Old televangelism org. / SAT 12-24-22 / Sockeye relative / Ancient arts venue / 1979 J.D. Souther hit with a rhyming title / Constantly evolving social phenomenon / Old pad holders / Letters used in absence of a letter / Roman emperor who overthrew Galba

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Easy (very)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Pontiac (33A: Pontiac, for one => OTTAWA) —

Pontiac or Obwaandi'eyaag (c. 1714/20 – April 20, 1769) was an Odawa war chief known for his role in the war named for him, from 1763 to 1766 leading Native Americans in an armed struggle against the British in the Great Lakes region due to, among other reasons, dissatisfaction with British policies. It followed the British victory in the French and Indian War, the American front of the Seven Years' War. Pontiac's importance in the war that bears his name has been debated. Nineteenth-century accounts portrayed him as the mastermind and leader of the revolt, but some subsequent scholars argued that his role had been exaggerated. Historians today generally view him as an important local leader who influenced a wider movement that he did not command.

The war began in May 1763 when Pontiac and 300 followers attempted to take Fort Detroit by surprise. His plan foiled, Pontiac laid siege to the fort, where he was eventually joined by more than 900 warriors from a half-dozen tribes. Meanwhile, messengers spread the word of Pontiac's actions, and the war expanded far beyond Detroit. In July 1763, Pontiac defeated a British detachment at the Battle of Bloody Run, but he was unable to capture the fort. In October, he lifted the siege and withdrew to the Illinois Country. Pontiac's actions contributed to the British Crown's issuance of the Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited any settlers west of the Appalachian Mountains to preserve an area for Native Americans.

Pontiac's influence declined around Detroit because of the siege but he gained stature as he continued to encourage the various tribal leaders to fight against the British. Seeking to end the war, British officials made him the focus of their diplomatic efforts. In July 1766, he made peace with British Superintendent of Indian Affairs Sir William Johnson. The British attention to Pontiac aroused resentment among other tribal leaders, as the war effort was decentralized. Pontiac claimed greater authority than he possessed. He was increasingly ostracized and in 1769 he was assassinated by a Peoria warrior. (wikipedia)

• • •

Nice way to be welcomed back from the hinterlands—with a fantastically easy Saturday puzzle. There's a bit more emphasis on architecture than content (i.e. it's showing off a bit with those pairs of 15s around the perimeter, which end up being the only interesting parts of the grid), but several of the 15s are strong enough, and the grid is clean enough, for an overall enjoyable solving experience. Truthfully, it was going to be hard for the puzzle to lose my goodwill after the first bunch of 15s opened up in a way that felt like a personal love letter to me. My first long answer, the gimme that opened the puzzle right up, was J.D. Souther's crooning late-70s pop rock classic, "YOU'RE ONLY LONELY" (13A: 1979 J.D. Souther hit with a rhyming title). Such an underrated / underheralded songwriter, that guy. He co-wrote many of the Eagles' hits, including the beautiful "New Kid in Town" (1976), as well as the similarly wistful (and gorgeous) "Her Town Too," which he sang as a duet with James Taylor (it went to #11 in 1981). Songs about loneliness and towns—he had the market cornered on those circa 1980. I'm a big fan.

The next 15 that felt like it was aimed right at me came right after "YOU'RE ONLY LONELY"—it was similarly easy, and when I got it, I knew the ride was going to be over almost before it had begun. That answer: EUCALYPTUS TREES (3D: Bush growths). Really *really* helped to be (currently) Down Under, where (even in NZ) "the bush" is the term for all wild areas. With the answer starting "EU-" there was really only one direction it could go, and it went there. After those easy 15s, the short crosses proved simple, the parallel 15s followed, before I knew it (!) I had done an easy lap around the track. I just filled in the missing spaces from there, no sweat:

You can see from this screenshot that I botched the ATL clue at first (21A: N.L. East team, on scoreboards). That was just casual negligence—I know very well STL is in the N.L. Central. My brain just glitched. That error was easily spotted and fixed. It was a very St. Louis-y puzzle, what with the L.A. RAMS being clued via their former St. Louis home (45A: Team that moved back from St. Louis in 2016, informally), and CST being clued via St. Louis as well, and ... I dunno, ATL and PTL kinda dressing up like STL a little. I don't think I had any struggles after the opening 1A: Ancient arts venue (ODEON), which I wanted to be AGORA. I wasn't sure what was going to follow FLY- at 6D: Casting choice (FLYROD), but it wasn't hard to find out. I'm not as big a "Mockingbird" fan as some of y'all, so EWELL is not in my primary storehouse of literary (or cinematic) names, but it came to me, eventually, from somewhere, so thank you, crossword gods. I forgot ROSA Bonheur despite having seen her ... feels like just a month or so ago ... Yes! She was Word of the Day on Nov. 18! I feel bad that I forgot her but clearly I didn't *completely* forget her, so maybe next time. Only other real trouble spot (and it wasn't too real) came at 59A: Takes credit, in a way (OWES), which I had as OWNS. Not in love with "take credit" here, but I guess if a lender *extends* you credit, then ... you take it, sure, OK. 

Explanations and what not:
  • 50D: Roman emperor who overthrew Galba (OTHO) — I know OTHO (exclusively) from Crosswords of Yore. I love that this clue thinks enough of my learnedness that it offers me Galba as a hint (I have no idea who Galba is, sorry) (LOL he ruled for one, count 'em, one year, but he was Nero's immediate successor, which is probably why people remember him)
  • 22D: Actor George of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (SEGAL) — brilliant comic actor probably best known for his role as Jack Gallo on the long-running sitcom "Just Shoot Me," or as Pops on the more recent "The Goldbergs," but I like him best paired with the great Elliott Gould in Robert Altman's "California Split" (1974):
  • 48A: ___ Productions, media company since 1986 (HARPO) — "Oprah" spelled backwards is ...
  • 25A: Edmond ___, a.k.a. the "Father of Whist" (HOYLE) — this clue made me literally LOL ("Father of Whist," timely and relevant! Now do "Father of Euchre," "Father of Écarté," and "Father of Ombre"!!). No way do I know him by his alleged title, but as a guy who gave his name to a book of game rules ... yeah, I know him.
  • 47A: Letters used in the absence of a letter (NMI) — "No Middle Initial"
  • 39D: "Things Fall Apart" novelist (ACHEBE) — absolute gimme. This is like cluing TWAIN as ["Huckleberry Finn" novelist]. Surprised Chinua ACHEBE is not more prevalent in crosswords (in both first- and last-name versions).
  • 46D: 1970s-'80s sitcom setting (MEL'S) — from the sitcom "Alice." Not to be confused with "Al's" from the sitcom "Happy Days."
  • 57A: Symphony originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte (BEETHOVEN'S THIRD) — otherwise known by that crosswordiest of symphony names, "EROICA"—fun fact, this is the record on Norman Bates's turntable in "Psycho"!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. [Axe target] is ODOR because Axe is a body spray / deodorant (in case that wasn't clear)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:17 AM  

Yep, easy. I put in SO CLOSE YET SO FAR with no crosses and it worked. We’ve seen ACHEBE recently, I live in SoCal so LARAMS was a gimme, plus I look at an EUCALYPTUS TREE from my balcony...so easy. Smooth and solid with a soupçon of sparkle, liked it.

Michael Page 12:41 AM  

ATL in the NL East??? SERIOUSLY? Anyone home at NYT? It’s not like it’s a division your home city plays in . . . Oh wait … and it only has three other teams, none of them Atlanta.

Anonymous 12:45 AM  

Liked the long answers, but much to easy for a Saturday!

Anonymous 1:00 AM  

Might wanna fact check yourself on this one.

Michael Page 1:42 AM  

Yeah. Rounders, not rugger. Nemmind.

Sailor 2:44 AM  

An easy but entertaining puzzle. Loved the intersecting pairs of 15s! My only gripe is that SO CLOSE YET SO FAR needs the "and" in the middle to feel like real-world usage.

Anonymous 4:08 AM  

Fun, easy one. Can’t complain

Loren Muse Smith 4:44 AM  

Rex - good to have you back. Thanks, as always, for your dedication to this blog. It has changed my life.

This wasn’t nearly as easy for me as others are reporting. A big problem was that it took a few passes to tweak my spelling of EUCALYPTUS.

@Sailor – I think I have to agree with you on wanting the “and” in SO CLOSE, and YET SO FAR.

Liked that FLY ROD shares the grid with COHO. When I worked on a tender for a salmon cannery in Cordova, Alaska, I’m pretty sure we called COHO silvers. And sockeyes were pinks, maybe? I never could tell’em apart.

Do Girl Scouts still go DOOR TO DOOR? It’s my experience that they set up a table in front of Walmart and make me feel like a grumpy little skinflint when I walk past them and smile, No thank you. I don’t like Girl Scout cookies. Period. (They start selling Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux, and maybe we can talk.) Oh, and you can be pressured to buy them from a coworker whose daughter is a Girl Scout. I usually feel like I have to buy a couple of boxes and then resent the hell out of the coworker. I recently bought a $30 book of coupons from a coworker whose daughter was supposed to be selling them. I don’t even know where the book is now – there is not one coupon that I will ever use. Boy, that kind of stuff makes me sore.

Speaking of which, sore meaning IRATE seems dated. Like Beaver asks Wally if he’s sore at him.

Those EYE DROPS? They’re gonna cost upwards of $200, even with the coupon the doctor gives you a coupon with the prescription. I’ve learned to dread going to the pharmacy if a dermatologist or ophthalmologist has given me a coupon. The cost of medicine that you don’t swallow is usually staggering.

I was at my sister’s last night for a Christmas party, and her husband had an array of bottles in his makeshift bar. Southern Comfort was among them. We were thinking of different cocktails, but ALABAMA SLAMMER didn’t come up. Well, actually, we were trying to invent Christmas-themed cocktails like a Mistletoe Margarita and a Santa Sidecar. I said, Hey! How ‘bout a Tom Coins?! Crickets. Blank stares. I explained, You know, the noel version!. They still didn’t get it. Sigh. Rodney Dangerfield and all that.

Listen. If you want an easy, entertaining read, get Harlan Coben’s Tell No One. It was the first book I ever read by him, and TYRESE plays a big part.

“Old pad holders” – I’ll just thank God for adhesive and leave it at that.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone. Stay warm!

Conrad 5:21 AM  

Easy, aside from the heartland-to-south. I had furiES before GRACES at 41D. Then my problems were reinforced by the sitcom setting at 46D, where I entered wkrp with no crosses, "confirmed" by amok as the way to run at 51A. When I decided that the former St. Louis team had to be the LARAMS, the M made 46D into MASH. I was saved by the long acrosses, which were mercifully straightforward.

@LMS, "The cost of medicine that you don't swallow is usually staggering." is going into my Lexicon of Memorable Quotes. Pat was prescribed a dry-eye treatment that's administered as a nasal spray. Not only is the cost staggering, Medicare refuses to cover it.

OffTheGrid 6:07 AM  

My first entry was BEFOREYOUKNOWIT and I did the east half from that. The NW and west were slower for me. Favorite clue was "The willies". It amused me. Nelson? Wonka? Mays? My 8th grade self giggled at Bush growth. Very fun solve.

Just the facts 6:18 AM  


Atlanta Braves –
Miami Marlins –
New York Mets –
Philadelphia Phillies –
Washington Nationals –

Joaquin 6:38 AM  

An ALABAMA SLAMMER can really set you back. A favorite in my family for the past three generations has been the Southern Comfort Old Fashioned - a basic OF made with Southern Comfort. It's a great drink to sip, particularly if you are not a big drinker but do enjoy an occasional cocktail.
And also - Cool puzzle, Mr. Charlson!

Anonymous 7:17 AM  

Peeped the 15s before doing anything and really hoped for THINMINTCOOKIES (true for this household, where we buy them in bulk out front of the grocer). Alas.

Unknown 7:19 AM  

Fun puzzle, great long answers, really enjoyed it, Trenton! Enjoyed "YOUREONLYLONELY" since it's from when I was in high school. Nearly a record for us, 13:44, so a bit easy for a saturday, but really loved the grid structure with 4 interlocking pairs of 15s. Enjoyed seeing BEETHOVENSTHIRD and HOYLE in the grid today. How many decades of doing XWords before I will learn who the fates, muses, graces are???? Loved it, thanks! Rick

JJK 7:58 AM  

Harder for me than Rex’s “fantastically easy” assessment, but I enjoyed it in spite of two Natick places - ATEALIVE crossing LARAMS (one a random phrase that wouldn’t come to me and the other a sports thing I just couldn’t parse). And DAKAR (which I couldn’t remember how to spell) crossing FRI - I have to admit I should have gotten that one. The rest was hard in a fun way, made me think, which is good for my aging brain!

I agree that Girl Scouts don’t go DOORTODOOR anymore, that’s a thing of the past. Now it’s setting up outside of Walmart, as you say @Loren Muse Smith 4:44, with parents hovering, or just sending your mom to her office with the order form to guilt all her co-workers into buying. When I was a girl scout, we did go DOORTODOOR, no parents to be seen. Sigh - a different era.

Son Volt 8:08 AM  

Nice puzzle - wheelhouse type I think that is cleaner for some. I don’t track my times but the app stats tell me this was close to my fastest Saturday. Key here are those beautiful perimeter spanning pairs - you get those and it all falls in place quickly. Drawback are the 3s and 4s required for the build.

EUCALYPTUS TREES x BEETHOVENS THIRD x ALABAMA SLAMMERS is pretty cool - although the plurals tend to be a little much. Liked OTTAWA but was looking for that trailing N. Queenie Wahine’s PAPAYA.

RAS, NMI, CST, ATL etc are the collateral damage here - needed but not great. I kind of knew SATORI but really didn’t. Never saw Just Shoot Me or the Goldbergs - for me George Segal was The Owl and Pussycat and Fun With Dick and Jane.

I’m down with @LMS on the DOOR TO DOOR question - in todays world I think the scouts are only allowed to sell in groups camped outside malls and shopping centers.

Enjoyable Saturday solve.

The Pixies

Wanderlust 8:11 AM  

ATE ALIVE made me think of yesterday’s CANNIBAL. If you’re going to eat me, please do me the favor of killing me quickly first.

Also fairly easy for me except for one four-square in the west that just wasn’t falling. I wasn’t seeing AD PAGE or LATTE; OTTAWA seemed right but I knew neither that Pontiac was a person nor that Ottawa is a tribe; and I had hATORI, which kept me from seeing the obvious SEGAL. Once I saw him, I was done.

Thanks, Rex, for the history lesson on Pontiac and explaining NMI, which I didn’t know. And thanks especially for the JD Souther clip. I had completely forgotten that song but it’s gorgeous. And don’t stint on the NZ travelogue- I am living vicariously through you. Where in the Bush were you?

@LMS - thanks for not giving up the answer on Tom Coins. Took me a while but I got it.

DAKAR is my favorite African city. One of the best places in the world for live music, the food is fantastic, and Goree Island is both beautiful and haunting as one of the “door of no return” sites where captured people saw Africa for the last time.

Looking forward to seeing lots of ADOBE when I’m in New Mexico over New Year’s. It’s my fourth-to-last state to visit. (Coming for you soon, Hawaii, North Dakota and Rhode Island.)

Simon W 8:15 AM  

Easy?! Perhaps I’m not the solver I thought I was. This was a rare non-finish for me. I found this exceedingly challenging. Chalking it up to unfriendly clues for a 30 year old Canadian in order to maintain my self esteem

Lewis 8:18 AM  

Ah, a puzzle to deceive and achieve on this Eve, with grit and wit in a lovely knit. Some random reflections:

• BEFORE YOU KNOW IT with ALABAMA SLAMMER makes for a very entertaining span-pair.
• ROW is not in one.
• ATE ALIVE echoes yesterday’s CANNIBAL (Hi, @wanderlust!).
• ODEON, SATORI, FLYROD, and COHO were words just about to shift from my active memory to some distant storage unit; I’m grateful to have them poked so they may live another day or year.
• The lovely trochaic HARPO / NEO / OTHO / NEATO / COHO / STENO.
• Loved [Letters used in the absence of a letter] for NMI.
• A post-puzzle lookup TIL: BEETHOVEN’S THIRD was inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution; he planned to name it “The Bonaparte Symphony” after his hero, who he believed was a man of the people, but when Napoleon crowned himself emperor, Beethoven changed the name to “Eroica”, Italian for “heroic”, saying “He’s just a rascal like all the others”. He actually tore a hole in his manuscript from violently erasing Napoleon’s name.

Thank you, Trenton. You gave me what I hope for in a Saturday – a satisfying fill-in and more. Primo!

SLG 8:29 AM  

LEGS for longevity?

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

This is what the kids call “being confidently incorrect”

TTrimble 8:30 AM  

First of all: nice to see you again, Rex. But I thought you'd be spending Christmas down there? I remember my first Christmas in Oz. It was hot as bloody hell, in fact wildfires were then raging in NSW, and yet they still decorate with Santa and fake snow and all that, and serve up a big roast turkey, which felt on the heavy side in that climate.

A group of us were comparing what families in various parts of the world leave on the mantle for Santa. In America, milk and cookies. In Australia it's a banana and a beer. (That's what he said!) The guy from Newfoundland said a scotch.

Anyway, this was indeed pretty easy for a Saturday, and I even got to enjoy what must pass in my case for whooshing and... sassing? No, zooming and whooshing, that's it. BEETHOVEN'S THIRD, aka the EROICA symphony: total whoosh for me. And BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, I was done. Well, not exactly. I did put in SO CLOSE buT SO FAR at first. And like Rex, put in sTL before ATL. Also like Rex, had OWnS before OWES. And also, I must admit, I was slowed down in the region with OTTAWA (there I had had no idea what I was doing) and EWELL and LEGS and ATE ALIVE and LA RAMS and MEL'S. So the zooming was pleasant while it lasted.

Lots of people still play whist. I think it's a forerunner of bridge, and takes just as analytical a mind to play well.

Well, it finally happened. No more pussyfooting around with donkeys or jerks. Just put straight up ARSEs in those seats in Parliament. Jeez, I can't be arsed to figure out how I should pronounce that: in the nice non-rhotic British way, which would sound totally affected for an American, or with a typically American hard r sound, which just sounds inappropriate for the word itself. Well, whichever way: bite my ARSE, those of you who are responsible. More politely: "can" it.

SB: 0 yd. The last word took me ages though.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Someday I’ll learn to spell BEEhtOVEN correctly. Other than starting with MALL, then wondering if it was MARS, before finally landing on MELS was also a bit of a detour. And Naticked with SATORI and SEGAL not knowing he was in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Dr.A 8:38 AM  

It was easy except for all those crossing proper nouns which I did not know as quickly as you did, and also I had a Y misplaced instead of an S for Segal, just by mistake which held me up way longer than it should have, LOL. Glad you are back!

Dylan 8:45 AM  

Wow, this was not easy for me at all. In fact, the hardest in recent memory. I guess it was a confluence of proper nouns I didn’t know and a couple fateful mistakes, like ARC for ESS, NERO for OTHO and WAY OUT for OUTLET, which kept me from seeing many of the longer answers. For the life of me, I could not figure out DOOR TO DOOR SALES … kept thinking it was going to be *what* they sold, not the manner of selling, and it obviously wasn’t COOKIE SALES. Also, as a solver with zero familiarity with classical music, even something as basic-seeming as BEETHOVENS THIRD does not pop out at me.

Usually when I come here I’m in line with the consensus, but not today.

mmorgan 8:50 AM  

The 15s were surprisingly gettable for me, but the puzzle as a whole was not “fantastically easy.” Especially the bottom center was a struggle, but eventually it fell. Nice puzzle, welcome back, Rex!

pabloinnh 8:54 AM  

Not really easy as the Souther title eluded me and of course i wanted the Girl Scouts to have a cookie somewhere in the answer, so I bounced around and wound up in the SE, where THIRD suggested BEETHOVEN and I built from the bottom up. I can't remember the last cocktail I had so please stop putting them in puzzles. Thank you. Also a few things that I knew with enough letters but not right away, like SEGAL and SATORI and ACHEBE and EWELL. SOCLOSE....

OTOH, TYRESE is a complete WTF and any four-letter Roman emperor should be NERO, especially if the O gives you OWNS.

So some pushback, which leads to greater satisfaction eventually. Some Tricky Clues, TC, but lots of fun, for which thanks.

Now off to the Stumper on this chilly morning.

Happiest of holidays to everyone in our little communitariat. May your friends be merry and bright.

kitshef 8:57 AM  

ODEON/NEO/ORLY in the first ten seconds and I’m thinking this is going to be an easy Saturday. Turns out it was more like an easy Tuesday. LAser art quickly replaced by LATTE, and Aok quickly replaced by AHA were the only overwrites. I did stare at OTHO for a while, but the crosses were unassailable.

Like the clue for EUCALYPTUS TREES, which sets you up to expect a shrub.

In my office days, the parents showing up with girl scout cookie order forms was an event. No pressure ever applied. They just put it up on their cubicle wall and people would stop by to order. I think if pressure had been applied, it would have backfired. Tagalongs were my favorite.

GAC 9:04 AM  

This was not easy for me and I did a little cheating to finish it. I like to think that I'd get it done eventually without cheating but.... The second guy who addressed the subject got the NL East lineup of teams correct. I'm in the DMV area so knew who the teams were and guessed ATL. If the DMV is Greek to you, it stands for District Maryland Virginia and is widely used here.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

I also didn't find it that easy. I didn't know any of the 15s off the bat, and I needed a lot of crosses for YOUREONLYLONELY and ALABAMASLAMMERS. Was around my Saturday average, maybe a bit more.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Amy: was expecting more scrabbly letters. Liked this a lot and found it fairly easy for a Saturday (having spent yesterday morning believing it was Thursday, came to reality around lunch). Hoping everyone is enjoying the weekend, whatever you celebrate. Will be having fish tonight (although not 7 different kinds, as my Italian relatives prepared in my youth) and latkes.
Glad you had a good trip. Rex; welcome home.

RooMonster 9:34 AM  

Hey All !
This was one of those stuck-stuck-stuck -- all of a sudden -- Bam! Everything fell into place and finished type puzs. I ended up getting the East side completed first, stuck on the West side for some time.

Had the SALES part of the Girl Scout clue, kept trying to force COOKIE in there somewhere. Finally the ole brain saw ODEON which, for some reason, opened the floodgates, and whoosh! Everything else filled in.

Thought we'd get an ASS-free puz today. But, no. ARSE snuck in the back door. (Har!)

The triple name PPP section of HOYLE/SEGAL/EWELL was toughish, adding in ADPAGE, and OTTAWA as clued, That section almost ATE me ALIVE. Got it quickly, however, after figuring out 2 & 3 D.

Santa will be here BEFORE YOU KNOW IT. Hope y'all have been good. May you get LOTSA NEATO presents tomorrow. 😁

Three F's

RooMonster 9:36 AM  

Holy moly! Just got an Ace on Wordle! WooHoo! It's my starting word!
*Doing the Happy Jig*

RooMonster Me Silly? Guy

puzzlehoarder 9:42 AM  

Another boringly easy Saturday. If I recall correctly this is the constructor who usually favors high scrabble value letters. Today he's doing intersecting grid spanners. One gimmick or another. Always at the cost of difficulty. Maybe Santa will make up for this tomorrow.

Andrew R. 9:44 AM  

This writeup is why we like, and put up with, Real Rex over every flavor of stand-in. But I guess you don't know what you got until it's gone, so it's good that he takes a break now and then. Enjoy your trip, Rex, and I wish you and everyone else here a (NONPC) Merry Christmas!

Joe Dipinto 9:59 AM  

@pablo >> May your friends be merry and bright

Yeah, it's better than having glum and stupid friends. :-)

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Are you maybe thinking of football? Clue is NL, not NFC.

Liveprof 10:06 AM  

Here's a little link: TYRESE Gibson (13D) was born and raised in Watts (LA) (in the clue for 53A) with his three older siblings by his single mom, after his dad left them. He got his start when his HS music teacher suggested he audition for a Coke commercial. It went well. He has since sold 4 million records in the U.S.

Took me almost as long to figure out "Tom Coins" as to do the puzzle.

I loved George SEGAL (alav hashalom). Very funny in "The Hot Rock" with Robert Redford.

And here's a Rodney Dangerfield line (since you mentioned him @LMS): Boy, my neighborhood is tough. I asked a cop how long it will take to get to the subway, he said, "I don't know -- no one's ever made it."

Son Volt 10:12 AM  

@pablo and bocamp - it sure is cold this morning and the Stumper does nothing to warm things up. Highly segmented corners and for me some unknowns.

bocamp 10:18 AM  

Thx, Trenton; no OYS today. Smooth as silk! :)


Very much on TC's wavelength.

EUCALYPTUS TREES filled itself in via crosses.

Unknowns/learnings: TYRESE; MANGA; ROSA; GRACES; OTHO.

#13 on the waiting list for ACHEBE's 'Things Fall Apart'.

LOTSA good stuff in this one; very enjoyable solve. :)

On to Steve Mossberg's Sat. Stumper. 🤞
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Mikey from El Prado 10:20 AM  

When the long ones are easily Sussex without crosses it’s going to be smooth sailing. That’s not the norm for me on Saturdays, but I’ll take it this time.

Rex, I’m with you on JD Souther. Got me thinking… Hoyt Axton is another great songwriter that perhaps didn’t get his due.

Unknown 10:22 AM  

Pretty challenging filler for me. Then again, as a millennial these pop culture references are way too old for me. Show me some modern stuff and it would probably be the opposite, easy for me and hard for you.

burtonkd 10:35 AM  

@LMS - So far, I saw immediately that Coins is short for Collins, but don't see how that makes it a Christmas drink, hmmm....

TTrimble 10:46 AM  

@burtonkd 10:35 AM
Look again at the italics. (Took me a little while too.)

Nancy 10:49 AM  

Well, I for one didn't immediately put in SO CLOSE YET SO FAR because I was flummoxed by the missing AND. I had to wait to see if the 3-letter word would be BUT, AND or YET.

When I saw the "D" leading off the Girl Scout source of revenue, all I could think of was DELICIOUS COOKIES.

I needed lots of crosses for YOU'RE ONLY LONELY and a few crosses for ALABAMA SLAMMERS but all the other long answers came in easily-- especially BEFORE YOU KNOW IT and BEETHOVEN'S THIRD.

On-the-tip-of-my-tongue-but-just-out-of-reach answers that always drive me crazy and I always blame on Senior Moments were George SEGAL and Bob EWELL. SEGAL can be hard to see when your "step toward Nirvana" is kATORI.

I suppose AXE is the name of an ODOR-eliminating product? It sure fooled me. And FLY ROD was deviously clued; I wanted staRlet for the "casting choice" but it was 1-letter too long.

An enormously entertaining puzzle with lots of long answers, nifty cluing and no junk. Easier than yesterday's -- at least for me -- but much more fun to solve.

Whatsername 11:00 AM  

Welcome back Rex Parker. It’s great to get away but oh, how sweet it is to come home.

Tom Coins? Thanks for the laugh @Oren Smith.

This fell somewhere in between fantastically easy and hardest ever for me. Second day in a row I was put off by all the proper names and trivia but then I expect obstacles on a Saturday so never FEAR, I soldier on. Didn’t know ALABAMA had cornered the market on a drink I’d call a SOUTHERN SLAMMER. But if you wanna keep going south, I’d much prefer a BAHAMA MAMA.

Well the big day is almost upon us. It seems for me to come earlier every year. Lots of folks have had to change plans because of complications from the weather but if you’re safe and warm, be thankful. Wishing all of you a very joyous Christmas weekend.

Masked and Anonymous 11:03 AM  

Holy loopy grid-spanners, Batman.

Happy Christmas Eve, to @RP and all the Comment Gallery elves.

staff weeject pick: ESS. Happy POCs, @AnoaBob.

fave longball: YOUREONLYLONELY. Got to see the JD dude perform that song in person, a few years back.

The puz Only had 3 U's, but it did also have a couple of YOUs.
The puz Only had 2 ?-marker clues. Liked the FRI one the best.

@Muse darlin: Cool runtpuz theme idea. Maybe even a cool NYTPuz theme idea. Tom Coins with NO ELs. yep. Likealot.

Thanx for the superbly eazy-E SatPuz, Mr. Charlson dude. Primo puzgrid design.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

yer chance to do a (runty) crossword in under 1 minute …?:

egsforbreakfast 11:13 AM  

I detect a mini-stench wafting from the ARSE ODOR present in this puzzle. Really gets me going for tonight’s Christmas Eve dinner with relatives.

Amazing to have OYS two days in a row. Makes me think that Shortz must be an OYSter.

I once ATE A LIVE COHO, but it would have been better Creamed.

My wife recently had a stroke, and she’s trying to keep things in a little better perspective now. She’s now walking LATE instead of running, and the universe doesn’t seem to care.

I thought this was pretty easy, but molto enjoyable. Thanks, Trenton Charlson.

bocamp 11:14 AM  

Welcome back @Rex! :)

'Whist' was big on our ship.


Congrats on your ace!

I still do the daily Duotrigordle, but with my former start word, 'ROATE', chances of a 32/37 were nigh on to impossible. A couple of months ago I switched over to 'ORATE', and still usually manage 34/37 with an occasional 33. One of these days 'ORATE' has to show up; then, it's a question of 'can I run the table' for the 32.🤞

@Son Volt

Thx for the ROSy OUTLook re: the Stumper! lol
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Teedmn 11:14 AM  

I had an unimpeded solve today, just smoothly navigating around from where I started in the SE with LOTSA luck crossing the RDA.

I've seen NMI as No Middle Initial before but had forgotten that meaning which makes so much more sense than any of the myriad definitions I found online post-solve. The most likely was, I thought, Non-maskable interrupt one of those gibberish-to-me computer terms.

39D, I had put in oCHEBE. The crossing clue, "Seat in Parliament?" had me mentally trying "owls" there because of the owl group name. DOOR TO DOOR SALES gave me the proper Britishism of ARSE.

34D ATE ALIVE let's me revel in one of the true winter pleasures - no mosquitos!

PAPAYA crossing MANGA. (Mango is what came to mind.)

Trenton, thanks for your clever use of stacks.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Fun puzzle but no teeth. Too easy, yet again.

Nancy 11:24 AM  

Here's the problem with acronyms like NMI -- which might as well have been clued "pick any three random letters you like" as far as I was concerned. Not yet realizing that both Rex and Wordplay had explained it, I went to Google -- which gave me many different possibilities, some of them highly technical, but then came up with the one I was sure was right for the clue: "No message inside".

But no, Rex and Wordplay say it stands for "No middle initial."

Thought for the day: Acronyms will one day take over the whole world and there won't be any real words anymore.

PS: @TTrimble -- I bet Santa's favorite runs are in Newfoundland:)

Sam Ross 11:25 AM  

That west side with HOYLE, SEGAL, EWELL, and OTTAWA was not very easy for me. Inferred the W in OTTAWA but don’t understand how it relates to the clue. Barely finished there.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

I put in “close but no cigar” which fits (but doesn’t work!).

CDilly52 12:01 PM  

Well after I discovered that “close but no cigar” was incorrect, and got started down the right side, things flowed fairly easily although some of the clues were a tad “off.” I liked the word play of Bush growths and figuring out what the Girl Scouts’ revenue is besides cookies when that obviously didn’t fit. The “Eroica” clue was a gimme as was Bob EWELL..

I am absolutely a fan of “Mockingbird.” My son-in-law’s cousin is Jeff Daniels who was able to get us tickets to the. Roadway opening of “Mockingbird” on Broadway December, 2108. Such a thoughtful look at the story with much more from Calournia’s point of view. I read the book every year. My grandfather, a career public servant attorney and “Mockingbird” pointed me toward my own life’s work and continue to serve as touchstones as I find ways to serve now that I am retired. Really limed seeing a reference today even though it was Bob EWELL.

All in all another serviceable but not stellar puzzle. I liked it fine.

OffTheGrid 12:05 PM  

My fave George SEGAL is "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox" with Goldie Hawn. "Please don't touch me plums."

Newboy 12:05 PM  

Welcome back Rex. Clearly that vaca mellowed you out. Agree that Trenton’s grid was among the easiest in recent memory—though like most octogenarians I’m not sure I still have one. Xword play helps we hope, but LOTSA slippage. Thanks for the NMI clarification that otherwise would remain WTF. I expected you would rip this one apart. Now I’m off to enjoy a belated pass through @Lewis’s LAT that received accolades from so many of the commentariat yesterday. I didn’t get to anything until cocktail time in Hawaii (tho I unfortunately sit amongst snow drifts in Idaho), so posting & puzzling bowed to festive preparations. Who knew a cherry pie could take all day? Anyhoo, best wishes to all bloggers & those who lurk in the background: be safe, stay warm and enjoy.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

I had a very hard time today

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

I went with “MPLS” for the sitcom location thinking of Mary Tyler Moore. Way more attractive than Vic Tayback.

Adam S 12:12 PM  

This got off to a terrible start when, having (like RooMonster) blanked on Odeon, I plunked down thinmintcookiES with no crosses at 2-down (off topic tip - try eating them frozen). Good job there isn't a NL Team acronym with an M in middle, and I was able to resist a moment of temptation to amend to the obviously wrong mintThincookiES.

A generally enjoyable puzzle, from which its great to have been introduced to YOUREONLYLONELY, J.D. Souther, and (from Trenton's notes at xwordinfo) Schuyler Fisk. All of which have been added to playlists.

Many other writeovers today, including bAnAnA, SOCLOSEbutSOFAR, ELECTRICcurrent (*blushes at thought of having explain that one to my old physics teacher*), samS, and dAS (I went to college in the UK so Dorm Assistants sounded like a plausible thing...)

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Please explain about the Spelling Bee: what does 0 yd. mean?

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Lol, he had me thinking on that one...

burtonkd 12:36 PM  

Thanks TTrimble! I'm afraid I would have been one of those people staring blankly - unless it is more obvious when you hear it than read it.

Not super easy for me this morning, but a satisfying solve. Interesting construction with the 4 sets of intersecting 15s - I don't recall seeing that. I thought that Trenton was on Rex's naughty list; maybe a fast solve put brought out the Holiday spirit.

jberg 12:49 PM  

Neither very easy nor very hard for me. The saying as I heard it growing up was "So near and yet so far," so it took me a bit to see the variation. And I almost put in ELECTRIC current, but held off because I knew it was wrong. Worst of all, I had BEETHOVEN'S fifth (which would have been the concerto, not the symphony, and still didn't make sense). Saved by the COHO there, though I've never taken one with my FLY ROD.

I didn't know the song either, got confused by Roy Orbison, but fortunately that wouldn't fit.

I did know OTHO, but put in OTtO first, anyway -- even though thinking Galba was way too early to be followed by him. Beethoven fixed that for me. Btw, he didn't actually rule for a year, only three months. It was The Year of Four Emperors; he was the second.

I didn't know HARPO was Oprah in reverse; I just figured it was started by Marxists.

GY 12:58 PM  

Love your write ups, and all the women especially grin to ourselves at your comment!!!

TTrimble 1:11 PM  

Not sure why this scene "sticks" in my memory, but George SEGAL has a job for Burt Reynolds. Candice Bergen is very impressed by his solution. Tim Rossovich as the big mustache.

Chim cham 1:21 PM  

Not easy. That’s insulting. Not the hardest ever but definitely not easy. People need to cool it with the word “easy”.

Joe Dipinto 2:03 PM  

I liked George Segal, he was in so many movies in the early 70's. Nice chemistry with Glenda Jackson in "A Touch Of Class". And he was always a charming talk show guest. He grew up on Lawn Guyland, in Great Neck. According to his Wiki entry, for high school, even though he was Jewish, he went to a Quaker institution in Pennsylvania called the George School. I guess your religion didn't matter but you had to be named George to get in.

This puzzle was pretty easy, but enjoyable. YOU'RE ONLY LONELY and the Eroica were gimmes (fwiw, J D. Souther was overrated, imo), and all the other 15s slid in quickly when I came to them.

My favorite Christmas song. Couldn't miss this one this year! Happy Whatever-you-Celebrate to all!

Sam Ross 2:14 PM  

Obvi I wrote the above before even glancing at Rex’s write-up

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Yes on JD Souther!

Never knew NMI.
Other than that, OK day, even if not FRI.

old timer 2:25 PM  

Finished the puzzle but Easy it weren't.

I did get LARAMS, which was also a Jeopardy answer the other night -- the clue was, what city did X play in before Y? Easy enough for ATL Braves, previously in MIL, but long ago in BOS. But my answer, as I watched, was CLEveland for the Rams, because I totally forgot about STL. I can just remember the Rams moving to LA from Cleveland, and sharing the Coliseum with the Trojans of USC -- which is just across the street from campus. Another answer and question: Where did the Dodgers play before moving to LA? That, I knew.

Girl Scouts do apparently sell door to door still, though only in daylight. As an old Girl Scout dad, I well remember going door to door with my Scout, remaining discreetly on the sidewalk while she walked up and rang the bell. I think our local troop only does sales at stores these days, but that is not nationally required.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

No “L”

Gary Jugert 2:42 PM  

NMI = "no middle initial"? mm'kay, sure, if you say so.

Just like every time we get lotsa grid spanners, we'll sing the praises, admit it was easy (because usually long answers are self-limiting and easier), and ignore all the crummy abbreviations all over the rest of the grid because that's the cost of fancy-ness.

The big ole long entries mostly went in straight away for me. Wasn't sure which numbered symphony, and didn't know the rhyming song or the guy. There's also some other drink made with Southern Comfort I've heard of, but never heard of this one. Glad SATORI went in from crosses.

I wish there was an AND in the SO CLOSE answer. It's OHO, not AHA.

ARSE is back. Thanks for the LNETHs. Wanna get published in the Big Apple? Keep your butts handy.

As always I look up the singers, actors and writers, but otherwise an enjoyable romp.

Welcome back 🦖.


1 Joke about a smelly hand.
2 Comment from Sharkweek lover.
3 Mythical beings bringing luck and good fortune to angler's principal tool.
4 Hot coals with needles poking out.


old timer 2:55 PM  

BTW OFL is not back in NYS, just back in some civilized part of New Zealand where they have good wifi. He had been in the hinterlands, which are found on both islands. My eldest daughter did a semester in Otago (South Island) and immediately joined the Tramping Club at the University there. There were as a result many days when she could not be reached by telephone. She was not really there to study, though she did take a Maori language course.

Calling her Otago dorm was a very expensive call if we used our landline, and of course our landline is the only one with multiple phones, so that's what we usually used.

The Joker 3:22 PM  

@Sam Ross. Chief Pontiac was an Ottawa. He was named after the car.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

I agree, NMI?? I have been having trouble lately, but I’m still plugging along!! Merry Christmas everyone! Happy Chanukah, Season Greetings!!!

beverly c 4:23 PM  

I too am doubtful of the explanation for NMI. How could you fill in NMI in a form asking for a single initial? Why would you say “No middle initial” on a form asking for your entire middle name? How would anyone interpret John NMI Doe as a signature? I'm lost.

On the other hand, after a second read through I did finally get the chuckle on @Loren's Noel cocktail Tom Coins.

Anon 4:51 PM  

did not like. NMI?, SEGAL/SATORI? LARAMS? No fun.

TTrimble 5:03 PM  

@beverly c
Granting that some people don't have middle names, it works the same way that N/A ("Not applicable") does on forms. In fact, putting NMI where they ask for a middle initial is saying the exact same thing as "Not applicable (because I don't have a middle name)". With that understanding, no one would ever think to interpret this as saying that John NMI Doe is the signature; the only interpretation is that he signs his name "John Doe", and that's it, that's his complete name.

Jim Stevens 5:16 PM  

SLG… some things have the LEGS to last. Maybe a running term, but I’ve heard it several times.

Camilita 5:28 PM  

@anon 12:09 sitcom location could have been worse. I had WKRP!

CAK 5:47 PM  

Be sure to "wander" through Theodore Roosevelt National Park when you visit ND - it's beautiful!

CAK 6:25 PM  

jberg - that's the saying I knew, also! So near and yet so far... The final 'r' in near and far go together better. Close and far? No lyricism!

Tom T 6:45 PM  

The trend continues--4 or 5 consecutive weeks of a Saturday puzzle being much easier than the Friday for me. I think it may be that I tend to figure out spanner clues quickly. That was a big help today.

Speaking of spanners, I like the two crossing "rhymers," YOU'RE ONLY LONELY and ALABAMA SLAMMERS (or is that SLAMMAs).

Thanks for the delightful laughs and wisdom, as usual, @LMS.

In the spirit of the Tom Coins "spirit," I wish my fellow bloggers a ...

JOYEUX A-K, M-Z!!!!!

dgd 6:57 PM  

NMI is very much a thing and has been around a long time.
My father had no middle name and all his military records from World War II had in the space for the middle name filled with N.M.I. because the bureaucracy wanted the space filled or havoc would ensue. It was acceptable appently to put an initial in space hence N.M.I. was used when there was not even an initial available.
I have run into NMI on documents, usually government documents from well after WW II
so it has continued to be used.

bocamp 7:59 PM  

Speaking of NMI, I'm a NMN guy, as I have only a middle initial – at least the 3rd gen of 'F's in lieu of a middle name. There've been a few docs where the use of NMN was required.

Fun anecdotes:

When applying for a work permit in the Netherlands, it took me over an hour to convince the staff at the 'arbeidsbureau' that the 'F' stood for nothing. I think I even had at least one document with 'NMN' on it. They finally threw in the towel, and off to work I went at the Kijkgrijp (look/grab) grocery store in Haarlem.

My sis did, however – feeling sorry that I was slighted – dub me, 'Ferdinando'. :)

@Son Volt, pablo re: Sat. Stumper

Got all but the 'Bear / Didn't stop / Units' so far; just under 2 hrs at this point. Will give it a rest for a while. 🤞
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Anoa Bob 8:25 PM  

I don't have a middle name and I've seen NMI before including on my 60s USN military I.D. Not real sure but I think it may have been in parentheses. I've often wondered what would be a good middle name for me and I think Noah has a nice ring to it; Anoa Noah Bob.

JC66 8:53 PM  


If I had t guess your middle name. I would have gone with SASS or SUSS, or maybe ESSES.

pabloinnh 8:54 PM  

@bocamp-Judt finished the Stumper, probably the toughest one I have stuck with until the end.
Quiet house and no distractions helped. I think 25D is just plain wrong, which didn't help..

My Dad's middle initial was H, no period. His father wanted Howard and his mother wanted Harry, so H. I think Harry Truman's middle name was just S.

Weezie 9:08 PM  

This was the worst of several clues that I thought were really pushing it today!

TTrimble 9:20 PM  

Thanks for the anecdotes! Indeed, I knew I was oversimplifying slightly in my previous comment, omitting this edge case of an initial not standing for anything.

There was a Texan mathematician by the name of R. H. Bing, neither of whose initials stood for anything! The explanation is that his father's name was Rupert Henry, but his mother thought that sounded too British for Texas in the early 1910's. She compromised with her husband by allowing those initials, on condition they wouldn't stand for anything.

I learn only just now (through Wikipedia) that he once was applying for a visa and was told not to use initials. So he wrote on his application that his name was really "R-only H-only Bing". As a result, he wound up getting a visa made out to "Ronly Honly Bing". :-D

(A vote of thanks to the mods who continue to mod, even on Christmas Eve.)

old timer 7:17 PM  

Today I got last Sunday's Magazine, which they left out a week ago due to some sort of delay in getting the Mag to the West Coast. Quite the kerfluffle, since a week ago it was the first day of Hanukkah and some thought the grid looked like a swastika. It certainly doesn't look that way in the Magazine, but who knows? People solving online may more easily see the Nazish shape.

But solvers who don't use the paper edition are too easily confused, I think. The Sunday printed edition always has a title, and that title made it lear there was without a theme. Yet many complained that there was no theme and tried to find one.

I do think this week's puzzle, which arrived right on the advertised, is better.

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

Have never said this with an “and” involved in my life. Never even heard it.

thefogman 11:41 AM  

Easy? Not for me. Medium for a Saturday I’d say. Maybe medium-challenging in spots. Lots of nice long 15-letter answers. Not too much junk. Had sTL before ATL and then came the AHA! moment.- literally! Did not know about ACHEBE so the NW corner was tough to crack. Overall, it was an enjoyable solve which met or exceeded my RDA for crosswords.

spacecraft 12:07 PM  

Compare Roger Thornhill's matchbook in NXNW: ROT. "What does the O stand for?" "Nothing."

My first 15 gimme was DOORTODOORSALES, and it didn't take long for the others to make themselves evident. I often find that grids loaded with spanners are easier than some of the more open-corner ones. Despite being themeless, this hardly belongs in an end-week slot. I will give plenty of credit, however, to the constructor for finding four pairs that form a square pattern--and not going wildly into left field to fill the rest out. Birdie.

Wordle birdie after a swing & miss: BBBBB BBGBG GGGGG.

Burma Shave 1:33 PM  


The FEAR when YOU grow IT:


BS2 1:42 PM  

Must proofread:

Diana, LIW 2:35 PM  

As usual, the long answers came to me fairly quickly.

But the NAMES. The names, the names, the names. Six of the downs were true downers in the name category.

So you can guess how I did.

Diana, Lady-in Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 4:15 PM  

At least one of each of the long pairs fell immediately which made things pretty easy. Gotta like a puz that has BOTH my dad's real name and his nickname in it. NEATO!
Wordle par.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP