1219-16 New York Times Crossword Answers 19 Dec 16, Monday

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Solution to today’s crossword in the New York Times
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CROSSWORD SETTER: Jason Mueller
THEME: Santa Players
Today’s themed answers are actors who have played Santa Claus on screen:

  • 17A. Santa player in “The Man in the Santa Claus Suit” : FRED ASTAIRE
  • 26A. Santa player in “The Polar Express” : TOM HANKS
  • 40A. Santa player in “Elf” : ED ASNER
  • 51A. Santa player in “The Santa Clause” : TIM ALLEN
  • 62A. Santa player in “Miracle on 34th Street” : EDMUND GWENN

BILL BUTLER’S COMPLETION TIME: 5m 15s
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0

Today’s Wiki-est, Amazonian Googlies
Across

11. Cousin ___ (Addams Family member) : ITT
In the television sitcom “The Addams Family”, the family had a frequent visitor called Cousin Itt. Itt is a short man with long hair that runs from his head to the floor. Cousin Itt was played by Italian actor Felix Silla.

They’re creepy and they’re kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They’re altogether ooky,
The Addams Family.

14. Pixar robot : WALL-E
“WALL-E” is a very cute Pixar movie, released in 2008. The hero of the piece is a robot called WALL-E, who loves his “Hello Dolly”, and who falls in love with another robot called EVE.

16. Gun rights org. : NRA
National Rifle Association (NRA)

17. Santa player in “The Man in the Santa Claus Suit” : FRED ASTAIRE
Fred Astaire’s real name was Frederick Austerlitz. Fred was from Omaha, Nebraska and before he made it big in movies, he was one half of a celebrated music hall act with his sister Adele. The pair were particularly successful in the UK, and Adele ended up marrying into nobility in England, taking the name Lady Charles Cavendish.

“The Man in the Santa Claus Suit” is a 1979 TV starring Fred Astaire in several roles. Spoiler alert … it turns out in the end that Astaire’s character is actually Santa Claus. ONe thing to note about “The Man in the Santa Claus Suit” is that it was Fred Astaire’s last TV performance.

20. S.E.C. school near Atlanta, for short : UGA
The University of Georgia (UGA) is primarily located in Athens, Georgia. UGA was founded in 1785 and was the nation’s first state-chartered university. UGA’s sports teams are called the Georgia Bulldogs.

21. Explorer and Escalade, in brief : SUVS
“SUV” is an initialism standing for Sports Utility Vehicle, and is a term that was introduced by our marketing friends. Using the term Sports Utility Vehicle was a very clever way to get us to pay a lot of money for what was essentially a station wagon on a truck chassis, or at least it was back then.

22. Nutmeg, for one : SPICE
The fruit of the nutmeg tree yields two very different spices. What we call “nutmeg” comes from the seed of the tree. “Mace” is the dried covering of the seed.

24. Something sent to Santa : LETTER
Canada Post has an official Santa Claus letter-response system that it introduced in 1983. Those wishing to write to Santa can address the envelope with the special post code H0H 0H0 (rewritten as H0 H0 H0). Canada Post answers about a million letters a year, each of them in the language of the sender. My hat is off to Canada Post, and to the volunteer workers at the Montreal post office that started the tradition of answering letters to Santa back in 1974 …

26. Santa player in “The Polar Express” : TOM HANKS
Tom Hanks is a such a great actor, I think. He has played so many iconic roles in a relatively short career. Hanks is from California, and studied theater for a couple of years in Hayward, California not far from here. Hanks is married to the talented actress Rita Wilson.

“The Polar Express” is a marvelous 2004 3D film based on the popular children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. The movie uses the actions of human actors to animate digital characters, and in fact it is the first all-digital capture film ever produced. Star of the show is Tom Hanks, who has six different roles including Santa Claus.

29. Magnetite and bauxite : ORES
Iron ore comes in a number of different forms, like magnetite (the most magnetic of all minerals) and hematite (the most commonly exploited iron ore).

Bauxite is an aluminum ore. It takes its name from the absolutely beautiful village of Les Baux in southern France, the home of the geologist who first recognized that the mineral was a useful source of the metal.

31. Temporary break : HIATUS
A “hiatus” is a break or opening in a material object. “Hiatus” is Latin for “opening”.

35. Joe of “GoodFellas” : PESCI
Joe Pesci got his big break in movies with a supporting role in “Raging Bull” starring Robert De Niro, earning Pesci an Oscar nomination early in his career. There followed a string of gangster roles played alongside De Niro, namely “Once Upon a Time in America”, “Goodfellas” and “Casino”. But I like Pesci’s comedic acting best of all. He was marvelous in the “Home Alone” films, the “Lethal Weapon” series, and my personal favorite, “My Cousin Vinny”. Pesci gets a mention in the stage musical “Jersey Boys”, which isn’t too surprising as he is one of the show’s producers.

The Martin Scorsese classic “Goodfellas” is a 1990 adaptation of a nonfiction book by Nicholas Pileggi called “Wiseguy”. The film tells the story of a mob family that succumbs to the FBI after one of their own becomes an informant.

37. Bread box, for short? : ATM
ATM (Automatic Teller Machine)

40. Santa player in “Elf” : ED ASNER
Ed Asner is most famous for playing the irascible but lovable Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and on the spin-off drama “Lou Grant”. Off-screen Asner is noted for his political activism. He served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and was very involved in the 1980 SAG strike. When “Lou Grant” was cancelled in in 1982, despite decent ratings, there was a lot of talk that the cancellation was a move by the network against Asner personally. In fact, one of Asner’s activist colleagues, Howard Hesseman (who played Johnny Fever) found that his show “WKRP in Cincinnati” was also cancelled … on the very same day.

“Elf” is a comedy movie released for the 2003 Christmas season. “Elf” was directed by Jon Favreau and stars Will Ferrell in the title role with James Caan supporting, and Ed Asner playing Santa Claus. It’s all about one of Santa’s elves who finds out he is human and goes to meet his father in New York City.

42. Boston ___ Party : TEA
The famous destruction of tea in Boston Harbor to protest against the Tax Act took place on December 16, 1773. The action was referred to as the “destruction of the tea” for decades, and it wasn’t until 1834 that the term “Boston Tea Party” first appeared in print.

44. Main artery : AORTA
The aorta originates in the heart and extends down into the abdomen. It is the largest artery in the body.

48. Big school dance : PROM
A prom is a formal dance held upon graduation from high school (we call them “formals” over in Ireland). The term “prom” is short for “promenade”, the name given to a type of dance or ball.

51. Santa player in “The Santa Clause” : TIM ALLEN
Tim Allen is a comedian and comic actor from Denver, Colorado. Allen is probably still best known for playing the lead in the sitcom “Home Improvement”, and on the big screen as Santa Claus in “The Santa Clause” series of movies. Famously, Allen served over 2 years in prison for drug-related offenses his twenties. He cleaned up his act though, and seems to have made a great life for himself.

“The Santa Clause” is a 1994 film starring Tim Allen as a reluctant replacement for Santa Claus, who accidentally fell from a roof. The film was directed by John Pasquin, who had previously worked with Allen as producer for his hit sitcom “Home Improvement”. The “Santa Clause” was to be the first in a trilogy of movies, followed by “The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause” (2002) and “the Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause”.

57. Resident of Muscat : OMANI
Muscat is the capital of Oman, and lies on the northeast coast of the state on the Gulf of Oman, a branch of the Persian Gulf.

60. Mincemeat ___ (Christmas staple) : PIE
Today’s mincemeat is a mixture of chopped dried fruit, alcoholic spirits and spices. The mincemeat of yesteryear always contained minced meat with the fruit, hence the name.

61. ___ Tin Tin : RIN
The original Rin Tin Tin was a real-life dog, a puppy discovered by a GI in a bombed-out kennel in France during WWI. The soldier named the pup Rin Tin Tin, the same name as a puppet given to American soldiers for luck. On returning to the US, “Rinty” was trained by his owner and was spotted doing tricks by a film producer. Rinty featured in some films, eventually getting his first starring role in 1923 in the silent movie “Where the North Begins”. Legend has it that this first Rin Tin Tin died in the arms of actress Jean Harlow. Not a bad way to go …

62. Santa player in “Miracle on 34th Street” : EDMUND GWENN
Edmund Gwenn was an actor from London who appeared in some famous films over the years. Most famously, Gwenn played Kris Kringle in 1947’s “Miracle on 34th Street”, for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

“Miracle on 34th Street” is a classic Christmas film from 1947 starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne and a very young Natalie Wood. If I might ruin the end of the story for you, Santa Claus does exist ‘cause the US Post Office says so …

66. R.N.’s special touch : TLC
A registered nurse (RN) often offers tender loving care (TLC).

67. River through Paris : SEINE
The Seine is the river that flows through Paris. The Seine empties into the English Channel to the north, at the port city of Le Havre.

68. Les ___-Unis : ETATS
“Les États-Unis” is what French speakers call “the United States”.

71. Like the settlers of Iceland : NORSE
Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in the whole of Europe, with two-thirds of the nation’s population residing in and around the capital city of Reykjavik. Iceland was settled by the Norse people in AD 874, and was ruled for centuries by Norway and then Denmark. Iceland became independent in 1918, and has been a republic since 1944. Iceland is not a member of the EU but is a member of NATO, having joined in 1949 despite having no standing army.

Down
6. Show on which John Candy and Eugene Levy got their starts : SCTV
“Second City Television” (SCTV) is a sketch show that was produced in Canada from 1976 to 1984.

John Candy was a Canadian comedian and actor. He was an alum of Canada’s famed comedy troupe called the Second City (later “SCTV”). In the world of movies I have to say my favorite of Candy’s performances were in supporting roles, as in “Stripes” and “Home Alone”. Sadly, Candy died of a heart attack in 1994, when he was only 43 years old.

Eugene Levy is a Canadian actor. He is the only actor to have appeared in all seven “American Pie” movies (there are eight of them??!!). Levy plays the clueless but loving Dad.

8. Boxer known as “The Greatest” : ALI
The boxer Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. was born in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam in 1964. Who can forget Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame for the 1996 games in Atlanta?

10. Terry Gross’s NPR program : FRESH AIR
“Fresh Air” is a marvelous radio talk show broadcast on NPR, hosted by Terry Gross. The first broadcast of the program was made in 1975, with Judy Blank hosting. Terry Gross took over a few months later, and Gross has been presenting and producing the show ever since. I had the privilege of hearing Terry Gross give a talk here in my hometown some years ago. What a fascinating woman she is, full of great stories about the her experiences interviewing so many interesting personalities.

12. April fool player : TRICKSTER
April Fool’s Day is celebrated on April 1st in the western world. In the US (and Ireland) one can make practical jokes all day long if one wants. But in the UK there is a noon deadline. Anyone pranking after midday is called an “April Fool”.

13. One of Benjamin Franklin’s certainties : TAXES
In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy dated 13 Nov 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

23. Boston footballer, for short : PAT
The New England Patriots football team was founded in 1959 as the Boston Patriots. The “Patriots” name was selected from suggestions made by football fans in Boston. The team played at several different stadiums in the Boston area for just over ten years, before moving to their current home base in Foxborough, Massachusetts. At the time of the move, the “Boston” name was dropped and changed to “New England”.

28. “Of ___ and Men” : MICE
“Of Mice and Men” is a novella written by American author John Steinbeck, published in 1937. The title comes from the famous poem by Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”. The inspirational line from the poem is “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft tagley.” Steinbeck actually wrote “Of Mice and Men” as a “novel-play”, intending that the line from the novel used as a script for a play. I actually saw the theatrical version on stage for the first time quite recently, and really enjoyed it.

30. Like the population of Wyoming : SPARSE
Wyoming is nicknamed the “Equality State”, and the state’s motto is “equal rights”. Wyoming was the first state to give women the vote, and the first to allow women serve on juries. It was also the first state to have a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office in 1925. Unofficially, Wyoming is also referred to as the “Cowboy State”.

34. Neologism for an on-screen/off-screen relationship : SHOWMANCE
A “neologism” is a new word or phrase, or a new meaning or usage for an existing word.

36. Winter hrs. in New York : EST
Eastern Standard Time (EST)

38. West who said “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted” : MAE
Comic actress Mae West can be quoted so easily, as she had so many great lines delivered so well. Here are a few:

  • When I’m good, I’m very good. When I’m bad, I’m better.
  • When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.
  • I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.
  • Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution yet.
  • I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
  • Why don’t you come on up and see me sometime — when I’ve got nothin’ on but the radio.
  • It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.
  • To err is human, but it feels divine.
  • I like my clothes to be tight enough to show I’m a woman, but loose enough to show I’m a lady.
  • I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
  • Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

41. Barbie or Ken : DOLL
Barbie’s male counterpart doll is Ken, and Ken’s family name is Carson. Barbie’s full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts. When Ken was introduced in 1959, it was as Barbie’s boyfriend. In 2004 it was announced that Ken and Barbie were splitting up, and needed to spend quality time apart. Soon after the split, Barbie “met” Blaine, a boogie boarder from Australia.

47. Fleming who created James Bond : IAN
Ian Fleming is most famous for writing the “James Bond” series of spy novels. You might also know that he wrote the children’s story “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, which was made into a cute movie released in 1968 and even a stage musical that opened in 2002.

51. Legal wrongs : TORTS
The word “tort” is a French word meaning “mischief, injury or wrong”. Tort law is generally about negligence, when the action of one party causes injury to another but that action falls outside of the scope of criminal law.

63. “Look at Me, I’m Sandra ___” : DEE
The actress Sandra Dee started out as a model before moving into film. After a promising start to her career it seemed to peter out, and the public became more interested in her 7-year marriage to Bobby Darin. And of course she will forever be remembered from the song in the movie and stage-show “Grease” called “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”.

65. Intl. group that’s the object of many mass protests : WTO
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The stated aim of the WTO is to liberalize international trade. The organization was founded in 1995 when an international agreement on trade was reached that effectively replaced the existing General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that was laid down in 1949.

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For the sake of completion, here is a full listing of all the answers:
Across
1. Monastery leader : ABBOT
6. Everyone working in an office : STAFF
11. Cousin ___ (Addams Family member) : ITT
14. Pixar robot : WALL-E
15. Opposite of black-and-white : COLOR
16. Gun rights org. : NRA
17. Santa player in “The Man in the Santa Claus Suit” : FRED ASTAIRE
19. Highest roll of a die : SIX
20. S.E.C. school near Atlanta, for short : UGA
21. Explorer and Escalade, in brief : SUVS
22. Nutmeg, for one : SPICE
24. Something sent to Santa : LETTER
26. Santa player in “The Polar Express” : TOM HANKS
29. Magnetite and bauxite : ORES
31. Temporary break : HIATUS
32. “In that case …” : IF SO …
35. Joe of “GoodFellas” : PESCI
37. Bread box, for short? : ATM
39. Cheerleader’s cry : RAH!
40. Santa player in “Elf” : ED ASNER
42. Boston ___ Party : TEA
43. Environmentalist’s prefix : ECO-
44. Main artery : AORTA
45. Not more than : MERE
46. Moves like water around a drain : SWIRLS
48. Big school dance : PROM
51. Santa player in “The Santa Clause” : TIM ALLEN
53. Is : EXISTS
57. Resident of Muscat : OMANI
58. “Yeah, why not!” : OKAY!
60. Mincemeat ___ (Christmas staple) : PIE
61. ___ Tin Tin : RIN
62. Santa player in “Miracle on 34th Street” : EDMUND GWENN
66. R.N.’s special touch : TLC
67. River through Paris : SEINE
68. Les ___-Unis : ETATS
69. Match, as a bet : SEE
70. Past or present : TENSE
71. Like the settlers of Iceland : NORSE

Down
1. Horrific : AWFUL
2. Flat-bottomed boat : BARGE
3. Sheep sound : BLEAT
4. Right jolly ___ elf (Santa) : OLD
5. Little puzzle : TEASER
6. Show on which John Candy and Eugene Levy got their starts : SCTV
7. One of a series at a wedding reception : TOAST
8. Boxer known as “The Greatest” : ALI
9. Gift tag word : FOR
10. Terry Gross’s NPR program : FRESH AIR
11. Imply : INSINUATE
12. April fool player : TRICKSTER
13. One of Benjamin Franklin’s certainties : TAXES
18. “Yeah, why not!” : SURE!
23. Boston footballer, for short : PAT
25. Overly : TOO
27. Zinger response : OH SNAP!
28. “Of ___ and Men” : MICE
30. Like the population of Wyoming : SPARSE
32. Fury : IRE
33. Exact copy : FACSIMILE
34. Neologism for an on-screen/off-screen relationship : SHOWMANCE
36. Winter hrs. in New York : EST
38. West who said “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted” : MAE
40. At one’s ___ convenience : EARLIEST
41. Barbie or Ken : DOLL
45. The year 2001 : MMI
47. Fleming who created James Bond : IAN
49. Peruse : READ
50. Astronaut’s tankful : OXYGEN
51. Legal wrongs : TORTS
52. Some of them are proper : NOUNS
54. Javelin : SPEAR
55. Some windshields have them : TINTS
56. Taste or touch : SENSE
59. Sitting spot for a child visiting Santa : KNEE
63. “Look at Me, I’m Sandra ___” : DEE
64. Max’s opposite : MIN
65. Intl. group that’s the object of many mass protests : WTO

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6 thoughts on “1219-16 New York Times Crossword Answers 19 Dec 16, Monday”

  1. 7:24, no errors, iPad. Did anyone else out there find "The Polar Express" really creepy? For me, all of the characters seemed to have the soulless eyes of alien creatures. (In subsequent movies made using the same technique, they seem to have fixed the problem, but that one really spooked me.)

  2. My previous post made me curious enough to finally do a Google search on "polar express soulless eyes" and it turned up many, many hits written by people who had exactly the same reaction to the movie that I did. So I'm not crazy … really … I'm not … trust me … 🙂

  3. @DaveKennison. I have only seen bits and pieces of "The Polar Express". It did seem creepy but, of course, I could not comment without having seen it in totality. I enjoyed today's puzzle. I especially liked the inclusion of Fred Astaire and Edmund Gwenn. Two of the old greats.

  4. 8:25 and no errors. Didn't find this one to be "Monday easy"; had to correct quite a few errors I made at the bottom to finish.

  5. 8:47, no errors. I see that we 'Syndicatees' will be seeing Christmas flashbacks for the next week or so.

    Having several grandchildren, I have seen "The Polar Express' more times than I can count. And, yes, I also felt that the cartoon characters were creepily realistic.

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