1225-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 25 Dec 15, Friday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Mary Lou Guizzo & Jeff Chen
THEME: Merry Christmas, Everyone! … we have a little grid art today, with four “CANDY CANES” depicted by some of the black squares. Additionally, the four letters in the crooks of the CANDY CANES spell out the word XMAS:

29D. Four things represented visually in this puzzle’s grid : CANDY CANES

9D. Who said history repeats itself “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce” : MARX (giving “X”)
42A. Abbr. on a car sticker : MSRP (giving “M”)
46D. Somewhat : A TAD (giving “A”)
24A. ___ law : OHM’S (giving “S”)

6D. “A right jolly old elf” : ST NICHOLAS

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 14m 50s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Hurdle for a doc : BOARDS
Those would be board examinations.

14. Performer of the “Green Hornet” theme in 1960s TV : AL HIRT
Al Hirt was a trumpeter and bandleader. Hirt’s most famous recordings were the song “Java” and the album “Honey in the Horn”, as well the theme song used “The Green Hornet” TV series in the sixties.

16. Hole maker : MOTH
The larvae of several types of moth are noted for eating fabrics made from natural fibers such as wool or cotton. Many people store woolens in cedar chests believing that the scent of the wood prevents a moth infestation. In fact, the only known effective repellent is the naphthalene found in mothballs, which might be a health concern for humans. One way to kill moth larvae in fabric is to freeze the garment for several days at a temperature below 8 degrees centigrade.

17. Scylla, e.g. : SEA MONSTER
Charybdis was a beautiful naiad, a water nymph of Greek mythology. Zeus became enraged with Charybdis and turned her into a sea monster. In Greek myth, the monstrous form of Charybdis lay at one side of a narrow channel of water, with another sea monster, Scylla, lying at the other. Sailors found it impossible to navigate the channel as getting to a safe distance from one monster left them in the clutches of the other. From this tale arose the expression “between Scylla and Charybdis” meaning having two choices, neither of which is a good one.

20. Red moles : KGB SPIES
The Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti (KGB) was the national security agency of the Soviet Union until 1991. The KGB was dissolved after the agency’s chairman led a failed attempt at a coup d’état designed to depose President Mikhail Gorbachev.

21. Stable color : ROAN
A roan horse has an even mixture of white and colored hairs on the body with the head, lower legs, mane and tail having a more solid color.

22. Midwest transportation inits. : CTA
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

23. Quick hit : TOKE
“Toke” is a slang term for a puff on a marijuana cigarette or on a pipe containing the drug.

24. ___ law : OHM’S
The unit of electrical resistance is the ohm (with the symbol omega) named after German physicist Georg Simon Ohm. Ohm was the guy who established experimentally that the amount of current flowing through a circuit is directly proportional to the voltage applied, (V=IR) a relationship that every school kid knows as Ohm’s Law.

27. Impetuous : HALF-COCKED
To go off “half-cocked” is to act impetuously. The phrase comes from the use of firearms, in which a gun might go off half-cocked, prematurely.

31. Chinese dynasty following the Han : WEI
During the Three Kingdoms Period in Chinese history, there were three kingdoms vying for control of China. The three competing kingdoms were Wei, Shu and Wu.

33. Where Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” premiered : LA SCALA
La Scala Opera House opened in 1778. It was built on the site of the church of Santa Maria della Scala, which gave the theater its name: “Teatro alla Scala” in Italian.

Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” is the most-performed opera in the US. The opera that we see today is actually the second version that Puccini produced. The original version was first staged in 1904 at La Scala in Milan where it received a very poor reception. Puccini reworked the piece, breaking the second act into two new acts and making some other significant changes. The opera was relaunched a few months later and it was a resounding success.

36. Inveigles : ENTRAPS
“To inveigle” is to win over by deceit. Back in the late 1400s, the term meant “to blind someone’s judgment”.

40. Holy ___ : SEE
In the Roman Catholic Church, an episcopal see is the official seat of a bishop, and is usually described by the town or city where the bishop resides and has his cathedral. The most famous see in the church is called the Holy See, the episcopal see of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.

42. Abbr. on a car sticker : MSRP
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

45. Lutheranism in 1521, e.g. : SECT
The branch of Protestant Christianity known as Lutheranism has its roots in the 1521 Diet of Worms. The Diet of Worms was a meeting of the Imperial States of the Holy Roman Empire that took place in the small town of Worms on the Rhine River in Germany. The main item on the agenda was discussion off the the 95 theses of Martin Luther. Luther was summoned to the meeting, and found to be guilty of heresy.

53. Like the Hyundai logo : OVAL
The Hyundai factory in Ulsan, South Korea is the largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility in the world, able to produce 1.6 million vehicles each year.

54. Latin American soap : TELENOVELA
A “telenovela” is a “television novel”, a form of programming that is very popular in Latin America. A telenovela is sort of like a soap opera that has an end in sight, and that runs for less than a year. I like this quote from an executive at Telemundo:

“A telenovela is all about a couple who wants to kiss and a scriptwriter who stands in their way for 150 episodes.”

57. Ayaan Hirsi ___, author of “Infidel” : ALI
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Dutch-American activist and author who was born in Somalia. One of Ali’s most notable campaigns is the opposition to female genital mutilation.

59. Traditional Yule gift : SLED
“Yule” celebrations coincide with Christmas, and the words “Christmas” and “Yule” have become synonymous in much of the world. However, Yule was originally a pagan festival celebrated by Germanic peoples. The name “Yule” comes from the Old Norse word “jol” that was used to describe the festival.

60. Zing : DIS
“Dis” is a slang term meaning “insult” that originated in the eighties. It is a shortened form of “disrespect” or “dismiss”.

Down
1. Sit back and enjoy : BASK
Our verb “to bask”, meaning “to expose one to pleasant warmth”, is derived from the gruesome 14th-century term “basken”, meaning “to wallow in blood”. The contemporary usage apparently originated with Shakespeare, who employed “bask” with reference to sunshine in “As You Like It”.

2. First name in fashion : OLEG
Oleg Cassini, the French-born American fashion designer, had two big names particularly associated with his designs. In the sixties he produced the state wardrobe for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and he was also the exclusive designer for Hollywood’s Gene Tierney, who was Cassini’s second wife.

3. Literary character on whom Captain Hook is based : AHAB
Captain Hook is the bad guy in “Peter Pan”, the famous play by J. M. Barrie. Hook is Peter Pan’s sworn enemy, as Pan cut off Hook’s hand causing it to be replaced by a “hook”. It is implied in the play that Hook attended Eton College, just outside London. Hook’s last words are “Floreat Etona”, which is Eton College’s motto. Barrie openly acknowledged that the Hook character was based on Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab from the novel “Moby Dick”.

5. Lozenge : DROP
Back in the 14th century, a “lozenge” was a diamond shape. The original lozenges, which were tablets held in the mouth to dissolve, had this diamond shape and hence the name.

6. “A right jolly old elf” : ST NICHOLAS

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

The above are lines from the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.

The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was published anonymously in 1823, and is better known today by its first line “‘Twas the night before Christmas”. Most scholars believe that the poem was written by Clement Clarke Moore, a theologian from New York City. Others say that it was written by Henry Livingston, Jr. a poet from Upstate New York.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash …

9. Who said history repeats itself “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce” : MARX
Karl Marx was a German philosopher and revolutionary who helped develop the principles of modern communism and socialism. Marx argued that feudal society created internal strife due to class inequalities which led to its destruction and replacement by capitalism. He further argued that the inequalities created in a capitalist society create tensions that will also lead to its self-destruction. His thesis was that the inevitable replacement of capitalism was a classless (and stateless) society, which he called pure communism.

10. It can fit in a very tight parking space : SMART CAR
smart cars are manufactured by Daimler AG, the same company that makes Mercedes-Benz automobiles. The smart car was developed in cooperation with the wristwatch brand Swatch. The name “smart” (always in lower-case letters) stands for Swatch Mercedes ART.

11. Deceptive court move : NO-LOOK PASS
That would be on a basketball court.

18. Cloistered : SET APART
Cloisters are usually such beautifully peaceful areas. They are found as part of religious buildings in particular. Cloisters are rectangular open spaces surrounded by covered walkways that are attached to other structures. Cloisters originally provided a place for monks to take some exercise, without having to leave the confines of the building. This led to our contemporary usage of “cloistered” to mean “sheltered, secluded from the world”.

24. Wise one : OWL
The Greek goddess Athena (sometimes “Athene”) is often associated with wisdom, among other attributes. In many representations. Athena is depicted with an owl sitting on her head. It is this linkage of the owl with the goddess of wisdom that led to today’s perception of the owl as being “wise”.

25. Middle of a three-part illustrated maxim : HEAR NO EVIL
The old adage “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” originated in the 17th century. The phrase comes as an interpretation of a wood carving over a door in a shrine in Nikko, Japan. The carving depicts the “Three Wise Monkeys”:

– Mizaru, covering his eyes
– Kikazaru, covering his ears
– Iwazaru, covering his mouth

29. Four things represented visually in this puzzle’s grid : CANDY 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.

35. Gen. Pershing’s grp. in W.W. I : AEF
The US military sent to Europe during WWI were known as the American Expeditionary Force (AEF).

General John J. Pershing was the officer who led the American Expeditionary Forces to victory against Germany in WWI. Pershing was promoted to General of the Armies of the United States , the service’s highest rank, in recognition of this service during the First World War. He was the only person to be so honored within his own lifetime.

39. Dwellers on the Gulf of Aden : SOMALIS
Somalia is a country located in the Horn of Africa that, sadly, is noted today for a devastating civil war and as a base for pirates who prey on ships passing through the Indian Ocean along the Somali coast.

The Gulf of Aden is the body of water that lies south of the Red Sea, and just north of the Horn of Africa.

41. Some office printers : EPSONS
Seiko Epson is a Japanese company, one of the largest manufacturers of printers in the world. The company has its roots in the watch business, roots that go back to 1942. Seiko was chosen as the official timekeeper for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and was asked to supply a timer that produced a printed record. This request brought Seiko into the business of printer production. The company developed the world’s first mini-printer for the 1964 Games and called it EP-101 (EP standing for Electronic Printer). In 1975 Seiko introduced the next generation of EP printers which was called EPSON, from “SON of EP”. Cute, huh?

46. Somewhat : A TAD
Back in the 1800s “tad” was used to describe a young child, and this morphed into our usage of “small amount” in the early 1900s. The original use of “tad” for a child is very likely a shortened version of “tadpole”.

49. Actress ___ Rachel Wood : EVAN
Actress Evan Rachel Wood’s most famous role to date is playing one of the leads in the 2003 movie “Thirteen”. She is working on two new films which sound intriguing, namely “Bronte” in which she plays one of the author sisters, Anne, and “Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll”. Wood’s private life draws a lot of attention, especially as she was romantically linked for some time with the “outrageous” musician Marilyn Manson.

51. Classic role for Liz Taylor : CLEO
The 1963 movie “Cleopatra” really was an epic work. It was the highest grossing film of the year, taking in $26 million dollars at the box office, yet it still lost money. The original budget for the film was just $2 million, but so many things went wrong the final cost swelled to a staggering $44 million dollars, making it the second most expensive movie ever made (taking into account inflation). Elizabeth Taylor was supposed to earn a record amount of $1 million for the film, and ended up earned seven times that amount due to delays. But she paid dearly, as she became seriously ill during shooting and had to have an emergency tracheotomy to save her life. The scar in her throat can actually be seen in some of the shots in the film.

55. High priest of Shiloh : ELI
In the Bible, Eli is a High Priest of Shiloh, and the teacher of Samuel. As such, his story is told in the Book of Samuel. Eli had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, both of whom are described as wicked. As a result of their wayward lifestyle, it is prophesied that all of Eli’s male descendents will die before reaching old age.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Hurdle for a doc : BOARDS
7. Deadeye’s asset : AIM
10. Short cut : SNIP
14. Performer of the “Green Hornet” theme in 1960s TV : AL HIRT
15. Label for 14-Across : RCA
16. Hole maker : MOTH
17. Scylla, e.g. : SEA MONSTER
19. “Not to mention …” : ALSO …
20. Red moles : KGB SPIES
21. Stable color : ROAN
22. Midwest transportation inits. : CTA
23. Quick hit : TOKE
24. ___ law : OHM’S
27. Impetuous : HALF-COCKED
31. Chinese dynasty following the Han : WEI
32. Old-fashioned attire at 33-Across : OPERA CAPE
33. Where Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” premiered : LA SCALA
36. Inveigles : ENTRAPS
38. Like much court testimony : REHEARSED
40. Holy ___ : SEE
41. “There’s nothing more to say” : END OF STORY
42. Abbr. on a car sticker : MSRP
43. Rain, rain, rain : POUR
44. Open ___ : MIC
45. Lutheranism in 1521, e.g. : SECT
47. Campaign planner : AD AGENCY
53. Like the Hyundai logo : OVAL
54. Latin American soap : TELENOVELA
56. Prime-time time, informally : NITE
57. Ayaan Hirsi ___, author of “Infidel” : ALI
58. Opposite of the point? : ERASER
59. Traditional Yule gift : SLED
60. Zing : DIS
61. Relayed : SENT ON

Down
1. Sit back and enjoy : BASK
2. First name in fashion : OLEG
3. Literary character on whom Captain Hook is based : AHAB
4. Goes around : RIMS
5. Lozenge : DROP
6. “A right jolly old elf” : ST NICHOLAS
7. Gallery sign : ART SALE
8. Winter coat : ICE
9. Who said history repeats itself “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce” : MARX
10. It can fit in a very tight parking space : SMART CAR
11. Deceptive court move : NO-LOOK PASS
12. “Hang on to that one!” : IT’S A KEEPER!
13. Called up : PHONED
18. Cloistered : SET APART
24. Wise one : OWL
25. Middle of a three-part illustrated maxim : HEAR NO EVIL
26. Teach myths, say : MISEDUCATE
28. What a student with a full scholarship has : FREE RIDE
29. Four things represented visually in this puzzle’s grid : CANDY CANES
30. 37-Down follower on a calendar : OCT
34. Laughed gleefully : CHORTLED
35. Gen. Pershing’s grp. in W.W. I : AEF
37. 30-Down preceder on a calendar : SEP
39. Dwellers on the Gulf of Aden : SOMALIS
41. Some office printers : EPSONS
46. Somewhat : A TAD
48. Reason to cover your eyes in the theater? : GORE
49. Actress ___ Rachel Wood : EVAN
50. One out on a limb? : NEST
51. Classic role for Liz Taylor : CLEO
52. Soft ball? : YARN
55. High priest of Shiloh : ELI

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4 thoughts on “1225-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 25 Dec 15, Friday”

  1. 32:30, no errors. Had to chip away at this, quadrant by quadrant. The theme would have been more apparent, if I had realized that this puzzle was issued on Christmas Day. In syndication, it's January 29th.

  2. 16:45, no errors. I didn't realize this was a Christmas Day puzzle, either, until I filled in CANDY CANES, at which point I remembered that one of the other puzzles this week had some kind of holiday reference. Even so, the fact that the four orphaned letters spelled out XMAS went right over my head. (I'm embarrassed to admit that I even looked at the letters and briefly wondered if they had some significance, but still didn't get it.)

    Yesterday, I was amused to read that BruceB, as a joke, sometimes pronounces "Hippocrates" as "hippo crates". For years, I have done a similar thing with "Socrates", pronouncing it "sew crates". Both somehow tickle my fancy …

    A few years ago, while waiting to dispose of the remains of my lunch in the cafeteria at the lab where I worked, I looked down at a tiny shriveled piece of fruit that I had somehow neglected to eat, suddenly realized that I was standing next to a visiting French-speaking scientist, and could not help myself: I nudged him, raised one eyebrow quizzically, pointed at the remnant, and said, "There it is, what we're all looking for in life, a raisin d'tray!" (He gave me a blank look and made some kind of polite noise … but I still think of the incident as one of the finer moments of my life … 🙂

    Perhaps there's something in the genes that determines whether or not you enjoy a good play on words …

  3. @Anonymous … I agree that some of the clues were misleading, making for a difficult solve. (But … it's Friday … 🙂 As for noticing the letters in the crooks of the canes: One of the unwritten rules of the NYT puzzles is that the letter to be written in each white square is determined by two clues – one across and one down – rather than just one. This puzzle violates that rule not just once, but four separate times, so the violations stand out like sore thumbs. A logical conclusion is that the four white squares involved are meant to receive letters that are somehow related to one another. As it happened, the entries MARx, mSRP, a TAD, and OHMs were all sufficiently unambiguous that I didn't stop to think too long about how the letters x, m, a, and s might be related, but, if I had been uncertain of one of those letters, I'd have considered the matter further and that part of the theme would have been a great help in fixing whatever the problem was. In fact, it would have served as a necessary additional clue. (My two cents' worth … 🙂

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