Dec 25, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014 John Lieb

Theme: "Santa's Helpers"

Merry Christmas, everyone! This was a very fun puzzle, hiding Santa's little helpers in the grid.

18. Eponymous Detroit exec : EDSEL FORD.

19. Speaks for __ : ITSELF.

31. Keebler cookie brand : E.L. FUDGE.

32. "Go right ahead" : FEEL FREE. Help yourself to another E.L. FUDGE cookie, Santa!

54. Actress Jenna et al. : ELFMANS. I remember her from "Dharma & Greg."

55. Third quarters? : TWELFTHS. 1 quarter is a quarter, 2 quarters are eighths, and 3 quarters are twelfths?

36. Seasonal children's book about a watchful worker, who is graphically represented eight times in this puzzle : THE ELF ON THE SHELF. The book comes with a posable elf.
Unusual grid, with 16 columns instead of the typical 15.  And unusual theme, but really cute with all those ELFs posing on their 3-black-square-shelves! (See diagram at the bottom.) I found this one to be Friday-tough in certain sections. I'm curious to see if you had the same problems I did, so let's go over them one by one: 


1. Resting places : CAMP SITES. Not sure how the two are necessarily related, but perps forced me.

10. Port south of Hamilton, Ont. : ERIE, PA. Shout out to Abejo!

16. Approximately : ON OR ABOUT.

17. One in a shower : METEOR. Great clue. I was picturing something like this.

20. "Gnarly!" : RAD.

21. Lean-__ : TOs. In your resting place?

22. Bit of baby talk : GOO.

23. Vine genus : CLEMATIS. A couple perps gave me this one - I grow them every summer on a trellis in my garden.

27. Gains : PROFITS.

33. Star Wars letters : SDI. Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative.

34. Author Fleming : IAN.

35. Swiss river : AAR.

43. Feminine principle : YIN. Male is Yang.

44. Guitar, slangily : AXE. This took three perps. But the ELF nailed it, I bet.

45. __ green : PEA.

46. Dives : PLUMMETS.

50. Gives a hand : DEALS TO.

56. '80s Peppard co-star : MR. T. On "The A-Team."

57. Pres. after JAG : CAA. James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur.

58. Canada's smallest prov. : P.E.IPrince Edward Island.

59. 1962 Best Picture title locale : ARABIA. Lawrence of.

62. Refuel, as red blood cells : OXYGENATE. I filled it in immediately.

66. House speaker before Boehner : PELOSI. She, on the other hand, took a couple perps.

67. House flipper, e.g. : RENOVATOR. The ELF did a Mickey Mouse job on his kitchen reno.

68. 2002 eBay acquisition : PAYPAL.

69. False claims : PRETENSES.


1. Pressure : COERCE.

2. Still __: nonetheless : AND ALL.

3. Rapper who played Chuck Berry in "Cadillac Records" : MOS DEF.

4. Calculus lead-in : PRE.

5. Pitcher Maglie : SAL.

6. Pugilists' org. : IBFInternational Boxing Federation. Of course, the ELF nailed it.

7. Schoolmate of Blair, Jo and Natalie on "The Facts of Life" : TOOTIE. The brace-wearing, roller-skating girl who always said "We're in trouuuu-ble!"

8. Barcelona bread : EUROS. So much easier to remember the currency of all the European countries now, isn't it?

9. Criteria: Abbr. : STDS. Standards.

10. Ellis Island arrival : ÉMIGRÉ.

11. Update the workshop : RETOOL. Santa promised that next year, the ELF would actually get some power tools.

12. Cancellation notice : ITS OFF.

13. Big shoes to fill? : EEE.

14. Beltway insider, for short : POL. The Capital Beltway in Washington, D.C., that is.

15. Sound from the pound : ARF.

24. Deliberate : MUSE. The verb, not the adjective.

25. Extra: Abbr. : ADD'L.

26. "I've waited all week for this!" : TGIF. My regular comment every Friday.

27. Phnom __ : PENH.

28. Requiem title word : IRAE. "Dies Irae," or "Day of Wrath."

29. Blue-green shade : TEAL.

30. Medieval peon : SERF. I kept reading this as "Medieval POEM."

32. The way it goes : FATE.

34. "New Sensation" band : INXS. I always used to pronounce this as "inks," until I found out it should be "In ex-ESS."

36. Kind : TYPE.

37. Incline : HILL.

38. Ample, informally : ENUF. Have you had ENUF with the ELF, already?

39. Feed in a stable : OATS.

40. Sport with blades : EPEE.

41. Elite commando : SEAL. Acronym for SEa, Air and Land.

42. Word with mile or marathon : HALF.

47. 1997 Hanson #1 hit : MMMBOP. Never heard this one. It reached #1 in 27 countries, including the US.

48. Tomei of "My Cousin Vinny" : MARISA. Ah, MARISA, good to see you back!

49. Require : ENTAIL.

50. Wrestler Johnson known as "The Rock" : DWAYNE.

51. March observance, for short : ST. PATS.

52. Hall of Fame placekicker Lou Groza's apt nickname : THE TOE. I totally forgot this one.

53. Basketry twigs : OSIERS.

55. One imposing levies : TAXER.

57. Inc. cousin : CORP.

59. Online store offering : APP.

60. Stephen of "In Dreams" : REA.

61. Prince __ Khan : ALY.

63. Grasped : GOT.

64. Christmas __ : EVE. Bad ELF!  You get coal in your stocking this year.

65. Indian flatbread : NAN.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good...morning?

Marti Elf

Notes from C.C.:

1) Please click here for a special "Gift Exchange" puzzle from Erik Agard, who made two of my favorite LA Times Monday puzzles last year. Quite a few bloggers, crossword constructors, top solvers contributed to the clues. 

2) Happy Birthday to our always positive and caring Yellowrocks (Kathy). Hope you have a fantastic visit with your son, grandson and daughter-in-law today. We also say Happy Birthday to our math professor Fermatprime, who's been with the blog since 2009. Happy Birthday also to car expert Zcarguy, who pops in to the blog from time to time. I faintly recall Zcarguy grew up in Lebanon. 

Kathy & Buddha, Japan, 2008. Kathy speaks Japanese.
Fermatprime (Lorraine)

Zcarguy & his wife


Anonymous said...

Cute puzzle but what happened to clue 54 and 55 across?

OwenKL said...

Took a while, particularly the NW. In the end, I was done in by a trio of naticks. COERCE & TOOTIE crossing CLEMATIS, and ERIEPA crossing EMIGRE, which I had as IMIGRE. I guess pressure fits, but only if coercion is applied. It's just a weird looking word!
After all of yesterday's groaning about ME-TOOER, METEOR was a gimme.
The gimmick in today's puzzle was a neat one, and once I got it, it helped with some of the other words, including the reveal itsELF!

Barry G. said...

Merry Christmas, all (and a Very Happy Birthday to Yellowrocks)!

I've seen that creepy little ELF all over the place, but had no idea it was based on a book. Is it really a tradition, or is that just what the authors of the book want it to become?

Got off to a rough start with this one, as I found the NW corner to be brutally (and needlessly) difficult. Didn't know IBF (guessed WBA), couldn't remember TOOTIE for a long time, was thinking graveyards instad of CAMPSITES, didn't know that MOS DEF played anything other than Ford Prefect in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", and then there was CLEMATIS...

I did somehow manage to get through that corner unscathed, but it took awhile. The rest of the puzzle was easy by comparison, although I struggled to get TWELFTHS from the clue and MMMBOP was way out of my wheelhouse (after getting the first three Ms I just figured the song was called MMMMMM...)

That's it for me. Gotta let the little one unwrap his gifts (he's already raided his stocking) and then it's off to our traditional Christmas Chinese food feast!

JCJ said...

Newspaper's holiday gift: print the puzzle extra small. Had to solve it with the magnifying glass bought just for this purpose.

HeartRx said...

Merry Christmas, and Happy Birthday to Kathy! Your day is special already, so just sit back and enjoy!!

Anon @ 5:01, those two clues are part of the theme, and are discussed at the top of the blog.

Barry G., while looking for pictures of the ELF, I ran across a slew of totally inappropriate poses people had put him into. (You don't want to know!) I picked some of the more innocent ones for my comments!

desper-otto said...

Good morning. Hoping you're having a great holiday.

Those stacked 9's in the NW and SE almost did me in. Great words, but tough. CAMPSITES was my final fill. MMMBOP just looked wrong, but the perps looked right, so....

I got AXE immediately, and remembered that we had INXS just the other day. Didn't know how it was pronounced, though. Thanks, Marti.

Anon@5:01 -- 54 and 55 weren't skipped. They are theme entries, and were explained at the top of the blog post.

Happy Birthday, YR, and good luck with the upcoming knee replacement. Happy Birthday to you, too, ZCarGuy, if you're still lurking. I noticed that LaLaLinda made an appearance yesterday. Good to see ya! Come back often.

Today is potato dumpling day. We've got a nice chuck roast, 10 lbs of potatoes (1/2 russet and 1/2 Yukon Gold), and plenty of Pepto Bismol for dessert.

Ergo said...

Thank you John Lieb and HeartRx. Happy birthday to all!

If it weren't for...
*TV sitcoms
*'90's pop music
*more TV sitcoms
*Best pictures, and
* House Speakers

I would have completed this one in its entirety!

Pretty challenging for a Thursday. Or is that because it's Christmas and we can treat ourselves to a little extra chair time with the puzzle.

Merry Christmas all.

Lucina said...

Good morning and Merry Christmas!

Happy birthday to the Christmas babies, Yellowrocks, Fermatprime and Zcarguy!! I hope you each get double gifts.

THE ELF ON THE SHELF book became popular long after I left teaching and now I see it even in a puzzle!

This puzzle was at once easy and difficult. Some names too obscure but guessable were THE TOE, DWAYNE and MOS DEF. HENRY was my first FORD but then ELF produced EDSEL.

I couldn't recall MRT and knew nothing about MMMBOP so dnf there.

I'm wishing a wonderful & joyful day to all!

Lucina said...

I noticed the omission of Joyce Nichols in the editing credits and hope she is all right.

Ergo said...

I just caught on to the fact that each ELF is indeed sitting on a shelf! That said, my tolerance for obscurities is elevated, and I have a deeper respect for construct of this gem.

thehondohurricane said...

Good morning and Merry Christmas,

I found today's puzzle a bit on the nasty side, especially the NW corner. Didn't help at all that I forgot about EUROS and kept telling myself Pesos was correct.

Also, kept wanting some kind of Stops for 1A. CAMP SITES never was a consideration snd the down clues were drawing blanks, except for SAL. He was instrumental in 1951 when THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!

Happy birthday YR. Have a REALLY special day.

HeartRx said...


Happy Birthday to Fermatprime and Zcarguy, too!

Avg Joe said...

Happy Birthday(s) to Yellowrocks, Fermatprime and ZCarGuy!

A pretty crunchy Christmas puzzle, but it all worked out.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

desper-otto said...

Color me stupid as well. In all the excitement I totally missed Fermat. Happy Birthday, and hope you get along swimmingly.

Rainman said...

OwenKL: Found your MUSE at 24D... elusive little critter.

Lots of you up earlier than I this morn. Since I got so little sleep, I'll blame my (technical) DNF on the need to guess so many in the NW. The other corners went pretty quickly.

Never did see anything on the bottom spanner row (Row 16), but looks like something should go there.
Nice enjoyable workout though. Definitely a Friday feel in places...

Thanks, as usual, to the constructor, editor and reviewer (Marti, thanks).

To whomever has a birthday anniversary today, happy birthday, and my condolences. I have three in my family who all chose to enter world on December 27, not the best time... especially for a child growing up.

Be safe.

Barry G. said...


Happy Birthday to Fermatprime and Zcarguy, too!

Ditto that from me. I have to learn to read past the first sentence in the paragraph...

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

Happy Birthday to Kathy, Lorraine, and Zcar Guy. Hope you have a special day,

This was a fun puzzle with a bit of a bite, but everything fell into place eventually. I, like Marti, read Medieval poem; never heard of EL Fudge or MMMBop but perps were solid. Thanks, John, and Marti for the Christmas Cheer.

I'm going to my niece's for dinner along with two brothers and spouses and two sisters. (It's my first return to the scene of last Christmas Day's diasterous fall and subsequent 3 1/2 hours in the ER and 15 stitches in my knee! Needless to say, I'll be watching my step very carefully today.)

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!

Husker Gary said...

-I hope everyone is having a cool yule!
-Isn’t it amazing how fast Christmas gets here at our age compared to how slowly it arrived when we were kids?
-EDSEL FORD’s Willow Run Plant stopped making cars in WW II and RETOOLED to make these
-No one in my life ever said Gnarly or RAD
-Oh, Reagan’s Star Wars, not George Lucas’s
-Tedium, thy name is shelling PEAS
-Are you enjoying this PLUMMET
-Check out the great films Lawrence of ARABIA beat out for the 1962 Oscar
-Jim Bouton’s book Ball Four made fun of SAL Maglie as a pitching coach
-Both breads toady – EURO and NAN
-I could probably do a HALF-marathon if there was enough gas in the car
-4 pm mass at our ST PATS last night had an SRO crowd of 1,600 people
-Remember when FG kickers used this style?
-HBD to YR, Ferm and Zcar!

desper-otto said...

Wow, that's a big church, Husker. We don't even have that many people in my town. Those were some grreat movies back in '62. I haven't seen The Music Man since, let me see, last night.

River Doc said...

Merry Christmas everybody!

No bloody clue why, but this one was a speed run for me. Maybe it had to do with the complete WAG of ON OR ABOUT that got it kick started....

Only two write-overs, NICE for TYPE and EMM for MMM (BOP)....

ST PATS was our grade school / parish growing up....

Did not notice those elves sitting on the shelves in the grid, thanks Marti...!

Finally, HBD to YR, Fermat, and ZCAR...!

River Doc said...

Oh, and there's an all day marathon of Brain Games on the National Geographic channel today ...

Misty said...

Well, this felt more like a Friday or a Saturday to me, but I don't care--I loved the Christmas theme and got all eight ELF answers even if I had to cheat on that tough NW corner and some other places. But I still found it a lot of fun, so many thanks, John Lieb, and hope you have a great day, and you too, Marti--have a wonderful celebration today!

A very special birthday wish to our three Christmas babies, Yellowrocks, Fermatprime, and Zcarguy. Hope your day is very special!

Irish Miss, have a safe and wonderful Christmas dinner with family.

And to C.C. and the rest of this wonderful blog: Merry Christmas!

Occasional Lurker said...

Marti, wonderful blog. I loved all your elf pictures. I also have an elf with the optional skirt for the fairer sex.

It is probably human nature to look past your successes and look for nits. Or possibly you already knew that and it was your attempt at humor.

1 quarter is a quarter, 2 quarters are eighths and 3 quarters are twelfths... ? Bill G. would agree that 2 quarters are still a half.

Possibly third (of a - ) quarters, in crosswordese.

Best Wishes for the season.

Ol' Man Keith said...

What Cheer, Everyone!!

Merry MERRY!

& H.B.D., Y.R.!

Sallie said...

Merry Christmas everyone.

Happy birthday Yellowrocks and Fermatprime, and to Zcarguy if you're lurking. Tough to have birthdays on Christmas.

Did not even try this one. I know most of it would be beyond me.


thehondohurricane said...

Include me in the dumb ass side of the ledger today.

Happy birthday to Fermatprime & Zac.

My omission earlier was unintentional.

Dudley said...

Hello and Merry Christmas Puzzlers -

Happy Birthday to ZCar, Fermat, and YR! I didn't recall from past years that the Corner had so many Christmas babies.

I sure got slowed down in the MMMBop neighborhood, never heard of the song or the group. Most everything else made sense, and the Elf on a variety of shelves was outstanding!

I never heard about this Elf business until this year, is it new? Barry may have a point there, if the book is driving the "tradition". A few people at this morning's gathering were talking about the elf, and their consensus was that it's creepy.

Cheers All

CrossEyedDave said...

Well, I had help today, from:
Daughter #1
Daughter #2
Red Letter
Outright cheating...

& after all that, I am proud to say I nailed it!

Happy Birthday!

(Sorry that all your Birthdays are mixed up together, I hope you can figure out which cake goes to who...)

Pat said...

Merry Christmas! I hope you're having a great day!

Happy Birthday, Yellowrocks, Fermatprime and ZCarGuy! How do you differentiate between the holiday and your birthday? I have twin nephews born on the 25th. The 24th is Christmas and the 25th is birthday.

I tried this puzzle but it was too rich for my blood. The ELF on the shelf is cute. How challenging was that to pull off? Thanks for the expo, Marti. I needed it.


HeartRx said...

Occasional Lurker @ 12:24 - Well, that's why I put the "?" at the end. I just couldn't figure out the progression. Must have been that second glass of Christmas eggnog...

Pat @ 1:51, I'd say this puzzle would have been extremely challenging to pull off. First, John had to come up with 6 common words/expressions containing ELF. Then, the entries had to have the correct letter count to pair symmetrically. Not only that, the ELF within each entry had to be in the correct position to sit on a three block "shelf." Then he has to design the grid to be symmetrical. By now, he has almost painted himself into a corner, because those entries limit the "fill" that can be used in almost every section of the grid. Whew!

That is why I mark this as my most admired puzzle of the year, from a constructing standpoint.

HeartRx said...

Ack! I just figured it out. Smack me, and send me back to remedial math:
1/3 (thirds) x 1/4 (quarters) = 1/12 (twelfths)

Bill G. said...

Happy birthday wishes for FermatPrime, Zcarguy and Yellowrocks. Happy Christmas wishes for everybody!

This puzzle was harder than I was expecting and I was surprised by the odd-looking grid. It all came together though and I really enjoyed it. I continue to be thankful for the stable of clever LAT constructors and our great editor.

BV Ahlers said...

Didn't "get" the meaning of the "quarters" - guess I'll google that. Discovered the elf(s) on the shelf(s) only after Marti clued me in. thank you. This one was somewhat easier than many Thursday Xwords, tho it took awhile to "gel."

Abejo said...

Good afternoon, folks. Thank you, John Leib, for a fine puzzle. Thank you Marti, for a fine review.

This is my second appearance today. First for yesterday's puzzle, the Second for today's.

Happy Birthday to Yellowrocks, Fermatprime, and ZCarguy. Hope you all have many more. Fermatprime: say hello to EPC Harvey for me.

This puzzle at first seemed easier than yesterday's. I got the NE, E, SE, S, SW, and Center quite easily. Then i headed to the NW. That was my Waterloo.

Of course, I caught ERIE PA right off the bat. Home town. Thank you, Marti for catching that.

TWELFTHS was easy. That was a good one.

Remember Lou "THE TOE" Groza well. He was kicking when I was a youth, and, Cleveland was my team. If I remember right he kicked at Ashland College in Ashland, OH. I used to live in that town.

Never heard of MMMBOP. Thank goodness for some perps and a wag.

Once I got THE ELF ON A SHELF, I saw the littles ELVES all over.

That whole NW was tough. Tried HENRY FORD first. Never heard of TOOTIE, E L FUDGE, MOS DEF, plus even the ones I had heard of I could not get right away, so I reverted to looking a few up, just so I could finish. Some days are like that.

Opened our gifts last night after church. Played tuba with our church band. It was nice.

Merry Christmas, all.

See you tomorrow.


( )

Magilla Go-Rilla said...

54A was easy.
55A is a horrible clue. It only became obvious from its cross words but I still didn't like it.

Blue Iris said...

Happy Birthday Yellowrock, Fermatprime, Zcarguy!
We always made Jesus a birthday cake when the kids were little. Our twins were due on Christmas Day, but were born 5 weeks early. Someone brought me a cartoon of the Maji bringing boxes of Pampers.

We had Spinach Lasagna, Ceasar Salad, and Cherry Crunch this year. It's always interesting to see what everyone serves traditionally for the holidays.

My husband gave me KitchenAid Soda Steam and the 3 kids gave me the ice cream attachment for the mixer. Nice quiet day with just the twins here.

Blue Iris said...

Resting places equals camp sites didn't quite match my expectations. I guess you rest somewhere between putting he tent up,blowing up the air mattresses, keeping the campfire going, cooking, hiking, and life-guarding for the kids floating down the river.

OwenKL said...

Some people still seem confused by
55. Third quarters? : TWELFTHS.
It's a fourth of a third.
1/3 x 1/4 = 1/12
.333… x .25 = .08333…
Misleadingly written as if it was the third one of four parts.

Pat said...

Marti, thanks for explaining more of the challenges in constructing this puzzle.

OwenKL, thanks for your explanation of the third quarters. It finally made sense. Math is a challenge for me.


Bill G. said...

Add me to those who found 55A confusing; not the math but the wording. A third of a quarter (fourths) would make sense. When I saw thirds and quarters together, I guessed twelfths but not because the math worked out. BTW, do you think twelfths has a silent 'F'?

Lucina said...

I pronounce the F in twelfths. It almost comprises a syllable in itself.

Vince Marino said...

No way "third quarters" can lead to "twelfths". "A third" or "one third" makes mathematical sense. Weak.

Tinbeni said...

Happy Birthday wishes to FermatPrime, Zcarguy and Yellowrocks!!

Merry Christmas to EVERYONE !!!

Well .. a DNF ... NE did me in ... ...
But I did enjoy ... "putting down the puzzle ... picking it up ... and an hour later ..." FUN of this "Non-Solve" ...

My "Resting places" (@1-a) is a Bar Stool ...
And I do NOT know the name of any Rapper who played Chuck Berry in "Cadillac Records" ...
There is just some triva that isn't important to remember ...

Soooooooo, since I said yesterday that if PINCH was in a puzzle (due to their 33.33% price increase July 1st ... from $45 to $60 per 1.75L bottle) ... well Gal-Pal gave me a 1.75L today [Tinbeni has to "Detail-Her-VW Bug to "Show-Room" specifications (NO-Problem!)] ...
I guess PINCH is NOT an "Automatic DNF Word!" for 2015

Hope everyone had a wonderful and Merry Christmas!