1214-21 NY Times Crossword 14 Dec 21, Tuesday

Constructed by: Tao Platt
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Nordic Cross

Themed answers are nations with flags featuring a Nordic cross. The grid includes two Nordic crosses made from black squares:

  • 61A Flag symbol seen twice in this puzzle’s grid : NORDIC CROSS
  • 17A Northern European region : SCANDINAVIA
  • 30A Its flag has a blue 61-Across : FINLAND
  • 48A Its flag has a white 61-Across : DENMARK
  • 25D Its flag has a yellow 61-Across : SWEDEN
  • 32D Its flag has a blue-and-white 61-Across : NORWAY

Bill’s time: 8m 02s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Policy nerd : WONK

A wonk is an overly studious person. “Wonk” is an American slang term that has been around at least since 1954. More recently, “wonk” has acquired an air of respectability as it has come to mean someone who has studied a topic thoroughly and become somewhat expert.

5 P.F. ___ (restaurant chain) : CHANG’S

P. F. Chang’s restaurant was founded in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1993. The restaurant’s name comes from the names of the two founders, Paul Fleming (P. F.) and Philip Chiang (simplified to “Chang”).

14 Gaelic language : ERSE

A Gael is anyone of a race that speaks or spoke one of the Erse tongues. There are actually three Erse languages. Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be “Gaeilge” (in Ireland), “Gaelg” (on the Isle of Man) and “Gaidhlig” (in Scotland).

16 Actress Farrow : MIA

Mia Farrow is an energetic, award-winning actress who really hasn’t looked back in her career since playing her first lead role, in “Rosemary’s Baby” back in 1968. Her on-screen celebrity is matched by the interest created by her personal life. Farrow’s first husband was Frank Sinatra, a wedding in 1966 that received a lot of attention partly due to the couple’s age difference (she was 21, he was 50). Her second husband was almost as famous, the magnificent musician André Previn. Farrow then embarked on a relationship with Woody Allen, but that famously fell apart when Farrow discovered that Allen was having a sexual relationship with Soon-Yi, one of her adopted daughters from the marriage with André Previn.

17 Northern European region : SCANDINAVIA

Strictly speaking, Scandinavia is a region in Northern Europe that covers the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The broader region that includes Finland and Iceland is referred to locally as “the Nordic countries”.

20 Kind of beef from Japan : KOBE

Kobe is a city on the island of Honshu in Japan. Here in North America, the city of Kobe is perhaps most famous for its beef. And yes, basketball star Kobe Bryant was named after that very same beef.

21 Like the richest soufflé : EGGIEST

A soufflé is a French dish that is usually served as a dessert. The verb “souffler” means “to blow, blow up”.

23 County of Newark, N.J. : ESSEX

Essex County, New Jersey is actually in the New York Metropolitan Area. The county seat is Newark.

30 Its flag has a blue 61-Across : FINLAND
(61A Flag symbol seen twice in this puzzle’s grid : NORDIC CROSS)

The Finnish flag features a blue Nordic cross on a white background. Dating back to the early 1900s, it is also known as the “Blue Cross Flag”.

38 “Star Wars” racing vehicles : PODS

Podracers are one-man racing craft in the “Star Wars” universe. Young Ani Skywalker is an expert podracer, showing off his skills in “The Phantom Menace”.

40 Flier with a tail : COMET

Comets and asteroids are similar, both being relatively small celestial bodies orbiting the sun. Comets differ from asteroids in that they have a coma or tail, especially when they are close enough to the sun. The coma and tail are temporary fuzzy atmospheres that develop due to the presence of solar radiation. Comets are sometimes referred to as “dirty snowballs”, a reference to their composition: rock, dust, water ice and frozen gases.

42 Fiona or Shrek : OGRE

Princess Fiona is the title character’s love interest in the “Shrek” series of films.

43 Swords with blunted ends : EPEES

The sword known as an épée has a three-sided blade. It is similar to a foil and sabre, although the foil and saber have rectangular cross-sections.The sword known as an épée has a three-sided blade. The épée is similar to a foil and sabre, although the foil and saber have rectangular cross-sections.

45 Radium discoverer : CURIE

The element radium was discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie, in 1898.

47 Mr. ___ (Tootsie Pop’s avian mascot) : OWL

Tootsie Pops were developed as a derivative product from the popular Tootsie Roll candy. How popular, I hear you say? About 60 million Tootsie Rolls and 20 million Tootsie Pops are produced every day!

48 Its flag has a white 61-Across : DENMARK
(61A Flag symbol seen twice in this puzzle’s grid : NORDIC CROSS)

The flag of Denmark comprises a white Scandinavian cross on a red background. The Danish flag appears in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest continuously-used national flag, having been adopted in 1625. The flag is known in Denmark as the “Dannebrog”, meaning “Danish cloth”.

50 Beguile, to Brits : ENTHRAL

To enthrall is to enchant. An obsolete meaning of the term is “to enslave, to hold as a thrall”. “Thrall” is an old word meaning “serf, slave”. So, to enthrall someone is to make them a slave to one’s charm. Quaint …

52 “___ been meaning to mention …” : I’VE

So have I …

53 Military helicopters, colloquially : HUEYS

The military helicopter known as the Bell UH-1 Iroquois is usually referred to as the “Huey”. The Huey was first used by the US Army for medevac and utility operations in the mid-fifties. About 7,000 Hueys saw service in the Vietnam War. The US military phased out the Huey relatively recently, mainly replacing it with the UH-60 Black Hawk.

54 2021 Elizabeth Warren book : PERSIST

Elizabeth Warren is the senior US Senator from Massachusetts, and the first female to hold that office for her state. Warren is a prominent Democratic and is a favorite of the progressive wing of the party.

61 Flag symbol seen twice in this puzzle’s grid : NORDIC CROSS

A Nordic cross is featured on the flags of all Nordic countries. It is a cross symbol with the center of that cross nearer the hoist than the fly of the flag, i.e. nearer the inside than the outside.

66 Rapper ___ Wayne : LIL

“Lil Wayne” is the stage name used by rap artist Dwayne Carter, Jr. from New Orleans.

67 Novelist Graham : GREENE

Graham Greene was a writer and playwright from England. Greene wrote some of my favorite novels, including “Brighton Rock”, “The End of the Affair”, “The Confidential Agent”, “The Quiet American” and “Our Man in Havana”. Greene’s books often feature espionage in exotic locales. Greene himself worked for MI6, the UK’s foreign intelligence agency. In fact, Greene’s MI6 supervisor was Kim Philby, the famed Soviet spy who penetrated high into British intelligence.

71 Actor Jon of “Good Omens” : HAMM

Jon Hamm lived the life of a struggling actor for quite some time before he hit gold with a starring role in the AMC drama “Mad Men”. He plays the main character, advertising executive and man about town Don Draper.

Down

1 Director Anderson : WES

Film director Wes Anderson’s most famous movie is probably “The Royal Tenenbaums” that was released in 2001, and is not my favorite film by any stretch. However, Anderson’s 2007 release “The Darjeeling Limited”, that I enjoyed.

2 Tolkien monster : ORC

According to Tolkien, Orcs are small humanoids that live in his fantasy world of Middle-earth (also called “Mordor”). They are very ugly and dirty, and are fond of eating human flesh.

3 Secretive org. : NSA

The National Security Agency (NSA) was set up in 1952 by President Truman, a replacement for the Armed Forces Security Agency that had existed in the Department of Defense (DoD) since 1949. The NSA has always been clouded in secrecy and even the 1952 letter from President Truman that established the agency was kept under wraps from the public for over a generation. I really like the organization’s nickname … “No Such Agency”.

4 Logic puzzle invented by a math teacher as a teaching tool : KENKEN

KENKEN

6 Refine, as a skill : HONE

“To hone” is to sharpen, a verb derived from the noun “hone” A “hone” is a whetstone used in sharpening.

7 Lawyers’ group, for short : ABA

American Bar Association (ABA)

8 Actress Campbell : NEVE

Neve Campbell is a Canadian actress whose big break in the movies came with the “Scream” horror film series, in which she had a leading role. I don’t do horror films, so I haven’t seen any of the “Scream” movies. Nor have I seen the TV series “Party of Five” that launched the acting careers of both Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt in the nineties.

12 Gluttony and lust, for two : SINS

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

13 Philosopher Immanuel : KANT

Immanuel Kant was an 18th-century German philosopher. Kant published “Perpetual Peace” in 1795, laying out what he believed were conditions for ending all wars and creating a lasting peace. The good news for us is that one of these conditions was to have a world full of constitutional republics, so it seems we are on the right track here in the US!

18 Outed maliciously online : DOXED

Doxing (also “doxxing”) is the publishing of private information about someone on the Internet with the intention of doing harm or causing embarrassment. The term “doxing” is slang, and comes from “dox”, an accepted abbreviation for “documents”.

22 Home with a northern exposure : IGLOO

The Inuit word for “house” is “iglu”, which we usually write as “igloo”. The Greenlandic (yes, that’s a language) word for “house” is very similar, namely “igdlo”. The walls of igloos are tremendous insulators, due to the air pockets in the blocks of snow.

23 Got married in Vegas, perhaps : ELOPED

Las Vegas is known as the Marriage Capital of the World due to the incredibly high number of weddings that take place there. Historically, the marriage “frenzy” started when it became relatively easy to get a marriage license, and when wedding ceremonies could be performed for a nominal fee.

25 Its flag has a yellow 61-Across : SWEDEN
(61A Flag symbol seen twice in this puzzle’s grid : NORDIC CROSS)

The flag of Sweden features a golden yellow Nordic cross on a light blue background. The current design dates back to 1906.

30 “___ Jacques, dormez-vous?” : FRERE

“Frère Jacques” is a children’s song from France. The French lyrics are:

Frère Jacques, frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous ? Dormez-vous ?
Sonnez les matines ! Sonnez les matines !
Ding, daing, dong. Ding, daing, dong.

The lyrics are usually translated into English as:

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Brother John? Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing! Morning bells are ringing!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

31 Popular vote winner of 2000 : AL GORE

Al Gore was born in Washington DC, and is the son of Al Gore, Sr., then a US Representative for the state of Tennessee. After deferring his military service in order to attend Harvard, the younger Gore became eligible for the draft on graduation. Many of his classmates found ways of avoiding the draft, but Gore decided to serve and even took the “tougher” option of joining the army as an enlisted man. Actor Tommy Lee Jones shared a house with Gore in college and says that his buddy told him that even if he could find a way around the draft, someone with less options than him would have to go in his place and that was just wrong.

George W. Bush won the 2000 US presidential election over Al Gore despite losing the popular vote. The result of the electoral college effectively came down to a narrow margin of votes in Florida, which triggered a recount. Eventually, the US Supreme made a decision that effectively stopped the recount, and allowed a vote certification for candidate Bush to stand. President Bush wasn’t the first candidate to take the office without winning the popular vote. Three earlier presidents came to office in the same way : John Quincy Adams (1824), Rutherford B. Hayes (1876) and Benjamin Harrison (1888). Subsequently, Donald J. Trump (2016) did the same thing.

32 Its flag has a blue-and-white 61-Across : NORWAY
(61A Flag symbol seen twice in this puzzle’s grid : NORDIC CROSS)

The flag of Norway consists of a blue Nordic cross outlined in white, which sits on a red background. The current design dates back to 1821. The Norwegian armed forces have a unique practice when on international missions. They may keep a flag raised during the night, and illuminated by a spotlight. The custom dates back to WWII, when it symbolized that the fight against the enemy would carry on day and night, until final victory was achieved.

36 Second-tallest bird on earth : EMU

Emu eggs are very large, with a thick shell that is dark-green in color. One emu egg weighs about the same as a dozen chicken eggs. It is the male emu that incubates the eggs. The incubation period lasts about 8 weeks, during which time the male neither eats nor drinks, just lapping up any morning dew that is nearby. While incubating a clutch of eggs, male emus lose about a third of their weight.

39 Penultimate matches : SEMIS

The term “ultimate” means “last. “Penultimate” means “second-to-last”, and “antepenultimate” means “third-to-last”.

41 10th anniversary gift : TIN

The term “ultimate” means “last. “Penultimate” means “second-to-last”, and “antepenultimate” means “third-to-last”.

Some traditional gifts for wedding anniversaries are:

  • 5th: wooden
  • 10th: tin
  • 15th: crystal
  • 20th: china
  • 25th: silver
  • 30th: pearl
  • 40th: ruby
  • 50th: gold
  • 60th: diamond

44 Nest egg : SAVINGS

A nest egg is an amount of money laid down as a reserve. This is the figurative use of “nest egg” that originally described an artificial egg left in a nest to encourage a hen to lay real eggs in that spot. So our financial nest egg is set aside in anticipation of continued growth, more eggs being laid.

55 Sign at a highway cloverleaf : EXIT

Cloverleaf interchanges allow two highways to cross without the need for stopping traffic. They are so called as when viewed overheard they look like the leaves of a four-leaf clover.

64 Virtual citizen in a popular video game franchise : SIM

SimCity is a very clever computer game. Players build and grow cities and societies by creating the conditions necessary for people (the Sims) to move in and thrive. SimCity was launched in 1989, and to this day it is consistently ranked as one of the greatest computer games of all time.

65 Symbolic U.S. “uncle” : SAM

The Uncle Sam personification of the United States was first used during the War of 1812. The “Uncle Sam” term was so widely accepted that even the Germans used it during WWII, choosing the code word “Samland” for “America” in intelligence communiques.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Policy nerd : WONK
5 P.F. ___ (restaurant chain) : CHANG’S
11 Query : ASK
14 Gaelic language : ERSE
15 Actor Pattinson : ROBERT
16 Actress Farrow : MIA
17 Northern European region : SCANDINAVIA
19 Cozy lodging : INN
20 Kind of beef from Japan : KOBE
21 Like the richest soufflé : EGGIEST
23 County of Newark, N.J. : ESSEX
26 Oil-drilling structure : RIG
27 Feeling of dejection : LOWNESS
30 Its flag has a blue 61-Across : FINLAND
34 Lyrical dedication : ODE
35 Scare off : DETER
37 Play dirty : GO LOW
38 “Star Wars” racing vehicles : PODS
40 Flier with a tail : COMET
42 Fiona or Shrek : OGRE
43 Swords with blunted ends : EPEES
45 Radium discoverer : CURIE
47 Mr. ___ (Tootsie Pop’s avian mascot) : OWL
48 Its flag has a white 61-Across : DENMARK
50 Beguile, to Brits : ENTHRAL
52 “___ been meaning to mention …” : I’VE
53 Military helicopters, colloquially : HUEYS
54 2021 Elizabeth Warren book : PERSIST
58 Two kings or two queens, e.g. : PAIR
60 Chopper : AXE
61 Flag symbol seen twice in this puzzle’s grid : NORDIC CROSS
66 Rapper ___ Wayne : LIL
67 Novelist Graham : GREENE
68 Opera highlight : ARIA
69 It’s a mess! : STY
70 Was in a state of suppressed agitation : STEWED
71 Actor Jon of “Good Omens” : HAMM

Down

1 Director Anderson : WES
2 Tolkien monster : ORC
3 Secretive org. : NSA
4 Logic puzzle invented by a math teacher as a teaching tool : KENKEN
5 Baby’s bed : CRIB
6 Refine, as a skill : HONE
7 Lawyers’ group, for short : ABA
8 Actress Campbell : NEVE
9 Climber’s belaying device : GRIGRI
10 Job for a play director : STAGING
11 Female friend in France : AMIE
12 Gluttony and lust, for two : SINS
13 Philosopher Immanuel : KANT
18 Outed maliciously online : DOXED
22 Home with a northern exposure : IGLOO
23 Got married in Vegas, perhaps : ELOPED
24 “That’s awesome!” : SO DOPE!
25 Its flag has a yellow 61-Across : SWEDEN
28 Little bit of time : SEC
29 Soup starter : STOCK
30 “___ Jacques, dormez-vous?” : FRERE
31 Popular vote winner of 2000 : AL GORE
32 Its flag has a blue-and-white 61-Across : NORWAY
33 Lingers (on) : DWELLS
36 Second-tallest bird on earth : EMU
39 Penultimate matches : SEMIS
41 10th anniversary gift : TIN
44 Nest egg : SAVINGS
46 Set of moral principles : ETHIC
49 Vacation destination : RESORT
51 “Yay!” : HURRAH!
54 Friends : PALS
55 Sign at a highway cloverleaf : EXIT
56 Depend (on) : RELY
57 See 58-Down : … TREE
58 With 57-Down, car air freshener shape : PINE …
59 Got an A on : ACED
62 Drops on the grass? : DEW
63 Hour, in Italy : ORA
64 Virtual citizen in a popular video game franchise : SIM
65 Symbolic U.S. “uncle” : SAM

15 thoughts on “1214-21 NY Times Crossword 14 Dec 21, Tuesday”

  1. 5:43 Guess I know my Nordic flags!! Must have watched too many episodes of Big Bang Theory when Sheldon does his “Fun with Flags” segments.

  2. Unless I missed something, the black squares not only symbolize a Nordic cross but the answers FINLAND/NORWAY and SWEDEN/DENMARK also cross in the puzzle.

  3. 9:28. One error. Had HURRAy/yAMM (??) even though Jon Hamm went to high school in St. Louis at my high school’s main rival. You’d think I’d have caught that….

    Really liked the theme, and it was pretty elaborate for a Tuesday.

    Might need to read something of Graham GREENE. I had no idea his supervisor was Kim Philby. I’ve read a lot of material on Kim Philby, and it’s fascinating. It’s one of those things you can’t imagine happening in real life. I think Prime has a special on him, but I have not seen it yet.

    Best –

  4. Clever puzzle about flags. Only a few obscure unknowns such as Ken Ken, gri gri, Huey’s and doxed. What is the significance of Essex County which may only be known to New Jersey and New York? It’s not even the largest county in the state.

    1. It is pretty well accepted that the NYT puzzle is New York-centric. Just yesterday, however, they had “Santa Ana winds” which is exclusively a California term. That one surprised me.

  5. Re 16A: I suppose it’s a niggly little point, but Mia Farrow never “moved in” with Woody Allen; they always maintained separate residences.

  6. 9:06, no errors. Just accepted GRIGRI, based on the crosses. For us trivia wonks: ‘A Gris-Gris is a talisman or amulet with African Voodoo origins that protects its wearer from evil and brings good luck. The GRIGRI belay device was named by Michel Suhubiette, a climber with the gear manufacturer Petzl. He made the suggestion, and the design team ended up going with the name.’

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