1221-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 21 Dec 2017, Thursday

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Constructed by: Alex Eaton-Salners
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: Some Black Squares

Themed answers are represented by the shape made by black squares at the bottom-center of the grid:

  • 14D. What some of the black squares in the grid might represent : SLINGSHOT
  • 15D. Another thing they might represent : GOALPOSTS
  • 26D. Another thing they might represent : TUNING FORK
  • 28D. One more thing they might represent : THE LETTER Y

Bill’s time: 9m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Birthplace of St. Clare : ASSISI

The Italian town of Assisi is in Umbria. Assisi is famous as the birthplace of St. Francis and as the home to the Franciscan religious order. It was also the home to Saint Clare and her order of the Poor Sisters (later known as the Poor Clares).

7. Mustang alternative : CAMARO

The Chevrolet Camaro is a car produced by General Motors from 1966 to 2002, and reintroduced in 2009. The Camaro shared much of its design with the Pontiac Firebird, and was introduced as a potential competitor to the Ford Mustang.

The Ford Mustang car was introduced in 1964. Back then the Mustang wasn’t a brand new design, but was based on the Ford Falcon. The Mustang was the first of the “pony cars”, American models that are compact and affordable, as well as sporty in image and performance.

15. Last name in astronomy : GALILEI

Galileo Galilei may be the most famous son of the city of Pisa in Italy and was considered by many to have been the father of modern science. In the world of physics, Galileo postulated that objects of different masses would fall at the same rate provided they did so in a vacuum (so there was no air resistance). There is a story that he dropped two balls of different masses from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate this, but this probably never happened. Centuries later, Astronaut David Scott performed Galileo’s proposed experiment when he dropped a hammer and feather on the moon during the Apollo 15 mission and we all saw the objects hit the moon surface, at exactly the same time.

16. Winner of 13 Outstanding Drama Series Emmys : GENERAL HOSPITAL

The daytime soap opera “General Hospital” is the longest-running such drama still in production in the US, and is second-longest running soap in the world. The first episode of “General Hospital” aired on April 1, 1963. The UK soap “Coronation Street” has been on TV since 9 December 1960.

20. Email address ending : 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)

21. Form of “sum” : ERAT

“Esse” is the Latin for “to be”. “Sum” means “I am”, and “erat” means “he, she was”.

25. What does follow? : STAG

A male deer is usually called a buck, and a female is a doe. However, the male red deer is usually referred to as a stag. The males of even larger species of deer are often called bulls, and females cows. In older English, male deer of over 5 years were called harts, and females of over 3 years were called hinds. The young of small species are known as fawns, and of larger species are called calves. All very confusing …

27. St. ___ (site of a spring vacay) : PETE

Saint Petersburg, Florida is often referred to as “St. Pete” by locals and visitors alike. Located on a peninsula lying between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, St. Pete was founded in 1888 and named for Saint Petersburg in Russia. The co-founders were Russian immigrant Peter Demens and Detroit native John C. Williams. The pair tossed a coin for the privilege of naming the new city, and Demens won. Williams lost, but did get to name the city’s first hostelry “The Detroit Hotel”.

“Vacay” is slang for “vacation”.

29. Micronesian nation composed of hundreds of islands : PALAU

Palau is a tiny island nation lying 500 miles east of the Philippines, and 2,000 miles south of Japan. Palau was once a Spanish possession and was sold by Spain to Germany in the late 19th century. During WWI, Japan invaded the islands (Japan had declared war on Germany) and was awarded the islands as a territory by the League of Nations at the end of hostilities. In WWII the US took Palau from the Japanese in a bloody battle in 1944. Palau emerged from American administration in 1994 and is now a sovereign state.

Micronesia is one of the three island regions of Oceania, along with Polynesia and Melanesia. The sovereign nations included in the region are the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau. Also in Micronesia are the US territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and Wake Island.

32. Busy W. Coast airport : SFO

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) serves as the main base of operations for Virgin America (recently sold to Alaska Airlines), and is also the maintenance hub for United Airlines.

34. ___ bar : HEATH

The Heath candy bar was created by brothers Bayard and Everett Heath in the 1920s.

40. Kemper who plays Kimmy on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” : ELLIE

The actress Ellie Kemper’s big break came with the role of Erin Hannon, a receptionist on the sitcom “The Office”. More recently, Kemper has be playing the title role on the Netflix comedy series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”.

41. Ones involved in wishful thinking? : GENII

“Genii” is an accepted plural of two related words: “genius” and “genie”.

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 …

44. Elizabeth ___, “Pirates of the Caribbean” protagonist : SWANN

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” series of films is inspired by the wonderful ride at the Disney theme parks. The first movie in the series is “The Curse of the Black Pearl”, which was released in 2003. The film is remarkable in many ways, including the fact that it was the first Disney movie to be given a PG-13 rating.

45. “Deck the Halls” contraction : ‘TIS

The music for the Christmas song “Deck the Halls” is a traditional Welsh tune that dates back to the 16th century. The same tune was used by Mozart for a violin and piano duet. The lyrics with which we are familiar (other than the “f-la-la”) are American in origin, and were recorded in 19th century.

“’Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la!”

46. Foreign currency option : EUROS

Euro coins are issued by all the participating European states. The reverse side is a common design used by all countries, whereas the obverse is a design specific to each nation. For example, the one euro coin issued by Malta features the Maltese Cross. That Maltese euro is legal tender right across the eurozone. The Irish euro features a harp.

49. ___ Candy, Wonder Woman’s best friend : ETTA

Wonder Woman first appeared in print in 1941, in a publication from DC Comics. As she was created during WWII, Wonder Woman’s first foes were the axis powers. In the less realistic world her biggest foe was and still is Ares, a “baddie” named for the Greek mythological figure. Wonder Woman had several signature expressions, including “Merciful Minerva!”, “Suffering Sappho!” and “Great Hera!”.

50. Spanish chess piece : REY

“Rey” is the Spanish word for “king”.

52. Pot-au-___ (French stew) : FEU

Pot-au-feu is a French stew made with beef and is similar to many stews made around the world, containing cheap cuts of meat with mainly root vegetables and spices. The name “pot-au-feu” means “pot on the fire”, and used to apply to a pot that was kept on the fire during cold weather, with ingredients being added when they became available, and stew doled out when needed.

54. 1980s TV star known for wearing chains : MR T

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!”.

55. First-tier supervisor in the U.S.M.C. : NCO

Non-commissioned officer (NCO)

The US Marine Corps is one of the seven federal uniformed services, namely:

  • Army
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps

58. Colorful, cold treats : ICE POPS

The term “ice pop” has largely been supplanted in the US by “popsicle”, as the Popsicle brand of ice pop became so popular. We still use “ice pop” in Ireland, and in the UK the same thing is called an “ice lolly”, and in Australia it’s an “ice block”.

62. Badlands National Park feature : PRAIRIE

Badlands may be “bad lands” for agriculture (hence the name), but they can be beautiful. A badlands is an extensive area from which the topsoil has been eroded by wind and water, leaving exposed rock and very little vegetation. One of the most beautiful badlands areas in the US is preserved for the nation as South Dakota’s Badlands National Park.

64. Words of understanding? : EUREKAS

“Eureka” translates from Greek as “I have found it”. The word is usually associated with Archimedes, uttered as he stepped into his bath one day. His discovery was that the volume of water that was displaced was equal to that of the object (presumably his foot) that had been submerged. He used this fact to determine the volume of a crown, something he needed in order to determine if it was made of pure gold or was a forgery.

Down

3. Pole star? : SANTA

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 1863 caricature created by the political cartoonist Thomas Nast. Nast is also responsible for locating Santa’s workshop at the North Magnetic Pole, a fact that he revealed to the world in a series of drawings in 1879.

4. Suffix with Jersey : -ITE

Jersey and Guernsey are two of the Channel Islands off the coast of Normandy in France. They are “Crown dependencies”, self-governing possessions of the Crown for which the UK is responsible even though they are not part of the UK. The American state of New Jersey is named for the island in the English Channel.

5. Contents of IV bags : SERA

Blood serum (plural “sera”) is the clear, yellowish part of blood i.e. that part which is neither a blood cell or a clotting factor. Included in blood serum are antibodies, the proteins that are central to our immune system. Blood serum from animals that have immunity to some disease can be transferred to another individual, hence providing that second individual with some level of immunity. Blood serum used to pass on immunity can be called “antiserum”.

8. Mont Blanc, par exemple : ALPE

Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps. The name “Mont Blanc” translates from French into “white mountain”. The mountain lies on the border between France and Italy, and it has been generally accepted for decades that the summit lies within French territory. However, there have been official claims that the summit does in fact fall within the borders of Italy.

9. One’s Nintendo avatar : MII

A customizable avatar in Nintendo games is known as “Mii”. Miis were introduced in the Wii gaming system. Clever, me and we, Mii and Wii …

11. Lincoln Center’s Walter ___ Theater : READE

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts takes its name from the neighborhood in which it is situated: Lincoln Square in the Upper West Side of the New York City borough of Manhattan.

12. Get ready for a Mr. Olympia competition, say : OIL UP

The Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition featured in the 1977 movie “Pumping Iron”. It was this film that gave Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno a start to their acting careers.

17. Blue Cross offering, briefly : HMO

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association formed in 1982 with the merger of Blue Shield and Blue Cross Association in 1982. Blue Cross health insurance plans were established in 1929 based on a plan used at Baylor University in Dallas. Blue Shield plans were first developed by employers in lumber and mining camps in the Pacific Northwest in 1910.

22. Winter Palace resident : TSARINA

The Winter Palace is a magnificent building in St. Petersburg in Russia, home to the Russian tsars (and tsarinas). The Winter Palace houses the famous Hermitage Museum. I was lucky enough to visit the Palace and museum some years ago, and I have to say that I have rarely been more impressed by a historical building.

29. “Little” trio in kiddie lit : PIGS

The “The Three Little Pigs” fairy tale has been around for centuries, although it first appeared in print in the 1840s. One little pig built a house using straw and another built one using wood. The cleverest little pig built its house using bricks.

31. Approximately 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes : LUNAR YEAR

A solar calendar is based on the 365 1/4 days it takes for the earth to orbit the sun. A lunar calendar is based on the moon’s phases (not the 28 days it takes the moon to orbit the earth) and has 12 lunar months of 29-30 days, with the “lunar year” ending eleven days earlier than the “solar year”. So, solar and lunar calendars are always out of sync. There is a device called an epact that adjusts the lunar calendar to bring it into sync with the solar calendar.

35. Senator in 2017 news : AL FRANKEN

Al Franken became the junior US Senator from Minnesota in 2009 after an extremely close race, a race that he eventually won by just 312 votes. Prior to serving in the Senate, Franken was a noted satirist and a writer for “Saturday Night Live”. Franken announced his intention to resign from the US Senate in 2018, in the face of several accusations of suxual misconduct.

36. Puente of “The Mambo Kings” : TITO

After serving in the navy in WWII for three years, the musician Tito Puente studied at Juilliard, where he got a great grounding in conducting, orchestration and theory. Puente parlayed this education into a career in Latin Jazz and Mambo. He was known as “El Rey” as well as “The King of Latin Music”.

37. Oil and gas giant : HESS

The Hess Corporation is an oil company based in New York City. In 1964, the company started selling toy trucks with the Hess logo on them, in Hess gas stations. The company has been selling them every since, bringing out new models just before Christmas. Hess toy trucks have become quite collectible and the old ones can fetch a pretty penny.

48. Photo tone : SEPIA

Sepia is that rich, brown-grey color so common in old photographs. “Sepia” is the Latinized version of the Greek word for cuttlefish, as sepia pigment is derived from the ink sac of the cuttlefish.The “sepia tone” of old photographs is not the result of deterioration over time. Rather, it is the result of a deliberate preservation process which converts the metallic silver in the photographic image to a more stable silver sulfide. Prints that have been sepia-toned can last in excess of 150 years.

49. Swashbuckling Flynn : ERROL

Actor Errol Flynn was born 1909 in Tasmania, Australia where he was raised. In his twenties, Flynn lived in the UK where he pursued his acting career. Around the same time he starred in an Australian film “In the Wake of the Bounty” and then appeared in a British film “Murder at Monte Carlo”. It was in the latter film that he was noticed by Warner Brothers who brought him to America. Flynn’s non-American heritage shone through even while he was living the American dream in California. He regularly played cricket, along with his friend David Niven, in the Hollywood Cricket Club.

A swashbuckler is a flashy swordsman. The term probably derives somehow from “swash” meaning “fall of a blow”, and “buckler” meaning “small round shield”.

51. Relative of cream : ECRU

The shade called ecru is a grayish, yellowish brown. The word “ecru” comes from French and means “raw, unbleached”. “Ecru” has the same roots as our word “crude”.

54. Tick off : MIFF

To miff is to put out, to tee off, and is verb that has been around since the early 1600s. Interestingly, in 1824 Sir Walter Scott described the word “miffed” as “a women’s phrase”. That would get him a slap, I’d say …

61. Dernier ___ (latest thing) : CRI

The French phrase “dernier cri” translates literally as “the latest cry or scream”, but is used to denote the latest fashion, something that is “all the rage”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Birthplace of St. Clare : ASSISI
7. Mustang alternative : CAMARO
13. “Oh, I don’t care” : WHATEVS
15. Last name in astronomy : GALILEI
16. Winner of 13 Outstanding Drama Series Emmys : GENERAL HOSPITAL
18. Snack : EAT
19. Spark : ANIMATE
20. Email address ending : EDU
21. Form of “sum” : ERAT
23. Hillock : KNOLL
24. Elite-type school : PREP
25. What does follow? : STAG
27. St. ___ (site of a spring vacay) : PETE
29. Micronesian nation composed of hundreds of islands : PALAU
32. Busy W. Coast airport : SFO
34. ___ bar : HEATH
38. Prepare for entombment, say : INURN
39. “___ Eye Is on the Sparrow” (hymn) : HIS
40. Kemper who plays Kimmy on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” : ELLIE
41. Ones involved in wishful thinking? : GENII
42. ___-quoted : OFT
43. Features of some apartments : LOFTS
44. Elizabeth ___, “Pirates of the Caribbean” protagonist : SWANN
45. “Deck the Halls” contraction : ‘TIS
46. Foreign currency option : EUROS
47. Rips (on) : RAGS
49. ___ Candy, Wonder Woman’s best friend : ETTA
50. Spanish chess piece : REY
52. Pot-au-___ (French stew) : FEU
54. 1980s TV star known for wearing chains : MR T
55. First-tier supervisor in the U.S.M.C. : NCO
58. Colorful, cold treats : ICE POPS
60. “S’pose so” : I RECKON
62. Badlands National Park feature : PRAIRIE
63. Available : FOR RENT
64. Words of understanding? : EUREKAS
65. Reach by air : FLY INTO

Down

1. “Shucks!” : AW GEE!
2. Clip : SHEAR
3. Pole star? : SANTA
4. Suffix with Jersey : -ITE
5. Contents of IV bags : SERA
6. The Trump who wrote “The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life” : IVANKA
7. Knight ‘hood? : CASTLE
8. Mont Blanc, par exemple : ALPE
9. One’s Nintendo avatar : MII
10. Revamp : ALTER
11. Lincoln Center’s Walter ___ Theater : READE
12. Get ready for a Mr. Olympia competition, say : OIL UP
14. What some of the black squares in the grid might represent : SLINGSHOT
15. Another thing they might represent : GOALPOSTS
17. Blue Cross offering, briefly : HMO
22. Winter Palace resident : TSARINA
24. Burn rubber : PEEL OUT
26. Another thing they might represent : TUNING FORK
28. One more thing they might represent : THE LETTER Y
29. “Little” trio in kiddie lit : PIGS
30. Again : ANEW
31. Approximately 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes : LUNAR YEAR
33. Diminutive of Josephine : FIFI
35. Senator in 2017 news : AL FRANKEN
36. Puente of “The Mambo Kings” : TITO
37. Oil and gas giant : HESS
48. Photo tone : SEPIA
49. Swashbuckling Flynn : ERROL
50. Having sat in the locker room way too long : RIPE
51. Relative of cream : ECRU
53. Puts into service : USES
54. Tick off : MIFF
56. Abbr. at the bottom of a page of text : CONT
57. Words with hold or pass : … ON TO
59. Filling food? : PIE
61. Dernier ___ (latest thing) : CRI

17 thoughts on “1221-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 21 Dec 2017, Thursday”

    1. It’s the worst clue. Does never follow stags. They do everything they can to avoid them. The clue should have read “what follows does ?”.

  1. 24:07. A pretty easy Thursday grid I made much more difficult. I filled in WHATEV_ in the upper left and spent the rest of the puzzle looking for the rebus of ER. I kept filling in more and more of the puzzle, didn’t find another rebus, scratched my head a few times, saw SLINGSHOT (as opposed to erINGSHOT), filled in the S and finished. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy in these things

    I can’t believe GENERAL HOSPITAL is still on the air. Really? Started April 1, 1963 – 3 days after I was born. It’s still going and, fortunately, so am I….

    No idea of the connection between St. Peterburgs in Florida and Russia. Agree about how amazing The Winter Palace is.

    Best –

  2. 15:26 No real problems but I didn’t move too quickly either. Like Jeff I thought there might be a rebus involved. Never seen GENII before.

  3. On yesterday’s (syndie-time) blog, I posted the following quiz:

    The first NYT puzzle edited by Will Shortz is memorable for its use of rebuses, but is otherwise unremarkable. Which of the following clues appeared in it as the clue for 2-Across?

    A) “Site of the Shandong Peninsula”
    B) “MasterCard rival”
    C) “Interminable”
    D) “Took it easy”
    E) None of the above

    It’s a trick question. The answer is E (even though all four of the clues mentioned do appear elsewhere in the “across” list of the puzzle mentioned). With vanishingly (“remarkably”) few exceptions, no entry in an NYT crossword ever has fewer than three letters, and one result of this is that there cannot be a clue numbered 2 (or 3) in the “across” list; those numbers must occur only in the “down” list. Also, each list must have a clue number 1; perhaps it is that fact which leads some to the false conclusion that each list is numbered consecutively and from that to an incorrect way of attempting to compute the total number of clues in the puzzle by adding together the final numbers in the two lists (as I pointed out in posts on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday).

    @Allen … The puzzle I referenced appeared in the NYT on Sunday, November 21, 1993. I did it and I no doubt loved it … the beginning of an enjoyable 24-year relationship with Mr. Shortz … and yes, I can pretty much guarantee that, if you did it, you really hated it … ?

    1. @ Dave—-You often mention the fact that the NYT puzzle never has an entry of less than three letters. There are, however, two popular puzzles that do include several two-letter entries. They are the two puzzles published in The National Enquirer. When I first started working them years ago I thought that there must surely be a limited number of two-letter entries that the constructor will have to draw upon. To my surprise the Enquirer kept coming up with new two-letter entries week after week and rarely repeated itself. I no longer work those puzzles but I did get to a point where I relished those two-letter answers as being always intriguing.

      1. @Dale … The puzzles I worked as a kid often had two-letter entries, but I haven’t encountered one in a long time. A couple of words I remember from those days are AI (a three-toed sloth) and UNAU (a two-toed sloth). Just now, I had to look up both words to see which was which. Ah, those were the days … when the world was young … (or, at least, I was) … ?

      2. @Dale –
        Just curious if many or most of those 2-letter entries were initials or Roman numerals. I also suppose there could be a bunch of foreign 2-letter entries as well. There just aren’t that many 2-letter words in English…..I don’t think…

        Off the top of my head: an, as, it,of, do, mi fa.. (scale), fi fo (fee fi fo fum), by, at, du (French), go, ha, hi, ho, lu (French), lo (and behold), me, mu, pi, so, su (Spanish), to, tu (Spanish), ta(da?), vi (Spanish) or Roman numeral, we, ya (various languages), my, is, id, oh, in, et (Latin), on

        What’d I miss?

        Ok – maybe there are more than I was thinking…add Roman numerals, initials, and other foreign words/phrases, and I guess there are a lot of options.

        Best –

        1. You got it, Bruce. Those are exactly some of the options that constructors use to fill two-letter entries. And there are still even more that you did not mention. It is yet another facet of the creativity that goes into puzzle-making.

  4. 27:35, two errors: ELLI(S)/H(S)SS. Not in sync with the setters’ thought process today. 13A entered WHATEVA before WHATEVS; 25A BUCK before STAG. Having visited the Badlands in South Dakota, the last thing that came to mind is PRAIRIE, although I’m sure it is technically correct.

    @Bill: great write up about Mr. T (54A), but no mention of the TV show ‘The A-Team’?

  5. 15 minutes on the nose and no errors. A nice Thursday challenge, but mostly bereft of the usual trickery. One exception is that cynical heteronym clue for 25A. Now that I’ve put a name to this evil device for “manufacturing difficulty” I now shake my fist at those constructors who stoop to using it (or perhaps, to an editor who might place it there, so that he can wring his hands like Snidely Whiplash and snicker evilly towards the “fourth wall”?). Well, at least there were no damned rebuses, off-grid entries or other “not kosher” madness. All things considered, I’d have to say this is one of the better Thursday puzzles in recent memory. (I suppose, a better review than to refer to 13A, right?)

  6. Met Mr. T in public several times, he was friendly, offered to pose for a picture with my daughter. Saw him once on an airplane, wearing all of his chains. My only thought was about how long it must have taken to get through the metal detector!

  7. 20 minutes, no errors. Thankfully pretty routine.

    @Dale Stewart
    If you get into Scrabble pretty deeply, you’ll find all kinds of two-letter words – you really need those to bail yourself out sometimes.

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