1215-21 NY Times Crossword 15 Dec 21, Wednesday

Constructed by: Jessie Bullock & Ross Trudeau
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Sorry, No Returns

Themed answers are things with NO RETURNS:

  • 51A Sign in some clothing stores … or a hint to 19-, 25- and 44-Across : SORRY, NO RETURNS
  • 19A Speculations that don’t pay off : BAD INVESTMENTS
  • 25A Journeys for people who are relocating : ONE-WAY TRIPS
  • 44A Some court winners : SERVICE ACES

Bill’s time: 9m 39s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 “___ fair in love and war” : ALL’S

The proverb “All is fair in love and war” has been attributed to English writer John Lyly, and is from his book “Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit”. “Euphues” is the source of our word “euphemism”.

13 Edible part of a taro plant : ROOT

I am a big fan of starch (being an Irishman I love potatoes). That said, I think that poi tastes horrible! Poi is made from the bulbous tubers (corm) of the taro plant by cooking the corm in water and mashing it until the desired consistency is achieved.

14 “SOS!” : HELP!

The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots). That said, in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so “SOS” is really only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are back-formations that were introduced after the SOS signal was adopted.

15 Place for pigeons to sit : LEDGE

Taxonomically, doves and pigeons are the only members of the order Columbidae. The terms “dove” and “pigeon” are often used interchangeably. Scientifically speaking, dove species tend to be smaller than pigeon species. Colloquially though, many refer to doves as the white or nearly white species in the family.

16 Unit of 17-Across : ACRE
17 See 16-Across : AREA

At one time, an acre was defined as the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. Then, an acre was more precisely defined as a strip of land “one furrow long” (i.e. one furlong) and one chain wide. The length of one furlong was equal to 10 chains, or 40 rods. An area of one furlong times 10 rods was one rood.

18 Shade akin to cream : BEIGE

Our word “beige” comes from the Old French “bege”, a term that applied to the natural color of wool and cotton that was not dyed.

24 Like the anagram “I’ll make a wise phrase” for “William Shakespeare” : APT

Here are some of my favorite anagrams:

  • “Dormitory” and “dirty room”
  • “Elvis” and “lives”
  • “The eyes” and “they see”
  • “Eleven plus two” and “twelve plus one”
  • “William Shakespeare” and “I’ll make a wise phrase”

35 “City Without Walls” poet : AUDEN

Noted poet W. H. Auden was born and raised in England, but eventually became a US citizen. As well as hundreds of poems, Auden also wrote librettos for operas, including Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress”.

36 Early DVR device : TIVO

TiVo was introduced in 1999 and was the world’s first commercially successful digital video recorder (DVR).

39 One responsive to voice commands : SIRI

Siri is a software application that works with Apple’s iOS operating system. “Siri” is an acronym standing for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. Voice-over artist Susan Bennett revealed herself as the female American voice of Siri a few years ago. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.

40 Writer ___ Rogers St. Johns : ADELA

Adela Rogers St. Johns was a journalist, novelist and screenwriter from Los Angeles. St. Johns’ father was a good friend of William Randolph Hearst, and she secured her first job working for Hearst as a reporter on the “San Francisco Examiner”. St. Johns was most famous as what was then called a “girl reporter”, in the twenties and thirties. Much later in her life, she was a regular guest on the “Tonight Show” hosted by Jack Paar.

48 Obama ___ (2009-17) : ERA

Most US presidents are eminently quotable. One of my favorite quotes from President Barack Obama comes from his address/performance at the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner:

What Washington needs is adult supervision.

49 High-end Italian scooter : VESPA

Vespa is a brand of motor scooter that was originally made in Italy (and now all over the world) by Piaggio. “Vespa” is Italian for “wasp”.

57 Louis-Dreyfus of “Veep” : JULIA

Actress and comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an alum of the sketch show “Saturday Night Live”, in which she appeared from 1982 to 1985. Her really big break came when she was chosen to play Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld”. More recently, Louis-Dreyfus can be seen playing Vice President Selina Meyer on the HBO comedy show “Veep”.

“Veep” is a political satire sitcom on HBO that is a remake of the British show “The Thick of It” (Warning: strong language!). “Veep” is set in the office of fictional US Vice President Selina Meyer, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

58 Japanese noodle : UDON

Udon noodles are made from wheat-flour and are very popular in Japanese cuisines such as tempura.

59 Centers of activity : LOCI

“Locus” (plural “loci”) is Latin for “place”, and is used in English with the same meaning. The term can also be used to describe a center of power or activity. In mathematics, a locus is a set of points that satisfy some property. For example, a locus might be a straight line, part of a line, a surface, or perhaps a curve.

60 Citizen of Muscat : OMANI

Muscat is the capital of Oman. The city lies on the northeast coast of the state on the Gulf of Oman, a branch of the Persian Gulf.

64 Subject of Netflix’s “Have a Good Trip” : LSD

LSD (known colloquially as “acid”) is lysergic acid diethylamide. A Swiss chemist named Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD in 1938 in a research project looking for medically efficacious ergot alkaloids. It wasn’t until some five years later when Hofmann ingested some of the drug accidentally that its psychedelic properties were discovered. Trippy, man …

65 Followers of morns : AFTS

Afternoon (aft.)

1 Type of horse known for endurance riding : ARAB

The Arab (also “Arabian”) breed of horse takes its name from its original home, the Arabian Peninsula. Like any animal that humans have over-bred, the horse falls prey to genetic diseases, some of which are fatal and some of which require the horse to be euthanized.

4 Gertrude who wrote “Rose is a rose is a rose …” : STEIN

Gertrude Stein was a great American writer who spent most of her life in France. Gertrude Stein met Alice B. Toklas in Paris in 1907, and the two were life partners until Stein died in 1946. Cleverly, Stein published her own memoir in 1933 but called the book “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas”. It was to become Stein’s best selling title.

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” is a line from a poem called “Sacred Emily” that was written by Gertrude Stein. In the poem, Rose is actually a person. In later writings Stein used the phrase “a rose is a rose is a rose” to mean “things are what they are”.

8 Canadian birthplace of Rae Dawn Chong and Michael J. Fox : ALBERTA

Rae Dawn Chong is the daughter of Tommy Chong, of “Cheech and Chong” fame. Rae Dawn acted in quite a few films in the eighties and nineties, including “The Color Purple” and “Commando”.

11 Boots from Down Under : UGGS

Uggs are sheepskin boots that were first produced in Australia and New Zealand. The original Uggs have sheepskin fleece on the inside for comfort and insulation, with a tanned leather surface on the outside for durability. “Ugg” is a generic term Down Under, although it’s a brand name here in the US.

12 Difference between icky and picky? : PEE

“Icky” becomes “picky” with the addition of a letter P (pee).

14 Some fine cigars : HAVANAS

The production of all cigars and cigarettes in Cuba is managed by a state tobacco company called Cubatabaco. The marketing and distribution of all Cuban tobacco products is handled by Habanos, which is a subsidiary of Cubatabaco. Habanos works with just one company in each country where it markets products. As a result, customers seeking out genuine Cuban cigars know that there is a limited and defined list of suppliers around the world.

20 ___-Latin (language of the Vatican) : NEO

Vatican City is a sovereign city-state that is walled off within the city of Rome. Vatican City is about 110 acres in area, and so is the smallest independent state in the world. With about 800 residents, it is also the smallest state in terms of population. Although the Holy See dates back to early Christianity, Vatican City only came into being in 1929. At that time, Prime Minister Benito Mussolini signed a treaty with the Holy See on behalf of the Kingdom of Italy that established the city-state.

21 Shortest month of the year : MAY

Maia is one of the Pleiades of Greek mythology, and is the eldest of the Seven Sisters. The month of May is named for Maia.

26 Beethoven’s “Für ___” : ELISE

“Für Elise” is a beautiful piece of solo piano music by Beethoven that is also known as “Bagatelle in A Minor”. “Für Elise” simply means “For Elise”, but sadly no one knows for sure the identity of the mysterious dedicatee.

27 Cather who wrote “O Pioneers!” : WILLA

American novelist Willa Cather wrote what’s referred to as the “prairie trilogy”, books that tell the story of Swedish immigrants living in Nebraska. The titles in the trilogy are “O Pioneers!”, “The Song of the Lark” and “My Ántonia”. Cather won the Pulitzer Prize for another novel “One of Ours”, which is set in Nebraska and the French battlefields of WWI.

28 Website? : ATTIC

An attic or loft is a room or space located below the roof of a building. The term “attic” is a shortened form of “attic story”, the uppermost story or level of a house. This term “attic story” originally applied to a low, decorative level built on top of the uppermost story behind a building’s decorative facade. This use of decoration at the top of buildings was common in ancient Greece, and was particularly important in the Attica style. That Attica style was so called because it originated in the historical region of Attica that encompassed the city of Athens. And that’s how our attics are linked to ancient Greece.

30 Longhaired feline : PERSIAN CAT

The Persian is that long-haired cat with a squashed muzzle. The breed takes its name from its place of origin, namely Persia (Iran).

33 Leading role in the “X-Men” films : WOLVERINE

In the Marvel Comics universe, Wolverine is a mutant with keen animal-like senses and an ability to regenerate body parts after injury. He usually appears as a member of the X-Men superhero team. On the big screen, Wolverine is regularly played by Australian actor Hugh Jackman.

41 Battle of Britain attack : AIR RAID

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the oldest independent air force in the world (i.e. the first air force to become independent of army or navy forces). The RAF was formed during WWI on 1 April 1918, a composite of two earlier forces, the Royal Flying Corps (part of the Army) and the Royal Naval Air Service. The RAF’s “finest hour” was the Battle of Britain, when the vastly outnumbered British fighters fought off the might of the Luftwaffe causing Hitler to delay his plan to cross the English Channel. This outcome prompted Winston Churchill to utter the memorable words

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

45 Low island or reef : CAY

A key (also “cay”) is a low offshore island, as in the Florida “Keys”. Our term in English comes from the Spanish “cayo” meaning “shoal, reef”.

50 Bacteria-inhibiting drug : SULFA

“Sulfa drug” is a common term used for sulphonamides. Many sulfa drugs have antibacterial properties, and were the first antimicrobial drugs developed. The first sulphonamide introduced to treat bacterial infections was named Prontosil, and was developed by Bayer AG in Germany.

51 ___ wrestling : SUMO

Sumo is a sport that is practiced professionally only in Japan, the country of its origin. There is an international federation of sumo wrestling now, and one of the organization’s aims is to have the sport accepted as an Olympic event.

52 Skin-care brand : OLAY

Oil of Olay was developed in South Africa in 1952. When Oil of Olay was introduced internationally, it was given slightly different brand names designed to appeal in the different geographies. In Ireland we know it as Oil of Ulay, for example, and in France it is Oil of Olaz.

54 Volume of Horace : ODES

One of ancient Rome’s leading lyric poets was Quintus Horatius Flaccus or “Horace”, as we tend to know him. Horace’s most famous work is probably his collection of Latin lyric poems titled “Carmina” (the Latin for “Odes”).

55 Answer to the riddle “What can go up and down without moving?” : ROAD

Here are a few riddles:

  1. Imagine you are in a dark room. How do you get out?
  2. What can travel around the world while staying in a corner?
  3. There is a word and six letters it contains. Take one away and twelve is what remains. What word is it?
  4. Two girls were born to the same mother, on the same day, at the same time, in the same month and year and yet they’re not twins. How can this be?
  5. What is so delicate that even saying its name will break it?
  6. What word in the English Language is always spelled incorrectly?

And the answers:

  1. Stop imagining.
  2. A stamp
  3. Dozens
  4. They’re in a set of triplets
  5. Silence
  6. Incorrectly

56 Popular game with virtual people, with “The” : … SIMS

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.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “___ fair in love and war” : ALL’S
5 Is down with : HAS
8 Loved, loved, loved : ATE UP
13 Edible part of a taro plant : ROOT
14 “SOS!” : HELP!
15 Place for pigeons to sit : LEDGE
16 Unit of 17-Across : ACRE
17 See 16-Across : AREA
18 Shade akin to cream : BEIGE
19 Speculations that don’t pay off : BAD INVESTMENTS
22 Start of a tax form : LINE A
23 Firework’s path : ARC
24 Like the anagram “I’ll make a wise phrase” for “William Shakespeare” : APT
25 Journeys for people who are relocating : ONE-WAY TRIPS
32 Boast : CROW
34 Landed : ALIT
35 “City Without Walls” poet : AUDEN
36 Early DVR device : TIVO
37 Accumulating bank deposits? : SILTS
39 One responsive to voice commands : SIRI
40 Writer ___ Rogers St. Johns : ADELA
42 Cut of a dress, maybe : SLIT
43 Large number : HOST
44 Some court winners : SERVICE ACES
47 “___ but a scratch!” : ‘TIS
48 Obama ___ (2009-17) : ERA
49 High-end Italian scooter : VESPA
51 Sign in some clothing stores … or a hint to 19-, 25- and 44-Across : SORRY, NO RETURNS
57 Louis-Dreyfus of “Veep” : JULIA
58 Japanese noodle : UDON
59 Centers of activity : LOCI
60 Citizen of Muscat : OMANI
61 Meadows : LEAS
62 Head of a brewery? : FOAM
63 Messed around (with) : TOYED
64 Subject of Netflix’s “Have a Good Trip” : LSD
65 Followers of morns : AFTS

1 Type of horse known for endurance riding : ARAB
2 High regard for one’s hometown, say : LOCAL PRIDE
3 Act high and mighty toward : LORD IT OVER
4 Gertrude who wrote “Rose is a rose is a rose …” : STEIN
5 “Take this!” : HERE!
6 Draft choices : ALES
7 Expectorated : SPAT
8 Canadian birthplace of Rae Dawn Chong and Michael J. Fox : ALBERTA
9 Young love : TEEN CRUSH
10 Make tweaks to : EDIT
11 Boots from Down Under : UGGS
12 Difference between icky and picky? : PEE
14 Some fine cigars : HAVANAS
20 ___-Latin (language of the Vatican) : NEO
21 Shortest month of the year : MAY
24 Assume the role of : ACT AS
26 Beethoven’s “Für ___” : ELISE
27 Cather who wrote “O Pioneers!” : WILLA
28 Website? : ATTIC
29 Un-screw-up-able : IDIOT-PROOF
30 Longhaired feline : PERSIAN CAT
31 Piques : SNITS
33 Leading role in the “X-Men” films : WOLVERINE
38 Abolitionist Thaddeus : STEVENS
41 Battle of Britain attack : AIR RAID
45 Low island or reef : CAY
46 Cry between “ready” and “go” : SET
50 Bacteria-inhibiting drug : SULFA
51 ___ wrestling : SUMO
52 Skin-care brand : OLAY
53 ___ and void : NULL
54 Volume of Horace : ODES
55 Answer to the riddle “What can go up and down without moving?” : ROAD
56 Popular game with virtual people, with “The” : … SIMS
57 Scribble (down) : JOT

10 thoughts on “1215-21 NY Times Crossword 15 Dec 21, Wednesday”

  1. 6:31, no errors, though I was doing my usual ham-fisted old man thing as I worked my way through it (and I didn’t think about the theme until just now … senility in progress … 😳).

  2. 11:07, no errors. Pretty good time for a Wednesday (for me). Every once in a while I get the long entries quickly. Today was one of those days.

  3. 10:01. Just getting to this before fading out for the night.

    Churchill sure had a way with words. The more I read about him, the more impressed I am by him. Andrew Roberts wrote a fascinating biography of him just a couple of years ago called “Churchill: Walking With Destiny”. I highly recommend it. Warning – it’s long so make sure you have the time on your hands.

    Best –

  4. 17:44 no errors.
    Didn’t look at the theme until I finished.
    Clues like 16 & 17A should be banned IMO👎👎
    Stay safe😀

  5. 14:53, no errors. Stubborn insistence that the expression for 3D was LORDED OVER, not LORD IT OVER, made this puzzle more difficult.

  6. I am a little surprised that Bill would focus only on Rae Don Chong in the explanation for 7 Down , and not on Michael J Fox who I.M.H.O. is a very talented and courageous man . Certainly worthy of a shout out . 😌
    Stay safe !
    EllE

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