End to seasonal song / TUE 12-6-16 / Alfred who was follower of Freud / Filmdom's Flynn

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (only because I couldn't make any sense out of the revealer at first, and also the fill is awful down there so I kind of stopped trying/caring)

THEME: "Little Drummer Boy" — circled squares at beginning of theme answers spell out PA-RUM-PUM-PUM-PUM and then last answer is 53A: Following the circled squares, the end to a seasonal song ('ME AND MY DRUM'); the song in question is "The Little Drummer Boy," in case that wasn't obvious.

Word of the Day: "Mr. PIM Passes By" (47D: Milne's "Mr. ___ Passes By") —
[some Milne play for which I could find no short synopsis except "When a woman's 'dead' husband returns she refuses to remarry her second until he consents to her niece's wedding," which comes from the imdb page for the 1921 silent movie of the same name]
• • •

ME AND MY DRUM. Couldn't pick it up. Such a weird phrase to stand alone. It fits here, since it is, in fact, the end of the seasonal song in question, and does follow the rum puh pum pum bit (I never say, nor have heard, that first PUM as PUM; it's more like "rump-a-pum-pum"...). But I had DRUM and then the whole preceding part was blank and I kept thinking of kinds of drums etc. The idea that a lyric was involved ... didn't occur to me. Didn't help that the fill in that trouble area was just stale and blargh and whatever PIM is. ADLER TNOTE SARAN AGATE ERROL ERGO it's *all* of it out of Common Boring Stuff That's Been Around Forever And Isn't Interesting. Of course the rest of the grid has a bunch of that too, but it was real bad down there. ULTIMA, ugh (45D: Final syllable of a word). [Like some boarding schools] = ??? I had PREP- and *still* had no idea. Because clothes are PREPPY, people are PREPPY, schools are preparatory. They're called prep schools for a reason. But the idea of an entire school being "PREPPY," again, not something that occurred to me. I LOST. NOT IN. Also, is this crossword an ad for Big Pharma. PFIZER *and* PROZAC (crossing AZT)? What gives?

Nothing more from me. I love Christmas music, I love my Christmas tree, I was very much in the mood for holiday puzzle goodness. This wasn't it. The fact that this particular Christmas song is one of my least favorite probably didn't help matters.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Greg 12:15 AM  

I was with you, @Rex, right up until you said that you didn't like Little Drummer Boy. It's a great song, and you're the worst for not liking it.

Unknown 12:22 AM  

Thanks, @Rex, for your perspective on @Ed Sessa's Christmas song-themed puzzle.

Yes, even I am familiar with the song. But here's my take-home from the puzzle, and it came early. The clue for BIGOT, i.e., "Archie Bunker, notably," was used, verbatim, 3 weeks and a day ago, in a puzzle by @Zhouqin Burnikel. The editorial writes itself.

Part of teaching chemistry is being able to explain the structures of drugs like PROZAC and AZT, and how they affect the biochemical mechanisms that inform their pharmacological activities. Still, from the cruciverbal point-of-view, it's interesting to note that those drugs cross at Z. Speaking of Z and drugs, today's puzzle also showcases PFIZER, which has made a lot of money from marketing a certain failed blood pressure medication towards a different biological function.

Ellen S 12:54 AM  

It's eternally fascinating to me how differently @Rex and @Jeff Chen view the same puzzles. Even when they have the same criticisms, for OFL the flaws make the puzzle unacceptable while Jeff enjoys it anyway.

I don't know who is right. I know a couple of people, one of them a serious reader, a political activist, who when she had to live in an assisted living establishment immediately took up the activities on offer there, notably Bingo. The other one was not so engaged in the outside world, in fact was pretty socially isolated, and now that she's living in a nursing home she never misses an activity. Especially Bingo.

And a third friend, as active as the first, when he moved to assisted living he railed and cursed that the activities were beneath him, the people ignorant, the "current events discussions" vacuous. And don't even mention Bingo!

I'm just saying, the first two enjoyed their lives more. And I'm wondering, are these puzzles Bingo at the old folks home, and we should enjoy them as best we can, or are they an outrage that we should take up arms against? We, I mean nonviolent picket signs. I am, as many of you know, a big nonviolent picket-signer, and we know from Rex and others that "A Better Crossword Is Possible." But ... I dunno. I like to save my outrage for, you know, stuff from the daily news, and turn to the puzzle for amusement and enjoyment.

And yet, while I was doing yesterday's I could not help thinking,"What am I doing here? It's just word associations. It's not going to stave off dementia; in fact it might cause it!" (And proof of that may be the essay I have penned here.) so okay, I have made up my mind: I enjoy reading Jeff's take on the puzzles but thank you, Rex, for setting high, but attainable standards, and insisting that we deserve puzzles that meet those standards.

jae 12:55 AM  

Easy for me, actually faster than yesterday's. Delightful theme, not much glue, liked it a bunch. Made me smile! So...the opposite of @Rex.

Da Bears 12:57 AM  

Rex, when I was a lawyer, I didn't have much money. I gave my spouse a Harry Simeone LP of this song for Christmas when I was dating her. It was and still is her favorite Christmas song. I just do bot believe you.

chefwen 1:17 AM  

Just slightly more difficult than yesrerdays, as it should be, but still very easy for me. Other than stupid moves like putting the right word in the wrong slot and the wrong word in the right slot, this was another cake walk. I suppose the other shoe will drop later in the week.

Good old ALOHA fixed my mistake of I'm OUT before I LOST at 7D.

Anoa Bob 1:26 AM  

With only 25 squares devoted to the theme (lowest number ever?) and 14 of those in two- and three-letter chunks, I was asking myself why so many black squares, 40. This high of a number is usually seen in grids with a ton of theme squares. In comparison, yesterday's grid had 53 squares devoted to theme material and yet only 34 black squares. And, for those keeping score at home, we also get three cheater/helper square equivalent, two-for-one POCs at the ends of GOTH/LAST, MOTTO/RA & MEL/GOOD.

I knew who 48A "Boxer Patterson" was, but since he fought mostly in the 50's & 60's, thought current champ "Boxer Mayweather" would be a better boxing clue for FLOYD. Then I remembered yesterday's Muhammad Ali clue as the 1996 Olympic TORCH BEARER. Ali & Patterson fought twice, so maybe that was the connection.

Got to throw the flag on the clue for 51D ADLER, "Follower of Freud". He was one of the original members and the first president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. But he soon parted ways with Freud (as did several other members) and went on to found his own school of psychology. No follower of Freud was he.

Anonymous 2:03 AM  

Is a pumper a thing? Pumps just pump. Rum pum pum pum pumper? In any case, it was an enjoyable puz.

Brian 2:04 AM  

I guess catching the theme makes a difference, once I had PA and RUM, I had a good idea where it was going. Coupled with all the common boring fill, this broke my Tuesday record.

Larry Gilstrap 2:14 AM  

I would have commented earlier, but I lost my mouse. Right where I left it. My print out had no tinted squares, so I was a bit more challenged than most of you. I'm gonna scour my Bible to find the scripture with the drummer boy. Help me here. Is it in the book of Enos or the book of Esau?

Unknown 2:16 AM  

I picked up the theme just fine. I just didn't understand the theme. Why is PA-RUM-PUM-PUM-PUM getting broken up? Why choose PUMPER (not a word that you here often) over PUMPED (which you do hear and which is far more expressive)? I dunno.

The grid design was odd. The two 11-letter theme answers (PARTING SHOT and ME AND MY DRUM) are in the 4th and 12th rows rather than the 3rd and 13th. The one big benefit in doing this that jumps to my mind is that now the NE and SW corners don't have to be a stack of three-letter answers—but the constructor decided to keep those stacks and now they're four-tall rather than three-tall. Not a fatal flaw or anything; just a choice that I find odd.

The fill was boring. So much short stuff. Heck, usually we get at least four theme answers of nine letters or longer: this just had two. No long down answers. Not much space for inspiration.

The cluing was strange. Didn't like the clue for RED MEAT [What's your beef?]. Surprised that EMO [Fashion look with long 6-Down and eye liner] cross-referenced 6-Down BANGS instead of 8-Down GOTHS.

I did like the clue for ALOHA [Hi in HI], and I liked the run of car clues in the SE: DEMO [Car in a showroom], REPO [Car in a tow lot, perhaps], and USED [Preowned].

Count me with Rex on "Little Drummer Boy": I don't like it. It's a secular song that uses religion as prop. Oh, the boy plays his drum for Jesus! Oh, Jesus smiles at him! It's emotional manipulation, pure and simple. Barf!

But it's easy to pick on the many, many bad Christmas songs. Let me see if, instead, I can come up with list of five favorites. Hmmm ... how about:

- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
- Winter Wonderland
- I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Larry Gilstrap 2:23 AM  

Not sure I would go on record condemning any Christmas song as being bad in the new era.

Anonymous 3:02 AM  


It's in "Two Corinthians".

Larry Gilstrap 3:30 AM  

Wow! Paul was perceptive.

Loren Muse Smith 3:57 AM  

I love "The Little Drummer Boy." The harmony is so pretty. When it comes on during the holidays, I turn the volume up a little. @Martin A – it's one of the few Christmas songs with lyrics I just don't know, so I won't feel emotionally manipulated. But I sure didn't know it ended with ME AND MY DRUM. I swear, I looked at that forever before I parsed it right and got it. I kept seeing MEAN _ _Y drum and wondering if it really could be "mean toy drum." Since PIM and ADLER were woes…

And like @Martin, I noticed that MEL'S auto lot in the southeast with USED cars, REPO cars, DEMO cars… and maybe a RIG?

I agree – the clue for ALOHA was good. And ALOHA crosses HI.

In addition to the pharma vibe, we had the EMERY and PUMICE pair. I used to have pretty feet, but now they're morphing into scaly crocodile stumps with startling, misshapen toenails. They'd probably frighten young children, so that's good. I've tried everything – a couple of months ago I even soaked them in a big bowl of Listerine and vinegar and I'm not making that up.

I sat back at the clue for PROZAC. At first I was thinking "mood-altering." But it's "mood-enhancing." I had my stint on an SSRI a long time ago – Paxil – but I don't remember that my mood was enhanced. I just remember that after a few weeks I wasn't sweating the small stuff anymore, and my world was a much better place. I guess that's enhanced. I would've been a poster child for Paxil and ran around saying it should be in the water supply. Hey, @Martin – I guess having my selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors tweaked wa the ultimate emotional manipulation?

I'm with @jae. I liked this puzzle.

John Child 4:02 AM  

I very rarely bail out on a puzzle, but today I worked down the right side and filled in the revealer in the first couple of minutes, then put the puzzle away. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas all!

todd 5:51 AM  

I liked the history of a car juxtaposed in the southeast - DEMO, REPO, USED. But I'm a simple guy.

Lewis 6:39 AM  

@ellens -- Very well expressed, and yes, there are good reasons to like both Jeff and Rex and put them both in our basket of adorables.
@M&A -- I thought with all those U's in the themers, we were going to have a Urgasmic number, but just five, as it turns out. Respectable nonetheless.

I go through stages with The Little Drummer Boy. Early in the Christmas season, after not hearing it for so long, it gets me right in the holiday spirit, and the melody is appealing. But in not too long, after hearing it everywhere, being in a cloud of it that I can't escape, then when it comes on I feel like running off the roof of a tall building.

I'm not there yet, so I haven't ripped up the puzzle. In fact, I enjoyed doing it. There were answers that appealed to me -- PARTING_SHOT, RUMPLE, APLOMB, PUMICE, IMPEL, PUMMEL, and JURY_RIG. Like others, I enjoyed the little motorcade in the SE. Like Martin, I saw the EMO/GOTHS connection. I liked the disparate cross of APLOMB and TANTRUM, and the jarring cross of PARTING_SHOT and BANG. I liked the neighbors of NOT_IN and YON, and noticed that both PROZAC and ALE are overUSED.

It went quickly and cleared out a cobwebby brain, and all these interesting elements easily overshadowed some hum drum pa rum pum fill. Thank you, sir Ed!

Passing Shot 6:41 AM  

PARTINGSHOT crossing BANGS, ILOST, and TANTRUM -- seems there could be a mini-theme there. Thought the puzzle was meh. Nothing beats the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Unknown 6:52 AM  

I am with Martin and Rex on the terrible carol but I think I liked it once upon a time. The puzzle was in this old lady's wheelhouse.

Airymom 6:58 AM  

@Liz Glass--re: yesterday's puzzle. My daughter didn't know the word "sabra" either. K through 8 of Jewish Day School at Schechter for a total investment of $125,000. And then she didn't understand why this annoyed me. Oy!

Tim Pierce 7:03 AM  

I perceived this puzzle as the constructor's attempt to make thousands of people lose the LDB Challenge at once, to which I say: well played, my friend. Well played.

Kitty 7:16 AM  

I've heard of a emery board but I've never heard of an emery stick.

Z 7:23 AM  

Bowie/Bing Immunity

Unknown 7:31 AM  

Have to follow up on Ellen S's nice and helpful thinking about what we're up to. I do the puzzle regularly at my own level, but can't help asking the question what am I doing here? That was most notably and regularly repeated in my reading lately by Paul Theroux in his brilliant book about Africa, "The Last train to Zona Verde". A useful and very contemporary question

Charles Flaster 7:33 AM  

Easy Tuesday romp.
Not much to say except Floyd Patterson was a true sixties icon. One should read up on him and his three epic fights with Ingemar Johansson; also his life after boxing. But I digress.
Favorite clue was JURY RIG.
Only write over was MPG for aPr.
Liked the ITT/ ZIT proximity.
Thanks ES

chefbea 7:55 AM  

Liked the puzzle...never heard of the fashion look called emo...I have bangs but don't use eyeliner...maybe that's why,

I know someone who will love this puzzle because of all the U's

Annette 8:03 AM  

I love it when someone else writes exactly what I'm thinking. Usually it's @NCA President, but today, oh thank you, Rex, for saving me from being the worst person ever for disliking that drummer boy. And for everything else you wrote. But do treat yourself to Sadie and the Hotheads' cover of it.

evil doug 8:09 AM  

Bad Christmas music? Visit your local Starbucks. You'll be begging for a silent night, afternoon and morning. It sucks bad....

The best? O Holy Night. My preference is Perry Como, but there are lotsa nice versions out there.

G.Harris 8:19 AM  

Whoa, can't believe I found rather easy a puzzle that gave Rex difficulty.

Hungry Mother 8:25 AM  

Also easier than yesterday for me. A bit of a pause at the reveal before getting it. A nice version of the song: https://youtu.be/qJ_MGWio-vc

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

It would have been humorous if Sonny Liston had made an appearence instead of Floyd Patterson. George Lois's Esquire Santa hat cover is a classic. Look it up.

Btw @Loren thanks for the Certs commercial yesterday. It made me wonder what the heck the magical retsyn is. As a kid I assumed it was some mysterious product of science like a hydrogen bomb or Silly Putty. So I looked it up: "trademarked name for a mixture of copper gluconate, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and flavoring. It is the copper gluconate in Retsyn which gives Certs its signature green flecks." Two mints in one and some copper gluconate to boot. Now there's a phrase you don't hear anymore. Like all get out.

Lojman 8:38 AM  

But it's great for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension in children! You just have to be patient in explaining why little boys might get a certain side effect.

Hartley70 8:39 AM  

@Ellen, I enjoyed your ramble. I plan to have a ball at the old folks home! My highbrow mom said it was just like being the cool kid in high school when she arrived.

@TimPierce, so funny and who knew? If there's a cash prize I'm in next year. Strategy: no radio within ear shot is easy (NPR exception) and edit my playlist.

I don't have strong feelings about the carol or the puzzle. I thought separating the RUMPy PUMPy was a good idea. (Lisa Vanderpump reference) Spread the love. It's Tuesday, so we're not expecting nuclear physics here, just a little tickle.

FLOYD was my answer of the day just because I can remember him.

Dorothy Biggs 8:43 AM  

@Ellen S: Lennon had his McCartney, Fagen had his Brecker. Yin has its Yang. Parker has his Chen. It's balance that keeps the earth from spiraling out of control and flying out into the cosmos. So yeah, vive la difference! as they say in America with a French accent.

That said, I personally don't read JC's reviews any more. Rex allows feedback whereas Jeff does not...so Rex's curmudgeon-ness is balanced out by his readership, while Mr. Chen's unbridled love is, well, unbridled. Think Donald Fagen's "Kamakiriad" record. Just too much Fagen. Ugh.

Plus, xwordinfo seems to be connected to the Times somehow, which makes it appear to be a conflict of interest and destroys its credibility. It is always interesting to read the constructor's take on a puzzle, but even then, it's mired in that pesky appearance of conflict of interest giving the impression of pandering.

And in the interest of balance, I think Rex's take on "The Little Drummer Boy" is understandable, given that the song sort of does the same thing over and over and over. But who can not like that song after seeing the Rankin/Bass TV show from the 60s when the misanthrope drummer boy's pet donkey comes back to life after he plays his drum for the baby Jesus? I'm only half kidding...of all the stop-animation Christmas shows from that era, that one is still a fav. As they say in France, "If that doesn't light your fire, then your wood's wet." I'm pretty sure they say that there.

Otherwise, there were some weird spots in this puzzle. From JURYRIG to PFIZER to REDMEAT. Quite an assortment of stuff.

I'd say the puzzle, for a Tuesday, was above average and fairly easy and easily fair...so I give it a B. If this puzzle were a person, I wouldn't mind sitting across from it at those wedding receptions when they seat you next to people you don't know and you have to talk through the entire dinner and the entree is late coming out. It would certainly be an interesting conversation.

kitshef 8:44 AM  

Completely agree with Rex, up to and including hating that awful song. But the star today is Ellen S, for her thoughtful commentary. Now I need to listen to some Echobelly to get that song out of my head.

thfenn 8:49 AM  

Joan Baez's Little Drummer Boy was a christmas time staple growing up, and I still love it. MEANDMYDRUM still took a while to fill in, even with DRUM sitting there, but nevermind. Somehow MONTHS instead of MOTTOS made it impossible for ITT to dawn on me. And REDMEAT, ADLER, and TNOTE made the whole SE tough, but it eventually all fell in. Didn't like REDMEAT for 'What's your beef' as I kept thinking there must be some other way to say "What's your beef". And ROYAL before REGAL left me thinking MIYAYI must be wizened teacher in Karate Kid until I noticed that the Maple Leaf probably wasn't an OMBLEM.
But, another one done, and a little harder than yesterday, so still a fine start to the week...

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Pretty obvious theme. So-so fill. Very easy overall.

1820 Stone Colonial House 9:23 AM  

@ellens, I really enjoyed your "essay." When I would have a senior moment, forgetting something I shouldn't have forgotten, and whine that the big mental slide was beginning, my wife would comfort me saying: "you must be fine. You can solve The NY Times crossword ever day."
Then one day, I ran into a friend and inquired about her mom who is struggling with Alzheimer's. "Oh, she isn't doing well," came the reply, "but would you believe that woman can still solve the Times crossword every day?"

The Bowie/Crosby version of Drummer Boy is on my Christmas playlist.

Alex 9:28 AM  

Haha! Unlike many if you, the only part of Rex's entry I DID agree with was the thumbs down on The Little Drummer Boy. "The ox and lamb kept time?" Tapping their hooves?

RooMonster 9:35 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with @Martin A and @NCA Prez. And @Anoa Bob. Also, 21 threes.

The LDB challenge is funny. Isn't it JerRYRIG? RUMPLE a cool and unusual word.

Not very verbose about this pyz. One F, @M&A's U equivalent for consonants (according to me, anyway.)


mathgent 9:35 AM  

We have the local San Francisco soft-rock station on most of the time. They have been playing wall-to-wall Christmas music since before Thanksgiving. The immortal Herb Caen hated Drummer Boy and would charmingly destroy it in his column during the season. The only one I can't listen to is Rudolf, that poor thing who wasn't included in the reindeer games. My favorite is Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas (remember Love, Actually?). My favorite line is "It doesn't show signs of stopping, and I've got some corn for popping." I wonder what lyricist @Nancy's favorites are?

AZPETE 9:38 AM  

Excuse me, but how do u know the first 2 enjoyed life more? Maybe the old guy enjoyed being a curmudgeon!

AZPETE 9:40 AM  

Follow as in coming after?

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:43 AM  

Oh dear, little drummer boy. I took my current church job saying they had to let me have a children's choir, a church that doesn't do that it dooming itself to extinction down the road. But then the minister who hired me left and the interim has other plans for the kids. So I had to come up with a song for the kids to sing on Children's Christmas Sunday (otherwise known as 3 Advent) on 15 minutes of rehearsal. So I came up with the Little Drummer Boy, and brought a drum. And the kid who clamored loudest to play the drum was a really nice kid but he has no sense of rhythm. The singing was fine but the drumbeats were quite randomly spaced. That was last year. This year they informed me that that was the only song the kids were willing to sing, and they knew it already so it needed no rehearsal. But I did get 5 minutes with the little boy drummer, trying to show him a walking rhythm by walking back and forth with him and his dadblasted drum. We shall see.

Oh, the puzzle. What are RAS? Rooming advisors? Residential Adversaries? I guessed wrong on the last letter of ULTIMo, not having room for ULTIMAte.

pmdm 9:43 AM  

For a number of years, the parish I was one of the organists in held an annual Christmas concert during which one of the grammar school boys sang Little Drummer Boy, usually off-pitch and with no sense of rhythm. I had to accompany. Believe me, if there is anything that would make you hate a song, having to do that accompaniment certainly accomplished that. And having been forced to listen to Marlene Deitrich's interpretations more times than I would care to (which would be more than zero times) helped intensify that feeling.

Mr. Chen can be quite critical of some of the puzzles, but he usually voices his feelings in a low-key manner. And he usually points out features of the grid that complicate attempts to include only great fill. Whatever his affiliation with the Times may be, I think he prefers an intellectual analysis of a puzzle to an emotional analysis. There's room in this world for both, which is why I visit both sites.

Perry Como singing O Holy Night? Never heard that version. While it is one of my favorite carols, I'm not sure how much I would like Mr. Como's interpretation. I arranged it as a duet (one year with brass quintet added), which the baritone and mezzo sang so well that I would think it would be competitive with Mr. Como's. Unfortunately, most of what you here in stores are self-indulgent or sickly sweet pop arrangements.

And for the record, I thought today's puzzle was better than average for a Tuesday.

AZPETE 9:56 AM  

Thanks for sharing. Like Bowie's necklace.

Marcie 10:00 AM  

@Z 7:23. Thanks for highlighting the David Bowie/Bing Crosby rendition of The Little Drummer Boy.
It still gives me chills when I hear it.

jberg 10:03 AM  

I had PA and the second PUM, and just wrote the rest of the shaded squares in, so that made it a little too easy.

So, putting @Ellen S and @Loren together, I guess bingo is a form of SSRI? Something to look forward to!

old timer 10:07 AM  

I hate that song with a passion. And it really was not a well crafted puzzle though there is nothing all that bad about ERGO ERROL etc. I wish we heard *religious* carols as we did when I was a kid. My favorites:

O come O come Emmanuel (because, such a great tune)
God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen ("In Bethlehem in Jewry this blessed babe was born")
The First Noel (for the vocal challenge reaching the high note)
Adeste Fideles (every kid's introduction to Latin)

But I do like "Jinglebell Rock".

jberg 10:09 AM  

Oops, I forgot to list my favorite songs:

"Good King Wenceslas" -- inspiring story. When it's cold on our daily walks, i often ask my wife if I can walk in her footsteps.

"In Dulci Jubilo" -- a macaronic song in English and Latin, with a bit of Greek in the chorus.

"Un flambeau, Jeannette Isabella" -- if you don't count "Frere Jacques" or "Alouette," first song I learned in French.

evil doug 10:19 AM  

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

--Pogo (and Walt Kelly)

GILL I. 10:25 AM  

@Ellen...I think if I spent my final days playing Bingo every day I would have to be put on PROZAC and three daily consumptions of booze.
I'm agreeing with @Rex - somewhat. I like Ed Sessa's crosswords but they do feel a bit dated. I'm feeling that way about a lot of NYT puzzles. When we get a good Monday or really fun Thursday, my happy feet do a little dance. Otherwise, the reason I keep doing them is so that I can come to this blog; it makes my day and no matter how grumpy @Rex may be, he's always entertaining...
When the Little Drummer Boy gets to the "Do You Hear What I Hear" part, I start to get teary. After about the 10th playing, I want to shout "Just die already."
I'm with @evil with O Holy Night. I went to an Anglican Church school for 8 years and my brother and I were in the choir. We'd have a Christmas pageant every year - he'd be one of the Wise Men and I would be a fallen angel or some such. I always wanted to be Mary but I had red hair and freckles and according to the Bible, Mary didn't. Anyway, we'd always sang O Holy Night as well as my other two favorites - The First Noel and Angels We Have Heard on High.
Here Comes Santa Claus....Ach

GILL I. 10:26 AM  

P.S. @Lewis...Basket of adorables....made my morning!

Mohair Sam 10:29 AM  

@Z - Thanks for the link. Bowie & Crosby, the odd couple.

@NCA President - Great memory jog of the '60s TV show, thanks to you too.

Just like Joan Baez, David Bowie, and Bing Crosby - I'm down with "The Little Drummer Boy" - In fact I'll vote with @LMS, I love the song. May the rest of you get Christmas albums sung by the Grinch duet of @Rex and @Martin A. backed by Mannheim Steamroller.

Best Christmas Albums:
Pavoratti - O Holy Night
Bocelli - White Christmas
Josh Groban - Noel (Lady Mohair late edit)

Mr. PIM a gimme here and I have no idea why. Thought the USED car trilogy in the SE was kind of clever. EMO is a fashion look? Gotta love APLOMB in the puzzle, I use the word as much as possible, people always give me a weird look (don't get smart).

Seems like I'm in the minority here who enjoyed this one quite a bit. Totally disagree with OFL today.

Warren Howie Hughes 10:30 AM  

Personally speaking, I feel that Ed (Santa CLAWS)Sessa, picked us APLOMB with this festive Tuesday offering that BANGS the DRUM slowly for the coming Yuletide Season. Please Big Ed, by a LEAP of Faith that you'll PUMICE to do ITT again same time next year, as I'm sure we'll all be the PFIZER for it!

Nancy 10:53 AM  

Barely time to do the puzzle, much less read y'all. Running out. Love, love, love the song, but the puzzle -- not so much. If you want an earworm for the rest of the holiday season, go listen to the song. I'll read the comments later.

John Child 10:54 AM  

@Evil: every thumb up in the house. Thank you.

r.alphbunker 11:01 AM  

@Ellen S
Yes! If life gives you PIM make a PIMPERNAL out of it.

I loved when the revealer suddenly came into focus after the initial huh? It was like the first time I got glasses when I was 8 and suddenly I could see distant objects. I was convinced that I would see money on the sidewalks.

Jeff Chen's word list complained about AMS, AZT, EER, PCT, PIM, RAS and MELS.

Details are here.

L 11:17 AM  

I love that clip. Thx for posting.

Cassieopia 11:25 AM  

Had PhIZER before PFIZER which made H_LOYD because I had no idea what "final syllable of a word" was. Finally straightened that out and still came in below my average Tuesday time.

On The Topic Of The Day, I am a fan of "Little Drummer Boy" and it always makes me cry - go ahead, I'm strong enough to be judged for that :) I'm also very fond of Carol Of The Bells but my all time favorite that gives me chills and I can NEVER get enough of it is the Troika from Lieutenant Kije suite. While I like the entire suite, I could listen to Troika itself on an infinite loop while playing Bingo and be very happy with my life.

Master Melvin 11:31 AM  

A PUMPER is a fire truck.

Masked and Anonymous 11:55 AM  

All righty then. Smoke's out of the bottle, now. The dogs are unleashed. The die is casted. The ship has sailed. The rum has pumpummed. The Christmas puzs have done arrived. @RP is in the holiday spirit. [So far, it's a kinda different holiday -- Make NYTPuz Greater Again day, or somesuch.]

Like @RP, M&A has always heard a slightly different D-Boy lyric; more of a "… pUh rUm pUm pUm pUm", I'd reckon. PUH+somethinelse is a pretty tough puppy to bite into a long themer with, tho. So … givin the constructioneer some poetic license, there. Thanx, Mr. Sessa. Different theme idea; I like different.

fave M&A Christmas tunes, to make into puzs next:
* Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.
* Santa Baby.
* Santa Claus Is a Texas Cowboy.
* Jingle Bells Slide.
* Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).
* Donde Esta Santa Claus.
* Santa's Speed Shop.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Tita 12:03 PM  

Rex, fess up - are you baiting us again?
a) A treatise on rump-a vs rum-pum?????
2) You hate the puzzle partly because you hate the song
Where is the biting critique of puzzle construction and style that I love ND RESPECT.

Full disclosure - I love this song, even if @Martin A diagnoses me with 1st degree EMO Manipulation.
I have been known to tear up at Kodak commercials (remember those?).
The story told in this song is simple and wonderful. Simply wonderful translates to sappy, I guess.

Any song piped ad nauseam will get on anyone's nerves. Martin - get riled over how retailers pay for analytics about which tunes manipulate us best into buying.

Laughed at the parsing difficulty, ala @lms, with MEAN___YDRUM.
Yes, caught on with the PA & RUM, and thought the revealer was good.

Speaking if retail manipulation, aka marketing, probably my least favorite fake neologism is "pre-owned". It's a F^%$ing USED car!!! Am I really going to pay you more for it because it is NOT a USED car, but pre-owned?????
Answer is, yes. That's why Marketing is a thing.
Wrap it up pretty, label it all catchy-like, and we'll pay triple for it.

Well said, @Ellen S.
@Lewis - thanks for that Basket!!

(Only "carol" I actively don't like is Carol of the Bells...just that melody repeating on and on and on...and if they sing to it too...)
@Gill - that's a different carol all together - and probably the other one that I hate, now that you mention it..)

I have two Christmasy friends - Carol was born Dec 24, and Noëlle was born Dec 26.

Good luck, @Fall River - let us know how it turns out. (btw - do you know the restaurant Academica?)

Liked the puzzle. Thanks Mr. Sessa.

JC66 12:03 PM  

New X-rated take on an old standard


QuasiMojo 12:05 PM  

I agree with Rex. Too many brand names. And didn't anyone else feel like they were in a therapy spa? All that drug-taking and emery boards and pumice. As a former "preppie" myself, I can attest to the fact that no school is ever called "preppy." It's a style that once was used as a clever gimmick in a best-selling humor book by Lisa Bernbach. But no one ever says he went to a "preppy school." ridiculous. Also where I come from we say "jerry-built" not "jury-built" so that threw me. Otherwise a tedious slog through god-awful fill. I do like the theme song, however, but only when it's done as a round. Then it really does give you goosebumps.

Carola 12:15 PM  

I guess PARTING SHOT is one way of looking at the last line of a song. For one that I dislike so intensely, it was all the more annoying that I couldn't come up with the last line (something...on...MY DRUM?).
Plus points for APLOMB, RUMPLE, PUMICE, and PUMMEL.

@Kitty, EMERY board and orange stick, right?

@Evil Doug, a Jewish friend of mine remarked, "There'd be more Jews if we had "O Holy NIght."

@jberg, me, too, on "Good King Wenceslas." Second place: The Coventry Carol.

Greg 12:49 PM  

Much faster than yesterday for me. Played like an easy Monday.

Numinous 1:05 PM  

I can't say I'm fond of that obnoxious kid with his drum. When a baby smiles it usually indicates gas. Once upon a time I liked that song for a little while. I was around 17 then. My favorite Christmas music, only because I got that album at Christmas time, is the Swingle Singers' Jazz Sebastian Bach which I also got when I was around 17. Then, of course, there was that Smothers Brothers version (you'll have to fill in all the Fa la la las):

Speak the walls with bits of cow dung
Fa la la la laa la la la laah
It's quite the thing in parts of chow tung
Fa la . . . .
Jack has married into money
Fa la la . . .
His wife's face is very funny
Fa la la . . .
See the blazing yule before us
Fa la la . . .
Smash the harp and rape the chorus
Fa la la la laa la la la lah!

(Good old college humor.)

So much for my memories of Christmas when I was 17 and smoking Gauloises.

I've never considered Jeff Chen to be a shill for the NYTXW but now you mention it. No, seriously, I too enjoy reading both his and @Rex's takes on the puzzle though I prefer reading this commentariat. Such a wide variety of views, such a wide variety of experience.

I diddled back and forth over Patterson whom I didn't remember clearly. Could it be lLOYD Patterson, h. LOYD? Totally blanked oh FLOYD and could not for the life of me remember how to spell PFIZER. Astra Zeneca is my biggest worry at the moment. In fact I'm waiting on the insurance guy who assures me I can do better than Humana for my Medicare suppliment insurance. Whatever you do, don't move without finding out if your new location is in a worse coverage area than you are already in. So I DNFed on the F of PFIZER. Otherwise, I thought this was easy.

Chronic dnfer 1:12 PM  

Easy here. Sub 10 mins. No mistakes. Love that song.

Joseph Michael 1:25 PM  

Wow. Didn't realize that "Little Drummer Boy" was such a controversial song.

While the puzzle was no knee slapper, I thought it was OK for a Tuesday and at least learned that the last syllable of a word has a name.

Liked the embedded poem ITT ZIT.

Unknown 1:28 PM  

Sigh, when I first started doing the NYT puzzles, did not even realize Monday was easy going on to harder... Now all easy, even Saturday. I though WOW maybe I got smarter. Nope. Hubby bought me a book of 800 puzzles, many old. Nope, the NYT is now easy... sigh was hoping I got smarter.... bummer

Masked and Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Full M&A disclosure: had MIYAGA/PUMACE, as I dove across the finish line. No one's fault but mine. Can't spell worth a runny snot.

Staff weeject pick: First, a drummer-roll, for all those gorgeous weeject stacks! [In the NE, E, SW, and W.] Sweet. AND … feast yer eyepits on the central area, for five more! [Central bunchin, thanx to plantin that first themer all the way down to in row #4, probably (yo, @Martin Abresch).] Wowzerz.
Anyhoo ... fave weeject, outta all that stuff: AMS. Got yer abbr. and yer POC, all in one pkg. Better, more desperate clue: {"Is ___ Legends" (Wills Smiths schlocks movies)??}.

@Anoa Bob: Ahar … theme material letter count controversy. Well controverted! Bullets:
* Does the revealer count as part of said material? M&A votes: yep.
* Does the whole answer that contains the most-significant hidden stuff (like rebus squares or PUMmers) count? M&A votes: yep.
So … accordin to The M&A Theory of Themery: today's theme material letter-count = 11+6+6+6+6+11 = 46. QED.

"Happy Make NYTPuz Greater Again!"

AliasZ 2:14 PM  

Cute little puzzle, entirely appropriate for a pre-Christmas Tuesday, I thought.

The problem with PUM is that there are precious few snazzy words that start with PUM, and if you multiply it by three, you end up with pumice, pumper and pummel. Pumpernickel bread and pumpkin seeds are left out to dry. RUM fairs much better, like the Rumanian rum-runner ruminating in his rumpus room about rumors of a rummage sale, and PA words are virtually limitless.

RUMPLE is missing its stilt skin.

Speaking of ME AND MY DRUM, you may enjoy this duo even if The Little Drummer Boy is not your favorite carol.


tea73 2:34 PM  

Most versions of the Little Drum Boy are way over produced. I can listen to a simple one once or twice a season, but by Christmas day I can't stand it any more. The Baez version is too fast and I don't like the way she rolls her r's. But at least it's not syrupy strings.

Favorite carols:
Il est né, le divin Enfant
Lo how a Rose is Blooming
What Child is this
The Friendly Beasts

tea73 2:41 PM  

Oh and forgot to add. A PUMPER is a kind of firetruck.

Unknown 3:02 PM  

I can't believe that I forgot to mention this gem: Vashti Bunyan "Coldest Night of the Year."

I'm listening to other people's favorite Christmas songs. Some good recommendations. Keep them coming!

@jberg - I love your three choices, especially "In Dulci Jubilo" and "Un flambeau, Jeannette Isabella." That last one was new to me.

@Cassieopia - I'm enjoying Prokofiev's "Troika" (from "Lieutenant Kije"). It's not familiar to me, though I'm sure that I've heard it before.

@Masked and Anonymous - My favorites in your batch are "Jingle Bells Slide," "Donde Esta Santa Claus," and "Santa's Speed Shop." "Jingle Bells Slide" is new to me.

@tea73 - Yes! Another person who likes "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"! I also like your choice of "Il est né, le divin Enfant."

I've come around on Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" it's good. My favorite version can be found here. Someone took the song and fed it through a MIDI converter. It's a jangling mess of piano, but you'll swear that you can faintly hear Mariah's voice.

Teedmn 3:09 PM  

I had never heard this song when, in 1967, in second grade, our teacher had our class learn it for the St. Casimir's Parochial School Christmas program. As is true for almost everything I learned before age 20 (coincidence that the drinking age was 19 back then?), I still remember all the words. I would certainly prefer to hear Little Drummer Boy to The Twelve Days of Christmas, if those were the only two choices I had. I'd go with O Holy Night, Little Town of Bethlehem or We Three Kings instead any day.

This was a typical Tuesday solve for me, with only T-bill before T-NOTE as write-overs. I was shopping today (Christmas comes early for us - my family get-together is this Saturday, ack) so I took the day off to finish up. It is super windy today and while I was wandering the aisles of Target, I caught sight of myself in a mirror. My BANGS were in total disarray, I looked RUMPLEd, totally the opposite of REGAL. It is hard to go through the check out with APLOMB when you look like your ensemble has been JURY-RIGged. But I think my shopping is done now, so I'm walking ON AIR; I get the ULTIMA, the PARTING SHOT, the last laugh. And if there was Christmas music playing in the store, I was able to tune it out. Yes!

Masked and Anonymous 3:55 PM  

@Martin Abresch: M&A has way too many Christmas tune staff picks to mention.
But here's a few more, from the bottom of the jukebox ...

* Santa Claus Is Watching You [Ray Stevens]
* Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy [Buck Owens]
* What Do You Get a Wookie for Christmas [Starwars Choir]
* Don't Cry for Me This Christmas [Marcels]
* What Are You Doing New Year's Eve [Orioles]
* Love for Christmas [Gems]
* Jingle Bells [Singing Dogs]
* Mister Santa [Lollipops]

M&A Christmas Help Desk

beatrice 4:08 PM  

I'm surprised but ridiculously thrilled that so many here say they like (or even love) the song. It has long seemed to me to be the fruitcake of Christmas carols - as though detesting it is an indicator of sophistication and discrimination. Personally, I very much like the song, just as I do a good fruitcake (and the more 'spirited' the better). Thanks @Z for the 'immunity', saw that bizarre event when it first aired, but the duet turned out to be mesmerizing and tear-inducing. (Bowie apparently did it for his mum.) BTW, the best fruitcake I ever consumed was the one my great-aunt sent us for Christmas years ago, made by Trappist monks at Gethsemani Abbey. These fruitcakes are so good because 'they're handmade with only the finest, freshest ingredients...and seasoned with fine Kentucky bourbon'.

I also like a spirited discussion, and today's comments have provided a very reasonable facsimile of one. Thanks to Lewis et al for high-lighting the yummy words, and to all who shared favorite carols and songs of the season. Some are favorites of mine, all I at least like; there are actually very few Christmas songs/carols that I DON'T LIKE AT ALL, but one of these is whatever Dean Martin was singing in a store last night, a standard, which mercifully I have forgotten. It was truly terrible.

@Cassieopia - I'm with you on 'Carol of the Bells'. Lt. Kije is great, too, but that's an interesting juxtaposition you've got there...

But I didn't see three of my favorites:

'Noel nouvelet' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xolN0xgPNKM

'Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32I5MrtwBGo

'Gaudete' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN9AJj9rtlk

P.S. @LMS - thanks for your personal anecdote, and no, not the one about your feet (but hey, I'll take that one, too).

Numinous 4:11 PM  

To apologize for my Smothers Brothers' Christmas perversion, here are some olden Christmas songs by Anonymous 4:
The Cherry Tree and
The Seven Rejoices of Mary

I don't know how old The Little Drummer Boy is but I don't recall hearing it any earlier than when I was 17. Even today I believe that Christmas carols should be a lot older than me. Anonymous 4, with all their mediaeval Christmas music fill that bill just right. And they are so lovely to listen to,

Mohair Sam 5:22 PM  

@Numinous - I recall Tommy Smothers referring to the "Norman Nabertwackle Choir" as great Christmas Carolers.

Nancy 5:35 PM  

@mathgent (9:35) -- my favorite Christmas songs are all about the melody, not the lyrics, and both @old timer and @jberg have come up with some lesser-known carols that I was introduced to when I sang in my high school chorus and that I fell in love with at the time:
@Old timer -- I also love "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"
@Jberg -- I also love "In Dulci Jubilo" and [in the lyrics that we sang] "Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella."
Of the more well-known carols, my faves are "O Holy Night" (which I can also sing in French) and "Joy to the World".
My two least favorite, because they are so unmelodic (at least to me) are "Good King Wencelaus"(sp?) and "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen".
I hate almost all commercial -- i.e. non-religious -- Christmas songs. I find them all sappy, and the constant exposure in stores is enough to make me scream. One exception is a song that Belafonte sang back in the day, Caribbean in origin I would imagine: "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy." But you never hear it played anymore. And "The Little Drummer Boy" is very high on my list.

GILL I. 5:55 PM  

@Numi...Gauloises!!!! I used to smoke those god-awful cigs. My dad quite smoking so he gave me his gold Dupont lighter and it was oh so tres chic sitting in a boite with a vodka tonic and your smoking accoutrements...I finally changed to Gitanes because I was tired of my cigarette going out every time I put it down. After hacking every time I smoked one, I stopped inhaling and pretended to enjoy..like Bill Clinton.... God they smelled awful!

Tita 6:06 PM  

I hope Ed Sessa is enjoying the Christmas Carol highs and lows his puzzle has inspired.
I'm stopping by to admit that I was probably about 45 years old before I realized that it was daddy that mommy was kissing in "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus".

I guess it got etched in my brain when I thought it really WAS Santa, and I never looked back.

Doc John 6:28 PM  

Maybe this will help like Little Drummer Boy a little more:
Richie Petrie performs it

Warren Howie Hughes 10:03 PM  

PUMPER was a male rabbit actor who auditioned for the Disney classic "Bambi" but unfortunately lost by a hare for the part, to a last second walk-on named Thumper! ;-)

Jim 7:29 AM  

Perhaps the worst puzzle ever. Old, dated fill is bad enough but when it is terrible fill, spare me. Nothing in this puzzle is from this century and it is boring.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Rex, you should listen to Ray Charles's version of Little Drummer Boy.

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

Use the Syndicated Puzzle button above. Travel back in time.
Go to near the end of the comments. 5 week late posters.
See clever verse from @Burma Shave. Daily contributor.

Burma Shave 10:31 AM  




spacecraft 11:08 AM  

Wax on

This puzzle will appeal to two groups: @M&A (admittedly, a group of one, but many times I think he's a multiple personality: I mean, come on. Singing dogs? Seriously?) and we who search for hotties in the grid. Several DOD contestants strut across (and down) this one; I'll pick the first one I came to: LANA Del Rey. Who could ask for more?

PREPPY, of course, puts me in mind of "Love Story," a real tear-jerker on page or screen (give Ali MacGraw honorable DOD mention). It's the first thing she called him.

Hand up for jerry- vs. JURYRIG, though I've heard it both ways. My impression of the theme beat wording is that it starts with PAh, not just PA--but that would play hell with construction, so let it pass. I'm not usually a Sessa fan, but aside from a few cliche fill items this one wasn't too bad. I liked that big SE car lot with would-be DOD on most other days REESE going through it. Certainly she's got the GOODS. Par.

Wax off

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Hands off this fun, fair puzzle. What is wrong with an enjoyable Tuesday puzzle?

leftcoastTAM 12:24 PM  

PA-RUM-PUM-PUM-PUM and all the rest of it, PRESTO. Quickest of times ever for an extremely GENTLE Tuesday puzzle.

rondo 12:36 PM  

This will probably be the start of re-celebrating the holidays here in Syndi-land. Only heard the RUM PUM PUM PUM of the Bowie/Crosby duet about a hundred times. A local DJ named Don Vogel, now deceased, did a great impersonation of Howard Cosell and what Cosell’s take on the Little Drummer Boy would be. This is terrific: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMxDqXOAVzA

Agree with comment above from @Anoa Bob about ADLER, wouldn’t call him a “follower” of Freud. He actually made a little more sense than some of his contemporary crackpots.

Had an interesting beverage in Padding Station in London, a 2M PIMm’s. Went down well in the summer.

Take your pick today. UMA’s back, and so are LANA and REESE. All of them frequent yeah baby guests. But I’ve never MET a one.

20 plus threes again, mostly in large blocks, seems like a high PCT. But no IRE during re-celebration time. ALOHA.

leftcoastTAM 2:28 PM  

See @Ellen S's essay, way above. It's a good one.

SharonAK 3:04 PM  

Count me among those who found the puzzled fun. Couldn't see that the fill was especially bad for early week. But then, I'm one who still appreciates getting some familiar crosswords to ease my solve.

Martin Albresch's question/comment about why pa- umm... is broken up and the way it placed made me look at it again.
If you just look it might seem odd. but if you say the pa-rum-pum-pum-pum in the rhythm it has in the song, I think the placement fits that rhythm.

Enjoyed reading comments from several posters on the connections between other words. I had already enjoyed the demo, repo, used run, but missed several others.

Diana,LIW 3:27 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle more than the song - never could wrap my mind around some kid with a drum bringing on all the warm fuzzies, but as I say, to each...

Sure beats "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," which I and some other ASL students signed at a Christmas party at the local deaf center. The looks on the faces of the audience - cannot be replicated. Grandma got what???

Was the MGM lion really LEO?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for that drum to stop

rain forest 4:32 PM  


Among my least favourite Christmas songs would be:

Little Drummer Boy
I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
Most religious carols (Silent Night is an exception because I can play it on the guitar)

Among my favourites:

Do They Know It's Christmas (Band-Aid)
Deck Us All With Boston Charlie (Hi @evil doug. Anything Pogo is great)
Good King Wenceslas

So there!
Though this puzzle is perhaps not a favourite, it was just fine for Tuesday, if not for jazz.


rondo 11:48 AM  

I might not have figured the theme without the revealer. Did it like a themeless and then looked back. PASTTENSE? OK if you SAYSO.

C’mon, many of you must’ve see A Mighty Wind about 15 years ago with the catchphrase “WHA Happened?”. Not new at all. Must not be many Formula 1 fans either, MCLAREN is huge in that AREA. I had an acquaintance who named his daughter MCLAREN.

RUBIO goes over better in MN as T’Wolves point guard Ricky.

Back in the Cheers era I had a big crush on SHELLEY Long as overqualified yeah baby waitress Diane Chambers.

Maybe this puz didn’t pop, but not AWFUL at all if I were to JUDGE.

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