Physics Nobelist who pioneered in quantum physics / WED 12-30-15 / French comic series that has sold 350+ million copies worldwide / Old knockoff of IBM product / Last royal house of Italy

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: AULD LANG SYNE — the song you sing on NEW / YEAR'S / EVE (64A: With 65- and 66-Across, when to sing the song in the circled squares)

Theme answers:
  • PAUL DIRAC (20A: Physics Nobelist who pioneered in quantum mechanics)
  • ALAN GREENSPAN (37A: Federal Reserve chairman under four presidents)
Word of the Day: GREASY NEALE (51A: Football Hall-of-Famer with a nickname befitting his elusiveness on the field) —
Alfred Earle "Greasy" Neale (November 5, 1891 – November 2, 1973) was an American football and baseball player and coach. // Neale was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Although writers eventually assumed that Neale got his nickname, "Greasy", from his elusiveness on the football field, it actually arose during his youth, from a name-calling joust with a friend. [...] Neale was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969. Both inductions recognized his coaching career. (wikipedia)
• • •

New Year's Eve is still December 31, right? They didn't move it. I don't really understand doing a New Year's Eve puzzle *not* on New Year's Eve. I get that this puzzle *type* is more Wednesday than Thursday, but a holiday puzzle should fall on the holiday, day of the week be damned. That, or constructors should anticipate the day their holiday puzzle will fall on and plan accordingly. They have calendars now that can see well into the future and tell you such things. This is a very basic puzzle type, but the execution is interesting. Not sure I enjoyed it, but it is interesting: mirror symmetry, plus circles, plus the rarely-if-ever seen Entire Bottom Line revealer. Two of the three theme answer names seem pretty obscure for Wed. theme answers. Not that PAUL DIRAC and GREASY NEALE aren't puzzle-worthy; they're just niche famous, whereas ALAN GREENSPAN is all-the-way famous (which is to say, he's alive and remains prominent in the cultural memory—100 years from now, ALAN GREENSPAN will probably be the third-most-famous themer in this puzzle). I barely knew DIRAC, and while I knew NEALE, I misremembered who he was. I had him as a member of the '72 Dolphins. Their quarterback was Bob Griese, but I know who  Bob Griese is, so that's not whom I was imagining. Guy I was imagining was black (unlike Griese). Also a wide receiver (unlike Griese). No idea what I was thinking.I think I also half-thought that he was on the Meadowlark Lemon-era Harlem Globetrotters. . . Yes! There we go: Fred "Curly" Neal.

Perhaps because the grid is trying to be (and occasionally is) sparkly, there is some less-than-lovely fill. By "some" I mean "lots of." From the truly terrible APOX and NLER, to scads of merely subpar stuff like TAVI, TSE, ELS, IBEAM, RIA, SAGO, DTS, ACCTS, and a lot more ho-hum short stuff. I got held up in a few places. No idea that [Yanqui] was AMERICANO. To me, an AMERICANO is a coffee—espresso w/ hot water added. I had one earlier today. I think it's also a cocktail. I actually had AMERICANS there, thinking [Yanqui] was somehow plural (!?), but then I got the NEATO cross. I also had trouble picking up MINUS SIGN (5D: Something that makes a difference?) (not surprising, given that clue), and V-CHIPS (23A: TV monitors?) (another "?" clue). Do V-CHIPS still exist? I never hear them mentioned. They seem a very '90s thing somehow. Like ... people wanted them in the '90s to keep their kids from watching "South Park." That's what I remember about V-CHIPS: freaked-out '90s parents.

I liked YVES over EVE. I didn't like ENDS over ENDOR. I liked the adjacent pairing BEAT / POETS. BOB AND WEAVE and HEALTHY GLOW make nice pillars. I hope the grid isn't supposed to be a visual representation of anything, like a dropping ball or a noisemaker or something, because if so, I clean missed it.

Happy New Year's Eve Eve.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


r.alphbunker 12:01 AM  

It is interesting to compare yesterday's Crossword Nation puzzle by Liz Gorski with today's NYT puzzle.

jae 12:16 AM  

Easy for me. Mary Lou had the Tues. LATimes which was tougher and smoother than this one.

Timely but flawed. There were some nice long downs, but perhaps the theme constraints were a bit too much.

Anonymous 12:24 AM  

Indeed, TAVI crossed with PAUL DIRAC is a total Natick, as both are fairly obscure, and really any vowel could potentially fit at the I.

John Hoffman 12:29 AM  

The bottom reveal and the circled squares were super easy to get. I had those done before anything else. Gave me a nice headstart to the puzzle. I could not get "vast expanse "as SEA. uggh! I went through the whole alphabet, finally decided it must be LEA. Finally I saw it!

Z 12:34 AM  

If you had asked me cold, "Who is PAUL DIRAC?" my guess would have been deconstructionist. Derrida is close, n'est-ce pas?

I got LANG first, immediately filled in the other shaded squares and noticed the revealer soon after. Immediately had that,"it's not NEW YEARS EVE yet" feeling. The puzzle was medium, the ese not awful, and some of the longer answers were decent. No clue on GREASY NEALE, thought Crazy Legs Hirsch might be it, but had --ALE in place and that seemed off (I just googled "crazy legs NFL" to get the last name).

I suspect ALAN GREENSPAN will be more infamous in 100 years than OFL thinks. You can't be that wrong for that long and not be held up to historical ridicule. The only thing that may allow him to fade into obscurity is that we tend to give presidents too much credit for the economy and technocrats and Congress not enough. So Bush will get more of the blame for the Great Recession than the probably more culpable ALAN GREENSPAN.

Ross Willits 12:43 AM  

I think the Dolphin you're trying to remember is "Mercury Morris."

Music Man 1:04 AM  

Looks like maybe a smiley face?

AliasZ 1:05 AM  

Once I saw these two BIOPICs
That well deserved two ASTERIX:
One of physicist PAUL DIRAC,
Who always dressed right off the rack,
And the other, ALAN GREENSPAN,
Not a die-hard, avid Queens fan.

Either α, or a β,
Like baton man Zubin MEHTA,
Downbeat upon the A-POX
If it threatens your ICEBOX.

Go to dance and BOB AND WEAVE
At the party NEW YEAR'S EVE.
Toast your friend, Louise or YVES,
Near the ENDOR as you leave,
Then beneath the MINUS SIGN
Drink and sing ye AULD LANG SYNE.

Karlo Kitanovski 1:54 AM  

This puzzle was extremely easy. My solve time was significantly smaller than my Wednesday average. This was more like a Tuesday as far a solve time goes. After easily getting MANTA and _BEAM, NERD and ABEL followed after checking 16-across to confirm ABEL. MINUS SIGN was an obvious choice and after APIAN, I had AULD in the first dark squares. I wrote in the other dark squares with LANG and SYNE right away. I filled in PAUL DIRAC and ALAN GREENSPAN immediately. DIRAC is my favorite physicist as he predicted the existence of antimatter theoretically through the "marriage" of Quantum Mechanics with Einstein's Special Relativity. Several years later, antiparticles were measured experimentally in a lab and confirmed P.A.M. Dirac's theory and led to his Nobel Prize. GREASY NEALE did not come as easy because I had to fill to figure it out. The puzzle was easy from there, especially the bottom row.

chefwen 2:06 AM  

Once you have your AULD LANG SYNE and your NEWS YEARS EVE, which is pretty easy to suss out once you read 64A, your almost home. PAUL DIRAC was my only unknown. With the AULD already in place the rest filled in with crosses.

Only one write over, sour before TART at 63 A. Easy fix.

Pretty much a cake walk, but a fun one.

aging soprano 2:32 AM  

Running late on my solving which is why I haven't put up a comment forever. But I must say something about yesterday's puzzle. The best clue for "NOT BAD AT ALL" would have been "Compliment for a xword puzzle writer". Not punny, just suitable.

GILL I. 5:39 AM  

APOX on both your houses? GREASY doesn't have a spoon? ASTERIX has sold 350+ million copies worldwide? Que faire CHEZ mon cerveau...?
I'm always telling the people that I speak Spanish to that I'm really a Yanqui AMERICANa.
If you squint, the grid looks like a happy little face with booties.
I'd really like to see VIOLA clued with her last name Davis.
I'm going to be un-PC here and I won't BOB AND WEAVE, but I wasn't crazy about le puzzle. I think it tried too hard and damn, I just didn't like AIR BOAT sitting in the middle because it sounds like something ENDOR the TART would say to YVES and, yikes, TSE is a trading place in Japan?
An early HNY to all.

Loren Muse Smith 5:57 AM  

Hey, it's NEW YEAR'S EVE eve, so no prob here on its running today.

I had never heard of GREASY NEALE, either, but it seems he was an END. Cool.

One of my first entries was "Americain," thinking "yanqui" looked Frenchsome, and I was feeling all smart and French majorsome.

I also had "lea" before SEA. Dumb. And Joni, Joan, then JIMI.

And here's a question – wouldn't you think that APE and MAN would be APIANs? Why did we get stuck with "simian?"

How cool that BOX crosses BOB AND WEAVE, though BOB AND WEAVE could've been clued as hair options on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I've never sported either; I'm a Capricorn.

Rex – I got a kick out of YVES over EVE, too. And there's even EAVE coming down through them.

BIO PIC looks like the picture you choose for the book jacket of your latest best-seller. I have mine chosen and ready to go. I think I look a little bit like Jennifer Lopez, thank you very much.

I bet this disgustingly warm weather goes ON AND ON into 2016. But there again, I put the "simi" in pessimist.

Mary Lou and Jeff – Happy New Year's! Maybe one of you has a NEW toy YODA coming in 2016!

Hungry Mother 7:00 AM  

Played easy for me, but had me thinking.

richarder 7:28 AM  

Isn't Auld Lang Syne sung on New Year's Day?

Hartley70 7:34 AM  

I had exactly the same reaction as Rex as the reveal became apparent....What's the date today? So odd to run this today when it could have been clued to make it a bit more difficult and run tomorrow. I doubt WS has another New Year theme in the pipeline for tomorrow so I consider this Bizzaro Wednesday.

I've never heard of GREASYNEALE or PAULDIRAC. I ran the alphabet to get VCHIP because it's only vaguely familiar and I was hoping it had something to do with Eric Estrada the California Highway Patrol. Alex Trebek seemed surprised that no one knew Zubin MEHTA on Jeopardy recently. I was too. Unlike OFL, I liked APOX and it's usefulness for ASTERIX. I would have called this a Medium Wednesday.

Aketi 7:56 AM  

@ Rex, where you see expresso, I see a misspelled Brazilian Jiu Jitsu hold. The AMERICANa is one of my favorites because it is the first hold I learned and its simple. Not sure I agree that lots of BOBbing AND WEAVing is accompanied by a HEALTHY GLOW, more like a sweaty mess. Ruddy is one thing, but lobster red with green around your lips is another.

Starbucks claims that their method of pouring hot water over the expresso produces a layer of "crema", not to be confused with CREAMER.

As a NERD I also liked the clue for MINUS SIGN.

Roo Monster 8:02 AM  

Hey All !
Not too much of a PROB to get this puz. Only writeover was sour->TART. Did have another DNF though, with APOk and bALI/bAN. (MAN. I kept trying to think of another APE relative with three letters, and it ends up MAN! Man!) Nice misdirect on that one.

Very segregated NW and NE corners. Seems NE could have been cleaner. Not going for a pangram, so why that? Could've got rid of dup ABLE and abbrs. Just sayin.

Nice L/R symmetry, don't see too often. Have themers that aren't symmetric? Go left/right. Easy. Puz made easier once I got NEW YEARS EVE. Then go back and fill in AULD, LANG, SYNE. A lot of real estate taken up. Had to "AND" answers next to each other.

With all my nits, still enjoyed puz. Looks like alot of threes, but only 19, with two of them part of the theme.

Make a string instrument magically appear? Voila, a VIOLA. (Sorry, seems funny to me! :-P )


NCA President 8:04 AM  

@richarder: Exactly what I was thinking. Apart from kissing, it's usually the very first thing you do in the opening moments of the new year. Which should have been the clue. But no one sings Auld Lang Syne on New Year's Eve...unless their clocks are wrong.

I can't wait for tomorrow's New Year's Eve morning puzzle...will it be about Valentine's Day?

NEATO really needs to be retired.

I like the evolution shout out...there are some, in my part of the country, who would take issue with any kind of association between MAN and APE. I hear there are some who still believe the world is flat. The state of ignorance may be peaceful and full of bliss, but it is only counterfeit peace and bliss...while it may appear as Heaven, it is ultimately Hell.

But hey! Happy New Year's Eve eve, everyone!

jberg 8:09 AM  

Hey @Loren, welcome back! Or have you been here all along, lost in the awaiting-approval queue?

Anyway, I did that Liz Gorski puzzle last night, so as soon as I saw the ULD in the first bunch of shaded squares I filled in the rest of them. It took me longer to see that it was PAUL DIRAC, as I misremembered that mongoose as Ricky-Ticky-TAVa. (As Ogden Nash would say, I haven't kippled in some time).

To me, a CREAMER will always be a pitcher -- I think it's thanks to that uncle of Bertie Wooster's who collects cow CREAMERS-- so I put in CREmora at 24D; that was my main holdup with this puzzle.

I didn't mind the date -- maybe we'll get another NYE puzzle tomorrow. I thought the grid image was one of the attackers in "Space Invaders."

chefbea 8:10 AM  

I too have never heard of Paul Dirac or Greasy Neal
Did Liz Gorsky's puzzle yesterday so now I'm ready to make my Hoppin John

Roo Monster 8:10 AM  

One of many options to clean up NE corner:
Still get yer Z in there, plus a bonus K!


OldCarFudd 8:19 AM  

Apparently WS has two New Year's Eve puzzles, and he didn't want to sit on either of them for another year. We'll get the other one tomorrow.

Is "yanqui" a term of derision, or otherwise somehow negative? I've learned not to call myself an AMERICANO in Latin America; the folks who live there consider themselves Americans, too, and resent our co-opting the whole hemisphere as if we were the only people in it. The accepted term for me is "norteamericano". Considering how PC this blog sometimes tries to be, I'm surprised there's been no prior discussion.

Chuck McGregor 8:29 AM  

Today, just for fun, I did the puzzle using the NYT’s online thingy and decided to legitimately time my solve doing it at my usual leisurely pace. This included having to open up a virtual keyboard on my laptop to type in any “B”s and “N”s due to its non-functioning keys. My time? 33:48 with no cheats. Do you care? I don’t, except to say I was a little surprised it was that fast.

Have to get going to start making a brunch. Just as well as the grid is relatively devoid of noteworthy word juxtapositions.

However, I did discover one amazing one….hidden right across the bottom!! -- NEW YEARS EVE (har)

While this does not prompt a humorous clue, I do wish you are all in good humor to welcome 2016 at that time tomorrow and that your vocal CHOPS (@ some puzzle a while ago) are in shape to sing the song that is the theme for both this puzzle and for said event.

NEW YEARS Cheers to all and to all a good day.

Tita 8:29 AM  

DNF due to my refusal to accept CREAMER as the answer to 24D. I had CREmora for a long time. By the time I corrected it, it was too I didn't notice that I had AvIAN, and that kept VCHIPS away.
Isn't there an FDA Reg somewhere that says you can't use the word CREAM, if it ain't?

I agree that it's stupid to run this a day early...actually, 2 days early...@richarder is so right...!!!

Fine puzzle otherwise. Thanks Ms. Gorski!

Tita 8:30 AM  

Welcome back @r.alph, and @lms...I hope you're back for good, and not just here on vacation...

Teedmn 8:35 AM  

This whole week has seemed like New Year's Eve to me - I've been out late every night and I don't see a break until Friday (and there's still time for that to change) so running this puzzle a day early didn't seem odd to me at all.

When I printed it out last night, I saw there were some gray squares in the grid but I didn't notice they didn't print out so when I solved this morning, I didn't have them to help with the theme. But when I hit 64A, that went straight in and I then went back and circled the AULD LANG SYNE.

I would have thought it NEATO if 25D had been clued "What your dog has on Alpo". And I tend to say "no PROBlemo", possibly because I'm an AMERICANO?

I liked this Wednesday puzzle. I didn't mind the items @Rex found fault with but I did find the plethora of cross-referenced clues annoying. But the BEAT POETS and MAN-APE answers were nice so I shouldn't complain.

Thanks MLG and JC.

@Alias Z, nice work.

@LMS, great observation on the apian vs. simian. And I second your remark from earlier this week regarding MUSH. We were told to say "Hie" (or maybe it was "hike") to get the doggers going. And we didn't have the trailing rope so I found myself running behind the sled after my partner and I fell off.

kitshef 8:40 AM  

@richarder you beat me to it. In my experience, it's the first song after the countdown to midnight, which makes it day not EVE.

Pretty easy, certainly easier than yesterday, although not so easy as Saturday. Difficulty has been all messed up for the past week.

Actually DNF as I guessed AbF/bEHTA. Had MEHTA but figured a bowling initialism would have a 'b' in it, so there you are.

sEt before XED was the only overwrite.

I thought PAULDIRAC was the outlier among the names - he will be famous centuries, while NEALE is already largely forgotten and GREENSPAN is already fading (ask your children who he is).

Mohair Sam 8:54 AM  

Easy/medium Wednesday here. Would have been tougher, but the gimme ALANGREENSPAN gave us LANG, hence the circled letters, their respective answers (yes, GREASY NEALE a gimme), and the revealer.

Friggin' GREENSPAN. You know how some here flip out on the cluing for Che? Well I'm that way with ALAN GREENSPAN. That klutz did more to cause the crash of 2008 than all the Presidents he sucked up to combined. That deregulatin' money-pumpin' moron did all he could to keep the rich rich and the poor poor and the Presidents re-elected. I suspect the execs at Goldman wear GREENSPAN tee-shirts under their Brooks Brothers suits, just like Oberlin profs wear their Che.

There, I feel better.

Speaking of feeling better - The Eagles have rid themselves of Chip Kelly. Now they'll dump Riley Cooper.

Nancy 9:04 AM  

The comments today look interesting, but let me try and make the "first cut" before I read them (16 so far, as I type).

I am very, very embarrassed not to have ever heard of PAUL DIRAC. Rap singers and their hits I don't expect to know. Nobelists in science I do expect to at least have heard of. But I've never heard of him. Never heard of GREASY NEALE either, though I'm usually quite knowledgeable about sports. But that's no embarrassment. I was glad to have SYNE to fill in and help me out in that section of the puzzle. I needed it.

There was too much cross-referencing in this puzzle for my liking. I always find it to be an annoying nuisance. I liked HEALTHY GLOW and the great clue for MINUS SIGN. Other than that, didn't love it, didn't hate it. Thought the difficulty level was "medium."

Ludyjynn 9:15 AM  

Grid looks to me like a smiling head( eyes, ears, nose, grin) with arms extended, over winter boots.

Never saw the original "Star Wars" or its CLONES, but was subjected to the attendant, shameless mass merchandising, including the occasional x-word reference. Here we go again, I guess, with the latest installment just released. YODA, YODA, YODA reminds me of Seinfeld's Yadda, yadda, yadda. When I went to the dentist Monday, among the office holiday ornaments still on display was an entire section devoted to plastic bobblehead "Star Wars" characters! Oy! There is no escape.

In advance, I wish you all a very happy and healthy(POX free) new year!

Face Pep 9:15 AM  

Abe Lincoln loved Robert Burns, and I’m happy to see Auld Lang Syne a day early so I can practice my annual rendition on the ukulele, the only time I take a few minutes to pick up the fun instrument. The joy of a uke is that anyone can learn to play.

How cool was it when Raylan Givens said to the petty criminal in East Kentucky,”You gonna BOBANDWEAVE out of the path of a bullet? Cause that I’d like to see.” Or when he is the only AMERICANO in a Mexicali bar and orders, “Bourbon.” No response from the bartender. “Tequila.”

Light YEARS away from a NERD, US Marshal Givens goes after BAD men, ie fugitives. On his way to apprehending PROBlem ‘citizens,’ he’s ABLE, without warning, to quite convincingly grab a man’s most sensitive area, his PRAWNS. And what a PAIN that is!

Best of all is Raylan’s HEALTHYGLOW from a superabundance of sex appeal. APOX on FX for ending ‘Justified.’ Oh wait, it was Tim Olyphant who called it quits. The YEARS of set-ups acting law and ORDER storyboards got to be exhausting.

But Mr. Olyphant is on to NEW things, currently a small part is our ultimate NERD’s BIOPIC, “Snowden” – currently in theatres in NYC. While the 850,000 Homeland Security folks (just folks) and who knows how many NSA and CIA people on the BEAT would love to have Ed in an ICEBOX, everyone’s favorite “Hero/traitor” is ABLE to keep his PRECISE location from the MAN. What he did took NERVE: Can anyone see ALANGREENSPAN giving up his family, his home, his income, his wife, and his girlfriend, too, to stand on the IBEAM of principle?

Happy NEWYEARSEVE’s eve to the YODA of the Fourth Amendment.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

Someone please explain nler for met or card.

Jon88 9:40 AM  

Trivial nit, I know: Anybody else bothered by ERA defined non-specifically as "Long time"? Random House Unabridged and Webster's 3rd have many definitions between them; all refer to defined time periods, not just a random long time.

mac 9:43 AM  

A little early, but a good Wednesday puzzle. A problem at 23A and D, didn't know about the chip, so that could be any letter, and my mind went elsewhere for nr. 2. Also, "verve" at 18A caused trouble.

@Loren: I had Americain as well, convinced Yanqui was French.

The light shaded squares don't stand out much, so the Auld Lang Syne didn't either.

ArtO 9:44 AM  

You've got to be a real old timer to know who Greasy Neale was. He played football in the nineteen teens and last coached football in 1950! So, I'm old enough to have lived when he was around and had even heard of him so the answer was a gimme.

The Rhino 9:48 AM  

I was hoping to come here and commiserate with others about the AMF/MEHTA crossing and the subsequent DNF that resulted from it. But apparently I am all alone in my ignorance. Ah well.

John V 9:57 AM  

VCHIP/VPS last to fall. Otherwise, medium.

Jim 10:08 AM  

Generally a clever theme but was way too stuffed with non-words (prob, rev, amts, neato, zee) and acronyms (too many to list).

NCA President 10:19 AM  

@Anon 9:29AM: NLER is short for National in Major League Baseball. An NY Met and a St. Louis Card plays in the National League.

pmdm 10:21 AM  

I don't comment here that regularly, but when I do I usually first read the entry on Wordplay, as I've just done. In today's entry, Mr. Shortz explains why this puzzle was published today. According to him, tomorrow's puzzle will also be a New Year's Day puzzle theme. Sorry, Hartley70 et alii.

Mr. Chen admires long non-themed entries, so it's should be no surprise that some turn up in today's puzzle, even at the cost of some less than great fill. He dislikes partials, which make a few appearances today. But all-in-all, a better than average Wednesday puzzle in my book.

Rex Parker 10:21 AM  

Hey all,

If you subscribe to other crosswords, it would be great if you could refrain from discussing those puzzles *in detail* if the specific puzzle you want to talk about is *current*. This week's Liz Gorski puzzle just dropped (8pm on 12/28, so most didn't see it til 12/29, i.e. yesterday), and not everyone does their subscription puzzles right away. I mistakenly approved a comment that spoiled that puzzle, and I apologize for that. The comment has been deleted (the spoiler comment was an honest, enthusiastic mistake, so no hard feelings).


Charles Flaster 10:28 AM  

Overly EZ but liked the symmetric positioning as already mentioned by others.
Liked cluing- HEALTHY GLOW, MINUS SIGN , and TART.
Thanks MLG and JC

Joseph Welling 10:40 AM  

I agree with Jon88 that ERA is not validly clued. Since ERA and EON are crosswordese, even if ERA could mean something other than a notable time (of any length), it should not be clued the same as EON.

Chuck McGregor 10:42 AM  

I let others comment about @Rex's "fails" but this I have to...well comment about:

“Do V-CHIPS still exist? I never hear them mentioned. They seem a very '90s thing somehow.”

Rex, do you have a TV? I suspect so. Was it (or any others you've had)made after 1999? I suspect so. Is it larger than 13 inches? I suspect so. If so, it HAS a V-Chip which has been REQUIRED thing since 2000.

From the FCC website; “…all sets 13 inches or larger manufactured after January 1, 2000 must have V-Chip technology.

As to its “mention,” its use is covered in your TV’s instructions under “parental controls” or something similar. Just because one doesn’t hear the future mention of some technological invention, innovation, or mandate doesn’t lead to its non-existence. How often have you heard someone “mention” their car has a collapsible steering column, mandated for all cars in 1968? Do collapsible steering columns still exist? I never hear them mentioned. You’ve (hopefully) used one as often as you’ve used your V-chips, assuming never.

As to the V-chip being a ‘90s thing, that’s when it was newsworthy as part of the “Telecommunications Act of 1996.” I’m sure collapsible steering columns were newsworthy in 1968 when they were mandated in the first Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Just sayin'


Bronxdoc 10:44 AM  

National League

Indypuzzler 10:51 AM  

I know in Spain if you don't want espresso you order café Americano if you are used to our country's generally watered down version of the delightful beverage. Also I found that if you don't accent your syllables for Americano just right it apparently sounds like "coffee gobblety gook" and you will get a quizzical look. Well, maybe not in Barcelona...
@Z I'm curious to find out why you think Alan Greenspan will be infamous rather than famous unless you believe he was an advocate of supply-side economics (I choose to use the most neutral term for it) rather than just the magician put in charge once unleashed.
I really don't have a problem with the early appearance of a New Year theme and while easy, I thought embedding the Auld Lang Syne was clever. I'm not sure that you can get that many angles for a theme on the subject of New Years Eve or New Years Day that are Thursday-Friday worthy.

Nancy 11:11 AM  

@Teedmn (8:35) -- Wow!! Is there any rugged, dangerous outdoor sport you DON'T do?

@Mohair and @Z -- Loved your ALAN GREENSPAN comments. Guess I've never given enough attention to his role in US economic policy. I learned years ago that Economics is known as "the dismal science." So that while I've always been deeply interested in politics (I majored in Government, in fact), I have always found Economics just too dismal to think about. And therefore I don't.

Mohair Sam 11:13 AM  

@Face Pep - Nifty post. That quote is soooo Raylan. I'm sure Raylan Givens would have long since nabbed Mr. Snowden, btw. Just as I'm dead positive he was the U.S. Marshall who caught up with affluenza boy Ethan Couch and his mother. Anybody else miss hating Boyd Crowder?

@ArtO - I know GREASY from his mention on NFL broadcasts, hard name to forget. Like most I assumed the nickname was from his running skills - @Rex's post enlightened me today.

kozmikvoid 11:14 AM  

My excitement over seeing PAULDIRAC in the puzzle turned instantly to shame about my own dorkiness for being excited about seeing PAULDIRAC in the puzzle. Anyway, that gave me two themers, which led to the SYNE in the 3rd, which led to a pretty quick finish. As a couple of people have already mentioned, the answer to the clue is EON, not ERA. An era can actually be quite short, like Rex Ryan's tenure in New York. Otherwise, this one was not bad at all (had to throw that in there).

beatrice 11:23 AM  

Yesterday AMATI, today VIOLA. Telemann often featured the instrument, and here it gets its own Concerto.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

The wide receiver that RP was trying to recall was probably Paul Warfield. Mercury Morris was a running back.

Indypuzzler 11:33 AM  

@Rex I guess I will pile-on with the V chip comments but only because I was recently educated by my millenial son that we no longer have Arbitron surveys or Nielson boxes because Big Bro knows EVERYTHING we watch due to these "new-fangled" devices!

old timer 11:33 AM  

I just don't get the outrage that the puzzle appeared today instead of tomorrow. I think of New Year's as a season that begins December 27, the first day you might have something besides leftovers, and ends the first workday of the new year. If you would have no PROB with an Xmas theme on Christmas Eve Eve, you should have no PROB with today for a NYE theme. (If nothing else, the theme reminds the solver it's time to buy a nice bottle of Champagne).

What I noticed was that the theme forced a lot of short words and drecky fill. That part of OFL's review I agree with.

Did anyone else confidently put in "Creemer" on the theory that imitation cream would not be spelled like the real thing? My last entry was CREAMER, and before that I was wondering who "Elang Reenspan" was. GREENSPAN I remember. Yes, his support for easy money contributed to the expansion of low-quality mortgage loans, one of the causes of the Great Recession. But remember, he was also Fed Chair during the entire Clinton administration, and those, as we Democrats never tire of saying, were the best years of our lives, economically. So I'll give him a B- (and Ben Bernanke an A for so successfully keeping the economy afloat during the bad years).

Lewis 11:37 AM  

@loren -- Great catches and post!

I like the grid art, it rings of happiness, which is the vibe of New Year's Eve. I liked the clue for MINUS SIGN and loved the answers PC CLONE and BOB AND WEAVE, but on Wednesday would have like more clever cluing and interesting answers, given that the theme answers were dry. It is elegant the that the three long answers are all names, maybe just a bit too elegant that they're all white males (but maybe the answer pool was very small to get those circled answers to bridge first and last names). It felt easy-medium for Wednesday.

The bottom line to any puzzle, to me, is "How did the solve feel?". This one wasn't especially memorable, but it never got boring and gave my brain a good ride. Thank you J&M!

Andrew Heinegg 11:53 AM  

It makes no sense to me to run this puzzle on the 30th as RP says. It would be more palatable to me if the puzzle itself had more snap to it. The good was the things I did not know like Dirac, Asterix and Greasy Neale. Rex's note that the nickname Greasy did not come from his elusiveness on the football field was an interesting little tidbit.

Z's comments about how the President has less influence over the economy than most people think is well taken IMHOP. I have heard many a person opine that they are in favor of this or that candidate because that candidate will help improve the economy. Especially in the worldwide sprawling and complex economy, it is very difficult for me to believe that a U.S. President can make that much of a difference. Unless, of course, it is the Trumpster, who will just order everyone in the world to do as he says to improve the economy, build the border fence etc. and everyone will obey him and we all live happily ever after.

Hartley70 12:17 PM  

@Tita and @LudyJynn.. I have the perfect avatar for your comments today. Who knew you could combine CREAMER and YODA's friend in such a perfect synergy. Check it out!!!

Numinous 12:21 PM  

Aha, I was right! For difficulty, yesterday's and today's puzzles should have been swapped. This one took me about two thirds my average Wenesday time, yesterday's, several minutes longer than the average.

After getting the bottom row, I looked up and saw the partially filled grey squares and recognized AULD LANG SYNE. Having those, the theme names came fairly easily.

I too tried sour before TART. Not sure I was thrilled to be classed as a simian but OWWTH, it's the truth.

When I was 20, I lived in Geneva for a while with some friends of mixed nationalities. It was there I fell in love with the ASTERIX comics. Occasionally, my friend Johanna would read some of them to me and translate. I learned a lot of French from those books.

I seem to recall seeing pictures of graffiti somewhere south of us that read "Yanqui Go Home". That was a while back but AMERICANO was a gimme.

I dug seeing BEAT POET, That's what I wanted to be when I was in junior high. I persisted in that ambition until I was . . . Not sure I ever really stopped though, while the ambition might still be there, the performance is wildly sporadic, marred perhaps by having also written Shakespearian sonnets for various love interests (the sonnet form inhibiting the free flow of consciousness).

Brava and bravo Mary Lou and Jeff. To you both, "I'll [share] a cup of kindness yet for the days of long ago."

Z 1:07 PM  

@Indypuzzler - see @mohair sam's excellent rant.

@Chuck McGregor - In My Humble Opinion P? Otherwise, yep. The "Bush Tax Cuts" had to be passed by Congress. Glass-Steagall didn't repeal itself. And it was Greenspan pushing the "magical thinking" that markets are self-regulating. The 2008 economic implosion was a bi-partisan effort, but to say it was Clinton and/or Bush is overly simplistic.

@The Rhino - MEHTA is purely LFC here. AMF I knew from occasional interest in bowling.

@Jon88 - that one got a half-arched eyebrow from me. Technically okay (I can't recall any ERA that was "short") but definitely suboptimal.

aging soprano 1:25 PM  

FYI,one of Joni Mitchell's deepest regrets is that she didn't go to Woodstock. She had some kind if previous recording engagement that kept her away. She never forgave herself for that one.

AliasZ 1:44 PM  

For the Sixth Day of Christmas, I wanted to send you Six Geese a-Laying, but they flew south. Instead, I found this marvelous Scherzo after Robert Burns titled "Tam O'Shanter" by Sir Eugene Goossens (1893-1962), only because his name seems to be a conflation of two irregular plurals: goosen and oxes. I hope I am not a-laying goose eggs.

Anoa Bob 1:45 PM  

I always thought the song AULD LANG SYNE starts at the stroke of midnight on NEW YEARS [sic] EVE, meaning it is actually sung on NEW YEAR'S DAY. But then I don't celebrate (too many once-a-year drunks out there) and rarely even watch it on TV. To me, it's just another tick on the cosmic clock.

@Roo Monster 8:10, I like your NE version way better! Couple of interesting animals in your ZOO.

Down here in TexMex Land, it's Anglo or Norteño for people and AMERICANO for a style of coffee.

IBEAM is a construction piece used in buildings and IBAR is a construction piece used in crossword grids.

Happy cosmic clock tick-tocks to all!

aging soprano 1:46 PM  

There were plenty of names I didn't know in this puzzle, but MEHTA was certainly one I did know! I found hard despite the easy theme and revealer. Shucks, I was kinda hoping that tomorrow we would have a roundup of 2015 theme. Nottobe.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Squint a little harder and you can see "eve" running across the middle.

Masked and Anonymo1Us 2:43 PM  

Sure glad Robert Burns spelled "old" with a "U". Otherwise, this puz woulda been a U's-less exercise.

Things M&A luvs about this one...
* ASTERIX = {French ***'s??}.
* East-West symmetry, probably cuz each themer has a different length. Great for evokin visions, from the black square patterns. Today's M&A vision: Explodin Bunnyrabbit.
* The Chen-Guizzo tagteam effort. One of my fave constructioneer duos. Thanx, for gangin up on ould M&A.
* Guest celeb comments from @r.alph and @muse.
* Moose Munch popcorn. Spouse bought a ginormous bunch for 75%-off each. Addictively delicious. Must entry for a future NYTPuz. But, I digress.
* This whole eve eve discussion. Other cool schedulin considerations: eve week or week eve.
* Desperation. TAVI. APOX. ACCTS AMTS. Weeject stack PJS/RIA/OMG. Primo stuff.
* Learnin all about greasy dirac folks.

New Year's eve eve resolution resolution: avoid doin em.


**no gruntz; truce** sorry.

Hartley70 3:28 PM  

@MohairSam, yup, what is it about Boyd that made me love/hate him so? No make that just love. And don't even get me started on Raylan Givens. Sigh.

Joseph Welling 3:50 PM  

One more point on ERA: in geology, an ERA is a long time (though not as long as an EON). But since both are crosswordese, I still consider "long time" to be an invalid clue for ERA.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:13 PM  

Sometime in the future, I will sign off all my Dirac 'casts to people I don't like with a hearty, "POX vobiscum" (sic)

Charles in Austin 4:53 PM  

Yes, I was a little sad that the puzzle does not match the day. But just think how upset everyone would be if a Thursday puzzle were this easy.

Tita 9:51 AM apt...and how odd...just what IS that??

spacecraft 9:55 AM  

I still cannot believe that Jeff Chen allowed his name to appear under this abomination. This has to be the worst crossword puzzle I've ever done.

OMG, where do I start? Letters attached to words: IBEAM, VCHIPS, PCCLONES. XED and ZEE? "Why?" Abbrs. allovertheplace: PJS OMG HBO VPS AMF SRS TSE--and the killer, the coup de grace: NLER. Horrendous!

Now the theme: physics and astronomy are a hobby of mine, yet I never heard of DIRAC. Okay, I'll give you gridspanner (almost) GREENSPAN, but then...GREASYNEALE?? Ye gods, how far do we have to go back for THAT one? Had the forward pass even been INVENTED yet? This football fan declares him MISTER Obscurity for the day.

And all this just so we can shade out a four-letter string in each of the above, and write NEW YEARS EVE across the bottom? No. Doesn't work. How this didn't get sent back is beyond me. F.

And to Mr. Chen, a special ESPN greeting: "C'mon, man!" You are WAY better than this.

Burma Shave 11:37 AM  




rondo 12:10 PM  

Of course I knew ALANGREENSPAN, the other guys not so much, maybe Mr. NEALE on a football broadcast 40 or 50 years ago. All to make the grinning grid as the “happy” part of NEW YEAR(S)??? If so, that’s a real stretch and I paid the PENALTY. Or maybe I’m just grumpy after shoveling a foot of snow out of two sets of driveways and walks, but now I’ve got a HEALTHYGLOW.

Can’t believe CREAMER isn’t clued as yeah baby golfer Paula. She’s far more consistently good than the other day’s Wie. And she supports saving second base!

Speaking of golf, ELS is not Ernie anymore? Or maybe has been too much?? And where’s Isao when you need him?

JIMI will always get thumbs up from me. There must be a BIOPIC about him?

Between the cross references, abbr.s, and an obscure MAN or two, this was not my favorite NEW YEARS EVE (in redux).

Diana,LIW 2:03 PM  

Don't remember any complaining about the Christmas presents we got before the actual X-Mas day. ;-)

Puzzle was another easy/work hard mix for me. Love coming here and hearing all the "Oh, easy!" comments.

And after finishing, I realized I had an error (I ERRED) - avian (and I knew that had to be wrong as I put it in). Then I guessed there was some kind of hospital TV monitor connected to IVs. Duh.

Agree with Spacey about some of the fill - esp. NLER. But lots here made up for that.

Loved seeing MEHTA - great memories. My college boyfriend sang in the Rutgers Choir, and they did Beethoven's 9th with Zubin Mehta conducting the L.A. Phil. at Carnegie Hall back in 1970. NEATO! I got to listen from backstage. Post-concert meal at The Russian Tea Room. Thought I was luckiest girl alive.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Waxy in Montreal 3:26 PM  

Stephen Hawking once described PAULDIRAC as "probably the greatest British theoretical physicist since Newton” so CHEZ moi that was no PROB. Had it been Thursday, would have definitely tried to shoehorn CRAZY LEGS HIRSH into 51A.

And in syndiland, happy Chinese NEW YEAR'S EVE on Sunday - the year of the monkey (yet another SIMIAN COUSIN) begins Monday.

rondo 3:51 PM  

Forgot a techno-nit - isn't AULD LANG SYNE sung on NEW YEARS "day", after the clock has ticked past midnight? It's still the same party, but now a different day and year.

leftcoastTAM 4:39 PM  

JIMI, PAUL, ALAN, GREASY, and YVES got together on NEW YEARS EVE and broke out into AULD LANG SYNE.

That and two ANDs made it all e-ZEE.

rain forest 6:38 PM  

Way late. I was babysitting my 5-month old grandson, and I'm wiped. He already weighs almost 19 pounds, and he's not fat. Just big. Could be a major defenseman in the NHL. Terminally cute.

I didn't mind this puzzle at all. I think the grid pattern suggests a happy AULD LANG singing for us. Who REALLY cares if this is a day early. Come on! I don't even get a paper on New Year's day. Can't believe the lowness of the nit threshold of some people.

The three gentlemen were all gimmes, so overall the puzzle was easy, yet fun, but you knew I was going to say that. Yes, @Waxy, Lunar New Year's eve this Sunday along with the Super Bowl for we syndies. I like the former better than the latter, but no doubt I'll tune in for the last quarter.

Jessica Evans 4:33 PM  

A POX on both your houses??? I'm pretty sure it's a "plague". For that reason, I spent waaaay too much time trying to find the surprise rebus...

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