1202-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 2 Dec 15, Wednesday

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Solution to today’s crossword in the New York Times
Solution to today’s SYNDICATED New York Times crossword in all other publications
Solution to today’s New York Times crossword found online at the Seattle Times website
Jump to a complete list of today’s clues and answers

CROSSWORD SETTER: Alan Arbesfeld
THEME: From the Stars, Down to Earth … each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase related to astronomy but clue unexpectedly, with reference to an alternative meaning here on Earth:

17A. Easy two semesters at school? : LIGHT YEAR
25A. Lech Walesa, for one? : POLE STAR
36A. Attire during an X-ray exam? : RADIATION BELT
51A. Lenin, say? : RED GIANT
61A. Fabulous deli delicacy? : SUPERNOVA

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 7m 18s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

9. Bulgaria’s capital : SOFIA
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. Natives pronounce the name “Sofia” with the emphasis on the “o”, while the rest of us tend to stress the “i”. Bulgarians do agree with us though when it comes to the girl’s name “Sofia”, then they stress the “i” like we do!

14. With 5-Across, lime-green nocturnal insect : LUNA …
(5A. See 14-Across : … MOTH)
The lime-green Luna Moth is one of the largest moths found in North America, growing to a wingspan of up to 4½ inches.

15. Reebok competitor : AVIA
The Avia brand name for athletic shoes was chosen as “avia” is the Latin word for “to fly”, and suggests the concept of aviation. Avia was founded in Oregon in 1979.

The brand name Reebok was adopted as the new company name for Foster Shoes of the UK in 1960. The name Reebok (more commonly “Rhebok”) is an Afrikaans word for an antelope, and comes from the term “roe buck”.

16. Feats of Keats : POEMS
The English poet John Keats died in Rome in 1821, and is buried there in the Protestant Cemetery. His last wish was that his grave be marked with a tombstone bearing just the words “”Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water”, and no name nor date. Keats’ friends honored his request to some extent, as the words were included on the stone and no name is given. The full epitaph reads:

This Grave
contains all that was Mortal
of a
Young English Poet
Who
on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies
Desired
these Words to be
engraven on his Tomb Stone:
Here lies One
Whose Name was writ in Water.
24 February 1821

17. Easy two semesters at school? : LIGHT-YEAR
A light-year (lt. yr.) is a measure of distance, not time. It is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one year. The accepted abbreviation for a light-year is “ly”. A light-second is a lot shorter distance: about 186,282 miles.

24. Monica who won nine tennis majors : SELES
Monica Seles has a Hungarian name as she was born to Hungarian parents in former Yugoslavia. Seles was the World No. 1 professional tennis player in 1991 and 1992 before being forced from the sport when she was stabbed by a spectator at a match in 1993. She did return to the game two years later, but never achieved the same level of success.

25. Lech Walesa, for one? : POLE STAR
Because the orientation of the Earth’s axis shifts, albeit very slowly, the position of north relative to the stars changes over time. The bright star that is closest to true north is Polaris, and so we call Polaris the North Star or Pole Star. 14,000 years ago, the nearest bright star to true north was Vega, and it will be so again in about 12,000 years time.

Lech Walesa worked as an electrician in the Gdansk Shipyards in Poland. Walesa was active in the trade union movement in the days when unions were not welcome behind the Iron Curtain. His efforts resulted in the founding of Solidarity, the first independent trade union in Soviet-controlled territory. For his work, Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and in 1990 he became the first democratically elected President of Poland. He has lost support in Poland in recent years, but he is a very popular booking on the international speaking circuit.

27. Kimono accessory : OBI
The sash worn as part of traditional Japanese dress is known as an obi. The obi can be tied in what is called a butterfly knot.

28. Caffeine nut : KOLA
The nut of the kola tree has a bitter taste, and is loaded with caffeine. Despite the taste, the nut is habitually chewed in some cultures, especially in West Africa where the tree is commonly found in the rainforest. Here in the US we best know the kola nut as a flavoring used in cola drinks.

31. Literary alter ego : MR HYDE
Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was first published in 1886. There are many tales surrounding the writing of the story including one that the author wrote the basic tale in just three to six days, and spent a few weeks simply refining it. Allegedly, Stevenson’s use of cocaine stimulated his creative juices during those few days of writing.

32. iPod model : NANO
The iPod Nano is the successor to the iPod Mini and was introduced to the market at the end of 2005. There have been seven versions of the Nano to date and the current Nano as well as playing tunes is an FM player, records voice memos, has a pedometer and can connect with external devices (like a heart monitor, maybe) using Bluetooth technology.

36. Attire during an X-ray exam? : RADIATION BELT
Radiation belts are layers of charged particles surrounding magnetized planets, held in place by the planet’s magnetic field. The Earth has two such fields, the Inner and Outer Radiation Belts. Both were discovered by American space scientist James Van Allen, and so they are named the Van Allen radiation belts. Temporary radiation belts have also been created that have persisted for over a year, caused by high-altitude nuclear explosions set off by the US and USSR in the late fifties and early sixties.

41. Bank acct. entry : INT
Interest (int.)

42. “Little” name in 1960s pop : EVA
Carole King and her longtime partner Gerry Goffin have been writing hit songs since the early sixties. Carole and Gerry had a babysitter, one Eva Narcissus Boyd, who was always bopping around the house in an unusual dance style. They wrote a song about her dance and they called it “The Loco-Motion”. Then they gave it to the babysitter to record. Ms. Boyd chose as a stage name a character in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” called Little Eva …

45. Starbucks selection : GRANDE
Starbucks introduced us to coffee drinks in a whole range of volumes:

– Demi … 3 fl oz
– Short … 8 fl oz
– Tall … 12 fl oz
– Grande … 16 fl oz (Italian for “large”)
– Venti … 20 fl oz (Italian for “twenty”)
– Trenta … 30 fl oz (Italian for “thirty”)

48. Table salt, to a chemist : NACL
Sodium chloride (NaCl, common table salt) is an ionic compound, a crystal lattice made up of large chloride (Cl) ions in a cubic structure, with smaller sodium (Na) ions in between the chlorides.

50. Computer file extension : EXE
In the Windows Operating System, a file with the extension .exe is an “executable” file.

51. Lenin, say? : RED GIANT
Red giants are very large stars with a relatively low mass. The atmosphere of a red giant is also very inflated and extends a long way into space so the surface of that atmosphere that we see is relatively cool, which gives it a red color. Stars are classified by their spectral characteristics, basically the color of the light they emit. As such, red giants are classified as M stars. Cool red giants are of a color beyond the usual range, and are classified as S stars.

Vladimir Lenin was not the birth name of the Russian leader. He was born Vladimir Ulyanov, and originally took the name Lenin as a pen name.

53. Area explored by Lewis and Clark : IDAHO
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were soldiers in the US Army. Lewis was a personal aide to President Thomas Jefferson, even residing in the Presidential Mansion. This exposure contributed to his selection as leader of the famous expedition. William Clark was actually Lewis’s boss for a while before Clark retired. Lewis asked Clark to come out of retirement to accompany him on his three-year exploration.

55. Animal in Darwin’s “The Descent of Man” : APE
Englishman Charles Darwin studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland but neglected his studies largely due to his interest in nature and natural history. In the early 1830s, a friend put forward Darwin’s name as a candidate for the post of “collector” on the voyage of HMS Beagle. The Beagle was intending to spend two years at sea primarily charting the coast of South America. The voyage ended up taking five years, during which time Darwin sent back copious letters describing his findings. Back in Britain these letters were published as pamphlets by a friend and so when Darwin eventually returned home in 1836, he had already gained some celebrity in scientific circles. It was while on the Beagle that Darwin developed his initial ideas on the concept of natural selection. It wasn’t until over twenty years later that he formulated his theories into a scientific paper and in 1859 published his famous book “On the Origin of the Species”. This original publication never even mentioned the word “evolution” which was controversial even back then. It was in 1871 that Darwin addressed head-on the concept that man was an animal species, in his book “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex”.

59. “GoodFellas” Oscar winner : PESCI
Joe Pesci got his big break in movies with a supporting role in “Raging Bull” starring Robert De Niro, earning Pesci an Oscar nomination early in his career. There followed a string of gangster roles played alongside De Niro, namely “Once Upon a Time in America”, “Goodfellas” and “Casino”. But I like Pesci’s comedic acting best of all. He was marvelous in the “Home Alone” films, the “Lethal Weapon” series, and my personal favorite, “My Cousin Vinny”. Pesci gets a mention in the stage musical “Jersey Boys”, which isn’t too surprising as he is one of the show’s producers.

The Martin Scorsese classic “Goodfellas” is a 1990 adaptation of a non-fiction book by Nicholas Pileggi called “Wiseguy”. The film tells the story of a mob family that succumbs to the FBI after one of their own becomes an informant.

61. Fabulous deli delicacy? : SUPERNOVA
A nova is basically a star that suddenly gets much brighter, gradually returning to its original state weeks or even years later. The increased brightness of a nova is due to increased nuclear activity causing the star to pick up extra hydrogen from a neighboring celestial body. A supernova is very different from a nova. A supernova is a very bright burst of light and energy created when most of the material in a star explodes. The bright burst of a supernova is very short-lived compared to the sustained brightness of a nova.

66. Fajita filler : STEAK
“Fajita” is a Tex-Mex term that refers to grilled meat served on a tortilla. The Mexican term “fajita” is used to describe a small strip of chicken or beef. Nowadays, fajitas are often served on a sizzling platter with the tortillas and condiments on the side.

Down
1. Janney who plays one of the moms on TV’s “Mom” : ALLISON
Allison Janney is a favorite actress of mine who I first encountered on “The West Wing” TV show. She is now playing one of the moms on the sitcom “Mom”.

3. Ballerina of children’s lit : ANGELINA
Angelina Ballerina is a cartoon mouse in a series of books written by Katharine Holabird and illustrated by Helen Craig. The books were adapted into an animated TV show starting in 2001, and there was even an “Angelina Ballerina” stage show that toured in 2007 featuring the English National Ballet.

4. Phil ___, 1984 Olympic skiing gold medalist : MAHRE
Phil Mahre is one of the great alpine ski racers, a native of Yakima, Washington. Phil’s twin brother Steve was also a skier on the World Cup circuit.

7. Actress/model Carrere : TIA
Tia Carrere is an actress from Honolulu who got her break in the soap opera “General Hospital”. Carrere is perhaps best known for playing Cassandra Wong in the “Wayne’s World” movies.

8. Horn-honking brother of old comedy : HARPO
Harpo Marx was the second oldest of the Marx brothers. Harpo’s real name was Adolph, and he earned his nickname because he played the harp. Famously he didn’t speak on screen, a routine he developed after reading a review that he performed really well when he just didn’t speak!

9. Part of a restaurant rack : SPARE RIB
Spare ribs are so called because “spare” can indicate the absence of fat.

22. It’s full of tables for reading : ALMANAC
A nautical almanac is a book used by navigators, usually at sea. The main content has traditionally been tables of star position designed to help determine one’s geographical position. Some almanacs also include tide tables.

25. Like Job : PATIENT
The story of “the patience of Job” is told in the Book of Job in the Bible. Job exhibits great patience in refusing to condemn God after Satan was allowed to destroy his family, his health and his property.

37. Calligrapher’s purchase : INDIA INK
The black ink known as “India ink” was actually developed in the China, although the carbon pigment used was imported from India, hence the name.

38. Fallopian tube travelers : OVA
Gabriele Falloppio (sometimes “Fallopius”) was a physician and expert in anatomy in sixteenth-century Italy. Much of Falloppio’s work focused on the anatomy of the head, but his studies of the reproductive organs of both sexes led to his name being used for the Fallopian tube, which leads from the ovary to the uterus.

40. Cayman Islands, e.g. : TAX HAVEN
The Cayman Islands consist of three islands located just south of Cuba in the Caribbean: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The Caymans are a British Overseas Territory, and are the fifth-largest banking center in the whole world.

44. Exercise piece? : LEOTARD
The garment known as a leotard was named for French trapeze artist Jules Léotard. Léotard wore such a garment when he was performing.

45. Napa Valley sight : GRAPES
The first commercial winery in Napa Valley, California was established way back in 1858. However, premium wine production only dates back to the 1960s, with the region really hitting the big time after its success at the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. The story of that famous blind wine tasting is told in the entertaining 2008 film “Bottle Shock”.

47. Carol opening : ADESTE
The lovely hymn “Adeste Fideles” (translated from Latin as “O Come, All Ye Faithful”) was written by one John Francis Wade in the 13th century. Well, he wrote the original four verses, with four more verses being added over time.

49. Train to N.Y.C. : LIRR
The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is the commuter rail service that runs all over Long Island, New York with 124 stations and 700 miles of track. More people use the LIRR than any other commuter railroad in the US. It is also the only commuter railroad in the country that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

57. Capital of Samoa : APIA
Apia is the capital city, and in fact the only city, of the Pacific island-nation of Samoa. The harbor of Apia is famous for a very foolish incident in 1889 involving seven naval vessels from Germany, the US and Britain. A typhoon was approaching so the safest thing to do was to head for open water away from land, but no nation would move its ships for fear of losing face in front of the others. Six of the ships were lost in the typhoon as a result and 200 American and German sailors perished. The British cruiser HMS Calliope barely managed to escape from the harbor and rode out the storm safely.

58. Knick rival : CELT
The Boston Celtics NBA basketball team were founded just after WWII in 1946. The Celtics won eight league championships in a row from 1958 to 1966. That’s the longest consecutive championship winning streak of any professional sports team in North America.

The New York Knickerbockers team is one of only two founding members of the original National Basketball Association that still plays in its original home city. The other is the Boston Celtics.

60. “Homeland” org. : CIA
“Homeland” is a psychological drama shown on Showtime about a CIA officer who is convinced that a certain US Marine is a threat to the security of the United States. The show is based on a series from Israeli television called “Hatufim” (Prisoners of War”). I saw the first series of this show and highly recommend it …

62. Detroit-based labor grp. : UAW
The United Auto Workers (UAW) was founded to represent workers in auto plants in the Detroit area in 1935. Nowadays the UAW’s membership extends into the aerospace, agriculture and other industries.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Stuck, after “in” : A JAM
5. See 14-Across : … MOTH
9. Bulgaria’s capital : SOFIA
14. With 5-Across, lime-green nocturnal insect : LUNA …
15. Reebok competitor : AVIA
16. Feats of Keats : POEMS
17. Easy two semesters at school? : LIGHT-YEAR
19. Euphoric, after “on” : A HIGH
20. Sleetlike precipitation : ICE RAIN
21. Score to shoot for : PAR
23. Highway caution : SLO
24. Monica who won nine tennis majors : SELES
25. Lech Walesa, for one? : POLE STAR
27. Kimono accessory : OBI
28. Caffeine nut : KOLA
31. Literary alter ego : MR HYDE
32. iPod model : NANO
34. Bring home : NET
35. Broadcast : AIR
36. Attire during an X-ray exam? : RADIATION BELT
41. Bank acct. entry : INT
42. “Little” name in 1960s pop : EVA
43. Word after direct or drunk : DIAL
45. Starbucks selection : GRANDE
48. Table salt, to a chemist : NACL
50. Computer file extension : EXE
51. Lenin, say? : RED GIANT
53. Area explored by Lewis and Clark : IDAHO
55. Animal in Darwin’s “The Descent of Man” : APE
56. Live and breathe : ARE
57. One going head over heels? : ACROBAT
59. “GoodFellas” Oscar winner : PESCI
61. Fabulous deli delicacy? : SUPERNOVA
63. Kind of kitchen : EAT-IN
64. Shadow : TAIL
65. Another time : OVER
66. Fajita filler : STEAK
67. Whack with a newspaper, perhaps : SWAT
68. Tear apart : REND

Down
1. Janney who plays one of the moms on TV’s “Mom” : ALLISON
2. Place to get a smoothie : JUICE BAR
3. Ballerina of children’s lit : ANGELINA
4. Phil ___, 1984 Olympic skiing gold medalist : MAHRE
5. “Would you mind?” : MAY I?
6. Place for a roast : OVEN
7. Actress/model Carrere : TIA
8. Horn-honking brother of old comedy : HARPO
9. Part of a restaurant rack : SPARE RIB
10. “Very impressive!” : OOH!
11. Spirited : FEISTY
12. “That’s good to hear” : I’M GLAD
13. Where sailors go on leave : ASHORE
18. Job : TASK
22. It’s full of tables for reading : ALMANAC
25. Like Job : PATIENT
26. Tiny amount : SHRED
29. Bingeing : ON A TEAR
30. Word before fly or rip : LET
33. Going too far, in a way : ODING
37. Calligrapher’s purchase : INDIA INK
38. Fallopian tube travelers : OVA
39. Rest on : LIE ABOVE
40. Cayman Islands, e.g. : TAX HAVEN
44. Exercise piece? : LEOTARD
45. Napa Valley sight : GRAPES
46. Previously shown episode : REPEAT
47. Carol opening : ADESTE
49. Train to N.Y.C. : LIRR
52. Flight destinations? : NESTS
54. Benefactor : DONOR
57. Capital of Samoa : APIA
58. Knick rival : CELT
60. “Homeland” org. : CIA
62. Detroit-based labor grp. : UAW

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7 thoughts on “1202-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 2 Dec 15, Wednesday”

  1. Pretty manageable grid today, no huge surprises. KOLA was a new one for me. I guess I can chuckle at astronomy jokes, just not really my area of expertise.

  2. 14:22, no errors.

    @Anonymous … Thank you for responding to my somewhat impertinent question yesterday. I will better understand your negative reaction to certain puzzles, though I'm afraid I will still, in general, disagree. As a not-very-accomplished punster and word-play aficionado, I have a lot of respect for those who are really good at it and I enjoy puzzles that display their talents. So perhaps we can agree to disagree …

    My best friend at Iowa State was a master punster. Given a topic, he could produce a pun on that topic within seconds. Someone once challenged him to produce a pun for Easter and his response was as follows: One spring, the Easter Bunny claimed to have colored a million eggs blue, but everyone knew that he was simply eggs-azure-ating! (My friend is now a retired math professor and still punning his way through life … 🙂

  3. 14:47, no errors. Lost some time trying to fit LIVELY in 11D in lieu of FEISTY. A lot of Google work for Bill today, lots of interesting information. Thank you. I have never seen that alternate spelling for REEBOK before, but I will be aware of it from now on.

    Dave: your story of your math prof friend reminds of one of favorite math jokes. "Binary.. It's as easy as 1, 10, 11."

  4. 21:31, no errors. Was just difficult for me today. Despaired finishing well into the puzzle, but then, it started to fill itself in and before I knew it, I was done.

    @Dave: Yes, we'll have to agree to disagree on the puns. Like the accordion or bagpipes to music, punnery is the lowest art within a (much) greater genre. And while I don't necessarily mind the occasional "groaner" I always take exception to "dirty tricks" within crossword puzzles, especially when they're realllllllllllllllllly forced.

  5. Fairly manageable grid. 2 errors because of a stupid thing I did. The theme answers are a bit of a stretch in a lot of respects, but other than that, a fair expectation for a NYT grid on a Wednesday.

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