1226-23 NY Times Crossword 26 Dec 23, Tuesday

Constructed by: Neil Shook
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Toy Boxes

Happy Stephen’s Day, everyone! Today’s grid includes six, 4-letter BOXES that spell out the name of a TOY. Those TOYS are:

  1. BIKE
  2. KITE
  3. BALL
  4. DRUM
  5. YO-YO
  6. DOLL

  • 62A Places for playthings, with a hint to this puzzle’s shaded squares : TOY BOXES

Bill’s time: 8m 20s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

13 A, as in Avignon : UNE

Avignon is a city in the southeast of France on the Rhône river. Avignon is sometimes called the “City of Popes” as it was home to seven popes during the Catholic schism from 1309 to 1423.

15 Lacking pigment : ALBINO

An albino is an organism lacking normal pigmentation. The term “albino” comes from “albus”, Latin for “white”.

16 Frequent object of doting attention : GRANDKID

Ain’t that the truth …

19 Gift for a budding architect, maybe : LEGO SET

Lego produces some wonderful specialized sets with which you can build models of celebrated structures, including:

  • The Statue of Liberty (2,882 pieces)
  • The Sydney Opera House (2,989 pieces)
  • The Eiffel Tower (3,428 pieces)
  • Tower Bridge (4,295 pieces)
  • The Taj Mahal (5,922 pieces)

20 ___ of the Union : STATE

The US President’s State of the Union (SOTU) address is a requirement called out in Article II of the Constitution. George Washington gave the first address before a joint session of Congress in 1790. Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of making a personal address by sending Congress a written document that was then read out by a clerk. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson re-established the custom of delivering the message personally, there have been occasions since then when a written address has had to suffice, the last occasion being in 1981 when Jimmy Carter was in office.

21 Shocking fish in the Amazon : EELS

Electric eels are so called because they are capable of delivering an eclectic shock that debilitates their prey. They are also able to electrolocate their prey. They do so by generating a weak electric field. The prey causes a distortion in this electric field, which is picked up by the eel’s electroreceptor organs.

24 “Here’s a short summary,” in internet lingo : TL;DR

Too long, didn’t read (TL;DR)

27 What Santa doesn’t get much of on Christmas Eve : SLEEP

The North American Defense Command (NORAD) isn’t just a US operation but is a cooperative arrangement between Canada and the United States. The two countries entered into an agreement to establish NORAD in 1958, mainly due to the concern that there would be little or no warning of a missile attack from the Soviet Union that came over the North Pole. NORAD also tracks Santa Claus coming from the North Pole every Christmas, and these days publishes Santa’s location on Christmas Eve on its website. The tracking of Santa started into 1955 when a local Sears store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper with a phone number that could be used to call Santa Claus. The newspaper accidentally printed the number for the Continental Air Defense Command (a precursor to NORAD). The officer on duty instructed his staff to give all children who called a “current location” for Santa. Today, NORAD gets about 120,000 phone queries about Santa’s location every year, and the website gets about 20 million visitors.

29 UPS competitor : DHL

Back in the sixties, Larry Hillblom was making pocket money as a Berkeley law student by doing courier runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles. After law school, Hillblom decided to parlay his experience into his own business and set up a courier service flying bills of lading ahead of freight from San Francisco to Honolulu. He brought in two buddies, Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn, as partners and the three were soon hopping on and off commercial flights and gradually making more and more money. And DHL was born … D (for Dalsey) H (for Hillblom) L (for Lynn). DHL was acquired by Germany’s Deutsche Post in 2002.

30 Alto or soprano : VOICE

The voice types soprano, alto, tenor and bass can be abbreviated to the initialism “SATB”.

31 Union of Hollywood performers, for short : SAG

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) was formed back in 1933, at a time when Hollywood stars were really being exploited by the big movie studios, especially the younger and less inexperienced performers. Early supporters of the Guild included famous names like Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney (you could imagine them in a negotiation!). Past presidents of SAG were also big names, such as Eddie Cantor, James Cagney, Ronald Reagan, Howard Keel, Charlton Heston, Ed Asner, Melissa Gilbert. SAG merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) in 2012 to create SAG-AFTRA. One of the more notable presidents of SAG-AFTRA was elected in 2021: Fran Drescher.

33 Begin, as an adventure : EMBARK ON

In getting on and off a seagoing vessel, one embarks and debarks. The terms “embark” and “debark” come from the name of the small ship known as a barque.

38 Material for an interior renovation : DRYWALL

Drywall (also “sheet rock”) is a panel made primarily from gypsum sandwiched between sheets of paper. The use of drywall sheets is a labor-saving alternative to applying wet plaster on laths to construct internal walls in a building.

45 Fashion designer Kamali : NORMA

Norma Kamali is a fashion designer from New York City. One of the more famous of Kamali’s designs is a reddish-orange swimsuit worn by Farrah Fawcett in a 1976 poster. That poster has sold over 12 million copies, making it the best-selling poster in history. That Kamali-designed bathing suit was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2011.

48 Of the kidneys : RENAL

Something described as renal is related to the kidneys. “Ren” is the Latin word for “kidney”.

53 Attired like Batman or Superman : CAPED

Batman is sometimes referred to as the Caped Crusader, Robin as the Boy Wonder, and the pair as the Dynamic Duo.

Superman’s origins can be traced back to an illustrated short story titled “The Reign of the Superman” created by high school classmates Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1933. That first “Superman” wasn’t a very glamorous character. He was a vagrant who gained psychic powers and used them for nefarious purposes. By the time that Siegel and Shuster put together a comic strip called “The Superman”, the title character had evolved into a superhero. The pair sold all rights to “The Superman” character to Detective Comics in 1938 for the princely sum of $130.

56 Extinct birds of Mauritius : DODOS

The dodo was a direct relative of the pigeon and the dove, although the fully-grown dodo was usually three feet tall. One of the reasons the dodo comes to mind when we think of extinction of a species, is that it disappeared not too long ago (last recorded alive in 1662) and humans were the reason for its demise. The dodo lived exclusively on the island of Mauritius and when humans arrived, we cut back the forests that were its home. We also introduced domestic animals, such as dogs and pigs, that ransacked the dodo’s nests. The dodo was deemed to be an awkward flightless bird and so the term “dodo” has come to mean a dull-witted person.

60 Volcanic peak ruled by Sauron in “The Lord of the Rings” : MT DOOM

Mordor is a fictional land in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. It is a place of great danger, but also home to the volcano Mount Doom. Mount. Mount Doom is the only place where the One Ring can be destroyed, and so it is the destination of the Fellowship of the Ring in their quest to save Middle-earth.

64 ___ Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason : ERLE

I must have read all of the “Perry Mason” books when I was in college. I think they kept me sane when I was facing the pressure of exams. Author Erle Stanley Gardner was himself a lawyer, although he didn’t get into the profession the easy way. Gardner went to law school, but got himself suspended after a month. So, he became a self-taught attorney and opened his own law office in Merced, California. Understandably perhaps, Gardner gave up the law once his novels became successful.

65 Gerund suffix : -ING

A gerund is a form of a verb that can be used as a noun. For example, the gerund of the verb “to solve” is “solving”, as in the phrase “we really enjoyed the solving of the crossword”.

66 Soft leather : SUEDE

Suede is leather made from the underside of an animal’s skin, usually the skin from a lamb. As such it is very soft, although not as durable as leather made from the exterior skin. The soft leather was, and is still used for making gloves. Back in 1859 these gloves were called “gants de Suede” in France, or “gloves of Sweden”. So, the name “suede” comes from the French word for Sweden.

68 General on a Chinese menu : TSO

General Tso’s chicken is an American creation, and a dish often found on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. The name General Tso may be a reference to General Zuo Zongtang of the Qing Dynasty, but there is no clear link.

Down

1 Some military brass? : BUGLES

A bugle is a simple brass instrument, one that usually has no valves with which a player can alter the pitch. The altering of pitch is achieved by changing the ebay that the lips interface with the mouthpiece. Bugles evolved from wind instruments made from animal horns. “Bugle” is an abbreviation for “buglehorn”, an earlier name for the same instrument. Indeed, the term “bugle” comes from the Latin “buculus” meaning “young ox, heifer”.

3 Long-eared hound : BEAGLE

The beagle breed of dog is a scent hound, one developed for tracking small game. Because of this characteristic, beagles are often used as detection dogs in customs halls around the world. The world’s most famous beagle is probably Snoopy from the comic strip “Peanuts”.

11 Suffix with benz- : -ENE

Benzene is a remarkable chemical compound, from a molecular standpoint anyway. It is made up of six carbon atoms arranged in a ring, with one hydrogen atom attached to each carbon. Benzene is a significant component of gasoline, and is also very carcinogenic.

15 Showily bohemian : ARTY

The region known as Bohemia covers most of the Czech Republic. Centuries ago, it was wrongly believed that gypsies came from Bohemia, giving rise to the term “Bohemian” meaning a “gypsy of society”.

17 Middles of Mr. Potato Head faces : NOSES

Mr. Potato Head is an enduring and popular toy that has been around since its invention by George Lerner in 1949. In its original form, the toy was a collection of eyes, ears, and other facial features, that were designed to be stuck into a real potato. Mr. Potato Head also has the distinction of being the first toy ever to be advertised on television.

20 Actress Hayek : SALMA

Salma Hayek is a Mexican actress. Hayek was the first Mexican national to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, earning that nomination with her portrayal of artist Frida Kahlo in the 2002 movie “Frida”.

25 Pest control brand : D-CON

d-CON is a line of rodent control products that has been around for over 50 years. The name is an abbreviation for “decontamination”. The d-CON Company was founded in 1950 by Chicago businessman Lee Ratner; yes, “Ratner” …

28 Lakshmi who wrote the memoir “Love, Loss, and What We Ate” : PADMA

Padma Lakshmi is a model from India. She is very much into cooking and has published an award-winning cookbook. Lakshmi is now the host of the American TV show “Top Chef”.

32 “Despicable Me” protagonist : GRU

The main protagonist in the “Despicable Me” movies is the supervillain Felonius Gru, usually referred to simply as “Gru”. Gru is voiced by Steve Carell.

39 Some recreation ctrs. : YMCAS

The YMCA (the Y) is a worldwide movement that has its roots in London, England. There, in 1844, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was founded with the intent of promoting Christian principles through the development of “a healthy spirit, mind and body”. The founder, George Williams, saw the need to create YMCA facilities for young men who were flocking to the cities as the Industrial Revolution flourished. He saw that these men were frequenting taverns and brothels, and wanted to offer a more wholesome alternative.

44 Three-time Cy Young winner Martinez : PEDRO

Pedro Martinez is a retired baseball pitcher from the Dominican Republic. Martinez won the Cy Young Award three times, and was on the Boston Red Sox team that won the 2004 World Series.

47 Long-eared pal of Pooh : EEYORE

Eeyore is the donkey character in A. A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh”. Eeyore is very lovable, but has a gloomy and pessimistic outlook on life.

54 Arthur Conan ___ : DOYLE

According to author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his character Sherlock Holmes was based on a Dr. Joseph Bell for whom Doyle worked in Edinburgh. That said, Bell actually wrote a letter to Doyle in which he said “you are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it”.

62 What’s rolled to get from Free Parking to Go to Jail, in Monopoly : TEN

In the game of Monopoly, there are three ways that a player can end up in jail:

  1. Landing directly on the “Go to Jail” space
  2. Throwing three consecutive doubles in one turn
  3. Drawing a “Go (Directly) to Jail” card from Chance or Community Chest

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Fella : BUB
4 Digits carried in long division : ONES
8 Lightens up? : PALES
13 A, as in Avignon : UNE
14 Baby’s first word, maybe : DADA
15 Lacking pigment : ALBINO
16 Frequent object of doting attention : GRANDKID
18 Stunk : REEKED
19 Gift for a budding architect, maybe : LEGO SET
20 ___ of the Union : STATE
21 Shocking fish in the Amazon : EELS
22 Dental concern : DECAY
24 “Here’s a short summary,” in internet lingo : TL;DR
27 What Santa doesn’t get much of on Christmas Eve : SLEEP
29 UPS competitor : DHL
30 Alto or soprano : VOICE
31 Union of Hollywood performers, for short : SAG
33 Begin, as an adventure : EMBARK ON
35 Govt. prosecutors : DAS
38 Material for an interior renovation : DRYWALL
40 Quash : END
41 Best-case scenarios : OPTIMUMS
43 Blouse or tee : TOP
45 Fashion designer Kamali : NORMA
46 “That’s my ___!” (“I’m up!”) : CUE
48 Of the kidneys : RENAL
52 Health resorts : SPAS
53 Attired like Batman or Superman : CAPED
55 Hand (out) : DOLE
56 Extinct birds of Mauritius : DODOS
58 Words that start a game of tag : YOU’RE IT!
60 Volcanic peak ruled by Sauron in “The Lord of the Rings” : MT DOOM
62 Places for playthings, with a hint to this puzzle’s shaded squares : TOY BOXES
63 “I’ll wait to hear from you” : CALL ME
64 ___ Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason : ERLE
65 Gerund suffix : -ING
66 Soft leather : SUEDE
67 ___-do-well : NE’ER
68 General on a Chinese menu : TSO

Down

1 Some military brass? : BUGLES
2 Pull off a spool : UNREEL
3 Long-eared hound : BEAGLE
4 3:1 or 5:2, e.g. : ODDS
5 Unadorned : NAKED
6 Readied for publication : EDITED
7 Disconsolate : SAD
8 “Not guilty,” e.g. : PLEA
9 Partner in crime : ABETTOR
10 Have a crush on, cutesily : LIKE LIKE
11 Suffix with benz- : -ENE
12 Turf : SOD
15 Showily bohemian : ARTY
17 Middles of Mr. Potato Head faces : NOSES
20 Actress Hayek : SALMA
23 Destroys, as a dog might a stuffed animal : CHEWS UP
25 Pest control brand : D-CON
26 Tear up : REND
28 Lakshmi who wrote the memoir “Love, Loss, and What We Ate” : PADMA
30 Bravery : VALOR
32 “Despicable Me” protagonist : GRU
34 Classic sandwich order, in brief : BLT
35 Puts on : DONS
36 Each : A POP
37 Sit on, as a seesaw : STRADDLE
39 Some recreation ctrs. : YMCAS
42 Over-the-hill lament : I’M SO OLD!
44 Three-time Cy Young winner Martinez : PEDRO
47 Long-eared pal of Pooh : EEYORE
49 “You can’t leave this way” sign : NO EXIT
50 U.F.O. crew : ALIENS
51 “Move it, already!” : LET’S GO!
53 Arrive : COME
54 Arthur Conan ___ : DOYLE
57 Part of a mosque, typically : DOME
59 Transportation company headquartered in San Francisco : UBER
60 Hosts, for short : MCS
61 Letter after sigma : TAU
62 What’s rolled to get from Free Parking to Go to Jail, in Monopoly : TEN

11 thoughts on “1226-23 NY Times Crossword 26 Dec 23, Tuesday”

  1. 12:26, no errors. Had to go back and change 1D EAGLES to BUGLES, and correct another gremlin caused letter change (I don’t recall which one). Hope all are recovering from a wonderful Christmas.
    As an owner of the famous Farrah Fawcett poster back in 1976, I can say that its popularity had absolutely nothing to do with the swimsuit designer. 😉

  2. Couldn’t spell worth a darn today. Too much blood in my stomach from dinner, none to my brain. 14:33, no errors.

  3. 10:07. Didn’t use the theme at all.

    Had forgotten TL DR, but I’m still amused by it.

    Did not know this was St. Stephen’s Day. I like how Bill tried to sneak that in there. I think it’s Boxing Day in Canada too.

    Best –

  4. Since I’m here, 4:44, no errors on this.

    @Bill
    You might have the other blog site (laxcrossword.com) looked at. Very occasionally (right now, but just reloaded and it’s okay), I just get a lot of garbage characters when I load the site. Thanks for all that you do with both of these blogs!

    @Jack
    The Ravens were definitely a good team this year and played an excellent game. Hopefully they can keep their core together and be consistent. Joe Burrow will be back next year, so that’ll be a concern but hopefully they can play well enough to make that series a fun one next year. Hopefully you have something good to look forward to with the Orioles in a few months.

      1. For what I saw, they need to find a lot more poise. Too many bad penalties that shouldn’t have happened that hurt them, and then Lamar made a couple of bad decisions that didn’t help the team on top of that. Maybe they’ll learn for next year, but maybe not?

  5. Fun.. I suppose when this grid first came out , it was a few days after Christmas. Time for all the kids to play with their toys. And like usual, have more fun with the boxes they came in more than the toys themselves.

  6. Bill: you wrote “The altering of pitch is achieved by changing the ebay that the lips interface with the mouthpiece”.

    Please explain “ebay” in this context. Thanks

  7. Stepping on Bill’s toes, note to Pops: I think “ebay” is simply an autocorrect typo that should have been “way.” Google how does a bugler change notes. It has to do with the tightening and loosening of the player’s lips and jaw while playing.

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