1210-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 10 Dec 15, Thursday

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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: Timothy Polin
THEME: Stumbling Blocks … today’s grid needs four incidents of the letter sequence “ER” (i.e. STUMBLES) added to back squares (BLOCKS) in order to make sense of answers touching those squares:

36A. Obstacles seen four times in this puzzle’s completed grid? : STUMBLING BLOCKS

19A. Infernal : NETHER
20A. One drawing alluring images : EROTIC ARTIST
28A. Greasy spoon : DINER
29A. White-tailed eagles : ERNES
43A. Verbalize : UTTER
44A. ___ Stavro Blofeld (Bond archvillain) : ERNST
56A. Something lost and returned in a fairy tale : GLASS SLIPPER
59A. City ENE of Cleveland, OH : ERIE, PA
4D. Worker at a stable : SHOER
9D. Go on and on and on : CHATTER
21D. Head of a conspiracy : RINGLEADER
23D. Chicago Cubs Hall-of-Famer : ERNIE BANKS
32D. Honey-colored : AMBER
35D. Flynn of film : ERROL
52D. Removal : ERASURE
62D. Build : ERECT

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 24m 33s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

9. Bloke : CHAP
“Chap” is an informal term for “lad, fellow”, especially in England. The term derives from “chapman”, an obsolete word meaning “purchaser” or “trader”.

“Bloke” is British slang for a fellow. The etymology of “bloke” seems to have been lost in the mists of time.

13. Blues chanteuse Washington : DINAH
Dinah Washington was the stage name of the blues and jazz singer Ruth Lee Jones. Apparently when she was once performing at the famed London Palladium she announced (with Queen Elizabeth II sitting in the Royal Box), “There is but one Heaven, one Hell, one queen, and your Elizabeth is an impostor.” That would have created a bit of a stir …

A “chanteuse” is a female singer, a French term.

16. Geopolitical term introduced in the 2002 State of the Union : AXIS OF EVIL
The “axis of evil” is a term coined by President George W. Bush, describing the regimes in Iran, Iraq and North Korea. The president introduced the phrase in his 2002 State of the Union address.

18. Game box specification : AGES
Computer games are rated for suitability by age.

19. Infernal : NETHER
The adjective “nether” can describe things below the surface of the Earth, and hence figuratively things that are infernal. Those areas below the surface are “the nether regions”.

24. Phoenician or Palestinian : SEMITE
The word “Semitic” comes from the Greek for Shem, one of the three sons of Noah. A Semite is one of a large list of peoples, from the Assyrians and Babylonians to the Hebrews. The term “anti-Semite” however, almost always refer to anti-Jewish sentiment.

28. Greasy spoon : DINER
“Greasy spoon” is a familiar term for a restaurant, usually a diner, that is less than pristine and that serves cheap food.

29. White-tailed eagles : ERNES
The ern (also erne) is also called the white-tailed eagle or sea-eagle.

32. Succession within an ethnic group? : A-E-I-O-U
The vowels A-E-I-O-U appear in succession, in alphabetical order, in the phrase “an ethnic group”.

41. ___ toast : MELBA
Melba toast is a dry, thinly sliced toast that is usually served with soup or salad. Melba toast was created by chef Auguste Escoffier for opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, for who he also created the dessert called Peach Melba.

42. Disney friend of Flounder and Sebastian : ARIEL
“The Little Mermaid” is a 1989 animated feature from Disney that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name. It tells the story of a mermaid princess named Ariel who falls in love with the human Prince Eric. Ariel’s father is chief merman King Triton. Her best friend is Flounder, who despite his name is not a flounder at all and is actually a tropical fish. Ariel is also friends with Sebastian, a red Jamaican crab whose full name is Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian.

44. ___ Stavro Blofeld (Bond archvillain) : ERNST
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is a villain in the James Bond universe. Blofeld has been played on the big screen several times by different actors. My favorite is Donald Pleasance in 1967’s “You Only Live Twice”. In the original Ian Fleming novels, Blofeld was born on 28 May 1908, which happens to be Fleming’s own birthday.

47. Onetime NBC parent : RCA
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) has had a number of different logos in its history, including the famous peacock with which we are familiar today. The first peacock logo was introduced in the early days of color television and was designed to illustrate how wonderful color television would be, so go buy one! (NBC was owned by RCA, and so had a vested interest in sales of color television sets).

48. “Get a room” elicitor, for short : PDA
PDA is an abbreviation for “public display of affection”.

56. Something lost and returned in a fairy tale : GLASS SLIPPER
The folk tale about “Cinderella” was first published by French author Charles Perrault in 1697. The storyline of the tale may date back as far as the days of Ancient Greece. A common alternative title to the story is “The Little Glass Slipper”.

59. City ENE of Cleveland, OH : ERIE, PA
Erie is a city in the very north of Pennsylvania, right on the southern shore of Lake Erie. The city takes its name from the Erie Native American tribe that resided in the area.

60. Setting for the George Clooney film “The Descendants” : OAHU
“The Descendants” is a 2011 film starring George Clooney that is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. I haven’t seen this one, but I hear good things …

61. Poet who won a 1967 Pulitzer for “Live or Die” : ANNE SEXTON
Anne Sexton was a poet from Massachusetts who won the 1967 Pulitzer for poetry for her collection titled “Live or Die”. Sexton’s style of poetry is sometimes classified as “confessional”, and reveals details of her private life, including her battle with depression. She finally committed suicide in 1974 at the age of 45.

63. Reputation : ODOR
The term “odor” can be used to mean “repute”, as in “the man had a bad odor with the townsfolk”.

64. “It” : MOJO
The word “mojo”, meaning magical charm or magnetism, is probably of Creole origin.

65. One-named R&B singer with the hit “1, 2 Step” : CIARA
Ciara is a singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas (never heard of her). Ciara used to date rapper Bow Wow (ever heard of him), but now dates a rapper called Future (never heard of him). Ah me …

67. Actor McGregor : EWAN
Ewan McGregor is a very talented Scottish actor, one who got his break in the 1996 film “Trainspotting”. McGregor’s first big Hollywood role was playing the young Obi-Wan-Kenobi in the “Star Wars” prequels. Less known is his televised marathon motorcycle journey from London to New York via central Europe, Ukraine, Siberia, Mongolia and Canada. The 2004 trip was shown as “Long Way Round” on TV. McGregor did a similar trip in 2007 called “Long Way Down”, which took him and the same travelling companion from the north of Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa.

68. A crucible is a hard one : TEST
A crucible is a container often made of a ceramic material that can withstand high temperatures.“Crucible” comes from the Medieval Latin “crucibulum” meaning “melting pot for metals”, although the term originally described a “night lamp”. By extension, we can also describe a particularly intense trial or test as a crucible.

Down
1. Spots for computer users : PIXELS
A pixel is a dot, the base element that goes to make up a digital image. “Pixel” is a combination of “pix” (meaning “picture”) and “element”.

3. Turkish pooh-bah : PASHA
A “pasha” was a high-ranking official in the Ottoman Empire, roughly equivalent to the English rank of “lord”.

The term “pooh-bah” (also “poobah”), meaning an ostentatious official, comes from the world of opera. Pooh-Bah is a character in the wonderful Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera “The Mikado”. Famously, Pooh-Bah holds many, many offices, including that of “Lord High Everything Else”.

6. Singer befriended by a young Forrest Gump : ELVIS
In the movie “Forrest Gump”, the title character is a young boy when he meets Elvis. The singer stays in the Gump family’s bed-and-breakfast, where he plays his guitar for young Forrest.

7. Was an errant driver? : SLICED
In golf, an errant driver might slice or hook the ball.

8. Sub choice : SALAMI
Salame (note the “e” at the end) is an Italian sausage that is traditionally associated with the peasant classes. The meat in the sausage is preserved with salt, and it can be hung and stored for as long as ten years. The name “salame” comes from “sale”, the Italian word for salt, and “-ame”, a suffix indicating a collective noun. Our English word “salami” is actually the Italian plural for “salame”.

10. Salubrious : HYGIENIC
Something “salubrious” promotes health and well-being. The term derives from the Latin “salus” meaning “health, welfare”.

11. Pithecological study : APES
“Pithecology” is the study of monkeys and apes. It’s not a term used a lot, I don’t think …

13. Terpsichore’s domain : DANCE
In Greek mythology, the muses are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. The number of muses is a subject of debate at times, but the most popular view is that there are nine:

– Calliope (epic poetry)
– Clio (history)
– Erato (lyric poetry)
– Euterpe (music)
– Melpomene (tragedy)
– Polyhymnia (choral poetry)
– Terpsichore (dance)
– Thalia (comedy)
– Urania (astronomy)

17. Bone to pick? : FOSSIL
A fossil is the preserved remains of an animal, plant or organism from the past. The term “fossil” is usually for such preserved remains that are over 10,000 years old. “Fossil” comes from the Latin “fissilis” meaning “obtained by digging”.

23. Chicago Cubs Hall-of-Famer : ERNIE BANKS
First baseman Ernie Banks was known as “Mr. Cub”, and played his entire 19-year professional career with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs retired Banks’ uniform number 14 in 1982, making him the first Cubs player to be so honored.

27. “Surely not ME!?” : MOI?
“Moi” is the French word for “me”.

30. Northern game : ELK
The elk (also known as the wapiti) is the one of the largest species of deer in the world, with only the moose being bigger. Early European settlers were familiar with the smaller red deer back in their homelands, so when they saw the “huge” wapiti they assumed it was a moose, and incorrectly gave it the European name for a moose, namely “elk”. The more correct name for the beast is “wapiti”, which means “white rump” in Shawnee. It’s all very confusing …

31. Classic Mercedes roadsters : SLS
The Mercedes-Benz SL was first manufactured in 1954. The “SL” stands for Sport Leicht, or “Sport Light” in English.

33. Early afternoon ora : UNA
In Italian, an early afternoon “ora” (hour) is “una” (one).

35. Flynn of film : ERROL
Errol Flynn was born 1909 in Tasmania, Australia where he was raised. In his twenties, Flynn lived in the UK where he pursued his acting career. Around the same time he starred in an Australian film “In the Wake of the Bounty” and then appeared in a British film “Murder at Monte Carlo”. It was in the latter film that he was noticed by Warner Brothers who brought him to America. Flynn’s non-American heritage shone through even while he was living the American dream in California. He regularly played cricket, along with his friend David Niven, in the Hollywood Cricket Club.

36. Dallas institution, for short : SMU
Southern Methodist University (SMU) is located in University Park, Texas (part of Dallas), and was founded in 1911. SMU is home to the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

37. Lunar celebration : TET
The full name for the New Year holiday in Vietnam is “Tet Nguyen Dan” meaning “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day”, with the reference being to the arrival of the season of spring. Tet usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year.

39. Chow line? : GRR
The Chow Chow is a breed of dog that originated in China. The Chinese name for the breed is “Songshi Quan”, which translates as “puffy-lion dog”, a rather apt name given its appearance …

40. “Guns” : BICEPS
“Guns” is a slang term for very strong arms or biceps.

The biceps muscle is made up of two bundles of muscle, both of which terminate at the same point near the elbow. The heads of the bundles terminate at different points on the scapula or shoulder blade. “Biceps” is Latin for “two-headed”.

45. Opening word : SESAME
In the folk tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, the title character is a poor woodcutter who discovers the magic words “Open Sesame” that open the thieves’ den.

48. Several works of Michelangelo : PIETAS
The Pietà is a representation of the Virgin Mary holding in her arms the dead body of her son Jesus. The most famous “Pietà” is probably the sculpted rendition by Michelangelo which is located in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. In some depictions, Mary and her son are surrounded by other figures from the New Testament, and these depictions are known as “Lamentations”.

50. Lotus position in yoga, e.g. : ASANA
“Asana” is a Sanskrit word literally meaning “sitting down”. The asanas are the poses that a practitioner of yoga assumes. The most famous is the lotus position, the cross-legged pose called “padmasana”.

53. Storied assassin : NINJA
The ninjas were around in Japan at the time of the samurai, but were a very different type of warrior. The ninjas were covert operatives, specializing in the use of stealth to accomplish their missions. As they were a secretive cadre they took on a mystical reputation with the public, who believed they had the ability to become invisible or perhaps walk on water.

55. Song of the South : DIXIE

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten.
Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land!

“Dixie” is a nickname sometimes used for the American South, and often specifically for the original 11 states that seceded from the Union just prior to the Civil War. It’s apparently not certain how the name “Dixie” came about. One theory is that it comes from the term “dixie” which was used for currency issued by banks in Louisiana. The 10-dollar bills had the word “dix” on the reverse side, the French for “ten”. From the banknote, the French speaking area around New Orleans came to be known as Dixieland, and from there “Dixie” came to apply to the South in general.

57. Bring aboard : LADE
The verb “lade” meaning “to load” comes from an Old English word “hladan”. Lade also used to mean “to draw water” and indeed gave us our word “ladle”. So “lade” and “ladle” are close cousins.

58. Low hand? : PEON
A peon is a lowly worker with no real control over his/her working conditions. The word comes into English from Spanish where it has the same meaning.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Young wolves : PUPS
5. Unenviable situation : MESS
9. Bloke : CHAP
13. Blues chanteuse Washington : DINAH
14. That señora : ELLA
15. Build up : HYPE
16. Geopolitical term introduced in the 2002 State of the Union : AXIS OF EVIL
18. Game box specification : AGES
19. Infernal : NETHER
20. One drawing alluring images : EROTIC ARTIST
22. Wipes (out) : CLEANS
24. Phoenician or Palestinian : SEMITE
25. Treacherous bend : ESS
26. School of thought : ISM
28. Greasy spoon : DINER
29. White-tailed eagles : ERNES
32. Succession within an ethnic group? : A-E-I-O-U
34. Question thoroughly : GRILL
36. Obstacles seen four times in this puzzle’s completed grid? : STUMBLING BLOCKS
41. ___ toast : MELBA
42. Disney friend of Flounder and Sebastian : ARIEL
43. Verbalize : UTTER
44. ___ Stavro Blofeld (Bond archvillain) : ERNST
47. Onetime NBC parent : RCA
48. “Get a room” elicitor, for short : PDA
51. Accrue hand over fist : RAKE IN
54. Swirls : EDDIES
56. Something lost and returned in a fairy tale : GLASS SLIPPER
59. City ENE of Cleveland, OH : ERIE, PA
60. Setting for the George Clooney film “The Descendants” : OAHU
61. Poet who won a 1967 Pulitzer for “Live or Die” : ANNE SEXTON
63. Reputation : ODOR
64. “It” : MOJO
65. One-named R&B singer with the hit “1, 2 Step” : CIARA
66. Have a dinner for, say : FETE
67. Actor McGregor : EWAN
68. A crucible is a hard one : TEST

Down
1. Spots for computer users : PIXELS
2. Hooks up : UNITES
3. Turkish pooh-bah : PASHA
4. Worker at a stable : SHOER
5. Series of races : MEET
6. Singer befriended by a young Forrest Gump : ELVIS
7. Was an errant driver? : SLICED
8. Sub choice : SALAMI
9. Go on and on and on : CHATTER
10. Salubrious : HYGIENIC
11. Pithecological study : APES
12. Trying type : PEST
13. Terpsichore’s domain : DANCE
17. Bone to pick? : FOSSIL
21. Head of a conspiracy : RINGLEADER
23. Chicago Cubs Hall-of-Famer : ERNIE BANKS
27. “Surely not ME!?” : MOI?
30. Northern game : ELK
31. Classic Mercedes roadsters : SLS
32. Honey-colored : AMBER
33. Early afternoon ora : UNA
35. Flynn of film : ERROL
36. Dallas institution, for short : SMU
37. Lunar celebration : TET
38. Like the core of the sun : ULTRA HOT
39. Chow line? : GRR
40. “Guns” : BICEPS
45. Opening word : SESAME
46. Thus far, informally : ‘TIL NOW
48. Several works of Michelangelo : PIETAS
49. Order out? : DEPORT
50. Lotus position in yoga, e.g. : ASANA
52. Removal : ERASURE
53. Storied assassin : NINJA
55. Song of the South : DIXIE
56. Typo, e.g. : GOOF
57. Bring aboard : LADE
58. Low hand? : PEON
62. Build : ERECT

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5 thoughts on “1210-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 10 Dec 15, Thursday”

  1. Interesting theme. I think we've seen the "embedded letters" in the black before, but this was manageable. The trick was remembering which squares had the hidden letters.

    The Mercedes-Benz SL300 was eventually replaced by the SLR and now the SLS (which is the same answer in the grid). Base price is around $140. It's an impressive auto to sit in, but I wouldn't go any further.

  2. 35:01, 2 errors. 48A PSO and 50D OSANA. Think I just got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Didn't really understand the theme until I was completely finished, and still didn't recognize ERIE PA until I came here.

    14:56, now that is flying.

  3. @BruceB … I think I lucked out on this one by happening to look at the clues in just the right order. In particular, I saw early on that DINer, erNES, and erROL were all logical answers, that each of them needed an ER somewhere, and that the obvious somewhere was a certain black square. After that, I was alert to the possibility of similar squares and it all went pretty smoothly, interrupted only by writing in HIRE in place of LADE (which was easy to fix). I think, in the past, you have described this as being "in sync" with rhe setter. No doubt I will be more nearly my usual self tomorrow … 🙂

  4. One of my most enjoyable Thursday rebus solves. Will I be brought down from my high tomorrow and Saturday. Probably.

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