1207-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 7 Dec 15, Monday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Jason Mueller
THEME: Start from “The Iliad” … each of today’s themed answer start with a proper noun associated with the ancient Greek epic poem “The Iliad”.

36A. Work hinted at by the starts of 17-, 26-, 42- and 56-Across : ILIAD

17A. He quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys to three 1990s Super Bowl wins : TROY AIKMAN (giving “Troy”)
26A. Animated TV character who cries “D’oh!” : HOMER SIMPSON (giving “Homer”)
42A. Key vulnerability : ACHILLES HEEL (giving “Achilles”)
56A. French underground : PARIS METRO (giving “Paris”)

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 5m 26s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Pirate’s “Stop!” : AVAST!
“Avast” is a nautical term used to tell someone to stop or desist from what they are doing. The word comes from the Dutch “hou vast” meaning “hold fast”.

15. Guns & ___ magazine : AMMO
“Guns & Ammo” magazine first hit the shelves in 1958.

17. He quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys to three 1990s Super Bowl wins : TROY AIKMAN (giving “Troy”)
Troy Aikman is a former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Now that he is retired from football, Aikman works as a sportscaster on the Fox network.

Ilion (or in Latin “Ileum”), was the ancient name for the city of Troy. It’s this name for Troy that gives rise to the title of Homer’s epic poem “Iliad”.

20. Things checked by the T.S.A. : IDS
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created in 2001, soon after the 9/11 attacks. TSA personnel carry out the baggage and body searches at US airports. The TSA has a Trusted Traveler program that allows certain passengers to move more quickly through security screening. These passengers pay the TSA a one-time fee that covers a background check after which successful applicants are issued a Known Traveler Number (KTN).

23. Hanoi is its capital : VIETNAM
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. Hanoi is located in the delta of the Red River, and is just over 50 miles from the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea.

26. Animated TV character who cries “D’oh!” : HOMER SIMPSON (giving “Homer”)
“The Simpsons” is one of the most successful programs produced by the Fox Broadcasting Company. Homer Simpson’s catchphrase is “D’oh!”, which became such a famous exclamation that it has been included in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) since 2001. “D’oh!” can be translated as “I should have thought of that!”

Homer was a famous poet of Ancient Greece, believed to be the author of the two classic epic poems, “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey”. However, some scholars believe that Homer did not actually exist, but rather he is the personification of oral tradition that was passed down through the ages. One nice bit of advice attributed to Homer is:
How Prone to doubt, how cautious are the wise.

30. Chávez or Romero : CESAR
César Chávez was a Mexican American farm worker, and co-founder of the union today known as the United Farm Workers. Chávez was born in Yuma, Arizona, but moved to California as a child with his family. He never attended high school, dropping out to become a full-time migrant farm worker. In 1944, at 17 years of age, he joined the US Navy and served for two years. 5-6 years after returning from the military, back working as a farm laborer, Chávez became politically active and rose to national attention as an articulate union leader during some high profile strikes. He is remembered annually here in California on his birthday, March 31, which is a state holiday.

Cesar Romero was an American actor of Cuban descent from New York. He played a wide variety of roles on the big screen, but is remembered by many for playing the Joker on the “Batman” television show in the sixties.

33. Morays and congers : EELS
Morays are a large group of about 200 species of eels found across the world’s oceans. They are carnivorous and look pretty scary but they’re quite shy when confronted and present no threat to humans. One interesting thing about morays is that they will sometimes work in cooperation with the grouper fish found in reefs, the two helping each other hunt for food.

Conger eels can grow to be very, very large, perhaps up to 10 feet in length.

34. Abbr. ending a co. name : INC
A company that has incorporated uses the abbreviation “Inc.” after its name. By incorporating, a company forms a corporation, which is a legal entity that has legal rights similar to those of an individual. For example, a corporation can sue another corporation or individual. However, a corporation does not have all the rights of citizens. A corporation does not have the Fifth Amendment right of protections against self-incrimination, for example. It is perhaps understandable that the concept of “corporations as persons” is a frequent subject for debate.

36. Work hinted at by the starts of 17-, 26-, 42- and 56-Across : ILIAD
“The Iliad” is an epic poem by the Greek poet Homer, which tells the story of the ten-year siege of Ilium (also known as Troy) during the Trojan war. “The Odyssey”, also attributed to Homer, is sometimes described as a sequel to “The Iliad”.

39. G.O.P.’er: Abbr. : REP
The Republican Party has had the nickname Grand Old Party (GOP) since 1875. That said, the phrase was coined in the “Congressional Record” as “this gallant old party”. The moniker was changed to “grand old party” in 1876 in an article in the “Cincinnati Commercial”. The Republican Party’s elephant mascot dates back to an 1874 cartoon drawn by Thomas Nast for “Harper’s Weekly”. The Democrat’s donkey was already an established symbol. Nast drew a donkey clothed in a lion’s skin scaring away the other animals. One of the scared animals was an elephant, which Nast labeled “The Republican Vote”.

40. Yemeni port city : ADEN
Aden is a seaport in Yemen, located on the Gulf of Aden by the eastern approach to the Red Sea. Aden has a long history of British rule, from 1838 until a very messy withdrawal in 1967. A native of Aden is known as an Adeni. Some believe that Cain and Abel are buried in the city.

41. Candy ___ (Christmas decorations) : CANES
Apparently candy canes were created at the behest of the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany in 1672. The sweet sticks were basically used as bribes to keep children quiet during services. The choirmaster specified that the candy sticks should have a crook at the top so that they reminded the children of the three shepherds who visited the infant Jesus just after his birth.

42. Key vulnerability : ACHILLES HEEL (giving “Achilles”)
Achilles is a Greek mythological figure, the main protagonist of Homer’s “Iliad”. Supposedly when Achilles was born his mother attempted to make him immortal by dipping him into the River Styx. As he was held by the heel as he was immersed, this became the only vulnerable point on his body. Years later he was killed when a poisoned arrow struck him in the heel. The arrow was shot by Paris.

46. Rich cake : TORTE
A torte is a type of cake made primarily with eggs, sugar and ground nuts (but no flour).

51. Juliet’s lover : ROMEO
William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is all about the love between the two title characters, which is forbidden as the pair come from two families who are sworn enemies. Early in the play, Romeo (a Montague) sneaks into a masquerade ball being held by the Capulets in the hope of meeting a Capulet girl named Rosaline. Instead, he meets and falls for Juliet, also a Capulet. Tragedy ensues …

52. Yorba ___, Calif. : LINDA
Yorba Linda is a city in Orange County, California. It is an affluent community, and is regularly listed as the richest city in the country based on median household income. Yorba Linda is also home to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

55. Elvis ___ Presley : ARON
Elvis Aron Presley (aka “the King”) was the younger of two identical twins. His brother was stillborn, delivered 35 minutes before Elvis. The brother was named Jesse Garon Presley. So, although born a twin, Elvis was raised as an only child.

56. French underground : PARIS METRO (giving “Paris”)
The Paris Métro is the busiest underground transportation system in western Europe, carrying about 4.5 million passengers a day, about the same as the New York City Subway. The system took its name from the company that originally operated it, namely “La Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain de Paris”, which was shorted to “Métro”. The term “Metro” was then adopted for similar systems in cities all over the world.

In Greek mythology, Paris was a son of Priam and Hecuba, the king and queen of Troy. Paris is famous for eloping with Helen, Queen of Sparta, and hence precipitating the Trojan War. Paris also killed the Greek hero Achilles by shooting him in the heel with an arrow.

58. Indian dress : SARI
The item of clothing called a “sari” (also “saree”) is a strip of cloth, as one might imagine, unusual perhaps in that is unstitched along the whole of its length. The strip of cloth can range from four to nine meters long (that’s a lot of material!). The sari is usually wrapped around the waist, then draped over the shoulder leaving the midriff bare. I must say, it can be a beautiful item of clothing.

59. Shakespeare’s stream : AVON
There are actually four rivers called the Avon in England, but “Shakespeare’s Avon” lies mainly in Warwickshire. The name “Avon” comes from the Old English word for a river, “abona”. Stratford-upon-Avon was the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

61. Baldwin of “30 Rock” : ALEC
Alec is the oldest of the acting Baldwin brothers. I think Alec’s big break was playing Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan in “The Hunt for Red October”, but thank goodness that role was taken over by Harrison Ford for the subsequent Jack Ryan movies. Baldwin made a name for himself in recent times playing Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock”, opposite Tina Fey. He has also hosted the sketch show “Saturday Night Live” on more occasions than anyone else (16 times).

Down
1. When Otello dies in “Otello” : ACT IV
2. “Otello” composer : VERDI
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.

5. Singer Meghan : TRAINOR
Meghan Trainor is a singer-songwriter from Nantucket, Massachusetts now living in Los Angeles. Trainor’s style is sometimes described as “retro”, with strong influences from the fifties and sixties.

7. Jane Austen novel on which “Clueless” is based : EMMA
I listened to one of my favorite Jane Austen novels on Audio Book not so long ago. “Emma” is the tale of Emma Woodhouse and the wonderful George Knightley. At the end of the story, Emma marries Knightley and her young friend Harriet marries Robert Martin, who had been trying to get Harriet’s attention practically from page one of the novel!

The 1995 movie “Clueless” is apparently based on Jane Austen’s “Emma”, which is a favorite novel of mine. As a result, I am going to have to check out the film. That said, “Clueless” is set in a Beverly Hills high school, so I probably should prepare myself to be disappointed …

8. Muscat’s land : OMAN
Muscat is the capital of Oman, and lies on the northeast coast of the state on the Gulf of Oman, a branch of the Persian Gulf.

13. “The Farmer in the ___” : DELL
“The Farmer in the Dell” is a nursery rhyme and singing game that probably originated in Germany.

The farmer in the dell
The farmer in the dell
Hi-ho, the derry-o
The farmer in the dell

18. Mosque leader : IMAM
An imam is a Muslim leader, often the person in charge of a mosque or perhaps a Muslim community.

22. Dog food brand : IAMS
Iams dog food was produced by the animal nutritionist Paul Iams. He felt that household pets were suffering somewhat by being fed a diet of table scraps, so he developed a dry dog food that he felt was more nutritious and suitable for pet dogs. He founded the Iams company, now part of Procter & Gamble, in 1946.

24. “All About ___ Bass” (2014 #1 hit by 5-Down) : THAT
(5D. Singer Meghan : TRAINOR)
My taste in music tends to be buried in the past, but I do like Meghan Trainor’s 2014 debut single “All About That Bass”. That said, the song does have a bit of a retro feel to it.

25. ___ the lily : GILD
“To gild” is a to coat with cold. The phrase “to gild the lily” means to add unnecessary ornamentation, to try to improve something that is already ideal.

28. Caribbean, e.g. : SEA
The Caribbean Sea takes its name from the Carib people. The Caribs are an American Indian people that live in the Lesser Antilles islands, part of the West Indies.

29. Formerly top-rated show starring Mark Harmon : NCIS
NCIS is the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which investigates crimes in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The service gives its name to the CBS TV show “NCIS”, a spin-off drama from “JAG” in which the main “NCIS” characters were first introduced. The big star in “NCIS” is the actor Mark Harmon.

30. ___ mia (Italian term of endearment) : CARA
“Cara mia” is the Italian for “my beloved” or “my dear”.

31. Kind of map often colored red and blue : ELECTORAL
On political maps, red states are Republican and blue states Democrat. The designation of red and blue states is a very recent concept, only introduced in the 2000 presidential election by TV journalist, the late Tim Russert. In retrospect, the choice of colors is surprising, as in other democracies around the world red is usually used to describe left-leaning socialist parties (the reds under the bed!), and blue is used for conservative right-wing parties. In election cycles, swing/battleground states are often depicted in purple.

32. Many a junior varsity player : SOPHOMORE
The term “sophomore” has been used for a student in the second year of university since the 1680’s. The original meaning of the word was “arguer”. The term has Greek roots, from two Greek words that have been artificially combined in English. The Greek “sophos” means “wise”, and “moros” means “foolish”.

“Varsity” is an adjective used to describe a university or school team or competition. “Varsity” is a variant of the earlier term “versity” used in the late 17th century, which was a shortened form of “university”.

37. Big name in jeans : LEE
The Lee company famous for making jeans was formed in 1889, by one Henry David Lee in Salina, Kansas.

38. Old presidential dog whose name starts a Christmas carol refrain : FALA
Fala was the famous Scottish Terrier that was ever present at the side of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for many years. The terrier was a Christmas gift to the president from his cousin, who had named the dog Big Boy while she trained him as a puppy. President Roosevelt renamed him after an ancestor of his from Falahill in Scotland, so the dog’s full name was Murray the Outlaw of Falahill. Fala lived on for several years after the president’s passing. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the gravesites of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in Hyde Park, New York, and Fala is buried just a few feet away from his master.

43. Peaceful : IRENIC
“Irenic” (also “eirenic”) means peaceful, from the Greek “eirene” meaning peace. A lovely word …

48. The “fact” that the Great Wall of China is visible from space, and others : MYTHS
The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications that was built and rebuilt over the centuries to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire. Most of the existing wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty. This Ming wall is about 5,000 miles long. There is an urban myth that the Great Wall is visible from the Moon, or from space. NASA has shown that the Great Wall can only be discerned from low Earth orbit (about 100 miles), and that is no more or less visible than any other man-made structure.

49. 1990s candidate H. Ross ___ : PEROT
Ross Perot graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1953, as president of his class. Perot served his 4-year commitment but then resigned his commission, apparently having become somewhat disillusioned with the navy. He was ranked number 101 on the Forbes 400 List of Richest Americans in 2012, and at that time was worth about $3.5 billion. Back in 1992, Perot ran as an independent candidate for US president. He founded the Reform Party in 1995, and ran as the Reform Party candidate for president in 1996.

50. Features of Dalmatians : SPOTS
The Dalmatian breed of dog originated in Dalmatia, in the Republic of Croatia. Here in the US, Dalmatians are known as “firehouse dogs”. This association dates back to the use of Dalmatians in firehouses to guard the valuable horses that pulled the fire engines.

51. Tabula ___ (blank slate) : RASA
Tabula rasa (plural: tabulae rasae) is the idea that people are born with a “blank slate”, and that knowledge comes from experience and perception.

53. Club that’s usually numbered from 3 to 9 : IRON
Most of the irons in a golf bag had non-numerical names in days gone by:

– 2 Iron … Cleek
– 3 Iron … Mid Mashie
– 4 Iron … Mashie Iron
– 5 Iron … Mashie
– 6 Iron … Spade Mashie
– 7 Iron … Mashie Niblick
– 8 Iron … Pitching Niblick
– 9 Iron … Niblick

57. Jimmy Eat World genre : EMO
Jimmy Eat World is an alternative rock band from Mesa, Arizona.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Pirate’s “Stop!” : AVAST!
6. Cry that means “I want some milk” (or who knows what?) : MEOW!
10. It blocks Superman’s X-ray vision : LEAD
14. Wood used in shingles : CEDAR
15. Guns & ___ magazine : AMMO
16. What a wheel rotates on : AXLE
17. He quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys to three 1990s Super Bowl wins : TROY AIKMAN (giving “Troy”)
19. “___ be all right” : IT’LL
20. Things checked by the T.S.A. : IDS
21. “Um … that is …” : I MEAN …
22. Perfect : IDEAL
23. Hanoi is its capital : VIETNAM
25. Unhealthily thin : GAUNT
26. Animated TV character who cries “D’oh!” : HOMER SIMPSON (giving “Homer”)
30. Chávez or Romero : CESAR
33. Morays and congers : EELS
34. Abbr. ending a co. name : INC
35. Tons : A LOT
36. Work hinted at by the starts of 17-, 26-, 42- and 56-Across : ILIAD
38. Centers of attention : FOCI
39. G.O.P.’er: Abbr. : REP
40. Yemeni port city : ADEN
41. Candy ___ (Christmas decorations) : CANES
42. Key vulnerability : ACHILLES HEEL (giving “Achilles”)
46. Rich cake : TORTE
47. Freeway access points : ON-RAMPS
51. Juliet’s lover : ROMEO
52. Yorba ___, Calif. : LINDA
54. Slangy affirmative : YEP
55. Elvis ___ Presley : ARON
56. French underground : PARIS METRO (giving “Paris”)
58. Indian dress : SARI
59. Shakespeare’s stream : AVON
60. Comment made while fanning oneself : I’M HOT
61. Baldwin of “30 Rock” : ALEC
62. Telephoned : RANG
63. Salaries, raw materials, advertising, etc. : COSTS

Down
1. When Otello dies in “Otello” : ACT IV
2. “Otello” composer : VERDI
3. Give ___ of one’s own medicine : A DOSE
4. Utter : SAY
5. Singer Meghan : TRAINOR
6. “You and what army?!” : MAKE ME!
7. Jane Austen novel on which “Clueless” is based : EMMA
8. Muscat’s land : OMAN
9. Triumphed : WON
10. Bedridden : LAID-UP
11. File name add-on : EXTENSION
12. Suddenly : ALL AT ONCE
13. “The Farmer in the ___” : DELL
18. Mosque leader : IMAM
22. Dog food brand : IAMS
24. “All About ___ Bass” (2014 #1 hit by 5-Down) : THAT
25. ___ the lily : GILD
27. Bridle straps : REINS
28. Caribbean, e.g. : SEA
29. Formerly top-rated show starring Mark Harmon : NCIS
30. ___ mia (Italian term of endearment) : CARA
31. Kind of map often colored red and blue : ELECTORAL
32. Many a junior varsity player : SOPHOMORE
36. Out of a job : IDLE
37. Big name in jeans : LEE
38. Old presidential dog whose name starts a Christmas carol refrain : FALA
40. Voice above tenor : ALTO
41. Made from clay : CERAMIC
43. Peaceful : IRENIC
44. Sharpening : HONING
45. Finishes : ENDS
48. The “fact” that the Great Wall of China is visible from space, and others : MYTHS
49. 1990s candidate H. Ross ___ : PEROT
50. Features of Dalmatians : SPOTS
51. Tabula ___ (blank slate) : RASA
52. Volcanic output : LAVA
53. Club that’s usually numbered from 3 to 9 : IRON
56. Golfing standard : PAR
57. Jimmy Eat World genre : EMO

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3 thoughts on “1207-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 7 Dec 15, Monday”

  1. 7:37, no errors. Didn't recognize the name "Meghan Trainor". Appreciated being reminded of the terms "mashie" and "niblick" (which I always found amusing), but didn't remember "cleek". Tried golf once in high school and realized it was really not my thing.

  2. 6:59, no errors. About as fast as I can fill a grid with a pencil.

    Studied Greek mythology in Junior High School. I wasn't interested in history at all, but I thought the Iliad and Odyssey were fascinating.

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