1206-21 NY Times Crossword 6 Dec 21, Monday

Constructed by: Emily Rourke
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer You’ve Got Mail

Themed answers each start with something found in YOUR MAIL:

  • 55A 1998 Hanks/Ryan rom-com … or a hint to the starts of 20-, 34- and 41-Across : YOU’VE GOT MAIL
  • 20A Early addendum to the Constitution : BILL OF RIGHTS
  • 34A Gutenberg invention : LETTERPRESS
  • 41A Sauna plus massage at a spa, perhaps : PACKAGE DEAL

Bill’s time: 6m 08s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Thick rugs : SHAGS

Shag carpet is one with a deep pile, one with a “shaggy” appearance.

10 Pack (down) : TAMP

To tamp is to pack down tightly by tapping. “Tamp” was originally used specifically to describe the action of packing down sand or dirt around an explosive prior to detonation.

14 No-no : TABOO

The word “taboo” was introduced into English by Captain Cook in his book “A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean”. Cook described “tabu” (likely imitative of a Tongan word that he had heard) as something that was both consecrated and forbidden.

15 Actress Moore of “Ghost” : DEMI

Demi Moore was born Demetria Guynes and took the name Demi Moore when she married her first husband, Freddy Moore. Moore’s second husband was Bruce Willis. She changed her name to Demi Guynes Kutcher a few years after marrying her third husband, Ashton Kutcher. However, Kutcher and Moore split in 2013.

The fabulous film “Ghost” was the highest-grossing movie at the box office in 1990, bringing in over $500 million, despite only costing $21 million to make. Stars of the film are Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. You might want to check out the stage musical adaptation “Ghost The Musical”, which debuted in 2011 and is touring the UK and US.

16 ___ 51 (U.F.O. landing site? … hmm) : AREA

The famed Area 51 is a remote base in the USAF Nevada Test and Training Range. There’s no question that Area 51 is an unusual base in that frontline operational units are not deployed there. It seems that it is used for developing and testing new and classified weapons facilities for the US Military and other US agencies like the CIA. The government did not even acknowledge that Area 51 existed until 1995, and this official position fueled a theory that the base is home to UFOs that landed on Earth.

18 Rule by a small group : OLIGARCHY

An oligarchy is a form of government in which power rests with the few, perhaps with royalty or with the wealthy. The term derives from the Greek “oligos” meaning “few”.

20 Early addendum to the Constitution : BILL OF RIGHTS

The Constitution of the United States was adopted on September 17, 1787. There have been 27 amendments to the constitution, the first ten of which are collectively called the Bill of Rights. In essence the Bill of Rights limits the power of the Federal Government and protects the rights of individuals. For example, the First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

22 Radio host Glass : IRA

Ira Glass is a well-respected presenter on American Public Radio who is perhaps best known for his show “This American Life”. I was interested to learn that one of my favorite composers, Philip Glass, is Ira’s first cousin.

23 Doves’ home : COTE

The Old English word “cote” was used for a small house. Our modern word “cottage” comes from “cote”. We now use “cote” to describe a small shelter on a farm for sheep or birds.

31 “I’ve got it!” : EUREKA!

“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.

34 Gutenberg invention : LETTERPRESS

Letterpress is the original printing press technique, invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-1400s. The basis of such printing is the use of type (letters) in relief, raised from some surface so that the letters alone make contact with the paper being printed.

37 Coup d’___ : ETAT

A coup d’état (often just “coup”) is the sudden overthrow of a government, and comes from the French for “stroke of state”. The Swiss-German word “putsch” is sometimes used instead of “coup”, with “Putsch” translating literally as “sudden blow”. We also use the abbreviated “coup” to mean “sudden, brilliant and successful act”.

40 NSFW stuff : SMUT

“Smut” means “dirt, smudge” and more recently “pornographic material”. The term comes from the Yiddish “schmutz”, which is a slang word used in English for dirt, as in “dirt on one’s face”.

The abbreviation “NSFW” stands for “not safe/suitable for work”. It’s Internet slang used to describe online content that is best not viewed at work.

46 “… ___ he drove out of sight …” : ERE

Here are the closing lines to the Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

54 Spartans’ sch. : MSU

Michigan State University’s sports teams used to be called the Aggies, as the school was founded as the State Agricultural College of Michigan. The team name was changed to the Spartans in 1925, reflecting the school’s shift in focus beyond agriculture-centered education. The school mascot Sparty hit the scene in 1989.

55 1998 Hanks/Ryan rom-com … or a hint to the starts of 20-, 34- and 41-Across : YOU’VE GOT MAIL

“You’ve Got Mail” is a 1998 romantic comedy film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, and directed by Nora Ephron. The film is an adaptation of the Miklos Laszlo play “Parfumerie”. The storyline of “Parfumerie” was also used for the movies “The Shop Around the Corner” (from 1940 starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan) and “In the Good Old Summertime” (from 1949 starring Van Johnson and Judy Garland).

64 Someone sought by mil. police : AWOL

MPs (military police officers) often track down personnel who go AWOL (absent without leave).

65 Semihard Dutch cheese : EDAM

Edam cheese takes its name from the Dutch town of Edam in North Holland. The cheese is famous for its coating of red paraffin wax, a layer of protection that helps Edam travel well and prevents spoiling. You might occasionally come across an Edam cheese that is coated in black wax. The black color indicates that the underlying cheese has been aged for a minimum of 17 weeks.

69 Tire pattern : TREAD

One way to test the depth of tread on a tire is the Penny Test. Insert a penny into the tire’s tread, with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see all of the president’s head, then it’s time to replace that tire (tread depth is less than 2/32 inch).

Down

2 Mata ___ (W.W. I spy) : HARI

“Mata Hari” was the stage name used by Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, born in the Netherlands in 1876. After an unsuccessful and somewhat tragic marriage, Zella moved to Paris in 1903 where she struggled to make a living. By 1905 she was working as an exotic dancer and using the name Mata Hari. She was a successful courtesan, notably moving in various circles of high-ranking military officers. She apparently worked as a double agent, both for the French and the Germans. When Mata Hari was accused by the French of passing information to the enemy, she was tried, found guilty and executed by firing squad at the height of WW1, in 1917.

3 Brother betrayed in the Bible : ABEL

In the story of Cain and Abel in the Book of Genesis, Cain murders his brother Abel. Subsequently, God asks Cain, “Where is Abel thy brother?” Cain replies, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

6 Febreze target : ODOR

The odor-eliminating product we know today as Febreze was developed in England in the early nineties. Febreze is now produced by Procter & Gamble.

7 Ancient artifact : RELIC

A relic is something that has survived from the past, reminding us of that past.

8 “Adios, ___!” : AMIGO

The term “adiós” is Spanish for “goodbye”. “Adiós” comes from the phrase “a Dios vos acomiendo” meaning “I commend you to God”.

27 Frozen summer treat : ICE POP

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”.

28 Floating on water : NATANT

Something described as natant is floating or swimming. The term “natant” comes from the Latin “natare” meaning “to swim”.

30 Ocular affliction : STYE

A stye is a bacterial infection of the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes, and is also known as a hordeolum.

32 $200 Monopoly properties: Abbr. : RRS

The four railroad (RR) properties in the Monopoly board game are:

  • Reading Railroad
  • Pennsylvania Railroad
  • B&O Railroad
  • Short Line

36 Snake ___ (dice roll) : EYES

“Snake eyes” is a slang term describing a roll of two dice in which one pip turns up on each die.

38 Boxing ruling, for short : TKO

Technical knockout (TKO)

44 Peas, to some classroom pranksters : AMMO

The word “munitions” describes materials and equipment used in war. The term derives from the Latin “munitionem” meaning “fortification, defensive wall”. Back in the 17th century, French soldiers referred to such materials as “la munition”, a Middle French term. This was misheard as “l’ammunition”, and as a result we ended up importing the word “ammunition” (often shortened to “ammo”), a term that we now use mainly to describe the material fired from a weapon.

53 Java without the jolt : DECAF

The first successful process for removing caffeine from coffee involved steaming the beans in salt water, and then extracting the caffeine using benzene (a potent carcinogen) as a solvent. Coffee processed this way was sold as Sanka here in the US. There are other processes used these days, and let’s hope they are safer …

Back in 1850, the name “java” was given to a type of coffee grown on the island of Java, and the more general usage of the term spread from then.

56 Pearls and peridots : GEMS

Pearls form in oysters because of a reaction that is similar to an immune system response in higher animals. The pearl is formed as the oysters lay down successive layers of calcium carbonate around some microscopic foreign body that has penetrated the shell.

Olivine is a relatively common mineral, but is rarely found with purity that is sufficient for use as a gemstone. When the olivine is pure enough to be used as a gem, it is called “peridot”. Peridot is always olive green in color, with its color intensity a function of how much iron is in the stone.

60 What tapping a maple yields : SAP

About 75% of the world’s maple syrup comes from the province of Quebec. The US’s biggest producer is the state of Vermont, which produces 5-6% of the world’s supply.

62 Dr. No, to James Bond : FOE

“Dr. No” may have been the first film in the wildly successful James Bond franchise, but it was the sixth novel in the series of books penned by Ian Fleming. Fleming was inspired to write the story after reading the Fu Manchu tales by Sax Rohmer. If you’ve read the Rohmer books or seen the films, you’ll recognize the similarities between the characters Dr. Julius No and Fu Manchu. By the way, the author Ian Fleming tells us that Julius No attended medical school in Milwaukee.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Thick rugs : SHAGS
6 Like some exams and medicines : ORAL
10 Pack (down) : TAMP
14 No-no : TABOO
15 Actress Moore of “Ghost” : DEMI
16 ___ 51 (U.F.O. landing site? … hmm) : AREA
17 Toward the back : AREAR
18 Rule by a small group : OLIGARCHY
20 Early addendum to the Constitution : BILL OF RIGHTS
22 Radio host Glass : IRA
23 Doves’ home : COTE
24 Stag’s mate : DOE
27 Crying … or laughing hysterically : IN TEARS
31 “I’ve got it!” : EUREKA!
33 Train unit : CAR
34 Gutenberg invention : LETTERPRESS
37 Coup d’___ : ETAT
39 “Woo-hoo!” : YAY!
40 NSFW stuff : SMUT
41 Sauna plus massage at a spa, perhaps : PACKAGE DEAL
46 “… ___ he drove out of sight …” : ERE
47 Traveling, as a band : ON TOUR
48 Slowly burn : SMOLDER
50 N, E, W and S, on a compass: Abbr. : PTS
51 Follower of open or pigeon : -TOED
54 Spartans’ sch. : MSU
55 1998 Hanks/Ryan rom-com … or a hint to the starts of 20-, 34- and 41-Across : YOU’VE GOT MAIL
60 Welcoming environment for everyone : SAFE SPACE
63 Dwelling : ABODE
64 Someone sought by mil. police : AWOL
65 Semihard Dutch cheese : EDAM
66 What some couples do with their wedding vows : RENEW
67 Outside of an orange : PEEL
68 Almanacs and atlases, for short : REFS
69 Tire pattern : TREAD

Down

1 Wild guess : STAB
2 Mata ___ (W.W. I spy) : HARI
3 Brother betrayed in the Bible : ABEL
4 Heavily padded hockey player : GOALIE
5 Sisterly : SORORAL
6 Febreze target : ODOR
7 Ancient artifact : RELIC
8 “Adios, ___!” : AMIGO
9 Something waved at concerts prior to the age of cellphones : LIGHTER
10 Covers with black goo : TARS
11 Section of a circumference : ARC
12 “I’m not impressed” : MEH
13 Equal ___ for equal work : PAY
19 Avidly enjoyed : ATE UP
21 Taxi charge : FARE
24 Adjudged : DEEMED
25 “Fine, works for me” : OK, SURE
26 Occasion for an egg roll : EASTER
27 Frozen summer treat : ICE POP
28 Floating on water : NATANT
29 Land parcels : TRACTS
30 Ocular affliction : STYE
32 $200 Monopoly properties: Abbr. : RRS
35 Little bit : TAD
36 Snake ___ (dice roll) : EYES
38 Boxing ruling, for short : TKO
42 Dealership inventory : AUTOS
43 Large-mouthed food fish : GROUPER
44 Peas, to some classroom pranksters : AMMO
45 Writing in script, nowadays : LOST ART
49 Wood for building : LUMBER
52 Give the slip : EVADE
53 Java without the jolt : DECAF
55 Holler : YELL
56 Pearls and peridots : GEMS
57 First-class : A-ONE
58 Notion : IDEA
59 Raunchy : LEWD
60 What tapping a maple yields : SAP
61 Dazzle : AWE
62 Dr. No, to James Bond : FOE

12 thoughts on “1206-21 NY Times Crossword 6 Dec 21, Monday”

  1. 6:00, no errors. Oddly enough, I’m not out walking, even though it has warmed up to 23 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside (after dropping from over 60 yesterday afternoon to 17 last night). I feel like a fish out of water! Maybe later … 😜.

  2. 6:30. Fairly smooth solve. Don’t see the word SORORAL very often – unless you’re talking about George Soros’ assets? But then I guess it would be SOROSAL, perhaps??

  3. 8:13, finished Monday, then did Sunday so finally all caught up. Today’s pleasant surprise: Victoria’s Secret ads imbedded in the blog, much nicer than the ones for toenail fungus…

  4. 5:58. Getting to this 2 days late, but now I’m caught up.

    There used to be a minor league baseball team in Las Vegas called the 51’s. At least we have a sense of humor about it…

    Best –

  5. @Bill—-My print newspaper gives Andrew J. Ries as the constructor and not Emily Rourke. I’m not sure which is correct. I just wanted to let you know about the discrepancy.

    1. FWIW, Emily Rourke did indeed construct this puzzle. Whoever did element layout for your paper got it wrong somehow.

      1. Thanks for straightening this out. I am sure that my local newspaper had nothing to do with the mistake. They only print what is given to them directly by the NYT. The mix-up must have occurred somewhere up the ladder between them and the syndicators. At least Emily will get her just recognition I hope.

    2. FWIW, I just checked the archived version on the NYT site and it agrees with Bill. (In the process, though, I discovered that Safari, on my iMac, will no longer display that site, so I had to use FireFox. Why is there always something going wrong with these danged new-fangled devices? Sigh … 😳.)

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