Dec 25, 2016

Sunday December 25, 2016, Nora Pearlstone

Theme: "Holiday Doings" - A Christmas tree is formed by a series of black squares. On the very top, the circled letters spell out STAR.

24A. His personal Canadian postal code is H0 H0 H0 : SANTA CLAUS. Also 22. Bagfuls for 24-Across : LETTERS. Also 85A. Team for 24-Across : REINDEER

26A. With 71-Across, holiday classic : A CHRISTMAS. And 71. See 26-Across : CAROL

55A. Seasonal hangings : ORNAMENTS

89A. Things to open : PRESENTS. This is symmetrical partner of REINDEER. 

108A. Sets on tracks : MODEL TRAINS. Nicely placed at the bottom of the tree.

3D. Classic 71-Across : O TANNENBAUM

13D. Attend to a holiday symbol : TRIM THE TREE. There is a note in Across Lit. It says "Certain squares in this puzzle can't be viewed properly in Across Lite format. Those squares outline an appropriate image, which can be seen at If you prefer to figure it out for yourself, use the hints provided by the circled squares, 55-Across, and 108-Across." Rich couldn't mention the specific image as he had both CHRISTMAS or TREE in the grid.

49D. Holiday mailing : GREETING CARD. Each of the four Down theme entries intersects another Across theme entry. Just brilliant. This is why Rich is still the 4th most published NYT constructor despite the fact that he has not sent any puzzle there since 2008.

53D. Title annual holiday character since 1965 : CHARLIE BROWN

Nora Pearlstone is the alias name of our editor Rich Norris. It's an anagram of "Not a Real Person". You can see Rich's full alias names here. Rich normally uses Nora for Sunday puzzles or tricky Thursday/Friday puzzles. He uses Lila Cherry ("Really Rich") for early week puzzles.

Notice the R puzzle that forms STAR is unchecked, e.g., it's the only one-letter fill in this puzzle. The grid also has a left to right symmetry, which is a lot trickier than a normal grid.

Rich in the Middle
1. WWII investment : E BOND

6. Sri Lankan language : TAMIL. Also the official language of Singapore.

11. It may be seen to the left of venous : INTRA. I did not know the meaning of "venous".

16. Quashed : VETOED

18. Psyched : FIRED UP

20. Frightened : SCARED. And 21. Frightens : ALARMS. Rich is very good at clue echoes. 

23. Poet Levertov : DENISE. Unknown figure to me.

28. Kiss and caress, in Kent : SNOG

29. Cousin of the Vulcan mind meld : ESP

31. It's bonded in bales : HAY. Also 92. __ bonding : MALE

32. Etta of old comics : KETT

33. Word before and after "is" : ENOUGH

35. Concert shirt : TEE

37. Indiana county or its seat : WABASH. This stumped me last time.

39. L.A.'s __ Center : AON

41. Shine, in ads : GLO

42. Do-it-yourself mover : U-HAUL

44. Columnist Hentoff : NAT

45. UV index monitor : EPA

48. Prepared with mixed vegetables, in Chinese cooking : SUBGUM. I never heard of the term until I came to the US.

50. Ivy support : TRELLIS

52. Parish leader : RECTOR

54. Wide-eyed look : STARE
57. It might accompany a "meh" : SHRUG

58. Hot-and-cold fits : AGUE

59. Cartoon shopkeeper : APU. "The Simpsons".

60. Old map abbr. : SSR

61. Monthly payment that's often more than the prin. : INT.  Like new mortgage.

63. Sleek, in car talk : AERO

64. Capitol feature : DOME

65. Meat department buy : BEEF

67. Song from Carmen : ARIA

68. Last ones to deal with : REST.  Oh, like the rest.

69. Impact sound : THUD

75. Longtime rival of Tiger : PHIL(Mickelson). Phil is such a gentleman.

77. Longhorn rivals : AGGIES. Rival clue echo.

80. Climber's target : CLIFF

81. Futile : OTIOSE. Not a word I use.
88. Sharable PC file : PDF

91. Fort near Fayetteville : BRAGG. Boomer went to Fort Campbell. How about you, D-Otto/TTP? Argyle probably went to  Camp Pendleton.

94. Tan relative : ECRU

96. Descriptively named support : H BEAM

97. From that time : SINCE

98. They often include ages : BIOs

99. Maneuverability : ROOM

100. Speak : ORATE

101. Embellishes : ADORNS

103. UPS carton phrase : SHIP TO

105. "Bearing gifts, we traverse __" : AFAR
112. Prettify with paper : WRAP. Bonus fill. 

116. Sweet-scented flower : GARDENIA. My grandma's name is Lan Xiang, literally "blue and fragrant flower". Lots of girls in her generation had flower names.

118. Cry of revelation : AHA

119. Resonant barbershop sound : BASS NOTE. Also 56. Barbershop sound : SNIP

121. __ out a living : EKE

122. Bank deposit : SILT. Nailed it.

123. Type of garden : ZEN. Nice and quiet.

124. __-bitty : ITTY

125. Trouble : WOE

126. Narc's employer : DEA. And 127. Narc's assignment : CASE

128. To this time : YET

129. Julia's "Ocean's Twelve" role : TESS

130. Rev (up) : AMP


1. Spacewalks, briefly : EVAS. EVA = Extravehicular Activity. Rich avoided plural [Longoria and Mendes] style clue because he had BELAS (2. Lugosi and Karolyi) next to it.

4. Popular virus remedy : NORTON. Ah, I was thinking of flu.

5. Rabble-rouser : DEMAGOGUE. What a great entry.

6. Jam on the road : TIE UP

7. Dance and drama : ARTS

8. Got together : MET

9. Concept : IDEA

10. Sudden move : LURCH

11. Winter pastime gear : ICE SKATES. The snow continues to melt in our neighborhood.

12. City on the Loire : NANTES. Birthplace of Jules Verne.

14. Found a new table for : RESAT

15. Picnic drinks : ADES

17. U.S. Army medal : DSC. My Dad was in the Chinese Army for a long time. I don't remember any medals. Just lots lots of Mao's stuff. He remembered every word in this red book.

18. Instant : FLASH

19. "Nonsense!" : PSHAW

20. Star Wars initials : SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative)

25. Small construction piece : LEGO

27. NFL coach Rex : RYAN

30. Bailiwicks : REALMS

34. German university city : ULM. Know as Einstein's birthplace.

35. A.L. West team, familiarly : THE A's

36. "Elements of Algebra" author : EULER

38. Prevent : BAR

39. Syrian leader : ASSAD

40. Expenses : OUTGO

42. Caterer's vessel : URN

43. Author Yutang : LIN. Same character as the Lim in our constructor Julian Lim, who's from Singapore. In Hong Kong, it's spelled as Lam.

46. Really comes down : POURS

47. One may end in "ese" : ARGOT. Like legalese.
50. Indisputable : TRUE

51. Slowly emerge from sleep : STIR

55. Slanted page? : OP-ED

59. Mistreatment : ABUSE

62. Sierra Nevada vacation mecca : TAHOE

66. TV monitor : FCC

67. E.T. from Melmac : ALF

70. Equivocated : HEDGED

72. Suisse peaks : ALPES

73. Relieved : RID

74. Bid : OFFER

76. "Whew!" : IT'S HOT

77. Some Wall St. traders : ARBs (Arbitragers)

78. English singer Halliwell : GERI. I was more into Cantopop in those days when Spice Girls were popular.

79. Composer __ Carlo Menotti : GIAN

82. Draft category : ONE A. We also have ROW A (113. Where no one can sit in front of you). 

83. "Right now!" : STAT

84. Salinger title choir singer : ESME

86. Gets mixed up in : EMBROILS

87. Outdoor event contingency : RAIN DATE. Nice pair of stacked 8's in this area.

89. Outlaw : PROHIBIT

90. Ponder : RUMINATE

93. Drop in the stadium : LOSE.  Got via crosses. Tricky clue.

95. Toledo thing : COSA. Spanish or Italian for "thing".

102. __ vincit amor : OMNIA

104. Classroom exchanges : PSSTs

105. Allowed to ripen, as cheddar : AGED

106. Art expert's discovery : FAKE. I was once very good at IDing fake luxury bags. IP investigation was risky but fun.

107. Bailiwick : AREA

109. Likely to loaf : LAZY

110. What you once were? : THEE

111. Carry on : RANT

114. Tiny bit : ATOM

115. Single animal-shaped candy? : PEEP

117. PC backup key : ESC

120. Mac OS part: Abbr. : SYS

1) Happy Birthday to dear Kathy (Yellowrocks), whose positive attitude and fighting spirit continue to inspire me. I'm so happy that you're here for us, Kathy!

Yellowrocks and son David, Sept 2016

2) Happy Birthday also to Lorraine (Fermatprime), who's been with the blog for a long time. Lorraine is an accomplished math professor and does more puzzles every day than most of us.

Thanksgiving, 2015


OwenKL said...

FIR! I think the grid is either a gerbil sitting in front of a house, or else Ducky Momo. In 3 years, today is the first time I've seen the notepad feature of Across Lite used -- and I don't understand why! Was the grid colored green? I hope it didn't have that big * blocking several cells! The STAR circles show up in AL. Though it took a while to realize the ORNAMENTS (55a) were on the tree, and MODEL TRAINS (108a) were under the tree. A shame PRESENTS and ICE SKATES weren't there, too. And the theme entries also include AFAR (105a) from a Xmas CAROL, and WRAP (112a) although it's under the PRESENTS instead of covering them. ICE SKATES is a bonus theme entry, though, since it's not mirrored.

{B-, B, B+, A-, B-.}

Most say that they're nice, ignoring TRUE facts!
Such a plea is OTIOSE
With CHRISTMAS so close --
Plus, toys are ready for all, to break REINDEER backs!

"Little Fuzzy" is a classic of Science Fiction,
A genre to which I profess an addiction!
A question, philosophic,
Becomes a merry topic,
The way H. BEAM Piper PRESENTS the edition!

The androids sought religion, they really did, and YET
They had doctrinal standards that no human preacher MET!
So they FIRED UP their LAN
And came up with this plan --
They would construct their own from a robot RECTOR set!

AHA, the mystic REALMS of OMNIA
Where dragons sing a song to ya
Where castles in air
Hold damsels fair --
But you can't enter in with insomnia!

ICE SKATES were a gift for feather-light Mary.
MODEL TRAINS were gifts for feather-brained Harry.
With her ICE SKATES on
Mary flew 'cross the pond!
But for TRAINS on ice, the situation was -- hairy!

fermatprime said...


Thanks to Rich and CC!

Thanks for the birthday wishes!

Great puzzle!

It has finally stopped raining here! It's supposed to be a very sunny day! Hooray. Friday was horrible. Some friends came over a wrapped for me. They also made dinner. BBQ was used in the downpour! Rain had kept me from sleeping for a very long time. (Open-beam ceiling.) Dog hates water and had a tough time of it.

Have a great Christmas and Hanukkah!

fermatprime said...

PS Great work, Owen! How on Earth do you do it?

desper-otto said...

Good morning!

Zoomed through this one. Ran out of printer paper, so I had to work it on the PC in Across-Lite. Odd, didn't need any Wite-Out. Not as much fun as pen on paper, though. Thanks for the Peeps photo -- I didn't understand that answer. DEMAGOGUE -- now that evokes images! Thanks, Rich and C.C.

C.C., I was reclassified ONE A when my deferment ran out toward the end of my senior year. Those were pre-lottery days. I'd passed the physical, so it was certain that I'd be called up. I enlisted in the Navy to avoid the Army, and attended boot camp at the Naval Recruit Training Center (NRTC) on Rosecrans in San Diego, located right at the end of the city airport's main runway. We had a roaring good time there. The base was closed at the end of the Cold War back in '93.

Happy Birthday to YR and Fermat, and a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and joyous post-Festivus to all the cornerites and lurkers.

Madame Defarge said...

Nice Christmas Puzzle,"Pearl"! Great detailed write up, C.C. Thanks to both of you.

Happy Birthday Fermatprime and Yellowrocks. Yay!!

Going to make some stuffing in my slow cooker as my daughter doesn't have enough oven space--and no microwave. I make it for my daughter-in-law at TG and it worked out very well.

Merry and Happy days to all.

Dennis said...

Good morning, gang -- just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. Hope everybody's well and enjoying the hell out of life.

Also, has anyone heard from Thelma? We exchanged Christmas cards each year, and this year mine was returned.

Wilbur Charles said...

Wow, folks perhaps are having a bit of a slog(Owen, I'm surprised you didn't use SNOG in one of your Licks, perhaps an R tb eratoed later) or then again, it is CHRISTMAS.

Great write-up CC, the clue for SUBGUM could have had the word 'diced'. And yes, all this "Chinese food" was basically an American invention. MSG being the main ingredient to go with the copious alcohol to be consumed with it.

The middle gave me trouble. Perhaps it was Nora's aim that we solvers would proceed clockwise too. I missed URN and U-HAUL which would have made it easier.

I'm sticking with NORA because of my dear aunt of that name.

Yes. Owen is clearly in a happy Christmas spirit and apparently aspiring to Shakespearian greatness in his grading. ie all As here.

Wilberforce Charlesbank Billings

Oops. HBD Fermatprime. I started out as a Math major but joined the Exodus to Econ

Wilbur Charles said...

Oops again. I missed Yellowrocks. I greatly enjoy your posts YR.

Well I'm in here, might as well bore y'all s'more...

To forestall a nit, on second thought, 93d is an excellently clued answer. We sporting types do say "We dropped a game to Buffalo in week 4."

And we had AGGIES and PHIL Mickelson for those that need a sports fix.


Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

I had no circles but I saw the "Tree" without them but not the "Star" on the top. It was nice to have a Christmas themed puzzle (unlike the one in that other paper), especially a Sunday-sized one! There were a few unknowns, the poet and author, e.g. and it took awhile on the EBond/EVAs cross. I did get the tada but it took a little longer than usual. That's okay, though, as it was a fun solve.

Thanks, Rich/Nora, for your lovely Christmas present to us and thanks, CC, for "unwrapping" it for us. (I really enjoy learning about your background and culture.)

Happy Birthday to YR 🎂🎁🎉🍾 and Ferm 🎂🍾🎉🎁 ! Hope you both have a wonderful day!

Merry Christmas to all and Happy Hanukkah, as well.

Barry G. said...

Merry Christmukkah to One and All!

Fun puzzle today, although I totally missed the star at the top of the "tree".

Here's hoping everybody has a nice, relaxing holiday season.

Barry G. said...

Oh -- and a happy, happy, happy birthday to Yellowrocks and Fermatprime!!!

Lemonade714 said...

Yes very happy birthday wishes to YR and Fermat along with holiday wishes for all.

I thought the puzzle was delightful even if the weather outside is frightful...raining and warm

Dennis there a few others from our Corner history who no longer respond. I hope they are all well

Thanks C.C. and Rich

JJM said...


Anonymous T said...

Lurk say:

Happy Birthdays!!! to YR (your grasp/use of language and daily edification is much appreciated) and to Fermatprime (a woman or your generation in STEM deserves a Presidential SO like other female mathematicians that helped make space (even cyber) possible*). Merry days both of you...

Rich: You're rich w/ the theme today. No, I didn't play 'cuz I still get an old NYT in the paper. But it was a wonderful construction for half of Chismukkah.

C.C., thanks for the fun writeup. I hope you and Boomer are doing well.

{B+,B,A,A, B+}

My wish for the season? We'd act our ideal words; Peace to all and Good Will to others (all others). I went to Church last night (it was Episcopal, i.e. Catholic-light) to watch Eldest sing... All I could think of during the sermon was Imagine.

Good will to all and enjoy. We only have so many trips around the sun... That goes for you too 'Bah Humbug' OKL :-)

Cheers, -T
*My Frosh Calc prof was in the 'Rocket Racket' at Los Alamos back in her day. I recall her telling one kid "You can take the Boy out of the Country, now we got to take the Country out of the Boy". That guy was a 'hick' from the sticks but Red Duke smart.

Husker Gary said...

-Merry Christmas to all! Rich’s perfect puzzle is a gift for us all! Off to Lincoln to see what magic Santa has wrought.
-Papa’s gift for the grandkids is $100 suspended in Jell-O that will be topped with whipped cream and a cherry accompanied by a spoon
-Happy Birthday to Lorraine and Cathy whose births we also celebrate today.

Bill G. said...

I enjoyed the puzzle and 'got' most of it except the star and the location of the train. Clever! Thanks Rich and CC.

Happy birthday and good wishes for the coming year for Fermat and Yellowrocks!

Happy Christmas and great holiday wishes for everybody!

I am starting to cook my special omelets for Barbara, son Tim, daughter Bonnie, grandson Jordan and two significant others. Then presents. Then a nap...

inanehiker said...

Happy birthday to Kathy and Lorraine!
Thanks CC and Rich! fun puzzle for today. Only slip I had SMITH for BRAGG as FT Smith is near Fayettleville, AR - but otherwise all smooth sailing!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah! I have all adult children visiting so they sleep in!

MJ said...

Happy Birthday to Yellowrocks and Fermatprime, and good day to all!

What a great gift this puzzle was today. Thanks, Rich. I am in awe of the construction, including the star at the top of the tree, which I hadn't noticed until the expo. (I do the Sunday puzzle at the Mensa site which did not have circles.) A number of unknowns for me today, but perps came to the rescue. I wonder if I'll remember SUBGUM the next time it appears. Thanks, C.C., for your wonderful, thorough write-up.

Dennis and Barry-- Nice to "see" you. Thanks for stopping by. I also wonder how some of the regulars from the earlier years of the blog are doing. I still use some of the recipes that were shared back then, including Chickie's spiced nuts which I made yesterday. Yum!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah! Enjoy the day!

C6D6 Peg said...

Thanks, Nora (Rich) for a fun, specially themed puzzle on Christmas Day!

Thanks, C.C., also for a grand tour.

Have a HB, YR and Fermat!

Jinx in Norfolk said...

Accidentally left a cell blank - I_TRA- then did a dope slap when I read the reveal. I get it - IV, as in a poke in the hospital. Didn't know DENISE Levertol, SNOG, SUBGUM (missed the last 2 letters), OTIOSE, any characters in the newer Oceans films (including TESS), DEMAGOGUE, NANTES, ULM, ARGOT, GAIN Menotti, COSA and OMNIA.

HBTY YellowRocks and Ferm. I had a friend who was also a STEM pioneer. She would be in her nineties were she still alive. She was the only female in her aeronautical engineering class. She lived on a hillside in San Diego overlooking the base Desper-otto was in. After they closed the base there was a proposal to turn it in to a homeless shelter. That was vetoed because of the jet noise. Good enough for our service people, but not for them. Another interesting thing about her was that when her husband died, she married her late husband's brother.

I enjoyed the puzzle today, even though I struggled. I got the circles right away, and the theme helped with the rest. I didn't notice the horizontal symmetry until CC mentioned it, but I did note the lack for vertical symmetry and the single-letter across fill.

Thanks Rich and CC. Merry Christmas to all.

OwenKL said...

Wilbur: The first line of your comment seems scrambled, but SNOG was in one of the licks that didn't make the cut. With your inspiration, here's a reworked version, using the more common verb form of the word. The earlier version had Christmas instead of Festivus, but pairing that with SNOG seemed a bit rude. BTW, I like your neologism "licks" for my not-quite-limericks.

Ho! Festivus, a time for familial hob-nobbing,
For feasting and wassailing and excess egg-nogging!
There are chestnuts roasting
For sweethearts toasting
In front of the hearth, warming up with some SNOGGING!

OwenKL said...

The ORNAMENTS are all hung on the TREE.
Where the cat can't reach them? Wait and see!
A leap to the mantle
(Dislodging a candle)
Then a LURCH to a branch -- oops, falling free!

Who would expect a limb be so limber?
She'll try once again, this time to be nimbler!
Mantle from the floor
Then TREEward once more,
The light string for a FLASH, and then -- Timberrr!

Unknown said...

Omnia Vincit Amor: Love conquers all.

Merry Christmas

Jayce said...

What a lovely puzzle! A+ for execution. I was fooled (not for the first time) by Bank deposit. I forgot that I had ever heard the term SUBGUM. Wanted PASTOR before RECTOR.
My wife and all her sisters are named Bo-something. Bo (宝), or Bao in Mandarin, means Precious. My wife is Precious Lotus, one of her sisters is Precious Bell, and another is Precious Pearl, etc. The first character of all her brothers' names is Guo (國).
I enlisted in the Air Force and therefore was never stationed at a Fort; all my deployments were to this or that Air Force Base or Air Station.
Roasting a bovine beast for dinner tonight; I look forward to enjoying those standing ribs.
We got outstanding gifts from our son and his wife. I got a year's subscription to the on-line New York Times and my wife got an all-expense paid trip to New York to visit her sisters. So thoughtful!
Merry Christmas greetings to you all and happy birthday wishes to Yellowrocks and fermatprime.

Abejo said...

Good evening, folks. Thank you, Nora Pearlstone, for a fine puzzle. Thank you, C.C., for a fine review.

Wow! What a puzzle. This was one of the best I have ever seen. Liked the tree in the center and all the Christmas/Holiday clues.

Happy Birthday, Yellowrocks and Fermatprime. Keep on trucking', both of you.

Puzzle seemed daunting at first, but them I grasped the theme and saw how the tree was all blanks, and it got much easier.

Tried FIND for 106D. FAKE replaced that after a while.

Tried ALERTS for 21A. ALARMS became the correct answer. Only two inkblots. Not bad.

SUBGUM was unknown. perps.

TAHOE was easy. Used to work there.

GERI and GIAN were unknown. AGGIES fixed that.

Stayed up last night until 2:00 AM celebrating Christmas with our daughter and her boy friend. Therefore, we slept in today. Kind of relaxed and now we are getting ready for a great dinner tonight. Prime Rib and all the fixins'.

Been drinking Earl Grey all day long. Now it is time for a brewski.

See you tomorrow.


( )

Pat said...

I didn't work today's puzzle--too big,no patience. However, I want to wish a Happy Birthday to Yellowrocks and Fermatprime!!! I enjoy your posts and look forward to reading them!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy whatever you celebrate!


Wilbur Charles said...

Owen, those Licks were worth coming back for.
Did any lurking New Englanders notice who "DROPped a game. If so, recall it was 30 years ago tomorrow that Steve Grogan took the helm and led the Pats to their first division crown down in the old orange bowl.

I hope they're doing something up in
Boston to commemorate it.


Tinbeni said...

Happy Birthday wishes to Yellowrocks and Fermatrprime

Got all "caught-up-in-the-Christmas-thingy"...

Yeah, I'm watching that seasonal ... heartwarming ...Killing Lincoln on Fox.
(I do enjoy the Christmas movies ...)

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas ... I enjoyed the Christmas Eve Service!


Lucina said...

I'm so late to the party but wanted to wish Fermatprime and Yellowrocks a wonderfully happy birthday! I hope your day was very special. Fermat, you share your name with one of my favorite aunts who passed away just a few weeks ago at age 89.

I loved the puzzle and only finished it a while ago. Very creative, Rich, aka Nora Pearlstone! ORNAMENTS was perfectly placed in the center and as someone mentioned, the MODELTRAINS at the foot of the tree. Lovely and fun. Thank you, Rich. What a nice gift to us from you. And very special thanks to C.C. for "TRIMMING" the TREE for us.

I hope you all celebrated joyously with those you love. I was at my daughter's home, sans grandchildren. They went with their other parent to visit family.

Happy Christmas and happy Hanukkah!

Picard said...

Wonderfully constructed puzzle, indeed.

I did get mine from but I did not see the GREEN squares. Did anyone else see the actual GREEN squares?

The virus misdirection did not fool me. I used to love NORTON in their early, innovative days.

But then they bought one of the most useful innovative programs, called Partition Magic... and killed it. Argh! That is pure evil and they seem to have been on that path ever since.