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1223-16 New York Times Crossword Answers 23 Dec 16, Friday





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Solution to today's crossword in the New York Times
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CROSSWORD SETTER: Robyn Weintraub
THEME: None
BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 16m 13s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today's Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. One may hold a ship in place : TRACTOR BEAM
As in “Star Trek”.

12. Network initials : DSL
The abbreviation “DSL” originally stood for Digital Subscriber Loop, but is now accepted to mean (Asymmetric) Digital Subscriber Line. DSL is the technology that allows Internet service be delivered down the same telephone line as voice service, by separating the two into different frequency signals.

15. Visa option : CASH ADVANCE
Visa doesn’t actually issue any credit or debit cards. Visa just sells the electronic systems and infrastructure to banks who then put the Visa logo on their own cards. And so, both the customer and merchant know to use the VISA system when making a transaction.

16. It resembles an "n" when lowercase : ETA
Eta is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, and is a forerunner of our Latin character “H”. Originally denoting a consonant, eta was used as a long vowel in Ancient Greek.

17. Northeast nickname, with "the" : EMPIRE STATE
The Erie Canal runs from Albany to Buffalo in the state of New York. What the canal does is allow shipping to proceed from New York Harbor right up the Hudson River, through the canal and into the Great Lakes. When it was opened in 1825, the Erie Canal had immediate impact on the economy of New York City and locations along its route. It was the first means of "cheap" transportation from a port on the Atlantic seaboard into the interior of the United States. Arguably it was the most important factor contributing to the growth of New York City over competing ports such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. It was largely because of the Erie Canal that New York became such an economic powerhouse, earning it the nickname of "the Empire State". Paradoxically, one of the project’s main proponents was severely criticized. New York Governor DeWitt Clinton received so much ridicule that the canal was nicknamed “Clinton’s Folly” and “Clinton’s Ditch”.

18. Man buns, e.g. : FAD
Man buns are topknots worn by men with long hair.

19. Remain stationary while facing the wind, in nautical lingo : LIE TO
I’m not sure that I agree with this clue …

A sailing vessel that is “hove to” is pointed into the wind, with the foresail “backed” so that it tries to push the bow away from the wind. At the same time, the mainsail works to push the bow into the wind. The end result is that the vessel remains relatively stationary. Another technique used to stop a sailboat is to “lie to”. A vessel “lying to” is usually pointed about 45-degrees off the wind, with the sails let loose, just flapping.

22. Actress Headey of "Game of Thrones" : LENA
English actress Lena Headey is best known for playing Cersei Lannister on the fantasy series “Game of Thrones”. Although a British citizen, Headey was actually born Bermuda, where her father was stationed as a police officer.

23. ___ Sea, now four lakes : ARAL
The Aral Sea is a great example of how man can have a devastating effect on his environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet Union irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …

25. A.C.T. subj. : ENG
ACT is an abbreviation for American College Testing. The ACT is an entrance exam used by many universities. It has four sections, English, Reading, Math and Science, and an optional 30-minute essay.

26. Jones for : CRAVE
The slang term “Jones” is used to mean an intense addiction, a yen, and probably arose in the late sixties out of the prior use of “Jones” for the drug heroin.

27. ___ metabolism : BASAL
One’s basal metabolism is just the basic processes of the body, the one’s essential to maintain life. The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories needed to maintain that basal metabolism, sufficient energy to maintain function of the vital organs such as heart, lungs, kidneys. Excluded is the energy needed to move around, to eat, or to absorb food.

36. Many a listicle : TOP TEN
A “listicle” is a form of writing used by some journalist and bloggers that is basically a list, but which is fleshed out with extra information for each list item. Typically, listicles have title such as “10 Ways to …”, “The 100 best …” or “The 10 Most …” The term “listicle” is a portmanteau of “list” and “article”.

39. Keep score, say : TALLY
Back in the mid-1600s, a “tally” was a stick marked with notches that tracked how much one owed or had paid. The term came from the Latin “talea” meaning “stick, rod”.

40. Understanding : KEN
“Ken” is a noun meaning “understanding, perception”. One might say, for example, “half the clues in Saturday’s crossword are beyond my ken, beyond my understanding”.

41. Eponymous Paris suburb : ORLY
Orly is on the outskirts of Paris, to the south of the city. It is home to the Paris-Orly Airport, the second busiest international airport for the city after the more recently built Charles de Gaulle Airport. That said, Orly is home to more domestic flights than Charles de Gaulle.

42. Circle of friends at a party, perhaps : HORA
The hora is a circle dance that originated in the Balkans. It was brought to Israel by Romanian settlers, and is often performed to traditional, Israeli folk songs. The hora (also horah) is a regular sight at Jewish weddings. Sometimes the honoree at an event is raised on a chair during the hora.

49. Harrison's vice president : TYLER
John Tyler was the tenth President of the US, and the first to take the office on the death of the incumbent. Tyler’s predecessor was President William Henry Harrison, who was in office only 32 days before he died of natural causes. For a while there was a little confusion about the wording in the constitution that covered such an eventuality. There was an argument made that Tyler would continue as Vice-President but would assume the responsibilities of the office of President, in effect as “Acting President”. However, Tyler proceeded as though he was taking over as President and took the oath of office in his hotel room in Washington. Soon afterwards, Congress declared that Tyler was indeed President, although many continued to dispute the fact. Many of President Tyler's opponents referred to him as “His Accidency”. His term in office ended in 1845. When the Civil War began in 1861, Tyler sided with the Confederacy and was even elected to the Confederate House of Representatives for the 3rd District of Virginia. President Tyler passed away only a few days after taking his seat in the House. His death was the only one in presidential history that was not recognized in the nation’s capital, as he sided with the Confederate States.

William Henry Harrison died in 1841, after only one month in office, simply from complications arising from a cold. Harrison was the oldest person to assume the office of US president, until President Reagan in 1981. He was the first president to die in office, and served the shortest tenure.

50. Hospital lines, briefly : IVS
One might see intravenous drips (IVs) in an intensive care unit (ICU).

56. Francis II dissolved it in 1806: Abbr. : HRE
The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) existed from 962 to 1806 AD and was a territory of varying size over the centuries that centered on the Kingdom of Germany. The HRE was a successor to the western half of the Ancient Roman Empire. The empire dissolved in 1806 when Holy Roman Emperor Francis II abdicated after a military defeat by the French under Napoleon at Austerlitz.

Down
1. Immune system component : T CELL
T cells are a group of white blood cells that are essential components of the body's immune system. T cells are so called because they mature in the thymus, a specialized organ found in the chest.

3. Tree that can survive forest fires : ASPEN
The “quaking” aspen tree is so called because the structure of the leaves causes them to move easily in the wind, to “tremble, quake”.

4. Tony winner Rivera : CHITA
Chita Rivera is an actress best known for her work in musical theater. She was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

5. Elephant's-ear : TARO
The corm of some taro plants is used to make poi, the traditional Hawaiian dish (that I think tastes horrible). When a taro plant is grown as an ornamental, it is often called Elephant Ears due to the shape of its large leaves.

6. Sappho dedicated one to Aphrodite : ODE
Sappho was an Ancient Greek poet born on the Greek island of Lesbos. Sappho was much admired for her work, although very little of it survives today. She was renowned for writing erotic and romantic verse that dealt with the love of women as well as men. It was because of this poetry that the word “lesbian” (someone from Lesbos) is used to describe a gay woman.

7. National park sights : RVS
One using a “recreational vehicle” (RV) might be called an “RVer”.

8. Robin's refuge : BATCAVE
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.

10. Official records : ACTA
Actum (plural “acta”) is the Latin word for “deed”. “Acta” is used in English to describe many official records, including minutes, proceedings etc.

13. Copernicus, for one : STARGAZER
Nicolaus Copernicus was an astronomer active during the Renaissance. Copernicus was the first person to propose that the Earth and the planets revolved around the Sun.

14. Disney toon often pictured eating spaghetti : LADY
“Lady and the Tramp” is a classic animated feature from Walt Disney, released in 1955. The title characters are a female American Cocker Spaniel and a male stray mutt. Who can forget the scene where the Tramp and Lady are “on a date” and together eat that one strand of spaghetti? So cute!

23. Shakespearean forest : ARDEN
The Forest of Arden is the setting for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”. Even though there is a Forest of Arden surrounding Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-on-Avon, as the play is set in France one has to assume that the “As You Like It” Arden is an anglicization of the forested “Ardennes” region that stretches from Belgium into France.

26. Shelters for sheep : COTES
The Old English word "cote" was used for a small house. Our modern word "cottage" comes from "cote". We now use "cote" to mean a small shelter on a farm for sheep or birds.

28. Contact, say : LENS
The concepts that underpin the technology of contact lenses date back to Leonardo Da Vinci. Although Da Vinci didn’t propose the development of the contact lens, he did write about correcting vision by submerging the eye in a bowl of water. Over a hundred years later, RenĂ© Descartes made a somewhat impractical suggestion, but along the right lines, of using a glass tube filled with liquid that could be placed in contact with the eye to correct vision. The first real contact lenses were developed by Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick, a German ophthalmologist, in 1887.

35. Bass organ : GILL
A fish’s gills are the organs equivalent to the lungs of many land animals. The gills can extract oxygen dissolved in water and excrete carbon dioxide.

39. Pre-Columbian civilization : TOLTEC
The Aztec’s viewed the Toltec people as their cultural ancestors. In the “Aztec” language, the term “Toltec” came to mean “artisan”.

42. Hercules slew it : HYDRA
The Lernaean Hydra was a mythical sea snake that had multiple heads. Heracles had to slay the Hydra of Lerna as the second of his Twelve Labors.

“The Twelve Labors of Hercules” is actually a Greek myth, although Hercules is the Roman name for the hero that the Greeks called Heracles. The first of these labors was to slay the Nemean Lion, a monster that lived in a cave near Nemea. Hercules had a tough job as the lion's golden fur was impenetrable to normal weapons. One version of the story is that Hercules killed the lion by shooting an arrow into its mouth. Another version says that Hercules stunned the monster with a club and then strangled him with his bare hands.

44. Filled again, as a flat : RELET
“Flat” is a word more commonly used in the British Isles than here, in the sense of an apartment or condominium. The word “flat” is Scottish in origin, in which language it meant a “floor in a house”.

45. Circus Maximus, e.g. : ARENA
The Circus Maximus was an ancient stadium used for chariot racing in Rome. It was the first such stadium built by the Romans, and was the largest ever to be built in the whole of the Roman Empire. The Circus Maximus was over 2,000 feet long and just under 400 feet wide, and could house about 15,000 spectators. There is very little of the original structure remaining and the site is now used as a major park.

48. Subject preceder :
The term “in re” is Latin, derived from “in” (in) and “res” (thing, matter). “In re” literally means “in the matter”, and is used to mean “in regard to”, or “in the matter of”.

52. Suffix indicating a double bond : -ENE
An alkene is an organic compound made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms. It differs from an alkane in that it has at least one C=C double bond. The simplest alkene is the gas ethylene, a major raw material used in the manufacture of plastics (like polyethylene).

53. Boulder setting: Abbr. : MST
Mountain Standard Time (MST)

The Colorado city of Boulder is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains about 25 miles northwest of Denver. Boulder is a college town, and is home to the main campus of the University of Colorado.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. One may hold a ship in place : TRACTOR BEAM
12. Network initials : DSL
15. Visa option : CASH ADVANCE
16. It resembles an "n" when lowercase : ETA
17. Northeast nickname, with "the" : EMPIRE STATE
18. Man buns, e.g. : FAD
19. Remain stationary while facing the wind, in nautical lingo : LIE TO
20. Toy car driver? : C BATTERY
22. Actress Headey of "Game of Thrones" : LENA
23. ___ Sea, now four lakes : ARAL
25. A.C.T. subj. : ENG
26. Jones for : CRAVE
27. ___ metabolism : BASAL
29. Warm spot in the snow : SKI LODGE
33. Crop, e.g. : RESIZE
34. Life partners? : INMATES
35. Square things : GET EVEN
36. Many a listicle : TOP TEN
37. Stereotypical man bun sporters : HIPSTERS
38. Plot elements? : ACRES
39. Keep score, say : TALLY
40. Understanding : KEN
41. Eponymous Paris suburb : ORLY
42. Circle of friends at a party, perhaps : HORA
46. Breathers? : NOSTRILS
49. Harrison's vice president : TYLER
50. Hospital lines, briefly : IVS
51. Like moderates, politically : IN THE MIDDLE
54. Beaut : GEM
55. Common film background : GREEN SCREEN
56. Francis II dissolved it in 1806: Abbr. : HRE
57. Game for the gifted? : SECRET SANTA

Down
1. Immune system component : T CELL
2. Strong fiber : RAMIE
3. Tree that can survive forest fires : ASPEN
4. Tony winner Rivera : CHITA
5. Elephant's-ear : TARO
6. Sappho dedicated one to Aphrodite : ODE
7. National park sights : RVS
8. Robin's refuge : BATCAVE
9. Permit : ENABLE
10. Official records : ACTA
11. Swim ___ : MEET
12. Like a watchful driver : DEFENSIVE
13. Copernicus, for one : STARGAZER
14. Disney toon often pictured eating spaghetti : LADY
21. Social group? : TEA SET
23. Shakespearean forest : ARDEN
24. Impoverished state : RAGS
26. Shelters for sheep : COTES
27. ___ DeVos, noted school choice advocate : BETSY
28. Contact, say : LENS
29. Rama's wife, in Hinduism : SITA
30. Upset : KNOCK OVER
31. "Let's see what you've got" : IMPRESS ME
32. Hidden : LATENT
33. Thread part : REPLY
35. Bass organ : GILL
37. More caustic : HARSHER
39. Pre-Columbian civilization : TOLTEC
42. Hercules slew it : HYDRA
43. Bygone : OLDEN
44. Filled again, as a flat : RELET
45. Circus Maximus, e.g. : ARENA
46. Virtually : NIGH
47. Fixes badly? : RIGS
48. Subject preceder : IN RE
49. Little jerks : TICS
52. Suffix indicating a double bond : -ENE
53. Boulder setting: Abbr. : MST


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6 comments :

Dave Kennison said...

On my iPad: 16:43, two errors. When I got the "almost there" message, I knew exactly what was wrong: I had a Natick at the intersection of RAMIE and LENA, so I put in RAMIA and LANA, knowing full well that it could be wrong. Oh, well ... you win some, you lose some .... :-)

Jeff said...

Very difficult for me, but I did finish. Many misdirections and puns - too many to mention here, but GILL for "Bass organ" is the groaner of the day. TRACTORBEAM gets honorable mention.

Did not know ASPEN trees can survive a fire and grow back. Please - no more man bun references.....

All that said, a very enjoyable grid.

Best -

BruceB said...

26:25, no errors. The LENA/RAMIE connection was a complete guess, knew it would be a vowel, so I had a one in six chance of getting it right. I initially drew a complete blank attempting to fill the upper left. Was able to complete the upper right, and started to get some insight into the setters mind. Diabolical misdirects with Crop: RESIZE; Square things: GET EVEN; Toy truck driver: C BATTERY; Contact: LENS, to name a few. Was able to work across the bottom, and back up the left side. The last entry was the complete guess at the E in LENA/RAMIE.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't finish after 40 mins. Key mistake: misreading Northeast for NorthWEST in 17 A. Also the left middle had me completely stumped. Difficult puzzle.

Tom M. said...

My ship sank in the nautical NW. TRACTORBEAM? Got the BEAM but not the TRACTOR. Trouble ensued.

Glenn said...

Lost track of time (wasn't anything to be proud of anyway), but eventually finished this one with zero errors. Definitely concur, much harder puzzle than I've seen the last few weeks.

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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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