1231-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 31 Dec 2017, Sunday

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Constructed by: John Lampkin
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme: Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New

Themed answers are common phrases with a letter O added, or subtracted. The O is subtracted to give answers in the top half of the grid, and the O is added to give answers in the bottom half of the grid:

  • 22A. Result of a French powdered drink shortage? : LAST TANG IN PARIS (from “Last Tango in Paris”)
  • 35A. List of things said by Siri? : CELL RECITAL (from “cello recital”)
  • 55A. Washington, D.C.? : POL GROUNDS (from “Polo Grounds”)
  • 76A. Struggling sci-fi writer’s plea for recognition? : I NEED A HUGO (from “I need a hug”)
  • 96A. Treat that gives a glowing complexion? : URANIUM OREO (from “uranium ore”)
  • 113A. Weeklong Irish vacation? : SEVEN DAYS IN MAYO (from “Seven Days in May”)
  • 15D. One having trouble with basic arithmetic? : SUM WRESTLER (from “sumo wrestler”)
  • 34D. Photog’s bagful? : CAM GEAR (from “camo gear”)
  • 64D. Some loose dancing? : FLOPPY DISCO (from “floppy disc”)
  • 65D. Godfather after being double-crossed? : MAD CAPO (from “madcap”)

Bill’s time: 22m 55s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

4. New Deal org. : CCC

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a work relief program that was part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. The idea behind the program was to provide employment for young men who could not find work elsewhere. These young men provided manual labor for the conservation and development of natural resources owned by various levels of government.

7. Motley : RAGTAG

“Ragtag and bobtail” is a colorful phrase that’s used to describe the lowest classes, or the rabble. A “bobtail” is a horse that has had its tail cut short, a word that goes back as least as far as Shakespeare as he used it in “King Lear”. A “tag” is a piece of cloth that is torn and hanging, which was readily combined with “rag” in the original phrase “tag, rag and bobtail”. This idiom, perhaps originally quoted from Samuel Pepys in his diary in 1659, referred to the lower classes as “tag, rag and bobtail, dancing, singing and drinking”. The phrase evolved, giving us our contemporary word “ragtag” meaning ragged and unkempt.

13. “Dukes” : FISTS

“Dukes” is a slang term for “fists, hands”. The route taken by “dukes” to become fists seems very tortuous, but might just be true. The term “fork” has been slang for “hand” for centuries (and gives rise to “fork out” meaning “hand over”). The slang term “fork” is expressed in Cockney rhyming slang as “Duke of York”, shortened to “duke”. As I said, tortuous …

18. V.I.P. list : WHO’S WHO

Several publications use the phrase “Who’s Who” in the title. The oldest and best known is the British reference “Who’s Who” that has been listing prominent British people since 1849. There is a sister publication called “Who Was Who” that lists prominent people who have died since 1897.

20. Lamborghini rival : FERRARI

The Italian sports car company Ferrari was founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1939. Ferrari built the most expensive car ever sold: a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that exchanged hands for over $38 million in 2012.

Ferruccio Lamborghini was in the business of manufacturing tractors back in the late forties. Almost two decades later, he founded Automobili Lamborghini to produce high-end sports cars. That’s quite a shift in target market …

21. Arctic people : INUIT

The Inuit peoples live in the Arctic, in parts of the US, Russia, Greenland and Canada.

22. Result of a French powdered drink shortage? : LAST TANG IN PARIS (from “Last Tango in Paris”)

Tang is a fruity drink that is sold in powdered form. The sales of Tang “took off” when John Glenn took Tang on his Mercury flight. However, it is a common misconception that Tang was invented for the space program. That’s not true, although it was included in the payload of many missions.

24. 1959 Ritchie Valens hit, with “La” : BAMBA

“La Bamba” is a folk song from Veracruz, Mexico that became a huge hit for Ritchie Valens in 1958. The most notable cover version of the Valens hit was recorded by Los Lobos in 1987 as the title track of 1987 movie “La Bamba”.

25. Hook’s right hand : SMEE

In J. M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, Smee is one of Captain Hook’s pirates and is Hook’s right-hand man. Smee is described by Barrie as being “Irish” and “a man who stabbed without offence”. Nice guy! Captain Hook and Smee sail on the pirate ship called the Jolly Roger.

26. Hägar the Horrible’s hound : SNERT

“Hägar the Horrible” is a comic strip that was created by the late Dik Browne and is now drawn by his son, Chris Browne. “Hägar the Terrible” (not “Horrible”) was the nickname given to Dik by his sons. The strip’s title character is a red-bearded Viking living on the Norwegian coast during the Middle Ages. Hägar lives with his overbearing wife Helga, his sensitive son Hamlet, his pretty daughter Honi, and his clever dog Snert.

30. Secures at sea : BATTENS

Battens are strips of wood, especially those used to secure canvas covers over a ship’s hatches. The phrase “batten down the hatches” means “to prepare for disaster, the impending storm”.

32. Fig. checked during re-tire-ment? : PSI

Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) is a measure of pressure.

Ah, now I see. A figure checked during refitting a tire.

33. Legends in the automotive world : ACURAS

The Acura Legend model of car was sold as the Honda Legend over in Japan.

35. List of things said by Siri? : CELL RECITAL (from “cello recital”)

Siri is a software application that works with Apple’s iOS operating system. “Siri” is an acronym standing for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. Voice-over artist Susan Bennett revealed herself as the female American voice of Siri a few years ago. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.

38. 1920s-’30s Yankees nickname : THE BABE

Baseball legend George Herman Ruth, Jr. had several nicknames, the best known being “Babe”. He was also called “the Bambino” and “the Sultan of Swat”.

42. Sights at charging stations : TESLAS

Tesla Motors is a manufacturer of electric vehicles based in Palo Alto, California. Tesla is noted for producing the first electric sports car, called the Tesla Roadster. The company followed the sports car with a luxury sedan, the Model S. The Model S was the world’s best selling plug-in electric vehicle of 2015.

45. Softhead : SAP

“Sap” is slang for a fool, someone easily scammed. The term arose in the early 1800s in Britain, when it was short for in “saphead” and “sapskull”.

52. “Savvy?” : GET ME?

The term “savvy”, meaning “understanding”, comes from the French “savez-vous?”. The French phrase translates as “do you know?”

54. ___ Conference : TED

The acronym “TED” stands for Technology Entertainment and Design. TED is a set of conferences held around the world by a non-profit group called the Sapling Foundation. The conference subjects are varied, and the meetings are often led by big names such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Gates and Jane Goodall. The Sapling Foundation then makes recordings of the conferences available for free online with the intent of disseminating the ideas globally. These conferences are known as “TED Talks”.

55. Washington, D.C.? : POL GROUNDS (from “Polo Grounds”)

Politician (pol)

The original Polo Grounds in New York city was built in 1876 and as one might expect, it was used to play polo. The property was leased in 1880 by the New York Metropolitans and was converted into a baseball stadium. Over the years, the stadium was replaced, three times in all, but the “Polo Grounds” name was retained.

60. Neighbors of Egyptians : SUDANESE

Sudan was the largest country in Africa until 2011, when the Southern Sudan region opted by referendum to become independent. “North Sudan” retained the name of Sudan, and the new state is called South Sudan. Sudan is now the third largest country in the continent, after Algeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

62. Three-foot 1980s sitcom character : ALF

“ALF” is a sitcom that aired in the late eighties. The title character is a hand-puppet, and supposedly an alien named Gordon Shumway from the planet Melmac. The alien crash-landed into the house of amateur radio enthusiast Willie Tanner. Tanner renamed the intruder “ALF”, standing for “alien life form”.

65. Grammy winner ___ Elliott : MISSY

Melissa “Missy” Elliott is a rap artist who was childhood friends of fellow rapper Timbaland.

68. Cowboy Rogers : ROY

Cowboy actor and singer Roy Rogers’ real name was Leonard Franklin Slye, and his nickname was “King of the Cowboys”. Roy Rogers married Dale Evans in 1947. Evans’ nickname was “Queen of the West”.

69. Giant : GOLIATH

In the story of David and Goliath, the Israelites and the Philistines faced each other in battle at the Valley of Elah. Goliath was the warrior champion of the Philistines and each day he challenged the Israelites to send out their champion to decide the battle in a one-on-one fight. No one was courageous enough to accept the challenge until young David agreed to face the mighty Goliath. David felled the giant soldier with a stone from his sling.

76. Struggling sci-fi writer’s plea for recognition? : I NEED A HUGO (from “I need a hug”)

The Hugo Awards are presented annually for excellence in science fiction and fantasy writing. The awards are named for Hugo Gernsback, founder of the sci-fi magazine “Amazing Stories”.

78. Blade runner? : FAN

Those would be fan blades in a fan.

81. Hip-hop’s Shakur : TUPAC

Rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur adopted the inventive stage name “2Pac”. He was a hard man, spending eleven months in prison for sexual assault. He was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas at only 25 years of age.

83. Country that Menorca is part of : ESPANA

Spain is the second largest country in the European Union (after France). “Spain” is an anglicized form of the Spanish name “España”, which comes from the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula “Hispania”.

The island of Minorca in the Mediterranean takes its name from the larger neighboring island of Majorca. The names come from the Latin “Insula Minor” meaning “Minor Island” and “Insula Major” meaning “Major Island”. The island is known as “Minorca” in English, and “Menorca” in Spanish and Catalan.

85. If you have it, you might know what this answer is without reading the clue : ESP

Extrasensory perception (ESP)

86. Middle of a simile : AS AN

A simile is a figure of speech in which a comparison is made between two things that are unalike. For example, a person might be described as “cute as a kitten” or as “busy as a bee”.

88. Quenched : SLAKED

To slake is to satisfy a craving, as in slaking one’s thirst.

93. Some 1960s radicals : YIPPIES

Abbie Hoffman was the founder of the “Yippies”, an activist group that had violent clashes with the police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Hoffman, along with six other defendants, were eventually brought up on charges related to the protests and became known collectively as the “Chicago Seven”.

96. Treat that gives a glowing complexion? : URANIUM OREO (from “uranium ore”)

The isotope of uranium that is mostly found in nature in uranium-238. Natural uranium also contains a small amount (less than 1%) of uranium-235. When uranium is “enriched”, the percentage of uranium-235 is increased. Uranium containing 80% or more uranium-235 is known as “weapons grade”.

98. Chap : OLD BOY

“Chap” is an informal term for “lad, fellow”, that is used especially in England. The term derives from “chapman”, an obsolete word meaning “purchaser” or “trader”.

103. Scott of “Happy Days” : BAIO

Scott Baio is the actor who played Chachi Arcola in the great sitcom “Happy Days” and in the not-so-great spinoff “Joanie Loves Chachi”. Baio also played the title role in a later sitcom called “Charles in Charge”. Earlier in his career, he played another title role, in the 1976 movie “Bugsy Malone”, appearing opposite a young Jodie Foster.

104. Nasser’s successor as Egypt’s leader : SADAT

Anwar Sadat was the third President of Egypt right up to the time of his assassination in 1981. Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 along with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for the role played in crafting the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1978 at Camp David. It was this agreement that largely led to Sadat’s assassination three years later.

Gamal Abdel Nasser was the second president of Egypt, from 1956 until he died in 1970. He stood alongside Muhammad Naguib, Egypt’s first president, during the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 that overthrew the ruling monarchy of Egypt and Sudan. Nasser was an advocate of Pan-Arabism, an ideology promoting unification of Arab peoples and countries. President Nasser went so far as forming the United Arab Republic (UAR), a union between Egypt and Syria that started in 1958 but fell apart in 1961 when Syria withdrew.

107. “What’s Opera, Doc?” antagonist : ELMER

“What’s Opera, Doc?” is one of my favorite cartoons of all time. It’s all about Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny to musical extracts from Wagnerian operas. The most famous line from the cartoon if “Kill the Wabbit”, which Elmer sings to the main theme from “Ride of the Valkyries”. “What’s Opera, Doc?” cost Warner Bros. about six times as much as any other cartoon the studio had produced up to that time.

108. Film director ___ C. Kenton : ERLE

Erle Kenton was a film director from Norbro, Montana. Kenton directed 131 films between 1916 and 1957, including “The Ghost of Frankenstein”, “House of Frankenstein” and “House of Dracula”.

111. Canon competitor : EPSON

Seiko Epson is a Japanese company, and one of the largest manufacturers of printers in the world. The company has its roots in the watch business, roots that go back to 1942. Seiko was chosen as the official timekeeper for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and was asked to supply a timer that produced a printed record. This request brought Seiko into the business of printer production. The company developed the world’s first mini-printer for the 1964 Games and called it EP-101 (EP standing for Electronic Printer). In 1975 Seiko introduced the next generation of EP printers which was called EPSON, from “SON of EP”. Cute, huh?

113. Weeklong Irish vacation? : SEVEN DAYS IN MAYO (from “Seven Days in May”)

County Mayo is in the west of Ireland, and is one of my favorite parts of the country. “Mayo” is an anglicized spelling of the county’s name in Irish, “Maigh Eo”, which is pronounced as “Mayo” and means “plain of the yew trees”. One of the most famous spots in Mayo is Croagh Patrick, a 2,500 foot peak that many devout Catholic pilgrims ascend in their bare feet.

120. ___ performance : ENCORE

“Encore” is French for “again, one more time”, and is a shout that an audience member will make here in North America to request another song, say. But, the term is not used this way in France. Rather, the audience will shout “Bis!”, which is the Italian for “twice!”

122. Neuron’s ends? : ENS

There are two letters N in the word “neuron”, one at each end.

A nerve cell is more correctly called a neuron. The branched projections that receive electrochemical signals from other neurons are known as dendrites. The long nerve fiber that conducts signals away from the neuron is known as the axon. A neuron that has no definite axon is referred to as “apolar” or “nonpolar”. In apolar neurons the nerve impulses radiate in all directions.

Down

1. “Wise” sorts : OWLS

The Greek goddess Athena (sometimes “Athene”) is often associated with wisdom, among other attributes. In many representations. Athena is depicted with an owl sitting on her head. It is this linkage of the owl with the goddess of wisdom that led to today’s perception of the owl as being “wise”. Athena’s Roman counterpart was Minerva.

3. Result of a haymaker, maybe : NOSE BLEED

A haymaker is a wide, swinging punch. It is so called because the action involves using one’s weight and shoulder power to deliver the blow, with a motion much like using a scythe to cut hay.

4. 1/20 of a ton: Abbr. : CWT

In America, a hundredweight is 100 pounds, whereas in the UK, a hundredweight is 112 pounds. The hundredweight is also called a centum weight, which explains the abbreviation used: cwt.

8. Dadaist Jean : ARP

Jean Arp was a French artist renowned for his work with torn and pasted paper, although that wasn’t the only medium he used. Arp was the son of a French mother and German father and spoke both languages fluently. When he was speaking German he gave his name as Hans Arp, but when speaking French he called himself Jean Arp. Both “Hans” and “Jean” translate into English as “John”. In WWI Arp moved to Switzerland to avoid being called up to fight, taking advantage of Swiss neutrality. Eventually he was told to report to the German Consulate and fill out paperwork for the draft. In order to get out of fighting, Arp messed up the paperwork by writing the date in every blank space on the forms. Then he took off all of his clothes and walked with his papers over to the officials in charge. Arp was sent home …

9. Wimbledon surface : GRASS

There are four different surfaces used for playing tennis competitively:

  • Clay courts (used for the French Open)
  • Hard courts (used for the US Open and the Australian Open)
  • Grass courts (used for Wimbledon)
  • Carpet courts

10. Archaeological treasure trove : TAR PIT

A tar pit is an unusual geological feature, leakage of bitumen from below ground to the earth’s surface creating a pool of natural asphalt. One of the most famous of these occurrences is the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.

11. “Nessun dorma,” for one : ARIA

“Nessun dorma” has to be the tenor aria that most tugs at the heartstrings. It is taken from the last act of Puccini’s opera “Turandot”, and translates as “None shall sleep”. Back in my part of the world, “Nessun dorma” became a hit in the popular music charts, with a version by Pavarotti being used as the theme song to the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. No other classical recording has ever done better in the charts.

13. Statement made while crossing the fingers, maybe : FIB

To fib is to to tell a lie. The verb likely comes from “fibble-fable” meaning “nonsense”, with “fibble-fable” coming from “fable”.

14. Like the three men of the “Rub-a-dub-dub” nursery rhyme : IN A TUB

The nursery rhyme “Rub-a-Dub-Dub” dates back to at least 1798 when it was first published in London:

Rub-a-dub-dub,
Three men in a tub,
And how do you think they got there?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick-maker,
They all jumped out of a rotten potato,
‘Twas enough to make a man stare.

15. One having trouble with basic arithmetic? : SUM WRESTLER (from “sumo wrestler”)

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.

16. Neighbor of the talus : TIBIA

The collection of seven bones in the foot just below the ankle are known collectively as the tarsus. One of those bones is the talus (plural “tali”), more commonly called the ankle bone. The talus is the lower part of the ankle joint and articulates with the lower ends of the tibia and fibula in the lower leg.

20. Some Guinness Book records : FIRSTS

“The Guinness Book of World Records” holds some records of its own. It is the best-selling, copyrighted series of books of all time and is one of the books most often stolen from public libraries! The book was first published in 1954 by two twins, Norris and Ross McWhirter. The McWhirter twins found themselves with a smash hit, and eventually became very famous in Britain hosting a TV show based on world records.

23. Lamp polisher’s surprise? : GENIE

The “genie” in the bottle takes his or her name from “djinn”. “Djinns” were various spirits considered lesser than angels, with people exhibiting unsavory characteristics said to be possessed by djinn. When the book “The Thousand and One Nights” was translated into French, the word “djinn” was transformed into the existing word “génie”, because of the similarity in sound and the related spiritual meaning. This “génie” from the Arabian tale became confused with the Latin-derived “genius”, a guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth. Purely as a result of that mistranslation the word genie has come to mean the “djinn” that pops out of the bottle. A little hard to follow, I know, but still quite interesting …

28. “Quién ___?” : SABE

“Quién sabe?” is Spanish for “who knows?”

31. Batch of Brownies? : TROOP

Brownies are a members of the Girl Guiding organization who are seven to ten years old. When the group was founded in 1914 by Lord Baden-Powell, they were known as Rosebuds. That name wasn’t popular with the membership and so was changed, taking inspiration from an 1870 story by Juliana Horatia Ewing called “The Brownies”.

34. Photog’s bagful? : CAM GEAR (from “camo gear”)

Our word “camouflage” (often abbreviated to “camo”) evolved directly from a Parisian slang term “camoufler” meaning “to disguise”. The term was first used in WWI, although the British navy at that time preferred the expression “dazzle-painting” as it applied to the pattern painted on the hulls of ships.

36. Article in Der Spiegel : EINE

“Der Spiegel” is a very successful German magazine found on newsstands all over Europe. The name “Der Spiegel” translates from German into “the Mirror”.

37. “March comes in like ___ …” : A LION

“March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb” is a proverb suggesting that the month of March starts off with cold and unpleasant weather, but finishes mildly and quite pleasantly.

39. Cottonmouth’s warning : HISS

“Cottonmouth” is one of the common names of a venomous pit viper that is native to the southeastern US. The cottonmouth is a strong swimmer and is usually found in or near water. Another common name for the species is “water moccasin”.

40. Targets in “Men in Black,” informally : ETS

Extraterrestrial (ET)

“Men in black” (MIB) are said to have appeared in the past whenever there have been reports of UFO sightings. Supposedly, these men are government agents whose job it is to suppress reports of alien landings. The conspiracy theorists got their day in the movies with the release of a pretty good sci-fi comedy in 1997 called “Men in Black”, starring Will Smith (as Agent J) and Tommy Lee Jones (as Agent K).

47. Indiana’s state flower : PEONY

The flowering plant called a peony is named for Paean, the mythical physician to the Greek gods.

49. Puts forth : POSITS

To posit is to assume as fact, to lay down as a “position”.

51. Historic Mesopotamian city : EDESSA

The Greek city of Edessa is in the Central Macedonian region of the country. Edessa was the ancient capital of Macedon, and home to fabled King Midas.

58. Artificial silks : RAYONS

Rayon is a little unusual in the textile industry in that it is not truly a synthetic fiber, but nor can it be called a natural fiber. Rayon is produced from naturally occurring cellulose that is dissolved and then reformed into fibers.

59. Grow feathers : FLEDGE

A young bird is said to have fledged when its wing muscles and feathers have developed enough for it to fly. The term “fledgling” is used for a bird that has fledged, but is still reliant on a parent for food and protection. The verb “to fledge” means “to acquire feathers”. We use the term “fledgling” more generally to describe any person who is inexperienced.

63. ___ position : LOTUS

“Asana” is a Sanskrit word literally meaning “sitting down”. The asanas are the poses that a practitioner of yoga assumes. The most famous is the lotus position, the cross-legged pose called “padmasana”.

64. Some loose dancing? : FLOPPY DISCO (from “floppy disc”)

I don’t think my kids really know what a floppy disk is. A floppy disk is made up of a thin and flexible magnetic material that can store data, enclosed in a protective case. I’ve used 8-inch floppies in my time, and many 5.25-inch floppy disks. Until fairly recently, I had a desktop that would take 3.5-inch disks, although I think the last 3.5-inch floppy disappeared from the house several years ago …

65. Godfather after being double-crossed? : MAD CAPO (from “madcap”)

More properly called a “caporegime”, a “capo” is high-ranking member of the Mafia (Cosa Nostra).

67. Kyrgyz city : OSH

Osh is the second largest city in the former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan (after the capital Bishkek). Osh was a center of silk production and lies along the old Silk Road, the trade route that traversed Asia.

70. Panhandle state: Abbr. : IDA

The US state of Idaho has a panhandle that extends northwards between Washington and Montana, right up to the border with Canada. Across that border is the Canadian province of British Columbia. Most of Idaho is in the Mountain Time Zone, but Northern Idaho (the Panhandle) is in the Pacific Time Zone.

72. Action in FanDuel and DraftKings : BETS

DraftKings and FanDuel are companies offering fantasy sports games and leagues.

74. “King Lear” role : EDGAR

Edgar is a key figure in William Shakespeare’s tragedy “King Lear”. Edgar is the legitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester, a powerful man in england. Edgar is tricked by his brother, which leads to his exile. Edgar returns in disguise as a mad beggar, and in his disguise is able to help both his father and King Lear himself.

76. “The Last Days of Pompeii” heroine : IONE

“The Last Days of Pompeii” is a novel written in 1834 by the baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton. As the title suggests, the story culminates in the destruction of the Roman city of Pompeii during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

77. ___ bin Laden : OSAMA

Osama bin Laden founded his militant Islamist group called al-Qaeda in the late eighties. “Al-Qaeda” translates as “the base”, and can refer to a military base. It was originally the name of a training camp set up for mujahedin fighters opposing the Russians who occupied Afghanistan at the time.

79. Last Stuart queen : ANNE

Queen Anne was the last of the Stuarts to rule in the British Isles, and the first sovereign of the Kingdom of Great Britain (after England and Scotland united). Anne was the last of the Stuart line because she died without any surviving children, despite having been pregnant seventeen times.

80. Kind of alphabet : NATO

The NATO phonetic alphabet is also called the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) phonetic alphabet. It goes Alfa, Bravo, Charlie … X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

82. Moo goo ___ pan : GAI

Moo goo gai pan is the American version of a traditional Cantonese dish. In Cantonese, “moo goo” means “button mushroom”, “gai” is “chicken” and “pan” is “slices”.

84. “Sh,” “th” or “ou” : PHONEME

I’m no linguist and just accept that a “phoneme” is a basic sound in a language. A language is built up from a collection of those basic sounds.

87. 1974 C.I.A. spoof : S*P*Y*S

“S*P*Y*S” is a 1974 comedy starring Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland as two men mistaken as spies and targeted by the KGB. With all those asterisks in the film’s title, one has to assume the movie was intended to capitalize on the success of the 1970 Gould/Sutherland vehicle called “M*A*S*H”.

89. Big name in test prep : KAPLAN

Kaplan Inc. was founded in 1938 by Stanley Kaplan, who started out tutoring students for the New York State Regents Exam in the basement of his parents’ home in Brooklyn. He opened up locations for tuition around the country, and in 1984 sold the company to the Washington Post. Revenue for Kaplan was over 2½ billion dollars in 2009.

95. Polish, e.g. : SLAVIC

The Slavic peoples are in the majority in communities covering over half of Europe. This large ethnic group is traditionally broken down into three smaller groups:

  • the West Slavic (including Czechs and Poles)
  • the East Slavic (including Russians and Ukrainians)
  • the South Slavic (including Bulgarians and Serbs)

101. County in New Mexico or Colorado : OTERO

Otero County, New Mexico is home to a large part of the White Sands National Monument.

Otero County, Colorado was named for Miguel Antonio Otero, a founder of the county seat La Junta.

105. Court legend 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.

107. Falco of “The Sopranos” : EDIE

The actress Edie Falco won three Emmy Awards for playing Carmela Soprano on HBO’s outstanding drama series called “The Sopranos”. Falco also won an Emmy in 2010 for playing the title role in “Nurse Jackie”, an excellent black comedy.

109. The Eagles’ “___ Eyes” : LYIN’

The Eagles song “Lyin’ Eyes” was recorded in 1975. Written by band members Don Henley and Glenn Frey, the lyrics were inspired by a meeting between a man and a woman the composers witnessed in Dan Tana’s Bar & Restaurant in Los Angeles. Henley and Frey imagined a scenario of secret love, and “Lyin’ Eyes” was born.

112. December 31: Abbr. : NYE

New Year’s Eve (NYE)

114. D.C.-based media giant : NPR

National Public Radio (now just called “NPR”) was established in 1970 after President Johnson signed into law the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. The station’s first broadcast took place in April of 1971, and was coverage of the US Senate hearings on the Vietnam War. The intent of the act was to provide funding for radio and television broadcasting that wasn’t simply driven by profit. As a longtime fan of the state-funded BBC in the UK, I’d have to agree with that intent …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Have : OWN
4. New Deal org. : CCC
7. Motley : RAGTAG
13. “Dukes” : FISTS
18. V.I.P. list : WHO’S WHO
20. Lamborghini rival : FERRARI
21. Arctic people : INUIT
22. Result of a French powdered drink shortage? : LAST TANG IN PARIS (from “Last Tango in Paris”)
24. 1959 Ritchie Valens hit, with “La” : BAMBA
25. Hook’s right hand : SMEE
26. Hägar the Horrible’s hound : SNERT
27. Short rows : SPATS
29. Nincompoop : TWIT
30. Secures at sea : BATTENS
32. Fig. checked during re-tire-ment? : PSI
33. Legends in the automotive world : ACURAS
35. List of things said by Siri? : CELL RECITAL (from “cello recital”)
38. 1920s-’30s Yankees nickname : THE BABE
41. Deceive : LIE TO
42. Sights at charging stations : TESLAS
44. Thingamajig : ITEM
45. Softhead : SAP
48. What an infielder might field a ball on : ONE HOP
50. “Reckon so” : I GUESS
52. “Savvy?” : GET ME?
54. ___ Conference : TED
55. Washington, D.C.? : POL GROUNDS (from “Polo Grounds”)
59. Was beaten by : FELL TO
60. Neighbors of Egyptians : SUDANESE
61. Attribute to, in a way : BLAME ON
62. Three-foot 1980s sitcom character : ALF
65. Grammy winner ___ Elliott : MISSY
66. Cobbler, at times : SOLER
68. Cowboy Rogers : ROY
69. Giant : GOLIATH
71. Not just focused : OBSESSED
75. Butting heads : AT ODDS
76. Struggling sci-fi writer’s plea for recognition? : I NEED A HUGO (from “I need a hug”)
78. Blade runner? : FAN
81. Hip-hop’s Shakur : TUPAC
82. Attend without a date : GO STAG
83. Country that Menorca is part of : ESPANA
85. If you have it, you might know what this answer is without reading the clue : ESP
86. Middle of a simile : AS AN
88. Quenched : SLAKED
92. “Give me ___” : A HINT
93. Some 1960s radicals : YIPPIES
96. Treat that gives a glowing complexion? : URANIUM OREO (from “uranium ore”)
98. Chap : OLD BOY
100. Work as a branch manager? : LOP
102. Flag : PENNANT
103. Scott of “Happy Days” : BAIO
104. Nasser’s successor as Egypt’s leader : SADAT
107. “What’s Opera, Doc?” antagonist : ELMER
108. Film director ___ C. Kenton : ERLE
111. Canon competitor : EPSON
113. Weeklong Irish vacation? : SEVEN DAYS IN MAYO (from “Seven Days in May”)
116. Gross : YUCKY
117. Like some turns : HAIRPIN
118. Chose to take part : OPTED IN
119. What if, informally : S’POSE
120. ___ performance : ENCORE
121. Book before Esther: Abbr. : NEH
122. Neuron’s ends? : ENS

Down

1. “Wise” sorts : OWLS
2. “Pow!” : WHAM!
3. Result of a haymaker, maybe : NOSE BLEED
4. 1/20 of a ton: Abbr. : CWT
5. Pure : CHASTE
6. Couple : CONNECT
7. Torn : RENT
8. Dadaist Jean : ARP
9. Wimbledon surface : GRASS
10. Archaeological treasure trove : TAR PIT
11. “Nessun dorma,” for one : ARIA
12. Drift : GIST
13. Statement made while crossing the fingers, maybe : FIB
14. Like the three men of the “Rub-a-dub-dub” nursery rhyme : IN A TUB
15. One having trouble with basic arithmetic? : SUM WRESTLER (from “sumo wrestler”)
16. Neighbor of the talus : TIBIA
17. Much of a sports recap : STATS
19. Good hunting skill : STEALTH
20. Some Guinness Book records : FIRSTS
23. Lamp polisher’s surprise? : GENIE
28. “Quién ___?” : SABE
31. Batch of Brownies? : TROOP
32. Harass incessantly : PLAGUE
34. Photog’s bagful? : CAM GEAR (from “camo gear”)
35. Feature of Devonshire cream : CLOT
36. Article in Der Spiegel : EINE
37. “March comes in like ___ …” : A LION
39. Cottonmouth’s warning : HISS
40. Targets in “Men in Black,” informally : ETS
43. Stars : SUNS
46. Childish retort : AM TOO!
47. Indiana’s state flower : PEONY
49. Puts forth : POSITS
51. Historic Mesopotamian city : EDESSA
53. Wand material in the Harry Potter books : ELM
56. Thick and green : LUSH
57. Merchandise: Abbr. : GDS
58. Artificial silks : RAYONS
59. Grow feathers : FLEDGE
61. Like the French sky : BLEU
62. Colorful quartz : AGATE
63. ___ position : LOTUS
64. Some loose dancing? : FLOPPY DISCO (from “floppy disc”)
65. Godfather after being double-crossed? : MAD CAPO (from “madcap”)
67. Kyrgyz city : OSH
70. Panhandle state: Abbr. : IDA
72. Action in FanDuel and DraftKings : BETS
73. Close tightly : SEAL UP
74. “King Lear” role : EDGAR
76. “The Last Days of Pompeii” heroine : IONE
77. ___ bin Laden : OSAMA
78. Legitimate business practices : FAIR TRADE
79. Last Stuart queen : ANNE
80. Kind of alphabet : NATO
82. Moo goo ___ pan : GAI
84. “Sh,” “th” or “ou” : PHONEME
87. 1974 C.I.A. spoof : S*P*Y*S
89. Big name in test prep : KAPLAN
90. Opposite side : ENEMY
91. Makes a meal of : DINES ON
94. Apple app for viewing reading material : IBOOKS
95. Polish, e.g. : SLAVIC
97. Green : UNRIPE
98. Heeds : OBEYS
99. Eagerly accept : LAP UP
101. County in New Mexico or Colorado : OTERO
105. Court legend Arthur : ASHE
106. Eldest member of an organization : DEAN
107. Falco of “The Sopranos” : EDIE
109. The Eagles’ “___ Eyes” : LYIN’
110. Forever and ever : EONS
112. December 31: Abbr. : NYE
114. D.C.-based media giant : NPR
115. 1st, 2nd, 3rd … ___ : NTH

11 thoughts on “1231-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 31 Dec 2017, Sunday”

  1. Some puzzles are apparently meant to teach one humility. I did this one last night on my iPad during a late dinner at a local restaurant. At about the 25-minute mark, I confidently filled in the last square … and got the “almost there” message. So I sat there for another hour, checking and rechecking (I thought) every single entry. Eventually, I caved in and used Google to verify the few things I had any question about (all of which were correct). Then, I used Google to check all the things I was sure of (all of which were correct). Ultimately, I realized what had to be wrong: the NYT app was checking my answers against an incorrect answer set! So I closed the iPad, drank the last of my third cup of coffee, paid my bill, got in my car, and drove home. There, I opened the iPad, looked at the grid, and instantly realized that, early on, I had filled in TROUP and HUP instead of TROOP and HOP. How could I possibly have spent all that time without seeing such an error? (A rhetorical question; please be kind … ?.)

  2. Eerily similar experience to Dave’s with a few revisions. I had hit the 46 minute mark and got the silent treatment. I quickly found my error in a typo. I fixed it but still got the silent treatment. I scoured the grid for another 10 minutes or so and found nothing. The thought of something being wrong with the site occurred to me as well. I finally gave up (mostly so as not to exceed one hour) and pressed the “reveal” button. Turns out my error was SNERd/RENd…

    Fun puzzle with a well orchestrated theme. The journey from Dukes to fists is tortuous, but it is indeed interesting…

    Best –

    1. Tough break there. I correctly had SNERT/RENT, but after reading your comment, and remembering that 7 down could’ve possibly been REND, I had to check myself. It’s the **past tense* of the clue, “Torn” that makes the down word REN*T*. Whew!!!! (Incidentally, I’m a daily reader of Hagar the Horrible and I **thought** knew the name of his dog by memory!!)

  3. 47:47, no errors. A big challenge for me, mostly due to the apparent inconsistency of the theme application, adding O’s here, and deleting them there; for no rhyme or reason (needed Bill’s clarification to understand the logic).

    Anyone surprised by the recent revelations about what an immoral slime pit the movie/entertainment industry is, need only check the history behind ‘Last Tango in Paris”. Not only did the movie contain an actual sodomy rape scene (the actress was not informed of the details beforehand so the director could capture a more genuine reaction); but, what’s worse, the film garnered two Academy Award nominations: Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Director (Bernardo Bertolucci).

  4. 42:32 and 3 errors in the bottom right. No idea of what a PHONEME is, and that fouled both ERLE (I had ARLE) and SEVENDAYSINMAYO, which means f***-all to anyone who isn’t Irish.

    Really am getting fed up with these “forced pun themes”. This one is especially egregious. We’re supposed to intuit from the title that “ring” is both a verb and a noun to understand the gag… that’s just **reaching** to begin with. And then the application of the stupid gag just elicits one groaner after another. Oh, my head. It’s enough to drive a man to drink.

    This is not cute. It’s not clever. It’s not funny. It’s just *bad*. Can’t we just have good puzzle challenges and leave it at that???

  5. Man this Allen Dickerson dude has to be the most negative person I have come across in the puzzle world. Allen, maybe you should move on to Sudoku or Ken-Ken and let us enjoy these wonderful crosswords without all your negativity. I love them and I think most of the others who come here do too.

    1. I do Sudoku right after the NYT puzzle. Those are quite a bit less “subjective” than crosswords. Sorry you don’t like an opinion that differs from yours. Different strokes for different folks, I guess! Enjoy!

  6. Couldn’t get beyond my blind spot that 92 across “had to be” I NEED A HAND, which meant I couldn’t get 78 down or 80 down. So, four letters off. I thought it was a fun theme, though.

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