1225-12 New York Times Crossword Answers 25 Dec 12, Tuesday

Merry Christmas, everyone!

QuickLinks:
Solution to today’s crossword in the New York Times
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CROSSWORD SETTER: Ellen Leuschner & Vic Fleming
THEME: Secret Santa … each of three long answers contain a set of five circled letters, LETTERS that point TO SANTA. Merry Christmas everyone!

48A. Certain holiday mail … or what 20-, 25- and 43-Across have in common : LETTERS TO SANTA

20A. 1966 Johnny Rivers hit : SECRET AGENT MAN (spelling SANTA)
25A. Create skid marks, perhaps : SLAM ON THE BRAKES (spelling SANTA)
43A. One with lots of experience : SEASONED VETERAN (spelling SANTA)

COMPLETION TIME: 08m 18s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across
1. Kinnear of “Little Miss Sunshine” : GREG
Greg Kinnear is a favorite actor of mine, probably best recognized for his Oscar-nominated performance in the excellent film “As Good as it Gets” from 1997.

“Little Miss Sunshine” is a respected 2006 comedy film about a family’s road trip in a VW bus. I tried watching this one a couple of times and just couldn’t take it at all despite a great cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Alan Arkin.

15. Verne captain : NEMO
In the 1954 movie version of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, Captain Nemo goes down with his ship. In the novel by Jules Verne the fate of Nemo and his crew isn’t quite so cut and dry, although the inference is perhaps that they did indeed head for Davy Jones’ Locker.

16. “___ the other reindeer” (common mishearing of a Yuletide lyric) : OLIVE
“All of the other reindeer” is a lyric from the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Apparently the line is sometimes misheard as “Olive, the other reindeer”. The song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was written by Johnny Marks, and was based on the story created by Marks’ brother-in-law, Robert L. May.

We get the names for Santa’s reindeer from the famous 1823 poem called “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, although we’ve modified a couple of the names over the years. The full list is:

– Dasher
– Dancer
– Prancer
– Vixen
– Comet
– Cupid
– Donder (originally “Dunder”, and now often “Donner”)
– Blitzen (originally “Blixem”)

Rudolph was added to the list by retailer Montgomery Ward, would you believe? The store commissioned Robert L. May to create a booklet that could be handed out to children around Christmas in 1939, and May introduced us to a new friend for Santa, namely Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

20. 1966 Johnny Rivers hit : SECRET AGENT MAN
I saw Johnny Rivers perform for the first time a few summers ago at our local county fairgrounds, and he puts on a great show. The big hit for Johnny Rivers was “Secret Agent Man”, a song written especially for the opening title of the British TV show “Danger Man” when it was broadcast over here in America in the sixties (remember that one, starring Patrick McGoohan?).

23. ___ Bator : ULAN
The name “Ulan Bator” translates from Mongolian as “the Red Hero”, and is Mongolia’s capital city. The “Red Hero” name was chosen in honor of the country’s national hero, Damdin Sükhbaatar. Sükhbaatar fought alongside the Soviet Red Army in the fight for liberation from Chinese occupation.

24. Anthropologist Fossey : DIAN
Dian Fossey carried out her famous study of gorilla populations in the mountain forests of Rwanda (NB: it was Jane Goodall that worked with chimpanzees). Sadly, Fossey was found dead in her cabin in Rwanda in 1986, murdered in her bedroom, her skull split open by a machete. The crime was never solved.

32. ___ crab : HERMIT
Hermit crabs are so called because they “live alone” in an abandoned shell, usually one that originally housed a sea snail. The crab uses the shell to protect its soft abdomen. Instead of shells, hermit crabs have been found dragging around hollow stones or even hollowed out pieces of wood.

33. Malt-drying 17-Across : OAST
An oast is a kiln used for drying hops as part of the brewing process. Such a structure might also be called an “oast house”.

34. World workers’ assn. : ILO
The ILO (International Labour Organization) is an agency now administered by the UN which was established by the League of Nations after WWI. The ILO deals with important issues such as health and safety, discrimination, child labor and forced labor. The organization was recognized for its work in 1969 when it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

35. Judith of “The Devil’s Advocate,” 1977 : IVEY
Judith Ivey is an actress from El Paso, Texas. Ivey is perhaps best known for playing B. J. Poteet in the last season of the TV show “Designing Women”.

36. Early gig for Chase and Belushi, for short : SNL
“Saturday Night Live” (SNL).

Chevy Chase is a comedian and actor from Lower Manhattan who was born into a wealthy New York City family who can trace its heritage back to the Mayflower. Chase’s real name is Cornelius and he was given his nickname “Chevy” by his grandmother who took it from the old English song The Ballad of Chevy Chase”.

37. Prison, informally : STIR
The slang word “stir”, meaning a prison, probably has its roots in Start Newgate prison in London, where it was a nickname for the establishment.

46. El Prado works : ARTE
The Museo del Prado is in Madrid, the capital of Spain, and has one of the finest art collections in the world. The gallery’s most famous work is “Las Meninas” By Velazquez.

58. Diva’s delivery : ARIA
“Diva” comes to us from Latin via Italian. “Diva” is the feminine form of “divus” meaning “divine one”. The word is used in Italy to mean “goddess” or “fine lady”, and especially is applied to the prima donna in an opera. We often use the term to describe a singer with a big ego.

59. Falco of “Nurse Jackie” : EDIE
Edie Falco won her three Emmy Awards for playing Carmela Soprano in HBO’s outstanding drama series called “The Sopranos”.

62. Beavers build them : DAMS
Beavers build dams so that they can live in and around the slower and deeper water that builds up above the dam. This deeper water provides more protection for the beavers from predators such as bears. Beavers are nocturnal animals and do all their construction work at night.

Down
1. Old muscle cars : GTOS
GTO stands for Gran Turismo Omologato.

2. Four-star piece, say : RAVE
A rave review from a critic might include a four-star rating.

4. Game with sets and runs : GIN RUMMY
Gin rummy is a variant of the slower game of standard rummy and was introduced in 1909 by Elwood Baker and his son.

9. Kellogg’s snack since 1964 : POP-TART
Pop-Tart is the most successful brand for the Kellogg company, as millions are sold every year. The US Military bought quite a few in 2001, and dropped 2.4 million Pop-Tarts into Afghanistan during the invasion after 9/11.

10. Bryn Mawr grad, e.g. : ALUMNA
An “alumnus” (plural … alumni) is a graduate or former student of a school or college. The female form is “alumna” (plural … alumnae). The term comes into English from Latin, in which alumnus means foster-son or pupil.

I used to live not far from Bryn-mawr (also “Brynmwar”) in Wales, the town with the highest elevation in the country. Appropriately enough, “bryn mawr” is Welsh for “big hill”. There is also a Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania (note the different capitalization) that is named after its Welsh counterpart. At the Pennsylvania location there’s a Brynn Mawr college, a private women’s school that was the first American university to offer graduate degrees to women.

11. Old currency abbreviated “L.” : LIRA
The name “lira” is used in a number of countries for currency. “Lira” comes from the Latin word for a pound and is derived from a British pound sterling, the value of a Troy pound of silver. The lira (plural “lire”) was the official currency of Italy before the country changed over to the euro.

13. Actor Billy ___ Williams : DEE
Billy Dee Williams is the actor who played the character Lando Calrissian in two of the “Star Wars” movies.

21. Race in an H. G. Wells novel : ELOI
In the 1895 novel by H. G. Wells called “The Time Machine”, there are two races that the hero encounter in his travels into the future. The Eloi are the “beautiful people” who live on the planet’s surface. The Morlocks are a race of cannibals living underground who use the Eloi as food.

25. Armada units : SHIPS
The most famous Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England in order to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I in 1588. It failed in its mission, partly due to bad weather encountered en route. Ironically, the English mounted a similar naval attack against Spain the following year, and it failed as well.

26. Corps of Engineers project : LEVEE
A levee is an artificial bank, usually made of earth, running along the length of a river. A levee is designed to hold back the river water at a time of potential flooding. “Levée” is the French word for “raised” and is an American term that originated in French-speaking New Orleans around 1720.

30. Doolittle played by Audrey Hepburn : ELIZA
Eliza Doolittle is Professor Henry Higgins’ speech student in George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”. Of course “Pygmalion” was adapted by Lerner and Loewe to become the Broadway musical “My Fair Lady”. The musical spun off the wonderful 1964 film of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. To cockney Eliza Doolittle, Professor Henry Higgins was “‘Enry ‘Iggins”.

31. Philosopher Kierkegaard : SOREN
Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher and theologian, and I never really understood anything that he wrote!

39. Combat pilots’ missions : SORTIES
A sortie is an attack by an armed unit, usually a breakout by forces that are besieged, The term “sortie” comes directly from French and means “a going out”. “Sortie” is also used for a mission by a combat aircraft.

40. Stud fee? : ANTE
Stud poker is the name given to many variants of the card game, all characterized by the dealer giving each player a mix of cards face-down and face-up. The cards facing downwards are called “hole cards”, cards only visible to the individual who holds that particular hand. That gives rise to the phrase “ace in the hole”, a valuable holding of which only that player is aware.

41. Felt toppers : FEDORAS
A fedora is a lovely hat, I think. It is made of felt and is similar to a trilby, but has a broader brim. “Fedora” was a play written for Sarah Bernhardt and first performed in 1889. Bernhardt had the title role of Princess Fedora, and on stage she wore a hat similar to the modern-day fedora. The play led to the introduction of a women’s fashion accessory, the fedora hat, commonly worn by women into the beginning of the twentieth century. Men then started wearing fedoras, but only when women gave up the idea …

42. GPS suggestions: Abbr. : RTES
GPS stands for Global Positioning System. The modern GPS system that we use today was built by the US military who received the massive funding needed because of fears during the Cold War of the use of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. We civilians, all round the world, owe a lot to President Ronald Reagan because he directed the military to make GPS technology available to the public for the common good. President Reagan was moved to do so after the Soviet Union shot down KAL flight 007 carrying 269 people, just because the plane strayed accidentally into Soviet airspace.

51. Nothin’ : NADA
“Nada” is the Spanish word for “nothing”.

54. Texas patriot Houston : SAM
Sam Houston was the first President of the Republic of Texas, a US Senator for Texas, as well as governor of the state. Houston was also governor of Tennessee in his earlier life and is the only person in US history to have been governor of two different states. The city of Houston is of course named for Sam, and the city boasts a statue of Houston that’s the largest free-standing statue of any American.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Kinnear of “Little Miss Sunshine” : GREG
5. Turned red, say : IRED
9. Turned white : PALED
14. Streetside shout : TAXI
15. Verne captain : NEMO
16. “___ the other reindeer” (common mishearing of a Yuletide lyric) : OLIVE
17. Cookie baker : OVEN
18. Eye carefully : SCAN
19. Turn into mush : PUREE
20. 1966 Johnny Rivers hit : SECRET AGENT MAN
23. ___ Bator : ULAN
24. Anthropologist Fossey : DIAN
25. Create skid marks, perhaps : SLAM ON THE BRAKES
32. ___ crab : HERMIT
33. Malt-drying 17-Across : OAST
34. World workers’ assn. : ILO
35. Judith of “The Devil’s Advocate,” 1977 : IVEY
36. Early gig for Chase and Belushi, for short : SNL
37. Prison, informally : STIR
38. Prison, informally : PEN
39. Mentally together : SANE
41. “Stop right there!” : FREEZE
43. One with lots of experience : SEASONED VETERAN
46. El Prado works : ARTE
47. Lofty verses : ODES
48. Certain holiday mail … or what 20-, 25- and 43-Across have in common : LETTERS TO SANTA
54. “Me, too!” : SO DO I
55. Visionary sort : SEER
56. Untrusting : WARY
57. Dispute, as a point : ARGUE
58. Diva’s delivery : ARIA
59. Falco of “Nurse Jackie” : EDIE
60. Is introduced to : MEETS
61. Shades at the beach : TANS
62. Beavers build them : DAMS

Down
1. Old muscle cars : GTOS
2. Four-star piece, say : RAVE
3. Corp. higher-up : EXEC
4. Game with sets and runs : GIN RUMMY
5. Like some coffee and potatoes : INSTANT
6. Take back, as testimony : RECANT
7. ‘Zine on the Net : EMAG
8. Agreement that’s now sure to go forward : DONE DEAL
9. Kellogg’s snack since 1964 : POP-TART
10. Bryn Mawr grad, e.g. : ALUMNA
11. Old currency abbreviated “L.” : LIRA
12. Squared up : EVEN
13. Actor Billy ___ Williams : DEE
21. Race in an H. G. Wells novel : ELOI
22. Ballpoint tips : NIBS
25. Armada units : SHIPS
26. Corps of Engineers project : LEVEE
27. Where competitions take place : ARENA
28. Made sharper : HONED
29. Parkgoer on a windy day, maybe : KITER
30. Doolittle played by Audrey Hepburn : ELIZA
31. Philosopher Kierkegaard : SOREN
36. Shows disdain for : SNEERS AT
37. Changed one’s mind again and again : SEESAWED
39. Combat pilots’ missions : SORTIES
40. Stud fee? : ANTE
41. Felt toppers : FEDORAS
42. GPS suggestions: Abbr. : RTES
44. Did not play : SAT OUT
45. Elect : VOTE IN
48. The stuff of legends : LORE
49. Living on the ___ : EDGE
50. Inoculation fluids : SERA
51. Nothin’ : NADA
52. Decorate, as a Christmas tree : TRIM
53. Roll-call calls : AYES
54. Texas patriot Houston : SAM

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