1225-19 NY Times Crossword 25 Dec 19, Wednesday

Constructed by: Bruce Haight
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Sayings of Santa

Merry Christmas, everyone! Themed answers each include a HO HO HO, twice repeating a “HO” in a common phrase hinted at in the clue:

  • 17A What Santa said when his sleigh touched down? : LAND HO HO HO!
  • 23A What Santa might say on his North Pole hotline? : PLEASE HO HO HOLD
  • 38A What Santa said when the reindeer went on strike on Christmas Eve? : IT’S HO HO HOPELESS
  • 50A What Santa said when going down a chimney that had a lit fireplace? : HO HO HOLY SMOKES!
  • 61A What Santa says around dawn on Christmas Day? : I’M HO HO HOME

Read on, or jump to …
… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 7m 35s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9 ___ colada : PINA

“Piña colada” is a Spanish term that translates into “strained pineapple”. The piña colada cocktail was introduced in the Caribe Hilton San Juan in 1954, and since 1978 it has been the official beverage of Puerto Rico. Yum …

13 Kind of palm : ACAI

Açaí (pronounced “ass-aye-ee”) is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.

16 Endmost compartment in a till : ONES

What we usually call a cash register here in North America, we mostly call a “till” in Ireland and the UK. I haven’t heard the word “till” used much here in that sense …

17 What Santa said when his sleigh touched down? : LAND HO HO HO!

The cry of “land ho!” from a sailor means that land has just been spotted. A similar shout is “sail ho!”, indicating that another boat has been spotted.

19 Singer Redding : OTIS

Otis Redding is often referred to as the “King of Soul”, and what a voice he had. Like so many of the greats in the world of popular music it seems, Redding was killed in a plane crash, in 1967 when he was just 26 years old. Just three days earlier he had recorded what was to be his biggest hit, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”.

20 “Jingle Bells” or “White Christmas” : OLDIE

The traditional Christmas song “Jingle Bells” was first published in 1857, penned by James Lord Pierpont. We associate the song with Christmas, although in fact Pierpont wrote it as a celebration of Thanksgiving.

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

“White Christmas” is a song composed by Irving Berlin. The famous 1942 recording of “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling single of all time.

21 Special treatment, for short : TLC

Tender loving care (TLC)

22 “Damn Yankees” vamp : LOLA

“Whatever Lola Wants” is a song from the musical “Damn Yankees”. “Damn Yankees” is actually yet another version of the classic German legend of “Faust”, set in Washington, D.C. in the fifties. The show was written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, a production that turned out to be a very successful follow-up to their prior hit, “The Pajama Game”. The future was looking really rosy for Adler and Ross but, sadly, Jerry Ross died from obstructive lung disease only a few weeks after “Damn Yankees” opened on Broadway in 1955. He was just 29 years old.

23 What Santa might say on his North Pole hotline? : PLEASE HO HO HOLD

If you want to send a note to Santa from Canada, he has his own special postal code: “North Pole, HOH OHO”. The US Postal Service suggests that we send mail for Santa to zip code 99705, which directs it to the city of North Pole, Alaska.

35 Kind of fatty acid : OLEIC

Oleic acid is a fatty acid, one found in many animal and plant sources, but most notably in olives. As such, “Oleic” means “derived from the olive”. Oleic acid dissolves in basic solutions to create soaps.

38 What Santa said when the reindeer went on strike on Christmas Eve? : IT’S HO HO HOPELESS

We get the names for Santa’s reindeer from the famous 1823 poem called “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, although we’ve modified a couple of the names over the years. The full list is:

  • Dasher
  • Dancer
  • Prancer
  • Vixen
  • Comet
  • Cupid
  • Donder (originally “Dunder”, and now often “Donner”)
  • Blitzen (originally “Blixem”)

Rudolph was added to the list by retailer Montgomery Ward, would you believe? The store commissioned Robert L. May to create a booklet that could be handed out to children around Christmas in 1939, and May introduced us to a new friend for Santa, namely Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

43 Norse god with a hammer : THOR

In Norse mythology, Thor was the son of Odin. Thor wielded a mighty hammer and was the god of thunder, lightning and storms. Our contemporary word “Thursday” comes from “Thor’s Day”.

44 ___ Beta Kappa : PHI

Phi Beta Kappa was the first collegiate Greek fraternity in the US, founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. The organization served as a model for future collegiate fraternities and sororities, although in the 19th century Phi Beta Kappa distanced itself from the fraternal focus and transformed into the honor society that it is today, recognizing academic excellence. The initials Phi Beta Kappa stand for “philosophia biou kybernētēs”, which translates into “philosophy is the guide of life”. The symbol of the Phi Beta Kappa Society is a golden key.

45 Sporty car roof : T-TOP

A T-top is a car roof that has removable panels on either side of a rigid bar that runs down the center of the vehicle above the driver.

47 ___ soup : MISO

Miso is the name of the seasoning that makes miso soup. Basic miso seasoning is made by fermenting rice, barley and soybeans with salt and a fungus to produce a paste. The paste can be added to stock to make miso soup, or perhaps to flavor tofu.

58 Reason for hoarseness : STREP

Streptococcus bacteria multiply and divide along a single axis so that they form linked chains. That behavior gives the genus of bacteria its name, as “streptos” is Greek for “easily twisted, like a chain”. I had to battle with streptococcal pharyngitis (strep throat) twice in the past few years and it was not at all pleasant, I must say. Another species of streptococcus is responsible for that terrible “flesh-eating” infection that makes the news from time to time.

64 Red Muppet : ELMO

The “Sesame Street” character named Elmo has a birthday every February 3rd, and on that birthday he always turns 3½ years old. The man behind/under Elmo on “Sesame Street” for many years was Kevin Clash. If you want to learn more about Elmo and Clash, you can watch the 2011 documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey”.

67 “God ___ Ye Merry, Gentlemen” : REST

“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is a favorite Christmas carol of mine. Note the correct punctuation. For years I thought the first line was “God rest you, merry gentlemen”. In fact, the verb “rest” here means “keep, continue to remain”. Rewriting the line in contemporary English might be “May God keep you happy, gentlemen”.

69 Lawman Eliot : NESS

Eliot Ness was the Treasury agent charged with the task of bringing down the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone. When Ness took on the job in 1930, Chicago law-enforcement agents were renowned for being corrupt, for being on the take. Ness handpicked 50 prohibition agents who he thought he could rely on, later reducing the group to a cadre of 15 and ultimately just 11 trusted men. That group of 11 earned the nickname “The Untouchables”, the agents who couldn’t be bought.

Down

2 Where shampoo is applied : SCALP

Back in the 1760s, the verb “to shampoo” was an Anglo-Indian word meaning “to massage”. A century later we started to shampoo our hair.

3 Place to get a C.D. or an I.R.A. : S AND L

Savings and Loan (S&L)

A certificate of deposit (CD) is like a less-flexible and higher-paying savings account. Instead of depositing money into a savings account and earning interest periodically, one can open a CD. With a CD one deposits a minimum amount of money but must leave it there for a specified length of time. In return for committing the funds for a fixed period, one is given a higher interest rate than a savings account and can redeem that interest and the initial deposit when the term has expired. CDs are relatively low-risk investments as they are FDIC insured, just like savings accounts.

Individual retirement account (IRA)

4 Spruces (up) : TIDIES

Our verb “to spruce up” means “to make trim or neat”. The term comes from the adjective “spruce”, meaning “smart, neat”. In turn, the adjective comes from “spruce leather”, which was a Prussian leather that was used in England in the 15th and 16th centuries to make a popular style of jerkin that was widely considered to look quite smart.

7 A deadly sin : SLOTH

The cardinal sins of Christian ethics are also known as the seven deadly sins. The seven sins are:

  • Wrath
  • Greed
  • Sloth
  • Pride
  • Lust
  • Envy
  • Gluttony

8 Mexican artist Frida : KAHLO

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter famous for her self-portraits. She was married to the equally famous artist Diego Rivera. Kahlo was portrayed by actress Salma Hayek in a film about her colorful life called “Frida” released in 2002.

9 Place where one might hear “That’s my cue!” : POOL HALL

The more correct name for the game of pool is “pocket billiards”. The designation “pool” arose after pocket billiards became a common feature in “pool halls”, places where gamblers “pooled” their money to bet on horse races.

11 Sam of “Jurassic Park” : NEILL

Sam Neill is a very talented actor from New Zealand, although he spent the first few years of his life in Northern Ireland. I really enjoyed Neill in a 1983 television miniseries called “Reilly, Ace of Spies”, about a British spy operation during WWI. He is perhaps better-known for his roles in the movies “Omen III”, “Dead Calm”, “Jurassic Park” and “The Hunt for Red October”.

“Jurassic Park” is a 1990 novel by Michael Crichton that was adapted into a hugely successful movie by Steven Spielberg in 1993. One of the main premises of the novel is that dinosaur DNA could be harvested from mosquitoes trapped in amber (fossilized tree resin), the DNA coming from the dinosaur blood consumed by the mosquitoes. The dinosaur DNA is then sequenced and used to create clones of the original beasts. Apparently, that’s a clever idea, but not very practical …

12 Syria’s Bashar al-___ : ASSAD

Dr. Bashar al-Assad is the current President of the Syrian Arab Republic and the son of the former President Hafez al-Assad, whom he replaced in 2001. President Assad is a medical doctor, speaks fluent English and conversational French. Assad was studying ophthalmology in London when he met his wife, who is an Englishwoman by birth.

15 Coffee shop order : MOCHA

Mocha is a port city in Yemen on the Red Sea and was once the principal port for the capital city of Sana’a. Mocha was the major marketplace in the world for coffee until the 1600s, and gave its name to the Mocha coffee bean, which in turn gave its name to the mocha brown color, and the flavor of coffee infused with chocolate.

24 Part of a window thrown up in “A Visit From St. Nicholas” : SASH

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 …

25 Florida theme park : EPCOT

EPCOT Center (now just called “Epcot”) is the theme park beside Walt Disney World in Florida. EPCOT is an acronym standing for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and is a representation of the future as envisioned by Walt Disney. Walt Disney actually wanted to build a living community for 20,000 residents at EPCOT, but he passed away without that vision being realized.

26 Nebraska county named for an indigenous people : OTOE

Otoe County is located in the southeast of Nebraska, on the border with Iowa and Missouri. The county seat is Nebraska City, the oldest incorporated city in the whole state.

34 Parts of guesses in Clue : ROOMS

Clue is a board game that we knew under a different name growing up in Ireland. Outside of North America, Clue is marketed as “Cluedo”. Cluedo was the original name of the game, introduced in 1949 by the famous British board game manufacturer Waddingtons. There are cute differences between the US and UK versions. For example, the man who is murdered is called Dr. Black (Mr. Boddy in the US), one of the suspects is the Reverend Green (Mr. Green in the US), and the suspect weapons include a dagger (a knife in the US), and a spanner (a wrench in the US). I think it’s a fabulous game, a must during the holidays …

37 Onetime CBS forensic drama : CSI

The “CSI” franchise of TV shows has been tremendously successful, but has finally wound down. “CSI: Miami” (the “worst” of the franchise, I think) was cancelled in 2012 after ten seasons. “CSI: NY” (the “best” of the franchise) was cancelled in 2013 after nine seasons. The original “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”, set in Las Vegas, hung in there until 2015 when it ended with a two-hour TV movie. The youngest show in the series was “CSI: Cyber”. It lasted for two seasons, before being canceled in 2016.

40 “However …,” in texts : OTOH …

On the other hand (OTOH)

51 Undeveloped egg cell : OVULE

As we all remember from botany class (don’t we?), an ovule is a small structure in many plants that develops into the seed after fertilization.

53 Country bumpkin : YAHOO

Yahoos are brutish creatures introduced by Irish author Jonathan Swift in “Gulliver’s Travels”. Their savage, slovenly ways gave rise of the use of “yahoo” in English to describe a lout or neanderthal.

62 Buckeyes’ sch. : OSU

Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus was founded back in 1870 as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The athletic teams of OSU are called the Buckeyes, named after the state tree of Ohio. In turn the buckeye tree gets its name from the appearance of its fruit, a dark nut with a light patch thought to resemble a “buck’s eye”.

63 French ___ (bird in “The 12 Days of Christmas”) : HEN

The fabulous Christmas carol called “The Twelve Days of Christmas” dates back at least to 1780 when it was first published in England, though it may be French in origin. The concept of twelve days of Christmas comes from the tradition that the three kings came to visit the Christ Child twelve days after he was born. This same tradition is the origin of the title to Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “Yo – check this out!” : PSST!
5 Laze in the rays : BASK
9 ___ colada : PINA
13 Kind of palm : ACAI
14 Subject taught in a madrasa : ISLAM
16 Endmost compartment in a till : ONES
17 What Santa said when his sleigh touched down? : LAND HO HO HO!
19 Singer Redding : OTIS
20 “Jingle Bells” or “White Christmas” : OLDIE
21 Special treatment, for short : TLC
22 “Damn Yankees” vamp : LOLA
23 What Santa might say on his North Pole hotline? : PLEASE HO HO HOLD
27 It’s an affront : SLAP
28 Slightly : A TAD
29 Latin gods : DEI
32 Lasting mark : SCAR
35 Kind of fatty acid : OLEIC
38 What Santa said when the reindeer went on strike on Christmas Eve? : IT’S HO HO HOPELESS
42 Get a hurry on : SCOOT
43 Norse god with a hammer : THOR
44 ___ Beta Kappa : PHI
45 Sporty car roof : T-TOP
47 ___ soup : MISO
50 What Santa said when going down a chimney that had a lit fireplace? : HO HO HOLY SMOKES!
56 State firmly : AVER
57 Tidbit in vegetable soup : PEA
58 Reason for hoarseness : STREP
60 Zig or zag : TURN
61 What Santa says around dawn on Christmas Day? : I’M HO HO HOME
64 Red Muppet : ELMO
65 Loop with a slipknot : NOOSE
66 Menu bar heading : EDIT
67 “God ___ Ye Merry, Gentlemen” : REST
68 What you may call it : NOUN
69 Lawman Eliot : NESS

Down

1 ___ verde (desert tree) : PALO
2 Where shampoo is applied : SCALP
3 Place to get a C.D. or an I.R.A. : S AND L
4 Spruces (up) : TIDIES
5 Part of a dating profile, for short : BIO
6 All the dirt on Santa? : ASH
7 A deadly sin : SLOTH
8 Mexican artist Frida : KAHLO
9 Place where one might hear “That’s my cue!” : POOL HALL
10 Past the point of no return : IN TOO DEEP
11 Sam of “Jurassic Park” : NEILL
12 Syria’s Bashar al-___ : ASSAD
15 Coffee shop order : MOCHA
18 Mend : HEAL
24 Part of a window thrown up in “A Visit From St. Nicholas” : SASH
25 Florida theme park : EPCOT
26 Nebraska county named for an indigenous people : OTOE
29 Talk trash about : DIS
30 “Blah, blah, blah …”: Abbr. : ETC
31 Weather map lines relating to temperature : ISOTHERMS
33 Something to say to a doctor : AHH
34 Parts of guesses in Clue : ROOMS
36 Kinda sorta : ISH
37 Onetime CBS forensic drama : CSI
39 Rhyming question of attractiveness : HOT OR NOT?
40 “However …,” in texts : OTOH …
41 Partner of proper : PRIM
46 Drop by unexpectedly : POP IN
48 C-worthy : SO-SO
49 “Sure, if that’s how you feel …” : OK THEN …
50 Sharp critic : HATER
51 Undeveloped egg cell : OVULE
52 Air freshener scent : LEMON
53 Country bumpkin : YAHOO
54 Get washed away : ERODE
55 Round of four : SEMIS
59 Favorites : PETS
62 Buckeyes’ sch. : OSU
63 French ___ (bird in “The 12 Days of Christmas”) : HEN

10 thoughts on “1225-19 NY Times Crossword 25 Dec 19, Wednesday”

  1. 15:45. Glad to see a Christmas theme today, but when this puzzle comes out in syndication towards the end of January it will be passe.

    Never knew the OLEIC-olive connection. Interesting.

    Shampoo is really applied to the hair and not the SCALP. If you have a full head of hair it has to hit the hair first and subsequently trickle down to the SCALP – especially for women (or men) with particularly long hair. Just a thought….

    Best –

    1. In my paper the clue was “Yo – check this out!” (should be an em dash, can’t figure out how to do that on my keyboard) not “Yo __ check this out!”. I don’t think PSST was intended to be inserted into the phrase.

  2. 15:40, no errors. A lot of erasures today, but managed to sort everything out in the end. 52D had the L so entered LILAC before LEMON. 39D HOT TO TROT before HOT OR NOT (I think it’s a generational thing). 27A SLAM before SLAP.

  3. Who the heck uses lemon air freshener? Orange, citrus, pine, vanilla maybe. Lemon is furniture polish….
    Just saying

  4. Lots of good comments already in above. Thanks to the folks who share.

    No errors. My biggest trouble spot was the NW corner. I finally cracked it by just taking some calculated guesses.

    Something rubbed me the wrong way by referring to “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bells” as OLDIES. All Christmas songs are “old”. All have stood the test of time. How about respectfully calling them “timeless classics”? Sheesh!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.