1212-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 12 Dec 15, Saturday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Byron Walden
THEME: None
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 25m 30s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Light shower? : PRISM
When light passes through a prism, it is split up (“disperses”) into differing wavelengths. It then becomes clear that white light is actually a mixture of different colors, which show up as beautiful spectra.

6. Bars where swingers hang out? : JUNGLE GYM
The “Junglegym” was invented in Chicago in 1920, although today we use the generic term “jungle gym”. Somehow, the phrase “monkey bars” started to be used in the mid-fifties for the same apparatus.

15. Reef denizen : MORAY
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.

17. Skilled forger : SMITH
Traditionally there has been a distinction between a farrier and a blacksmith. A blacksmith is someone who forges and shapes iron, perhaps to make horseshoes. A farrier is someone who fits horseshoes onto the hooves of horses. The term “blacksmith” is sometimes used for one who shoes horses, especially as many blacksmiths make horseshoes and fit them as well.

19. Joseph’s uncle, in Genesis : 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).

In the Torah, the Israelites are traced back to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham and twin brother of Esau. Jacob had twelve sons, through his concurrent wives Leah and Rachel, and his two concubines Bilhah and Zilpah. The sons became the ancestors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The sons were:

– Reuben
– Simeon
– Levi
– Judah
– Dan
– Naphtali
– Gad
– Asher
– Issachar
– Zebulun
– Joseph
– Benjamin

20. How the operas “Artaxerxes” and “Iolanthe” are usually performed : IN ENGLISH
“Artaxerxes” is an opera by English composer Thomas Arne. Premiering in 1762, “Artaxerxes” was the first English opera seria in the repertoire.

“Iolanthe” is a Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera that was first staged at the Savoy Theatre in London in 1882. The opera features a group of fairies who come into conflict with Britain’s House of Lords. “Iolanthe” satirizes many aspects of the country’s government of the day.

21. German-born American tennis star who won 17 Grand Slam singles and doubles titles : JOHN MCENROE
Former tennis pro John McEnroe is known for his prowess on the court, as well his fiery temper. He was one of the great characters of his day, and had many grudge matches against the likes of Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl. In 1984, McEnroe won 82 out of 85 matches, a winning record that still stands to this day. Although American, McEnroe was born in Germany, on the US Air Force Base in Wiesbaden.

23. “Mountain, Navel, Anchors, Table” artist, 1925 : ARP
Hans Arp was a French artist renowned for his work with torn and pasted paper, although that wasn’t the only medium he used. Arp was the son of a French mother and German father and spoke both languages fluently. When he was speaking German he gave his name as Hans Arp, but when speaking French he called himself Jean Arp. Both “Hans” and “Jean” translate into English as “John”. In WWI Arp moved to Switzerland to avoid being called up to fight, taking advantage of Swiss neutrality. Eventually he was told to report to the German Consulate and fill out paperwork for the draft. In order to get out of fighting, Arp messed up the paperwork by writing the date in every blank space on the forms. Then he took off all of his clothes and walked with his papers over to the officials in charge. Arp was sent home …

“Mountain, Navel, Anchors, Table” is a 1925 work by Hans Arp that is owned by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, although I don’t think it is on permanent display.

24. New seal : PUP
Male seals are called bulls, females are cows, and babies are pups.

25. “Hungarian Dances” composer : BRAHMS
Johannes Brahms was a leading German composer during the Romantic period. Brahms is one of the “Three Bs”, often grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.

The set of 21 “Hungarian Dances” by Johannes Brahms were completed in 1869. They were popular works for the composer, and made quite a pretty penny for him in his own lifetime.

30. Pitch ___ : WOO
The slang phrase “to pitch woo” means “to kiss and cuddle”, and has been around at least since the 1800s.

34. Fancy : POSH
No one really knows the etymology of the word “posh”. The popular myth that POSH stands for “Port Out, Starboard Home” is completely untrue, and is a story that can actually be traced back to the 1968 movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. The myth is that wealthy British passengers travelling to and from India would book cabins on the port side for the outward journey and the starboard side for the home journey. This trick was supposedly designed to keep their cabins out of the direct sunlight.

35. Longtime radio rival of Stern : IMUS
Don Imus’s syndicated radio show “Imus in the Morning” broadcasts from New York City. Imus has been described as a “shock jock”, a disc jockey who deliberately uses provocative language and humor that many would find offensive . I don’t like shock jocks …

Howard Stern is one of the original “shock jocks” who seems now to have found his niche on uncensored satellite radio (SiriusXM). Apparently Stern is quite a chess player, and was invited to play in the 2010 US Chess Championships.

37. Pool party : STENO
Stenography is the process of writing in shorthand. The term comes from the Greek “steno” (narrow) and “graphe” (writing).

38. Franklin who sang “Piece of My Heart” : ERMA
Erma Franklin was an R&B and gospel singer. She was the elder sister of Aretha Franklin. Erma toured with Aretha for a while, and even recorded backup vocals on her sister’s big hit “Respect”.

39. State symbol with a reduplicative name : NENE
The bird called a nene is a native of Hawaii, and is also known as the Hawaiian goose. The name “nene” is imitative of its call. When Captain Cook landed on the islands in 1778, there were 25,000 nene living there. By 1950, the number was reduced by hunting to just 30 birds. Conservation efforts in recent years have been somewhat successful.

40. Possible cause of vertigo : OTITIS
Otitis is inflammation of the ear.

Vertigo is a Latin word meaning “dizziness” and has the same meaning in English. The Latin term comes from the Latin verb “vertere”, which means “to turn”.

46. Lead-in to drop or roll : EGG
Egg drop soup is a Chinese dish in which the key ingredients are beaten eggs and chicken broth. Also called egg flower soup, the final step in its preparation is the addition of a thin stream of beaten eggs to the broth as it boils, creating flakes of cooked egg that float in the soup.

55. The gamut : A TO Z
In medieval times, the musical scale was denoted by the notes “ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la”. The term “gamma ut”, shortened to “gamut”, was used to describe the whole scale. By the 1620s, “gamut” was being used to mean the entire range of anything, the whole gamut.

57. African desert that includes the Skeleton Coast : NAMIB
The Namib Desert is in Namibia, as one might expect, and and also stretches into part of Angola. It is thought to be the oldest desert in the world, having been arid for over 55 million years.

The Atlantic coast of the Namib Desert in Africa is known as the Skeleton Coast. The name was coined by John Henry Marsh when he used it for the title of his book about the shipwreck of the Dunedin Star that was lost there in 1942.

59. Feature of some mattresses : OPEN COILS
There are two main types of mattresses using coiled springs. The most common is an open coil mattress, which consists of an interconnected spring system. The alternative is a pocket spring mattress, in which individual springs are not connected and rather sit in their own little pockets.

60. Bathroom brand with a Snake Plus variety : DRANO
To clean out drains we might buy Crystal Drano which is sodium hydroxide (lye) mixed with sodium nitrate, sodium chloride (table salt) and aluminum. The contents of Drano work in concert to clear the clog. The lye reacts with any fats creating soap which may be enough to break up the clog. Also, the finely-divided aluminum reacts with water creating tremendous heat so that that mixture boils and churns, then any hair or fibers are cut by the sharp edges of the nitrate and chloride crystals. Having said all that, I find that boiling water poured down the drain almost always does the job …

62. Raw power : SINEW
Sinew is another name for a tendon. Tendons are bands of collagen that connect muscle to bone. Tendons are similar to ligaments and fasciae, which are also connective tissue made out of collagen, but ligaments join bone to bone, and fasciae connect muscle to muscle. We also use the term “sinew” to mean muscular power.

Down
1. Residents of 24 Sussex Dr. in Ottawa : PMS
The Prime Minister of Canada has two official residences made available to him or her. The year-round residence in the New Edinburgh neighborhood of Ottawa is known by its address “24 Sussex”. The summer residence is the Harrington Lake estate in nearby Gatineau Park. Unlike 10 Downing Street in London, 24 Sussex is primarily just a residence, as the Prime Minister of Canada spends the working day at the Office of the Prime Minister near Parliament Hill.

2. Balcony address? : ROMEO, ROMEO
In William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”, the lovers discuss the sad fact that they have been born into two feuding families in the famous balcony scene. Juliet says:

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Romeo’s reply includes the famous lines:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

3. One of the currencies replaced by the euro in 2002 : IRISH POUND
The “punt” (also known as “the Irish pound”) was the currency of Ireland until the euro went into circulation in 2002.

4. Job tester : SATAN
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.

5. Grammy-winning hit that begins “Whatcha gon’ do with all that junk” : MY HUMPS
“My Humps” is a 2005 song by the Black Eyed Peas that was written by band member will.i.am. Unfortunately perhaps, the “humps” in the title are the breasts and buttocks of the woman in the song who uses those features to get her way.

6. Angelina of Hollywood : JOLIE PITT
Angelina Jolie is a remarkably successful Hollywood actress from Los Angeles, California. Jolie has acting in her blood as her father is actor Jon Voight. Her godparents are actors Jacqueline Bisset and Maximilian Schell. Jolie’s first marriage was to British actor Jonny Lee Miller, who plays Sherlock Holmes on the TV show “Elementary”. Her second marriage was to actor Billy Bob Thornton, and the third to actor Brad Pitt.

7. Wharton’s home, briefly : UPENN
Wharton is the business school of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. The school was established in 1881 largely due to a donation from industrialist Joseph Wharton, co-founder of Bethlehem Steel.

9. In a sauce of browned butter, capers, parsley and lemon : GRENOBLOISE
A dish prepared “à la grenobloise” is served with a sauce of browned butter, capers, parsley and pieces of lemon. “Grenobloise” means “of Grenoble”, a city in southeastern France.

10. Like South Dakota vis-à-vis North Dakota : LARGER
The Dakota Territory was formed in 1861 and ceased to exist with the admission to the Union of the states of North Dakota and South Dakota. The territory was split into two states in 1889 largely due to lobbying by the Republican Party, which enjoyed a lot of support in the Dakota Territory. The admission of two states added to the political power of the party in the US Senate, by adding four safe Republican seats.

12. Best Picture Oscar winner before “Ben-Hur” : GIGI
In the lovely musical film “Gigi”, released in 1958, the title song is sung by Louis Jourdan who plays Gaston. My favorite number though, has to be “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” sung by Maurice Chevalier. Many say that “Gigi” is the last in the long line of great MGM musicals. It won a record 9 Academy Awards, a record that only lasted one year. Twelve months later “Ben Hur” won 11 Oscars. In the 1958 film, Gigi was played by the lovely Leslie Caron. A few years earlier, “Gigi” was a successful stage play on Broadway. Chosen for the title role on stage was the then-unknown Audrey Hepburn.

The celebrated Charlton Heston movie “Ben-Hur” is a dramatization of a book published in 1880 by Lew Wallace titled “Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ”. The 1959 epic film won a record 11 Academy Awards, a feat that has been equaled since then but has never been beaten. The other winners of 11 Oscars are “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Rings”.

13. Cosmetics company founder Rocher : YVES
Yves Rocher is a cosmetics company that was founded in 1959 by Yves Rocher in La Gacilly, France.

27. Lady Godiva, for one : HORSEWOMAN
In the legend of Lady Godiva, a noblewoman rode naked through the streets of Coventry in England, basically as a dare from her husband in return for relieving the taxes of his tenants. Lady Godiva issued instructions that all the town’s inhabitants should stay indoors while she made her journey. However, a tailor in the town named Tom disobeyed the instructions by boring holes in the shutters on his windows, and “peeped”. As a result, Peeping Tom was struck blind, and the term “peeping Tom” has been in our language ever since.

28. It has issues with feminism : MS MAGAZINE
“Ms.” magazine is a feminist publication co-founded by political activist Gloria Steinem in 1971. The first issue was an insert in “New York” magazine, with the first stand-alone issue being published the following year in 1972. That first issue used the byline “Wonder Woman for President”, and featured the cartoon character.

32. Retailer with stylized mountaintops in its logo : REI
REI is a sporting goods store, the initialism standing for Recreational Equipment Inc. REI was founded in Seattle by Lloyd and Mary Anderson in 1938 as a cooperative that supplies quality climbing gear to outdoor enthusiasts. The first full-time employee hired by the Andersons was Jim Whittaker, who was the American to climb Mount Everest.

33. Targeting the Fourth Estate : ANTIPRESS
Nowadays, we use the term “Fourth Estate” to refer to the news media, although the term has also applied to lawyers. It was Anglo-Irish politician Edmund Burke who first linked journalism with “the Fourth Estate”, in 1787 when commenting on the introduction of press reporting of the House of Commons in Britain.

36. “Capeesh?” : SEE?
“Capeesh?” is a slang term meaning “do you understand?” It comes from the Italian “capisce” meaning “understand”.

41. Beaches, in two senses : STRANDS
The verb “to strand” means “to beach”, and the noun “strand” means “beach”.

44. Gelatinous dishes : ASPICS
Aspic is a dish in which the main ingredients are served in a gelatin made from meat stock. “Aspic” is a French word for “jelly”.

49. ___ Norman Cosmetics : MERLE
Merle Norman Cosmetic was founded in the late twenties by Merle Nethercutt Norman. One of Norman’s key strategies from the outset was encourage her customers to “try before you buy”.

50. Maker of Basketbrawl and Robo-Squash : ATARI
At one point, the electronics and video game manufacturer Atari was the fastest growing company in US history. However, Atari never really recovered from the video game industry crash of 1983.

52. Contouring procedure, briefly : LIPO
Liposuction (lipo) dates back to the 1920s when it was developed by a surgeon in France. However, the procedure quickly lost favor when a French model developed gangrene after surgery. As a result it wasn’t until the mid-seventies that modern liposuction took off, after being popularized by two Italian-American surgeons in Rome.

53. Relatives of banjoleles : UKES
The ukulele (“uke”) originated in the 1800s and mimicked a small guitar brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants.

The banjolele is also known as the banjo ukulele. It has a body like a banjo and fretted neck like a ukulele.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Light shower? : PRISM
6. Bars where swingers hang out? : JUNGLE GYM
15. Reef denizen : MORAY
16. Private detective : OPERATIVE
17. Skilled forger : SMITH
18. Deploys to one’s advantage : LEVERAGES
19. Joseph’s uncle, in Genesis : ESAU
20. How the operas “Artaxerxes” and “Iolanthe” are usually performed : IN ENGLISH
21. German-born American tennis star who won 17 Grand Slam singles and doubles titles : JOHN MCENROE
23. “Mountain, Navel, Anchors, Table” artist, 1925 : ARP
24. New seal : PUP
25. “Hungarian Dances” composer : BRAHMS
30. Pitch ___ : WOO
31. Go a few rounds? : SPIRAL
34. Fancy : POSH
35. Longtime radio rival of Stern : IMUS
37. Pool party : STENO
38. Franklin who sang “Piece of My Heart” : ERMA
39. State symbol with a reduplicative name : NENE
40. Possible cause of vertigo : OTITIS
42. Lose tone : SAG
43. Lose tones? : GO DEAF
45. Suffix with 4-Down : -IST
46. Lead-in to drop or roll : EGG
47. Make a squirrellike exit : SCAMPER AWAY
51. Collapse at one’s desk, say : SLUMP OVER
55. The gamut : A TO Z
56. “Whatevs” : LIKE I CARE
57. African desert that includes the Skeleton Coast : NAMIB
59. Feature of some mattresses : OPEN COILS
60. Bathroom brand with a Snake Plus variety : DRANO
61. Part of a business that might include invoicing, payment, updates and equipment maintenance : POST-SALES
62. Raw power : SINEW

Down
1. Residents of 24 Sussex Dr. in Ottawa : PMS
2. Balcony address? : ROMEO, ROMEO
3. One of the currencies replaced by the euro in 2002 : IRISH POUND
4. Job tester : SATAN
5. Grammy-winning hit that begins “Whatcha gon’ do with all that junk” : MY HUMPS
6. Angelina of Hollywood : JOLIE PITT
7. Wharton’s home, briefly : UPENN
8. Ultimatum retort : NEVER!
9. In a sauce of browned butter, capers, parsley and lemon : GRENOBLOISE
10. Like South Dakota vis-à-vis North Dakota : LARGER
11. Citation shortening : ET AL
12. Best Picture Oscar winner before “Ben-Hur” : GIGI
13. Cosmetics company founder Rocher : YVES
14. Protection against mosquitoes : MESH
21. Gossiping : JAWING
22. Après-ski warmers : CUPS OF COCOA
26. Pantomime : APE
27. Lady Godiva, for one : HORSEWOMAN
28. It has issues with feminism : MS MAGAZINE
29. Unkempt : SHAGGY
32. Retailer with stylized mountaintops in its logo : REI
33. Targeting the Fourth Estate : ANTIPRESS
36. “Capeesh?” : SEE?
41. Beaches, in two senses : STRANDS
44. Gelatinous dishes : ASPICS
48. Be handy : AVAIL
49. ___ Norman Cosmetics : MERLE
50. Maker of Basketbrawl and Robo-Squash : ATARI
51. Food for hogs : SLOP
52. Contouring procedure, briefly : LIPO
53. Relatives of banjoleles : UKES
54. Base closure? : -MENT
58. Decorative flourish : BOW

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3 thoughts on “1212-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 12 Dec 15, Saturday”

  1. 24:11, no errors. Initially, this puzzle seemed strangely easy. Then toward the end, I had everything filled in except for the upper right, plus I had SPAR AT (!?) in place of SPIRAL. After several minutes, I finally remembered that Angelina Jolie is married to Brad Pitt, which gave me JOLIE PITT, changing SPAR AT to SPIR AT and leading to an "aha" moment. So SPIR AT became SPIRAL, JUNGLE GYM leapt to mind, and the rest of the upper right sort of filled itself in. Interesting how little it takes sometimes to stop one cold and how quickly difficulties can sometimes dematerialize …

    Hard to believe there really was a song called "My Humps". I'd never heard of it and was guessing that it might be a Sesame Street kind of thing, sung by a camel-faced puppet … 🙂

  2. Even harder to believe that somebody bothered to record a song called "My Humps" is that it won a Grammy. Yet another reason I ignore that particular award….

    Anyhoo… another tough, but fair puzzle 37:03 for me, but with 6 errors. I filled in an incorrect letter for LARGER and that hid BRAHMS from view.

    And all this without any dirty tricks or cynical editing. Got to love that….

  3. 48:00, no errors. Difficult slog through this one today. Also had SPAR AT in lieu of SPIRAL, and a mostly blank upper right corner with only 11D ETAL and 14D DEET (later changed to MESH). Eventually got LEVERAGES, decided that South Dakota was LARGER than North Dakota, not WARMER. That gave me IN ENGLISH, and then the rest fell apart.

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