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1221-16 New York Times Crossword Answers 21 Dec 16, Wednesday





QuickLinks:
Solution to today's crossword in the New York Times
Solution to today's SYNDICATED New York Times crossword in all other publications
Solution to today's New York Times crossword found online at the Seattle Times website
Jump to a complete list of today's clues and answers

CROSSWORD SETTER: Seth Geltman & Jeff Chen
THEME: Shoot for the Moon!
We need to THINK BIG to make sense of today’s themed clues, each needing to be prefaced by the word BIG:
61A. "Shoot for the moon!" ... or a hint to interpreting the clues to 17-, 25-, 35- and 51-Across : THINK BIG

17A. (BIG) HOUSE : THE CLINK
25A. (BIG) APPLE : NEW YORK CITY
35A. (BIG) MAC : HAMBURGER
51A. (BIG) CHEESE : GRAND POOBAH
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 15m 56s!!!
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Creatures under Wayne Manor : BATS
Wayne Manor is where Bruce Wayne lives, the alter-ego of Batman. It is a huge manor that lies just outside Gotham City. Looking after the house is the Wayne family servant, Alfred. Beneath the grounds of the manor is an extensive cave system where Bruce Wayne put together his Batcave. Access is to the cave is via a staircase behind a hidden door. The door is opened by moving the hands of a non-functioning grandfather clock to 10:47, the time at which Wayne’s parents were murdered. It is the murder of his parents that sets Bruce off on his journey of crime fighting.

5. 6'7" Sixers #6 : DR J
Julius Erving is a retired professional basketball player who was known as “Dr. J”, a nickname he picked up in high school. Dr. J was a trailblazer in many ways, being the first player associated with slam dunking and other moves above the rim.

The Philadelphia 76ers basketball team is one of the oldest franchises in the NBA. The Sixers were formed in 1946 as the Syracuse Nationals. The team moved to Philadelphia in 1963, and the name 76er was chosen in a fan contest, a name that honors the men who fought for the country’s independence in 1776.

8. Walks and balks : STATS
To balk is to stop and refuse to go on. It's not just a baseball term!

13. Court giant Arthur : ASHE
Arthur Ashe was a professional tennis player from Richmond, Virginia. In his youth, Ashe found himself having to travel great distances to play against Caucasian opponents due to the segregation that still existed in his home state. He was rewarded for his dedication by being selected for the 1963 US Davis Cup team, the first African American player to be so honored. Ashe continued to run into trouble because of his ethnicity though, and in 1968 was denied entry into South Africa to play in the South African Open. In 1979 Ashe suffered a heart attack and had bypass surgery, with follow-up surgery four years later during which he contracted HIV from blood transfusions. Ashe passed away in 1993 due to complications from AIDS. Shortly afterwards, Ashe was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.

14. Maker of the old Speed Wagon : REO
The REO Speed Wagon was a light truck introduced in 1915, and a precursor to the modern pickup truck. The rock band REO Speedwagon is named for the truck, but note that the difference between the spelling of Speedwagon (the band) and Speed Wagon (the truck).

15. Takes over : USURPS
“To usurp” is to seize and hold by force, say the power or authority of a ruler. The term “usurp” comes to us from Latin via French, from “usus” (a use) and “rapere” (to seize).

17. (BIG) HOUSE : THE CLINK
The Clink (also “the Clynke”) was a celebrated prison in Southwark, England owned by the Bishop of Winchester. The prison was given the name “the clink”, probably from the sound made by metal keys in metal locks and metal chains around ankles. The prison was closed down in 1780, and around the same time “clink” entered the English language as a slang term for “jail”.

19. Hemingway who wrote "Out Came the Sun" : MARIEL
The actress Mariel Hemingway is a granddaughter of the famed author Ernest Hemingway. She was given the name “Mariel” because her father and grandfather used to fish together from the Cuban village of Mariel.

20. "Rumour ___ It" (2011 Adele hit) : HAS
Adele is the stage name of English singer Adele Adkins. Adele’s debut album is “19”, named after the age she was during the album’s production. Her second album was even more successful than the first. Called “21”, the second album was released three years after the first, when Adele was three years older. More recently, her third studio album “25”, released in 2015, broke the first-week sales records in both the UK and the US.

21. Skin-care brand whose active ingredients are oat compounds : AVEENO
Aveeno is a manufacturer of skincare and haircare products that was founded in 1945. The name Aveeno comes from the Latin name for the common oat: “Avena sativa”.

23. Ancient sun worshiper : INCA
The Inca people emerged as a tribe around the 12th century, in what today is southern Peru. The Incas developed a vast empire over the next 300 years, extending along most of the western side of South America. The Empire fell to the Spanish, finally dissolving in 1572 with the execution of Tupac Amaru, the last Incan Emperor.

25. (BIG) APPLE : NEW YORK CITY
Apparently the first published use of the term “Big Apple” to describe New York City dates back to 1909. Edward Martin wrote the following in his book “The Wayfarer in New York”:
Kansas is apt to see in New York a greedy city. . . . It inclines to think that the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.
Over ten years later, the term “big apple” was used as a nickname for racetracks in and around New York City. However, the concerted effort to “brand” the city as the Big Apple had to wait until the seventies and was the work of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.

29. She played Rosemary in "Rosemary's Baby" : MIA
Mia Farrow is an energetic, award-winning actress who really hasn't looked back in her career since her first leading role, in "Rosemary's Baby" back in 1968. Her on-screen celebrity is matched by the interest created by her personal life. Her 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 moved in with Woody Allen, a relationship 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.

“Rosemary’s Baby” is a novel by Ira Levin. It is a horror story, and was made into a very creepy 1968 film of the same name starring Mia Farrow. Levin published a sequel in 1997 titled “Son of Rosemary”, and dedicated that sequel to Mia Farrow.

30. Rightmost number on an Italian clock : TRE
In Italian, the rightmost number on the face of a clock is “tre” (three).

31. Simpson who lost a crossword contest in 2008 : LISA
Lisa Simpson is Bart’s brainy younger sister on TV’s “The Simpsons”. Lisa is voiced by actress Yeardley Smith. In a 2008 episode of the show, Lisa enters a crossword tournament. Crossword celebrities Merl Reagle and Will Shortz make appearances in that episode, basically playing cartoon versions of themselves.

35. (BIG) MAC : HAMBURGER
The iconic Big Mac sandwich was introduced nationally by McDonald's in 1967. It was the creation of a Pittsburgh franchisee who offered it on the menu as a response to the very similar “Big Boy” sandwich offered by the competing Big Boy restaurant chain.

39. "I learned to be a movie critic by reading ___ magazine": Roger Ebert : MAD
"Mad" magazine has been around since 1952, although back then it was more of a comic book than a magazine. The original founder and editor was Harvey Kurtzman and in order to convince him to stay, the publisher changed the format to a magazine in 1955. That’s when the publication really took off in terms of popularity.

Roger Ebert was a film critic for “The Chicago Sun-Times” for 50 years. He also co-hosted a succession of film review television programs for over 23 years, most famously with Gene Siskel until Siskel passed away in 1999. Siskel and Ebert famously gave their thumbs up or thumbs down to the movies they reviewed. Ebert was the first film to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, which he did in 1975. He was diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer in 2002, and finally succumbed to a recurrence of the disease in April 2013.

47. Galoot : APE
“Galoot” is an insulting term meaning an awkward or boorish man, an ape. “Galoot” comes from the nautical world, where it was originally what a sailor might call a soldier or marine.

51. (BIG) CHEESE : GRAND POOBAH
The term "pooh-bah" (also “poobah”), meaning an ostentatious official, comes from the world of opera. Pooh-Bah is a character in the wonderful Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera "The Mikado". Famously, Pooh-Bah holds many, many offices, including that of "Lord High Everything Else".

The phrase "the big cheese" doesn't have its roots in the word "cheese" at all. The original phrase was "the real cheese" meaning "the real thing", used way back in late 1800s (long before Coke picked it up). "Chiz" is a Persian and Hindi word meaning "thing", and it's not hard to see how the expression "the real chiz" would morph into "the real cheese". Then in early-20th century America, instead of a "real cheese", the most influential person in a group was labeled as "the big cheese". And I think that is about the only use of the word "cheese" that is in anyway complimentary!

55. The "E" of 14-Across : ELI
(14A. Maker of the old Speed Wagon : REO)
The REO Motor Company was founded by Ransom Eli Olds (hence the name REO). The company made cars, trucks and buses, and was in business from 1905 to 1975 in Lansing, Michigan. Among the company’s most famous models were the REO Royale and the REO Flying Cloud.

58. ___ wheels : MAG
Mag wheels are often used on racing cars. They are made from a magnesium alloy, giving them their name. But beware, they are flammable and have been banned in many motor-sports in the UK.

63. European river that inspired Smetana : MOLDAU
The Vltava is the longest river in the Czech Republic. We might perhaps know the river as “the Moldau”, which is its German name, as we might be familiar with the symphonic poem called “The Moldau” by Bedřich Smetana.

Bedřich Smetana was a Czech composer, known as the father of Czech music. Just like Beethoven, Smetana was still composing at the end of his life even though he was totally deaf.

66. Message board admin : SYSOP
System Operator (sysop)

68. Gardener's bane : WEED
Today we tend to use the word “bane” to mean anathema, a source of persistent annoyance. A few centuries ago, a bane was a cause of harm or death, perhaps a deadly poison.

Down
2. Single-named singer with the 2002 hit "Foolish" : ASHANTI
Ashanti Douglas is an American R&B singer who uses just "Ashanti" as her stage name.

3. Ariadne helped him navigate the Labyrinth : THESEUS
In Greek mythology, Ariadne was the daughter of Minos, the King of Crete and master of the Minotaur. Minos charged his daughter with control of the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur. However, Ariadne fell in love with Theseus who had vowed to kill the Minotaur, and she helped him fulfill his mission. In other myths, Ariadne became the bride of the god Dionysius.

8. Heavyweight bout venue : SUMO RING
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.

9. Screeners' org. : TSA
The TSA is the Transportation Security Administration, the agency that employs the good folks that check passengers and baggage at airports.

11. Christian supergroup? : TRINITY
In the Christian tradition, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons in One Divine Being, the Holy Trinity.

16. Heavy-metal band with a killer sound? : SLAYER
The “Big Four” of thrash metal were Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth. I have no idea what thrash metal is …

26. Comic actor Danny : KAYE
The actor Danny Kaye was a big hit in his native US, but also in France. Kaye was the first ambassador-at-large for UNICEF and the French awarded him the Legion of Honor in 1986 for his work.

36. Longtime Yankee nickname : A-ROD
Professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez earned more nicknames than just A-Rod. He has been called "the Cooler" by some players as there was a perception that teams went cold when he joined them and hot when he left. He has also been called "A-Fraud" by teammates because of another perception, that he is over-demanding. Rodriguez was in a world of hurt not so long ago, for using illegal performance-enhancing drugs. He retired from the baseball in 2016.

38. Norma ___ (Sally Field title role) : RAE
“Norma Rae” is a 1979 movie starring Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster in a tale of union activities in a textile factory in Alabama. The film is based on the true story of Crystal Lee Sutton told in a 1975 book called “Crystal Lee, a Woman of Inheritance”.

39. 1 1/2-liter bottle : MAGNUM
“Magnum opus” is a Latin term meaning “great work”. The magnum opus of a writer or composer perhaps, is his or her greatest work.

40. Fitting : APROPOS
“Apropos” comes into English directly from French, in which “à propos” means “to the purpose”. Note that we use the term as one word (apropos), but the original French is two words (à propos).

41. Like the Hallows in a Harry Potter title : DEATHLY
The titles of the seven “Harry Potter books are:
  1. "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" ("... Sorcerer's Stone" in the U.S)
  2. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
  3. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
  4. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
  5. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
  6. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"
  7. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"
I tried reading the first one, and gave up three-quarters of the way through …

53. David ___, longtime Red Sox slugger : ORTIZ
The Dominican American baseball player David Ortiz has the nickname “Big Papi”. After each home run that Ortiz scores, he looks upwards and points to the sky, a tribute to his mother who died in a car crash in 2002 when she was only 46 years old.

54. Faith founded in Persia : BAHA’I
The Baha’i Faith is relatively new in the grand scheme of things, and was founded in Persia in the 1800s. One of the tenets of the religion is that messengers have come from God over time, including Abraham, the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and most recently Bahá’u’lláh who founded the Baha’i Faith.

60. Thai neighbor : LAO
The official name for the country of Laos is the Lao People's Democratic Republic. In the Lao language, the country's name is "Meuang Lao". The French ruled Laos as part of French Indochina, having united three separate Lao kingdoms. As there was a plural of "Lao" entities united into one, the French added the "S" and so today we tend to use "Laos" instead of "Lao".

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Creatures under Wayne Manor : BATS
5. 6'7" Sixers #6 : DR J
8. Walks and balks : STATS
13. Court giant Arthur : ASHE
14. Maker of the old Speed Wagon : REO
15. Takes over : USURPS
17. (BIG) HOUSE : THE CLINK
19. Hemingway who wrote "Out Came the Sun" : MARIEL
20. "Rumour ___ It" (2011 Adele hit) : HAS
21. Skin-care brand whose active ingredients are oat compounds : AVEENO
23. Ancient sun worshiper : INCA
24. You, more formally : ONE
25. (BIG) APPLE : NEW YORK CITY
27. Genius Mixes program : ITUNES
29. She played Rosemary in "Rosemary's Baby" : MIA
30. Rightmost number on an Italian clock : TRE
31. Simpson who lost a crossword contest in 2008 : LISA
32. State nobody wants to live in : AGONY
34. "___ out!" : YER
35. (BIG) MAC : HAMBURGER
39. "I learned to be a movie critic by reading ___ magazine": Roger Ebert : MAD
42. GPS suggestion : ROUTE
43. Places where people have withdrawals? : ATMS
47. Galoot : APE
48. Choose : OPT
49. Sports entertainment show since 1993 : WWE RAW
51. (BIG) CHEESE : GRAND POOBAH
55. The "E" of 14-Across : ELI
56. Observe : NOTE
57. Bring to a boil : ENRAGE
58. ___ wheels : MAG
59. Supported : UPHELD
61. "Shoot for the moon!" ... or a hint to interpreting the clues to 17-, 25-, 35- and 51-Across : THINK BIG
63. European river that inspired Smetana : MOLDAU
64. Baseball's ___ Desmond, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner : IAN
65. Alternatively : ELSE
66. Message board admin : SYSOP
67. Sudden turn : ZIG
68. Gardener's bane : WEED

Down
1. Aromatherapy substance : BATH OIL
2. Single-named singer with the 2002 hit "Foolish" : ASHANTI
3. Ariadne helped him navigate the Labyrinth : THESEUS
4. Jiffy : SEC
5. Tees off : DRIVES
6. Magazine urging : RENEW
7. Hardly serious : JOKEY
8. Heavyweight bout venue : SUMO RING
9. Screeners' org. : TSA
10. Golden : AURIC
11. Christian supergroup? : TRINITY
12. 007 movie after "Skyfall" : SPECTRE
16. Heavy-metal band with a killer sound? : SLAYER
18. Word with fast or fire : LANE
22. "Spare me!" : NO MORE!
26. Comic actor Danny : KAYE
28. Slangy negative : NAH
32. Be alongside : ABUT ON
33. Instinctive : GUT
36. Longtime Yankee nickname : A-ROD
37. Took care of the last bit : MOPPED UP
38. Norma ___ (Sally Field title role) : RAE
39. 1 1/2-liter bottle : MAGNUM
40. Fitting : APROPOS
41. Like the Hallows in a Harry Potter title : DEATHLY
44. Quake : TREMBLE
45. Torpor : MALAISE
46. Drank, as from a flask : SWIGGED
49. Undertaking, as a war : WAGING
50. "Say ___" : WHEN
52. Water and sunlight, for plants : NEEDS
53. David ___, longtime Red Sox slugger : ORTIZ
54. Faith founded in Persia : BAHA’I
60. Thai neighbor : LAO
62. ___ Gardens, N.Y. : KEW


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8 comments :

Dave Kennison said...

17:27, no errors, iPad. Rather difficult for a Wednesday, I thought. I didn't really begin making progress until I finally got to the bottom, filled in THINK BIG, and then began working my way back up. Sometimes I think starting at the bottom might always be the best strategy ...

Sfingi said...

I real mess for me - had to Google 5 sports clues. A real nightmare.

Dale Stewart said...

Pretty tough today but I ended up with no errors. I had just about given up. There is a point when I have a difficult puzzle like this one that, in desperation, I throw all reasoning out the window and just write in whatever first comes to my mind. In football it is the equivalent of a "Hail Mary" pass. Usually it doesn't work but today it resulted in a touchdown for me.

@Dave Kennison I found your comment about starting at the bottom to be most interesting. I have had the same experience. I have a theory that it may have something to do with the instinct for human handwriting to start at the bottom and write up. Several foreign languages are written this way. It's just a theory of mine but it definitely seems to work.

Tom M. said...

Liked this one a lot. Clever but simple theme and revealer and nice combination of easy and not-so-easy, all as a good Wednesday should be.

Tom M. said...

Dave K. and Dale S.-- The bottom-up strategy on theme puzzles sometimes works best for me because the revealer is usually found somewhere down there.

BruceB said...

17:53, surprisingly no errors. I had the same issue as the above posters. I made it to the bottom of the puzzle, with less than a third of the squares filled. But then THINK BIG enabled me to complete the partial entry for THE CLINK as the big HOUSE. The big APPLE: NEW YORK CITY came immediately after, then the lower half fell apart.

A lot of clues were out of my strike zone. Not a Harry Potter fan, only vaguely heard of AVEENO, ASHANTE or WWE RAW. It's these kind of challenges that keep me coming back for more.

Anonymous said...

16:57, and no errors. This one was NOT easy, by any stretch of the imagination. I'm neutral on the theme. Didn't really impress me, but then again, it didn't make me mad by being overly wrought or "cute" either.

Glenn said...

50 minutes, no errors. This was good reading to see that it wasn't just me.

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About This Blog

This is the simplest of blogs.

I do the New York Times puzzle online every evening, the night before it is published in the paper. Then, I "Google & Wiki" the references that puzzle me, or that I find of interest. I post my findings, along with the solution, as soon as I am done, usually well before the newsprint version becomes available.

About Me

The name's William Ernest Butler, but please call me Bill. I grew up in Ireland, but now live out here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am retired, from technology businesses that took our family all over the world.

I try to answer all emails, so please feel free to email me at bill@paxient.com.

Crosswords and My Dad

I worked on my first crossword puzzle when I was about 6-years-old, sitting on my Dad's knee. He let me "help" him with his puzzle almost every day as I was growing up. Over the years, Dad passed on to me his addiction to crosswords. Now in my early 50s, I work on my Irish Times and New York Times puzzles every day. I'm no longer sitting on my Dad's knee, but I feel that he is there with me, looking over my shoulder.

This blog is dedicated to my Dad, who passed away at the beginning of this month.

Bill
January 29, 2009

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