1216-21 NY Times Crossword 16 Dec 21, Thursday

Constructed by: Trenton Charlson
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Boggle

Themed answers all have the same clue, namely “FLUMMOX”. The center of the grid forms a 16-letter square grid. Such a grid can be found in a game of BOGGLE. The themed answers BEWILDER, BEMUSE and BEFUDDLE can be spelled out using letters in the central BOGGLE grid. Clever …

  • 52A Flummox … or a classic word game represented by the central grid of shaded squares, in which 15-, 17- and 55-Across can be found : BOGGLE
  • 15A Flummox : BEWILDER
  • 17A Flummox : BEMUSE
  • 55A Flummox : BEFUDDLE

Bill’s time: 12m 18s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

18 Shakespeare, notably : SONNETEER

William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Here is Sonnet 110:

Alas! ’tis true, I have gone here and there,
And made my self a motley to the view,
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new;
Most true it is, that I have looked on truth
Askance and strangely; but, by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays proved thee my best of love.
Now all is done, have what shall have no end:
Mine appetite I never more will grind
On newer proof, to try an older friend,
A god in love, to whom I am confined.
Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.

20 Grazer with a bushy beard : GNU

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch meaning “wild beast”.

22 South American arboreal snake : TREE BOA

Boa constrictors are members of the Boidae family of snakes, all of which are non-venomous. Interestingly, the female boa is always larger than the male.

26 Laser tag equipment : GUNS

The name “Laser Tag” is really a misnomer as lasers are rarely used in the game. The “guns” actually send out infrared light, and not laser light, that is picked up by infrared detectors worn by the players.

36 Brambles with edible purple fruit : DEWBERRIES

Dewberries are trailing brambles related to blackberries. The dewberries fruit is soft when ripe, and tends to stain the fingers as it is picked. The stems are also covered with fine spines, so picking is often a frustrating, and “fruitless”, endeavor!

42 Small bouquet : POSY

“Poesy” was the name given to a line of verse engraved on the inner surface of a ring. The related word “posy”, for a bouquet of flowers, arose with the notion that giving a posy might be a message of love, just as a poesy inside a ring could have the same meaning.

43 Setting for Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” : ILLYRIA

The Illyrians were a coalition of tribes that lived in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. The Romans conquered the area in 168 BC after a conflict known as the Illyrian Wars. Illyria is now part of modern Albania.

Orsino, Duke of Illyria is a character in William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”. The opening lines of the play, spoken by the love-smitten Orsino, are:

If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.

William Shakespeare wrote his comedy “Twelfth Night” as a Christmas entertainment (Twelfth Night being the end of the Christmas season). The play’s protagonist is a young woman named Viola. The plot calls for Viola to dress as a eunuch named Cesario who goes into the service of Duke Orsino. Orsino has Cesario go to Duchess Olivia to express his love for her. But Olivia falls for Cesario, Cesario (Viola) falls for Orsino, and hilarity ensues …

47 Weekly 90-min. TV show : SNL

NBC first aired a form of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 1975 under the title “NBC’s Saturday Night”. The show was actually created to give Johnny Carson some time off from “The Tonight Show”. Back then “The Tonight Show” had a weekend episode, and Carson convinced NBC to pull the Saturday or Sunday recordings off the air and hold them for subsequent weeknights in which Carson needed a break. NBC turned to Lorne Michaels and asked him to put together a variety show to fill the vacant slot, and he came up with what we now call “Saturday Night Live”.

48 Cowboys’ grp. : NFC

National Football Conference (NFC)

The Dallas Cowboys play in the National Football Conference (NFC) of the NFL. The Cowboys are famous for a lengthy streak of 20 consecutive winning seasons, from 1966 to 1985. They are the highest-valued sports franchise in the country. The only team in the world that’s worth more money is the UK’s Manchester United soccer team.

50 Word with room or system : OPERATING …

I think of an operating system as that piece of software that sits between the hardware on my computer and the programs that I choose to run. Developers of application programs don’t really have to worry about being able to “talk to” the countless different types of hardware found in the wide variety of computers that are manufactured, they just need to talk to the handful of operating systems that are out there, like Windows, Android, MAC and Unix. The operating system takes care of the rest.

52 Flummox … or a classic word game represented by the central grid of shaded squares, in which 15-, 17- and 55-Across can be found : BOGGLE

Boggle is a word game in which one uses 16 lettered dice in a 4×4 tray to find words. There was even a “Boggle” game show that ran on the Family Channel for a few months in 1994.

57 No. after a no. : EXT

Extension (ext.)

58 Drink sometimes served in a masu cup : SAKE

We refer to the Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice as “sake”. We’ve gotten things a bit mixed up in the West. “Sake” is actually the word that the Japanese use for all alcoholic drinks. What we know as sake, we sometimes refer to as rice wine. Also, the starch in the rice is first converted to sugars that are then fermented into alcohol. This is more akin to a beer-brewing process than wine production, so the end product is really a rice “beer” rather than a rice “wine”.

Down

4 Three-vowel French word that sounds like a fourth vowel : EAU

“Eau” sounds like “O”.

In French, one can find “eau” (water) in a “rivière” (river).

5 French connections : ETS

In French, one conjunction is “et” (and).

7 “___ Ben Adhem” (Leigh Hunt poem) : ABOU

Abou Ben Adhem, also known as Ibrahim Bin Adham, was an Arab Muslim saint. He was made famous in the western world with the publication in 1838 of the poem “Abou Ben Adhem” that was composed by the English poet James Henry Leigh Hunt.

8 “Dancing With the Stars” judge Goodman : LEN

Len Goodman is a professional ballroom dancer. Goodman was head judge on the US’s “Dancing with the Stars” until 2019, and was head judge on the original UK version of the show called “Strictly Come Dancing” until 2017.

When I was growing up in Ireland, there was a surprisingly popular BBC television show featuring professional ballroom dancing called “Come Dancing”. It ran almost every year from 1949 to 1998, and in 2004 the BBC resurrected it with a new twist, adding celebrities to dance with the professionals. The new show, called “Strictly Come Dancing”, is a huge success and has become a worldwide franchise. Over here we watch the American version called “Dancing with the Stars”. It really can be fun television …

11 Pensée : IDEE

In French, an “idée” (idea) is a “pensée” (thought).

16 Former Fords : LTDS

There has been a lot of speculation about what the abbreviation “LTD” stands for in the car model known as “Ford LTD”. Many say it is an initialism standing for “Luxury Trim Decor”, and others say that it is short for “limited”. Although the car was produced in Australia with the initialism meaning “Lincoln Type Design”, it seems that “LTD” was originally chosen as just three meaningless letters that sound well together.

18 In a real mess : SNAFUED

“SNAFU” is an acronym standing for “situation normal: all fouled up” (well, that’s the polite version!). As one might perhaps imagine, the term developed in the US Army, during WWII.

23 Start of a count-off : EENY …

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
Catch the tiger/monkey/baby by the toe.
If it hollers/screams let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, you are it!

24 Name that drops “-jah” : ELI

Elijah was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel according to the Books of Kings in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an. The name “Elijah” translates from Hebrew as “My God is Yahweh”. Elijah is also known as Elias.

25 Dumbbell curls build them, for short : BIS

The biceps muscle is made up of two bundles of muscle, both of which terminate at the same point near the elbow. The heads of the bundles terminate at different points on the scapula or shoulder blade. “Biceps” is Latin for “two-headed”.

31 Dangerous pellets : BBS

A BB gun is an air pistol or rifle that shoots birdshot known as BBs. Birdshot comes in a number of different sizes, from size 9 (0.070″ in diameter) to size FF (.230″). Birdshot that is size BB (0.180″ in diameter) gives the airgun its name.

33 Figure on a fiver : ABE

The US five-dollar bill is often called an “Abe”, as President Abraham Lincoln’s portrait is on the front. An Abe is also referred to as a “fin”, a term that has been used for a five-pound note in Britain since 1868.

37 Photo lab request: Abbr. : ENL

Enlargement (enl.)

38 Singer Lana del ___ : REY

“Lana Del Rey” is the stage name of singer/songwriter Elizabeth Grant. Del Rey calls herself a “self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra”. Nice …

40 Surfer wannabes : HODADS

“Hodad” is a slang term that dates from the fifties. It is used to describe someone who hangs out at the beach, but someone who isn’t a surfer. Hodads were mainly into cars and music.

41 Subordinate in the prosecutor’s office: Abbr. : ASST DA

Assistant district attorney (Asst. DA, ADA)

46 Weight : HEFT

The heft of something is its weight, its heaviness. The term “heft” is derivative of the verb “to heave” meaning “to lift, raise”.

47 Old dagger : SNEE

A “snee” is a type of dagger formerly used by Scottish highlanders.

49 Collectible cartoon frames : CELS

In the world of animation, a cel is a transparent sheet on which objects and characters are drawn. In the first half of the 20th century the sheet was actually made of celluloid, giving the “cel” its name.

50 Award turned down by Alan Rickman: Abbr. : OBE

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry in the UK that was established in 1917 by King George V. There are five classes within the order, which are in descending seniority:

  • Knight Grand Cross (GBE)
  • Knight Commander (KBE)
  • Commander (CBE)
  • Officer (OBE)
  • Member (MBE)

Alan Rickman was a marvelous English actor, one famous for playing bad guy Hans Gruber in the original “Die Hard” film, Severus Snape in the “Harry Potter” series and (my personal favorite) Eamon de Valera in “Michael Collins”. Sadly, Rickman passed away in January 2016, after which fans created a memorial under the “Platform 9¾” sign in London’s Kings Cross Railway Station, from where the Hogwarts Express is said to depart in the “Harry Potter” universe.

52 Pre-A.D. : BCE

The designations Anno Domini (AD, “year of Our Lord”) and Before Christ (BC) are found in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dividing point between AD and BC is the year of the conception of Jesus, with AD 1 following 1 BC without a year “0” in between. The AD/BC scheme dates back to AD 525, and gained wide acceptance soon after AD 800. Nowadays a modified version has become popular, with CE (Common/Christian Era) used to replace AD, and BCE (Before the Common/Christian Era) used to replace BC.

54 Atlanta sch. : GSU

Georgia State University (GSU) is located in downtown Atlanta. It was established in 1913 as a branch of Georgia School of Technology called the Evening School of Commerce.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Corresponds : AGREES
7 Very much : A LOT
11 Hot temper : IRE
14 Something often held underwater : BREATH
15 Flummox : BEWILDER
17 Flummox : BEMUSE
18 Shakespeare, notably : SONNETEER
19 Call of support : YEA!
20 Grazer with a bushy beard : GNU
21 Joined forces (with) : SIDED
22 South American arboreal snake : TREE BOA
26 Laser tag equipment : GUNS
27 Depictions of lands’ ups and downs : RELIEF MAPS
29 Seriously shortchange : ROB
32 Focal points of a debate : MAIN ISSUES
34 Offensive line : BARB
35 Mind : OBEY
36 Brambles with edible purple fruit : DEWBERRIES
39 Resting place : BED
40 Uncompromising sorts : HARD-LINERS
42 Small bouquet : POSY
43 Setting for Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” : ILLYRIA
45 Casts off : SHEDS
47 Weekly 90-min. TV show : SNL
48 Cowboys’ grp. : NFC
50 Word with room or system : OPERATING …
52 Flummox … or a classic word game represented by the central grid of shaded squares, in which 15-, 17- and 55-Across can be found : BOGGLE
55 Flummox : BEFUDDLE
56 Nonchalant : CASUAL
57 No. after a no. : EXT
58 Drink sometimes served in a masu cup : SAKE
59 Hits the roof : ERUPTS

Down

1 “Sesame Street” Muppet with magical powers : ABBY
2 Hug or kiss, maybe : GREET
3 Took a second? : REMARRIED
4 Three-vowel French word that sounds like a fourth vowel : EAU
5 French connections : ETS
6 ___-wolf : SHE
7 “___ Ben Adhem” (Leigh Hunt poem) : ABOU
8 “Dancing With the Stars” judge Goodman : LEN
9 Comes clean : OWNS UP
10 Certain marketing gimmicks : TIE-INS
11 Pensée : IDEE
12 Liberal arts college in Portland, Ore. : REED
13 Transgress : ERR
16 Former Fords : LTDS
18 In a real mess : SNAFUED
20 Runs out of water : GOES DRY
23 Start of a count-off : EENY …
24 Name that drops “-jah” : ELI
25 Dumbbell curls build them, for short : BIS
26 Monthly utility statement : GAS BILL
28 Sound from a crib : MEWLING
29 Giving a boost : RAISING UP
30 Unrefined material : ORE
31 Dangerous pellets : BBS
32 Rabble : MOB
33 Figure on a fiver : ABE
34 Winter exclamation : BRRR!
37 Photo lab request: Abbr. : ENL
38 Singer Lana del ___ : REY
40 Surfer wannabes : HODADS
41 Subordinate in the prosecutor’s office: Abbr. : ASST DA
42 Its flag has vertical stripes of red-white-red : PERU
44 Key just above G : A-FLAT
45 Glasses, informally : SPEX
46 Weight : HEFT
47 Old dagger : SNEE
49 Collectible cartoon frames : CELS
50 Award turned down by Alan Rickman: Abbr. : OBE
51 Variety : ILK
52 Pre-A.D. : BCE
53 Piece of equipment for certain summer Olympians : OAR
54 Atlanta sch. : GSU

11 thoughts on “1216-21 NY Times Crossword 16 Dec 21, Thursday”

  1. 13:23. I found this one hard for a Thursday. A bunch of stuff around the middle that I’d never heard of, or that were not words at the forefront of my brain: SONNETEER, TREE BOA, RELIEF MAPS (I could only come up with topographic maps), SNAFUED (never heard of snafu as a verb), MEWLING (I think of that as something cats do), DEWBERRIES, ILLYRIA (haven’t thought about Shakespeare since high school, and really, isn’t one Shakespeare clue in a puzzle enough?). I had to keep circling around like a piece of flotsam in an eddy.

    I guess I was BEFUDDLEd.

  2. 14:11, no errors. Marvelous construction! I found it a little distracting, as I stopped several times to stare at that center square and try to figure out what it was all about; the light came on after a bit and was then confirmed by the revealer. Very clever!

  3. 18:37. Also unfamiliar with DEW berries. I had Dxx berries and was thinking it might be ELDER berries (thank you Elton John for your song about wine) and was looking for some sort of rebus. I’ve never played Boggle, so have no idea what it’s about and also could not make sense of the gray 4×4 mini-grid in the middle. But the online app drawing the connectors at the end was a big help.

    Writing this from a BnB on Maui – where we are for 10 days. Thought duty. 🙂

    1. TOUGH duty!! Damn auto-correct and lax reviewing by this author. It’s 50 deg. warmer here than in Seattle. I’m sweating just walking around the room.

  4. 29:17 another puzzle that makes me ask myself: “how DO they come up with these constructions?” If I only had a brain…. “What would you do if you had a brain, scarecrow?”

  5. 17:42. The animation in the boggle squares At the finish was amazing. Did anyone else think of Peggy from King of the Hill and her obsession with boggle tournaments?

  6. 23:47. Never played BOGGLE in my life, but I sort of figured the squares in the middle were related to the theme answers. All this is pretty much an anagram puzzle in the end, I suppose. Not my favorite, but this was impressive nonetheless.

    Remembered HODAD somewhere in my crossword lizard brain. RELIEF MAP was a head scratcher when I saw it. ILLYRIA was cruel as well.

    Best –

  7. No errors.. didn’t get the gimmick. Thought it was “BE” confusing or something. Never heard of BOGGLE so I had to wait for the crosses to fill in. Was there supposed to be a shaded area or were we supposed to figure that out as a part of the BOGGLE game?

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