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New York Times, Monday, December 19, 2016

Author: Jason Mueller
Editor: Will Shortz
Jason Mueller
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
59/20/20154/2/20181
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1400000
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1.55001

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Mueller. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jason Mueller notes: This puzzle's theme is actors who have played Santa Claus in movies. I looked through the entire IMDB list of actors who have ... more
Jason Mueller notes:

This puzzle's theme is actors who have played Santa Claus in movies. I looked through the entire IMDB list of actors who have played Santa Claus and picked an iconic group that's varied in time periods. Tom Hanks was somewhat forced in order to give Tim Allen a symmetrical partner, but it's quite interesting that Santa was one of several characters Hanks portrayed in "The Polar Express."

I also tried to incorporate some colorful longer fill, such as SHOWMANCE, FACSIMILE, FRESH AIR, and TRICKSTER. I am a little disappointed my original clue for ETATS didn't make the cut; it was "French word that when reversed becomes its English singular." My original grid was a more ambitious 72-word design, but it was revised as Will wanted Ed Asner instead of Edward Asner and Monday-friendly fill.

Anyway, Merry Christmas!

Jeff Chen notes: Who knew so many famous people played Santa? (Don't all raise your hands at once.) ED ASNER is my go-to — I adore 'Elf' (people ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Who knew so many famous people played Santa? (Don't all raise your hands at once.) ED ASNER is my go-to — I adore "Elf" (people look at me funny when I randomly say "So, good news, I saw a dog today!"). ED ASNER is such a great straight man in this Santa role.

I haven't seen any of the other films, but some nice trivia to learn — curious that FRED ASTAIRE played Santa. And TOM HANKS, too (in a voice role, at least)? Huh. I wasn't sure who this EDMUND GWENN fella was, so it was much appreciated that Jason made all his crossings very easy. Whew!

Nice Monday construction, such a smooth solving experience (aside from GWENN for me, at least). Jason does so well to keep his crossword glue to minor stuff like MMI, RIN, ETATS, MIN. And I don't mind MMI quite as much as Completely Random Roman Numerals such as DCXI, since MMI has actually been seen in recentish movie title screens.

And what nice bonus material, NPR's FRESH AIR, SHOWMANCE (didn't know the term, but it sounds so fun), FACSIMILE, TRICKSTER, INSINUATE, even WALL-E — that's a ton of extras. It was much appreciated, since very few of the Santa-players elicited much of a reaction in me.

Minor nit, it would have been great to not include PESCI, since he's an actor who sort of muddies the theme. I paused briefly, wondering if he played Santa in "Home Alone."

I love the holiday spirit, how it tends to bring out the best in people, how it inspires me to express my appreciation for those that have made my life better (thank you all for reading my random musings!). So I feel embarrassed that I haven't seen many of these movies! I'll have to get on that — I bet people who have seen all of them will have a much more poignant reaction to this puzzle, which felt a bit too much like a listicle to me. It might have been to have something extra, like just using the movie titles in the clues, with SANTA as a revealer.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1219 ( 24,513 )
Across Down
1. Monastery leader : ABBOT
6. Everyone working in an office : STAFF
11. Cousin ___ (Addams Family member) : ITT
14. Pixar robot : WALLE
15. Opposite of black-and-white : COLOR
16. Gun rights org. : NRA
17. Santa player in "The Man in the Santa Claus Suit" : FREDASTAIRE
19. Highest roll of a die : SIX
20. S.E.C. school near Atlanta, for short : UGA
21. Explorer and Escalade, in brief : SUVS
22. Nutmeg, for one : SPICE
24. Something sent to Santa : LETTER
26. Santa player in "The Polar Express" : TOMHANKS
29. Magnetite and bauxite : ORES
31. Temporary break : HIATUS
32. "In that case ..." : IFSO
35. Joe of "GoodFellas" : PESCI
37. Bread box, for short? : ATM
39. Cheerleader's cry : RAH
40. Santa player in "Elf" : EDASNER
42. Boston ___ Party : TEA
43. Environmentalist's prefix : ECO
44. Main artery : AORTA
45. Not more than : MERE
46. Moves like water around a drain : SWIRLS
48. Big school dance : PROM
51. Santa player in "The Santa Clause" : TIMALLEN
53. Is : EXISTS
57. Resident of Muscat : OMANI
58. "Yeah, why not!" : OKAY
60. Mincemeat ___ (Christmas staple) : PIE
61. ___ Tin Tin : RIN
62. Santa player in "Miracle on 34th Street" : EDMUNDGWENN
66. R.N.'s special touch : TLC
67. River through Paris : SEINE
68. Les ___-Unis : ETATS
69. Match, as a bet : SEE
70. Past or present : TENSE
71. Like the settlers of Iceland : NORSE
1. Horrific : AWFUL
2. Flat-bottomed boat : BARGE
3. Sheep sound : BLEAT
4. Right jolly ___ elf (Santa) : OLD
5. Little puzzle : TEASER
6. Show on which John Candy and Eugene Levy got their starts : SCTV
7. One of a series at a wedding reception : TOAST
8. Boxer known as "The Greatest" : ALI
9. Gift tag word : FOR
10. Terry Gross's NPR program : FRESHAIR
11. Imply : INSINUATE
12. April fool player : TRICKSTER
13. One of Benjamin Franklin's certainties : TAXES
18. "Yeah, why not!" : SURE
23. Boston footballer, for short : PAT
25. Overly : TOO
27. Zinger response : OHSNAP
28. "Of ___ and Men" : MICE
30. Like the population of Wyoming : SPARSE
32. Fury : IRE
33. Exact copy : FACSIMILE
34. Neologism for an on-screen/off-screen relationship : SHOWMANCE
36. Winter hrs. in New York : EST
38. West who said "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted" : MAE
40. At one's ___ convenience : EARLIEST
41. Barbie or Ken : DOLL
45. The year 2001 : MMI
47. Fleming who created James Bond : IAN
49. Peruse : READ
50. Astronaut's tankful : OXYGEN
51. Legal wrongs : TORTS
52. Some of them are proper : NOUNS
54. Javelin : SPEAR
55. Some windshields have them : TINTS
56. Taste or touch : SENSE
59. Sitting spot for a child visiting Santa : KNEE
63. "Look at Me, I'm Sandra ___" : DEE
64. Max's opposite : MIN
65. Intl. group that's the object of many mass protests : WTO

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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