1015-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 15 Oct 15, Thursday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Kevin G. Der
THEME: There is a note accompanying each of this week’s crosswords:

We asked some favorite Times crossword contributors, “What would you like to do in a daily Times crossword that has never been done before?” This week’s puzzles, Monday to Saturday, are the result.

In today’s puzzle, we have many, many two-letter rebus squares. In fact, all of those rebus squares link together to form a SPIRAL that winds through the grid. Adding to the complexity, we have themed answers that are SPIRAL in shape:

18A. Home that’s never left? : SNAIL SHELL
24A. Christmas edible : YULE LOG
41A. Big name in appliances : WHIRLPOOL
55A. Our place in the universe : MILKY WAY
63A. Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, with “the” : GUGGENHEIM

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 25m 25s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

5. Food product whose name is used nowadays mostly in a nonfood way : SPAM
Apparently the term “spam”, used for unwanted email, is taken from a “Monty Python” sketch. In the sketch (which I’ve seen) the dialog is taken over by the word Spam, a play on the glut of canned meat in the markets of Britain after WWII. So “spam” is used for the glut of emails that takes over online communication. I can just imagine nerdy Internet types (like me) adopting something from a “Monty Python” sketch to describe an online phenomenon …

15. Danger for a small boat : LEE TIDE
A leeward tide (sometime lee tide) is one that runs in the same direction that the wind is blowing. A windward tide, on the other hand, runs in the opposite direction to the wind. I think that the main danger with a lee tide is when a boat is at anchor. If the tide and wind are acting in concert then the anchor is more likely to slip.

17. Puccini title heroine : TOSCA
Unlike so many operas, “Tosca” was a big hit right from day one, when it was first performed in 1900 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome. “Tosca” is currently the eighth-most performed opera in America, although I’ve only seen it once myself …

22. Orpheus or Spartacus, by birth : THRACIAN
Thrace is a historical and geographic region of southeast Europe, largely lying in southeastern Bulgaria. The region took its name from the Thracian people, an ancient race that used to inhabit the area. Included in the region is the European side of the city of Istanbul.

Orpheus is a figure from Greek mythology, very often associated with poetry, singing, music and the lyre in particular. In ancient Greece there was even an Orphic cult that in effect adopted the poetry ascribed to Orpheus as central to the cult’s belief system. The adjectives “Orphic” and “Orphean” describe things pertaining to Orpheus, and because of his romantic, musical bent, the term has come to describe anything melodious or enchanting.

Spartacus was a gladiator and slave who became a leader in the Third Servile War, the last in a series of unsuccessful slave rebellions against the Roman Republic. The Third Servile War is also called the Gladiator War and the War of Spartacus. Spartacus features in a 1951 historical novel by Howard Fast called “Spartacus”, which inspired the 1960 movie of the same name starring Kirk Douglas.

24. Christmas edible : YULE LOG
A Yule log is a large log made from a very hard wood that is burned as part of the Christmas celebration. There is a cake called a Yule log that is served at Christmas, especially in French-speaking parts of the world. The cake is made from sponge that is rolled up to resemble a wooden Yule log.

30. Volcanic peak in the Cascades : SHASTA
Only two volcanoes in the Cascade Range in the northwest have erupted in the 20th century: Mount St. Helens in 1980 and Mount Lassen in 1915. The last significant eruption of Mount Shasta, a third volcano in the Cascades, was about 200 years ago

32. 1978 Superman portrayer : REEVE
The actor Christopher Reeve was most associated with his portrayal of Superman in the late seventies and early eighties. Reeve became paralyzed from the neck down when he fell from a horse in a jumping event in 1995. He passed away in 2004.

Arguably, 1978 was the first in a long line of contemporary superhero films based on comic book characters. Personally, I wish they’d stopped after that first movie …

33. Mesmerized : RAPT
Franz Mesmer was a German physician, the person who coined the phrase “animal magnetism”. Back then the term described a purported magnetic field that resided in the bodies of animate beings. Mesmer also lent his name to our term “mesmerize”.

36. Follower of “roger,” to a radioer : WILCO
In the world of radio telephony, “wilco” is short for “I understand and will comply”.

The term “roger”, meaning “yes” or “acknowledged”, comes from the world of radiotelephony. The British military used a phonetic alphabet in the fifties that included “Roger” to represent the letter “R”. As such, it became customary to say “Roger” when acknowledging a message, with R (Roger) standing for “received”.

39. Like cherries jubilee : FLAMBE
“Flambé” is the French word for “flamed”, and was originally a term used to describe certain types of porcelain. The word “flambé” crept into cookery just after 1900.

Cherries jubilee might be considered a light dessert, certainly not due to the calorie count, but due to the “lighting” of the liqueur that is poured over the cherries. Usually one takes cherries, pours a liqueur like Kirschwasser (German for “cherry water”) and then sets the liqueur alight and flambes the cherries. The reduced liqueur and cherries are then poured as a source over vanilla ice cream. Apparently the recipe was invented by French Chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel restaurant in London, to celebrate one of Queen Victoria’s jubilees.

41. Big name in appliances : WHIRLPOOL
Whirlpool is a manufacturer of home appliances that was founded as the Upton Machine Company in 1911. Whirlpool is now the largest manufacturer of home appliances in the world.

44. Intl. treaty subject : N-TEST
There are two classes of nuclear weapons, both of which get the energy for the explosion from nuclear reactions. The first nuclear bombs developed, called atomic bombs (A-bombs), use fission reactions. In an atomic bomb, uranium nuclei are split into smaller nuclei with the release of an awful lot of energy in the process. The second class of nuclear weapons are fusion bombs. Fusion devices are also called thermonuclear weapons or hydrogen bombs (H-bombs). In a fusion reaction, the nuclei of hydrogen isotopes are fused together to form bigger nuclei, with the release of even greater amounts of energy than a fission reaction.

46. Yuri’s love in “Doctor Zhivago” : LARA
The heroine of Boris Pasternak’s epic novel “Doctor Zhivago” is Lara. The Lara character was inspired by Pasternak’s mistress Olga Ivinskaya.

“Doctor Zhivago” is an epic novel by Boris Pasternak, first published in 1957. I haven’t tried to read the book, but the 1965 film version is a must-see, directed by David Lean and starring Omar Sharif in the title role. The story centers on Yuri Zhivago, a doctor and poet, and how he is affected by the Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War.

47. Flimflams : ROOKS
“To rook” is to cheat. The earlier use of “rook” as a noun was as a disparaging term for a swindler or cheat. Somehow, it was insulting to refer to a person as a rook, as in the type of bird.

“Flimflam” is another word for a confidence trick. The term has been in use since the 1500s, would you believe?

55. Our place in the universe : MILKY WAY
The Milky Way is the name given to our own galaxy, the home to the Solar System. In fact, the word “galaxy” comes from the Greek “galaxias” meaning “milky”.

57. Prefix with -dextrous : AMBI-
Someone who is ambidextrous can write with both hands or use both hands with equal ease. A fairly literal translation of “ambidextrous” is “right-handed on both sides” as “dexter” is Latin for “right-handed”.

58. Entree : MAIN DISH
“Entrée” means “entry” in French. An entrée can be something that helps one get “a way in”, an interview for example perhaps helped along by a recommendation letter. In Europe, even in English-speaking countries, the entrée is the name for the “entry” to the meal, the first course. I found it very confusing to order meals when I first came to America!

62. One of Goya’s Black Paintings also known as “El Perro” : THE DOG
The “Black Paintings” are a series of fourteen paintings by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Each is a relatively depressing and dark work, hence the name, and come from the latter part of Goya’s life. The paintings were actually completed as murals on the walls of the artist’s own house, but were then cut from the walls are attached to canvas.

63. Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, with “the” : GUGGENHEIM
The Guggenheim art museum on Fifth Avenue in New York opened in 1939 as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting. The museum was funded by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation that had been set up by the American businessman and philanthropist for whom the foundation was named. When Guggenheim died in 1952, the New York museum was renamed to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. I’ve only visited the museum once in my life, and I love the building (designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright). The works that I saw there … not so much …

71. Satellite dish precursors : ANTENNAS
An antenna’s job is to convert electrical power into radio waves, and radio waves into an electrical signal. The first antennas were built by the German physicist Heinrich Hertz in 1888.

72. Companion of Quasimodo : ESMERALDA
Quasimodo is the title character in the Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”. Quasimodo falls for the beautiful Roma girl Esmeralda, and eventually rescues her just before she is due be hanged. He carries Esmeralda into Notre-Dame crying out “Sanctuary!” There is some recent evidence that a hunchbacked stone carver, working at Notre-Dame at the same time Hugo was alive, may have been the inspiration for the Quasimodo the bellringer.

73. Drunk’s ailment, for short : DTS
The episodes of delirium that can accompany withdrawal from alcohol are called Delirium Tremens (the DTs). The literal translation of this Latin phrase is “trembling madness”.

74. Prohibitionists : DRYS
The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution was a great victory for the temperance movement, and in 1919 ushered in the Prohibition era. Highly unpopular, Prohibition was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment.

75. Picnic side dish : SLAW
The term “coleslaw” is an Anglicized version of the Dutch name “koolsla”, which in itself is a shortened form of “Koolsalade” meaning “cabbage salad”.

Down
2. Roman emperor who overthrew Galba : OTHO
Otho was Emperor of Rome for only three months, before he committed suicide. It is thought that Otho killed himself as a gesture intended to avoid a civil war.

5. Phoenix athletes : SUNS
The Phoenix Suns NBA team are in the Pacific Division, and are the only team in that division not based in California.

6. Bust supporter : PLINTH
A plinth is a block on which something is placed, especially a column. The Greek word “plinthos” means “squared stone”.

A bust is a sculpture of the upper torso and head. We imported the word from Italy, where the word “busto” means “upper body”.

7. Capital ESE of Istanbul : ANKARA
Ankara is the second largest city in Turkey, after Istanbul (formerly Constantinople). After WWI, the Ottoman Empire had been defeated and the Allies occupied the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. The victors planned to break up most of Turkey, leaving native Turks just part of their country for their own. In the inevitable War of Independence that followed, the Turkish Nationalists used Ankara as their base. When the Nationalists emerged victorious, they declared Ankara the new capital of Turkey.

Istanbul, Turkey is the only metropolis in the world that is situated in two continents. The city extends both on the European side and on the Asian side of the Bosphorus river.

8. Ruling family of Florence : MEDICI
The House of Medici was a dynasty from the the Italian Republic of Florence. The Medici family went into the world of finance and built the largest bank in Europe in the 15th century. Significantly, the Medicis produced four Popes around this time, and then the family moved from the status of common citizens to become hereditary Dukes of Florence. By the middle of the 18th century the family ruled the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, but ended up fiscally bankrupt.

9. Flagon fillers : ALES
A flagon is a large jug with a lid, traditionally used for holding beer or wine.

10. Socratic ___ : METHOD
The Socratic method is a technique used to promote critical thinking and develop an idea. Normally employed between individuals, the method involves the posing of a series of questions back and forth.

In Ancient Greece, Socrates was a respected thinker of his day. One of Socrates’ most clever students was Plato, who spent much of life espousing the work and thinking of his mentor and teacher. In later life, Plato himself had a student who built on the work of both Socrates and Plato. That second generation student was Aristotle. Socrates fell out of favor with the political leaders in Athens who put him on trial on trumped-up charges. He was found guilty of corrupting the youth of the city-state and of not believing in the gods of the state. The sentence levied was death by drinking hemlock.

16. Order with a Grand Lodge : ELKS
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) was founded in 1868, and is a social club that has about a million members today. It started out as a group of men getting together in a “club” in order to get around the legal opening hours of taverns in New York City. The club took on a new role as it started to look out for poor families of members who passed away. The club now accepts African Americans as members (since the seventies) and women (since the nineties), but atheists still aren’t welcome.

19. Jessica with an Oscar for “Tootsie” : LANGE
The actress Jessica Lange is also an accomplished and published photographer. She was married for ten years to Spanish photographer Paco Grande. After separating from Grande, Lange had three children with the great Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. Those must be some good-looking kids …

“Tootsie” is a hilarious 1982 comedy starring Dustin Hoffman in the title role, a male actor who adopts a female identity in order to land an acting job. Jessica Lange won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in the film. “Tootsie” was also provided Geena Davis with her first movie role.

21. Smidgen : SKOSH
“Skosh” is a slang term meaning “a little bit”, originally military slang that came out of the Korean War. “Skosh” derives from the Japanese word “sukoshi” which translates as “few, little, some”.

Our word “smidgen”, meaning a small amount, might come from the Scots word “smitch” that means the same thing or “a small insignificant person”.

24. Desert bloomer : YUCCA PLANT
Yuccas are a genus of shrubs and trees that live in hot and dry areas of North and South America. One of the more famous species of Yucca is the Joshua tree. Yuccas has a very unique pollination system, with moths transferring pollen from plant to plant.

31. Muffler attachment : TAILPIPE
A muffler is a device attached to an internal combustion engine that is designed to reduce noise from the exhaust. We don’t use the term “muffler” on the other side of the Atlantic, opting instead for “silencer”.

37. 1980s-’90s courtroom drama : LA LAW
“L.A. Law” ran on NBC from 1986 to 1994, and was one of the network’s most successful drama series. It took over from the equally successful “Hill Street Blues” in the Thursday night 10 p.m. slot until, after a six-year run, it was itself replaced by yet another respected drama, “E.R.” The opening credits showed that famous California licence plate. The plate was on a Jaguar XJ for most of the series, but moved onto a Bentley towards the end of the run. For each series the registration sticker was updated, so no laws were being broken.

48. Financial guru Suze : ORMAN
Suze Orman is a financial advisor who has gotten her message out on television, in books and on the speaking circuit. She often appears on PBS, and indeed is the most successful fundraiser public television has ever had.

50. Wharton who wrote “Ethan Frome” : EDITH
“Ethan Frome” is a novel by New York and Massachusetts author Edith Wharton, first published in 1911. Wharton started “Ethan Frome” as a composition in French that she wrote while studying the language in Paris.

51. 1964 Summer Olympics : TOKYO GAMES
The 1964 Summer Olympic Games were held in Tokyo, and were the first Olympics held in Asia. The 1940 games had been scheduled for Tokyo, but they were moved to Helsinki after Japan invaded China, and eventually were cancelled completely due to WWII. The 1964 Olympics were also the first games in which South Africa was barred due to the apartheid system in sports.

61. Climb (up) : SHINNY
A kind blog reader pointed out to me that the use of “shimmy up” has an interesting history. One can also say “shinny up” a rope or pole, meaning to climb using one’s shins. This was the original term for the maneuver, but then it was mixed up with the word “shimmy”, a term from dancing meaning to shake from side to side. Now it seems that about half of us use “shimmy up” and half “shinny up”. I guess we are watching our language evolve!

64. “Super” parts of the psyche : EGOS
Sigmund Freud created a structural model of the human psyche, breaking it into three parts: the id, the ego, and the super-ego. The id is that part of the psyche containing the basic instinctual drives. The ego seeks to please the id by causing realistic behavior that benefits the individual. The super-ego almost has a parental role, contradicting the id by introducing critical thinking and morals to behavioral choices.

65. Church service : MASS
The principal act of worship in the Roman Catholic tradition is the Mass. The term “Mass” comes from the Late Latin word “missa” meaning “dismissal”. This word is used at the end of the Latin Mass in “Ite, missa est” which translates literally as “Go, it is the dismissal”.

67. Eurasia’s ___ Mountains : URAL
The eastern side of the Ural Mountains in Russia is generally regarded as the natural divide between the continents of Europe and Asia.

68. Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald : ZELDA
Zelda Fitzgerald, the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, was a novelist in her own right. Zelda’s one and only novel is “Save Me the Waltz”, a semi-autobiographical account of her life and marriage.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Did some gardening : HOED
5. Food product whose name is used nowadays mostly in a nonfood way : SPAM
9. Pro-___ : AMS
12. One bit : IN THE LEAST
14. Not connected : UNLINKED
15. Danger for a small boat : LEE TIDE
17. Puccini title heroine : TOSCA
18. Home that’s never left? : SNAIL SHELL
20. Working as assigned : ON TASK
22. Orpheus or Spartacus, by birth : THRACIAN
23. Swinish sound : OINK
24. Christmas edible : YULE LOG
27. Ones powerless to move? : GLIDERS
29. Word with code or road : ACCESS
30. Volcanic peak in the Cascades : SHASTA
32. 1978 Superman portrayer : REEVE
33. Mesmerized : RAPT
34. ___ be tied : FIT TO
36. Follower of “roger,” to a radioer : WILCO
39. Like cherries jubilee : FLAMBE
41. Big name in appliances : WHIRLPOOL
42. “Are you joking?” : REALLY?
44. Intl. treaty subject : N-TEST
45. Pass an exam with flying colors : ACE IT
46. Yuri’s love in “Doctor Zhivago” : LARA
47. Flimflams : ROOKS
49. Gazed : PEERED
51. Comfortably warm : TOASTY
52. [How horrible!] : SHUDDER!
55. Our place in the universe : MILKY WAY
57. Prefix with -dextrous : AMBI-
58. Entree : MAIN DISH
62. One of Goya’s Black Paintings also known as “El Perro” : THE DOG
63. Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, with “the” : GUGGENHEIM
66. Some bandage materials : GAUZES
70. In olden times : AGES AGO
71. Satellite dish precursors : ANTENNAS
72. Companion of Quasimodo : ESMERALDA
73. Drunk’s ailment, for short : DTS
74. Prohibitionists : DRYS
75. Picnic side dish : SLAW

Down
1. Help for the flummoxed : HINT
2. Roman emperor who overthrew Galba : OTHO
3. Slippery ones : EELS
4. Certain clergywoman : DEACONESS
5. Phoenix athletes : SUNS
6. Bust supporter : PLINTH
7. Capital ESE of Istanbul : ANKARA
8. Ruling family of Florence : MEDICI
9. Flagon fillers : ALES
10. Socratic ___ : METHOD
11. Backup player : SIDELINER
13. Relating to national governments : STATAL
16. Order with a Grand Lodge : ELKS
19. Jessica with an Oscar for “Tootsie” : LANGE
21. Smidgen : SKOSH
24. Desert bloomer : YUCCA PLANT
25. “Step aside, I can help” : LET ME
26. Certain stovetop hazard : GAS FIRE
28. Real go-getter : LIVE WIRE
29. Pooch’s sound : ARF!
31. Muffler attachment : TAILPIPE
32. Modernize, as machinery : RETOOL
35. Until due : TO TERM
37. 1980s-’90s courtroom drama : LA LAW
38. Dress shirt insert : COLLAR STAY
40. Straddled : BESTRODE
41. Hits sharply : WHACKS
43. Celebratory cry : YAY!
48. Financial guru Suze : ORMAN
50. Wharton who wrote “Ethan Frome” : EDITH
51. 1964 Summer Olympics : TOKYO GAMES
52. Epic tale : SAGA
53. Flimflammed : HUMBUGGED
54. Makes cutting remarks toward : DIGS AT
56. Places pigeons perch : LEDGES
59. Secured : IN HAND
60. Calorie watcher : DIETER
61. Climb (up) : SHINNY
64. “Super” parts of the psyche : EGOS
65. Church service : MASS
67. Eurasia’s ___ Mountains : URAL
68. Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald : ZELDA
69. Espied : SAW

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7 thoughts on “1015-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 15 Oct 15, Thursday”

  1. Rebus-galore!

    While I normally only tolerate rebus puzzles, I really liked this one. You can't swing a cat without hitting a rebus or five in this one. The circular design actually reminds me of the GUGGENHEIM, which has a similar shape. It also reminds me of the theme song from Kojak.

    Having said that…I don't like YULELOGs. Everyone gives 'em, and nobody eats 'em. Nor do I like STATAL, GASFIRE (which I thought might be "grease fire"…gas is never the issue), TOKYOGAMES (should be Tokyo, Japan…or perhaps Innsbruck), and I'm pretty sure 72A should be "EsmErelda," but that might be a translation thing with Victor Hugo.

  2. I'm sure Mr. Der will have many fans, but for me it was terribly annoying. Rebus overload! Too much! It could be my lack of sleep, but I actually threw out the partially completed puzzle. And I rarely give up, especially on a Thursday! Hmmm…Is this Special Week almost over? Thanks anyway Mr Der.

  3. In addition to the spiraled rebus squares there are 5 themes answers that are spirals. Snail shell, Yule log, whirlpool, Milky Way and Guggenheim,

  4. A wonderful puzzle! And not particularly difficult, but I had trouble with one particular square: I'd never heard of a "LEe tide" and drew a blank on " aLE" as the possible contents of a flagon, so I spent at least ten minutes going through two-letter combinations before finally having the necessary "aha" moment. So … no errors … total time unknown, but probably not too disgraceful.

    I never knew where "skosh" came from. Japanese. Fascinating.

  5. 32:30, 2 errors. 40D BESTRODE (BESTRIDE); 47A ROOKS (RIOKS). Silly error, filled 40D first, didn't check to see if 47A made sense. I also really enjoyed todays puzzle. The theme was consistently applied, and was necessary to solve the puzzle.

    Nice Job Mr. Der.

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