FRIDAY, Jan. 1, 2010 — Andy E. Sawyer

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.

Theme answers:

  • 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 ...")
Crosswordese 101: JAEGER (46D: Predatory seabird) — OK, not your everyday, run-of-the-mill, bread-and-butter crosswordese, but ... why not start the year with a splash. It's vowel-heavy, it starts with a "J," and if it weren't for crosswords, I'd never have heard of it. I'd clue this one as "tennis-star-turned-nun," but that's just me.

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).



HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone !!!!!

Wow, Rex is starting off the new year with a bang! Super nice blog for a very interesting puzzle. Interesting because it contains a lot of new and different words for a CW. Very little cheap fill. When I started in NW and saw IVES and BACH, I immediately thought we were going into a music theme, but then the 4 easy downs revealed AULD. Aha, this is a New Years theme, of course. But when (20a) developed into something other than AULDLANGSYNE, I knew that the LANG and the SYNE would appear elsewhere in the grid. Solving then became sort of a process of deduction (elementary my dear Watson). What a fun journey through a crossword! I became GIDDY with my genius approach. The REMAINDER of the puzzle became a RACE. I have no idea how this happened, but I solved the puzzle in 12 minutes (a record for me). Maybe its a 2010 omen or maybe it's just because this blog is teaching me something. I hope it's both.

Loved Hi-LILI Hi-Lo.
And whoops, there's that cool SAPID word again. See how we learn by repetition.

Okay, in 2010 I've resolved to be "Livin' La Vida LOCA".

Thank you Andy and Rich, for a delightful puzzle.

Now the MUESLI entry has me poking around in my pantry for a forgotten box of that oaty cereal. I don't feel like going out for breakfast, nor fixing my usual morning feast. Yup, it's gonna just be cereal and coffee.


Actually today should be called NATIONAL LAZY DAY

docmoreau said...

Devilish clues and not a few obscurities had me staring blankly at a partial filled grid for the longest time. "Hot flower" MOLTEN LAVA (brilliant!); "discount store abbr" IRREG ( "some verbs abbr." would've been a gimme);"Mohammad's daughter" LAILA (oh, THAT Mohammad!); "religious offshoot" CULT (wanted "SECT"); "terrestrial newt" EFT (?) and "complains" REPINES (and unfamiliar word for me.) "Tis true. For the "today" thematic clues to make sense to tomorrow's crossword solver, this one demands a title: January 1. BTW, Happy New Years all.
@JNH A perfectly fitting little cartoon clip for, er, today!

Tinbeni said...

Hardest puzzle all year!!!

Perused the clues, and first entry was at 52a, I wrote Happy New Year, the 'Y' fit 54d YODA.
Got my namesake 56a CLASSCLOWN, realized the night flyer was an OWL and I had a total mess.

Regrouped with IBEAMS and it was off to the RACEs. (after the sect was corrected to CULT).

Knew the braincells were out (48a ASLEEP).
Should have had some Scotch last night, but I never imbibe on National Amateur Drinking Night.

JAEGER & Citroen SMS - 2010 1st learning experience.

@JNH - cute clip.
Now go find some EMUS, get a few green eggs, maybe some ham ... hmmm, that would make a great breakfast.

@Rex, loved the write-up & clip.

*David* said...

With the theme being easy to figure out, the puzzle is not that difficult. I liked this one and even though ALS is olde it still has a contempory feel that spans all generations.

What was great? Four down fills with nine letters and REPINES as opposed to OPINES. JAEGER was interesting but JAGER is more appropriate.

What made me AS RED as a beet? Seeing ECCLES and ESTH, I can deal with one biblical abbreviated book per puzzle but two in such close proximity irritated me. Someone should write a short essay about what compromises are allowed in a crossword and that it should only happen once per puzzle i.e. Roman numeral calculations. The crossing of CLARK/NEAL was a minor quibble on two inferrable names. I'm out, time to go climb a mountain.

Parsan said...

Happy New Year, all!!!!

With IVES, BACH, and AULD FAITHFUL (and sure that LANG and SYNE would follow), I thought I had this one nailed. But nooooo!

Hot flower(like a burning bush?), oil gun instead of REV, and I had forgotten about NADER's Raiders and was thinking about Al Davis. Wonderful clues that went right by me.

Did not know AJA, NEAL McCoy, Claudio REYNA. Also had sect for CULT which fit with rush instead of RACE.

Quickly took out side walks (baby buggies) when SAND DUNES became apparent.

Loved seeing "Hi-LILI Hi-Lo" and remembering the wonderful Leslie Caron.

Have never seen IRREG, just IRR in stores.

Thinking of Ramsey CLARK brings back a time now long gone.

Of the 66 books in the King James version of the old and new testiments, only two, Ruth and ESTHer are named for women.

Thank you Rex, Orange, and PG for doing this excellent blog day in and day out. To interrupt family vacations to tell us what we probably didn't get, and to share with us some of the events of your private lives makes me think of you as cybor-friends and earns you the Blog-of-the-Year Award, IMHO.

Now to watch the Rose Bowl Parade
and the WVU-Florida State game. Go Mountaineers!!! (Although I feel some sadness that this is Bobby Bowden's last game).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great blog today, Rex. Best of the new year to you.

Really sorry to hear about Dan Naddor.

shrub5 said...

This puzzle gave me a real workout. I was determined not to google. Things looked bleak for quite awhile but I finally finished the task, punctuated by several ahas and chortles.

Had trouble getting the theme answers until I had
SY-EYOUASKED. Thought I must have something wrong. Then the light bulb came on to reveal SYNE. That enabled me to go back and fill in AULD and LANG where they belonged.

@RP: Thanks for sharing your reflections on the past decade -- so glad things turned around for you. I feel inspired to get into a serious "throw-it-out" mode also. Think I'll start with my refrigerator. The contents, that is. God only knows what's lurking behind the pickle jar....

Happy New Year to all the great folks on this blog!

jazz said...

Condolences to Dan's family. It's hard to say you knew someone through crosswords, but if it's at all possible, I'll say I knew Dan.

Easy Friday, but maybe that's just for New year's!

mac said...

Cute puzzle with a couple of thorny areas, always appreciated.
Lovely write-up, Rex, glad you are happy with your life!

I think I will have a salad for lunch, light on the dressing...

CrazyCat said...

Thanks R.P for a nice blog today and the NEAL McCoy clip. Very funny video with Rob Schneider and Jack Hannah. Did the puzzle while watching the Rose Parade. We like to go view the floats the day after. That way you're able to get up close and personal and see all the details, but you don't have to deal with the traffic and the crowds.

So the puzzle - not too hard for a Friday. Figured out the theme as soon as I got AULDFAITHFUL. I did think the the clue for SYNE YOU ASKED was akward. Most of it just fell into place except for NEAL,REYNA and JAEGER - all new to me. Also new was REPINES. I resolve not to REPINE in 2010. Off to take our ANNUAL New Year's Day hike in the Claremont Wilderness Park. Wishing you all a healthy, happy 2010.

chefbea said...

Fun new years puzzle. Few things wrong - sect for cult, rush for race, trouble spelling muesli. But it all turned out ok

Of course we all know my favorite clue and answer

bluebell said...

Did everyone do sect for cult? I didn't get it right until I came here.

I can handle Eccles as an abbreviation but Esth is annoying. On its own the syllable looks like a Middle English declension of "to be" or something.

I too am grateful to Rex (and Orange and Puzzle Girl)for faithfully giving us this blog. There must surely be days when you want to pack it in.

GLowe said...

Had no idea that SYNE is AULD for SINCE; until that came to light I was all "what - you couldn't come up with better pun for SYNE?

So it was lang overdue that I looked it up.

Van55 said...

Like a fine cigar, this one offered the perfect level of resistance for a New Years Day morning. Not much to whine about other than EMUS, ELAN, EFT and ERA.

lit.doc said...

Happy New Year to all! Very thoughtful write-up, Rex. Got me reflecting on the same subject. All is good now, but I wouldn't relive the past ten years to save my life. Now, I've got plenty of time for my piano, I've got my Crossword Jones, and I've found these wonderful conversations (here and on your NYT blog) that you've made possible for all of us. Thanks.

Really enjoyed this puzz, though by the end I was still staring at 45A A_A. Have gaping holes in my mental jukebox between classical and hard rock.

Liked the theme a lot, once I actually understood it (googled for translation after I pulled the plug, got "old long since/ago"). But saw what it had to be early on as I filled the acrosses in N and got [WTF?]FAITHFUL. Well, OK, New Year's Day, why not? Plugged in LANG and SYNE in the expected spots and moved on.

Other than the Steely Dan vacuum, only big stumble was in N, where I had a strong, interlocking mistake for a while:


My 6D French possessive pronouns are long-forgotten, don't know 8D the bible that well, and was wondering if the 15A bird with green eggs was also a source of ham...

Some all-star clues, too (I think Rex ref'd to them as "slant" clues on his NYT blog this a.m.), such as "Hot flower" and "Gun in a garage". Good Puzz.

Anyone who hasn't yet done so reeeally must have a go at today's NYT. Having nothing worse to do, I started when I got in last p.m. and didn't post till 2:24 CST. Totally kicked my ass. As Rex sez, "Bloodbath. Slaughter," though (at least in retrospect) it is a very good puzz.

lit.doc said...

Just noticed that Our Friend the Word Processor left justified my interlocking mistake, which I had carefully spaced before posting. Should be 5D and 7D interlocking with 5A and 20A. Don't know what happened.


Okay, all you CW smarties, who wrote AULD LANG SYNE? And no cheating with Google or Wiki !
The lyrics you probably will know, but who composed the melody?

tick tick tick tick

ddbmc said...

@JNH, before I google, I'm thinking "Robert Burns." It's almost his birthday, too. (I have friends of Scots ancestry who celebrate--thankfully, no haggis involved!)

The puzzle provided certain thorns, but I did get the "theme" and agree with Rex that "today" literally meant January 1.

Not a Bible maven, so those answers came with the crosses (no pun intended). Didn't know Citroen model or Neal McCoy, but loved the clip! Rob Schneider is an acquired taste. I do get a chuckle out of some of his characters in Adam Sandler movies, usually watched with College sons!

Used to be a BIG Steely Dan fan, Aja, being one of my favorite albums. @Lit.doc, you could stump me with classical music references, as I just have a cursory knowledge.

@JNH, I trumped your usual breakfast fare with cold, leftover lobster this morning! Yum!

To our host and hostesses and fellow commenters: this blog has been a delightful find during this past year. I still have much to learn, but have been opened to so many avenues of thought from you all, every day. The dearth of my own knowledge base has become quite apparent! You make me laugh, sigh, stir my curiosity and have led me down many interesting paths. Thanks, all. Happy New Year!

Tinbeni said...

I started doing the NYT last Monday. Completed, without google 3 of the first four. But today was an ass kicking.

Here, too ... which was a mess since I insist on doing all CW in ink. That usually slows me down since I check the crosses before writing.

So at 52A "I wouldn't have said this, but ...' today" ... checked 54d YODA worked, though HAPPY NEW YEAR theme, and made more mistakes.

Then attempted NYT ... even more of a mess.

Saturday will be better, I'm having Scotch tonight.

chefbea said...

@tinbeni cheers!! I've had mine

Tinbeni said...

Let me see ... favorite clue & answer from someone who has BEET, 15 cents, avatar????
Who likes to cook!!!

I'm on my second, LAT and the NYT made me think that "No imbibing" on "National Amateur Drinking Night" seriously hurt my game.

AS RED is my real answer to a comparative question.

lit.doc said...

@Tinbeni, so nice to see you here. Enjoy your Scotch. I'm about to drag the Newsday and WSJ puzz's down to my local watering hole and do more or less the same with tequila. Hope we both survive tomorrow's "bitch goddess of all crosswords" (I think I've seen that attributed to Paul Sorvino in one of Rex's postings re the Saturday NYT).

lit.doc said...

Posts crossing in the night, @Tinbeni. Been training for National Amateur Drinking Night for years, and, by the time I gave up on the NYT and posted early this a.m., I'd been drinking since, well, since some time the previous year (can probably tell from the exasperation in the tone of that post). Split decision on whether it helped or hurt.


You win.
Robbie Burns is absolutely correct, but few people know that he only wrote the poem AULD LAND SYNE. William Shields wrote the song based on some old folk tunes.
FWIW, tuck that in your CW hat of trivia.

Anonymous said...

Thanks I wasn't doing well with this puzzle until you helped. I try to do these without google or a dictionary but maybe thats because I do remember Ramsey Clark

Sfingi said...

I loved today's video.

Got the theme, but it didn't help much. Didn't know any of the bird facts. New words: AJA, DAWG, REYNA, PNC (last 2 are sports).
Had sect for CULT and ORE for IDA

@Anon636 - Hubster worked with Ramsey Clark locally when Ramsay ran for senator (he lost). He was with him at a hotel bar the night Nixon resigned. Hubster was the one who taxied him to and from the Syracuse Airport.
Ralph Nader's Raiders were at their best about the same time. Now Nader's really chasing rainbows. I hear he's a b-h to work for. His parents lived to be 98 and 99, and he hasn't been the same since his mother passed.

Jaeger and its forms means hunter in Germanic languages.

I'm seeing a trend towards using the plural masculine Italian forms.

@John - Most of Robert Burns poems were set to existing tunes, which he collected. I probably played them all when I was attempting to teach myself flute and mandolin - so long ago. He was one of my favorites along with John Dowland. A great way to teach at the easier end.

choirwriter said...

I still had NO idea how a hot flower was molten lava until I found it explained in another blog:

"Hot Flow-er" = "Molten Lava"

Now I'm all like, well, duh!
(I also discovered that there is a lovely hothouse flower called Molten Lava, too!)

Djinn said...

Late to the party, but still want to add my condolences. This was a honey of a puzzle. Thanks RP, PG and Orange for the blog and happy MMX.

mac said...

@Sfingi: 6 degrees of separation: our son was a reporter at the Torrington daily newspaper when Nader's mother died. He wrote the obituary and got a call from Ralph Nader thanking him for it.


Michael, that was a really nice reflection in your writeup. I enjoy the little personal anecdotes of you bloggers... makes it feel like we're close personal friends. Thank you all for opening up and sharing your lives with us as well as your CW expertise.

xyz said...

Late to do this puzzle I come here after finishing. Had about 5 mostly spatially related stumpers and didn't finish sans Google. Then I Google-equivalent revealed "revealed" REYNA then it fell for me with that area.

Got theme with first entry, SYNE came tough - was trying to pick a place to sign or SINE.

I'm Learning, went right for SAPID.

Thanks to all three of you for this blog, it really helps me.