1221-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 21 Dec 15, Monday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Bruce Haight
THEME: Unnamed Objects … each of today’s themed answers is a word that we might use to refer to an UNNAMED OBJECT:

17A. Unnamed object #1 : CONTRAPTION
23A. … #2 : DOODAD
31A. … #3 : DINGUS
36A. … #4 : WHATCHAMACALLIT
44A. … #5 : WIDGET
52A. … #6 : GADGET
59A. … #7 : THINGAMAJIG

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 5m 01s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

6. TV group featuring Mr. T, with “the” : A-TEAM
“The A-Team” is an action television series that originally ran in the eighties. The A-Team was a group of ex-US special forces personnel who became mercenaries. Star of the show was Hollywood actor George Peppard, ably assisted by Mr. T and Robert Vaughan.

Mr. T’s real name is Laurence Tero Tureaud. Mr. T is famous for many things, including the wearing of excessive amounts of jewelry. He started this habit when he was working as a bouncer, wearing jewelry items that had been left behind by customers at a nightclub so that the items might be recognized and claimed. It was also as a bouncer that he adopted the name Mr. T. His catch phrase comes from the movie “Rocky III”. In the film, before he goes up against Rocky Balboa, Mr. T says, “No, I don’t hate Balboa, but I pity the fool”. He parlayed that line into quite a bit of success. He had a reality TV show called “I Pity the Fool”, and produced a motivational video called “Be Somebody … or Be Somebody’s Fool!”.

15. ___ Park (Thomas Edison’s home) : MENLO
Menlo Park, New Jersey is noted as the home to Thomas Edison’s laboratory where he made so many of his inventions. We also have a pretty well-known Menlo Park out here in California, home to many of the venture capital companies that tend to make a lot of money out of Silicon Valley businesses.

16. Arachnid’s snare : WEB
Arachnids are creatures with eight jointed legs. The name of the class Arachnida comes from the Greek “aráchnē” meaning “spider”.

19. Yiddish laments : OYS
“Oy vey” is a Yiddish expression of dismay that literally translates as “oh, pain”. The more usual translation is “woe is me”.

28. The “m” of E = mc^2 : MASS
In Albert Einstein’s famous equation E=mc², “E” stands for energy, “m” stands for mass, and “c” stands for the speed of light (from the Latin “celeritas” meaning “speed”).

34. Mother ___ (nun who won a Nobel Peace Prize) : 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. The canonization process seems to well underway, with Pope Francis recognizing a second miracle in December 2015.

47. Stitched line on a baseball : SEAM
A baseball is made by wrapping string around a rubber or cork center, and then covering the resulting sphere with leather. The string inside a baseball can measure up to a mile in length.

50. Nintendo’s Super ___ : NES
The abbreviation Super NES (or SNES) stands for Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Our kids probably have one somewhere …

51. How Santa dresses, mostly : IN RED
The Santa Claus with whom we are familiar today largely comes from the description in the 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, and from the caricature created by the political cartoonist Thomas Nast.

54. Paramount and Universal : STUDIOS
Paramount Pictures is one of the oldest surviving film studios, and is the last major studio that still has its headquarters in Hollywood. Paramount was founded in 1912 as the Famous Players Film Company by Adolph Zukor, with partners Daniel and Charles Frohman. Paramount is now owned by Viacom.

Universal Studios was founded in 1912 in New York as the Universal Film Manufacturing Company by a group of investors led by Carl Laemmle. Just three years later, Laemmle opened Universal City Studios not far from Hollywood, on a 230-acre converted farm. Universal Studios made three films that were destined to become the highest-grossing films of their time: “Jaws” (1975), “”E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and “Jurassic Park” (1993).

57. BMW rival : AUDI
The Audi name has an interesting history. The Horch company was founded by August Horch in 1909. Early in the life of the new company, Horch was forced out of his own business. He set up a new enterprise and continued to use his own name as a brand. The old company sued him for using the Horch name so a meeting was held to choose something new. Horch’s young son was studying Latin in the room where the meeting was taking place. He pointed out that “Horch” was German for “hear” and he suggested “Audi” as a replacement, the Latin for “listen”.

The abbreviation BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, which translates into Bavarian Motor Works. BMW was making aircraft engines during WWI, but had to cease that activity according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The company then started making motorcycles, and moved into automobile production starting in 1928. BMW moved back into aircraft engine manufacturing during the build-up of the Luftwaffe prior to WWII.

64. Big bird of Australia : EMU
Emu eggs are very large, with a thick shell that is dark-green in color. One emu egg weighs about the same as a dozen chicken eggs.

65. How pastrami might be served : ON RYE
In the US, pastrami was originally called “pastrama”, a dish brought to America by Jewish immigrants from Romania in the second half of the the nineteenth century. The original name may have evolved from the Turkish word “pastirma” meaning “pressed”. “Pastrama” likely morphed into “pastrami” influenced by the name of the Italian sausage called salami.

66. One end of a battery : ANODE
A battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electric energy. A simple battery is made up of three parts: a cathode, an anode and a liquid electrolyte. Ions from the electrolyte react chemically with the material in the anode producing a compound and releasing electrons. At the same time, the electrolyte reacts with the material in the cathode, absorbing electrons and producing a different chemical compound. In this way, there is a buildup of electrons at the anode and a deficit of electrons at the cathode. When a connection (wire, say) is made between the cathode and anode, electrons flow through the resulting circuit from the anode to cathode in an attempt to rectify the electron imbalance.

67. Aug. follower : SEP
The month of September is the ninth month in our year, although the name “September” comes from the Latin word “septum” meaning “seventh”. September was the seventh month in the Roman calendar until the year 46 BC when Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar. The Julian system moved the start of the year from March 1st to January 1st, and shifted September to the ninth month. The Gregorian calendar that we use today was introduced in 1582.

Down
1. The Trojans of the N.C.A.A. : USC
The athletic teams of the University of Southern California are called the USC Trojans. The women’s teams are also called the Trojans, but are sometimes referred to as Women of Troy.

2. Gaza grp. : PLO
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964. The PLO’s early stated goal was the liberation of Palestine, with Palestine defined as the geographic entity that existed under the terms of the British Mandate granted by the League of Nations back in 1923. The PLO was granted observer status (i.e. no voting rights) at the United Nations in 1974.

6. Rock band boosters : AMPS
An electric guitar, for example, needs an amplifier (amp) to take the weak signal created by the vibration of the strings and turn it into a signal powerful enough for a loudspeaker.

7. Asian New Year : 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.

9. Succulent healer : ALOE
Aloe vera has a number of alternate names that are descriptive of its efficacy as a medicine. These include the First Aid plant, Wand of Heaven, Silent Healer and Miracle Plant.

10. Da Vinci masterpiece with an intriguing smile : MONA LISA
Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece that we know in English as the “Mona Lisa” is called “La Gioconda” in Italian, the language of the artist. It’s also known as “La Joconde” by the Government of France which owns the painting and displays it in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The title comes from the name of the subject, almost certainly Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo. Giocondo was a wealthy silk merchant in Florence who commissioned the painting for the couple’s new home to celebrate the birth of their second son.

18. He played Hawkeye on “M*A*S*H” : ALDA
Alan Alda had a great television career, perhaps most memorably on “M*A*S*H”. Alda won his first Emmy in 1972, for playing Hawkeye Pierce on “M*A*S*H”. He won his most recent Emmy in 2006 for his portrayal of Presidential candidate Arnold Vinick in “The West Wing”. When it comes to the big screen, my favorite of Alda’s movies is the 1978 romantic comedy “Same Time, Next Year” in which he starred opposite Ellen Burstyn.

22. Ivana’s ex, with “the” : DONALD
Donald Trump got into real estate development under the influence of his father, Fred Trump, who was a wealthy New York City developer, and who was also the actual founder of the Trump Organization.

Ivana Winklmayr was born in Czechoslovakia. Winklmayr was an excellent skier, and was named as an alternate for the 1982 Czech Olympic Team. She was promoting the Montreal Olympics in New York in 1976 when she met Donald Trump. Ivana and Donald’s marriage was very public and well-covered by the media, but not nearly so well as their very litigious divorce in the early nineties.

25. Prime draft status : ONE-A
The US government maintains information on all males who are potentially subject to military conscription, using what is called the Selective Service System(SS). In the event that a draft was held, men registered would be classified into groups to determine eligibility for service. Class 1-A registrants are those available for unrestricted military service. Other classes are 1-A-O (conscientious objector available for noncombatant service), 4-A (registrant who has completed military service) and 4-D (Minister of religion).

31. Christmas mo. : DEC
December is the twelfth month in our calendar but was the tenth month in the old Roman calendar, hence the name (“decem” is Latin for “ten”). Back then there were only ten months in the year. “Ianuarius” (January) and “Februarius” were then added as the eleventh and twelfth months of the year. Soon after, the year was reset and January and February became the first and second months.

35. Marathon, e.g. : RACE
The marathon is run over 26 miles and 385 yards, and of course commemorates the legendary messenger-run by Pheidippides from the site of the Battle of Marathon back to Athens. The actual distance run today was decided in 1921, and matches the length of the modern-day Marathon-Athens highway.

38. Panama or bowler : HAT
Panama hats are also known as Jipijapas, named for a town in Ecuador (and not Panama, surprisingly) that was a major player in the hat trade.

I think a bowler hat is usually called a derby here in the US. The bowler was first produced in 1849 in London by hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler, hence the name. The alternative name of “derby” comes from the tradition of wearing bowler hats at the Derby horse race (a major race held annually in England).

39. New York’s ___ Island : LONG
Long Island in New York State is the largest island in the 48 contiguous states. It has a population of over 7 million, making it the most populous island in the 50 states. In fact, there are more people living in Long Island than there are in the whole of the island that I come from, namely the island of Ireland.

44. Trio from a genie : WISHES
The “genie” in the bottle takes his or her name from “djinn”. “Djinns” were various spirits considered lesser than angels, with people exhibiting unsavory characteristics said to be possessed by djinn. When the book “The Thousand and One Nights” was translated into French, the word “djinn” was transformed into the existing word “génie”, because of the similarity in sound and the related spiritual meaning. This “génie” from the Arabian tale became confused with the Latin-derived “genius”, a guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth. Purely as a result of that mistranslation the word genie has come to mean the “djinn” that pops out of the bottle. A little hard to follow, I know, but still quite interesting …

49. Lunatic : MADMAN
The adjective “lunatic” is now considered offensive, but has the meaning “insane”. It arose in the late 1400s, when it meant “affected with periodic insanity”, i.e. insanity attacks brought on by the cycles of the moon. The term therefore derives from the Latin “luna” meaning “moon”.

53. Prince William’s mother : DIANA
The Royal House of Stewart (also Stuart) came to power in Scotland in the late 14th century, starting with Robert II of Scotland. The Stewarts extended their power to England and Ireland when the Tudor line became extinct as Queen Elizabeth I died without issue. James VI of Scotland became James I of England at that time. The last Stuart monarch was Anne, Queen of Great Britain who also died without issue, despite going through seventeen pregnancies. Assuming Prince William, Duke of Cambridge becomes the British Monarch one day, then there will be a Stewart descendant on the throne again. William is the son of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Diana was descended from the Stewart monarchs.

60. “Science Guy” Bill : NYE
That would be “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. Bill’s show ran on Disney for 4 years from 1993-97.

62. Boise’s state: Abbr. : IDA
Boise, Idaho is the largest metropolitan area in the state by far. There are a number of stories pertaining to the etymology of the name “Boise”. One is that French trappers named the tree-lined river that ran through the area “la rivière boisée”, meaning “the wooded river”.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Raised hairstyles : UPDOS
6. TV group featuring Mr. T, with “the” : A-TEAM
11. However, informally : THO’
14. Caught some Z’s : SLEPT
15. ___ Park (Thomas Edison’s home) : MENLO
16. Arachnid’s snare : WEB
17. Unnamed object #1 : CONTRAPTION
19. Yiddish laments : OYS
20. Slithery fishes : EELS
21. Sharpshooter : DEADEYE
23. … #2 : DOODAD
26. Shell’s shell and Chevron’s chevron : LOGOS
27. Declare one’s candidacy : RUN
28. The “m” of E = mc^2 : MASS
31. … #3 : DINGUS
32. Cards that top kings : ACES
34. Mother ___ (nun who won a Nobel Peace Prize) : TERESA
36. … #4 : WHATCHAMACALLIT
42. Language of Egypt : ARABIC
43. Amount of medicine : DOSE
44. … #5 : WIDGET
47. Stitched line on a baseball : SEAM
50. Nintendo’s Super ___ : NES
51. How Santa dresses, mostly : IN RED
52. … #6 : GADGET
54. Paramount and Universal : STUDIOS
57. BMW rival : AUDI
58. “THAT guy!” : HIM!
59. … #7 : THINGAMAJIG
64. Big bird of Australia : EMU
65. How pastrami might be served : ON RYE
66. One end of a battery : ANODE
67. Aug. follower : SEP
68. Romantic dozen : ROSES
69. Henpeck : NAG AT

Down
1. The Trojans of the N.C.A.A. : USC
2. Gaza grp. : PLO
3. Locale for bears or thieves : DEN
4. Chose (to) : OPTED
5. Transmit continuously, as video : STREAM
6. Rock band boosters : AMPS
7. Asian New Year : TET
8. Woman’s name that means “eat” backward : ENID
9. Succulent healer : ALOE
10. Da Vinci masterpiece with an intriguing smile : MONA LISA
11. Like a medium-size omelet : TWO-EGG
12. “Psst!” : HEY YOU!
13. Worry compulsively : OBSESS
18. He played Hawkeye on “M*A*S*H” : ALDA
22. Ivana’s ex, with “the” : DONALD
23. Make a cartoon, e.g. : DRAW
24. “That hurt!” : OUCH!
25. Prime draft status : ONE-A
29. Wild guess : STAB
30. Matches before the finals : SEMIS
31. Christmas mo. : DEC
33. Presented, as a play : STAGED
35. Marathon, e.g. : RACE
37. Debtor’s opposite : CREDITOR
38. Panama or bowler : HAT
39. New York’s ___ Island : LONG
40. “Aha!” : I SEE!
41. Big quiz : TEST
44. Trio from a genie : WISHES
45. By the deadline : IN TIME
46. Work to increase, as business : DRUM UP
48. Water, to Juanita : AGUA
49. Lunatic : MADMAN
53. Prince William’s mother : DIANA
55. “Horrors!” : OH NO!
56. “Dear ___” (letter starter) : SIRS
57. ___ 8 and up (game specification) : AGES
60. “Science Guy” Bill : NYE
61. Nudge, as one’s memory : JOG
62. Boise’s state: Abbr. : IDA
63. Understand, as a joke : GET

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7 thoughts on “1221-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 21 Dec 15, Monday”

  1. No errors. The easiest NYT Monday puzzle I have seen yet. Only new word to me was "dingus". Don't recall ever hearing that word used.

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