1212-16 New York Times Crossword Answers 12 Dec 16, Monday

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CROSSWORD SETTER: Mark McClain
THEME: Language Barrier
The circled letters in today’s grid spell out different languages. There’s a BARRIER in each LANGUAGE, i.e. a black square.

41. Communication problem … illustrated literally by the black squares before 5-, 19-, 26-, 54-, 65- and 73-Across : LANGUAGE BARRIER

The six languages cited are:

  • HINDI
  • URDU
  • GERMAN
  • POLISH
  • THAI
  • LATIN

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 6m 19s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

1. Lower part of the leg : SHIN
The tibia is the shin bone, the larger of the two bones right below the knee. The tibia is the strongest weight-bearing bone in the human body. “Tibia” is the Roman name for a Greek flute and it is thought that the shin bone was given the same name because flutes were often fashioned out of the shin bones of animals.

5. “Mon ___!” (French cry) : DIEU
“Mon Dieu!” is French for “My God!”

9. Noted rocker/humanitarian : BONO
Irish singer Bono is a Dubliner, 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 …

13. Homeland of 9-Across : EIRE
“Éire”, is the Irish word for “Ireland”. The related “Erin” is an anglicized version of “Éire” and actually corresponds to “Éirinn”, the dative case of “Éire”.

14. Omega’s opposite, alphabetically : ALPHA
The Greek alphabet starts with the letter “alpha”, and ends with the letter “omega”.

16. Stratford-upon-___ : AVON
Stratford-upon-Avon is a town in the county of Warwickshire in the English midlands. Most famously perhaps, it was the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

18. Maestro Kurt ___ : MASUR
Kurt Masur succeeded Zubin Mehta as music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1991. Despite being highly regarded by the public, Masur stepped down from the post in 2002 apparently due to differences with the Executive Director of the Philharmonic at that time.

22. Knight time? : YORE
We use the word “yore” to mean “time long past” as in “the days of yore”. “Yore” comes from the Old English words for “of years”.

23. Visa alternative : AMEX
“Amex” is short for American Express, the financial services company that is best known for its credit card, charge card and traveler’s check businesses. The company name is indicative of its original business. American Express was founded in 1850 in Buffalo, New York as an express mail service.

24. Folk singer Pete : SEEGER
The American folk singer Pete Seeger wrote and co-wrote a lot of classic songs. The list includes “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, “If I had a Hammer”, and “Turn, Turn, Turn!”

28. Brother of Donald Trump Jr. : ERIC
Eric Trump is the second son of Donald Trump and his first wife Ivana Zelníčková. Eric works for his father, and in particular manages the Trump golf courses around the world and the Trump Winery in Charlottesville, Virginia. Eric also appears in the boardroom alongside his Dad on the reality show “The Apprentice”.

30. “The Star-Spangled Banner,” e.g. : ANTHEM
The lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner” were written first as a poem by Francis Scott Key, inspired by the bombarding by the British of the American forces at Fort McHenry that he witnessed during the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814. The words were then set to the tune of a popular British drinking song penned by John Stafford Smith called “The Anacreontic Song”, with the Anacreontic Society being a men’s club in London.

34. High/low card : ACE
In the card game called Blackjack, an ace has the point value of one or eleven. When one of the two cards dealt to a player is an ace, the hand is called “soft”. This means that the player cannot go bust by taking another card, as the ace can be revalued at “one” if necessary in order to stay under 21.

37. Egypt’s capital : CAIRO
Cairo is the capital city of Egypt. It is the largest city on the continent of Africa and is nicknamed “The City of a Thousand Minarets” because of its impressive skyline replete with Islamic architecture. The name “Cairo” is a European corruption of the city’s original name in Arabic, “Al-Qahira”.

40. Two-door auto : COUPE
The type of car known as a “coupe” or “coupé” is a closed automobile with two doors. The name comes from the French word “couper” meaning “to cut”. In most parts of the English-speaking world the pronunciation adheres to the original French, but here in most of North America we go with “coop”. The original coupé was a horse-drawn carriage that was cut (coupé) to eliminate the rear-facing passenger seats. That left just a driver and two front-facing passengers. If the driver was left without a roof and out in the open, then the carriage was known as a “coupé de-ville”.

47. Norway’s patron saint : OLAF II
Of the many kings of Norway named Olaf/Olav (and there have been five), Olaf II is perhaps the most celebrated as he was canonized and made patron saint of the country. Olaf II was king from 1015 to 1028 and was known as “Olaf the Big” (or Olaf the Fat) during his reign. Today he is more commonly referred to as “Olaf the Holy”. After Olaf died he was given the title of Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae, which is Latin for “Norway’s Eternal King”.

49. Landing approximations, for short : ETAS
Expected time of arrival (ETA)

51. Chaim who played Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” : TOPOL
Chaim Topol (usually called just “Topol”) is an actor from Tel Aviv in Israel. I well remember Topol for his marvelous portrayal of Tevye in the original West End performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” in the sixties. He later reprised the role in the 1971 movie of the show, and then again in a 1990 Broadway revival. Famously, Topol also played good guy Milos Columbo in the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only”.

The enduring musical “Fiddler on the Roof” is based on a collection of stories by Sholem Aleichem about Tevye, a milkman living in Tsarist Russia. The musical version of the tales first opened on Broadway in 1964. “Fiddler on the Roof” had such a long run that it became the first musical to reach 3,000 performances.

58. Works of Keats : ODES
The English poet John Keats died in Rome in 1821, and is buried there in the Protestant Cemetery. His last wish was that his grave be marked with a tombstone bearing just the words “”Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water”, and no name nor a date. Keats’ friends honored his request to some extent, as the words were included on the stone and no name is given. The full epitaph reads:

This Grave
contains all that was Mortal
of a
Young English Poet
Who
on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies
Desired
these Words to be
engraven on his Tomb Stone:
Here lies One
Whose Name was writ in Water.
24 February 1821

61. Sluggers’ stats : RBIS
Run batted in (RBI)

63. Great Lakes natives : ERIES
The Erie people lived on lands south of Lake Erie. The Erie were sometimes referred to as the Cat Nation, a reference to the mountain lions that were ever-present in the area that they lived. The name “Erie” is a shortened form of “Erielhonan” meaning “long tail”, possibly a further reference to the mountain lion or cat, which was possibly used as a totem. The Erie people gave their name to the Great Lake.

64. Friends and neighbors : KITH
The word “kith” describes friends and acquaintances, and is used used in the phrase “kith and kin” meaning “friends and family”. “Kith” comes from an Old English word meaning “native country, home”, as the expression “kith and kin” was used originally to mean “country and kinsmen”.

67. Slightest bit : IOTA
Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.

68. Late attorney general Janet : RENO
Janet Reno was Attorney General of the US from 1993 to 2001. Reno was the person to hold the office second longest, and was our first female Attorney General. In 2002, Reno ran for Governor of Florida but failed to win the Democratic nomination. Thereafter she retired from public life, passing away at the end of 2016.

69. Mello ___ (soft drink) : YELLO
Like so many beverages introduced by the Coca-Cola Company, Mello Yello was launched to compete against a successful drink already on the market. Mello Yello first hit the shelves in 1979, and was designed to take market share from Pepsico’s “Mountain Dew”.

71. “Make it snappy!” : ASAP!
As soon as possible (ASAP)

72. Actress Ward : SELA
The actress Sela Ward turns up in crosswords a lot. Ward played Teddy Reed in the TV show “Sisters” in the nineties, and was in “Once and Again” from 1999-2002. I don’t know either show, but I do know Ward from the medical drama “House” in which she played the hospital’s lawyer and Greg House’s ex-partner. That was a fun role, I thought. More recently Ward played a lead role on “CSI: NY” and was a very welcome and much-needed addition to the cast …

Down
3. “Me, Myself & ___” (Jim Carrey movie) : IRENE
“Me, Myself & Irene” is a 2000 comedy film starring Jim Carrey (“Me” and “Myself”) and Renée Zellweger (Irene). The movie is a perfect vehicle for Carrey as his character is a state trooper who develops a second personality after a psychotic breakdown. You can just imagine how Jim Carrey plays that extra, unrepressed persona!

4. Music genre for 36-Down : NEW AGE
(36D. One-named singer from County Donegal : ENYA)
New-Age music is created to provide a relaxing and stress-free atmosphere. The New Age movement is often said to have begun with the release of an album called “Spectrum Suite” by Steven Halpern in 1975.

6. “Now ___ me down to sleep” : I LAY
(48D. “___ the Lord my soul to keep” : I PRAY)
One of the prayers that I was taught as a child goes:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

7. English racing venue : EPSOM
The Surrey town of Epsom in England is most famous for its racecourse (Epsom Downs), at which is run the Epsom Derby every year, one of the three races that make up the English Triple Crown. We also come across Epsom salt from time to time. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters. Epsom was indeed a spa town at one time. The town is also home to Epsom College, an English “public school” (which actually means “private, and expensive”). One of Epsom’s “old boys” was the Hollywood actor Stewart Granger.

8. “Star Trek” officer with an earpiece : UHURA
Lt. Nyota Uhura is the communications officer in the original “Star Trek” television series, played by Nichelle Nichols. The role is significant in that Uhura was one of the first African American characters to figure front and center in US television. In a 1968 episode, Kirk (played by William Shatner) and Uhura kiss, the first inter-racial kiss to be broadcast in the US. Apparently the scene was meant to be shot twice, with and without the kiss, so that network executives could later decide which version to air. William Shatner says that he deliberately ran long on the first shoot (with the kiss) and fluffed the hurried second shoot (without the kiss), so that the network would have no choice.

10. It goes down a fallopian tube : OVUM
The Fallopian tubes leading from the ovaries of female mammals in the uterus. The tubes are named for the 16th-century Italian anatomist Gabriello Fallopio, who was the first to describe them.

12. Black gemstone : ONYX
Onyx is a form of quartz that comes in many different shades, but most often it’s the black version that’s used for jewelry. The name “onyx” comes from the Greek word for “fingernail”, as onyx in the flesh color is said to resemble a fingernail.

21. Friend of Romeo : MERCUTIO
In William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”, Mercutio is a close friend of Romeo. Mercutio is stabbed in an altercation with Tybalt. As Mercutio dies, he cries out “A plague o’ both your houses!”, hence cursing both the Montagues (Romeo’s family) and Capulets (Juliet’s family).

25. Lobbying org. that fights music piracy : RIAA
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) represents music distributors. It is the RIAA that certifies records that have gone gold and platinum i.e. reached fixed sales thresholds. It’s also the RIAA that goes after individuals who share music illegally online.

32. Weapon in fencing : EPEE
The sword known as an épée has a three-sided blade. The épée is similar to a foil and sabre, both of which are also thrusting weapons. However, the foil and saber have rectangular cross-sections.

33. A ___ pittance : MERE
A “pittance” is a small amount, often a living allowance or remuneration. The term came into English from Old French, and is basically an amount given out of “pity”.

34. Choir voice : ALTO
In choral music, an alto (plural “alti”) is the second-highest voice in a four-part chorus made up of soprano, contr(alto), tenor and bass. The word “alto” describes the vocal range, that of the deepest female singing-voice, whereas the term “contralto” describes more than just the alto range, but also its quality and timbre. An adult male’s voice (not a boy’s) with the same range as an alto is called a “countertenor”.

35. Sagan who hosted “Cosmos” : CARL
“Cosmos: A Personal Journey” is a TV show co-written and presented by astronomer Carl Sagan. Originally airing in 1980, it was the most-watched series in the history of public television until Ken Burns started to produce his documentaries a decade later. Sagan’s opening words for the series are:

The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

36. One-named singer from County Donegal : ENYA
Enya’s real name is Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, which can translate from Irish into Enya Brennan. Her Donegal family (in the northwest of Ireland) formed a band called Clannad, which included Enya. In 1980 Enya launched her very successful solo career, eventually becoming Ireland’s best-selling solo musician. And, she sure does turn up a lot in crosswords!

Donegal is the name of the most northerly county in Ireland, and is also the name of the town that gave the county its name. “Donegal” is the anglicized form of the Irish “Dún na nGall” meaning “fort of the foreigners”. County Donegal is a really beautiful part of the country …

38. ___ center (place for a Ping-Pong table) : REC
Ping-Pong is called table tennis in the UK, where the sport originated in the 1880s. Table tennis started as an after-dinner activity among the elite, and was called “wiff-waff”. To play the game, books were stacked in the center of a table as a “net”, two more books served as “”rackets” and the ball used was actually a golf ball. The game evolved over time with the rackets being upgraded to the lids of cigar boxes and the ball becoming a champagne cork (how snooty is that?). Eventually the game was produced commercially, and the sound of the ball hitting the racket was deemed to be a “ping” and a “pong”, giving the sport its alternative name. The name “Ping-Pong” was trademarked in Britain in 1901, and eventually sold to Parker Brothers in the US.

39. Orchestra reed : OBOE
The oboe is perhaps my favorite of the reed instruments. The name “oboe” comes from the French “hautbois” which means “high wood”. When you hear an orchestra tuning before a performance you’ll note (pun intended!) that the oboe starts off the process by playing an “A”. The rest of the musicians in turn tune to that oboe’s “A”.

43. 2016 #1 album by Rihanna : ANTI
The singer Rihanna was born and grew up on the island of Barbados and moved to the US when she was 16-years-old to pursue a singing career. “Rihanna” is her stage name, as she was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty. The name “Rihanna” is derived from the Welsh name “Rhiannon”.

50. Short ___ (quick work) : SHRIFT
The Old English term “scrift” was used to describe confession to a priest followed by penance and absolution. The term “short shrift” developed from “scrift”, and was a brief period given to a condemned criminal to confess his sins before execution. We now use “short shrift” to mean “little or no consideration”.

52. Theater awards : OBIES
The Obies are the “Off-Broadway Theater Awards”. The Obies are presented annually and the recipients are chosen by “The Village Voice” newspaper.

53. City NNE of Paris : LILLE
Lille is a large city in the very north of France sitting right on the border with Belgium. The name “Lille” is a derivation of the term “l’isle” meaning “the island”. The name “L’Isle” dates back to 1066, and is a reference to a castle that once stood on an island in the Deûle river that runs through the city. The city grew around the island and the castle.

55. Garlicky mayo : AIOLI
To the purist, especially in Provence in the South of France, the “home” of aioli, aioli is prepared just by grinding garlic with olive oil. However, other ingredients are often added to the mix, particularly egg yolks.

57. Exams for future J.D.s : LSATS
Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The law degree that is abbreviated to J.D. stands for Juris Doctor.

58. Vegetable that becomes gooey when cooked : OKRA
The plant known as okra is mainly grown for it edible green pods. The pods are said to resemble “ladies’ fingers”, which is an alternative name for the plant. Okra is known as “ngombo” in Bantu, a name that might give us the word “gumbo”, the name for the name of the southern Louisiana stew that includes okra as a key ingredient.

59. Conks out : DIES
The phrase “conk out” was coined by airmen during WWI, and was used to describe the stalling of an engine.

60. Sicilian volcano : ETNA
Mt. Etna is the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy. Mt Etna is about 2 1/2 times the height of its equally famous sister, Mt. Vesuvius. Etna is home to a 110-km long narrow-gauge railway, and two ski resorts.

62. Go along with a bear market : SELL
The terms “bull” and “bear” markets come from the way in which each animal attacks. A bull thrusts his horns upwards (an “up” market), whereas a bear swipes with his paws downward (a “down” market).

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Lower part of the leg : SHIN
5. “Mon ___!” (French cry) : DIEU
9. Noted rocker/humanitarian : BONO
13. Homeland of 9-Across : EIRE
14. Omega’s opposite, alphabetically : ALPHA
16. Stratford-upon-___ : AVON
17. Ones taking captain’s orders : CREW
18. Maestro Kurt ___ : MASUR
19. Responsibility : DUTY
20. Coffee break hour : TEN AM
22. Knight time? : YORE
23. Visa alternative : AMEX
24. Folk singer Pete : SEEGER
26. Frenzied : MANIC
28. Brother of Donald Trump Jr. : ERIC
30. “The Star-Spangled Banner,” e.g. : ANTHEM
34. High/low card : ACE
37. Egypt’s capital : CAIRO
40. Two-door auto : COUPE
41. Communication problem … illustrated literally by the black squares before 5-, 19-, 26-, 54-, 65- and 73-Across : LANGUAGE BARRIER
44. “Have a taste!” : TRY IT!
45. Biscuit with English tea : SCONE
46. Item in a golfer’s bag : TEE
47. Norway’s patron saint : OLAF II
49. Landing approximations, for short : ETAS
51. Chaim who played Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” : TOPOL
54. Formal-sounding commitment : I SHALL
58. Works of Keats : ODES
61. Sluggers’ stats : RBIS
63. Great Lakes natives : ERIES
64. Friends and neighbors : KITH
65. Wasn’t up to par : AILED
67. Slightest bit : IOTA
68. Late attorney general Janet : RENO
69. Mello ___ (soft drink) : YELLO
70. Dart (around) : FLIT
71. “Make it snappy!” : ASAP!
72. Actress Ward : SELA
73. Cookie holders : TINS

Down
1. Religious offshoots : SECTS
2. Successful job applicant : HIREE
3. “Me, Myself & ___” (Jim Carrey movie) : IRENE
4. Music genre for 36-Down : NEW AGE
5. Reservoir creator : DAM
6. “Now ___ me down to sleep” : I LAY
7. English racing venue : EPSOM
8. “Star Trek” officer with an earpiece : UHURA
9. Troublemaker : BAD ACTOR
10. It goes down a fallopian tube : OVUM
11. A sixteenth is a short one : NOTE
12. Black gemstone : ONYX
15. Bull-riding venue : ARENA
21. Friend of Romeo : MERCUTIO
25. Lobbying org. that fights music piracy : RIAA
27. Augment : INCREASE
29. “Smokes” : CIGS
31. Eight, in France : HUIT
32. Weapon in fencing : EPEE
33. A ___ pittance : MERE
34. Choir voice : ALTO
35. Sagan who hosted “Cosmos” : CARL
36. One-named singer from County Donegal : ENYA
38. ___ center (place for a Ping-Pong table) : REC
39. Orchestra reed : OBOE
42. Moneymaking part of a museum : GIFT SHOP
43. 2016 #1 album by Rihanna : ANTI
48. “___ the Lord my soul to keep” : I PRAY
50. Short ___ (quick work) : SHRIFT
52. Theater awards : OBIES
53. City NNE of Paris : LILLE
55. Garlicky mayo : AIOLI
56. Admit at the door : LET IN
57. Exams for future J.D.s : LSATS
58. Vegetable that becomes gooey when cooked : OKRA
59. Conks out : DIES
60. Sicilian volcano : ETNA
62. Go along with a bear market : SELL
66. ___ good deed : DO A

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7 thoughts on “1212-16 New York Times Crossword Answers 12 Dec 16, Monday”

  1. 7 mins 37 sec. Nicely done, with a theme that's not forced, a few interesting fills, and two parts of the Lord's Prayer tucked in there. An increasingly rare (for this series, unfortunately) example of a well-constructed *clever* little puzzle.

  2. @Anonymous … The Lord's Prayer? The one that begins "Our Father, which art in Heaven …"? I don't see any parts of it in this puzzle. I do see two parts of a children's bedtime prayer, at 6D and 48D. Am I missing something?

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