1216-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 16 Dec 15, Wednesday

QuickLinks:
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: Paula Gamache
THEME: Dead End … each of today’s themed answers has something often described as DEAD at either END (i.e. at the start and finish):

34A. Cul-de-sac … or what either part of the answer to each starred clue is? : DEAD END

17A. *Colorful North American waterfowl : WOOD DUCK (“deadwood” & “dead duck”)
21A. *Fleet operator : AIRLINE (“dead air” & “deadline”)
22A. *Class determinant in boxing : BODY WEIGHT (“dead body” & “dead weight”)
48A. *Top on official stationery : LETTERHEAD (“dead letter” & “deadhead”)
50A. *Observe closely : EYEBALL (“deadeye” & “dead ball”)
54A. *Swimmer with a prehensile tail : SEAHORSE (“Dead Sea” & “dead horse”)

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 7m 36s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Xbox alternative : WII
The Wii is the biggest-selling game console in the world.

The XBox line of video game consoles is made by Microsoft. The original XBox platform was followed by XBox 360 and most recently by XBox One. Microsoft’s XBox competes directly with Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Wii.

4. Salinger’s “For ___ – With Love and Squalor” : ESME
J. D. Salinger wrote a short story called “For Esmé – with Love and Squalor”, originally published in “The New Yorker” in 1950. It is a story about a young English girl called Esme and an American soldier, and is set in WWII.

17. *Colorful North American waterfowl : WOOD DUCK (“deadwood” & “dead duck”)
The wood duck is also called the Carolina duck, and is a native of North America. The male of the species is one of the most colorful ducks known.

A “dead duck” is something beyond redemption.

19. Symbol of busyness : BEAVER
As busy as a beaver (building a new dam).

Beavers build dams so that they can live in and around the slower and deeper water that builds up above the dam. This deeper water provides more protection for the beavers from predators such as bears. Beavers are nocturnal animals and do all their construction work at night.

21. *Fleet operator : AIRLINE (“dead air” & “deadline”)
If the signal is lost during a radio or television transmission, the resulting “gap” in program is termed “dead air”.

26. Gamboling spots : LEAS
“Gambol” is a such a lovely word, meaning to frolic and leap about.

27. New Age Grammy winner : ENYA
Enya’s real name is Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, which can translate from Irish into Enya Brennan. Her Donegal family (in the northwest of Ireland) formed a band called Clannad, which included Enya. In 1980 Enya launched her very successful solo career, eventually becoming Ireland’s best-selling solo musician. And, she sure does turn up a lot in crosswords!

28. Aussie hoppers : ROOS
The name “kangaroo” comes from the Australian Aborigine term for the animal. There’s an oft-quoted story that James Cook (later Captain Cook) asked a local native the name of this remarkable looking animal, and the native responded with “kangaroo”. The story is that the native was actually saying “I don’t understand you”, but as cute as that tale is, it’s just an urban myth.

33. Part of a student’s address : EDU
The .edu domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:

– .com (commercial enterprise)
– .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
– .mil (US military)
– .org (not-for-profit organization)
– .gov (US federal government entity)
– .edu (college-level educational institution)

34. Cul-de-sac … or what either part of the answer to each starred clue is? : DEAD END
Even though “cul-de-sac” can indeed mean “bottom of the bag” in French, the term cul-de-sac is of English origin (the use of “cul” in French is actually quite rude). The term was introduced in aristocratic circles at a time when it was considered very fashionable to speak French. Dead-end streets in France are usually signposted with just a symbol and no accompanying words, but if words are included they are “voie sans issue”, meaning “way without exit”.

36. Very loud, on a score : FFF
The musical term “pianissimo” is abbreviated to “pp”, and is an instruction to the performer to sing or play very softly. The concept can be extended to “ppp”, short for “pianississimo”, an instruction of play even more softly. The opposite instructions are fortissimo (ff) and fortississimo (fff), instructions to perform very loudly, and even more loudly.

39. Law grads, briefly : JDS
The law degree that is abbreviated to J.D. is more completely known as Juris Doctor.

46. Christmas ___ : TREE
The custom of decorating trees at Christmas seems to have originated in Renaissance Germany. Those first trees were placed in guildhalls and were decorated with sweets and candy for the apprentices and children. After the Protestant Reformation, the Christmas tree became an alternative in Protestant homes for the Roman Catholic Christmas cribs. The Christmas tree tradition was imported into Britain by the royal family because of its German heritage. That tradition spread from Britain into North America.

47. Big brand of sports equipment : VOIT
Voit is a sporting goods company that was founded by William J. Voit in 1922. Voit invented the first all-rubber inflatable ball, in the late twenties.

48. *Top on official stationery : LETTERHEAD (“dead letter” & “deadhead”)
A “dead letter” is a piece of mail that is undeliverable, usually do the use of the wrong address and no return address. Once a letter is declared “dead”. then postal employees can open it (legally violating “secrecy of correspondence”) in an attempt to complete delivery. Famously, a stolen Marc Chagall painting was recovered in a sorting office in Topeka, Kansas when the parcel in which it was shipped was declared “dead”.

A “deadhead” is a fan of the Grateful Dead, although there are other meanings too.

50. *Observe closely : EYEBALL (“deadeye” & “dead ball”)
A “deadeye” is a crack shot, an expert marksman.

In some sports, a “dead ball” is one that is out of bounds, not in play.

54. *Swimmer with a prehensile tail : SEAHORSE (“Dead Sea” & “dead horse”)
Seahorses belong to the genus Hippocampus. The genus name comes from the Greek “hippo” meaning “horse” and “kampos” meaning “sea monster”. It’s the male seahorse who carries the fertilized eggs, and not the females.

A part of the body that is described as prehensile is adapted for grasping. Examples would be an elephant’s trunk and a monkey’s tail.

The Dead Sea is a salt lake that lies over 1,000 feet below sea level in the Middle East. It is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, with a salt content that is almost ten times that of most oceans.

A “dead horse” is something that is no longer relevant, as in “there’s no sense in flogging a dead horse”.

59. ___-Seltzer : ALKA
Alka-Seltzer is a brand of fizzy antacid that has been marketed since 1931. In terms of ingredients, it is a mix of sodium bicarbonate, aspirin and anhydrous citric acid.

61. Kitt who sang “Santa Baby” : EARTHA
Eartha Kitt sure did have a unique voice and singing style. Her rendition of “Santa Baby” has to be one of the most distinctive and memorable recordings in the popular repertoire. Some of you will no doubt remember Eartha playing Catwoman on the final series of the TV show “Batman”.

62. Central Park’s ___ Boathouse : LOEB
The Loeb Boathouse in New York City’s Central Park is somewhere one can rent a boat for an hour or two. The boathouse also has a restaurant from where one can look over the lake.

63. Stores for G.I.s : PXS
A PX is a Post Exchange, a retail store operating on a US Army Base. The equivalent store on an Air Force Base is called a Base Exchange (BX). At a Navy installation it’s a Navy Exchange (NEX), at a Marine Corps installation it’s a Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) and at a Coast Guard Installation it’s a CGX.

Down
2. Facebook had one in 2012, for short : IPO
When Facebook held its initial public offering (IPO) in 2012, the company’s market capitalization peaked at over $100 billion during that first day’s trading. The IPO raised over $16 million dollars for the company, making it the largest technology IPO in history.

5. Sweet white wine from Bordeaux : SAUTERNES
Sauternes is a sweet wine from the Sauternais region in Bordeaux. Production of Sauternes calls for the grapes used to become infected with a fungus known as noble rot. The infection can be somewhat unpredictable, resulting in high prices for the wine as supply can be limited and quality can vary. There is a semi-generic wine produced in the US known as “Sauterne”, which has a deliberately misspelled name.

7. Member of a fraternal group : ELK
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.

8. Let a hack do the driving : CAB IT
Hackney is a location in London, and it probably gave it’s name to a “hackney”, an ordinary type of horse around 1300. By 1700 a “hackney” was a person hired to do routine work, and “hackneyed” meant “kept for hire”. This morphed into a hackney carriage, a carriage or car for hire, and into “hack”, a slang term for a taxi driver or cab.

11. Old political council : SOVIET
The Russian word “soviet” translates as “council”. The term was applied historically in Russia to governmental and political bodies, eventually leading to the name “Soviet Union”.

13. Mother ___ : TERESA
Mother Teresa was born in 1910 in the city that is now called Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. At birth she was given the names Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (“Gonxha” means “little flower” in Albanian). She left home at the age of 18 and joined the Sisters of Loreto, and headed to Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham in Dublin, Ireland in order to learn English. Her goal was to teach in India, and English was the language used there for instruction by the nuns. After Mother Teresa passed away in 1997 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II, a step on the road to canonization. In order for her to be beatified there had to be documented evidence of a miracle that was performed due to her intercession. The miracle in question was the healing of a tumor in the abdomen of a woman due to the application of a locket containing a picture of Mother Teresa. Documentation of a second miracle is required for her to be declared a saint.

22. Nota ___ : BENE
“Nota bene” is the Latin for “note well”

23. Linear, for short : ONE-D
The dimension of an object is defined as the minimum number of coordinates needed to specify each point in the object. Therefore a line is one-dimensional, as you only need an x-coordinate to specify a particular point on the line. A surface is two-dimensional, as you need both an x-coordinate and a y-coordinate to locate a point on the surface. The inside of a solid object is then three-dimensional, needing an x-, y- and z-coordinate to specify a point, say within a cube.

24. It’s not much : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small, as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.

25. Olive oil and nuts have this : GOOD FAT
Saturated fats (“bad fats”) differ from unsaturated fats (“good fats”) chemically in that saturated fats have chains of fatty acids that are relatively straight, allowing individual molecules to pack closely together. This close packing largely explains why saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fatty acids on the other hand have “kinks” in the chains of their fatty acids, so that they cannot pack together closely. Unsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature. Food manufacturers have learned that humans get sick by consuming saturated fats (i.e. fats from animal sources). So, they market “healthy” vegetable fats (naturally unsaturated and liquid at room temperature) that they have magically transformed in solid fats (like vegetable spreads). All they did was saturate the healthy fats, so that now it solidifies at room temperature, and in your arteries. There should be a law …

29. Put on : 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.

35. Middle ___ : EAST
In geographical terms there are three “easts”. The Near East and Middle East are terms that are often considered synonymous, although “Near East” tends to be used when discussing ancient history and “Middle East” when referring to the present day. The Near/Middle East encompasses most of Western Asia and Egypt. The term “Far East” describes East Asia (including the Russian Far East), Southeast Asia and South Asia.

43. New Orleans university : LOYOLA
Loyola University New Orleans was founded by Jesuits as Loyola College in 1904. The school is name for the patron of the Jesuit order, Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (also known as Inigo Lopez de Loyola) was a Spanish knight from a noble family in the Basque region of Spain. He left behind his easy life to become a hermit and a priest, and eventually founded the Society of Jesus (The Jesuit order of the Roman Catholic church).

44. Property claim holder : LIENOR
A lien is the right that one has to retain or secure someone’s property until a debt is paid. When an individual takes out a car loan, for example, the lending bank is usually a lien holder. The bank releases the lien on the car when the loan is paid in full.

45. Unit of sound named for an inventor : BEL
In the world of acoustics, one bel is equal to ten decibels. The bel is named in honor of the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell.

46. Van Gogh’s brother : THEO
Theo van Gogh was the younger brother of painter Vincent van Gogh, and a successful art dealer. Theo provided financial support for his brother throughout his life, allowing Vincent to pursue his passion for creating art. Vincent and Theo died about six months apart. The former committed suicide and the later died from the effects of syphilis.

48. Novelist Mario Vargas ___ : LLOSA
Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian writer of renown, one of the most significant authors from Latin America by all accounts. Llosa is also very active politically, and in 1990 ran unsuccessfully for the Peruvian presidency.

51. Literary collection: Abbr. : ANTH
Strictly speaking, an “anthology” is a collection of poetic works, although the meaning has broadened over time to cover any literary collection, or even a collection of ideas, comments, complaints etc. The term derives from the Greek “anthologia”, a word for a collection of short poems by several authors. The literal meaning is “flower collection” from “anthos” and “logia”, so an anthology is a book containing “flowers” of verse.

54. Mule of song : SAL
The song “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal” was written in 1905. The lyrics are nostalgic and look back to the days when traffic on the canal was pulled by mules, bemoaning the introduction of the fast-moving engine-powered barges. The first line is “I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal”.

56. ___ Flags : SIX
The Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is an operator of amusement parks that is headquartered in Grand Prairie, Texas. Six Flags owns more amusement parks than any other company in the world. The first of these properties to open was Six Flags Over Texas. The park’s name was chosen as a homage to the flags of the six nations that have governed Texas, namely Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America, and the Confederate States of America.

57. Printing measures : EMS
In typography, there are em dashes and en dashes. The em dash is about the width of an “m” character, and an en dash about half that, the width of an “n’ character. An en dash is used, for example, to separate numbers designating a range, as in 5-10 years. The em dash seems to be going out of style, and indeed the application I am using to write this paragraph won’t let me show you one!

Return to top of page

For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Xbox alternative : WII
4. Salinger’s “For ___ – With Love and Squalor” : ESME
8. Assail with expletives : CUSS AT
14. Elect (to) : OPT
15. Do perfectly : NAIL
16. Off the ship : ASHORE
17. *Colorful North American waterfowl : WOOD DUCK (“deadwood” & “dead duck”)
19. Symbol of busyness : BEAVER
20. Rioter’s haul : LOOT
21. *Fleet operator : AIRLINE (“dead air” & “deadline”)
22. *Class determinant in boxing : BODY WEIGHT (“dead body” & “dead weight”)
26. Gamboling spots : LEAS
27. New Age Grammy winner : ENYA
28. Aussie hoppers : ROOS
29. “___ luck!” : LOTSA
30. New beginning? : NEO-
31. Inner: Prefix : ENTO-
32. ___ bran : OAT
33. Part of a student’s address : EDU
34. Cul-de-sac … or what either part of the answer to each starred clue is? : DEAD END
36. Very loud, on a score : FFF
39. Law grads, briefly : JDS
40. “The stars” : FATE
41. Not 100% : ILL
42. What a back door may open to : ALLEY
45. Helluva party : BASH
46. Christmas ___ : TREE
47. Big brand of sports equipment : VOIT
48. *Top on official stationery : LETTERHEAD (“dead letter” & “deadhead”)
50. *Observe closely : EYEBALL (“deadeye” & “dead ball”)
52. Entry on a sports schedule : MEET
53. “You’ve got that all wrong!” : NO NO NO!
54. *Swimmer with a prehensile tail : SEAHORSE (“Dead Sea” & “dead horse”)
58. Is a bad winner : GLOATS
59. ___-Seltzer : ALKA
60. Asset for a gunfighter : AIM
61. Kitt who sang “Santa Baby” : EARTHA
62. Central Park’s ___ Boathouse : LOEB
63. Stores for G.I.s : PXS

Down
1. Bowl over : WOW
2. Facebook had one in 2012, for short : IPO
3. “See?!” : I TOLD YOU!
4. Fund : ENDOW
5. Sweet white wine from Bordeaux : SAUTERNES
6. Input jack abbr. : MIC
7. Member of a fraternal group : ELK
8. Let a hack do the driving : CAB IT
9. ___-friendly : USER
10. Food item often caramelized : SHALLOT
11. Old political council : SOVIET
12. Concert venues : ARENAS
13. Mother ___ : TERESA
18. 1977 hit by 55-Down : DO YA
21. Understanding sounds : AHS
22. Nota ___ : BENE
23. Linear, for short : ONE-D
24. It’s not much : IOTA
25. Olive oil and nuts have this : GOOD FAT
29. Put on : LADE
31. Vortex in the sink : EDDY
32. Ambitious and unscrupulous : ON THE MAKE
35. Middle ___ : EAST
36. It can easily go up in flames : FIRETRAP
37. Pet pest : FLEA
38. Took to the hills : FLED
39. Propellerless craft : JET BOAT
42. Exact satisfaction for : AVENGE
43. New Orleans university : LOYOLA
44. Property claim holder : LIENOR
45. Unit of sound named for an inventor : BEL
46. Van Gogh’s brother : THEO
48. Novelist Mario Vargas ___ : LLOSA
49. Place to kick a habit : REHAB
51. Literary collection: Abbr. : ANTH
54. Mule of song : SAL
55. Grp. that sang 18-Down : ELO
56. ___ Flags : SIX
57. Printing measures : EMS

Return to top of page

6 thoughts on “1216-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 16 Dec 15, Wednesday”

  1. 12:25, no errors. I also had "on the take" at first; I think of "on the make" mostly in a sexual context. I had never heard of "Voit" sports equipment or the "Loeb" boathouse. I guess if you can "walk it", "hoof it", and "drive it", you can also "cab it", but the expression was new to me. And, finally, I was puzzled by what looked to me like a plural, "Sauternes", for a clue that seemed to call for something singular, so I appreciated Bill's explanation about the two different products. (Who knew?! … 🙂

  2. No mistakes. Shared most of the concerns along with the other commentators. The most interesting fact I learned today? The "bel" of "decibel" is named for Alexander Graham Bell. Bell should absolutely be honored as such. He was a stellar person of the highest character.

  3. 11:38, no errors. Had the same issues with SAUTERNES and CAB IT, but otherwise a nice standard mid-week puzzle.

  4. 14:30, managed to avoid any potholes. Weak, forced theme that takes too long to "get" than should be necessary. To be accurate, most of the halves of the starred clues don't END 'dead' to form a single word. They form the second word of a phrase or term. So, the "theme" isn't even technically correct in its nomenclature.

    More trouble than it's worth. Get rid of the stars; Change 34A to simply Cul-de-sac; or maybe "Job with no future" and be done with it.

  5. I think puzzle themes are not necessarily just for the enjoyment of the solver, but for that of the constructor as well. And I'm more than willing to let them have their fun … 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.