Startling newsmaker of 10/4/1957 / THU 12-25-14 / Cassava lookalike / Backdrop for Chamonix / Duck Hunt console for short / Aquarium giant / Samosa topping /

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Constructor: Xan Vongsathorn

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging? Does that sound right? I was live-tweeting and drinking, so I have no idea ...

THEME: MIXED[NUT]S — all six permutations of "NUT," rebusized

Theme answers:

Word of the Day: Joe Quimby (46A: Joe Quimby on "The Simpsons," e.g. => MAYOR) —
Mayor Joseph "JoeQuimby, nicknamed "Diamond Joe," is a recurring character from the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, and first appeared in the episode "Bart Gets an F". A member of the Democratic Party, Quimby is the mayor of Springfield, and is a composite parody of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and certain other members of the Kennedy family who have entered politics. (wikipedia)

• • •

Merry Christmas. This will be one of my TERSEST write-ups ever, as it is late on Christmas Eve and everyone is heading off to bed in their new Christmas pajamas and I want to do same, asap. I was excited to see Xan's name as constructor today, as I haven't seen it for a while, and I like his work. I found this one quite hard at first, and then much less so, which is pretty standard with rebuses—they're brutal, then you pick up the gimmick, then they're not brutal. This grid doesn't even have an unusual name or term in it—I know, I looked. The fill is remarkably straightforward, though (mostly) not in a bad way. Outside the theme stuff, OPEN PIT is about as outrĂ© as it gets.

Nutmeg from Jacob Wild on Vimeo.

Fill in this one gets pretty rough in places, most notably in ETCHA / EHS / HAHAS territory. Yipes. But considering the theme density and the amount of very short fill, this thing's reasonably clean overall. My first thought on hitting the revealer was "I know I've seen this theme before." In fact, MIXED NUTS has been the revealer two other times since I started blogging, but one simply had rearranged "NUTS" hidden inside various theme answers, and the other rearranged specific nuts (i.e. CASHEW, PECAN, etc.) in the same fashion, and neither one of them was a rebus that worked in both directions and took all anagram permutations into account, so … I think this one wins. And to all a good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Unknown 12:39 AM  

Clean solve in 1:13. While it only took 5 minutes to detect 3 rebuses (at CHUTNEY and SPUTNIK) it took another 42 minutes to run across the clue suggesting there only 6 rebus squares in the entire puzzle. 6?! I counted 10 in my solve at that point, and I was only half way through. A few minutes later I discovered how CH(UTN)EY and SP(UTN)ICK could share one rebus and then 3!=6 pointed out that we were permuting NTU. I dropped in nutbowl for MIXED(NUT)S and carried along happily. Only after an hour did I bother to figure which premutation was missing: NUT itself, so I corrected that one finally.

I made my stereotypical rebus error in this puzzle before and after the real rebus presented itself. Give me one rebus and I'll find 10 more to go with it. [track figure] was (ow)ens for OVAL. [Hairy menace] was crea(tu)re for TARA(NTU)LA which crossed DO(wn)(tu)RN. Charlie Parker played (ja)zz or j(az)z or ja(zz), and so I had a lot to work with. You can see I got into the deep end of the wrongness rabbit warren and almost quit.

I ended staring at [CHarlie Parke genre] _Ot/[After-dinner serving] tORT and [Dish] _ABE when Mrs Kid reminded me that PORT was a possibility. I was done 10 seconds later.

Challenging. Solvable. Superb Christmas gift from Will ET ALII.

Moly Shu 12:42 AM  

Yikes @Rex, maybe a little too much eggnog. Thought this was easy. YEGG, ALP, OREGANO. ARCHWAY, MAYOR/MAYANS, EGG, ZED, NES all gimmies here. 2d had to be AMOUNT, a quick across check and the rebus was revealed. Flew through it after that. Especially liked the clue for ORIGAMI. Well, now I can go to sleep and dream of sugar plum CHUTNEY. Liked it.

okanaganer 12:45 AM  

Merry Christmas all. Thank you Rex manning your post even on this special family night.

Nice gentle puzzle for Thurebusday; the theme answers are symmetrical and everything. However I gotta ask: how on earth does the clue for 65A make any sense? It would make sense for the answer ZEE. The clue "What an American organization lacks" would make sense for ZED. Right?

Unknown 12:50 AM  

@Okanaganer A British organisation does indeed lack a ZED. Misdirect achieved by using the American spelling.

Moly Shu 12:53 AM  
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Moly Shu 12:56 AM  

Yea, what @Casco said. Damn slow typing fingers ( muttered to myself ).

Steve J 1:02 AM  

Really enjoyed this. Found it a bit tough, even with sniffing out a rebus, and then the rebus, relatively quickly. Biggest slowdown was trying to figure out where the rebus went in the NE and SE (the revealer took me a surprisingly long time to solve), and also,somehow, not picking up that the rebuses were variations on NUT until I actually did get the revealer. But the struggle was worth it, giving that satisfaction of having worked and finally figured things out.

Add in relatively clean fill - the clunky bits were either largely unnoticed by me or helped me get a foothold, as with YEGG and ETCH-A - and some nice clues, and this was a really fun Thursday.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.

Whirred Whacks 1:04 AM  

Hats off to the Xan-ster! Opening this puzzle on Christmas Eve gave me much enjoyment! Played easy for me.

I liked WE(T NU)RSE. (Jeff Chen over at Xwordinfo said that answer might be too off-color for the NYT. Hey Jeff: the NYT already gave us SHTUP this year!)

ORIGAMI seems to be my word of the day. (Right before I did the puzzle, I read a fascinating article about an MIT lab trying to create “graphene origami,” in which graphene sheets are folded to mimic cell organelles.) Who knows, maybe I'll receive some paper cranes or DEVIL RAYS tomorrow.

Interesting historical note: this NUTS puzzle comes almost 70 years to the day (Dec 22, 1944) after American General McAullife said "NUTS" to the Germans after they asked him to surrender at the Battle of the Bulge.

jae 1:07 AM  

Like @Moly Shu I found this on the easy side, getting YEGG, YAM, MOTO, and EMO right off the bat which gave me AMOUNT and a clue to the rebus. I also had a cocktail to two before doing this, but that didn't seem to be a problem.

Could have clued 24d using Romney?

Clever and fun, liked it too. 

Tita 1:35 AM  

Fun. Super-fast. SPUTNIK gave it away..
12d should be PORTo. I had some this evening after-dinner.

Thanks Rex for the bright commentary lo this Christmas Eve.

Thank you, Xan, for this zippy gift in rebus packaging.

Veloso 1:55 AM  

I've only been doing crosswords for a couple of months, but this is my first Thursday NYT solve without resorting to any outside references. Merry Christmas to me?

Like others here, SPUTNIK/CHUTNEY clued me into the theme. I was stuck for a while with O[UTN]UMBER instead of OU[TNU]MBER; until I figured that out, the NE was driving me nuts.

I had guessed the 20a clue "packing" meant "armed", but couldn't get anything to fit, and abandoned that idea. It was only well later when crosses realized 38a had to be NRA that I revisited it, this time with knowledge of the rebus theme.

John Child 2:04 AM  
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John Child 2:05 AM  

Two thumbs up from me. It'd be more if I had more thumbs. (Do big toes count?)

Smelled a rebus at SPUTNIK and tried (PUT). Took it out quickly once I grokked the error in the CHUTNEY clue. (One doesn't "top" a somosa with chutney. Instead you dip the somosa in the sauce.)

I liked SURREAL, GUN TOTING, and A TO (turn the corner) ZED. I found EVIL, M&A's HAR, and Z of course in the grid. Are any other of the MIXED NUTS who frequent thi blog represented?

Happy holidays to all!

okanaganer 2:45 AM  

Hmm...learn something every day!:

"American spelling avoids -ise endings... British spelling mostly uses -ise, while -ize is also used... In Canada, the -ize ending is standard, whereas in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand -ise spellings strongly prevail" (Wiki)

No wonder I'm confused...I'm Canadian. We're probably the only place that uses both "-ize" and ZED.

Anonymous 3:16 AM  

Is "YEGG" regional slang? I've never ever heard of this term, and I'm not young.

Anonymous 3:26 AM  

@Casco Kid,

It's an unwritten rule that rebuses are used only in constrained ways, according to some pattern that you have to figure out, and which will vary for each specific puzzle. You are never going to have them used with wild abandon, all over the place with no rhyme or reason.

jae 3:53 AM  

@Anon 3:16 - I only know YEGG from crosswords but this seems interesting

also yegg-man, 1901, a word popular in the first decade of the 20th century and meaning vaguely "hobo burglar; safe-breaker; criminal beggar."
The great majority [of the Chicago criminal population] are what certain detectives call "Yegg-men," which is a term, by the way, that the detectives would do well to define. As far as I can discover it means tramp-thieves, but the average tramp seldom uses the word. Hoboes that break safes in country post-offices come under the Yegg-men classification." [McClure's Magazine, Feb. 1901]
Popularized by the Pinkerton agency detectives. The 1900 "Proceedings of the 26th annual convention of the American Bankers' Association," whose members were protected by the Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, reported a letter dated Nov. 23 or 24, 1899, returning $540, taken earlier that year, to the Scandinavian-American Bank of St. Paul, Minn., noting that the thieves had been so hounded by detectives that they gave up the gains and advised the bank to advertise that it was a member of the American Bankers Association, because "the American Bankers Association is too tough for poor 'grafters.'" The letter supposedly was signed "John Yegg," but this was said to be a pseudonym and the report identified the man arrested later in the case as William Barrett.

Ellen S 3:55 AM  

I thought it was just hard enough, and fun. When I found the first two rebus answers I hoped that I was looking at permutations of U, N and T, and that they'd be symmetrically placed. If I'd been wrong, the puzzle would have been a whole lot harder.

But I do have a problem with 34-down. In what universe is TAP WATER free? In India, people aren't even allowed to collect rain water that falls out of the sky. In Detroit, a judge said, "Affordable water is not a human right."

I don't know about Bolivia, where the people fought back against, what, Bechtel owning their water. But there's a difference between "not a commodity for private profit" and "free."

Anyway, anon 3:16, I think YEGG is a rather specialized term for a safecracker. I've seen it in cartoons. Old cartoons. And crossword puzzles. If I wasn't already tucked up under the covers I'd go look in my 1907 dictionary. I'll do it tomorrow if I remember.

Ellen S 3:56 AM  

Re, YEGG: thanks, @JAE.

Thomas808 4:30 AM  

Fun puzzle. When I got the first rebus at G(UNT)OTING I thought it might be the start of a "UNTO us a child..." and when I got the second rebus at WE(TNU)RSE I thought "it's a play on NUTcracker". After getting a couple more I realized there was no Christmas theme going on. Pretty good constructing to get all permutations of the theme. I was a little disappointed with the relatively low number of "?" clues, especially after yesterday's masterpiece, but looking back I see some deceptively fun clues, e.g. for DEVILRAY, PEROXIDE, ARCHWAY, and ORIGAMI, so for a good theme, decent fill, and some clever clues, great job!

Charles Flaster 4:53 AM  

Easy as ETCHA caught my eye with sketch.
This led to SPUTNIK/CHUTNEY cross.
When I finished I realized I only had 5 of the rebi. Now I took quite a bit of time to find
Mr. 6.It was at 31D crossing 40 A. Ronda /Penia seemed right.
Finally got the last nut at ROTUNDA/PETUNIA.
Thought 10D could have been clued "Dish".
Also 7A was a bit too vague (IMO).
Liked cluing for OVAL, ORIGAMI, RIP UP and GO VIRAL.
Never heard of NES.
Overall rated medium and very enjoyable.
Thanks XV.

John Child 6:48 AM  

@Greg Falcon - Congratulations! A clean solution to a Thursday rebus puzzle is a great milestone. You should be pleased. Now on to Fridays!

evil doug 7:39 AM  

There was an ARCHWAY cookie plant outside the Ft. Wayne, IN, airport. The crew would offload our passengers, race to the outlet store for some fresh cookies, and hustle back onto the airplane to board the outbound flight. "Sorry for the short delay, ladies and gentlemen...."

Ellen: at every restaurant in America? My church applies all its Christmas Eve offerings to building wells in Africa--where long treks or unsanitary conditions make drinking water a much more prized commodity....

Merry Christmas,

evil doug 7:44 AM  

John C:
(Jerry and George are at the coffee shop, trying to decipher what Sophie calls "the tractor story"....)

George: You know what I think? I bet she stole a tractor.

Jerry: No one's stealing a tractor, it's a five-mile-an-hour getaway. We're dancing around the obvious, it's gotta be disfigurement.

George: Oh. Okay, here it is, I got it. She lost her thumbs in a tractor
accident and they grafted her big toes on. They do it every day.

Jerry: You think she's got toes for thumbs?

George: How's her handshake? A little firm, isn't it? Maybe a little too

Jerry: I don't know....

George: Hands a little smelly?

Jerry: Why do I seek your counsel?

jberg 8:28 AM  

Merry Christmas, everybody! I got the rebus right off, with AMOUNT/GUN-TOTING, followed quickly by SPUTNIK/CHUTNEY, and thought "The Nutcracker!" Disappointed there, but this puzzle still a nice holiday romp.

My only gripe is A TO Z crossing ZED, which seems like a duplication to me.

Two major difficulties. First, the East and West sides are barely connected, so unless you get SURREAL you just have to start over. I thought of it, but rejected it at first, as "out of body" doesn't quite fit the art.

A much bigger problem was choosing the wrong rebus square in OUTNUMBER; or rather, not choosing, but failing to notice that there was another possibility. This choice not only blocked 8 and 9D, but made me disgruntled because the same NUT permutation was used twice, while one was missing. Finally I noticed it, and all was well.

Time to start getting the goose ready for the oven. I hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Unknown 8:34 AM  

Fun. Got YEGG right off the bat, but only because I have committed it to memory after (only) seeing it in numerous crosswords. Does anyone even break into safes anymore? Why bother?

CHUTNEY unlocked the rebus (see what I did there?!)😉

Fun puzzle, but I must ask, why not a Christmas theme?

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

@Ellen S...your comment on water not being free is one I was going to make.

@evil doug...In a restaurant, normally the water and bread are given to the customer at no charge, but they are not free. Just a question of who pays for it.

Drinking water may become a prized commodity in our arid west if we're not careful! Read Cadillac Desert.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Hey Evlil Doug, are you a pilot or something? Because this is definitely the first any of us has heard about that. We all continue to be very impressed.

Mohair Sam 8:46 AM  

Easy, clean, nifty rebus - perfect Christmas Thursday puzzle.

Hand up with the crowd that got the rebus at SPUTNIK/CHUTNEY.

Hand up with the "know the gimme YEGG only from crosswords" crowd.

@rex - live tweeting and drinking can be a dangerous mix.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Rex's review, once again: I like the constructor, so I'll forgive the crappy fill and the theme that's been used before.

AliasZ 8:48 AM  

Peace on EARTH and good will to AMEN. Merry Christmas everyone, especially to you, @Rex!

Clever rebus puzzle with a twist. For a few moments I was obsessing about the rebus being a single [NUT] instead of a whole bunch of [NUTS]. Isn't this nuts? But this way it makes more sense: the revealing phrase refers to the way the six permutationS of a lonely [NUT] ARE spread around the grid symmetrically. Cool.

This must be the first NYT puzzle in history that features both OREGANO and ORIGAMI. It must be significant.

If there is an ENGENDER, there must also be an em-gender, as in en-dash and em-dash. Right?

Previous DOOK Award winner ATOZ makes a cameo appearance with the additional twist of turning the corner into ATOZED, as pointed out by @JC. We also see ZEN and ZED, EGG and YEGG, NES and ONES, and who knows what all else. Neato.

I never knew a girl by the name of PETUNIA. Oh wait, I know: PETUNIA Clark, wasn't she a popular singer in the 1960's?

That's it for now, except for this little Christmas song.

Z 9:08 AM  

Wondering if the MIXED NUTS theme is a shout-out to the commentariat.

@Evil - Nice gesture by your church.

@Ellen S - Don't get me going on Detroit - a corrupt mayor, a racist legislature, and some hedge funds cause a civic bankruptcy then the governor and his lackey go around patting themselves on the back for "solving" the problem (partially) on the backs of retirees. It's nice to see this town coming back, but some of the bumps on the road should be in jail.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyous Festivus, and may all our trolls come out of hiding.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Yes, Evil Doug! I love how you find any obscure jump-off point in the puzzle to allow yourself to brag about being a pilot. It's all about YOU! Keep it up, don't let the bastards get you down.

Arlene 9:17 AM  

This is a fabulous puzzle! I knew we had a rebus at SPUTNIK, but didn't know how at that point. Then came MIXED NUTS, and it was a great solve from then on.
The NE came last - and I just couldn't believe WETNURSE - what a great clue!
It was all straight-forward, no strangeness.

Blue Stater 9:22 AM  

Well, this one started brutal and stayed that way, the usual case for me and rebuses. The SW was the most difficult corner of a puzzle I've encountered in many years. I keep hoping for the return of the pure crossword puzzle, but to no avail, I guess.

RooMonster 9:34 AM  

Hey All !
Like a bunch of peeps before me, got the rebus at SPUTNIK/CHUTNEY. Only know CHUTNEY from working at a grocery store! Used to stock the aisle it was in! (I know, Evil Doug, it's not as glamorous as your ex-job :-D)

Managed to flow through puz at a fairly steady clip, no writeovers until I hit the NE corner. Sussed out all the other 5 rebi, then stared at the blank NE. First had minT for 12D, then lol/lOadUP for 7A/7D. Finally sussed TEREST, which somehow got me WETNURSE/OUTNUMBER , BOOTUP, then PORT. Couldn't see BABE, so had raP for 10A! Figured with so many rap clues in NYT, why not?

So, overall liked it, fairly easy-med *for a rebus* (;-P) . I see my YEGG made it back! And HAR! M&A, har. This puz was actually 6 runts put together, neato.


quilter1 9:38 AM  

Easy for me. Got the rebus at OUTNUMBER/WETNURSE and I was off.

Merry Christmas to all. Be safe and well.

RooMonster 9:38 AM  

Oh, and
Merry Christmas!


Lewis 9:53 AM  

@alias -- unless you were doing your punning, it was Petula Clark.

I just smiled through this puzzle, don't even know why. As I look at it afterward, no particular memorable answers. But I loved the theme and I absolutely loved the clue for ORIGAMI. And I like EGG and YEGGS in the corners. Just a happy feeling puzzle to me, perfectly wrapped for the holiday.

Teedmn 9:54 AM  

A rebus for Christmas; Santa, by way of the NYT and Xan Vongsathorn, totally delivered!

For once, got the rebus at the first crossing, though didn't know it would vary until CHUTNEY/SPUTNIK. Slowed down a bit in the SW and NE just a little. Loved the clue for ORIGAMI. Really wanted to put in HEIFER for WETNURSE but that's just my rural upbringing showing.

A great puzzle, IMO. A wonderful Dec. 25th to you all!

Unknown 10:04 AM  

@GregFalcon Good for you! That spritz of serotonin that accompanies a clean solve is damned addictive. It took me most of a year to fell a Friday, about a year to snare a Sunday, and about 14 months to score with a Saturday. Ah, you never forget your first Saturday!

Great to have you in our bowl of MIXED(NUT)S, as @Z points out. You are welcome here.

Merry Christmas, everyone, from the waiting room of the pediatric practice. Mrs. (Dr.) Kid is on manger duty. She'll be back from the hospital neonatal nursery shortly.

OISK 10:04 AM  

Way to go, Casco! I struggled, wondered, hesitated, AHA!!!, got it! That's what an end of week, Thurs to Sat ought to be! Great puzzle. Merry Christmas, friends.

mathguy 10:07 AM  

Really impressed that the constructor was able to place all six permutations of NUT in the grid. After I got two or three, I wrote out the others and hunted for where they might be hiding. That was a lot of fun.

Feliz Navidad! to you all.

Generic Solver 10:10 AM  

Is it within crossword guidelines to allow "ha has" and "har" in the same puzzle? Aren't they essentially variants of the same word/utterance?

AliasZ 10:15 AM  

Today's theme gives me the oppor[TUN]ity to steal a mi[NUT]e of your time and reco[UNT] one of my not insignifican[TNU]mber of adve[NTU]res during the past ce[NTU]ry. Back then I had the good for[TUN]e to climb many dimi[NUT]ive mo[UNT]ains. My devo[UTN]ness led me to the grea[TNU]bian desert, then to the highest peak of P[UTN]am Co[UNT]y. I did[NTU]se up all my energy either. True, my [NUT]ritional needs, supplied mostly by MIXED NUTS, weren't too great, b[UTN]ot insignificant either. I did no[TNU]llify my plans for future climbs. Finally reaching the peak offered a s[TUN]ning view and the slightes[TNU]nuance of a s[UNT]an.

AliasZED, one of the MIXED NUTS (hi @ZED) comprising the commentariat here at Rexworld.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

They ain't makin' Jews like Jesus anymore...

Bob Kerfuffle 10:30 AM  

Don't recall having seen Xan V's name on puzzles much recently, but when I did I knew it would be a good one.

Overall fun and not too hard, but an early mistake slowed me down a bit. I thought I was putting in only "for sure" answers, but I had convinced myself that 2 D, "Come (to)" was AMOF, as "I have come to the opinion that . . ." equals "I am of the opinion that . . ." I just left gibberish at 20 A until I had grasped the rebus, and the rest of the puzzle went smoothly.

Merry Christmas to all!

BTW, her's a gal named Petunia.

joho 10:37 AM  

Thank you, Xan, for this marvelous Xmas puzzle ... as fresh as a just- opened vacuum packed can of UTNS!

Even if this theme has been done before I doubt it was executed so brilliantly.

@Casco Kid, love your blow-by-blow accounts of your solves!

@Andrew Morrison, I think a bowl of SNTU at a Christmas party is pretty festive and right on point for the season and for today.

I'm grateful for this most special Thursday rebus gift!

Carola 10:39 AM  

A very pleasant Christmas morning challenge for me, while the young'uns (yikes, daughter turning 40 tomorrow!) are still hanging out with the sugar plums.

It took me all the way to the reveal to understand we were dealing with a NUT rebus; then the SPUTNIK, ROTUNDA, and TARANTULA I'd wanted earlier but had no space for suddenly fit. Some wrong ideas in the crosses held me up: I thought of yogurt as a samosa topping, and "I'm in" for AMEN had my flowery girl beginning Pi.... for a while.

Center cross: SURREAL x NRA. Tell me about it.


Anonymous 10:44 AM  

No Christmas theme on Christmas morning?
You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch...

BillyC 10:54 AM  

@Alias --

Surely you know THIS Petunia. ;-)

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Help! How does one delete a post?

r.alphbunker 11:02 AM  

I for one enjoy Evil Doug's pilot stories. The fact that he didn't comment on SP[UTN]IK tells me that he never seriously considered being an astronaut.

Nice puzzle. The northeast corner was the last to fall. I wrote out all the five permutations of nut that I had so far to find the one (TNU) that was hiding there. The T made WET and the rest is history.

For those thinking of the ACPT there is a metapuzzle contest on the web that offers the registration fee for the tournament as one of the prizes.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

R.alph --

Evil an astronaut?...

They have to possess "The Right Stuff."

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Anonymous @1100: Anonymice can't delete posts. No matter how fucking rude, or stupid, or mistaken, or mistimed, or inappropriate. Like this one, it's out there forever. Unless the god-like rex deletes it.

Michael Joseph 11:19 AM  

Excellent puzzle. Hip. Clever. Well constructed. Got the rebus at ROTUNDA/PETUNIA and sailed off from there. Thanks, Xan, for the great Christmas present.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

@Anon11:11 --

Merry Christmas to you, too.

old timer 11:26 AM  

I thought Rex would dislike this one, but he's been in a good mood recently. Must be he likes Christmas.

I got BOOTUP, TERSEST, OREGANO and the entire NE corner right away. And, after all, it's Thursday, often Rebus Day. So WE TNU RSE was easy to figure out. From then on, it was just trying to figure out where the other TNU's were, and SP UTN IK made it obvious that they would permute.

My favorite: TARA NTU LA.

My WOE: confifidently putting down LEG for 28 Down. I knew that could not be right when the other LEG showed up.

Masked and Anonymo10Us 11:38 AM  

Happy HARidays, everybody. What a fine bunch of Christmas nUts!

U-count is a complicated, multi-tiered complex. Do not try this, at home...
* Non-rebus U's: 4.
* Rebus U's: 6.

Nice giant plus signs, in the grid design. Approved.

fave weeject: HAR. Also, about as close as the puz got to a Christmas reference. GOVIRAL might get honrable mention, if yer eggnog sits out too long. That ain't gonna happen at @63's house, tho.

Here's. big thanx to Xan, and all the other mixed constructioneer nuts, that crank out all these fun puzs, throughout the year. U rock.


retired_chemist 11:52 AM  

Nice one. Got the rebus, as others, at CH(UTN)EY/SP(UTN)IK. Last one was OU(TNU)MBER/WE(TNU)RSE, but I knew to look for the (TNU) since it was the only one of the six permutations left. Medium all told. Friday time, but that is usual for me on a rebus.

EARTH was surprisingly hard for me. Even though I had it in firat, two of its crosses were rebuses and I did not grok the rebus early enough.

Solid fill, well-excuted theme. A nice Christmas present to do while non-puzzle wife takes a nap.

Thanks, Mr. Vongsathorn.

r.alphbunker 11:59 AM  


And then there is r[unt] Thanks to George for pointing that out.

Brigadier General McAuliffe 12:01 PM  

To the German Commander.


The American Commander

Questinia 12:01 PM  
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Clark 12:11 PM  

A gem of a puzzle. Getting all permutations, once each; and doing it symmetrically--that is easier said than done.

Many thanks, Xan.

@Ellen S and anonymouse 8:40. Your thoughts about the value of water are important and praiseworthy, but they don't register in crossworld unless we change all the rules. Since when does one sense of a word (even one that we associate with something important and praiseworthy) obliterate every other sense? Shall I have a glass of Zinfandel ($15)? Or a Coke ($5)? Or tap water ($0).

Merry Christmas to all.

abstractblueman 12:23 PM  

I stared at __MEG for quite some time, thinking "What the hell kind of spice has only four letters and ends with M-E-G?...It has to be NUT!"... After this long bout with idiocy, the rest of the solve was relatively easy.

Merry Xmas!

Questinia 12:35 PM  

Did this drunk on glögg. But a glögg drunk is different than a regular drunk. Like hash compared to MJA. One retains lucidity and the effects are more activating.

♨︎ Swedish Glögg ♨︎:

-Bottle of cheap red wine (750ml) I use Gallo.
-Cheap vodka (1 liter) I use Majorska.
-Admixture of : cloves, cinnamon stick, large chunk fresh ginger, orange peel from one orange, cardamom pods or seeds wrapped in cheese cloth or a large loose tea infuser. Amounts of spices are to taste. I use a teaspoon of each or so.
-Sugar cubes around 1 cup.

Bring alcohol just to the point of a boil and add spices and orange peel. Let sit for a while (i let it sit over night). Remove spices.

Place sugar cubes in a heat-proof colander/sieve or on a metal grate over a large pot.

Warm alcohol and set it on fire. While it is flaming pour it over the sugar cubes and into the pot below. This can be quite dramatic!! Sugar that doesn't melt can be reused.

Replace spices and let sit for a few hours. Or not. Bottle it up and cork it. When serving heat it to a simmer but don't let boil lest alcohol will disappear.
Serve with raisins and almonds or figs/dates in small small cups.
A little goes a long way (for a light weight such as me)
I once spontaneously danced a Polka with my mother in the kitchen after we both had a drink. There was no music.

YEGG went right in as I read a book written by a YEGG who described his life of crime and being a drifter/hobo.

Good puzzle while ripped on glögg

Leapfinger 12:47 PM  


Unlike some others, I caught the rebus in the NE, but did that only after filling half the grid, except for four doggedly blank squares. Not seeing the rebus sooner MAY OR may not have had something to do with the firm conviction that I was solving a Wednesday puzzle... even though 1957 shouted SPUTNIK at me. EGG on my face? Indeed!! Lesson #1: Attention must be paid, no matter the distractions. Shall keep that in mind for next time, PER OXIDE, Sulfide, Halide or High Water.

Loved how the grid cornered with YEGG/EGG, A TO ZED and Little BO PORT (formerly Little BO Mint). Not exactly MAD for being OVERRUN with TARANTULAs, but I'll do ZEN EGGs any day of the week.

Some TRIED and TRUED highlights were:
SUR REAL and his Lady DAZEy
SUDS and ALE, S. Maugham's prequel to "Cakes and ALE"
The generally DEVIL RAY Care attitude that shone through the puzzle, and several times made me cry "MOMA!", esp for the WET NURSE clue.


@Alias, EN-GENDER denotes Neuter, EM-GENDER would be Masculine and EF-GENDER would be Feminine. Since you brought it up.
Also, the Heavenly Angels were just that.

Peace on EARTH, and Good Will Hunting for all humanity.

Ludyjynn 1:11 PM  

Okay, Guys. I have three alternate answers which I was sooo sure 'fit' and would not make for a DNF. Here goes:

1. 23A-BUDS instead of SUDS, as in "this Bud's for you!";
2. 42A-INGENDER instead of ENGENDER, which Google acknowledges as a "variant";
3. 23D-BURRIAL instead of SURREAL, because your soul leaves your body = out of body experience??!!

Of course, I added an extra 'R', but who's counting?!

This puzz. was a SURREAL experience. At the outset, it looked completely hopeless, but after walking away three times, it came together. I would not have been that tenacious before discovering Rex and the commentariat. You have all forced me to get better and for that I am grateful. BTW, it was comforting to see OFL rate this one medium-challenging, as I was sure he would have blown right through it.

Thanks, XV and DS.

Unknown 1:49 PM  

For the record, guys, I believe I solve d the basic Bunker/Barany/Hanko competiton puzzle in 65 minutes, requiring 6 googles, which should disqualify me from prizes, etc. Puzzazz keeps the time counting as the check feature is disabled "for competition purposes," so I won't know that I have it right unless I bother to hack the puz file, which seems fair-game given the enigmatic subject matter. It is mostly Wednesday-esque with a Friday-esque NW corner. As regards the competiton meta, well, I'll spare you my flailings, but I'll stick to my previous philosphy: seek until you find something fun, funny, entertaining, interesting, or wholly absurd. Then stop. You win.

Elephant's Child 1:50 PM  

@Anonymous 10:15
They also aren't making Christians like Jesus anymore.

@Brig Gen McAuliffe, I have been given to understand that what you actually said was considerably TANGier than just plain "NUTs!"

@AliasZED, I enjoyed the slighT NUance of sUNTanning your hide, aN UTmost bit of forTUNe that cUT None of the heaping coNTUmely potential. [We might be OUTNUMBERed, but I think we GOT EVEN.]

Yoicks! I'm getting ROTUNDA with every passing meal!!

Andrew Heinegg 2:10 PM  

I never cease to be amazed that, no matter whether Rex likes or dislikes a puzzle, some people have to launch a personal attack on him, even on Christmas and even when it looks like they may be in agreement with his assessment of the puzzle! If you disagree with him for reasons that are rational and elucidable, go ahead. But, personal attacks are so tiresome and juvenile, especially in the setting of this little friendly and frequently entertaining and educational blog.

Best holiday wishes to Rex and the many positive contributors to the blog, Casco Kid, Lewis, Steve, the chefs and many others. I get the sense that you are intelligent, positive and genuinely nice people and your posts are a must-read for me every day. Thank you.

Ellen S 2:12 PM  

@Anonymous 11:00, you can delete your post if you were signed in with a Google account. @Anon 11:11, thank you for assuming every anonymouse except you is rude.

@Evil, thanks, I hadn't considered restaurants. It costs them, but not the diner. Good work by your church; I thought about wells, but they aren't taps. They are sure useful in water-deprived areas, though.

Thanks for the puzzle Xan, and for the year of puzzles, every one.

Lewis 2:30 PM  

Factoid: There are plans for an ORIGAMI airplane to be launched from space. A prototype passed a durability test in a wind tunnel on March 2008, and Japan's space agency adopted it for feasibility studies. (Wikipedia)

Quotoid: "The fact that life evolved out of nearly nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved out of literally nothing, is a fact so staggering that I would be MAD to attempt words to do it justice." -- Richard Dawkins

Lewis 2:42 PM  

@andrew -- thank you for those kind words, and best holiday wishes right back at you!

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

@Ellen S @1412, you are an idiot. It was a tongue-in-cheek post, but you are too self-important and superior to recognize irony. Did you not see the "like this one?" Get over yourself.

chefbea 3:25 PM  

Fun puzzle. Eating nuts as I type. Merry Xmas to all

AnonyMOMA 4:00 PM  

Watching the NUTcracker again, as I do every year, and never tire of it; realized that makes today's puzzle timely in one way.

Would like to think that this is one day that people would leave off the insulting remarks. Can we try it?

Juan Valdez 4:15 PM  


Your church should perhaps look into cisterns. They are easy to construct, are always a useful adjunct to wells and in some cases are a definitely better option. You always know when you've finished constructing a cistern; with wells, you often don't know how much further you still have to drill.

I understand that fresh water comprises less than 2% of all the water on this planet. We ought probably pay more attention to how fracking is apt to affect the aquifer.

chefwen 5:13 PM  

Andrew - Thank you, that was sweet.

Handed the puzz to Jon last night when I went in to sling some hash. He calls out "what's an apple pie seasoning - 4 letters?" me - the only one I can think of is NUTmeg. He - I SAID FOUR letters. I said, I don't know, maybe we have to draw a little nut in the square. Set the puzz aside to continue with festivities and when I picked it up this morning and got amoUNT AND gUNToting, said HAR and went and filled in my NUTmeg.

Had a best friend in grade/high school who's name was Anne, but we all called her TUNI, her mother thought she smelled like a Petunia when she was a baby ergo. TUNI.


Hungry Mother 5:22 PM  

Easy Thursday for me, normally pretty slow. Fun rebus to work with.

Unknown 5:23 PM  

I always enjoy Evil Doug's comments - keep 'em coming!

Clark 6:17 PM  

Hi @Chefwen --

I figured the apple pie spice at four letters was Mace. But that made it easy when I realized what was going on. It's not far from Mace to Nutmeg.

Semi-Puzzle Partner and Barcelona Guy (we are in the middle of one of our regular trans-oceanic skype puzzle session) say Merry Christmas (and SPP says he misses your great, big muffins).

Leapfinger 6:27 PM  

Finally got around to doing the "Ode to Joy" puzzle. Thanks, GB and Friends, that was a nice adjunct to today's solving experience. An interesting mix of [?] horoscopically related individuals.

chefwen 6:32 PM  

@Clark - Merry Christmas back right back to you and "the boys".

Muffins were mentioned in the new Tasting Kauai Restaurant Guide which we received as a gift from our renter. Made me pretty proud. Tell SPP he knows where to find them.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

Yeah we should all be nicer. Because Jesus.

Z 7:39 PM  

Or even just because. I hope everyone's Thursday was a good one. I imagine that as me on the left and Evil or OISK on the right.

Tita 10:37 PM  

Because it's nice to be nice.

Anonymous 6:50 AM  

Aww that's sweet. What are you, 4 years old?

evil doug 5:31 PM  

Thank you, Kris. D

Unknown 3:47 PM  

How I Got My Lover Back {}...

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Thanks... Stacy Donald

rondo 10:18 AM  

Thank you Stacy for that wonderful Christmas story.
I really don't understand the love for this puz. The first row and a half alone contain 6 three letter answers! That's no way to start (and finish). At least 17 threes in toto. I dislike. Commenters may be a group of MIXEDNUTS, or all drinking @questinia's quaff. Or just full of the old Christmas spirit. 5 weeks out I'm tending to not be so generous.

Can't call a Florida baseballer a DEVILRAY anymore since the dropped the DEVIL part in order to be PC.

I'm always interested to see what @Evil Doug has to say, and most often agree if he has an opinion.

25d could have been clued "Packer Clinton-dix and others". How many HAHAS do you think are out there??

Well, I guess I'll RIPUP the paper now and toss it in the woodstove where this puz belongs.


spacecraft 10:21 AM  

I seem to recall a dime novel titled "The Scrambled YEGGS," a Shell Scott mystery by Richard Prather. It would be fascinating to know the true origin of that NUTty word. I can buy the "John Yegg" story.

It took a while to find a foothold, but when I found it, it was a doozy: PEROXIDE immediately suggested MIXED[NUT]S and I was off and running. I thought this puzzle to be very clever and remarkably clean, considering the plethora of threes. This is as chopped-up as a late-week grid ever gets: no entry longer than seven squares. Usually those types of grid contain much dreck; not so here. Sure, ATOZED around the corner is a defect, but that's small potatoes.

Kudos for pulling off a different order of letters for each of the six rebi. This puzzle ought to GOVIRAL. A. (Woulda been A+ but for that SW corner)

rondo 10:37 AM  

BTW - Re: my previous comment, rolled up newspaper in a toilet paper tube makes great kindling, especially with an unlikable puz on the outside and watching the blue ink answers burn into greenish flame.

Xan, you're still a good person.

rain forest 2:20 PM  

Well, we're all entitled to our opinion.

As for me, I very much liked this puzzle for the construction feat, the six rebus squares, the fine fill, and range of cluing.

I think I am the only solver, though, who doesn't understand ONES column. I'm sure it is obvious, but it escapes me. Oooh, doh! I just got it. And I'm not even drinking eggnog...or glogg.

DMG 3:23 PM  

What a gem of construction! Can't imagine finding the right number of "nut" words and them making them cross at the right place. Kudos to Xan! I had to make changes in the culinary department as minT mutated into PORT and mace became NUTMEG. I also,had to figure out which permutation was missing before I could OUTNUMBER the clues. Enjoyed it all. and a belated Happy Holidays!


crabby 5:15 PM  

Correction - there were 17 three letter across answers. 6 more down. That makes 23, dang near 1/3. Humbug.

longbeachlee 9:14 PM  

There are 6 combinations (or is it permutations?) of the letters in nut. He used all 6. Impressive

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