1212-23 NY Times Crossword 12 Dec 23, Tuesday

Constructed by: Peter Gordon
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Finishing School

Themed answers are common phrases, but with “-SCH” at the FINISH:

  • 61A Where social graces were once taught … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : FINISHING SCHOOL
  • 17A Crotchety geezer with a heart of gold? : GRUMPY OLD MENSCH
  • 26A “Home Sweet Home” needlepoint pillow, e.g.? : SEWING KITSCH
  • 47A Coup d’état that’s been judicially suspended? : STAYED PUTSCH

Bill’s time: 8m 07s

Bill’s errors: 2

  • BAKU (Raku)
  • SCAB (scar!!!)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Paper size longer than letter : LEGAL

Our paper sizes here in North America don’t conform with the standards in the rest of the world. ISO standard sizes used elsewhere were chosen so that the ratio of width to length is usually one to the square root of two. This mathematical relationship means that when you cut a piece of paper in two each half preserves the aspect ratio of the original, which can be useful in making reduced or enlarged copies of documents. Our standard size of “letter” (ltr., 8.5 x 11 inches) was determined in 1980 by the Reagan administration to be the official paper size for the US government. Prior to this, the “legal” size (8.5 x 14 inches) had been the standard, since 1921.

6 Letter between Whiskey and Yankee in the NATO alphabet : X-RAY

The NATO phonetic alphabet is also called the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) phonetic alphabet. Alfa, Bravo, Charlie … X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

15 “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” singer/lyricist : BONO

Irish singer Bono is a Dubliner who was born Paul David Hewson. As a youth, Hewson was given the nickname “Bono Vox” by a friend, a Latin expression meaning “good voice”, and so the singer has been known as Bono since the late seventies. His band’s first name was “Feedback”, later changed to “The Hype”. The band members searched for yet another name and chose U2 from a list of six names suggested by a friend. They picked U2 because it was the name they disliked least …

16 Start and end of every row in Pascal’s triangle : ONES

Blaise Pascal was an important French mathematician, physicist and philosopher, who lived in the mid-1600s. In math, his name was given to Pascal’s triangle, a triangle of numbers in which each number is the sum of the two numbers above it. Pascal also wrote on the subject of theology. His most important theological writings were published after his death under the title “Pensées”, meaning “Thoughts”.

17 Crotchety geezer with a heart of gold? : GRUMPY OLD MENSCH

“Mensch” is a word that comes to us via Yiddish, and is ultimately derived from the German “mensch” meaning “human being”. We use the term to describe someone of integrity and honor.

“Geezer”, “codger” and “coot” are all not-so-nice terms meaning “old man”.

20 Raggedy ___ : ANN

Raggedy Ann is a rag doll that was created by Johnny Gruelle in 1915 for his daughter, Marcella. He decided to name the doll by combining the titles of two poems by James Whitcomb Riley, “The Raggedy Man” and “Little Orphan Annie”. Gruelle introduced Raggedy Ann in a series of books three years later. Sadly, Marcella died at 13 years of age with her father blaming a smallpox vaccination she was given at school. Gruelle became very active in the movement against mass vaccination, for which Raggedy Ann became a symbol.

22 King, queen or rook : PIECE

It is believed that the game of chess originated in northwest India. It evolved from a 6th-century game called “chaturanga”, a Sanskrit word meaning “four divisions”. These four (military) divisions were represented in the game:

  • Infantry (now “pawns”)
  • Cavalry (now “knights”)
  • Elephants (now “bishops”)
  • Chariots (now “rooks”)

25 City bird : PIGEON

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.

26 “Home Sweet Home” needlepoint pillow, e.g.? : SEWING KITSCH

“Kitsch” is a German word, an adjective that means “gaudy, trash”.

“Home! Sweet Home!” is a song that has been around at least since 1827. The melody was composed by Englishman Sir Henry Bishop, using lyrics written by American John Howard Payne.

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home;
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which seek thro’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere.
Home! Home!
Sweet, sweet home!
There’s no place like home
There’s no place like home!

33 Streetcar, to a Brit : TRAM

Trams were a common form of transport in London starting with horse-drawn versions in 1860. Trams were gradually replaced by diesel buses after WWII, with the last tram running in 1952. Even though the trams disappeared in the early fifties, many of the rails that carried the trams remained in some streets for many years afterwards (I remember them well as a child). A new generation of tram, a so-called light-rail system, was introduced in London in 2000.

42 Capital of Azerbaijan : BAKU

Baku is the capital city of Azerbaijan and sits on the Caspian Sea. It’s thought that the name “Baku” comes from the Persian “Bad-kube” meaning “wind-pounded city”.

44 Heredity unit : GENE

A gene is a section of a chromosome that is responsible for a particular characteristic in an organism. For example, one gene may determine eye color and another balding pattern. We have two copies of each gene, one from each of our parents, with each copy known as an allele.

47 Coup d’état that’s been judicially suspended? : STAYED PUTSCH

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”.

50 Hotel Bible name : GIDEON

Gideons International is an evangelical Christian group that focuses on distributing free copies of the Bible across the world, most visibly in bedside lockers in hotel rooms. Apparently, the Gideons are handing out free Bibles today at the rate of two per second.

55 “To your health!” toast : SKOAL!

“Skoal” (sometimes “skol”) is a Scandinavian toast that has roots in the old Norse word “skaal” meaning “cup”.

65 Febreze target : ODOR

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

67 Hellenic H’s : ETAS

Someone from Greece can be called a Hellene. “Ellas” is the Greek word for “Greece”, the name of the country. Greece is also known as the “Hellenic” Republic.

68 Baseball’s Alonso or Rose : PETE

Pete Alonso is a professional first baseman who made his Major League debut in 2019 with the New York Mets. In that first season, Alonso set the record for most home runs by a rookie in a single season with 53, breaking the previous record set by Aaron Judge in 2017. Alonso’s nickname is “Polar Bear”.

Pete Rose was a talented baseball player who holds the record for all-time Major League hits. Rose’s nickname was “Charlie Hustle”. In recent years, his reputation has been tarnished by admissions that he bet on games in which he played and managed.

69 “Designing Women” and “Young Sheldon” actress : POTTS

Annie Potts is an actress from Nashville, Tennessee. She had roles in successful films such as “Ghostbusters” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and did voice work for “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2”. Potts was lucky to survive a car crash when she was 21 years old, as she broke nearly every bone in her lower body.

“Designing Women” is a sitcom that originally aired in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The show’s storyline centers on four women, and one man, who work together at a small interior designing company in Atlanta.

“Young Sheldon” is a spinoff prequel to the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” that follows the life of a 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper. The title character is played by child actor Iain Armitage. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory”, is the narrator for the spinoff, and is also an executive producer. In another link between the shows, young Sheldon’s Mom is played by actress Zoe Perry. Perry is the real-life daughter of Laurie Metcalf, who plays “old” Sheldon’s mom in the original series.

Down

1 Sports org. that awards the Vare Trophy : LPGA

The Vare Trophy is awarded by the LPGA to the player with the lowest scoring average in a season. The trophy is named for Glenna Collett-Vare who is said to have been the greatest female golfer of the 1920s.

3 Labor that requires brawn, not brains : GRUNT WORK

The slang term “grunts”, meaning “low-level personnel”, first applied to US infantrymen during the Vietnam War. The equivalent term for British infantrymen is “squaddies”.

8 Raggedy ___ : ANDY

Raggedy Andy was introduced as the brother to Raggedy Ann in the 1920 book “Raggedy Andy Stories”.

9 ___ Kippur : YOM

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. It is also known as the Day of Atonement.

12 Longtime manufacturer of Sweethearts : NECCO

The forerunner to Sweethearts candy was introduced in 1866, with the famous sayings written on the candy tailored for use at weddings. One of the original expressions was, “Married in pink, he will take a drink”. The original candy was a lot bigger, to fit all those words! The smaller, heart-shaped candy hit the shelves in 1901. We’ve been able to buy Sweethearts with the words “Text me” since 2010.

18 Comic actor Bowen : YANG

Bowen Yang is an actor and comedian who joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 2019, after working for a year with the show’s writing staff. When Yank became a cast member, he was the first Chinese-American to appear regularly on SNL.

24 “The Barber and ___ Wife” (“Sweeney Todd” song) : HIS

“Sweeney Todd” was originally a 1936 film, later a 1973 play, then a 1979 musical, and then a movie adaptation of the musical in 2007. After Sweeney Todd has killed his victims, his partner in crime Mrs. Lovett helped him dispose of the bodies by taking the flesh and baking it into meat pies that she sold in her pie shop. Ugh!

27 Director Kazan : ELIA

Elia Kazan won Oscars for best director in 1948 for “Gentleman’s Agreement” and in 1955 for “On The Waterfront”. He was recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when he was given the 1998 Academy Honorary Award citing his lifetime achievement in the industry. Kazan also directed “East of Eden”, which introduced James Dean to movie audiences, and “Splendor in the Grass” that included Warren Beatty in his debut role.

28 Novelist Ken : KESEY

Ken Kesey wrote the novels “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Sometimes a Great Notion”. Kesey was one of a group of friends who called themselves the “Merry Pranksters”, a bunch of guys who were associated with the likes of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, all icons of the Beat Generation.

29 Greek goddess of peace : IRENE

Eirene (also “Irene”) was the Greek goddess of peace, with “eirene” being the Greek word for “peace”. The Roman equivalent to Eirene was the goddess Pax.

34 Removes the shampoo from, say : RINSES OUT

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.

35 Rock band on Butt-head’s T-shirt : AC/DC

“Beavis and Butt-Head” is an adult cartoon television show and film. The show ran on MTV. I’ve never seen it …

39 “The Candy House” author Jennifer : EGAN

“The Candy House” is a 2002 work by writer Jennifer Egan that is a sequel to her 2010 Puliltzer-winning “A Visit from the Goon Squad”. Like the original, “The Candy House” is usually described as a novel, but often as a collection of linked short stories.

40 Yarmulke, e.g. : SKULLCAP

A yarmulke is a skullcap worn by males in the Orthodox Jewish tradition. It is also known as a kippa or hech cap.

49 Mattar paneer ingredients : PEAS

Mattar paneer is a dish from North Indian cuisine. It consists mainly of paneer (a freshly-made cheese) combined with peas in a tomato-based sauce.

50 Embarrassing blunder : GAFFE

Our word “gaffe”, meaning “social blunder”, comes from the French “gaffe” meaning “clumsy remark”, although it originally was a word describing a boat hook. The exact connection between a boat hook and a blunder seems to be unclear.

51 Nincompoop : IDIOT

The word “nincompoop”, meaning “fool”, seems to have been around for quite a while. It has been used since the 1670s, but no one appears to know its origins.

52 Prima ___ : DONNA

The Italian operatic term “prima donna” is used for the lead female singer in an opera company. “Prima donna” translates from Italian as “first lady”. The lead male singer is known as the “primo uomo”. The term “prima donna assoluta” is reserved for a prima donna who is generally accepted as being an outstanding performer. We tend to use “prima donna” for a female performer who has an inflated ego.

59 The Washington ___ : POST

“The Washington Post” (WaPo) is the oldest paper still being published in the DC area, having been founded in 1877. Famously, “The Post” reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led the media’s investigation into what we now called the Watergate scandal. “The Washington Post” was purchased in 2013 by Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com.

60 Drinks labeled “XXX” in comics : ALES

The letter “X” is often used to indicate the strength of a beer. For example, a beer marked “XXX” is usually designated as “extra-strong”.

63 Med. plan choice : HMO

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Paper size longer than letter : LEGAL
6 Letter between Whiskey and Yankee in the NATO alphabet : X-RAY
10 ___ melt (sandwich) : TUNA
14 Start of a serial : PART I
15 “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” singer/lyricist : BONO
16 Start and end of every row in Pascal’s triangle : ONES
17 Crotchety geezer with a heart of gold? : GRUMPY OLD MENSCH
20 Raggedy ___ : ANN
21 In a permissive manner : LAXLY
22 King, queen or rook : PIECE
23 Paper-___ : THIN
25 City bird : PIGEON
26 “Home Sweet Home” needlepoint pillow, e.g.? : SEWING KITSCH
31 Seal up : CLOSE
32 Greek god of love : EROS
33 Streetcar, to a Brit : TRAM
37 Word with pressure, pocket or pollution : AIR …
38 Takes offense at : RESENTS
41 Rink surface : ICE
42 Capital of Azerbaijan : BAKU
44 Heredity unit : GENE
45 Sorts : KINDS
47 Coup d’état that’s been judicially suspended? : STAYED PUTSCH
50 Hotel Bible name : GIDEON
53 “If all ___ fails …” : ELSE
54 Decorate : ADORN
55 “To your health!” toast : SKOAL!
58 Employer of manicurists and pedicurists : SPA
61 Where social graces were once taught … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : FINISHING SCHOOL
64 Like some farewells : FOND
65 Febreze target : ODOR
66 Tickle : AMUSE
67 Hellenic H’s : ETAS
68 Baseball’s Alonso or Rose : PETE
69 “Designing Women” and “Young Sheldon” actress : POTTS

Down

1 Sports org. that awards the Vare Trophy : LPGA
2 Bring in : EARN
3 Labor that requires brawn, not brains : GRUNT WORK
4 After-hours banking convenience, in brief : ATM
5 Cosmetic pencil : LIP LINER
6 Microsoft game console : XBOX
7 Tape dispenser insert : ROLL
8 Raggedy ___ : ANDY
9 ___ Kippur : YOM
10 This evening : TONIGHT
11 Wipe from the memory, jocularly : UNSEE
12 Longtime manufacturer of Sweethearts : NECCO
13 Very pale : ASHEN
18 Comic actor Bowen : YANG
19 Film with a huge cast : EPIC
24 “The Barber and ___ Wife” (“Sweeney Todd” song) : HIS
25 Attention-getting sound : PSST!
26 Sign of healing : SCAB
27 Director Kazan : ELIA
28 Novelist Ken : KESEY
29 Greek goddess of peace : IRENE
30 Having well-defined muscles : TONED
34 Removes the shampoo from, say : RINSES OUT
35 Rock band on Butt-head’s T-shirt : AC/DC
36 Chicken wire pattern : MESH
39 “The Candy House” author Jennifer : EGAN
40 Yarmulke, e.g. : SKULLCAP
43 Data in password managers : USER IDS
46 “___ a long story” : IT’S
48 Oodles : TONS
49 Mattar paneer ingredients : PEAS
50 Embarrassing blunder : GAFFE
51 Nincompoop : IDIOT
52 Prima ___ : DONNA
55 Team : SIDE
56 Muscle problem : KNOT
57 Story time monster : OGRE
59 The Washington ___ : POST
60 Drinks labeled “XXX” in comics : ALES
62 Short trip : HOP
63 Med. plan choice : HMO

11 thoughts on “1212-23 NY Times Crossword 12 Dec 23, Tuesday”

  1. 12:47, same as Bill and Duncan. 2 errors. And that was after 3 minutes trying to get the “jingle” on my tablet.

  2. Messed up at KESEY and IRENE and PEAS and SKOAL

    so I messed up interpreting 47A .

    Had KESEV and IRENA and EELS and SKOLL so I started with STAVA DEUTSCH. Thought it was a cross of russian and German or something… boy what a mess.

    I blame it on YARMULKE!!!!! wherever that came from.

  3. No errors.
    I thought everyone knew the capital of Azerbaijan …I know when I woke up this morning it was the first thing on my mind(not)👎👎
    Stay safe😀

    1. @Glenn – I love your incorporating the link – thanks!

      BTW – is it possible for you to increase the text size in the LAT without hindering your abiliy to solve? I can’t see it, it’s too small.

      Be Well.

      1. I upload the LAT (any Across Lite, really) solves at a higher resolution than the NYT puzzles. Anyway, I just set the font in my Across Lite to a bold font, so I can try starting tonight with it that way.

        1. @Glenn – Thx

          You could try Ctrl-+ don’t know if this is reflected when you record, but it shouild increase the browser font size for the clues.
          There’s usually a setting in the browser that say “Increase size of text ONLY (not objects/pics, which the actual grid is.)

          Be Well.

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