Santa player in Miracle on 34th Street / MON 12-19-16 / SEC school near Atlanta for short / Neologism for on-screen/off-screen relationship

Monday, December 19, 2016

Constructor: Jason Mueller

Relative difficulty: Challenging (solid Tuesday time)

THEME: actors who played Santa in movies 

Theme answers:
  • FRED ASTAIRE (17A: Santa player in "The Man in the Santa Claus Suit")
  • TOM HANKS (26A: Santa player in "The Polar Express")
  • ED ASNER (40A: Santa player in"Elf")
  • TIM ALLEN (51A: Santa player in"The Santa Clause")
  • EDMUND GWENN (WHOEVER THAT IS) (62A: Santa player in "Miracle on 34th Street")
Word of the Day: EDMUND GWENN
Edmund Gwenn (26 September 1877– 6 September 1959) was an English actor. On film, he is perhaps best remembered for his role as Kris Kringle in the Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street (1947), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the corresponding Golden Globe Award. He received a second Golden Globe and another Academy Award nomination for the comedy film Mister 880 (1950). // As a stage actor in the West End and on Broadway, he was associated with a wide range of works by modern playwrights, including Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy and J. B. Priestley. After the Second World War, he lived in the United States where he had a successful career in Hollywood and on Broadway. (wikipedia)
• • •

"The Man in the Santa Claus Suit"? What the hell is that? I just watched an entire TCM special on Christmas films and I don't recall that one mentioned at all. Also, EDMUND GWENN?!? Who was never in any other film of note and whose name is not well known and whose name spelled ... like that? Yipes. I've already heard from several people for whom that "W" cross was a stumper. The WTO is of course the World Trade Organization, but it's not like that clue is very specific (65D: Intl. group that's the object of many mass protests). Much of this puzzle was super-easy, but the actor names plus unclear and/or tricky clues like 5D: Little puzzle (TEASER) (not the meaning of "teaser" that I know, unless you put "brain" in front of it) and 7D: One of a series at a wedding reception (TOAST), plus the giant Downs in the NE/SW, at least one of which (34D: Neologism for an on-screen/off-screen relationship => SHOWMANCE) I'd never ever heard of, made this one slower going than your average Monday. I don't really think much of this "theme"—nothing clever or tricky or thoughtful, just names of actors—but the grid had some very nice moments. Weird that a 78-worder (the max) has this many longer Downs and such generally interesting fill. Still, though, that GWENN / WTO / ETATS (ugh) section really shoulda been rethought.

Oh, "OH, SNAP!" was also not at all intuitive as an answer for 27D: Zinger response. That could've been a billion things. And "response" is weird there, since it's not clear whose doing the responding. Usually not the object of the zinger. Usually a third party, if I know my OH SNAP protocol. Again, I say, this should've been a Tuesday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:28 AM  

Medium for me, except I had to pause to get WTO as @Rex GWENN was pretty much a WOE, so yeah maybe a Tues.

Cute kickoff to Christmas week, like it.

Amy 12:45 AM  

Hard Momday but fun! Thanks!

Larry Gilstrap 12:51 AM  

I was born on April First, I had nothing to do with it, so a TRICKSTER sometimes makes me happy, not always. I'm an Aries, after all.

What I do know is that I'm not a movie guy, yet, no problem with the full names of actors who played Santa, except I didn't realize "GoodFellas" was a Xmas movie. I knew EDMUND GWENN, 40 year career in the movies and an Academy Award, so no issue with the WTO cross. Natalie Wood was a miracle as a child and as an adult to my eyes.

Grammar shines with NOUNS and TENSE featured.

One nit: with astronauts breathing OXYGEN, no wonder NASA is a no smoking environment.

Since I'm stuck in the hinterlands, thanks to my sister in law for heading to the Starbucks in Boulder City NV to secure my bonus Sunday Puzzle bonanza. I owe you at least $7.

We used to go to the PROM, now kids go to PROM. Nice Monday effort.

Paul Rippey 12:53 AM  

I loved the Mae West line, "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted." By the way, used vocal fry or creaky voice many decades before the young people of today started doing so.

Anokha 1:06 AM  

Tricky for a Monday, but enjoyable!

chefwen 1:15 AM  

I guess I have to chalk up a DNF on a Monday, aargh! Ended up with EDMUND GlENN and lTO. Glenn just sounded better than GWENN.
Now that I think about it, of course it's WTO. Doh!

TIM ALLEN was the only actor that I knew, for sure, the other guys needed a few letters in place before they became apparent, except for good 'old EDMUND where I needed more than a few.

Great start to the festive week ahead.

Moly Shu 1:46 AM  

Must have been in my wheelhouse, 5:05. I rarely break 7:00 on a Monday. Filled in across after across and just kept going. Only hang-up was during my acrossfest, I entered SURE at 58a only to have it show up at 18d. Glad I knew WTO, cuz I SURE didn't know that other guy.

Anoa Bob 2:31 AM  

Some nice touches in this one, INSINUATE, HIATUS & FACSIMILE being my favorites.

Correctly guessed WTO for 65D, but for all I know 62A could have been EDMUND G. WENN or EDMUND GWENN.

OH SNAP (27D) seems to appear regularly of late, which surprises me because it doesn't seem to be a particularly grid-fill-friendly sequence of letters, and because it seems to be a totally nonsensical, tossed salad like two-word random pairing. Do any of you folks buy into this as a legitimate, in-the-language utterance? Is there some meaning of SNAP that I'm missing here?

Woolly 3:07 AM  

I'm definitely not up to commenting status as yet, but I do know that the term 'oh snap' is often spoken on the Big Bang Theory by Sheldon, the main character. For those of you who aren't into watching TV, each of the cast members are paid $1,000,000.00 per episode!

Loren Muse Smith 4:12 AM  

Sure – I’m always a little cresfallen when the theme is just a list, but I’m always distracted by other thought-provoking aspects of our wonderfully dynamic language.

Like Rex, I’ve never heard of a SHOWMANCE, but I like it. “Ro” has so many rhymes to help along the portmanteau possibilites.

snowmance – that person you get caught in blizzard with?
blowmance – I dunno. A different kind of “snow”mance synonym?
joemance – my love affair with 8 O’clock Italian Roast k-cups (the best dark roast k-cups out there, and I’ve tried them all and yes, they’re the cheapest, but that’s not the reason so there.)
yomance - Rocky and Adrian?
whoamance – I have a senior with his first girlfriend, and I’m watching him overdo it – letters, gifts… slow down, buddy. Be a little less available. Be vague about where you were last night…
promance - a crush on your ballroom dance instructor? Just a little?
glowmance – tanning salon crush?
nomance – dry season?
woemance - yeah, well aren’t they all.

INSINUATE – terrific entry (agreed, @Anoa Bob). Guess what, people. I used to think that The Brass was just giving up the good fight on the infer/imply distiction; most dictionary lists include a sense of INSINTUATE for a definiton of infer. But it turns out that we’ve been using infer to mean INSINUATE since at least the 16th century. Sometime after WWI someone woke up, decided this was wrong and rallied against this meaning.

(From Merriam Webster)
Usage Discussion of infer

Sir Thomas More is the first writer known to have used both infer and imply in their approved senses (1528). He is also the first to have used infer in a sense close in meaning to imply (1533). Both of these uses of infer coexisted without comment until some time around the end of World War I. Since then, senses 3 and 4 of infer have been frequently condemned as an undesirable blurring of a useful distinction.

Who knows what happened after WWI to make someone get all upset about it. Whatever the case, infer meaning INSINUATE seems to be picking up speed, and some will just have to look elsewhere for picky little language “rules” to separate them from the hoi polloi.

I agree with @jae – a good start for the Christmas week.

Unknown 5:36 AM  

Liked the puzzle. Saddened to read that @LMS uses a keurig.

Lewis 5:43 AM  

A nice feed into the Christmas mood -- thank you, Jason -- with a clean grid, and, as Rex says, "such generally interesting fill", like HIATUS, FRESH_AIR (as clued), and INSINUATE. Looking over the grid, I discovered that ETATS backward is "state", and smiled when I saw MAE was in the east. Went quickly for me, and I learned about EDMUND GWENN, who was in more than 80 films, and aside from his Oscar in "Miracle on 34th Street", he received a supporting actor Oscar in 1950 for a film called "Mr. 880". That "w" in GWENN was naticky for me until I remembered what the WTO was.

A quote I like from MAE: "I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it."

smalltowndoc 6:16 AM  

Had no trouble with GWENN. The movie is a classic and has been for decades. Go through the TV channels this time of year and you're bound to run into it (along with some of the others cited in this puzzle). The role is iconic and the man won an Academy Award for it, for cryin' out loud.

Seems to me there are many legitimate reasons to criticize a crossword puzzle, like poor construction, inaccurate clues, lame "partials" and other "non-words". I don't think it's reasonable, however, to criticize a puzzle just because you're not familiar with a totally legitimate name/word that just because it doesn't happen to be in your wheelhouse. Happens to me all the time; I find it an opportunity to learn more about the subject.

Hungry Mother 7:03 AM  

Very easy for me, but used lots of downs. I'm not fast, but this one flew.

RooMonster 7:16 AM  

Hey All !
Christmas-y. Nice. Agree with the WTf WTO! Had GLENN, as GWENN was never gonna happen. Otherwise, nice MonPuz. Couple of other Christmas clues besides themers thrown in for good measure.

@LMS's list funny! Some others...
Crowmance- birds of a feather?
Flomance- crush on Progressive lady
Homance- :-)
Enescomance- unless you think it's Enescu

I liked Loren's better... :-)


Leapfinger 7:22 AM  

So welcome FRED ASTAIRE, it's nice
To have you dancing here,
And we give thanks to see TOM HANKS
Is bringing Christmas cheer.
And TIM 'The Tool Man' ALLEN was
So oft a Santa Claus
That I'm gobsmacked
By (who's he?) EDMUND GWENN
-- GWENN's out of my ken --
No, I've never heard the name of EDMUND GWENN*

"Miracle On 34th Street" is, of course, a different story.

The rest of the puzzle was very sprightly.

*Sorry, @smalltowndoc, guess I don't read the credits enough (sob). I briefly thought of GWYNN for GWENN, but that was ITT.

kitshef 7:30 AM  

Easy here.

How hard must it be to come up with a novel Christmas theme? Yet here it is, novel to me at least, and a good one at that.

Why do always think Bob newhart played Santa in Elf?

EDMUND G WENN AND FREDA STAIRE need a lot of crosses, but only Sandra DEE,
WTO and SCTV look like potential snares.

UGA is pretty poor, but the rest of the grid held up well.

Leapfinger 7:38 AM  

@Roomie, love your take on Enescu (var)!

In lieu of OH SNAP, I'll call itt a reg'lar Enescomanche Whiz. You too ;D

chefbea 7:45 AM  

I too found it difficult for a Monday..Liked all the santa movies and especially nutmeg and mincemeat pie!!!

Passing Shot 7:54 AM  

@kitshef -- hand up for newhart instead of ED ASNER. And that one was one of the few I was SURE of. That mistake cost me time in the middle section, but this one mostly flew. No issue with WTO/GWENN (though I had to wonder for about 30 seconds why I didn't recall Herman Munster ever playing Santa).

Puzzle was meh. Fine for a Monday but a bit of a letdown after yesterday's.

L 7:57 AM  

I didn't know any of the actors, but was able to get them all off the crosses. The last to land was that W - I was confident with WTO, but GWENN just seemed off. Had to come here to confirm.
I liked the long downs today - definitely not Monday material.

Hartley70 8:06 AM  

EDMUNDGWENN was the only Santa I knew without crosses. I always thought he was Santa! Is Santa! You know, with an alias for the rest of the year. The other movie stars in the rest of the puzzle? Posers!

Even with my disinterest in the plethora of fake Santa movies offered up each December by the Hallmark, Lifetime, and other cable channels, there is no way I could call this challenging. I thought it generally a snooze fest. The Santa theme was cute, but the fill needed tougher clueing, even on a Monday. I'm going to guess WS's editing skills were exhausted after this weekend. Even if he's prostrate all week, it was worth a Herculean effort. I think the puzzle section was fantastic! Please make it a tradition, but for pity's sake, don't forget Nancy again.

I'm giving @Loren a round of applause for this morning's post. Thanks for the interesting infer/imply research. It struck me at the time too.

Dorothy Biggs 8:07 AM  

This was an easy Monday for me, but I understand Rex's point. I just happened to know all of the Santa's cold except for Mr. GWENN. So I breezed through the entire puzzle until the dreaded WTO/GWENN crossing. I tried L, U, E (in no particular order), and finally landed on W. It's always that last one you try...

I think the TV show Raven is where "Oh, snap!" came from. It took me a long time to figure out how to use it, and once I did, it had gone out of style. Now I'm too old to use it at all.

I had eddieS before SWIRLS and lEss before MERE, but the crosses fixed those immediately.

Weirdly, I just finished working on a musical called "SHOWMANCE." It's a thing. Especially in community or high school theater where people are thrown together in an intense schedule, emote together, and reap the rewards together. There's just so much love overflowing in situations like that that it when it spills over people become smitten. In almost all cases, showmances don't last.

Grumpy NCA alert: I'm not a big fan of Santa these days as he's sort of become the nexus of all things materialistic about this season. I won't say that giving has become about getting, but I will say that, as a parent, Santa was the vehicle through which many advertisers wormed their way into a child's brain. Now that my kids are grown, I can breathe a sigh of relief...but there doesn't seem to be anyone putting on the brakes as far as "Christmas = more stuff" goes. Poor old Santa, a victim to his own virtue run amok.

That said, I liked the puzzle...hopefully it's a "TEASER" for the coming week.

ArtO 8:14 AM  

EDMUNDGWENN didn't stop me at WTO since the NYTimes covered those protests but surely agree that the many names were a cause for slow solving (relatively speaking).

Liked SHOWMANCE...even though it's totally made up. Nice to see INSINUATE and FACSIMILE on Monday.

Glimmerglass 8:32 AM  

How about the actor who played Santa in A Christmas Story? "Miracle/34th" is one of my annual must warch Xmas movies (the orginal, not the remake). I needed almost all the crosses to get EDMUND GWENN, but all were easy (WTO was pretty obvious -- LTO not likely). LMS, I loved your portmanteaux. Oh, Ralphie's Santa was Jeff Gillen. Rudolph's Santa was voiced by Stan Francis. There's NO Santa in It's a Wonderful Life (trick question). Now we have a Saturday (Xmas Eve) puzzle.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

I finished this in record time and loved all of the answers. Monday's are usually boring, so it was nice to see some clever answers for a change.

Leapfinger 8:37 AM  

@passing shot, Herman Munster would definitely have been ITT as Santa Claus, but his hands-down role was in My Cousin Vinny. I shall never forget his subtly salacious wink at Marisa Tomei.

@Hartley, poseurs?? No no, m'dear! All Santas are real. As for the infer/imply conflation, I resolve it by suffixating them: an inference bases B on A, an implication (like an insinuation) is a stand-alone, not necessarily based on anything. I agree with @Anoa Bob about INSINUATE and HIATUS: I think their charm lies in the vowel breaks, and FACSIMILE has a FACSIMILE of a SMILE.

A fine SHOWMANCE, with no kisses; a fine SHOWMANCE, my friend, this is. Misfortunately, I first went with SHOWMANCY, must have been thinking of necro-

@NCAPrez, 'It's always the last one you try'? It tickles me when people ask (rhetorically, I'm sure) 'why is it always the last place I look?' for a mislaid object... I've yet to come across the persistent soul who keeps on searching, but you never know...

AWFUL early for a 3 and out, but every Monday has a Saving Grace.

Unknown 8:45 AM  

Oh, youth is cruel. From Wikipedia:

"Gwenn appeared in more than eighty films, including Pride and Prejudice (1940), Cheers for Miss Bishop, Of Human Bondage and The Keys of the Kingdom. George Cukor's Sylvia Scarlett (1935) was his first appearance in a Hollywood film, as Katharine Hepburn's father. He settled in Hollywood in 1940 and became part of its British colony. He had a small role as a Cockney assassin in a Hitchcock film, Foreign Correspondent in 1940. For his Father Christmas role in Miracle on 34th Street he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He received a second Oscar nomination for his role in Mister 880 (1950). Near the end of his career he played one of the main roles in Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry (1955).

"On Broadway Gwenn starred in a 1942 production of Chekhov's Three Sisters, with Judith Anderson and Ruth Gordon; it was produced by and co-starred Katharine Cornell. Time proclaimed it 'a dream production by anybody's reckoning – the most glittering cast the theatre has seen, commercially, in this generation.'"

Nancy 8:56 AM  

From the IDIOCY, THY NAME IS NANCY Department (from yesterday): The Puzzle Section was there all along, tucked away in the Sunday Arts & Leisure Section that had been delivered to me on Saturday and that I fully expected to be extra-thick during the holiday season. It's not that I didn't look for it there, mind you. But when your name is Nancy, looking is not always finding. My deepest apologies to everyone I inconvenienced yesterday but especially to the wonderful and immensely thoughtful @Hartley 70, who has a heart as big as all outdoors. She and her husband quite literally made snowy pilgrimages for me to first track down a 2nd copy of the NYT (and spend the money to buy it, the Sunday edition not being cheap) and second, to take it lovingly by hand to her CT Post Office for mailing. How will I ever make it up to you, Hartley? Come into NYC, and I'll try my very hardest. OK? Will you?

As for today's puzzle -- I haven't even looked at it, and possibly won't, since there's so much in the Special Puzzle Section.

G.Harris 8:56 AM  

Smalltowndoc is right on the money. My sentiments exactly.

John Child 8:59 AM  

Proper names connected in some way are a theme? How about PATTON, GRANT, WASHINGTON, ROMMEL, and LAFAYETTE. Do those make a theme set? How about actors who played vampires? Would everyone like that?

Z 9:06 AM  

PPP as a theme? Blurgh. To refresh everyone's memory, the issue with Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns, is that too much of it (33% of the answers or so) causes some subset of solvers a problem. Sure, if you know EDMUND GWENN or WTO no problem. But the guy died before I was born (and I'm not exactly young) and the initialism is for a bunch of bureaucrats (accountants no less) so people getting naticked at that cross is hardly surprising (for the record, I threw in WTO with nary a blink of an eyelash). This puzzle comes in at 30 of 78, including huge chunks of space due to the theme. That there is only one naticky spot is actually pretty good.

This is not to say the puzzle is bad, just that it's not my cuppa and that natick was an inevitable destination when there is so much pop culture.

@Woolly - Huh? Then how did you get past the guards?

@LMS - regarding WWI, my theory is someone didn't have their morning coffee before their First Period 9th Grade English class and got their undies in a bunch as a result.

@Martin Abresch - I know. Definitely a TMI moment.

@smalltowndoc - I disagree. Stuff you can google is inherently less interesting than word play. When a puzzle presents two names crossing where just about any of the 26 letters might work that is a weaknes in the puzzle.

GILL I. 9:17 AM  

This was a cute Monday. Anything Santa is OK by me.
I've seen all the movies about a million times and I could still watch them again. In our house "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was/is a favorite.
Did you know that it was Thomas Nast who created the modern day Santa. He drew the Right jolly OLD elf with his twinkly eyes and white beard and it appeared in Harper's Weekly back in the mid 1800's. There was also a beardless Santa whose sleigh was being pulled by a turkey. Maybe a turkey because Santa came from Turkey...
What's wrong with Keurig?

Nancy 9:31 AM  

I was delighted at the higher rate of difficulty on a Monday, and though I normally agree with @Z and hate puzzles with pop name themes, this one was fairly enjoyable. The only theme surprise was FRED ASTAIRE as "The Man in the Santa Claus Suit". Doesn't that sound like a much more recent movie of the sort that might star TIM ALLEN or TOM HANKS? I liked the Ben Franklin and Mae West clues and I liked SHOWMANCE and FACSIMILE. (Did anyone remember the reason why Fax machines are called Fax machines?) Anyway, a better-than-expected Monday.

Charles Flaster 9:37 AM  

Liked theme and I like a varied list.
Two points for Rex--Teaser is aptly clued;
EDMUND GEENN is an extremely accomplished actor and his Mister 880 should be seen by all.
Creative cluing for ATM and OXYGEN.
Thanks JM

I am not a robot 9:45 AM  

@Loren, How bout Nomance for when it just ain't happening. @Leap, you've got the Christmas poem talent. No complaints about Gwenn. Didn't know it, but grew up watching the same Christmas movies every year when we were still living on three networks and PBS, and Miracle was a fave. Looked him up, he won an Academy Award for that movie!

QuasiMojo 9:46 AM  

Edmund Gwenn is not a nobody, Rex. He was in dozens of films including Pride and Prejudice, Of Human Bondage, a couple of Hitchcock films, Anthony Adverse, Life with Father, Les Miserables, and even a Lassie movie. Just because you've never heard of him or nodded off during a TCM marathon of Xmas flicks, doesn't mean he is obscure.

I've never heard of Tim Allen but such is life. I'm not bitching about it.

Mohair Sam 9:49 AM  

@Z re: @Nancy - You called it! Saturday delivery it was.

jberg 9:51 AM  

I didn't know EDMUND GWENN either, but that's an embarrassing admission, not a complaint about the puzzle. I mean, I've seen that movie more times than I can count, so I certainly should have known.

I didn't actually know any of the other actors (I mean, I knew their names, except for TIM ALLEN, but not that they were in those movies), but the crosses were fair enough.

@Loren, there's some novel where Nero Wolfe slams a book to his desk dismissively because the author had maintained that infer and imply were interchangeable. That was enough foe me.

Newbie 10:09 AM  

Didn't know Edmund Gwenn, and thought WTO, but rejected it, as I thought of it as a regulatory agency, not an intel agency. Still think "intel" is a confusing clue for WTO.

Whirred Whacks 10:09 AM  


Dohmance What Homer and Marge have with each other
Roemance What caviar-eating jet setters have together

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Exactly right.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Happy to read that @LMS uses a Keurig.

Happy Pencil 10:31 AM  

This was one second below my average for a Monday, so although it felt more challenging as I was filling it in, I'd have to rate it medium overall.

It really bugged me that PESCI was in the grid but was not a themer. I thought that broke a cardinal rule of crossword construction, and I'm surprised Rex didn't comment on it.

I'm with @Martin about those ghastly Keurig machines. Something like 10 billion non-biodegradable pods and counting? People need to make more responsible choices about the products they buy. (Sorry, @LMS, I like your posts, but is it that hard just to make coffee the regular way?)

Carola 10:58 AM  

Call me Scrooge, I guess, but I've never seen any of these Christmas movies. So, a tough Monday for me. DNF at EDMUND G?ENN. Nice long Downs!

@Loren, loved your -mances.

WhoisMark 11:00 AM  

Yes, if your only exposure to Edmund Gwenn is his Santa movie then watch "Mr. 880." SHOWMANCE comes up every season on the CBS show "Big Brother" which I'm sure many NYT crossword puzzles solvers watch. ;)

thfenn 11:03 AM  

Thought this was a great Monday - was fun learning the name of the guy that played Santa in Miracle on 34th Street, still think that's a great movie. The Santa Clause also now one of my favorite Christmas flicks. Think the puzzle could've been perfect if it has worked in BILLYBOBTHORNTON for Bad Santa somehow, but I guess that would've been quite a grid.. FRESHAIR, INSINUATE, and SHOMANCE were lots of fun. Took me a little bit to figure out where the Keurig discussion was coming from, as the LMS' original reference to k-cups eluded me - I happen to be a Nespresso fan, so can't escape the charges leveled, but I every time I toss out a canister full of used capsules I feel like I'm tossing out a work of art. Three minutes below my average, a couple above my best, fun answers, and done with no help - great start to the week in my book.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

@Newbie. The clue for WTO is Intl., international, not intel for intelligence

r.alphbunker 11:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Malsdemare 11:06 AM  

I wrestled that WTO/EDMUNDGWENN cross to the ground, but only after I ran the alphabet and got that "aha" at W. For some reason, I don't see a FACSIMILE as a duplicate, but maybe that's because it's always a "reasonable" FACSIMILE. I love HIATUS, and I'm with the purists on imply/infer having two different meanings. The puzzle reminded me that I've never seen "Miracle on 34th Street," so I'm putting that on my must-do list for this week. Nice Monday!

@Nancy, so glad you got your puzzle supplement. I only get the digital version of NYT, so no puzzles pour moi. I debated about going out yesterday to buy a copy but all our roads were ice-covered and it seemed rather foolish to risk life and limb for a newspaper. Lots of accidents yesterday and with wind chills below zero, it really was dangerous.

@Martin, I agree about the Keurig. @Gill, they make great coffee but those little cups are creating big problems in landfills. I know they're trying to make biodegradable cups but so far, not much success. And not all units will use the reusable ones. So no Keurig here.

Masked and Anonymous 11:07 AM  


Knew the GWENN dude. Iconic Santa role. Was a little shaky, on his exact spellin.

fave weeject: UGA.

Thanx, Mr. Mueller. Feisty-good fill.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


r.alphbunker 11:07 AM  

I bet an indy puzzle would have included Billy Bob Thornton even though it is 16 letters long.

It turned out well here. I don't get the dead tree version of the NYT and did not know about the puzzle section until you went online about it. So now I have it and am enjoying it. If I win the Frank Longo contest it will be because of you!

Solution details are here.

kitshef 11:13 AM  

Wishing there was a blog to comment on the insert puzzles without spoilers...

@John Child - I know you were being sardonic, but yes, both of those would be themes I would like to see.

Joseph Michael 11:19 AM  

The theme is not "just names of actors," Rex. It's names of actors who have shared the same role and that makes it interesting. It also makes it a FRESH way to integrate Christmas into a crossword puzzle. So kudos to Jason Mueller.

The actor names were all gimmes except for Mr. Gwynn. But I don't blame the puzzle for the fact that I couldn't recall an award-winning actor in a classic movie.

Liked FRESH AIR over OXYGEN and the metaphysical message across that TIM ALLEN EXISTS.

three of clubs 11:24 AM  

Love it when OFL turns conservative. Likes his Monday's easy. Keep the pop culture in his wheelhouse. Slow for me too, but I didn't have anything better to do for ten minutes, unlike yesterday, which was just a dreadful slog --- I kept regretting every single minute I spent finishing it.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

@Whirred Whacks, you realize that the fishies were having ROEMANCE long before the jet setters, right?

@Nancy, Jesus wept, Woman!! How many people did you incommode out of the goodness of their hearts, granted, before coming up with an Emily Littella 'Never mind!'

Nancy 11:41 AM  

@Malsdemare (11:06) -- Thanks to the sheer wonderfulness of Hartley 70 yesterday (see above), it turns out that I'm going to have an extra copy of the Special Puzzle Section. It would be my great pleasure to forward it to you. That way, Hartley's grand geste will end up being useful to someone else and I will be involved in "paying it forward," as it were. Neither you nor I have contact info up on our profiles, but @Hartley 70 does. If you email her, she'll furnish you with my name and email address and then you can email me and let me know where to send the package, via snail-mail. Does it sound like a plan?

old timer 11:41 AM  

A little tougher than some Mondays because I knew none of the actors, or if I knew them I did not know they had played Santa.

OH SNAP I used to hear quite often on The Daily Show, back when I stayed up to watch it. Entirely made-up example: Colbert: "You do know that George W. Bush is our President?" Stewart: "OH SNAP."

@lms, ask a gay friend what a blowmance is. I actually haven't heard the term used, but it certainly could describe the relationship between two young guys.

@Nancy: Wouldn't you just know it?

Nancy 11:45 AM  

Anon 11:34 -- Too many, alas. Many, many too many! (Sob.) Mea maxima culpa.

Malsdemare 12:24 PM  

@Nancy. I shall take you up on that. You are a treasure!

Paul Harrington 12:32 PM  

So Edmund Gwenn was in no other films of note? THEM!'s the breaks.

thfenn 12:42 PM  

I was trying to think of other names we could've seen here besides BILLYBOBTHORNTON. Then it occurred to me that someone might have compiled such already. Indeed. It's here:

(sorry, not sure yet how to actually enter a hot link)

da kine 12:52 PM  

"I didn't know something so obviously it's BS." - Rex

Da Bears 12:53 PM  

I am going to be very disappointed if Rex's comments are not only two words for a puzzle: Bah! Humbug!

RooMonster 12:54 PM  

K-cups are prolific and easy. My one (big, huge, logical, why-don't-more-people-do-this) question is, Why not just recycle them? They are plastic, no? Throw 'em in with the water bottles!

Remember Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? What ever happened to that?


GILL I. 1:05 PM  

@Martin, @Happy Pencil @Malsdemare...Just for the record: My son gave us a Keurig and I love it. He also included a single serve little cup so that I don't buy the K-cups. In that single serve little re-usable cup, I fill it with my favorite Peet's Italian roast. If we ever meet, you will be glad to know that I'm my own worse nightmare when it comes to keeping this earth as clean as possible.
P.S. I haven't used plastic in about ever....:-) Even my toilet paper is biodegradable.......!

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

Like @Leapfinger, 62A being Fred GWyNNe crossed my mind but I knew his name had a Y and SPyAR was not a likely javelin. With the _TO in at 65D, WTO was my best guess but that area was the first place my eye went to when I came to read @Rex, to see if my comment would require a DNF confession. Not today, yay.

I thought this was Monday-easy, slightly below my average time for the day and no writeovers, which is rare for me. I am a movie buff who never watches movies. I love the idea of movies, I read movie reviews in multiple sources. We have every premium cable channel available, yet I almost never watch, or at least not the whole thing. More likely, I walk in where my husband is watching something already and become enrapt in a story so I see a partial of it (or I watch until he gets bored and changes the channel. At that point, I ask, "Too much dialog for you"? He once changed the channel on Terminator II when the action slowed down for the mom and kid's conversation after being reunited. Sheesh.) So I've seen a couple of scenes from the Tim Allen movie and from Elf but that's it. However, the names were familiar so no problem there.

I have seen all of WALL-E, great movie, though I liked "Up" better, with ED ASNER voicing the main character.

My Christmas tags consist of squares of the wrapping folded in half to form a flap - and I use To: and From:, never FOR, which makes me think of an ad line: Gifts FOR Her(Him).

But I don't mean to INSINUATE that I don't like the puzzle - nice job, JM.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Count me as mystified at all the carping over Edmund Gwenn and 'Miracle On 34th Street, a movie that is shown multiple times during this season. It is chock full of big Hollywood stars such as Maureen O'Hara, Natalie Wood in her first on screen appearance (you have heard of these two ladies,right?), John Payne and Gene Lockhart and other notables. 'The Man In The Santa Claus Suit' is the outlier here IMHOP. The person I exchanged vows with stands fast in the belief that no really good movies have been made since the 1940's (although it does not stop the search for a good new one) and therefore is constantly searching and saving old movies on the DVR, opined that 'I never heard of that movie'. Me neither;

In fact, 'Miracle' is the only one of these movies I have ever seen but, with the crosses and having heard of their existence through advertising, they were not a problem. I liked it because I thought it was a fun Christmas themed puzzle.

Mr. Gwenn was a King's College educated British gentleman who had a wonderful on film or on stage presence. His role as the father in Pride And Prejudice was delishly acted. That movie, which starred Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier among others, was a 1940 version of a British manners movie but is far more humorous and entertaining than the more recent output of that genre as, in the spirit in which the novel by Jane Austen was written, it does not take itself too seriously.

Soldier on.

Alan 1:38 PM  

I liked it. TRICKSTER, OH SNAP, FRESH AIR, The GWENN/WTO square was my last, fortunately checked the cross for GlENN and fortunately hit on the 'W' or I would have soured with a Monday DNF.

I did scowl for a moment at the non-theme actor PESCI, but of course he has a main (albeit decidedly non-Santa) role in another Christmas classic, "Home Alone," so I say we let that slide.

Malsdemare 1:46 PM  

@Gill @Roo. Not all the Keurig will take the reusable cups, unfortunately. Your son got you a goodie, Gill. I read recently that Keurig was working frantically to develop a recyclable cup, but thus far, no luck. And while recycling is infinitely preferable to the trash, the best thing to do is reduce. Manufacture of our recyclable stuff has a major impact on our earth. I don't want to be one of those preachy ecoterrorists, and there are far worse things than tossing k-cups in the trash. But I do think we should make our choices based on all sorts of impacts, not just on ourselves. Now I promise I'll shut up.

I just found the original Miracle on 34th Street on iTunes! (Netflix just has the new one; blech!) Guess what I'm going to watch tonight?

Chronic dnfer 1:59 PM  

Dnf. In two places. Had breat/warle and Glenn/lto. Annoying little puzz. To many names.

Sue in France 2:24 PM  

Isn't OH SNAP a euphemism for an unprintable word that rhymes with SNAP, just as "oh shoot" is a euphemism for something else that's not always printable?

And it seems to me that when my phone browser crashes OH SNAP shows up on the screen.

Marie 3:12 PM  

I seem to remember when Miracle on 34th St with EDMUND GWENN was on TV every Christmas.

Z 4:53 PM  

The plastic in K-Cups is not easily recyclable. Last I heard, Keurig has targeted 2020 as the date for replacing the plastic with a more easily recycled plastic. Nor does Keurig use recycled plastic, which would seem like a no brainer but I'm sure there are very good reasons why it is more difficult than it would seem. But what niggles at me about Keurigs is that the whole system seems like a solution in search of a problem. It's not as if the desire for a single cup of coffee hadn't been problem-solved long ago, so the whole Keurig fad seems more like successful marketing to me.

Regarding EDMUND GWENN, many of you are missing the point of the criticism I think. Even if Mr GWENN had been more George Clooney than J.K. Simmons crossing him with WTO is problematic. The issue is when you load up a puzzle with dated trivia* you are going to end up with naticky crosses. And here's the issue specifically with this cross; Lots of groups get protested, so the first letter of WTO could be any of the 26. So let's look at what fits in G-ENN, Glenn seems most likely, Grenn plausible if unlikely, Geenn, Goenn, and Guenn can't be ruled out, Gnenn might make sense somewhere, as would Ghenn. GWENN is, at best, the second most likely answer (after Glenn). If, like my three sons, you didn't watch Christmas specials (other than the canonical Grinch and Charlie Brown cartoons) as a child and don't currently even own a TV how could you possibly imply, errrr, infer a W at that cross?

*The youngest actor in the list is 60. The newest movie is 12 years old

Gwendolyn 5:02 PM  

@Z, I had no trouble inferring the W at that cross; I've dealt with the World Trade Organization.

Outside The Box 5:13 PM  

Anyone who doesn't know who Edmund Gwenn is (was) is living in a cultural bubble. He was a great actor (not just a one time star) who was the lead in one of the best Christmas movies of all time.

The ignorance of the younger generation is just stunning! (Like the guy in a factory who responded to a colleague's sadness about the passing of John Glenn. "Who's Johm Glenn?" The guy said.

Boy has America turned into a nation of uninformed idiots. Maybe people should stop using Facebook and stop tweeting and begin READING something that has real content to it.

Mohair Sam 6:18 PM  

Edmund Gwenn is the only actor I've seen who stole the screen from a dog (he's terrific in "Lassie Come Home"). @Rex loses his Turner Movie pass for a week, they have a little filler they run on Gwenn every now and again. Pay attention boss.

Puzzle was easy for us - but I'm of the generation that knew all the actors. Rex and @Z have a point.

Wordsmith 6:57 PM  

Another enjoyable puzzle for the octogenarian.

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

Lol what? Because people don't know about an actor who died almost 60 years ago? Get a grip, the real problem with our country is that we have assholes like you who are so afraid of change that they immediately hate any new idea or the thought that it's not 1950 anymore.

Anonymous 7:55 PM  

Did anyone else have the Indian actor OTM SHANK for 26A?

Outside The Box 11:49 PM  

Hey moron--grow up and learn to think a little. It maybe you only know how yo read with your fingers,

Anonymous 10:43 PM  

I agree with the other guy, you're a tool. Pls Kys.

Unknown 11:33 AM  


Burma Shave 11:38 AM  


You SEE that OLD DOLL? ITT’s TOO AWFUL hard TOO please her,


Anonymous 11:55 AM  

An easy, straight forward, and fun puzzle that seemed to provoke a large response.

I was even able to overlook "oh,snap", which is as stupid and irritating as "hashtag" instead of pound sign, and "hack" instead of hint or tip.

Nice Monday.

spacecraft 12:05 PM  

I can't understand OFL's not knowing EDMUNDGWENN. Nor can I imagine a TCM special on Christmas films that doesn't include "Miracle on 34th Street." The only Christmas film more shown than that is "It's a Wonderful Life." In season, it's hard to dodge those two.

On the other hand, I've never heard of SHOWMANCE either. The way they're coining expressions these days it makes sense; I just never heard that one. Guess you have to live where these actors work(ed).

It feels strange syndi-solving a month after a holiday or significant historic date. Christmas is long over, the decor all put away, the wreath back in storage, white sales come and gone. The meaning of today? We now know who's in the Super Bowl (RAH Falcons!)*

This was a walk in the park for me. I not only recognized GWENN from his Kris Kringle role; I also saw him in another movie with a number in the title: "Mister 880." It's a charming, whimsical story about a kindly old man who makes counterfeit dollar bills just so he can help out his poor neighbors. Based on an actual case (FBI Case #880), it stumped the Bureau for a long while. I don't know if this one's been restored, or even saved; I hope it has. If you get a chance, do see it.

The most direct DOD is of course the inimitable MAE West. One generation removed, honorable mention goes to Laila ALI. Plus ALL of the SPICE girls. I enjoyed it, and it was pretty clean, fill-wise. A tap-in birdie.

rondo 1:54 PM  

And the re-celebrating continues with a whole STAFF of Santa players. Only ink issue was trying to spell out FACSIMILE too quickly and kinda leaving out the first I.

Seriously, EDASNER deserves puz royalties, or some kind of recognition.

MAE West makes another frequent appearance today, but must go with yeah bay Sandra DEE.

My comments today are SPARSE, but I found this puz OKAY.

Diana,LIW 2:35 PM  

Glorious day - we take a HIATUS from political (*^@# &*^%$, and the commenters are kind to each other once again.

Whilst I shan't ruin the fun of playing puzzles with timing, today had to be one of my quickest solves.

When I first glimpsed the PPP level, I feared a horrid dnf. But once I put in the known across answers, the downs filled in to the point that the very famous actors were obvious.

And folks, WTO is a real news item we all should be watching. You know - the serious stuff. Not the name of a soap opera sidekick, an obscure rap group, a misspelled pop singer, or a NORSE god of bellybutton lint. PPP that matters.

I've known Edmund Gwenn since I was a kid, watching the movie many times.

From now on I pledge to call the ATM a "bread box." Puzzle was easy and pleasing as PIE.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana,LIW 2:41 PM  

Speaking of HIATUS, we've now had a 5 day (counting M-F only) break in the demo/reno project. Waiting for the electrician (AKA Godot) tomorrow. Called on accounta' rain. Sure.

D, Waiting

leftcoastTAM 2:43 PM  

Malfunctioning captcha ate my comments it seems.

rain forest 5:01 PM  

Once again, way late mainly due to taking my grandson to the park around the inlet. He loves it there...

Nice Monday puzzle. I don't care if the "theme" is a MERE list; it's actually better than some Monday themes we've had. EDMUND GWENN was a gimme primarily because after watching it for maybe the third time years ago, I made it a point to see who the guy was who played Santa.

@Spacey - really? You think that there are better Christmas movies than A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim? Also, though I really like the Falcons and Matt Ryan, I'll be rooting for Tom and the Pats. I know, people will hate me for that, but I've been a Pats fan since 1960, the Babe Parilli days.

I like to think I know the difference between imply, infer, insinuate, conclude, etc., but I'll have to look them up to make sure. However I *do* imply that Keuring, Nespresso, Tassimo and the like make inferior coffee. If I want a single cup (rare), I'll use my stovetop espresso maker, or else the French press. Both are far superior.

spacecraft 6:55 PM  

@rainy: I made no comment about the merits of any of those films, just how often they're shown. Saw Sim when I was ten, and was duly impressed. You can have George C.

*was not addressed in first post. I like the Pats players just fine. It's the coach I can't stand. He's an angle shooter, and it was a travesty that Brady got blamed for Deflategate. Come on, who do you think was really behind that? I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out who was behind that fire alarm, either.

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