Verde desert tree / WED 12-25-19 / Nebraska county named for indigenous people / Weather map lines relating to temperature / Rhyming question of attractiveness

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:15)

THEME: Santa chortling all over the place — phrases with "HO" sound in them have that sound tripled to "HOHOHO," and phrase is given a wacky "things Santa might say"-type clue:

Theme answers:
  • "LAND HO HO HO!" (17A: What Santa said when his sleigh touched down?)
  • "PLEASE HO- HO- HOLD" (23A: What Santa might say on his North Pole hotline?)
  • "IT'S HO- HO- HOPELESS!" (38A: What Santa said when the reindeer went on strike on Christmas Eve?)
  • "HO- HO- HOLY SMOKES!" (50A: What Santa said when going down a chimney that had a lit fireplace?)
  • "I'M HO- HO- HOME!" (61A: What Santa says around dawn on Christmas Day?)
Word of the Day: ISOTHERMS (31D: Weather map lines relating to temperature) —

1a line on a map or chart of the earth's surface connecting points having the same temperature at a given time or the same mean temperature for a given period

2a line on a chart representing changes of volume or pressure under conditions of constant temperature (
• • •

If I may quote several early reviews I saw of this puzzle: "No no no." The theme is conceptually fine (though not that well executed—more on that in a moment). But the fill is so grim that I can't believe you'd want to run this puzzle *any* day of the year, let alone Christmas Day. I mean, Bashar al-ASSAD? Really? Really?? You want to put that ****ing murderous dictator, commiter of war crimes, user of chemical weapons, that guy, you want to put *him* in your light-hearted Santa-themed puzzle? And NOOSE!? Yeesh, that's grim: genocide *and* lynchings. Quite a day. And then you throw in the leering HOT OR NOT (39D: Rhyming question of attractiveness)an answer that recalls the creepy early days of Facebook, when it was called FaceMash and was set up as "a type of "hot or not" game for Harvard students. The website allowed visitors to compare two female student pictures side by side and let them decide who was more attractive" (wikipedia). Ugh. So many bad vibes in this puzzle. The misery even works its way into the theme a little, with the reindeer going on strike and Santa just going, "Oh, it's ho- ho- hopeless." Hey, Santa, pay your ****ing reindeer, you creep!

As I said, I don't mind the basic theme concept, though I wish the answers had more oomph to them. Also, LAND HO HO HO is awful, first because ... wow, there are so many things wrong. You say "land ho" when you see land, not when you "touch down." Also, that's just not a very Christmasy image. It's like you tried to make an utterly unChristmas thing into a Christmas thing just because it had "HO" in it. And about that: that answer is terrible because it's the only one where "HO" is not the first syllable of a larger word. That repeated "HO" syllable at the front end of words gives the puzzle its quirkiness and charm. But when you're just repeating "HO" on its own? That's just sad. Ho-ho-horrible first themer. The others are fine. 

Screwed up a few times along the way. Wrote in AGE instead of BIO (5D: Part of a dating profile, for short). Had PASO, I think, before PALO (1D: ___ verde (desert tree)). Wanted YOKEL before YAHOO (53D: Country bumpkin). And then just couldn't think what the hell kind of scent an air freshener might have. I hate those things. Artificial aromas give me headaches. I don't think I'd've guessed LEMON if I'd had ten guesses. So I just got that one from crosses. Hey, did you know you can get rid of NOOSE (ugh) super duper easy. NO ONE / ONO, and ... that's it. There are other remedies too, as any half-experienced constructor could tell you. I just don't get putting NOOSE in your puzzle if you don't absolutely have to. Especially on Christmas. Bizarre. OK, gotta get to bed before Santa comes. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:02 AM  

Well, that was hohohorribly easy for a Wednesday but I’ll give Shohohortz a pass since it’s the hahaholiday.

The season’s best to all my fellow xworders.

Clement C. Moore 1:29 AM  

Merry Xmas to all! This puzzle was ho-ho-hopeless!

Clement Clarke Moore
East Biggs, CA

jae 1:39 AM  

Medium. “Quirkiness and charm” works for me. Liked it.

Z 4:28 AM  

“A child is born” has to be one of the most universally hopeful moments. Happy holidays to you and yours.

Solverinserbia 4:40 AM  

Very easy for a Wed. Almost hit my record time. I don't understand the convention of only putting happy things in a crossword. I'm here for the challenge not to be cloistered in a parallel universe where everything is great. So yeah Assad and nooses are horrible but they are things, so I think they're valid in crosswords.

chefwen 4:44 AM  

Very easy, but cute. Just what I needed after a huge Christmas Eve meal.

Merry Christmas to all.

Lewis 6:01 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:03 AM  

Fun theme, fun to guess the theme answers despite the HOHOHO giveaways, and thus fun to unwrap, Bruce, and thank you.

A merry merry to all, and to all a good year ahead!

Anonymoose 6:33 AM  

Thought this was kind of HOHOHOKEY. But not too bad. Happy Wednesday.

mmorgan 6:56 AM  

Okay, I am not not not into Christmas (or most other holidays, though I have a soft spot for Ground Hog Day), and this was co-co-corny beyond belief, but it was also lots of fun. A ha-ha-hackneyed Christmas puzzle I actually liked? Wow, that’s impressive! Thank you Bruce Haight for helping me enjoy something I totally expected to hate. NOOSE and ASSAD notwithstanding. Ho Ho Ho!!!!

Granny Smith 7:16 AM  

It was ok, except for that northwest. Why the yo before psst? You'd say Psst first to get get someone's attention. If you got it with Yo, you don't need the Psst.
Those Christmas songs aren't oldies. They're perennial seasonal favorites. Songs from the sixties are oldies.
And, as long as I'm complaining, spruces implies fixing up, like a fresh coat of paint or a new couch. Tidies is about cleaning and making everybody get their stuff and put it away.

QuasiMojo 7:27 AM  

Bad NOOSE day. I just can't... ETC.

Since I have to be "Ho-Ho-Home for Christmas," (and it ain't Ho-Ho-Hokus) I won't "go there" but I tend to agree with Rex today. It felt as if someone put a TAD too much coal in my stocking. Ho-Ho-Hokum!

"White Christmas" is an "oldie"? I suppose then "God Bless America" is an "oldie" too. Is "What Child Is This?" an oldie?

AnyHo-Ho-Ho -- happy holidays to all my bloggerati buds! Stay safe and stuff yourselves silly and see ya all on Boxing Day.

Lobster11 7:36 AM  

On any other day I would be annoyed by Rex's complaints about the inclusion of words and names that he finds offensive. Today, however, I have to agree that NOOSE, ASSAD, and HOTORNOT are way out of line for a lighthearted Christmas puzzle.

JJ 7:38 AM  

Monday easy Christmas treat.
Merry Christmas to all of you who brighten my day with your commentary, and Happy Holidays to those of other faiths

Rug Crazy 8:12 AM  

I'll add my NO NO NO to the party

John H 8:14 AM  

No No No. Please add "strep" to the list of unpleasant, unholiday fill.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Rex and Granny Smith are spot on. Another rubbish puzzle.

Happy Hols!

Suzie Q 8:46 AM  

I also thought Land Ho was a bit off but other than that I was having fun. Then Rex told me why I was wrong.
Pool hall had some nice misdirection and isotherms is a cool word. I only knew isobars so was proud to figure it out without many crosses.
I'm Ho Ho Home made me smile.
One of my dogs is named Frida so nice to see her in the grid.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Loved it. Don’t be a hater Rex. You people who get upset by names in a puzzle baffle me. Merry Xmas.

amyyanni 8:54 AM  

Best to everyone here. Deciding whether to do a movie and Asian food or just stay in with a good book...but first, a run!

Jeff Foxworthy 8:56 AM  

Ho ho hold my beer

SouthsideJohnny 8:56 AM  

I came here fully expecting Rex to trash the theme as a hodgepodge of gobbledygook, and he did not disappoint. His overly pretentious pc woke rambling about every perceived and invented case of classism, racism, other isms that no one has heard of or cares about, etc are of course unfortunate, but with Rex you know what you are getting (and it makes him feel more hip and intellectually superior, so asking our tolerance over the holiday season is not too much to ask).

There are definitely some rough spots. The NW is a mess, with two very poorly clued entries (for PSST and OLDIE) along with the Proper Nouns (PALO, ACAI) and the intro to the poorest of the theme entries.

I did enjoy OFL’s mini-rant about LEMON. You might think that would be a difficult one to find fault with - but Rex dug deep into his bag of tricks and came up with a little morsel to keep us all sated for the time being.

Odd Sock 9:01 AM  

Noose didn't bother me. It just makes me think of cowboy movies. What did seem out of place was Assad and Islam. In a puzzle celebrating a Christian holiday?

xyz 9:17 AM  

Easy-peasy, trumpty-dumpy fill, indeed, like coal in the stocking

For Air Freshener Scent I tried but "artificially awful $hit just didn't fit. Probably my single biggest gripe about modern American society. People in commercials spraying Febreeze into pillows, sticking their faces in them and sucking air.

ugh, like the fill today

Bah Humbug, Shortz

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

The paper never arrived (not even once, I guess the haters in these comments paid them off!) when I paid for the subscription, so I'm dependent on the news rack at my local store. Which closes only one day a year. Same with the greasy spoon diner where I read the Times and do the puzzle.

So: Happy Saturnalia.

Nancy 9:28 AM  

I thought this was charming and delightful. Haight does a masterful job of keeping all the themers from being complete slam-dunks. Yes, of course it's too easy for a Wednesday, what with knowing what six letters are going to be in every theme answer -- and therefore on the Downs, too -- but there's a playfulness in an answer like LAND HO HO HO that made the tradeoff worth it to me. I imagine there will be a lot of disagreement today, but put me in the PRO HO HO HO camp.

pabloinnh 9:46 AM  

NW sketchy, liked the ho's, HOTTOTROT, not so much.

Off to practice with the quartet.

Merry Christmas.

Hungry Mother 9:47 AM  

Up early in Vegas, waiting for the grandkids to come down, so the theme came easy this morning. A fast solve while I’m downing oatrmeal and coffee.

jberg 9:47 AM  

A little too corny for my taste, but A TAD fun all the same. Note that the constructor anticipated @Rex with 50D.

When I put in OTOE, my mind raced to think of some OTOE-OTOH jokes, but then Bruce beat me to it, so that was a little disappointing.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all! I have to go start prepping my goose for roasting.

jberg 9:51 AM  

Here is an actual OLDIE for you.

Nancy 9:52 AM  

From yesterday's naming of our BARBERSHOP QUARTET discussion:

@Joe and @pablo -- I confess to not understanding THE EVADALUDES. Not at all.

I had a couple of thoughts last night:

But then I read Joe's suggestion of THE FOUR NATICKS. I don't see how it can be beaten. Love it!

A very happy holiday to everyone.

pmdm 9:54 AM  

In my book, the only thing to say today is ....

Merry Christmas (or happy holiday if not a believer)

The puzzle? I don't care today/

Ethan Taliesin 10:00 AM  

I did not like today's puzzle one bit.
Forced holiday tripe for stupid people.

Bah! Horrible.

Teedmn 10:03 AM  

While I did wince a tad upon seeing NOOSE and ASSAD, I mostly found this puzzle cute and Christmas-y. The reindeer strike themer fell flat but I thought the others were fun. I think Rex's rant on the LAND HOHOHO is off the mark - the whole point is to rethink phrases with HO in them in a Santa-slanted way and for me, LAND HOHOHO worked.

I thought this was tougher than the usual Wednesday even with the HOHOHO givens. I couldn't get any traction in the NW. I suspected SCALP but nothing else came to mind so I moved east to BASK and started from there.

Am I the only one who finds the clues for PSST don't usually match up to how PSST is used in the wild? I do not think PSST is the equivalent of "Yo". OTOH, I can't think of a better way to express it in words so...

I will agree with Rex on one thing - I hate artificial scents for the same reason, headaches, (I hold my breath through the perfume department in Macys) and I wanted Lilac and Yokel down there so that bottom area was a bit inky.

POOL HALL definitely got the clue appreciation award from me today.

Thanks, Bruce Haight, and MERRY CHRISTMAS to those who celebrate.

Joe Dipinto 10:11 AM  

Rex's review made me laugh. It's true the puzzle is a near-total downer. Having IT'S HO-HO-HOPELESS as the marquee entry is especially hilarious. I'll contribute to the bad vibes:

from "Starting Here Starting Now"

I was standing in the bedroom
When it suddenly came clear
That at last I don’t remember
That at one time you were here
All that stuff that used to haunt me
Like your robe behind the door
For the first time I don’t notice
That they’re not here anymore

And I don't remember summer
I do not remember fall
So it’s possible December
Never happened after all
Did we trim the tree together
I can’t get the image through
Cause I don't remember Christmas
And I don't remember you

Later on to my astonishment
I did not feel a tug
When I walked into the living room
And saw that sheepskin rug
All those pesky little echoes
They’re all gone without a trace
It was good to know I could grow
Unaccustomed to your face

Cause I don't remember Easter
Or the rainy day we met
Did we really have some good times?
Come on tell me, I forget
Did I think that you were springtime
It’s all vanished in the blue
Cause I don't remember Christmas
And I don't remember you.

If she wants to leave you, well let her
Says a practical voice in my head
Any sensible man would forget her
Forget her
Forget her...

So Thanksgiving never happened
And Bermuda is a blur
And I’m not the type to waste time
Over things that never were
Were you really my obsession
Til’ our ship of pleasure sank
No I guess I must have dreamt you
Cause the whole year is a blank....

And I don't remember crying
And I can’t recall your touch
Cause I’d never be so stupid
As to open up so much
Did I really say I need you
No the words just don’t ring true

Cause I don't remember talking
And I don't remember laughing
And I don't remember wanting
And I don't remember needing
I do not remember April
I do not remember Tuesday
And I DON'T remember Christmas
And I DON'T remember YOU!

@Nancy – you spelled it wrong. It's EVADELUDES, a combination of EVADE and ELUDE, one of those answers where you invariably write in the wrong one of two possibilities first. @pablo likes that one (I also thought of THE EVADELUDE DUDES).

Have a scrumptious day, everyone!

Sharp critic 10:11 AM  

Sharp critic = Rex Parker? or...
HATER = Haighter, or someone who dislikes BH's puzzles?

And look! There's also a cardinal sin in the puzzle too! SLOTH! On a day when most of us will do nothing but drink and eat! Yay!

I'm no hater/Haighter (I'm sure he's a very nice guy), but I really don't like BH's puzzles. They seem very elementary to me...inane...grandpa humory. It's like going to a party and there's that one person telling jokes that aren't funny at all but I somehow feel obliged to laugh...but refuse to because they keep going if I do laugh. I don't mean to yuck anyone else's yum, clearly some of you liked it, but because this is a comments section full of opinions about a puzzle, that's my opinion. This is a puzzle that my 8 year old niece would like.

Pete M. 10:27 AM  

STREW/WETS. Problem solved.

Geezer 10:49 AM  

Maybe the NOOSE is meant for ASSAD? Worked for Saddam.

Patricia Hughes 11:00 AM  

Good puzzle except I brain fuzzed on S and L and oldie. Either not enough coffee or too much shortbread.

Merry Christmas everone!

Masked and Anonymous 11:02 AM  

@RP: Whoa, Dasher! Yer NOOSE Munch puz-alterin suggestion would get rid of half the U's [lil ainjils] in this here Christmas puz. M&A would be AS SAD as snot.

M&A was real excited to see a Christmas-themed puz under the tree. Involuntarily exclaimed har har har.
Thanx sooo much, Mr. Haight. Appreciate yer festive efforts. Thought the fillins were just fine. U were INTOODEEP in the NE, to change ASSAD, but just re-clue that puppy a la AS SAD, and put another yule log on the fire.

As for the NOOSE Munch … I don't see harmin any U's. Just do this here …

57. Where Santa really shoulda been at, when he hollered 17-A?
65. Irish lullaby opener
46. Propose
62. OK sch. with a Prayer Tower
63. The Solomeister


Thanx again, Mr. Haight. Peace on Earth, good will to U.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

@RP and all U real nice Comment Gallery folks: May all yer fondest Christmas wishes come true.


kitshef 11:09 AM  

Not a lot to the theme, but some nice other stuff: ISOTHERMS, IN TOO DEEP, clues for POOL HALL and SEMIS.

33D clue is simply wrong. At the doctor, you say AAAH. You say AHH in relief and contentment.

Newboy 11:10 AM  

Is that eggnog cup half empty? Or half full? Today’s SLOTHful puzzle was yummy I thought; sorry for Rex & others NOOSEd up by mindsets beyond the grids borders. Pollyanna that I am, it’s back to the punch bowl either way. May all your moods be merry and bright dear cruciverbalists—at least for today.

Malsdemare 11:18 AM  

Am I the only one who had whoaHOHOHO for 17A? That held me up for forever.

I hope all my fellow bloggers have a lovely holiday.

albatross shell 11:21 AM  

Gazooks, this was a painfully difficult Wednesday for me. My brain took a holiday lat night. I guess. From my mangled editing of my late post yesterday to not seeing the abbr on the ETC clue. Why is yak or gab not fitting? What's wrong with POOLroom? Quit and this morning it all fell.

Strange Rex said nothing about ISLAM being in the Hanukkah puzzle. I mentioned it then only because of the words around it in that puzzle.

I thought someone might mention that you should not be making fun of Santa cause of that stutter.

May fate chance or the deity of your choice bless us, everyone.

Masked and Anonymous 11:21 AM  

staff weeject pick: ASH. On account of its great, hohoholiday clue.


Birchbark 11:23 AM  


ROOMS/SMOKES -- "When all the rooms of the house / fill with smoke, it's not enough / to say an angel is sleeping on the chimney." -- Gregory Orr.

May all of your four-part harmonies HO HO HO HUM this yuletide.

Brian 11:26 AM  


WeesaSuzi 11:27 AM  

Worked all the way around NOOSE thinking that couldn’t possibly be it...then found ASSAD just a few minutes later. Hard pass.

QuasiMojo 11:52 AM  

@Joe DiPinto, mercy buttercups! I have had that song buzzing around in my head for months now but could not "remember" -- irony of ironies-- a word of it! I forget who I heard sing it once on TV, a real pro, like a Kaye Ballard or maybe Elaine Stritch but it made an impact because of the pure vitriol emanating from her lips. That's not why I liked it, mind you, but it was a tour de force performance.

Your suggestion of The Four Naticks is perfect. I can see it in a grid too.

ghostoflectricity 12:30 PM  

The Doors are ALWAY in season as far as I'm concerned:

Unknown 12:41 PM  

I came just to see how triggered Rex would be by hot or not. He not only exceeded expectations but threw in Assad and noose for extra points. Really, this blog is no fun anymore. I totally believe in political correctness, especially in the age of Trump. But come on, it’s just a puzzle.

CDilly52 1:20 PM  

Thanks for the sentiment@z! Children are the most unique and valuablel resource in the world. We owe it to all children everywhere to remember and honor the hopeful sentiment embodied in the statement “a child is born,” and do all we can to enable children to thrive, learn and succeed. I wish one and all world peace and happiness!!

Carola 1:28 PM  

HO-key is fine with me, and I got a kick out of the theme, especially HO HO HOLY SMOKES, But after reading @Rex and the comments, I see that it is sort of a mixed-message puzzle, with Santa's belly laugh contrasting with NOOSE, SCALP, STREP and IN TOO DEEP crossing HOPELESS.
Do-overs: sago before ACAI, meet before PRIM (confused with "It is meet and right so to do"). Random favorite: OK, THEN (used around here as a substitute for "Moving right along...").
Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating!

CDilly52 1:37 PM  

Happy holidays everyone! Despite some of the hohohorribly depressing fill, I enjoyed this funny little holiday offering for what it is. Some lightness for the season. We shall see what “back to work Thursday” bri ha!!

rockjock 1:41 PM  

I lot of times I think Rex is a bit... harsh - but today, I'm 100 with him. This puzzle struck an awfully odd note on Christmas Day - yeeesh! The striking reindeer clue just felt mean, y'all!

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

Maybe it was noose so it could cross OSU to eat at us Wolverines.

burtonkd 1:50 PM  

EVADELUDES - I get it now, kind of today's AVERAVOWERS
Rex's fix of the NOOSE "problem" gives us the top artist (we all just learned) of all time NOONE crossing the worst (though top 10 xword) artist of all time ONO
HATERS also not very holiday appropriate
Did POOLHALL appear because of our Music Man references yesterday? Uncanny!

RooMonster 1:51 PM  

Hey All !
HO HO HOLY SMOKES this puz had a ton of O's! And a ton of doubles, 15, counting the NEs POOLHALL and INTOODEEP as two each. There's six just in NE! And six OO's. Surprised @Lewis didn't mention it.

Did enjoy the puz as a nice Christmas theme. Wondering if it was made in a hurry as a request by Will? Some of the fill seems like it was rushed into production. My opinion, of course.

The O count is 30. Take away the themers, and there's still 14. O my! :-)

So an overall fun puz. Hope y'all have a great Christmas, or a Great Whatever You Celebrate Season (even if you don't celebrate anything). Time to SCOOT.


oldactor 1:57 PM  

@ Malsdemare: Hand up for Whoahohoho. Made perfect sense.

Tom R 2:04 PM  

Oh, Oh, Oh; this was sooooo ugly!

Nancy from Chicago 2:12 PM  

The hokeyness didn't bother me but I did find Assad and noose in a Christmas puzzle jarring. And it was too easy for a Wednesday but as someone else said that's understandable given the nature of the themers.

Anyway, wishing all of you Happy Holidays!

David Gregson 2:29 PM  

I thought the puzzle was lame with all the awful fill and hohohos, but as a classical geek I was reminded of Händel’s hilarious choral setting of John Milton's “L’Allegro" in which the composer does exactly the same thing with these lines: "Haste thee nymph, and bring with thee / Jest and youthful Jollity / ... Sport that wrinkled Care derides / And Laughter holding both his sides." The word "holding" takes off with "ho ho ho" and the whole chorus is laughing amidst the glorious musical counterpoint.

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

Granny Smith hit my two main Grrrr moments on this puzzle--making classic Christmas songs into OLDIES and TIDIES as a synonym for "spruces (up)," which it is not.

And ASSAD gave me a real jolt.

Bah, humbug.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas. We're all down for naps, but I'm doing the puzzles.

Whatsername 3:49 PM  

I liked this and was very pleased to see a Christmas theme today. Really thought it would be well received and am surprised at all of the Scrooges on here who are complaining. I get the squawking about some of the fill, but it had a seasonal theme and an appropriate level of difficulty for a Wednesday. The end result left little to be desired IMO. So thanks Bruce, and happy holidays to all.

Richardf8 4:33 PM  

I kind of thought that SCAR/ROOMS could have become SCAB/BOOMS to show how Santa would deal with a reindeer strike.

Theme was cheesy, and as for the grimness of the fill, well, you know, I wasn’t bothered. I’m not going to cancel Assad anymore than I am going to cancel Santa Claus.

Unknown 5:04 PM  

Don't like that Assad guy in my xword one bit. I love you Rex! Let's do it again 2morrow!

emily 6:53 PM  

Well stated!

Z 7:49 PM  

Everyone is probably done with Xmas, but if you have a dollar to spare and are in the mood for a fun holiday puzzle, let me recommend the AVCX puzzle, Wet Blanket.

BobL 10:17 PM  

Nice puzzle, Brucw.

Kathy D. 1:58 AM  

No problem with Islam. There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, so not include their religion? It's not offensive.

On the other hand, "noose," shocked me, too. The images that go with the word are awful, no matter when the word is used. But on a holiday associated with "good will toward man (and woman)." Simply wrong.

Hot or not is just sexist. Period.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

At times I think you are too much of a crossword elitist, but I am totally with you on Assad and noose. I kept saying no way they would use noose at anytime, but especially on Christmas. But I was wrong. And it ruined any fun I was having.

Burma Shave 10:27 AM  


Those POOLHALL hookers aren’t ONES TOO sleep,


thefogman 10:38 AM  

I’m with Rex on this one. Bah humbug!

spacecraft 11:30 AM  

Got stalled in the NW (found out why later*), went elsewhere and ran into YET ANOTHER TTOP. If I see one more stupid TTOP in a grid I think I'll scream! Later I worked my way back up and finally saw it: *the ampersandwich. No wonder I had so much trouble. At that point I just quit. Sorry to say it, but this one deserves a [withdrew].

rondo 12:14 PM  

First of all, we know OFL is a Haight HATER. So he goes out of his way to be offended at stuff – again. NOOSEs aren’t only for lynching, ask any horse-person or rancher. As for ASSAD, one or another has been in charge of Syria for decades; they exist. And HOTORNOT is used by both genders, also real. I’ll bet that before marriage OFL thought his wife to be HOT, wouldn’t be with her if NOT.


Sure the HOHOHO stuff was corny, but ain’t it great to celebrate Christmas again 5 weeks later?

M. Le Pen 1:03 PM  

We probably wouldn’t know the names of ASSAD and other leaders in that region if it wasn’t for U.S. funded ‘NGOs’ that provided ‘training’ that sparked the Arab Spring, causing refugees to flee and turning Europe into the next ISLAMic state.

leftcoaster 2:14 PM  

Way down here in late-comer syndieland the theme has lost its sparkle, though no doubt fun and cute at the time. HATER and NOOSE were contrary to the season's spirit in any case.

Needed crosses for PALO in the NW.


Diana, LIW 3:04 PM  

I'm no sure if BH has improved over the years or if it's my solving skills. P'raps both.

Ha ha you say? I'll again test those skills at ACPT in March. Anyone else?

Lady Di

Anonymous 11:12 PM  

Late getting to the puzzle here on the left coast but I think Rondo nailed it. The only thing I would add is there is much blame to be shared by all sides in Syria. The USA has enough problems of its own without trying to inject itself into foreign lands. Good Wednesday puzzle by BH.

J Howard 8:43 PM  

Thank you!!! I could not, for the life of me, figure out what was going on with SANDL. AND for & always throws me.

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