British protectorate until 1957 / THU 12-15-16 / 1969 film whose working title was Loners / School whose mascot is Jumbo elephant / 1990s sitcom about bookstore owner / Chippendales dancers have nice ones

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Deck the halls... — FA and LA are rebused inside themers; revealerr = 61A: Christmastime refrain (FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA)

Theme answers:
  • FALLING FLAT (16A: Bombing, as a joke)
  • FASHION PLATE (24A: Trendy type)
  • GRANDFATHER CLAUSE (37A: Discriminatory part of post-Reconstruction legislation)
  • PARFAIT GLASS (48A: Short-stemmed vessel)
Word of the Day: GRAPPA (9D: Fragrant Italian brandy) —
Grappa is an alcoholic beverage, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that contains 35 to 60 percent alcohol by volume (70 to 120 US proof). (wikipedia)
• • •
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Now on to the puzzle!

I mean, this was fun, and the fill was pretty decent (esp. considering all the short stuff), but musically, it doesn't seem to make much sense. Only one FA in the refrain, four FA squares in the grid. I guess it's just supposed to be silly. And ROOSEVELT'S DOG is too long to be a suitable revealer.

And it's Christmastime, roughly, so 'tis the season to just make some singsongy noises. I like LAPLAND because it's the one Down that's gotta deal with two rebus squares. Plus I just liked knowing (vaguely) where the Sami were from, but having to figure out how any answer that made sense might fit in the grid. I got the theme very early—all the Downs in the NW were very easy, and from -LLING I deduced the "FA" square, and then, since FLAT had to follow, the "LA" square. And then the FA and the LA just kept coming, and knowing they were coming actually made the themers easier to pick up. Here was my opening gambit:

I don't have much to say about the fill overall because the only hesitations I had involved rebus squares, and those hesitations didn't last long. I had PLEAD for SWEAR (28A: Say with a raised hand), which is dumb, I admit. Took me a while to get 6D: School whose mascot is Jumbo the elephant (TUFTS) because WTF. I know the school, but not the elephant (Pomona-Pitzer's mascot is the SAGEHEN, in case you ever wanna use that in your puzzle). Slim JIMS is an out-and-out gimme, and that "J" is high-value, both because "J"s are always high-value (knowing there's a "J" in your answer really narrows down your choices dramatically) and because its positioning pretty much hands you the "FA" square directly above it. I think I was mid-5s on this one, and that's *with* all the extra keystrokes to enter the rebus squares correctly *and* a timeout to take the mid-solve screenshot. It's a 78-worder with not-at-all-obscure fill, so once you figure out the gimmick: no problems.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:07 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Like @Rex, I caught the Christmas rebus early and only got hung up when I put Slaws where SALADS were supposed to go (that meant I tried Iow for ILL. neighbor which I knew in my heart had to be wrong).

Nice long downs.

Delightful, made me smile, liked it a bunch!

Anokha 12:24 AM  

It made me smile too. Happy holidays, Rex!!

Unknown 12:30 AM  

This was a fun puzzle by @Jacob Stulberg -- though the rebuses (is that the correct plural?) were easy to pick up in principle, the details took some effort in part due to tricky cluing. Just perfect to get into the holiday spirit (and thanks too to @Rex for your generous review).

The factoid in 9-Across has me wondering how soon before the progeny of Ms. GRAF and Mr. Agassi (another crossword-worthy name) start winning tournaments themselves, and the clue at 13-Across serves as a reminder that I have yet to see "Hamilton." POPUPS was interesting to see, coming the very next day after the more full POPUPBOOKS made its New York Times debut.

December 15 is important for another reason--a regular contributor to this blog celebrates a birthday and you can learn who it is by solving this puzzle (my collaborator is another beloved regular in Rexworld).

Unknown 12:31 AM  

I didn't know FASHION PLATE, so that NE drove me batty. I put in FASHION SLAVE instead, thinking to myself that a terminal V was a bold choice. Later I saw that ADEPV couldn't possibly be right, changed it to ADEPT, and stared for a few minutes at FASHION -LATE. The cross was no help: GRAP-A [Fragrant Italian brandy]. Not too many other choices there (FASHION SLATE? FASHION ELATE?), but I was mystified.

Looked it up afterwards. Yep, FASHION PLATE is definitely a thing. Asked my partner and, yep, she's heard of it too. So definitely a gap in my knowledge.

The rest of the puzzle was easy and fun. Gotta love the all-rebus revealer (FA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA). Loved LAPLAND and FAJITA.

The puzzle had some fun trivia clues, from TUFTS [School whose mascot is Jumbo the elephant] to EASY RIDER [1969 film whose working title was "The Loners"] to GRAF [Only tennis player to have won each Grand Slam event at least four times] to ELLEN [1990s sitcom about a bookstore owner]. Loved the clues for POP-UPS [Windows that are usually closed], SALAD [Green sides], and ABS [Chippendales dancers have nice ones]. Plus we got a double-dose of Shakespeare via TRYST [Plot feature of Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida"] and USE ["I will speak daggers to her, but ___ none": Hamlet].

puzzle hoarder 12:31 AM  

Doing nothing but homemaking and Xmas prep for the last four days has apparently caused the x-word portion of my brain to shut down. I slogged through this slowly falling asleep the whole time. There's nothing wrong with the puzzle I'm just off my game. Sunday through Wednesday are untouched and there's no lack of prep work tomorrow. I got a clean grid but only after 48 minutes of finding ways to trip myself up and trying to stay awake.

chefwen 12:35 AM  

How much fun was that, kids? Loved it!

Of course, I knew something was up when AT LAST and RELATE didn't fun, I just didn't know what went where. REGULAR GUY showed up and it all fell into place, especially when I saw 61A.

What will POP UP tomorrow, maybe POP TARTS.

Charles Flaster 1:49 AM  

Liked this one but I had a DNF at TSK as I used " a la s" and never got TUFTS.
Rest of rebus land was fun and straightforward as the fill was quite
Liked cluing for UZI, PGA, SALADS, and POP UPS.
Two write overs at POWER for POkER and CREDO for mottO.
EASY RIDER was quite the movie in its day and quite appropriate after recent election results.
For a valuable solving experience try George B's tribute puzzle in his comment above.
Thanks JS

Unknown 2:33 AM  

I hated this puzzle. Finished in perfectly good time, but the reveal was a lazy cop out and the fill was just eh.

Larry Gilstrap 2:46 AM  

Staring at a grid after a long day is humbling. I live with a FaSHIONisTE, or I thought I did, any way. That didn't help.

For many years, I toiled in the minor leagues of academia, and GUM created lots of problems. It makes a lousy bookmark, among other negatives.

I must research the origin of the GRANDFaTHER CLaUSE. Sounds interesting. No harm, no foul.

Gonna don some gay apparel, as per directions.

Magic Mic 2:51 AM  

Back in the day, I had a gig at Chippendales and, let me tell you, it was no bed of roses. Hours of doing crunches to maintain my six-pack of ABS, but the worst part of a show involved a silver dollar, a cigarette lighter, and my Speedo. YOWIE!

Conrad 5:50 AM  

Did anybody else have TU[la]ne for TUFTS? Or ashe for the four-letter tennis player? The latter corrected quickly but the former stuck around a while.

Loren Muse Smith 6:16 AM  

Hah. The one line of the earworm that is looping through my head is Don we now our gay apparel… @Martin A – liked your FASHION slave.

It took a while to sniff out a rebus here. And then I had, well, a false alarm: - I just knew the Sami place was Norway, so I was gonna scrunch that one up somehow. I’m still obsessed with all these survival shows, and I recently watched Hazen Audel live among the Sami and learn how to wrangle reindeer. Those guys can be grumpy and uncooperative. Just ask Domino’s in Japan. In the reindeer’s defense, he seemed like he was actually giving it a go.

With the Chippendale clue for ABS, I was thinking a Joe Sixpack guy would be an adonis or something. The language of body sculpting just may well have almost hijacked the whole "six-pack" deal. I propose a REGULAR GUY be Joe Sweatpants. Or Joe Sweatpants-Cut-Off-to-be-Shorts (my husband). Or Joe-Hair-Sticking-Up-In-The-Back.

First thought for what’s not allowed in class: lip. Yeah right. Some of those guys are still eating me alive because I’m such a weenie.

It’s probably just me, but my AROMA has to be warm and wafting. So wine, flowers, dirty socks… have a bouquet, fragrance, and odor. Baking bread has an AROMA. Glühwein heating on the stove has an AROMA. But Joe Merlot has a bouquet. (Or nose, if you’re the guy throwing around descriptors like granny smith finish and peppery notes of slim jims and emery paper.)

Malapop – wanted TRYSTS for that juicy front-page story 7D.

Festive Thursday rebus. It was so cool to see the FA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA all squished up like that. Think the lyric writers for Deck the Halls just dropped the ball there? I always wonder about that Farmers Insurance commercial: We are farmers, bom da dom bom bom bom bom.

Lewis 6:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:46 AM  

Very nice holiday-spirited puzzle, with a clean grid, some excellent long answers (REGULAR_GUY, FASHION_PLATE, GRANDFATHER_CLAUSE, and EASY-RIDER). Clues that tripped me up at first (and therefore terrific) were those for POPUP, SALADS, and AND. Two clashing crosses: CRONE/FASHION_PLATE and SPLASH/FALLING_FLAT.

Is GRANDFATHER_CLAUSE some distant relative of Santa?

Muscato 7:00 AM  

Frankly, I always enjoy an easier Thursday, and particularly this week. It wasn't a total gimme, and I have to say it's come as close as anything I can think of so far this season to put me in a festive mood. FALALALALALA indeed!

Z 7:42 AM  

@George Barany - I'm pretty sure it is rebopodes.

Z 7:43 AM  

And if it's not it should be.

Glimmerglass 8:00 AM  

I've posted this before: The Sami people are the ones I studied in 3rd grade as "Lapps," nomadic northern people who herd reindeer. A few years ago I learned on a trip to Norway that the Sami find "Lapp" insulting because "lapp" means ragged clothing, implying that the people so named are very poor. In Norway, the Sami people have recently gained some civil rights. They can study the Sami language in public schools, there is a Sami language TV station, etc.

Dorothy Biggs 8:21 AM  

I got about halfway through and thought...wait, what day is this? Oh's Thursday. From that moment on, things got much easier.

I caught onto the theme at 61A and couldn't believe that the entire thing would be LAs. I was wrong, of course. There is a FA. And that made the puzzle even easier because then it dawned on me that there are probably going to be some of those in there too. And sure enough, when I went back through the puzzle to more "difficult" fill, I found that they were difficult only because I wasn't allowing for LA *and* FA.

Once I got that, cake.

The only cross that didn't fall as easily even armed with my rebuses FA and LA, was PARFAITGLASS. Specifically PARFAIT. That's a word that, upon rising from my bed this morning, I really didn't think I'd encounter today. So it was completely and utterly off the radar. I insist on spelling EMERY with an O, and I had DAsh for "bolt." So the entire SW was a mess.

ENYA...God love her. But seriously, can we retire her name in xword puzzles? I don't know how many different ways it can be clued, but female singer with four letters almost always equals ENYA.

A wine score is based on bouquet...not AROMA. Sure, a wine enjoyer will smell it and savor that smell as part of the experience, and that smell can rightly be called an AROMA...but to someone who is "rating" it, like Robert Parker, Jr., it's "bouquet."

Speaking of wine and as a PSA for you wine drinkers who like to swirl your glass and watch the "roping" effect and comment on that as a function of a "good" wine or has nothing to do with anything. BUT, if you want a way to pre-determine what your wine will be like while you're staring at bottle after bottle at your local wine warehouse, check out the alcohol content. Most wines are about 12 to 14%. But as a rule, the higher the alcohol content the more your mouth will perceive the wine as "big" or "bold." The roping is meaningless, but the alcohol content is not. That doesn't mean that a 12% wine can't be "big" either, but as a rule the higher the alcohol level, the bigger the feel will be in the mouth. For example, a California zinfandel at 17% is going to be huge...and they usually are. Petite Sirahs can get pretty high too (and they'll make your teeth purple). You'll rarely see many of the others (Cab, Merlot, Malbec, or Syrah) at much more than 14 or maybe 14.5%. DO NOT DRINK a pinot noir that is over 14%. Whites are usually "lighter" at 12 to 14%.

And some of you may not have even really looked at those percentages...which would also account for why sometimes when you have a bottle of wine...especially those big, jammy get all flushed and giddy faster. Now you know why.

Hey, it's the!

r.alphbunker 8:21 AM  

I suspected something was missing from answers early on and was sure at 40D {Rope} [LA]SSO. But I thought the L was in the black square probably because I am doing a sequence of puzzles where having one letter appear outside the answer is the theme. I saw that it had to be a rebus at 10D {Joe Six-Pack} REGU[LA]RGUY and it was fun filling in LA and FA in all the answers that wouldn't fit.

I needed to get rid of the following two plausible guesses in order to finish
MOTTO for 15A. {Words to live by} CREDO
ONSET for 1A {Kickoff} DEBUT

Details are here.

chefbea 8:24 AM  

Fun puzzle but DNF . too many obscure things. But did like parfait glass

thfenn 8:30 AM  

Even easy Thursdays remain a long away from easy for me. Early on I had START for DEBUT, TKOS for TANS, BORG for GRAF (had thought of ASHE but was pretty sure he hadn't won 16 slams), MRI for CEL etc at which point I had no idea what was wrong. The NW downs didn't leap out at me. Peaked here to correct my errors and take in the rebus for and my FALLINGFLAT, and then got back underway, ultimately enjoying completing it. Took me 35 minutes, but that's at least an average Thursday for me (admittedly with not a high N there). Got stuck again trying to stuff in PALATE for AROMA (agree that doesn't seem quite right compared to bouquet) and using STORMS before POPUPS, but eventually got them. Fun seeing EASYRIDER, enjoyed LAPLAND...

kitshef 8:32 AM  

Big issue with the clue for 9A. Margaret court won 23 Australian Opens, 13 French, 10 Wimbledon, and 18 US open titles. Several other players have also won more than four of each. Clue needs to specify singles titles.

Agree this was a whimsical, enjoyable solve. But easy? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

First in was TSK, then UPI. Couldn’t get any crosses, so moved on. Next was CEL. Again no crosses. ASS. No crosses. Got I little foothold with JIMS/STIEG/OHM/SOLE, but that went nowhere – and that ‘J’ was no use at all. ABS. No Crosses. OMAR/MALtA. Finally got at least part of the theme with AT(LA)ST and RE(LA)TE. At this point, @Rex is probably finished. I have thirteen answers, one of them wrong.

From that point on, steady, normal Thursday progress.

Lobster11 8:34 AM  

This is the kind of hijinks I wish for on a Thursday. High side of medium for me, but I enjoyed it.

Had the most trouble in the NE, where I eventually finished: I'm familiar with GRAPPA, but it didn't come readily to mind; I didn't know either CRONE or FOSSE; and the clue for ADEPT was tricky. But the biggest problem was that I stubbornly refused to give up FASHION sLAve given that the rebused LA was in exactly the right place. It sounded odd to me -- I've much more often heard the phrase "slave to fashion" -- but FASHION PLATE was only vaguely familiar, and only in retrospect.

Nancy 8:35 AM  

What gave this the crunch was the fact that 1) the whereabouts of the revealer was not revealed and 2) its placement was almost at the very bottom of the puzzle and in the East. So for those of us who start in the NW when possible (today, I couldn't, and instead started at 9A with the gimme GRAF), we had to puzzle out the FAs and LAs without knowing what the revealer actually was. At least that's what happened to me. I was looking for either a "Deck the Halls" revealer (but my eye never saw clue 61A) or an FDR pooch revealer (remember FALA?). Anyway, I caught on to the LA rebus at REGULAR GUY (10D) and I caught onto the FA rebus at GO FAR (17D)/FASHION PLATE(24A). Only later did I get to the lovely 61A. I found it harder than Rex, which probably means I enjoyed it more than Rex. Not the hardest rebus I've ever done, certainly, but no gimme. Fun.

Lewis 8:36 AM  

Yesterday's theme: FOLLOW
Today's theme: FALA

Hungry Mother 8:44 AM  

DNF on "gun" instead of GUM. Another doh for me.

Suzy 8:44 AM  

Enjoyed very much! Having a bit of trouble getting in the spirit this year, so thanks, Mr. Stulberg!
(I live in NC!)

Pete 8:46 AM  

My thought upon completing the puzzle: A tremendous amount of time and skill to have the fill in the southwest be good, saving IND and RDS, what with its having to wrap around FALALALALALALALALA. What a waste of time and skill.

Sir Hillary 8:52 AM  

This one got me in a festive mood, not unlike the high-alcohol wine mentioned by @NCA Prez. Sure, it would have been cleaner to sprinkle just one FA and eight LAs before the revealer, but I'll take what we got.

Played easy here, for the reasons cited by @Rex and others.

Back to a couple of comments by @NCA Prez...
-- Am I imagining it, or has alcohol content increased in wines over the past 20 years or so? Feels like I see way more 15%+ wines than I used to.
-- So with you on ENYA. Love her music, but maybe it's time for the likes of Pink and JoJo to get equal time. Just in crosswords though, not on the airwaves!

One of my favorite bands is Guster, formed in the early 90s by three guys shortly after they met as freshmen at TUFTS. They have a great song called FA FA. True.

mathgent 8:55 AM  

I agree that it was on the easy side, but there was plenty to make up for that. Wonderful puzzle! I'm giving it an A.

GILL I. 8:59 AM  

Well, @NCA Pres., you made me look at my Pinots to see what alcohol volume they contain. They are all at 13.5%. What will happen to me if I buy one that has 14%...Will my head blow off? So agree with @LMS and you about the bouquet vs AROMA...Speaking of, I always thought GRAPPA was a digestivo and was not to be confused with brandy. I can't stand the stuff anyway - give me a cheap bottle of Fundador.
This was the fastest Thursday - ever - for me. I usually take my sweet time Thur-Sat, expecting about an hour or so. I was done in maybe 25 minutes.
I first thought YOWIE (is that really a word) when I saw all the names of things that I never know like The ELLEN show or TUFTS or ELIZA but the ugly UZI helped me get FALLING FLAT... what a huge AHA!
GUM chewing drives me crazy. I used to put about 5 pieces of those pink kind that came with baseball cards in my mouth. Of course I would blow up the gum and of course it would pop all over my face. I stopped doing that when it got stuck in my hair and my mom cut a huge chunk out....
Deck the balls!

I am not a robot 9:02 AM  

Always overspending at Christmas during the kid years, I used to sing Don we now our gay apparel ... as we face financial peril. A fun puzzle. But woo, I'll bet the Hanukkah puzzle's gonna be tough. At least there's time to prep for the Ramadan puzzle.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

P.T. Barnum was a great benefactor of TUFTS. When Jumbo died, he had him stuffed and gave him to the school. He was burned up in a fire in 1975, but they scraped up some of his ashes and still have them in a jar. One of the best athletic team names in the US.

mathgent 9:14 AM  

@George Barany: Agassi-Graf have two children, a boy around 13 and a girl a couple of years younger. Andre and Stephanie resent the way that their parents pushed them into tennis and they discouraged their children from playing and the kids don't play the sport. The boy, however, is an excellent baseball player.

A few years back there was a commercial in which Andre is shown picking his son up from tennis practice. It was an actor playing his son. Some of us tennis players thought that that was a cheap trick. I suppose that Andre had justified it by saying that the money went for his charity, a school for low-income students in Las Vegas.

Nancy 9:18 AM  

@NCA Pres (8:21), @Sir Hillary (8:52) & @GILL (8:59) -- Is it what NCA Pres calls "the big mouth feel" of 14% wines that makes many of us prefer them? Or are we all just glorified SOTS?

My own "house" red is Excelsior cabernet from South Africa at 14%. It's extremely smooth and it's big and it's consistent -- and at $100/ per case, including tax) from my wine store (I had two wine stores involved in a bidding war to get that price), it's a bargain. But at our yearly building Christmas party this past Sunday, a friend on the coop board handed me an opened but unfinished bottle of Clos du Bois 2014 from CA. (13.5%) It was sensational. If I poured it into a Premier Cru Bordeaux bottle and said it was an $100 bottle, anyone not named Robert Parker would probably believe me. So I called my wine store. If I buy by the case (I always do anyway; you only have to tip for delivery once), they'll sell it to me for $12.97 plus tax. I plan to splurge once I finish the Excelsior (1 bottle down; 11 to go). I figure that if Donald Trump destroys The World As We Know It, I will be very glad that I decided to splurge.

Tita 9:18 AM  

Loved the all-rebus revealer...
Loved getting to feel all smug and erudite-like, having seen Troilus and Cressida this summer at the fabulous free Shakespeare in the Park. Of course, I had never heard of that play before, but now that I have, am thrilled to be so learned. And to put it to great use here.

Love your wine descriptors, @lms. There is a random wine descriptor generator or two floating around the intertubes. While every field has its lingo, it really does seem that the paragraph on the back of the bottle is just there to impress by intimidation.

@NCA Pres...thanks for the lesson. I'm going to spend all weekend testing it out.
My own little rule of thumb is that the quality of the wine is in inverse proportion to the length of that fluffy descriptor. A great wine doesn't need to brag. If there is no flowery prose, it must be a good wine.
(Can you tell that I am a wine snob wanna-be?)

Oh mean "legs" on Porto mean nothing??!

Dorothy Biggs 9:20 AM  

Unless you like wine, skip this post.

@GILL I. Most Californian Pinots are "cut" with other varietals...I could be wrong, but when I was deep into this stuff, a US wine had to be at least 75% of a varietal in order to be call that varietal. So for instance, there are some California Pinots out there with that are cut with Syrah. Pinots should be very lightly colored and you should be able to see light through them...there are lots of pinots out there that you can't see through. Those aren't really pinots. In fact, most people won't like a real pinot noir...very floral, light, sometimes herbal, and light fruits like strawberries or pomegranates...which is why they're cut with bigger wines. Our palates have grown accustomed to these bigger, jammier wines. We have Robert Parker, Jr. to thank for that.

And yes, @Sir Hillary, wines have become higher in alcohol in general. Parker has taught us all to appreciate "new" wine...fruity (jammy, even) and full-bodied. And by "teaching" us, I mean those damned Wine Spectator notes you see in your local wine store. Those are ratings based on his palate. The French hate him but have, sadly, started to embrace him. Old world wines are fewer and fewer and the new world wines are taking over.

The Aussies will even hold back some wine from good vintages and blend it in with bad vintages all in the name of consistency. Wine has become Coca-Cola. You buy a bottle of Yalumba Shiraz today and a year later you want it to taste the same way.

Lastly (sorry to hijack, but I find this all endlessly fascinating), the French see their wines like they see their spouses. [Most of] you love your spouses through the good and the bad. In fact, your spouse is a package deal...all of it adds to their charm and the complexity is why you love them so, generally speaking. So too, with wine. One year is better than another...but that doesn't mean a bad year is awful. It's just another year. It's all part of the beauty and charm of wine. Robert Parker, Jr. has created a place in the wine world where consistency is most important. You get that consistency in part by drinking young wine and in how you make it...which is not typically the way the French do.

Anyway, it is an agricultural product and the weather and specific area the wine is grown in is subject to all kinds of factors. THAT is how you enjoy wine. If you want Coke, buy Coke. But if you want to experience why life is so damned interesting, buy wine and enjoy the variety.

That said, the only varietal I know of that you absolutely must pay a lot of money for in order to get a really good bottle, is pinot noir. Cheap pinots are just not pinots.

Wm. C. 9:24 AM  

TUFTS was a gimme for me -- my son and a boatload of my money went there.

Hartley70 9:32 AM  

Thanks for the Jumbo info, Anonymous 9:06am. That answer seemed so implausible to me when I saw it, and I hadn't discovered the rebus when I typed in Tufts, otherwise it surely would have been TU(la)ne. An even more likely answer would have been a Connecticut school.

Every error I made while solving has been mentioned already so there's no need to list them. Once I saw the rebus at LASSO, this turned into a romp! I think I would have preferred one FA and the requisite number of LAs, but It's not a real complaint. A Thursday rebus is always a good thing, but today I clapped my hands with glee.

crabsofsteel 9:32 AM  

Sometimes I am too smart for these clues. Since the Sami are from Finland, I figured the answer had to be Suomi which is what Finland calls itself. Oops. But once I got the rebus figured out, was able to finish with all the right stuff.

Mohair Sam 9:40 AM  

Well that was a lot of fun. Would have enjoyed being with Jacob Stulberg when he decided to place FALALALALALALALA where he did, and then come up with the words to cross it. Quite a challenge.

First thing I'm gonna do when I finish here is Google Tufts and find out how in hell they picked Jumbo the Elephant for their mascot.

We've got a Christmas clock we hang near the tree every December that plays a little carol on its chimes every hour. One of its carols is "Deck the Halls" - plays twice a day at 8. We had no trouble counting LAs here.

@NCA Pres - Good God man, what are you thinking! - Don't ban ENYA, she's opened more puzzle corners for me than I can count (including today).

@LMS - Thanks for the Dominos/Reindeer delivery link. I originated dozens of loans for Dominos franchises in my small business lending days. Financed a few locations for a young lady who had over ten years experience managing Dominos locations for others when she bought. She was a regular Wonder Woman, within a year same store sales and bottom lines increased over 50% under her tutelage. I asked her secret. It's simple she said - 1. Always deliver on time: ALWAYS (the importance of your reindeer); and 2. Never skimp on the cheese: NEVER (people well know).

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Robert Parker has nothing to do with Wine Spectator. WS is a safe haven from the overly marketed garbage heap that has become wine journalism. Never lump in Wine Spectator with the others. It has maintained its (mostly) unbiased ratings through the years and should be considered THE source of wine reviews.

Dorothy Biggs 9:50 AM  

@Anon 9:42am...It might have changed since a few years ago, but The Decanter, the British wine rag, does not pay its reviewers and so their reviews are truly separate from the views of the magazine...who happens to advertise wine and in some cases has reviews of the very same wine in the magazine. That's a conflict of interest if you pay your the WS does.

So granted, I haven't picked up a Wine Spectator lately, but in the old days they would be offering a paid review of a Greg Norman wine in the same issue they'd be advertising it. Hard to take them seriously.

But I stand corrected, Parker reviews in his own pamphlet called the Wine Advocate.

My point about Parker creating a "new world" of wine stands, however.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:10 AM  

Do they really pitch in golf?

And I suppose I believe there is emery paper but mainly I know emery boards, I think of the other stuff as fine-grained sandpaper.

And finally, some trivia from left field. It was Tycho Brahe's 470th birthday yesterday. He built an observatory on a Scandinavian island, not nearly as far north as the Sami, but hey, in the vicinity writing from the USA, 40th parallel. No reindeer as far as I know, but he kept a tame elk to party with. It died when it fell down a staircase after drinking too much beer.

evil doug 10:11 AM  

Ditto on GUn before GUM.

Elaine Benes went to Tufts. She lamented that it was her "safety school"....

Alabama--curiously, given the Crimson Tide thing--also has an elephant for a mascot: Big Al....

Make a joke about bombing at the airport and you'll find your*self* falling flat--and cuffed, and crying yowie....

DEBUT is what shows after you're depantsed. Or pantsed, if you prefer.

QuasiMojo 10:11 AM  

This one felt like it came straight from La La Land. Albeit rather clever. I don't like doing rebuses on my computer at home. It's hard to see what you're doing and takes a lot longer. I had TAFT U for way too long since I keep thinking of Associated Press as API. (I even contemplated CalArts for a while since I read the clue as Dumbo instead of Jumbo.)

I also had the Sami coming from La Plano for a while. Wherever that is. And put in Malta before Malaya. I learned something this day.

Not being a Fashion Plate, I'll stick to hanging my "ornaments" on my tree instaed of my body. Which reminds me of Chippendales... :)

Seth 10:19 AM  

Totally random question: I have this vague memory of, years ago, Rex posting a joke 15x15 no-black-squares filled crossword. The answers were all made of real words and names, but they didn't mean anything when put together. But still, it was an impressive feat.

My question: Where is that thing?? I've tried searching on past Rex Parker posts and can't find it. I've tried Googling. Does it actually exist, or is this a false memory I have?

ArtO 10:20 AM  

Hand up for bouquet vs. aroma. Nobody ever uses aroma to describe the "nose" of wine.

GILL I. 10:22 AM  

I'm loving this wine conversation and learning LOTS.
@NCA Pres. well, you had me get up again and stare at my Pinots to see if I could see through them. I bought an expensive bottle of Fess Parker because I love Davy Crockett and I will buy a wine because of its name. That bottle of Pinot is the only one I can really see through. I know we spoke about the Three Thieves and I really like it and it's as dark as a Bergundy...Go figure!
I am a SOT @Nancy and so is every single person in my family. We all love wine but only my dad really knew anything about wines. What he always said was "If it tastes good to you, then it's good." But he always loved his Caymus Cabernet which cost as much as what I earned per week.

kitshef 10:31 AM  

@Sir Hillary: Pink rules.

Dorothy Biggs 10:31 AM  

@GILL I. Burgundies are Pinots. Darker wine (Cab, Merlot, Malbec, Cab Franc) come from Bordeaux. Wines in the Rhone area are dark-ish too...Syrah, mostly. Grenache can be light, as can mourvedre.

And yes, Three Thieves very likely cuts their Pinots with something darker, heavier. I don't know the Fess Parker, but if you paid more than $80 for it, it's going to taste a lot different than those pinots under $50.

One more random suggestion...because what the hell...for Christmas this year try an Australian sparkling shiraz. They exist, they are dry, but made in the champagne method. Red, dry, and bubbly. Really good with a Thanksgivng-like menu. Heavy enough to stand up to sage and fatty foods, but light enough to not overpower any of it.

You're welcome.

cwf 10:36 AM  

@Z 7:42: Thank you for that.

GILL I. 10:39 AM  

@NCA...The Chook Sparkling Shiraz...! I'm going to buy it!

mac 10:52 AM  

Very cute Thursday. At first I thought there would be an S-related rebus, but it all worked out. I expected only one FA and the rest LA's, however.

Thank you for all the wine info! I really only like red wines, but my taste has changed lately, from preferring the darker red wines to now liking pinots, clear and bright.

I am not a robot 11:00 AM  

So much interesting wine talk. Please come to California and taste what so many enjoy here, the famous Two Buck Chuck (now $2.49 a bottle, but $2.00 for a long time). It's a Charles Shaw wine (hence the nickname) sold at Trader Joe's. Shaw's chardonnay crushed it (no pun intended) at the state fair one year, winning double gold. Drink it at home, decant it for a party.

RooMonster 11:00 AM  

Hey All !
No wine drinker here, apparently I haven't the palette to tell different tastes. All Reds to me taste the same. (Sacrilegious!)

Puz was way cool. Way light dreck considering the restraints that the theme squeezed into the puz. Bravo JS!

[Pat myself on the back moment] - I have no writeovers today! Woo-hoo! Wish I could get the pic f my grid on here. Took my time, managed to get the revealer first! Then starting seeing all the other rebi sprinkled about. Only nit, what is a KIT bag?

Living in Las Vegas I actually know where the Agassi school is, and being a Limo driver in town, I've driver both Andre abd Steffi and their kids! #Humblebrag :-)

Two FA LA thumbs up. Even with that ASS. @evil doug DEBUT. Har!


G.Harris 11:08 AM  

Hardly easy until I cracked the theme (which didn't happen easily). Had to change several answers along the way, including Ashe, rts,fashionista,start, begin,MRI,and had ied for uzi .

old timer 11:12 AM  

GRANDFATHER CLAUSE: Every man registering to vote had to pass a literacy test *unless* his grandfather had been a voter. Said grandfather would have of course been white because even free blacks had not been allowed to vote befo' the war. Negros who tried to register would of course always fail the literacy test, which often required explaining some obscure clause in the state constitution. In some counties in the South there were zero Negro voters. In others, the mayor or a commissioner would invite, say, the leading Negro minister and the principal of the "colored" school to register to prove things were on the up and up.

I loved putting all those FA LA LAs in at the bottom. Like OFL, I got the trick immediately with DEFACE leading to FALLING FLAT.

jberg 11:12 AM  

I'm late, so haven't read all the comments. And I see someone has explained Jumbo the elephant already -- a gimme for any Bostonian, I guess. Otherwise, what everyone has said. Hardest part was Going pFfT before I got the theme, after which the rest was easy -- except for mARtIni GLASS, which I knew was wrong but wrote in anyway.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

The point is a good one, and I couldn't agree more. And WS still employs the practice of running ads for wines they review. But they do not review wines because of the advertisements. And they do not give positive reviews because of the advertisements. That is what separates WS from others, like the dreadful Enthusiast. For example, earlier this year they did an expose on Francis Ford Coppola, along with the prerequisite advertisements, but then went on to pan the flagship Rubicon as subpar in the world of high-end Napa wines.

Nancy 11:14 AM  

@GILL (10:22) -- Your father said: "If it tastes good to you, it's good." No wine snob, he. In fact for a moment I thought Mi padre tiene que ser su padre. (I looked that up; I don't speak Spanish.) My father once told me that I had a good palate for "vin ordinaire" (all I could/can afford anyway) and he meant it as a real compliment. I remember one incident: I was somewhere between 18 and 22. We went out for dinner on my mother's birthday, and Dad told Mom that she could order any wine she liked. She was a white wine drinker -- hated red wine which she always said tasted like "tired blood" -- and she ordered a Montrachet -- very expensive, even back then, and reputed then and now to be one of the great French whites. I tasted it and thought it was bloody awful, but of course I didn't say anything. Dad turned to me after a bit and casually asked what I thought of the wine. "I don't think it's very good," I said, uncertain of what reaction that would elicit. Dad beamed at me. "You're right, Nancy, he said, "it's not good at all." It was amazing. His being pleased with the discrimination of my youthful palate greatly outweighed any disappointment at being served an expensive wine that was a clunker.

In many cases, I've been served wines that far are more highly thought of than my inexpensive and full-bodied "house" reds. They are more subtle and multi-layered; they have "terroir", every vintage is unique -- all those things that NCA Pres was discussing. They are "interesting" wines and I'm sure many of them are absolutely fabulous. But I can also say that I've found some of them to be too astringent, or too thin, or too mineral-ly, or too tannic, or, in the case of some reds, too peppery. And actually, I'd rather have a good "bad" wine than a bad "good" wine, if you see what I mean. Wine Spectator won't be hiring me anytime soon. But if you came to my house, you might find some pleasure in what I uncorked. Or, more likely, unscrewed.

MagistraMcCarty 11:16 AM  

Way too many FA's; doesn't match the actual refrain. That's cheating.

Tita 11:20 AM  

Meant to mention...wondered for a bit if UCONN could be the Jumbo school, because Bethel CT is the birthplace of PT Barnum, and has as elephant statue in the town square, and Barnum was mayor of (and died in) Bridgeport, CT.
But it wasn't looking for an abbv., so I had to move on.

@NCA Pres - can I enroll in your wine appreciation class, please?

Loren Muse Smith 11:29 AM  

I recently had a 2008 Antica Terra Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills. Man, oh man - beautiful deep crimson and cranberry color. Pretty yet powerful impression on the nose with floral spices and flower garden sensations. But there was this wild berry, dark cherry bouquet with earth and forest elements. So good. AND the juicy berry flavors were really enhanced by leather, a kind of minerality and a tallow-like richness. The cool thing was that its overall balanced subtlety belied its richness, (which we all know is a real coup. For a moment I thought I was drinking a Gevrey-Chambertain! Imagine that!

Yeah, yeah - just kidding. I've never had a bad box of wine.

Masked and Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Aw, nuts. Bescooped. Just did a runt puzzle a couple days ago, with similar theme. [see below]

M&A has done careful research, recently on this here subject. There must be prezactly 8 LA's, after the FA, in the "Deck the Halls" re-frain. Nailed it, Mr. Stulberg.

Of course, under the weird circumstances, M&A saw thru the theme idea pretty darn quick. Nice to get the NYTPuz back in the Christmas swing of things. Also, nice to see FDR's doggie [Fala} get so much coverage, in the themers. "We have nothing to fear, except hair-dog itself."

fave weeject staff pick: FAir. Weebus weeject. Rare to see, in the wild.

Thanx and Merry Puzmas, Jacob Stulberg.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

merry runtzmas.

Nancy 11:46 AM  

The best satire always sounds quite a bit like the real thing, at least for a while. You really had me going, @Loren -- right up to the "tallow-like richness", an inspired phrase. Absolutely hilarious!

Dorothy Biggs 11:54 AM  

@MagistraMcCarty: In fairness, there are four FA LA LA refrains in each verse of that carol. So four FAs in the puzzle seem logically defensible.

Palette Station 12:10 PM  

Got stuck in the North end when I used Tu(la)ne instead of Tufts

Trombone Tom 12:31 PM  

Very much enjoying today's oenological bent. Lots of interesting and informative wine comments. In full disclosure, I do grow cab that goes into Beringer's reserve vintage. I'm NOT a fan of Parker's big, hot (high alcohol) wines and much prefer a nuanced and balanced blend.

I popped all over the puzzle looking for a rebus and finally broke into the FA LA theme. Not too challenging. I'd put this in the category of "just because you can do it doesn't mean you should do it."

A votre sante! (Don't know how to get the right accents in.)

Trombone Tom 12:33 PM  

@Loren, Ha! Best wine comment yet!

GILL I. 1:03 PM  

@I'm not a robot...When Two Buck Chuck first came out, some friends told us to go to TJ's and buy a bottle. We did. It was an incredible bargain. I asked my wine snob next door neighbor to try it and he went on to describe it just like @LMS did back upstairs (By the way, I'm still laughing). Anyway, we ended up buying a case and shipping bottles to friends back East before they got wind of how cheap it was. Everyone seemed to love it (or maybe they were all lying thru their teeth)...That wonderful grape year has disappeared. TBC is really only good for Sangria nowadays.
@Nancy. Si, creo que tu padre y el mio eran compadres. But tell me...what did your mom say?
I'd love to come visit and see what you've unscrewed....!!!! By the way, lots of imported wines now have screw tops. The Spanish Riojas I buy come that way; it doesn't seem to detract from the taste. Cork trees are vanishing :-(

oconomowoc 1:13 PM  

Did anyone else do some SOL searching after they saw the FA and LA?

Teedmn 1:32 PM  

TUFTS for me today. Even knowing there were going to be random FA LAs didn't help my speed. Black ink everywhere. 16A, "Bombing, as a joke" brought to mind photo-bombing and I was FALLING FLAT with that idea. 7D, I had SP_S_ and thought, "Hey, it's Thursday, maybe it is xPoSe" but then what would TxK be? Finally in the NE with the gimme of GRAPPA (still makes me shudder when I think of my one and only acquaintance with that stuff in northern Italy)I got REGULARGUY and was off to the races, OF A SORT. Perhaps the snail races...

LAPLAND gave me trouble because I always see it as Lappland (Wikipedia tells me Lapland is the Anglicized version) and 51D was SLAWS for a while. 48A was spirIT GLASS, 30D was RdS before I saw it belonged at 67A, and my Biblical animal was an ASp for a while (they never really specified what kind of snake was in Eden, did they?). And the obvious GUn not allowed in many classrooms (I was aware enough to wonder, "What classrooms DO allow GUns?")

So 't'is the season to be jolly but not necessarily WITTY, on my part at least. Nice one, Jacob Stulberg.

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

When you start solving a puzzle, as I often do, by filling in the answers you are confident of and one of those answers is wrong, you have set yourself up for a fall. After I sussed out the theme, I confidently filled in L(a)ver for 9a and kept tying myself up in knots trying to figure out why it wouldn't work. I then blundered into fashionista for 24a, which I think is a better answer for the trendy type clue but, no matter, it is still wrong. Once I sat and stared at the ne, I thought there is no way Laver would have won four French Opens, I was home free.

In general, I thought it was a fun puzzle. In particular, I thought the historical reference to grandfather clause was a pretty cute pun with the Christmas theme within.

I should refrain from commenting on the oenology comments today but, I can't help myself. The difference between Wine Spectator and Robert Parker is that Wine Spectator accepts advertising and Robert Parker does not. You therefore know that, whether you agree with the commentary and the big style of wines that Parker likes, you are getting an unbiased opinion. It is pretty much a given that Wine Spectator rates a wine prior to publishing and then contacts the wine maker to ask if they would like to place some advertising in the issue they are being rated highly in. Or a variation of that;

Pinot noir is the most difficult grape to grow and vinify. In the Burgundy region of France, which is where the only pinot is grown that could or should call itself Burgundy, they place a high value on the exact site and soil where the grapes are grown. The older the vines, the lesser in quantity and, generally speaking, the higher in quality and concentration in the wine. In the U.S., because of the downturn in quantity with older vines, most U.S. vintners tend to rip out the vines after a few years and replant.

The vinification of pinot is very tough because of its sensitivity. Most U.S. winemakers tend to filter their pinots because it removes sediment and 'improves'the color. Virtually every top notch Burgundy winemaker eschews the filters.

Many experts have posited that American Pinot winemakers have caught up with Burgundy in quality in recent years. But, not I; the terroir (the combination of soil, topography and climate) are unique to Burgundy and can be tasted. Naturally, Burgundies are far and away the most expensive Pinot Noir you can buy. But, of all the things in the world that are subjective, opinions about wines are at or near the top of the list.

By the way, I thought NCA president's comments on wine were well considered and written but, Loren's satire of the snobbery of some wine drinkers (and sellers, etc.) is also too, too true.
Sorry that took so long.

Masked and Anonymous 1:40 PM  

@muse: My bro in-law Cletus makes a mighty good bug-juice wine. As Cletus always points out … "It's how classy folks like us should get plastered". Cletus is a real piece of work. Puts a different label-name on each bottle.
fave labels, currently in my closet box [the box labeled "Explosives"] …

* Cabernet Suregonewrong.
* Ten-buck Up-chuck.
* Two-bit Get-lit.
* Blind Duck. [clever. He did a whole "___ Duck" series.]
* Cork Blow.
* Runtpuz Antidote.
* Asti Spitmonte.
* Caint Breathe [sic].
* Teetotaler Totaler.
* Windex. [I think he maybe just re-used a container, on this here one.]


Hartley70 1:44 PM  

@Loren, would that yummy vintage be a BOTA?

Dolgo 1:48 PM  

I feel pretty stupid. Got off on the wrong foot thinking the theme was "Noel" (i. e., "No L)! I never caught on and so it was s DNF for me. It helped me overcome my chronic insomnia, however, and I got a good night's sleep even though I had to nod off before completion.

Masked and Anonymous 2:25 PM  

Well, actually, that one label has two handwritten xx's, after the x, on the Windex. Sorry, Cleats.

I once suggested to Cletus a "100% Bullet Proof" label, but he hasn't come around on that. Was probably afraid it'd invite target practice.


Wm. C. 2:45 PM  

@FallRiver --

Yep, there's a golf pitch shot. When you've got a good grass lie, maybe 10-20 yards from the hole with most of that on the green itself, a pitch shot can be indicated. Use a 7-9 iron or a pitching wedge, depending on the distance of "carry" (initial ball flight before the first bounce) versus "run" (distance after the first bounce) you've decided to play. The more highly "lofted" (club face angle versus the shaft) clubs -- the 9 and PW -- have more carry and less run, ant the 7 and 8-irons vice-versa. Most golfers play for less carry and more run when possible, since hitting a soft shot with a highly-lofted club has more risk of a mix-hit ("blading" it across the green) or "chunking" it short of the green). Probably more than you wanted to know ....

@NotRobot -- "Two-Buck Chuck" is sold at Trader Joe's elsewhere in the country, but only in California was it ever $2.00. That's because the powerful California wine lobby kept the state tax revenuers away, whereas in other states it was taxed. In FL we pay $2.99 -- a great deal (in my uneducated opinion) on a fairly decent table wine.

OISK 2:58 PM  

Loved this puzzle! I had trouble getting started. Waited much too long to put in Godot, but eventually, I was safe at ohm. Someone wrote about Enya that it was time to retire her from crosswords. I didn't even know that Enya was female! I have seen enough of Omar Epps as well. Only hesitation, is it "Yowie" or "Yowee", and how do you spell Fajita ( Fajeta?) Not really much of a problem.

Enjoyed the wine discussion! While I'm certainly no expert, I also don't buy inexpensive Pinot Noir; for one thing, many years ago we spent a few days in Beaune, Drank a lot of very good wine, and was also instructed on the difference between Cote de Nuit and Cote de Beaune. ( I can't tell which is which, but they WERE different) When we want to splurge, we often get nebbiolo wines - Barbaresco or Barolo. When my wife says "open up something cheap..." Nero D'Avolo

kitshef 3:11 PM  

Anon at 1:38 - Laver is another one who fits the clue as written: 8 Australian, 4 French, 7 Wimbledon, 5 US open.

And my sole contribution to the wines discussion. All I know about wine, I learned here.

Jeff Lewis 3:34 PM  

I thought a GUn wouldn't normally allowed in a classroom, and the coming together would nET you a big audience. It's not GUM but I'm sticking to it.

Cassieopia 3:34 PM  

@kitshef: I heart that link, thanks for sharing. @NCA, I'm bookmarking your post, lots of stuff I didn't know (although too much of it I did. Experience is the best teacher...) I'm a fan of Willamette Valley pinots myself, but will drink just about anything dry and in a bottle.

I LALALALALA-ved the puzzle! My first break came at LASSO and so I started looking for California clues and answers (you know, L.A.) I had to google TUFTS, but once I did that, FALLINGFLAT was a gimme and then I laughed out loud at the FA and LA and instantly knew the fill for 61A (whereas before I was trying "noel_noel" and "glooooria")

Also had Ashe before GRAF, FASHIONista before FASHIONPLATE, and fie before TSK ("for shame" seems to cry out for "fie on you!" rather than the milder "TSK". Can I get an AMEN on that, please?)

FinLAND caused me some problems, because I couldn't get it to fit at all, and while I have heard about the Sami people and know a bit of their culture and background, LAPLAND was one of the last to fall and it was partly because I thought it was a term well out of favor and thus out of modern crossword bounds. As usual, when it comes to crosswords, I was wrong.

North side of my average, so this week I am batting 1000 - when Rex says "harder than normal" I fly through the thing, and "easy" means buckle my seatbelt, because I'm in for a ride.

Fa La La La La and Kalamazoo, everybody!

Chronic dnfer 3:54 PM  

The good old days of affordable French wines. Prices are up more than any other asset class the last 30-40 years. My dad used to buy me a case of mixed burgundies. La tache richebourg eshezeaux and romainee conte. The last Christmas he was around which was 2008 we went into the city together. I was stunned. The prices had doubled from the year before and none of these wines was less than $750 a bottle. More stunning is that they were a bargain vs today's prices. I couldn't let the old man shell out that kind of money. The owner of the store that the Russian oligarchs and newly minted Chinese and Indian millionaires has destroyed the French wine mkt particularly the doc wines. We eventually settled for some decent rhinestone. Chateau neuf de pape being my favorite. Nowadays you can't touch a decent French wine at a restaurant. Indeed the offerings are in the hundreds if not the thousands and more distressing is that they have not been properly aged. The hedge fund guys don't seem to care as they pick their wines from the right hand side of the wine list. Morons.

Chronic dnfer 3:56 PM  

Lot of typos there. Drc not doc. Rhones not rhinestones.

Chronic dnfer 3:58 PM  

No cheatinf today. First time for a rebus. Got stock on MRI for to long. Not sure what cel is. Took me like an hour and a half.

dick swart 4:05 PM  

A very nice seasonal Thursday. Got FA and LA right away. Still didn't find the puzzle 'easy'. Had to conduct a number of tryouts. Easy with pen and ink on printout.


alfalfa schweitzer

dick swart 4:15 PM  

'Switzer' is correct spelling of above Alfalfa. Should have looked it up instead of going from sound in my head.

Carola 4:18 PM  

I had to work at this one. I got the FAs in DEFACE, GO FAR, and FAJITA and the LAs in LAPLAND, but couldn't come up wih both words of of the four pre-refrain theme answers for quite a while. Went wrong on mottO and iWill. I needed the help from crossword pals ENYA and OMAR so can't join in with the pleas to retire them.

Dorothy Biggs 4:36 PM  

@Chronic dnfer: I once saw (and touched!) a bottle of Romanée-Conti. That bottle was $5000. I was working in a store in Nashville and the guy who bought it was a single pilot living in Louisville. He sent his sister to pick them (!) up. She had driven down from KY. She had special carriers for them in case of, you know, an accident.

Evidently, he had quite the collection in a pretty extravagant wine cellar. But those kinds of wines are a very different sort than the ones we mere mortals drink. And seriously, they're not any "better." With win like that, you need someone to take you through what you're tasting and why in order to really get your money's worth. And you don't drink wines like that for many years.

In the movie Mondovino (which is a doc I recommend to everyone who loves wine), they go to the Romanée-Conti vineyard. Those particular grapes are grown on a singular hectare in Burgundy...figured out by monks in the mid 11th or 12th century...can't remember now. But the actual Romanée-Conti grapes are in a "Z" pattern in that hectare. In other words, there are grapes growing not 2 feet from the other grapes, and they don't make the "cut." Talk about your terroir.

In the film the camera crew is following the winemaker around as he points out the vines and whatnot and one of the guys eats one of the grapes. One. The guy goes ballistic. Never mind, of course, that even though those grapes and that wine are from a region with a rich tradition and even some mysticism surrounding it, the roots themselves are American. Long story, but there are no vines in Europe that don't have American roots. And the French, though they would never like to admit, owe all of that tradition of French wine to Americans. Without us, there might be zero European wine.

And finally (and I'll stop spamming after this), the bottom line really is, if you like it, it's good. I don't like Yellow Tail, but there are lots and lots of people who do. And who can argue with them? It's cheap, it's fruity, it's a little's not a bad "entry" wine. But there are some Columbia Valley Merlots that used to be about $6 that were downright chocolatey.

Really...the only wine that you have to spend lots of money on is pinot noir. You can drink the cheap stuff, but it's kinda like eating those nasty chocolate bunnies the sell around Easter. Waxy, no flavor, just a hint of what chocolate could be. That said, if you like Three Thieves pinots, you could do worse.

So yeah, wine can get pretty deep.

Malsdemare 5:16 PM  

@ everybody! Wow, terrific wine discussion. Once upon a time, I loved red wine and this discussion would have had me drooling, making notes, counting pennies, googling wine shops. Today, white is what pleases my palate, such as it is. It appears I've done something to my mouth and taste has been damaged. But I adored @lms parody, the suggestion of a sparking Shiraz to go with turkey, and the comments about two-buck chuck. Of late, Frontera's Chardonnay has been my cheap, decent go-to wine, although Alias is also drinkable. And I ain't too proud to buy a box. My palate just ain't what it used to be; I'm a seriously cheap date.

I really didn't like the FA LAs, wanted just the one FA and lots of LAs. But the reveal was good, requisite number of LAs. I also wanted Harvey for GODOT, Ashe for GRAF, motto fro CREDO. I liked POPUPS. and TRYST. Fun puzzle.

Too early for wine. Damn! The discussion has me thirsty. Maybe by the time I've started a fire, found my book, let the dogs in, it will be close enough to five to cheat.

Nancy 5:51 PM  

@Malsdemare (5:16 p.m) ...But in NYC where I am, it's not too early for wine! FA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA. And yay!!! I'm over my limit today [comments, not wine] but I had to come back to recommend the best wine movie I've ever seen. I liked it even better than "Sideways." It's called "Bottle Shock" and I was standing at the 96th St. Public Library looking at the DVDs when a friend from the tennis courts saw me and shoved "Bottle Shock" into my hand. I'd never heard of it. "You'll love it," he said. I did. See if y'all can find a copy and watch it.

@NCA Pres -- Your comments today have been really interesting and enlightening and I'd love to have you as my wine guru. Trombone Tom -- You're involved in producing Beringer, you lucky thing, you? It's a lovely wine and, if memory serves, it's too expensive for moi. Which bring me to your adorable typo, Chronic dnfer: I think "decent rhinestone" is exactly what I often settle for. :)

GILL I. 7:07 PM  

See what you started @NCA...Thank you.
If you love wine and history, one of the best books I can recommend is called Wine and War - The French, the Nazi's and the Battle For France's Greatest Treasures. by Don and Petie Keadstrup.
I might make you teary....

GILL I. 7:08 PM  

Sorry...I won't make you teary but the book might!

Aroma Credo Malayas 8:07 PM  

Magnificent construction!!!
Esp, as Rex mentioned, LAPLAND with two-in-one going down. To have come up with so many good phrases with FA and LA and have the lengths match, and then do NINE rebuses for the FALALALALALALALALA... Bravo, Jacob!!!

Love the Otis Redding Sad Song Rex posted, didn't know the name.

Maybe Jacob could do another with that song and "Psychokiller" (Qu'est-ce que c'est?)
FA FA FA FA FA FA FA FA FA far better
Run run run run run run run away!
(Albeit, not so Christmas=y!)

Also timely with "LA LA Land" opening this weekend!

Robert Mondavi 8:32 PM  

Woeno you all love your fermented grape juice, but nuff said

OISK 9:28 PM  

Speaking of sad "Fa la" songs, I know Nancy (and other G and S fans) will remember "Ah leave me not to pine," from Pirates of Penzance. ( This dreary roundelay - He loves me, he is gone, Fa la la la, fa la la la...he loves me, he is gone, fa la la la la la la. ) The song is really very sad, because the heroine, Mabel, has just learned (the play is set in the year 1877...) that she must wait until 1940 for him to be able to marry her. She naturally swears to be faithful to him "Till we are wed, and even after..."

David 9:36 PM  

If you're Black, you have to pass an impossibly hard test to vote, but if at least one of your grandfathers was a registered voter, your automatically eligible.

Leapfinger 9:46 PM  

Nice feint that had me think 1A might be rEBUs. The theme itself: terrifically timely and upbeat. None of it was FaLLING FLaT for me and I thought it was a PARFaIT GASS. Go ahead and don your gay apparel, I'm ready for you, Boston Charlie.

Me and my Drum

Honestly, though, doesn't it look like FALA could've played GRANDFATHER CLAUSE to Toto's Santa?

@old timer, thanks for the real scoop on GRANDFATHER CLAUSE
And @A&M, thanks for bringing Cletus back; I've missed him.

Thought of MALAgA before MALAYA, probably due to the effects of that GRAPPA, and that's all the whining I'll do, tOKAY?

@Anony0906, that was some fascinomatous backstory on the Jumbo mascot...
Elephant ashes in a jar
A tusk is loose out in the car;
It must be in the trunk, I fears
With Tufted cushions debut arrears.

Seconding the B'day wishes of @GeorgeB to all who DEBUTed on this day. Being irREGULAR in the REGULAR guise of crosswords, may you never stall at the cross RDS of cross porpoises.


Chess Player 9:59 PM  

Rex, check your use of the word "gambit." It's an example of language slipping over time due to ignorance. Like the present shift from "lie" to "lay," which has become practically universal among native speakers. As an English teacher you surely have problems with that sort of thing.

Tita 10:08 PM  

@NCA Pres...I am definitely pasting this entire comments section into a doc...

Question - I was told by a Brit oenophile, (born in Portugal, married to my cousin), that Vines in the Colares region of Portugal were never affected by phyloxera, since they were planted in very sandy soil. They had to dig very far down below the sand to get to soil.
And that was barrier enough to the phyloxera varmints.

It's said workers would wear baskets on their heads as they were digging, in case the hole collapsed while they were inside.

So - there ARE pre-phyloxera vines in Europe!
Can you confirm or debunk?

Dorothy Biggs 10:43 PM  

Tita A...just a quick look at the wikipedia article on phylloxera says that were isolated spots throughout Europe that were spared, some in Italy, Portugal, and even Burgundy. But the American vines certainly stemmed the tide and saved the day from a large scale dying off. It's hard telling where the continent would be today had the American vines not happened to be immune.

Ruy Lopez 1:15 AM  

@Chess Player, just wait till you see his closing gambit.

Anonymous 5:22 AM  

Court was my first thought too. Only got Graf after seeing final F from Fosse

Chronic dnfer 12:02 PM  

Yes you are right. Napa valley saved the French wine industry after the blight destroyed their vines. just an observation after having traveled to both Bordeaux and burgundy. When I was in naps valley I was stunned when I saw the large metal vats the wine existed in before bottling. At the bottom of each vat was a smalll valve where they could draw a small quantity of wine. After testing the futzing started. Too acidic? Add something. Too sweet add something. Often times it was just mixing grapes form other vintages. Other times it was chemicals. When they got the taste right #parker it went into the oak.

Compare and contrast to how they do it in the better vineyards in France. What you grow is what you get. And you are so right when you say the wines differ from year to year. 2000 in Bordeaux for example was a tremendous year. As was 2004.

Here's my point. Napa valley is over priced. The wines are artificially tweaked. And yet very expensive. Dumb Americans routinely pay $2000 for a bottle of screaming eagle. $5000 in a restaurant. I'll take a bottle of Petrus any day. Chateau Lafite Rothschild or even a white burgundy #batard Montrachet over one of these scientifically altered napa extravaganzas.

With regard to American pinots. And I'm sure you know this. There is an area in central mid California where they are growing exceptional pinotnoirs. One of my favs is the Sanford central coast pinot noir. They get the right amount of sun/cloud cover and fog to grow those grapes as they would in burgundy which doesn't get a ton of sun.

Tita 8:47 PM  

@NCA Pres, @Chronic...thanks for the clarification.
The quest for consistency has shaped so much of what gets passed off as quality - not just wine or produce.
It is what made McDonalds, and the followers like Applebee's and Red Lobster, successful.
I suppose it's been going on for a long time. In Julia Child's biography, her son notes her bemoaning, at Les Halles - the Hunt's Point of Paris - how the famous chickens from Bresse were now so insipid - that was in the '40s.

Back to wine - what really frosts me is how wine collecting has become an investment - you buy bottles with an eye towards your portfolio - not your palate. Putting bottles out of reach of the rest of us who just want a special bottle for a celebration.
Well, the advantage of having a not-so-very-discerning palate is that I can be perfectly happy with my BOTA box or a Vinho Verde for $8.

Burma Shave 10:28 AM  


TSK, TSK, so much he’s FALLINGFLAT on his ASS.


rondo 12:16 PM  

Wow, lotsa grape juice chatter. The wine I drink in a year probably doesn’t add up to a bottle of GRAPPA. The puz: A few random w/os and at first couldn’t figure out how to get finLAND to fit; then remembered LAPLAND crosses a number of boundaries. Modern technology and snowmobiles have really changed a lot of the Sami ways of life.

I’ve read the STIEG Larsson books and have seen the original Swedish version of all three movies in a local theater – understanding 95% of the Swedish, BTW – and the one American version, to boot. As I recall, the original title of the first in the series was “The Man Who Hates Women.” The Swedish films are hands down the best, and yeah baby Noomi Rapace is terrific in them. Might be a good binge watch back-to-back-to-back if you have the chance (they did have subtitles).
Ms. GRAF was pretty good as a SI model, a local sportswriter called her The Homely Hun, before the bikini shoot, yeah baby. Singer ELIZA Gilkyson also makes the grade. Too much puz time for ENYA lately.

@D,LIW – no more waiting for GODOT!

Ten more days for re-celebration in the puz. FA LA.

rondo 12:23 PM  

BTW I have had a face-to-face chat and a shake of hands with ELIZA Gilkyson. Check out her music:

spacecraft 12:38 PM  

Sorry, but I'm old school. When I see ELIZA I see Ms. Dolittle, so fetchingly played by DOD Audrey Hepburn. I could have watched all night.

Puzzle was on the easy side for a Thursday--the day to beware the frumious Rebusiness. The tour de force in the SE is impressive, to say the least. Fill is decent too; the only thing that might make me say YOWIE! is...YOWIE. Birdie.

Diana,LIW 1:14 PM  

I've only scanned the comments, but noted the wine theme - did it get started with LMS' Joe Merlot? I agree with the "if you like it, it's good" theory - yet another example of to each...

Yes, I seem to have spirited GODOT into the puzzle.

Days 4,5,6, and 7 of demo/reno are dead in the water. Now awaiting return of the electrician. Mr. W, who worked with contractors for many years, say he knew this would happen.

Had my usual horror of rebi reaction when I realized what was afloat. At first was wondering if doh, re, me were going to show up. Then remembered the FALALAetc clue, and that made things much cleaner and clearer.


Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

NOT easy, fun, or defensible. Puzzle was infested with pisser clues/answers. Rejected.

Longbeachlee 2:49 PM  

I'm joining the nose snobs, especially LMS. I fall in love with her every now and then, like today.

leftcoastTAM 3:17 PM  

Saw the FA LA rebus gimmick early enough, then started a slog through the puzzle. Eventually found a revealer OFASORT in the long FA-LA-LA-LA....string, but it didn't reveal anything that was not already essentially revealed.

So digging out the rest of the FA's and LA's was not a lot of fun. That it was a non-symmetrical rebus was a bit vexing, too, but all showed up by applying some begrudging persistence.

If there were any favorite themers, I'd have to choose the GRANDFATHERCLAUSE for its historical relevance and PARFAITGLASS, well, just because.

FAJITA as a "dish" in a tortilla was an annoying clue.

NE was last to go, mainly because of the GRAPPA/RAGES cross.


rain forest 5:28 PM  

Nice puzzle! Lots of stuff about FAs, LAs, and wine today. If I weren't so late, I'd love to add tons to the wine discussion as I and three friends make wine from California, Washington, and Okanagan grapes, and have done so for 40+ years. Both reds and whites, some excellent, some not. Anyway, way too late for my observances other than to concur with NCA Prez that Pinot Noir can be the best wine experience, but you have to pay for it. The movies Bottle Shock and Sideways might enlighten you, if you are interested.

rondo 9:31 PM  

Just noticed that 5 weeks from now we get another puz from the same constructor.

Teedmn 10:22 PM  

@rondo, I notice that is not uncommon. Perhaps 5 weeks is as close a period as Will Shortz will publish a puzzle by the same constructor? Though that doesn't seem right either. If I had the ambition, I would start charting it but I don't see it happening :-).

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