THEME: AULD LANG SYNE — "Old," "Long," and "Since" have been replaced with AULD, LANG, and SYNE (respectively) at the beginning of familiar phrases
I'm sitting here on New Year's Eve (we generally get the puzzles somewhat in advance) listening to yet another year-end, best-of episode NPR's "All Songs Considered" (today: best "Metal and Outer Sound" of 2009 — not my wheelhouse). Daughter is downstairs watching Season 2 DVDs of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" (Christmas gift). Wife is cleaning / organizing like mad (we're in heavy "throw it out" mode at the moment). I just tweeted (yes, it's true) about what I was doing ten years ago today — awaiting Y2Karmageddon in Minneapolis with my best friends and their then-8-mo.-old daughter. I was not married (had not yet even met my wife). I had no daughter. I was in my first year as a professor and I was ... unhappy. My 20s had just come to a (merciful) end. For all the terrible things that happened in the '00s, I would be dishonest if I said it was anything other than the best of the four decades of my life. I like being Rex Parker, and I like writing about puzzles every day, despite the constant work involved. Readership at my other blog has been huge for a while, but traffic here has grown considerably since we started in March, and I'm grateful to you all for the lively daily discussion of a pretty darn good daily puzzle.
Condolences to the family of Dan Naddor, a frequent L.A. Times puzzle constructor who died a couple days back. Though I've been critical of some of his recent puzzle efforts, I've often loved his work in the past. Orange and I awarded him two ORYX awards for construction last year. Check it out. He had serious talent, and will be greatly missed.
Here's what's weird about today's puzzle. So ... I like the basic premise: replace the familiar word with a word from the New Year's song. But the clues threw me a bit because they all qualify the clue with "... , today." Now, by today the clues surely mean New Year's Day specifically, not the modern-day world in general. But that's what was odd. AULD, LANG, and SYNE, while being Scottish, also feel remarkably olde-fashionede, so it felt odd to be essentially antiquifying the familiar phrases, but cluing them as something from "today." I really hope that made sense. I don't think it's a major fault. Just meditating on the meaning of "today." "Today, today, and today / Creeps in this petty pace etc." ("Macbeth II: The Rebloodening").
If you stare at TODAY long enough, it will start to insist that it is, in fact, TOADY.
- 20A: Steamy Western attraction, today? (AULD FAITHFUL)
- 36A: Airport convenience, today? (LANG-TERM PARKING)
- 52A: "I wouldn't have said this, but ...," today? ("SYNE YOU ASKED ...")
Whom I didn't know:
- REYNA — 39D: Former U.S. soccer team captain Claudio — is it hard to be a male athlete with the name "Queen?"
- CLARK — 42A: '60s attorney general Ramsey ___ — before my time. I know Wesley CLARK, Dwight CLARK, CLARK Kent ... my nephew once named one of his stuffed animals (a ram) "Big Sh'CLARK" ...
- NEAL — 38D: C&W singer McCoy — let's hear him. First song of the New Year!
[This is funny for So many reasons ...]
Enjoy your New Year's Day, and I'll see you again on the 4th.
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Everything Else — 1A: "Variations on 'America'" composer (IVES); 5A: Hurry (RACE); 9A: Lit (AFIRE); 14A: Cantata composer (BACH); 15A: Birds that lay green eggs (EMUS); 16A: Activist with Raiders (NADER); 17A: Behold, to Brutus (ECCE); 18A: Hot flower (MOLTEN LAVA); 20A: Steamy Western attraction, today? (AULD FAITHFUL); 22A: Oaty cereal (MUESLI); 23A: Chose not to discuss now (TABLED); 27A: '70s Citroën models (SMS); 28A: JFK, LBJ, etc. (INITS.); 32A: Muhammad's daughter (LAILA); 33A: San __ Fault (ANDREAS); 35A: Scratch (CLAW); 36A: Airport convenience, today? (LANG-TERM PARKING); 40A: Designing first name (OLEG); 41A: Complains (REPINES); 42A: '60s attorney general Ramsey __ (CLARK); 44A: Lightheaded (GIDDY); 45A: 1977 Grammy-winning Steely Dan album (AJA); 48A: Out (ASLEEP); 50A: "CSI" set (DNA LAB); 52A: "I wouldn't have said this, but ...," today? ("SYNE YOU ASKED ...,"); 56A: Probably not a teacher's pet (CLASS CLOWN); 59A: Prego alternative (RAGU); 60A: Asian capital (HANOI); 61A: Not working (IDLE); 62A: Lighting svc. (ELEC.); 63A: Embellish (ADORN); 64A: Get smart with (SASS); 65A: Gossip (DIRT); 1D: Steel girders (I-BEAMS); 2D: It sucks (VACUUM); 3D: Bk. after Proverbs (ECCLES.); 4D: Gets rid of (SHEDS); 5D: What's left (REMAINDER); 6D: Pierre's possessive (À MOI); 7D: Religious offshoot (CULT); 8D: Bible bk. named for an orphaned maiden (ESTH.); 9D: Like many awards (ANNUAL); 10D: Alternative plans (FALLBACKS); 11D: Wash. neighbor (IDA.); 12D: Gun in a garage (REV); 13D: Important time (ERA); 19D: Terrestrial newt (EFT); 21D: City where General Motors was founded (FLINT); 24D: "Hi-__ Hi-Lo" (LILI); 25D: Vivacity (ELAN); 26D: Deputy __: cartoon canine (DAWG); 29D: Discount store abbr. (IRREG.); 30D: Allegro et al. (TEMPI); 31D: Pleasing to the palate (SAPID); 33D: The one who started it (AGGRESSOR); 34D: Areas for buggies (SAND DUNES); 36D: Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida __" (LOCA); 37D: "__ fair in ..." (ALL'S); 38D: C&W singer McCoy (NEAL); 39D: Former U.S. soccer team captain Claudio (REYNA); 43D: Adds to the database (KEYS IN); 45D: It turns litmus paper blue (ALKALI); 46D: Predatory seabird (JAEGER); 47D: Kidnap (ABDUCT); 49D: __ Park: Pirates' stadium (PNC); 51D: Comparable to a beet (AS RED); 53D: Skull and Bones members (ELIS); 54D: Star Wars character who uses strange syntax (YODA); 55D: Night fliers (OWLS); 56D: Chinese tea (CHA); 57D: Boy (LAD); 58D: Spanish year (AÑO).