.

wcutler 8:58 PM  

Wikipedia, as mentioned before, has interesting comments about the five gold rings. They do mention the idea of the first five gifts being birds, with the rings being pheasants or canaries or something else, but then it says an illustration from 1780 shows them as jewelry.

Dirigonzo 10:16 AM  

@wcutler (et al) - here's the definitive description of the five golden rings as provided by the recipient of the gifts.

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