1231-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 31 Dec 15, Thursday

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: Ben Tausig
THEME: Pass Go … each of today’s themed answers is a common phrase, but one has to PASS GO (remove the letters GO) to make sense of the corresponding clue:

62A. Round a corner in 65-Across … or what you must do to answer the clues for 20-, 34-, 43- and 56-Across : PASS GO

20A. Enjoy the swimsuit edition of The New England Journal of Medicine? : GOOGLE DOCS (giving “ogle docs”)
34A. Brief entries in an auto film festival? : CARGO SHORTS (giving “car shorts”)
43A. Sickly-looking overlord? : WAGON MASTER (giving “wan master”)
56A. People obsessed with being online? : EGOMANIACS (giving “e-maniacs”)

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 14m 54s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Onetime gig for Wiig, in brief : SNL
Kristen Wiig is a comic actress who appears on “Saturday Night Live”. She also made an appearance on the first season of Spike TV’s quirky “The Joe Schmo Show”, playing “Dr. Pat”. More recently she co-wrote and starred in the 2011 hit film “Bridesmaids”.

8. ___ Simpson : GRAMPA
In the animated TV show called “The Simpsons”, Grampa Abe Simpson is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, the same actor who provides the voice for Homer.

17. Spider-Man’s surrogate father : UNCLE BEN
Aunt May and Uncle Ben Parker are characters in the spider-Man universe created by Marvel Comics. The couple’s nephew is Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man.

20. Enjoy the swimsuit edition of The New England Journal of Medicine? : GOOGLE DOCS (giving “ogle docs”)
Google Docs is a word processing application that is part of the Google Drive suite of services. In fact, I am typing this blog post right now in Google Docs.

22. Giant Manning : ELI
Eli Manning plays as quarterback for the New York Giants. Eli’s brother Peyton Manning is quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Eli and Peyton’s father is Archie Manning, who was also a successful NFL quarterback.

23. Club alternative : BLT
The BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) is the second most popular sandwich in the US, after the plain old ham sandwich.

The club sandwich is a double-decker affair with three layers of bread and two layers of filling. This style of sandwich has been around since the end of the 19th century, and some say it was invented at an exclusive gambling “club” in Saratoga Springs, New York.

24. Organization in “The Da Vinci Code” : OPUS DEI
Opus Dei is Roman Catholic institution that was founded in Spain in 1928, and officially approved by the church in 1950. In 2010, Opus Dei had over 90,000 members, mostly lay people. The institution’s mission is to promote certain aspects of the Roman Catholic doctrine. Opus Dei was portrayed as a sinister organization by Dan Brown in his novel “The Da Vinci Code”.

27. Actress Gerwig of “Mistress America” : GRETA
Greta Gerwig is an actress from Sacramento whose best-known role is probably opposite Russell Brand in the remake of the film “Arthur”.

42. Flag : TIRE
Our verb “to flag” meaning “to tire” was originally used in the sense of something flapping about lazily in the wind. From this it came to mean “to go limp, droop”, and then “to tire”.

46. Bhikkhuni : Buddhism :: ___ : Catholicism : NUN
In the Buddhist tradition, a “bhikkhuni” is a female monk. The male equivalent is a bhikkhu.

48. Rotational speed meas. : RPS
Revolutions per second (rps)

54. Bank figure, for short : PIN
One enters a Personal Identification Number (PIN) when using an Automated Teller Machine (ATM).

55. Half of us? : ESS
Half of the word “us” is a letter S (ess).

62. Round a corner in 65-Across … or what you must do to answer the clues for 20-, 34-, 43- and 56-Across : PASS GO
(65A. Game patented December 31, 1935 : MONOPOLY)
The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman called Lizzie Phillips. Phillips used her game as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was first produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, who became a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.

67. Words of rebuke : ET TU
In William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar”, Caesar is stabbed by a group of conspirators, with Brutus delivering the final blow. Caesar’s last words are “Et tu, Bruté?—Then fall, Caesar.” After Caesar dies, the conspirators celebrate. Cinna declares, “Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead! Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.” After which, Cassius continues with “Some to the common pulpits, and cry out, ‘Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!’”

68. Understanding : KEN
“Ken” is a noun meaning “understanding, perception”. One might say, for example, “half the clues in Saturday’s crossword are beyond my ken, beyond my understanding”.

70. Swiftly built home? : NEST
Swifts are birds that are related to hummingbirds. Swifts are aptly named, with larger swift species clocked at airspeeds of over 100 miles/hour.

71. Cable channel that airs “Portlandia” : IFC
“Portlandia” is a satirical sketch show that is aired on the Independent Film Channel (IFC). The show is set in Portland, Oregon and takes its name from a statue called “Portlandia” which sits above the entrance to a building in downtown Portland. The statue is a copper repoussé work, and is second in size in the US only to the Statue of Liberty.

Down
3. Spanish nuts : LOCO
In Spanish, if one isn’t “sano” (sane) one might be described as “loco” (crazy).

4. Wallop : SHELLAC
“To shellac” is a slang term meaning “to defeat decisively, to strike severely”.

5. Terminus of the Qingzang railway : TIBET
The Qingzang-Tibet railway runs almost 2,000 kilometers from the Chinese city of Xining on the Tibetan Plateau to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

7. City near Sparks : RENO
Sparks is a city in Nevada that lies on the eastern side of Reno. The city was called Harriman originally, after a Southern Pacific Railroad president, and then renamed Sparks after a Nevada State Governor. The first non-Native American settlement in the area developed mainly from cattle trading. Cattle that were driven from Missouri and bound for California would stop in the area now known as Sparks, resting up before the arduous trek across the Sierra Nevada mountains. A business grew that involved trading cattle weary from the first part of the journey, swapping them for fresh animals. The tired beasts were then rested and fattened up to be traded again the following year for the journey on to California.

11. Cosmopolitan, e.g. : MIXED DRINK
Like so many famous cocktails, the actual origins of the cosmopolitan are disputed. It is a nice drink though. One of the standard recipes is 4 parts citrus vodka, 1.5 parts Cointreau, 1.5 parts lime juice and 3 parts cranberry juice.

12. Key’s longtime partner in sketch comedy : PEELE
The Comedy Central sketch show “Key & Peele” starred comics Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.

13. Computer acronym since the 1960s : ASCII
ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) lists codes for 32 “control” characters, as well as the 95 printable characters. These binary codes are the way that our computers can understand what we mean when we type say a letter, or a number. Unicode is a more contemporary standard, and is like “Ascii on steroids”, encompassing more characters.

18. Modern civil rights initialism : LGBT
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)

25. Escort, slangily : USH
“To ush” is to usher, to show to a seat.

28. 1971 documentary about Ravi Shankar : RAGA
The 1971 documentary “Raga” is about the life and music Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitar player. Most of the footage for the film was shot in the sixties, and features some musicians from the West including Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison.

35. Convenience partly obviated by banking apps : ATM
ATM (Automatic Teller Machine)

44. Born on the bayou? : NEE
“Née” is the French word for “born” when referring to a female. The male equivalent is “né”.

The exact origins of the term “bayou” is uncertain, but it is thought perhaps to come from the Choctaw (a Native American people from the southeast) word “bayuk”, meaning “small stream”.

51. “The choice of a new generation” sloganeer, once : PEPSI
Pepsi has used many, many slogans over the years. The slogans range from “The Choice of a New Generation” featuring Michael Jackson in eighties and nineties, to the original “Twice as Much for a Nickel” that ran from 1939 to 1950.

52. Challenges for future counsel, in brief : LSATS
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

54. Fly holder : PANTS
The term “fly” is used to describe the flap covering the buttons or zipper in the front of a pair of pants. Before “fly” was used for pants, it was the name given to a tent flap.

57. Harbinger : OMEN
A harbinger is a person or a thing that indicates what is to come. The word comes from the Middle English “herbenger”, a person sent ahead to arrange lodgings.

58. Speck : MOTE
“Mote” is another word for a speck of dust.

59. Isao in the Golf Hall of Fame : AOKI
Isao Aoki is one of Japan’s greatest golfers, now playing on the senior circuit. Aoki’s best finish in a major tournament was runner-up to Jack Nicklaus in the 1980 US Open.

60. Head of staff? : CLEF
Clef is the French word for “key”. In music, a clef is used to indicate the pitch of the notes written on the stave. The bass clef is also known as the F-clef, and the treble clef is the G-clef.

63. “Law & Order” spinoff, familiarly : SVU
“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is a spin-off from the TV crime drama “Law & Order”. “SVU” has been on the air since 1999, and is set in New York City. Interestingly, since 2007 there has been a very successful Russian adaptation of the show that is set in Moscow.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Onetime gig for Wiig, in brief : SNL
4. Keep the sauce from congealing, say : STIR
8. ___ Simpson : GRAMPA
14. Low note? : MOO
15. Stash : HIDE
16. Banks : RELIES
17. Spider-Man’s surrogate father : UNCLE BEN
19. Commercial leader? : AD EXEC
20. Enjoy the swimsuit edition of The New England Journal of Medicine? : GOOGLE DOCS (giving “ogle docs”)
22. Giant Manning : ELI
23. Club alternative : BLT
24. Organization in “The Da Vinci Code” : OPUS DEI
27. Actress Gerwig of “Mistress America” : GRETA
30. “Yeah, that’s the spot” : AAH!
32. Put down roots? : SOD
33. Oral vote : NAY
34. Brief entries in an auto film festival? : CARGO SHORTS (giving “car shorts”)
39. Like Scotch whisky : AGED
41. Rib : TEASE
42. Flag : TIRE
43. Sickly-looking overlord? : WAGON MASTER (giving “wan master”)
46. Bhikkhuni : Buddhism :: ___ : Catholicism : NUN
47. Tall one : LIE
48. Rotational speed meas. : RPS
49. Grilled : ASKED
51. Neither improve nor decline : PLATEAU
54. Bank figure, for short : PIN
55. Half of us? : ESS
56. People obsessed with being online? : EGOMANIACS (giving “e-maniacs”)
62. Round a corner in 65-Across … or what you must do to answer the clues for 20-, 34-, 43- and 56-Across : PASS GO
65. Game patented December 31, 1935 : MONOPOLY
66. Psychologist Pinker who wrote “How the Mind Works” : STEVEN
67. Words of rebuke : ET TU
68. Understanding : KEN
69. What you may have with mom, dad or an overbearing boss : ISSUES
70. Swiftly built home? : NEST
71. Cable channel that airs “Portlandia” : IFC

Down
1. Like an “I told you so” look : SMUG
2. Proscription : NO-NO
3. Spanish nuts : LOCO
4. Wallop : SHELLAC
5. Terminus of the Qingzang railway : TIBET
6. Known to authorities : IDED
7. City near Sparks : RENO
8. Clutch : GRASP
9. With 10-Down, Irish draught : RED
10. See 9-Down : ALE
11. Cosmopolitan, e.g. : MIXED DRINK
12. Key’s longtime partner in sketch comedy : PEELE
13. Computer acronym since the 1960s : ASCII
18. Modern civil rights initialism : LGBT
21. They share the air : CO-HOSTS
25. Escort, slangily : USH
26. Some air pollution : SOOT
27. Plague, with “at” : GNAW
28. 1971 documentary about Ravi Shankar : RAGA
29. Bridge sitter? : EYEGLASSES
30. Relative of a throw : AREA RUG
31. Audibly floored : AGASP
35. Convenience partly obviated by banking apps : ATM
36. “Got me now?” : SEE?
37. Align : TRUE
38. Texting button : SEND
40. Darer’s cry : DO IT!
44. Born on the bayou? : NEE
45. Cause for a rescheduling : RAINOUT
50. Insignificant person : SNIP
51. “The choice of a new generation” sloganeer, once : PEPSI
52. Challenges for future counsel, in brief : LSATS
53. Bajillions of years : AEONS
54. Fly holder : PANTS
57. Harbinger : OMEN
58. Speck : MOTE
59. Isao in the Golf Hall of Fame : AOKI
60. Head of staff? : CLEF
61. Align : SYNC
63. “Law & Order” spinoff, familiarly : SVU
64. “Huh, never would’ve figured” : GEE

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4 thoughts on “1231-15 New York Times Crossword Answers 31 Dec 15, Thursday”

  1. 22:22, no errors. It seems as if I had a harder time with this one than I should have; once I understood the theme, the pace picked up, but it took a while to get there. SVU, IFC, GRETA Gerwig, "Bhikkuni", and "Qingzang" were all new to me. I only recently became aware of Key & Peele, but they were a big help in the upper right corner. And "Fly holder" for PANTS is pretty cute … 🙂

  2. 27:47, no errors. Same issues as Dave. Once I got PASS GO, could fill in MONOPOLY immediately. Challenge of this puzzle was connecting many of the vague or 'punny' clues to their answers.

  3. Just too many poor, vague clues for me to finish. Hopefully, next year will see an increase in average puzzle quality. Because this year SUCKED.

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