Film buff's channel in brief / TUE 12-25-18 / Range for yodelers / Deteriorated or started out like Santa on December 24 / Supporters of England's King William III

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for a Tuesday) (3:57)

THEME: "O TANNENBAUM" (57A: Seasonal song with a hint to the last words in 178-, 25-, 37- and 45-Across) — all the last words are things you would use to decorate a Christmas tree ... because "tannenbaum" means "Christmas tree" ... ?

Theme answers:
  • JUDY GARLAND (17A: First female recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award in film)
  • SUGAR CANE (25A: Major crop of Brazil)
  • LOS ANGELES ANGEL (just one?) (37A: California baseball pro)
  • MOVIE STAR (45A: Washington, Jackson or Ford)
Word of the Day: SAMMY Cahn (32A: Lyricist Cahn who wrote "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!") —
Sammy Cahn (June 18, 1913 – January 15, 1993) was an American lyricist, songwriter and musician. He is best known for his romantic lyrics to films and Broadway songs, as well as stand-alone songs premiered by recording companies in the Greater Los Angeles Area. He and his collaborators had a series of hit recordings with Frank Sinatraduring the singer's tenure at Capitol Records, but also enjoyed hits with Dean MartinDoris Day and many others. He played the piano and violin. He won the Academy Award four times for his songs, including the popular song "Three Coins in the Fountain".
Among his most enduring songs is "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!", cowritten with Jule Styne in 1945. (wikipedia)
• • •

Here's all you need to know about why this theme is a total failure: there is literally nothing in "O TANNENBAUM" about trimming the tree. It's all about the tree. But there are no garlands (????? I have never seen that word used in conjunction with tree decoration), no canes (just ... canes???), no angels or stars. There seems to be something in there about candles, but ... I just don't understand. I don't understand how anyone makes this, and I definitely don't understand how anyone decides to publish it. It's genuinely miserable, at the theme level, and at the fill level. Who is getting joy from AGAR PLATE? (34D: Lab culture site) Could there be a clumsier, awkwarder, whiter, more "hello, fellow youths!" clue than [Here, as derived from hip-hop slang] for IN DA HOUSE? I choke-laughed on that one. I think you have to read that clue with your nerdiest voice while also pushing your glasses back up your nose. All I wanted (for XMAS) was a nice little puzzle. Didn't need to be stellar. Didn't need to burn da (!) house down. Just something sweet and tidy, with lights and maybe some presents underneath. But AH, OK, I get ROUES and ATTA and HEHS (plural!? On XMAS? I know I haven't been perfect but HEHS is worse than coal) and so much other abuse. Also, "film buffs" watch TCM, not not not not not not not not TMC. Stop cluing TMC this way. No one watches TMC.

ERMA ERTE ALA ARLO, EDNA? ISPOSE!!!! This puzzle is a crime. This puzzle called a 7-year-old kid on the phone and told her Santa doesn't exist. The "best puzzle in the world" has no business being this bad on any day, let alone XMAS day. BAH, for sure. Took me way longer than it should have because of the truly terrible clue on LOANS (42A: Prerequisites for some college students). No one but no one has ever referred to a loan as a prerequisite. Just junk. Also, I dumbly wrote in ALTO off the AL- at 50A: Range for yodelers (ALPS). And I wrote in VERVE instead of VIGOR (47D: Pep). Also didn't really get what the clue was going for at ARMS (26D: Navy and Air Force vis-à-vis the military). An unnecessarily awkward clue. And somehow, almost 30 years into my solving career, I balked at the correct spelling of ERMA (43A: Funny Bombeck). Did an IRMA / ICH thing there for a second before correcting to ERMA / EIN.

May your day be merrier and brighter than this puzzle. I'm gonna go watch "Meet John Doe"—the original (1941), w/ Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. On TCM!
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld (Twitter @rexparker / #NYTXW)

    P.S. we've now seen OYS (57D: Yiddish laments) three times in eight days!!! I ... that's ... why? It appeared just once in all of 2017.

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Brian 12:20 AM  


    Pete 12:35 AM  

    The US military has branches, not ARMS.

    Bryan 12:35 AM  

    Rex, dude, you get coal in your stocking this year. What do you mean you've never seen garland used in conjunction with Christmas tree decoration? Just Google "garland and Christmas tree" and you will see that it's a thing. I mean, this puzzle wasn't perfect, no. But dude, it's a holiday. Chill out. Relax and unwind with a puzzle that's decent enough for a Christmas-themed puzzle.

    Unknown 1:04 AM  

    Just when I thought I couldn't hate Christmas any more, I get OHYOU, AHOK, HEHS, ISPOSE, and INDAHOUSE. Absolute trash.

    smoss11 1:19 AM  

    Surprised Rex didn't mention the worst clue of all. Under no circumstances is the Navy or Air Force an arm of the military. They are branches. So many better ways to clue arms than this.

    Anonymous 1:21 AM  

    To go with our OYS, we have OHYOU and IKEA two days in a row...with IKEA in nearly the exact same spot. Seems that we’re short on words...

    Unknown 1:22 AM  

    Preach it, man.

    brainpercy 2:05 AM  

    Agree and had same responses to “theme,” INDAHOUSE, ISPOSE and especially TMC (was expecting TCM or some sad initialism for The Sundance Channel?). GAMS still has me a little confused. Thought it would be podS, and that GAMS were just legs? Am I thinking of the wrong type of whale? Wasn’t sure at first about ERMA but eventually decided that must be the solution. The finish ditty was a little less satisfying than usual, even for a Tuesday.

    Bruce Haight 2:12 AM  

    He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.....or Tannenbaum: Roy L. Smith

    Brookboy 2:30 AM  

    Geez, Rex, and Merry Christmas to you, too.

    Puzzle went pretty fast (for me). I wasn’t nearly as outraged as OFL. In fact I wasn’t outraged at all. I usually think that when I don’t know the answer it’s me not knowing the answer, not that it’s some stupid thing the constructor did. (Well, most of the time, anyway.)

    My wife and I watched the 1935 Seymour Hicks version of A Christmas Carol tonight, and we enjoyed it thoroughly, even though there were some pretty melodramatic moments and some over-emoting. They sure got the right guy in Hicks to play Scrooge. I have been thinking for a while that poor ol’ Ebenezer has gotten an unfair rap. After all, he gets frightened into becoming a pretty good dude at the end. He even gives old Cratchit a raise. So instead of trying to shame someone by calling them Scrooge, we should call them Marley. Just a random thought...

    standler 2:34 AM  

    There are Los Angeles Dodgers and Anaheim Angels... but what the heck is a Los Angeles Angel?!?!

    Mark 2:35 AM  

    Maybe someday scientists will figure out how to grow HORSE MEAT on an AGAR PLATE.

    MissScarlet 3:49 AM  

    Yeah, except for the ‘garland’ thing. I’ve seen that a lot and always string some ont the tree.

    chefwen 3:54 AM  

    I had no problem with the theme, thought is was kind of cute. What I really had a problem with was 5A I S’Pose and 2D IN DA HOUSE, just yuk!

    Merry Christmas all.

    jae 4:04 AM  

    Alcohol and taking a couple of breaks during solving made judging the difficulty of this one problematic. That said, I kinda agree with @Rex.

    fkdiver 5:45 AM  

    The quality of the NYT puzzles may be going down, but on a positive note, they are making them harder to access.

    Unknown 5:53 AM  

    The puzzles have been soooo repetitive lately. So many OYS. I agree with Rex about this puzzle. The theme is pathetic and the fill is tedious af. I expected something way better and more fun for a Christmas puzzle.

    OffTheGrid 6:04 AM  

    Yesterday's 1 down was prescient for today's puzzle. It sure gave me the BLAHS!

    Good ol' Joe 6:24 AM  

    They haven’t been the Anaheim Angels for quite a while.

    Doug 6:29 AM  

    Standler, the Angels have been the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim since 2005.

    Z 6:41 AM  

    Merry Xmas everyone.

    The ANGELs have modified their geographic descriptor several times, LOS ANGELES ANGELs, California Angels, Anaheim Angels, and now the gawdawful LOS ANGELES ANGELs of Anaheim. Apparently, having “Anaheim” in the name is part of the lease deal for their stadium. That stadium is quintessential L.A. My condo in Detroit was closer to Comerica than the far reaches of the parking lot are to The Big A. The ballpark interior is fine, if a little sterile, but being an island in a sea of blacktop was very off-putting to someone who grew up with Tiger Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Comiskey Park. When I was in college in Kalamazoo it was possible to grab an Amtrak in the morning to Chicago, take the L to a short walk to Wrigley, drink too many Old Style tall boys in the bleachers, stumble back to the L to Union Station, and catch the train back to Kalamazoo and be in bed that night. I swear that was easier travel than getting to an Angels home game.

    mmorgan 6:57 AM  

    For once, I wish I’d timed myself because this was surely under five minutes.

    The revealer was of no use to me because the entire rest of the puzzle was already filled in when I got there. Oh look, these are things people put on a tree. OY, there’s LOX on my tree.

    I’m figured there’d be flack about the LA Angels of Anaheim.

    Ho Ho Ho, bah humbug. Take your pick.

    Z 7:01 AM  

    BTW - The last time I mentioned how far the walk was in the parking lot at the Big A someone didn’t believe me. According to gmaps-pedometer the distance from my old front door to the nearest gate at Comerica is 0.27 miles while the distance from the farthest parking spot to the nearest gate in Anaheim is 0,30 miles. Yep, a sizable condo community, a Jehovah Witness Hall, a six lane freeway, and a multi-level parking structure all in less space than Anaheim used for parking cars at the their stadium. And they wonder why $1.6 billion didn’t solve their 405 problems....

    'mericans in Paris 7:31 AM  

    YAY, it's X-MAS!

    But, OY, what an OATEN breakfast of a puzzle! Have to agree with @Rex for the most part. Neither O TANNENBAUM nor "O Christmas Tree" make any reference to GARLAND, CANE, ANGEL, or STAR. I S'POSE that the clue doesn't exactly claim that, but it isn't evident to me that O TANNENBAUM hints at those words. (SAMMY Davis Jr. recorded a lot of Christmas songs that do contain those words, though.) In any case, pretty easy to solve the puzzle as themeless.

    Some kind of non-Christmassy sub-theme going on, too, with GUN, ARMS, ENEMY, and those ROYAL loyals, the ORANGEMEN.

    Surprised that PALAU wasn't the word of the day. It's an independent republic comprised of "approximately" 340 islands (do some disappear at high tide?), and an area of 466 square kilometers. That's barely more than one square km per island, on average. Unfortunately, the island chain does not include Christmas Island, which would have been a nice touch.

    My main tough area was the NW. I can never spell DAIS right, and started off with DIAS, which made it hard to see 2D & 3D. LOX of other write-overs. I was all ready to slot in "Petri dish" at 34D, but for the crosses. AGAR PLATE sounds like green paint. Hands up also for pods before GAMS. Another write-over was puT AT EASE.

    Have a happy and safe holiday, all!

    Unknown 7:39 AM  

    AHOK crossing ARLO is unacceptable IMO... OHOK is the actual phrase

    Suzie Q 7:41 AM  

    @ Bruce Haight, Thanks for the puzzle and kind thoughts to you too.
    Merry Christmas!

    QuasiMojo 7:46 AM  

    If this year hasn’t been depressing enough, we get this as our Christmas present? I agree with Rex about the dull tired fill and lackluster theme and TMC. I used to watch AMC back in the day but now it’s TCM 24/7 only as I watch it online. Check out The Holly and The Ivy with Sir Ralph Richardson for a truly wonderful Christmas treat. No elves or grinches or ghosts needed to carry the message of the season.. Merry merry to all of my blogger friends in da house!

    Kitty 7:50 AM  

    Another drunken clue. Seems like a daily occurrence.
    So unkind since many people suffer from the disease.

    The Bard 8:08 AM  

    At Christmas I no more desire a rose
    Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth;
    But like of each thing that in season grows.

    Love's Labour's Lost, Act I, scene I

    SIR TOBY BELCH: Out o' tune, sir: ye lie. Art any more than a
    steward? Dost thou think, because thou art
    virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?

    Twelfth Night, Act II, scene III

    Z 8:10 AM  


    John H 8:28 AM  

    Really wanted something nice today. Bad, boring, and how do you even pronounce "hehs?"

    Merry Christmas, anyway. It's a lovely morning in New York.

    amyyanni 8:33 AM  

    Z, my family continued to call Tiger Stadium "Briggs" into the '60s. What a jewel! The puzzle wasn't sparkly but at least I knew the crosswordese so have the satisfaction of a decent finish. And I don't have to work today. Hope you all are off as well.

    Ernie Pantusso 8:43 AM  

    On the other hand, this Jew appreciated the use of LOX, SHIN, OY, and SAMMY Cahn (not to mention TET) in a Christmas-themed puzzle.

    pabloinnh 8:51 AM  

    Totally agree with @Z about The Big A. After a terrifying (for a rural guy) drive down one of those eight land freeways, we finally pulled in, and my first thought was "What a stroke of luck that they found such a huge parking lot to build a stadium in!" On the other hand, it was sort of shiny and sterile and celebrity oriented, thus capturing the essence of Southern California.

    Puzzle was OK by me. Christmas is a good day to practice charity.

    And yeah, we say garlands too.

    Merry Christmas to all, and to GILL I and others, Feliz Navidad.

    relicofthe60s 9:02 AM  

    Actually TANNENBAUM doesn’t mean Christmas tree. It means fir tree or evergreen. It’s only in the English version that it becomes Christmas tree. It’s based on a German folk song that had nothing to do with Christmas. Meanwhile, I’m surprised that Rex has never heard of a tinsel GARLAND.

    Teedmn 9:05 AM  

    Nice clue for 35D, with Santa and deterioration thrown together, WENT SOUTH.

    Merry Christmas for all who celebrate, and thanks, Bruce Haight, for the nice XMAS tribute. (Tough crowd today, sheesh.)

    SouthsideJohnny 9:05 AM  

    Total stinkbomb of an effort today. Totally forced, tedious and contrived (like Rex’s criticisms usually are). Today, however he is spot on - today’s puzzle has absolutely no business being in the New York Times. It’s like they all got drunk and just phoned one in as a goof/spoof. Boo-hoo. Time for some more egg nog . . .

    Hungry Mother 9:20 AM  

    On the easy side. Nice seasonal theme. Still in Vegas, waiting for the grandkids to get up after a long winter’s night.

    gfrpeace 9:20 AM  

    Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes

    Wherein our Savior’s birth is celebrated

    The bird of dawning singeth all night long;

    And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad.

    The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike;

    No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm;

    So hallowed and so gracious is the time.

    Lousy puzzle, but HEH, it's Christmas, And I'm not a Catholic organist, I'm through with church till next Sunday. I had Creme de Cassis for breakfast.

    Nancy 9:35 AM  

    Wanted PEDI before PEEL for the spa treatment. Though, actually, I've never had any burning desire to be either PEDIed or PEELed. Nor to be Mudbathed or Hot-Stone-Massaged either. As a potential spa customer, I'm something of a dud.

    I also wanted LSATS before LOANS as the prerequisites for some college students. I SPOSE I come from a happier and luckier generation of college students than today's.

    Thanks for "The Holly and the Ivy" recommendation, @Quasi. I'm pretty sure I never saw it.
    When my library re-opens tomorrow, I'll order it. That's my big take away from today -- the puzzle certainly wasn't a wonderful, exciting Christmas present. I wish a wonderful holiday to everyone and a much better New Year than looks likely right now.

    DaBears in Da House 9:48 AM  

    Oh my...Mr Haight getting all haughty with some lame-assed quote about having "Christmas in his heart." Sure looked snarky to me, Mr Haight...which is probably the kind of "Christmas in your heart™" that would get you on Santa's the naughty list.

    How about you defend ARMS? or HEHS? or INDAHOUSE? ISPOSE? instead of doing some kind of holier than thou drive by?

    This puzzle was objectively terrible, as pointed out by Rex. Just because it was a Christmas puzzle, doesn't mean it gets a pass. Many times has my favorite NFL team played on Christmas Day or even Christmas Eve...on the times that they've lost those games, we fans don't just sit back, have another eggnog cocktail and wish each other well. There are some forms of entertainment that carry along with them standards of performance that determine the quality of the entertainment itself. When the product is awful, you can call it out for being so. If my favorite running back fumbles on the two and we lose the game, Christmas or not, you can bet I'll be non-Christmassy about it.

    This was an equivalent of my favorite NFL team losing by 30 points on Christmas Day.

    Aketi 10:09 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Preferred Customer 10:10 AM  

    After getting adult and roues I just couldn't see adulthood.

    ADULT_O_ _

    mind in the gutter on Xmas...

    Aketi 10:16 AM  

    FYI, I do agree with @Rex and others that the clueing for LOAN was off. Many of the better endowed universities are providing loan-free aid. P

    Rob 10:18 AM  

    ROUES? I don't think they exist.

    But seriously, folks.

    Genuinely bad puzzle. Rex is on target, this one shouldn't have run as-is.

    Ah well. At least it was only Tuesday length. Hope you're all having a lovely holiday.

    jberg 10:24 AM  

    I liked the theme OK -- if we're not going to get to draw Santa, or a tree, or a chimney, at least we can think about a tree (and I don't care if it has pagan origins, so do many things in Christianity) and things to hang on it.

    The fill, though -- seemed like an awful lot of crosswordese, and boringly clued (boring in that it was mostly the same clues one always sees).

    Merry Christmas, everybody!

    Aketi 10:30 AM  

    @Bruce Haight, Merry XMAS.

    @Rex, don’t make me get up out of bed and abandon my cup of coffee to go downstairs and snap a pick of the disco lighted TANNENBAUM our super puts up every year strewn with GARLANDs gaudy enough to make drag queens jealous. I was actually shocked when our super replaced the blue and white plastic menorah with a rather elegant gold one.

    The purge and paint project after our son went off to college included rehoming a huge hammock chair to friends who have a farm where it will live with other hammocks. So the cats are very pleased that I have restored the TANNENBAUM to our holiday decorations. They like to eat the strands off GARLANDs so those are verboten. Nevertheless, our fat cat managed to find a string from a package to eat which of course he made sure to leave in front of the bedroom door when the inevitable egesting occurred.

    When my son was little we did have a STAR to top our XMAS trees. It was laterdisplaced by a glass dinosaur ornament. Eventually that was replaced by a rather persistent ANGEL that my mother had boxed up with a lifetime collection of XMAS wrapping paper. My siblings and I discovered it when my Dad passed away.

    When we sorted through our parents belongings we reluctantly accepted assistance by someone who was clearly trying to get goods out of us by overstating her relationship to our Dad. She had done a few that made us very wary when he was in the hospital. Yet she was rather pathetic and we aren’t very materialistic and she happened to have a dilapidated truck that looked like something out of a Beverly Hillbillies set. So apart from a few sentimental items that we set aside we did ended up letting her haul away a lot of stuff that we didn’t oaryupicularly want anyway. When I spotted the over the top XMAS ANGEL (that I actually had never seen on any of the trees of my childhood) it struck me as the perfect decoration for the grill of her truck. We all joked about it and she accepted the ANGEL.

    She must have also heard me tell my siblings that I was limiting the things I took to what I could put in a carry-on bag, The next XMAS I got a package and inside was a note from her saying that since I had liked the ANGEL it belonged with me. I never gave her my address so it’s a little scary to think about how she might have tracked me down. Given her probable income the postage was not insignificant. So, now I have an ANGEL as an obligatory tree topper worthy of the glitchy GARLANDs and disco lights that I’m not going to buy for her

    JC66 10:34 AM  

    Does @Bruce pronounce his last name HITE or HATE? I sure know how @Rex says it.

    Whirred Whacks 10:38 AM  

    @Bruce Haight Thanks for a fun Christmas-themed puzzle.

    Thanks also for the many other X-word puzzles you’ve created this year!

    This, I believe, has been your most most prolific year.

    Best wishes for happy and healthy 2019!


    “Bruce Haight X-Word Puzzle Fan Club”

    Banana Diaquiri 10:39 AM  

    if your ever in a lab with AGAR on a PLATE, run as fast as you can while holding your breath!! micro-organisms are grown in a petri dish (not Rob Petrie's colon), covered.

    Masked and Anonymous 10:43 AM  

    Merry Christmas, or whatever yer fave seasonal holiday is! May all yer gifts be coal-free.

    A Christmassy theme on Christmas. Good check, on Santa's list.
    O Tannenbaum is a German-style Christmas carol, whose 'merican equivalent is O Christmas Tree. Sooo … good revealer, with a star on top.
    And nuthin says XMAS like an AGARPLATE in PALAU. har

    staff weeject pick: EIN. German article to decorate yer tannenbaum with. honorable mention to the BOO BAH YAY run. Mighty festive weeject stack decorations in the NE & SW, btw.

    OH YOU is a very nice-soundin O TANNENBAUM go-with, in M&A's book.

    Thanx & Merry XMAS, Mr. Haight. Really luv yer raised-by-wolfelves work. U rock, dude. If @RP wants hisself a Bad Santa puz, he should go pick on the followin defenseless runt, instead.

    Masked & Anonymo6Us
    "O U"

    Xmas ode to runtpuzs:

    Pixie Dust 10:47 AM  

    Wow, whatta buncha crabs for Christmas. Tree decorations, tree. How does that no string together for a theme?

    You don't know garland, I spose that one's on you pal. Who's ever heard of an adulterated person (one who has passed through the adulting phase) who's never heard of garland on a Christmas tree? Bah! Your lack doesn't bear on the puzzle's rating.

    Bruce Haight fan? For this puzzle, yes I am.

    Anonymous 10:48 AM  

    Even after I had all the letters and knew the answers were ISPOSE to 5A and AHOK to 28A it took me a few minutes to figure out why those were right answers.

    And I don't think I've ever in my life heard of Arlo and Janis, but what else could _RLO be?

    And I've never heard (until I looked it up afterwards) of Noel meaning Christmas carol, rather than being the French word (commonly used in English) for Christmas.

    RooMonster 10:50 AM  

    Hey All !
    Holy GARLAND, y'all have some VIGOR today! The review and comments sure WENT SOUTH quickly! It seems this puz was your ENEMY, smacking your GAMS with ARMS. OY!

    I SPOSE it may not be the most bestest puz for Christmas, but it fills the quota AH OK, I SAY. 'Things that go on a Christmas tree'. Who gives a BOO if a TANNENBAUM is not a Real Christmas tree? THIN arguments. YES I AM giving my Two Cents. HEH.

    Merry Christmas to all, Happy Chanukah to all, Happy Kwanzaa to all, and hope y'all have a much better and less grumpier New Year!


    Anonymous 10:57 AM  

    A commenter says about TANNENBAUM that "It’s based on a German folk song that had nothing to do with Christmas."

    Well, I see this line in a version I Googled:

    Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
    Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!

    It's a bit of a reference to Christmas, in that it says the fir tree often gives me great joy outside of the Christmas season. So the writer is thinking of Christmas, at least.

    Anonymous 10:58 AM  

    Wow! Awful that everyone is so flippant about Christmas. X-mas is lousy, just lousy and disrespectful.
    Shame on you Mr. Height. You too Will.

    retired guy 10:59 AM  

    The US military does indeed have "arms" -- but the term does not refer to the Navy or Air Force. The term "arms" -- as in "combined arms" -- refers to infantry, armor, artillery, etc. The term is mainly used within the Army.

    Aketi 11:19 AM  

    @RooMonster, I second your wishes. Nice post. Hope everything has an enjoyable day today.

    Outside The Box 11:21 AM  

    C’mon Rex! It’s Christmas. No complaining today.

    Z 11:25 AM  

    OT Z here with two quick observations:

    1. “The Navy is an ARM of the US military,” is the usage being referenced here. It’s a perfectly acceptable usage and the fact that we all thought “why doesn’t ‘branch’ fit?” is known as “misdirection.”

    2. @Anon 10:58 - You might want to read this. There are other, far less sympathetic, explanations out there as well if Snopes isn’t good enough for you. But, again, using X (a chi) for “Christ” is as old as Christianity.

    Anonymous 11:27 AM  

    Rex may be outraged by this puzzle but his level of outrage will never exceed mine. Am I the only one who notices that Shortz NEVER includes a Festivus-themed puzzle? And when was the last time Shortz ran a puzzle dedicated to Shovuos? I'm outraged I tell ya.

    Adam 11:34 AM  

    At least it went quickly, so I didn't have to endure it for too long. AHOK, HEHS, OYS, IKEA (not the constructor's fault, but as noted, second time in the same place in 2 days), ISPOSE, TMC, ATTA, and my least favorite answer, OATEN. No one says that. Ever. It's not a thing. Please stop using it.

    That said, I didn't dislike it as much as @Rex did. I, too, thought that the LA team was the DODGERS and the team in Anaheim was the Angels, so I learned something as a result of this. CANE would be candy CANE, @Rex - I mean, it's Christmas, give the guy a break. But overall it should have been better.

    Tim Aurthur 11:43 AM  

    The term XMAS is not disrespectful.

    JOHN X 11:51 AM  

    Dang there's a lot of folks here who didn't get any presents! Ha ha such concentrated misery in one convenient location, on Christmas morning no less!

    This was a fun little Tuesday puzzle. I get why Rex hates it; he hates everything by this constructor. The rest of you I'm not so sure, but it was fun reading it. I liked the hillbillies who were scared of the baseball stadium the best, followed by all the rubes who didn't know the team changed its name almost twenty years ago. And then there's all the moaners who went "worst puzzle ever" like Comic Book Guy. I loved all these comments! Extra credit to NOEL guy.

    Then there the non-Christmas answers in the grid that lent an air of inclusiveness and multiculturalism to the proceedings. LOX and SHIN and of course OY. And also TET, which is the Viet Cong New Year or something. I always think of that famous photograph in Saigon;/ I'm pretty sure that one guy had the worst TET holiday ever.

    Merry Christmas!

    Amelia 11:54 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Bourbon Street 12:04 PM  

    No one is taking Christ out of Christmas by using “Xmas” because the word is still pronounced “Christmas” even if it is spelled “Xmas”. Also, everyone understands that “Xmas” is a common (goes back centuries) abbreviation of “Christmas”. My mother, a very devout Roman Catholic, was never offended by the use of “Xmas” because she understood the reasoning behind the abbreviation (as explained above by Z and Snopes). The fact that the X for Chi is not used in any other context is meaningless. No offense is intended by the use of “Xmas”.

    On another note, I miss ERMA Bombeck. I read every one of her books and laughed out loud.

    I grew up in a suburb north of Chicago and therefore took the El to Wrigley Field. A person can also take the El to Guaranteed Rate Field (ugh—it’s Comiskey Park to Chicagoans). Great way to attend a ball game—just walk a few blocks and you’re there! No worries about parking your car and trying to find it later.

    Anonymous 12:26 PM  

    Merry Christmas everyone, and especially to you, Mr Haight — thanks for an enjoyable puzzle. (And a wonderful day in general to those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas.)

    DevoutAtheist 12:31 PM  

    @Anon 10:58. No law or social norm requires me to respect the way you choose to spell the Dec. 25 holiday. Nor am I required to respect your faith, and you are not required to respect my non-belief. We are only required to respect each other as human beings. Isn't that sort of the spirit of Xmas?

    JC66 12:35 PM  

    How about we talk about how to spell Channukah?

    GHarris 12:53 PM  

    Once I changed the channel (from TCM to TMC), dodged to the Angels, set aside put at ease and barred the beam I had myself a merry little Christmas and wish the same to all of you.

    Joseph M 1:02 PM  

    Put on your BEER GOGGLES and you’ll like this puzzle a whole lot more. Creative plurals (HEHS). Creative plurals that are also ethnic expressions (OYS). Even a creative pluralization of Donald Trump (ORANGE MEN). A quote from “The Andy Griffith Show” (I SPOSE). A complete sentence in only six letters and an affirmative one at that (YES, I AM.) Foreign lingo (EIN). And a brand new term you have never heard before and will never hear again (AGAR PLATE).

    So have an ALE or two
    And SAY YAY not BOO.
    It’s XMAS for you!

    Tim Aurthur 1:12 PM  

    From crossword's favorite dictionary's entry for the letter X.

    III. Abbreviations.

    10. In writing the name Christ n., esp. in abbreviated form, X or x represents the first letter /kaɪ/ of Greek ΧΡΙΤΟkhristos, and XP or xp the first two letters /kaɪrəʊ/. Hence in early times Xp̄, in modern times Xt, Xt, and X, are used as abbreviations of the syllable Christ, alone or in derivatives; thus † Xp̄en, Xp̄n = christen adj., † Xp̄enned = christened adj.; † Xpian, Xtian = Christian n. and adj.; Xtianity = Christianity n.; Xmas n. (Xstmas, Xtmas) = Christmas n.
    †Xp̄c stands for ΧΡ contracted form of ΧΡΙΤΟ; cf. IHS.
    a1100 Anglo-Saxon Chron. ann. 1021 On Xp̄es mæsse uhtan.
    c1380 Eng. Wycliffite Serm. in Sel. Wks. I. 337 In þis word Vix ben but þree lettris, V, and I, and X. And V bitokeneþ fyve; I bitokeneþ Jesus; and X bitokeneþ Crist.
    1426 Lydgate tr. G. de Guileville Pilgrimage Life Man 19951 Xp̄c þi sone, þat in þis world alighte, Vp on þe cros to suffre his passioun.
    1485 Rolls of Parl. VI. 280/1 The most famous, blessed and Xpen Prince.
    1485 Rolls of Parl. VI. 336/1 Any Kyng or Prynce in England Xp̄enned.
    1573 J. Baret Aluearie at Y The long mistaking of this woorde Xp̃s, standing for Chrs by abbreuation which for lacke of knowledge in the greeke they tooke for x, p, and s, and so like~wise Xp̃ofer.
    1598 S. Rowlands Betraying of Christ sig. Dij Xpian the outward, inward, not at all.
    1634 W. Prynne Let. in S. Gardiner Documents Proc. against W. Prynne (1877) 33 Such your Xtianity, place, and function joyntly require.
    1685–6 MS. in Bk. Com. Pr. 1662 (Bodl.) My first child..Xstened on thursday the 28 of the same month.
    a1697 J. Aubrey Brief Lives: Milton (MS. Aubrey 8. lf. 63) He was so faire, that they called him the lady of Xts coll.
    1711 T. Hearne Remarks & Coll. (1889) III. 155 This Note I took out of a Book of Mr. Urry of Xt. Church.
    1811 Shelley Let. 17 May (1964) I. 90 Nor do I think her Xtianity of the most inerasible nature.
    1842 G. W. Francis Dict. Arts (at cited word) Xmas. for Christmas, Xpher. for Christopher, &c.
    1845 M. Arnold Let. Mar. (1932) 55 When Tait had well observed that strict Calvinism devoted 1000s of mankind to be eternally,—and paused—I, with, I trust the true Xtian Simplicity suggested ‘—’.
    1915 A. Huxley Let. Oct. (1969) 79 The ethics are identical with Xtian ethics.
    1940 E. Pound Cantos LII–LXXI lviii. 74 They drove the Xtians out of Japan.
    1966 D. Jones Let. 8–16 June in R. Hague Dai Greatcoat (1980) iv. 223 All chaps should be awfully or less what the present notion of Xtianity boils down to.

    gfc 1:30 PM  

    John X said:

    ". . . the worst TET holiday ever."


    Carola 1:33 PM  

    I'm with @Whirred Whacks in the Bruce Haight Fan Club and thought the TANNENBAUM-trimming theme was charming. Besides the bonus WENT SOUTH and XMAS, I liked the Clement Moore-reminiscent "IN DA HOUSE" (where not a creature was stirring) and the long winter's nap (SNORE). Speaking of MOVIE STARS, my husband and I are in the middle of watching JUDY GARLAND in "A STAR Is Born," set in LOS ANGELES, of course. (Had to pause it midway last night - old folks nodding off.)

    Bob H. 2:06 PM  

    Am I the only one that thinks to film buff channel 11A should be TCM? Put Turner Movie Classics into Google and what you get is the TCM website and the always refer to themselves as TCM. But the alternative AMC - American Movie Classics clearly will not work

    QuasiMojo 2:29 PM  

    Hey @Nancy, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. But I doubt thexlibrary will have it. I don’t think it has been issued on dvd. It’s on TCM this week online. If you have an iPhone or iPad you may be able to watch it free by using your cable company plan. I use my sister’s. Lol good luck!

    Anoa Bob 3:08 PM  

    @JOHN X, that's cold-hearted, man. You're making light of someone's public, summary execution for some cheap HEHS? What next? Napalm victims? Massacred villagers? Wow.

    Julian 3:33 PM  

    And there’s OH YOU two days in a row now for some reason

    Andrew Heinegg 3:53 PM  

    You are either being slyly playful or you using the current political methodology of reciting known or easily researched false facts to express some form of moral indignation. If it is the latter, Xmas is not a disrespectful short form for Christmas. X represents the Greek chi of Greek Kristos or Christ. Now, see if you can find someone to help you get that giant chip off your shoulder. And, Merry Xmas.

    ncmathsadist 4:20 PM  

    Coal for this malefactor. It's not "agar plate," it's "petri dish." Also, Ayn Rand is jiust about the smelliest thing you could bring up (like a bad taco) on Christmas day.

    Mulva 4:43 PM  


    JOHN X 4:56 PM  

    @Anoa Bob 3:08 PM

    Execution? What picture are you talking about?

    This guy had the worst Tet holiday ever:


    DigitalDan 5:09 PM  

    I like to decorate my Christmas Tree (aka Tannenbaum) with garlands, canes, and angels, not to mention stars and sappy ornaments my kids once made. The best garlands are made of alternating popcorn kernels and cranberries.

    Merry Christmas, Rex and everybody.

    JC66 5:58 PM  

    @JOHN X

    I think @ANOA BOB was referring to this photo.

    JOHN X 6:32 PM  


    Oh my heavens! That's terrible! Shame on you @Anoa Bob!

    This guy had the WORST Tet celebration in 1968.

    Anoa Bob 6:45 PM  

    @JC66, yup, that's the one.

    JC66 6:50 PM  

    @JOHN X

    Your original post said:

    "And also TET, which is the Viet Cong New Year or something. I always think of that famous photograph in Saigon
    n;/ I'm pretty sure that one guy had the worst TET holiday ever.

    The photo I posted is the iconic one and I don't recall LBJ ever visiting Vietnam.

    Anonymous 7:04 PM  

    I see all the posts which say Christmas is a celebration of The Word being made incarnate, and that xmas is indeed a ploy to extract Chriat from the woed Christmas have been removed.
    Theres no anti Cnristian bias here, no siree Bob.

    Z 9:49 PM  

    Hey everyone, My tepid feelings towards 21x21 crossword puzzles and titles are well documented, but a former commentarian has an excellent one titled White Christmas (WaPo seems to make you watch the ad before showing you the puzzle). If you’re an anonyscold you may want to skip the link, but I highly recommend it to everyone else.

    JC66 10:33 PM  


    Thanks for the link. I really enjoyed the puzzle.

    Fountains of Golden Fluids 2:11 AM  

    Does anyone remember laughter?

    Gareth Bain 6:53 AM  

    I loved finding AGARPLATE under my stocking... Brings me back to the halcyon days of gel electrophoresis experiments. [I may be in the minority here].

    kitshef 9:28 PM  

    Whew! Rex and Anon 10:58 had really lousy Xmasses.

    Amy 3:44 PM  

    Lol just catching up on this rant, a classic !

    Anonymous 5:48 PM  

    Wreck the Halls (of Congress)

    Wreck the halls with bouts of folly,
    Fa la la la la la la la!
    Trump is such a dunce, by golly.
    Fa la la la la la la la!
    Mueller's got him o'er a barrel,
    Fa la la la la la la la!
    Boy, oh boy, his job's in peril.
    Fa la la la la la la la!

    See the crazy fool before us,
    Fa la la la la la la la!
    All his tweets just lie and bore us.
    Fa la la la la la la la!
    Narcissism beyond measure,
    Fa la la la la la la la!
    Dissing Trump is such a pleasure.
    Fa la la la la la la la!

    Fast the list of misdeeds masses,
    Fa la la la la la la la!
    Pretty soon impeachment passes.
    Fa la la la la la la la!
    Now we're having fairer weather?
    Fa la la la la la la la!
    Oh, alas, we know not whether.
    Fa la la la la la la la!

    Burma Shave 10:00 AM  


    ISPOSE JUDYGARLAND is the TYPEA ROYAL could please,
    she’s from MOVIESTAR land, and OH so nobly SETATEASE.


    thefogman 10:46 AM  

    BOO on Rex. Frankly, I am often in AWE of his nitpicking but sometimes it's just a ROYAL pain. What ELSE is new? ISPOSE he needs a visit from the Ghost of Puzzles Past - dragging his LOX and chains to show him themes are not his ENEMY. I liked this one a lot. I like it even more because when we Syndies get to do the XMAS-time puzzles it means spring can't be that far away. I SAY BAH humbug to more cold and snow. But YAY to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. YESIAM a fan and could write an ODE about this STEELE-y eyed TYPEA news MAVEN. ORANGE(haired)MaN better watch out when Rachel's INDAHOUSE. PS - What's up with the frequent appearance of IKEA (and OYS) lately? Is Will getting deep discounts on his knock down particle-board furniture purchases?

    rondo 11:19 AM  

    There’s somethin’ ELSE about OFL and his Haight hate, or maybe XMAS just WENTSOUTH on him. It’s Tuesday and a holiday so it’s probably not gonna win any awards.

    Speaking of winning awards, IS’POSE there was a stage of her career when MOVIESTAR JUDYGARLAND fell into the yeah baby category, probably early ADULTHOOD.

    I’m gonna prepare for 30 below tonight and tomorrow night, YESIAM. Gonna stay INDAHOUSE. Fa la la.

    spacecraft 11:29 AM  

    AH, OK, let me try to describe my solving experience. Have you ever poured cereal into a bowl, then opened milk and poured it on--only to realize, too late, that it had turned? So now you have an OATEN (!) mess, and not only have to throw it in the garbage, but immediately take that garbage out, full or not. In other words, the experience quickly WENTSOUTH.

    The first brow-wrinkle was AHOK, which proved that 3-down couldn't be INDAHizzy--which would at least have been familiar. But INDAHOUSE???? So, we're just changing DA article?? No. I'm sorry; that dog just won't hunt. And then you want me to write down OATEN?? YOU WANT ME TO WRITE DOWN OATEN???!!! I can't do it. It actually is a word, God help me. I guess you can -en anything you want. Am I sitting in a leatheren chair? With plasticen armrests?? STOP!!!

    I did not finish, in the same way that I couldn't have finished that bowl of Cheerios. At least I was spared ISPOSE; hadn't gotten there yet. DNF, so no score.

    thefogman 12:16 PM  

    Question: I still have a pound of fruit cake. What should I do with it
    Should I save it to patch potholes in the driveway after the snow is gone?

    Wooody2004 1:26 PM  

    I hear that the ROYAL TANNENBAUMs is an AHOK movie.

    DOD will probably be the MOVIESTAR from Gilligans Island

    Learned from Crossword: The Fantastic Four probably don’t SAY “OH YOU” to Doctor Doom.

    Learned from blog: Garlands are considered to be gaudy and glitzy. I always thought garlands were those silver and red stringy things that you wrapped around the XMAS tree.

    Diana, LIW 2:09 PM  

    "A garland is a decorative wreath or cord which can be hung round a person's neck or on inanimate objects like Christmas trees." First def on Google for garland, from Wiki you-know-who.

    My mom made her own Christmas garlands out of tin foil. By hand. Cutting tiny circles, twisting them, putting them on a string. I always said she was Martha Stewart with a heart. A big heart.

    So @Woody is correct. Yes, I still have some of those silvery garlands.

    Really, Rex, really are da bomb.

    @Foggy - ask @Rondo about paving that driveway.

    A blogger friend of mine, from the Minneapolis area (her blog name ends with MN, hint, hint) decided to go camping in the snow this weekend, and seems like she may still be there. I shall herewith refer to her as Elsa.

    Oh what fun it is to celebrate XMAS joy when spring is coming. 'Course, here in Calif it was 74 the other day - for about a hour.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords - anyone up for ACPT?

    rainforest 3:08 PM  

    I think Will Shortz ran this puzzle as a XMAS present to @Rex. OY vey, a Bruce Haight effort, which I liked, by the way. It's wonderful to see the knee-jerk reaction, as reliable as sunrise in the East.

    Things you can place on the TANNENBAUM. Not bad. Way back, before the tradition WENT SOUTH, my family and I had a great time decorating our tree, at least until my older son insisted on placing a Star Trek symbol on the tree top. I kind of miss those days, as XMAS has become more a necessary evil than a celebration. But of course, I'm old, my kids are all 40+ and I'm a Grand-Dad, or Grampa, or Papa, and so I sense a rebirth of XMAS joy. Maybe.

    Right now my attention has turned to the freezer in my fridge which has ceased to freeze. I'm sure there is an easy fix. @rondo - any hints?

    leftcoastTAM 3:27 PM  

    Rex didn't seem to be in the XMAS spirit when this puzzle came out last month. He's not INDAHOUSE with this one, and he should've come in from the cold.

    Agree that TCM is a much better channel than TMC for film buffs.

    LOANS as college prerequisites have turned out to be a real ball and chain for too many.

    This is a fine holiday puzzle by Bruce Haight, who warmed up and was in the spirit for this one.

    rondo 3:53 PM  

    @rainy - if your fridge is of the vintage or style where the coils and fins in the back are exposed, try vacuuming out the accumulated dust bunnies so the heat will be removed more efficiently. Or if you have an ice-maker try putting the "tray-is-full" lever in the up position to shut the ice maker off.Otherwise perhaps a recharge of the Freon or whatever they call it these days.

    Pierre 4:29 PM  

    Thanks, Rex, from a Turner Classic Movies fan - TCM!

    thefogman 6:10 PM  

    @Rainy - The thermostat/timer is often the culprit when a fridge conks out. Depending on your model you can sometimes just turn a screw on the thermostat unit and it will kick back on. That happened to me once and the fridge ran fine afterwards. Sometimes unplugging the fridge and then replugging it reboots the unit. The thermostat is a part you can get and replace yourself - it's not a difficult job. They are not necessarily all that expensive but you need to get the right one. Browse Amazon and Ebay armed with your make and model number.

    acardmaker 7:27 PM  

    How come the syndicated puzzle won't always appear in the morning? Some day it shows up late in the afternoon and some days not af all. This happens to me 2 or 3 times per week

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