1217-14 New York Times Crossword Answers 17 Dec 14, Wednesday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Stu Ockman
THEME: Figures of Speech … today’s themed answers are all figures of speech, examples of hyperbole, an oxymoron, a litote and a simile, as we are informed in the clues:

17A. Hyperbole for an arduous task : IT’LL TAKE FOREVER
22A. Oxymoron for cautious travel : MAKE HASTE SLOWLY
45A. Litotes for beauty : NOT UNATTRACTIVE
50A. Simile for denseness : AS THICK AS A BRICK

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 10m 55s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

5. Talks like a tosspot : SLURS
Drunks have been referred to as tosspots since the mid-1500s.

10. Corp. money execs : CFOS
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

15. Spicy Eastern cuisine : HUNAN
Hunan is a province in south-central China. It is located south of Lake Dongting, which gives the province its name, as “Hunan” translates as “south of the lake”.

16. “Nuts” director Martin : RITT
Martin Ritt is best remembered as a television and movie director. During the bad old days of the “Red Scare”, Ritt was working in television until he found himself on a blacklist for supposed support of Communist causes. He turned to the theater for work until the Red Scare had run its course, and then moved into the world of film. Some of his best known movies are “Hud”, “The Great White Hope” and “Norma Rae”.

“Nuts” is a 1987 film adaptation of a 1979 play of the same name by Tom Topor. The lead roles in the movie are played by Richard Dreyfuss and Barbra Streisand, with Karl Malden in a supporting role. “Nuts” was Malden’s last film appearance.

17. Hyperbole for an arduous task : IT’LL TAKE FOREVER
Hyperbole are overstatements, exaggerations.

20. “Two-L” beast : LLAMA
The poet Ogden Nash is well known for his light and humorous verse. Try this one for size:

The one-L lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-L llama,
He’s a beast.
And I would bet
A silk pajama
There isn’t any
Three-L lllama.

21. Writer ___ Rogers St. Johns : ADELA
Adela Rogers St. Johns was a journalist, novelist and screenwriter from Los Angeles. St. Johns’ father was a good friend of William Randolph Hearst, and she secured her first job working for Hearst as a reporter on the “San Francisco Examiner”. St. Johns’ was most famous as what was then called a “girl reporter”, in the twenties and thirties. Much later in her life, she was a regular guest on the “Tonight Show” hosted by Jack Paar.

22. Oxymoron for cautious travel : MAKE HASTE SLOWLY
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which there is an apparent self-contradiction, as in “cruel kindness” for example. The word “oxymoron” is in itself an oxymoron, as it is derived from the Greek words “Oxys” and “moros” meaning “sharp” and “stupid”.

29. Maritime alert : SOS
The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots), although in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so SOS is in effect only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are also mnemonics, introduced after the “SOS” signal was adopted.

30. Rive Gauche’s river : SEINE
The famous “Left Bank” (“La Rive Gauche”) of the River Seine in Paris is the river’s southern bank. The area south of the river was traditionally quite bohemian and was home to artists, students and intellectuals.

31. Nada : ZILCH
We use the term “zilch” to mean “nothing”. Our current usage evolved in the sixties, before which the term was used to describe “meaningless speech”. There was a comic character called Mr. Zilch in the 1930s in “Ballyhoo” magazine. Mr. Zilch’s name probably came from the American college slang “Joe Zilch” that was used in the early 1900s for “an insignificant person”.

The word “nothing” translates to “nada” in Spanish.

32. Squash units : SETS
Squash is a racquet sport that is similar to the more common racquetball (more common here in the US, I think). The game is derived from the older sport of racquets. It was originally called squash racquets as the ball used is very, very squashable and much softer than that used in the parent game.

33. Pesky arachnids : MITES
Mites are tiny arthropods in the arachnid (spider) class. Mites are (annoyingly!) very successful creatures that have adapted to all sorts of habitats, and being so small, they generally pass unnoticed. Ick …

34. Parks in 1955 news : ROSA
Rosa Parks was one of a few brave women in days gone by who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white woman. It was the stand taken by Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 that sparked the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott. President Clinton presented Ms. Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996. When she died in 2005, Rosa Parks became the first ever woman to have her body lie in honor in the US Capitol Rotunda.

39. Jiggly treat : JELL-O
If you like Jell-O, then you want to stop by LeRoy, New York where you can visit the only Jell-O museum in the world. While at the museum, you can walk along the Jell-O Brick Road …

43. Flavoring for a French cordial : ANIS
Anis is a Spanish liqueur, equivalent to what’s called anisette in other countries (in France, for example). It has a licorice taste as it is produced by distilling the seeds of the anis plant. Like all anis-type drinks, it is usually mixed with water and turns a milky white color when the water is added.

44. “Body Heat” director Lawrence : KASDAN
Lawrence Kasdan is a film producer, director and screenwriter. Kasdan wrote the script of the movie “The Bodyguard” and worked on the screenplays for “Return of the Jedi” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. He also directed and wrote the screenplay for “The Big Chill”.

“Body Heat” is a steamy film noir released in 1981 that launched the career of co-star Kathleen Turner. Turner plays the wife of a wealthy businessman who has an affair with a lawyer, played by William Hurt. The wife convinces the lawyer to murder her husband. The film’s screenplay was inspired by the classic film noir movies “Double Indemnity” and “Out of the Past”.

45. Litotes for beauty : NOT UNATTRACTIVE
Litotes are figures of speech that are understatements, that use particular adjectives, but negate them. For example “not the brightest bulb” and “not a bad day’s work”.

49. Like MGM’s lion : AROAR
There has been a lion in the logo of the MGM studio since 1924. The original was an Irishman (!), a lion named Slats who was born in Dublin Zoo in 1919. However, it wasn’t until Jackie took over from Slats in 1928 that the roar was heard, as the era of silent movies was coming to an end. The current lion is called Leo, and he has been around since 1957.

50. Simile for denseness : AS THICK AS A BRICK
A simile is a figure of speech in which a comparison is made between two things that are alike. For example, “cute as a kitten” and “as busy as a bee”.

56. Leakes of reality TV : NENE
NeNe Leakes is one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”. Leakes has used her exposure on the reality TV show to enhance her acting career. I saw her on “Dancing with the Stars”. Not a big fan …

57. Play the siren : TEMPT
In Greek mythology, the Sirens were seductive bird-women who lured men to their deaths with their song. When Odysseus sailed closed to the island home of the Sirens he wanted to hear their voices, but in safety. He had his men plug their ears with beeswax and then ordered them to tie him to the mast and not to free him until they were safe. On hearing their song Odysseus begged to be let loose, but the sailors just tightened his bonds and and the whole crew sailed away unharmed.

58. Hairy son of Isaac : ESAU
Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, the founder of the Israelites. When their mother Rebekah gave birth to the twins “the first emerged red and hairy all over (Esau), with his heel grasped by the hand of the second to come out (Jacob)”. As Esau was the first born, he was entitled to inherit his father’s wealth (it was his “birthright”). Instead, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for the price of a “mess of pottage” (a meal of lentils).

60. Cheese choice : SWISS
Swiss cheese is a relatively generic term, a type of cheese produced in various countries and not necessarily in Switzerland. What they all have in common though, is a resemblance to the original Swiss Emmental cheese.

Down
1. Printer resolution fig. : DPI
The resolution of a printed image can be measured in dots per inch (DPI).

2. Pilot’s abbr. : ALT
Altitude (alt.)

4. Many Spanish Armada ships : GALLEONS
The most famous Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England in order to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I in 1588. It failed in its mission, partly due to bad weather encountered en route. Ironically, the English mounted a similar naval attack against Spain the following year, and it failed as well.

5. Tribal healer : SHAMAN
A shaman is a supposed intermediary between the human world and the spirit world.

6. “Last Days” actor Haas : LUKAS
Lukas Haas is an American actor best known for the role he played as an 8-year-old child in the excellent 1985 film “Witness”. In “Witness” Haas played a young Amish boy, alongside Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. Although Haas still acts today, he is also a musician and plays drums and piano for a band called The Rogues.

“Last Days” is a 2005 film that recounts the last days of a character that was inspired by the musician Kurt Cobain. The Cobain-like character is played by actor Michael Pitt.

Kurt Cobain was famous as the lead singer of the band Nirvana. Cobain was constantly in the spotlight for the last few years of his short life. The media was fascinated with his marriage to fellow rock star Courtney Love, and continually reported on Cobain’s heroin addiction. He finally succumbed to the pressure and committed suicide by inflicting a gunshot wound to his head in 1994, at only 27 years of age.

7. Article in Le Monde : UNE
“Une” is the French word for “a”, but only when used with a feminine noun (like “une dame”: a lady).

“Le Monde” is a newspaper published each evening in France. “Le Monde” is one of the two most famous French papers, along with “Le Figaro”.

8. Prince William’s mil. branch : RAF
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the oldest independent air force in the world (i.e. the first air force to become independent of army or navy forces). The RAF was formed during WWI on 1 April 1918, a composite of two earlier forces, the Royal Flying Corps (part of the Army) and the Royal Naval Air Service. The RAF’s “finest hour” has to be the Battle of Britain when the vastly outnumbered British fighters fought off the might of the Luftwaffe causing Hitler to delay his plan to cross the English Channel. This outcome prompted Winston Churchill to utter the memorable words:

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Prince William is second in line to the British throne, after his father Prince Charles, with Prince Harry holding the third spot. Prince Harry moved down the list when William and Kate had their first child George. The law was changed in 2011 so that the oldest child of Prince William and Kate Middleton would be next in line, regardless of sex. Up until 2011, sons took precedence, even over older daughters.

9. ___-Caps (movie theater candy) : SNO
Sno-Caps are a brand of candy usually only available in movie theaters. Sno-caps have been around since the 1920s, would you believe?

10. Literally, “I believe” : CREDO
A creed or credo is a confession of faith, or a system of belief or principles. “Credo” is Latin for “I believe”.

11. Reporter’s questions, collectively : FIVE WS
The Five Ws (or “Five Ws and one H”) is a journalistic concept used for gathering information. For a story to be complete, six questions need to be answered:

– Who is it about?
– What happened?
– Where did it take place?
– When did it take place?
– Why did it happen?
– How did it happen?

12. Opera with “Ave Maria” : OTELLO
Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Otello” was first performed in 1887 at La Scala Theater in Milan. The opera is based on Shakespeare’s play “Othello” and is considered by many to be Verdi’s greatest work.

18. Lake near Reno : TAHOE
Lake Tahoe is up in the Sierra Nevada mountains, right on the border between California and Nevada. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in the country. It’s also the second deepest lake, with only the beautiful Crater Lake in Oregon being deeper. Given its location, there are tall casinos that sit right on the shore on the Nevada side of the state line where gambling is legal.

19. Alice’s sitcom husband : RALPH
In “The Honeymooners”, Jackie Gleason’s character (Ralph Kramden) was married to Alice Kramden who was played originally by Pert Kelton, but ultimately by Audrey Meadows. Art Carney’s character was married to Thelma “Trixie” Norton, played originally by Elaine Stritch, and then by Joyce Randolph.

22. Part of W.M.D. : MASS
The first recorded use of the term “Weapon of Mass Destruction” (WMD) was in 1937. The words were used by Cosmo Gordon Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, in reference to the bombardment of Guernica in Spain during the Spanish Civil War by the German Luftwaffe. He said, “Who can think without horror of what another widespread war would mean, waged as it would be with all the new weapons of mass destruction?”

33. Avian mimic : MYNA
Some species of myna (also “mynah”) bird are known for their ability to imitate sounds.

35. Ancestor of Scottish Gaelic and Manx : OLD IRISH
There are three Erse languages: Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be Gaeilge (in Ireland), Gaelg (on the Isle of Man) and Gaidhlig (in Scotland).

36. Many a Balkan native : SLAV
The Slavic peoples are in the majority in communities covering over half of Europe. This large ethnic group is traditionally broken down into three smaller groups:

– the West Slavic (including Czechs and Poles)
– the East Slavic (including Russians and Ukrainians)
– the South Slavic (including Bulgarians and Serbs)

The Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe is usually referred to as “the Balkans”. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains located in present-day Bulgaria and Serbia. “Balkan” is Bulgarian for “mountain”.

38. Red River delta capital : HANOI
Hanoi was the capital of North Vietnam, and Saigon the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made capital of the reunified state. Saigon, the larger metropolis, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City.

39. Ebenezer’s ghostly ex-partner : JACOB
Jacob Marley is a character appearing in the wonderful novella by Charles Dickens called “A Christmas Carol”. Marley is the deceased business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge who appears to him as a ghost.

42. Eur. erupter : MT ETNA
Mt. Etna is the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy. Mt Etna is about 2 1/2 times the height of its equally famous sister, Mt. Vesuvius.

44. Gold standards : KARATS
A karat (also “carat”, the spelling outside of North America) is a measure of the purity of gold alloys, with 24-karat representing pure gold.

46. King Arthur’s father ___ Pendragon : UTHER
According to legend, King Arthur was the son of Uther Pendragon. Uther magically disguised himself as his enemy Gorlois and slept with Gorlois’ wife Igerna, and the result of the union was Arthur.

47. Talks like Don Corleone : RASPS
Mario Puzo created the Corleone Mafia family in his 1969 novel “The Godfather”. The head of the family is Vito Corleone (whose birth name was Vito Andolini), a native of Corleone in Sicily. He was given the name Corleone by immigration officers at Ellis Island.

51. Number after a decimal: Abbr. : CTS
Cents (cts.)

52. London’s ___ Gardens : KEW
Kew Gardens is a beautiful location in southwest London that was formerly known as the Royal Botanic Gardens. Kew Gardens has the world’s largest collection of living plants.

55. Scrabble 10-pointer, spelled out : KUE
The letter Q (kue) precedes the letter R (ar).

The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Homey : DAWG
5. Talks like a tosspot : SLURS
10. Corp. money execs : CFOS
14. Subject of a court bargain : PLEA
15. Spicy Eastern cuisine : HUNAN
16. “Nuts” director Martin : RITT
17. Hyperbole for an arduous task : IT’LL TAKE FOREVER
20. “Two-L” beast : LLAMA
21. Writer ___ Rogers St. Johns : ADELA
22. Oxymoron for cautious travel : MAKE HASTE SLOWLY
27. Classic time to duel : AT NOON
28. Earn, as profit : REAP
29. Maritime alert : SOS
30. Rive Gauche’s river : SEINE
31. Nada : ZILCH
32. Squash units : SETS
33. Pesky arachnids : MITES
34. Parks in 1955 news : ROSA
38. Wired : HYPER
39. Jiggly treat : JELL-O
40. Ending for a 10-Down : -ISM
43. Flavoring for a French cordial : ANIS
44. “Body Heat” director Lawrence : KASDAN
45. Litotes for beauty : NOT UNATTRACTIVE
48. Intentionally mislead : LIE TO
49. Like MGM’s lion : AROAR
50. Simile for denseness : AS THICK AS A BRICK
56. Leakes of reality TV : NENE
57. Play the siren : TEMPT
58. Hairy son of Isaac : ESAU
59. Sweetie : DEAR
60. Cheese choice : SWISS
61. Exclamation that’s a homophone of 53-Down : AH ME

Down
1. Printer resolution fig. : DPI
2. Pilot’s abbr. : ALT
3. Tightly interlocked : WELL-KNIT
4. Many Spanish Armada ships : GALLEONS
5. Tribal healer : SHAMAN
6. “Last Days” actor Haas : LUKAS
7. Article in Le Monde : UNE
8. Prince William’s mil. branch : RAF
9. ___-Caps (movie theater candy) : SNO
10. Literally, “I believe” : CREDO
11. Reporter’s questions, collectively : FIVE WS
12. Opera with “Ave Maria” : OTELLO
13. Many pound dogs : STRAYS
18. Lake near Reno : TAHOE
19. Alice’s sitcom husband : RALPH
22. Part of W.M.D. : MASS
23. Precisely, after “to” : A TEE
24. Least fresh : TRITEST
25. Angler with pots : EELER
26. Some bunts, for short : SACS
31. “Hush!” : ZIP IT!
33. Avian mimic : MYNA
34. Place to stop and text, perhaps : REST AREA
35. Ancestor of Scottish Gaelic and Manx : OLD IRISH
36. Many a Balkan native : SLAV
37. Top-notch : A-ONE
38. Red River delta capital : HANOI
39. Ebenezer’s ghostly ex-partner : JACOB
40. Far from shore : INLAND
41. “Got it” : SO I SEE
42. Eur. erupter : MT ETNA
44. Gold standards : KARATS
46. King Arthur’s father ___ Pendragon : UTHER
47. Talks like Don Corleone : RASPS
51. Number after a decimal: Abbr. : CTS
52. London’s ___ Gardens : KEW
53. French friend : AMI
54. Ending with nanny or spy : -CAM
55. Scrabble 10-pointer, spelled out : KUE

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2 thoughts on “1217-14 New York Times Crossword Answers 17 Dec 14, Wednesday”

  1. Perhaps you might revise or add to your boilerplate explanation of 26D for future puzzles. A bunt is not a sacrifice fly; it's a sacrifice bunt.

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