1208-18 NY Times Crossword 8 Dec 18, Saturday

Constructed by: Trenton Charlson & David Steinberg
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 18m 27s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Informal font : COMIC SANS

Comic Sans MS is a font that looks a bit like that used in old comic books. Comic Sans was released by Microsoft in 1994. If you live in the Netherlands, you are lucky enough to enjoy Comic Sans Day on the first Friday of July each year.

14. Out and about? : OPENLY GAY

Back in the 1950s, to come “out of the closet” was to admit to being an alcoholic. By the seventies, the phrase mainly referred to gay people shrugging off secrecy about their sexual orientation.

16. Symbol created in 1958 as the logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament : PEACE SIGN

The peace symbol that we tend to use today was born in the 1950s. It was originally created as the logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), an organization based in the UK. The CND symbol was designed by artist Gerald Holtom for a 1958 protest march from Trafalgar Square in London to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire, England. The use of the symbol simply spread throughout the world and was used by other disarmament and antiwar activists.

17. Ermine predator : SABLE

Sables are small mammals, about two feet long, that are found right across northern Europe and northern Asia. The sable’s black pelt is highly prized in the fur trade. Sable is unique among furs in that it feels smooth no matter which direction it is stroked.

The stoat has dark brown fur in the summer, and white fur in the winter. Sometimes the term “ermine” is used for the animal during the winter when the fur is white. Ermine skins have long been prized by royalty and are often used for white trim on ceremonial robes.

18. It follows directions : -ERN

Northern, southern, etc.

19. Talisa Maegyr’s portrayer on “Game of Thrones” : OONA CHAPLIN

Oona Chaplin is an actress from Madrid in Spain. Chaplin is getting a lot of airtime these days as she plays Talisa Maegyr on HBO’s hit fantasy series “Game of Thrones”. Oona is the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, and is named for her maternal grandmother Oona O’Neill, the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill.

26. Doctors Without Borders, e.g., briefly : NGO

Non-governmental organization (NGO)

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) is an international aid organization that was founded in France in 1971. The organization is usually referred to as Doctors Without Borders here in North America, but goes by the initialism MSF in much of the world.

27. Open courts : ATRIA

In modern architecture, an atrium (plural “atria” or “atriums”) is a large open space usually in the center of a building and extending upwards to the roof. The original atrium was an open court in the center of an Ancient Roman house. One could access most of the enclosed rooms of the house from the atrium.

35. Film villain with one eye : HAL

In Arthur C. Clarke’s “Space Odyssey” (famously adapted for the big screen as “2001: A Space Odyssey”) the computer system that went rogue was called HAL 9000, or simply “HAL”. HAL stands for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer. Even though, Clarke denied it, there’s a good argument that can be made that the acronym HAL is a veiled reference to IBM, the big player in the world of computing at the time of the novel’s publication (1968). The acronym HAL is just a one-letter shift from the initials “IBM”.

41. Goody two-shoes : SAINT

The expression “goody two-shoes” is used for someone who is virtuous, but in a smug way. The term comes from a nursery tale published in 1765 called “The History of Goody Two-Shoes”. Goody Two-Shoes is the heroine of the tale, and actually isn’t smug at all. Instead, she is a Cinderella-like character in a retelling of the Cinderella story.

43. John, overseas : IAN

The name “John” translates into Scottish as “Ian”, into Russian as “Ivan”, into Italian as “Giovanni”, into Spanish as “Juan”, and into Irish as “Seán”.

51. High in the Andes? : ALTO

The Andes range is the longest continuous chain of mountains in the world. It runs down the length of the west coast of South America for about 4,300 miles, from Venezuela in the north to Chile in the south. The highest peak in the Andes is Mt. Aconcagua, at an elevation of 22,841 feet. Interestingly, the peak of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furthest point on the Earth’s surface from the center of the planet. That’s because of the equatorial “bulge” around the Earth’s “waist”.

56. Vietnam’s Dien Bien ___ : PHU

The Battle of Điện Biên Phủ was fought in Vietnam in 1954 at the height of the First Indochina War. The war was between the occupying French forces and the Viet Minh revolutionaries, with the battle resulting in a resounding defeat for the French. The war ended with the signing of the 1954 Geneva Accords just a few months after the battle, after which France made a complete withdrawal from Vietnam. There was no peace though, with the Second Indochina War following a few years later, better known in the US as the Vietnam War.

57. Some “Lord of the Rings” characters : RUNES

A rune is a character in an alphabet that is believed to have mysterious powers. In Norse mythology, the runic alphabet was said to have a divine origin.

60. Female name that’s the name of a female assistant backward : IRIS

“Siri” is the name “Iris” written backwards.

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.

61. Forger’s mark? : ART DEALER

An art dealer might be the victim of a forger, a forger’s “mark”.

62. Trashes : PANS

To pan something is to criticize it harshly.

Down

3. 2004 movie featuring a clique called the Plastics : MEAN GIRLS

“Mean Girls” is a teen comedy movie released in 2004 starring Lindsay Lohan. Tina Fey also puts in an appearance, which really isn’t surprising as Fey wrote the screenplay.

4. Business end? : INC

A company that has incorporated uses the abbreviation “Inc.” after its name. By incorporating, a company forms a corporation, which is a legal entity that has legal rights similar to those of an individual. For example, a corporation can sue another corporation or individual. However, a corporation does not have all the rights of citizens. A corporation does not have the Fifth Amendment right of protections against self-incrimination, for example. It is perhaps understandable that the concept of “corporations as persons” is a frequent subject for debate.

5. Last Ptolemaic ruler, informally : CLEO

Cleopatra was the last pharaoh to rule Egypt. After she died, Egypt became a province in the Roman Empire.

The Ptolemaic dynasty was a Greek royal family that ruled in Egypt from 305 BC to 30 BC. The dynasty started when Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great’s bodyguards, was given charge of Egypt after Alexander’s death in 323 BC. Ptolemy and his descendants then became the successors to the pharaohs of independent Egypt, and ruled the country until the Romans took over in 30 BC.

6. Post masters? : SYSOPS

System operator (sysop)

7. Subject of gerontology : AGING

Gerontology is the study of all aspects of aging, including its biology, psychology and sociology. Geriatrics is the study of diseases encountered in older adults.

10. Only three-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame : CLAPTON

Can you believe that the great Eric Clapton only had one chart-topper in the US? In 1974, Clapton released a cover version of the Bob Marley classic “I Shot the Sheriff” and ended up selling more copies of that song than Bob Marley did himself. Clapton is the only person to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times: once as a member of the Yardbirds, once as a member of the supergroup Cream, and once as a solo artist.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can be visited on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was created in 1983 and started inducting artists in 1986. The Foundation didn’t get a home until the museum was dedicated in Cleveland in 1995. I had the great privilege of visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago and really enjoyed myself. The magnificent building was designed by famed architect I. M. Pei.

11. Second-oldest national currency : RUBLE

The ruble (also “rouble”) is the unit of currency in Russia, as well as in several other countries in the former Soviet Union. One ruble is divided into one hundred kopecks (also “kopeks”).

The oldest currency in the world that is still in use is the British pound.

12. Half of a 1980s sitcom duo : ALLIE

The sitcom “Kate & Allie” ran from 1984 to 1989, starring Susan Saint James as Kate, and Jane Curtin as Allie. Jane Curtin won two Emmy awards for her work on the series, while Susan Saint James … did not.

13. John in space : GLENN

John Glenn was a Marine Corps pilot, astronaut and US Senator. As an astronaut, Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, in 1962. He later became the oldest person to fly in space, in 1998 at the age of 77.

17. Sea with no land boundaries : SARGASSO

The Sargasso Sea is an area within the Atlantic Ocean that is famous as the home to many species of Sargassum, the algae floating on the surface that gives the area its name. The Sargasso Sea is also where both European and American species of eel lay their eggs and hatch their young. The young eels (or “elvers”) then head east or west, depending on the species.

20. Female deer : HINDS

Nowadays, a hart is a male red deer over five years old. A hind is a female red deer.

22. “Moonlight” actor : ALI

“Moonlight” is a 2016 semi-autobiographical film based on an unpublished play by Tarell Alvin McCraney titled “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”. “Moonlight” won the season’s Best Picture Oscar, thus becoming the first film to do so with an all-black cast, and the first with an LGBT storyline.

Mahershala Ali is an actor and sometime rapper. Among the more memorable roles Ali has had are lobbyist Remy Danton in TV’s “House of Cards”, and Colonel Boggs in “The Hunger Games” series of movies. He also won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing Juan in the 2016 drama “Moonlight”.

25. 2016 WNBA champs, informally : LA SPARKS

The Los Angeles Sparks women’s basketball team was founded just before the WNBA opened its doors for business in 1997.

28. Greek letter that once symbolized life and resurrection : TAU

Tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet, and the letter which gave rise to our Roman “T”. Both the letters tau (T) and chi (X) have long been symbolically associated with the cross.

30. Skype or FaceTime, e.g. : APP

The main feature of the Skype application when introduced was that it allows voice communication to take place over the Internet (aka VoIP). Skype has other features such as video conferencing and instant messaging, but the application made its name from voice communication. Skype was founded by two Scandinavian entrepreneurs and the software necessary was developed by a team of engineers in Estonia. The development project was originally called “Sky peer-to-peer” so the first commercial name for the application was “Skyper”. This had to be shortened to “Skype” because the skyper.com domain name was already in use.

FaceTime is an Apple video-telephony application. I guess it’s similar to Skype. Personally, I gave up on Skype and am now a loyal user of Google Hangouts and Google Duo …

33. Long division? : EON

Geological time is divided into a number of units of varying lengths. These are, starting from the largest:

  • supereon
  • eon (also “aeon”)
  • era
  • period
  • epoch
  • age

37. Mila of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” : KUNIS

Mila Kunis is a Ukrainian-born, American actress who plays Jackie Burkhart on “That ’70s Show”. Fans of the cartoon series “Family Guy” might recognize her voicing the Meg Griffin character. In ”Black Swan”, Kunis plays a rival ballet dancer to the character played by Natalie Portman. In her personal life, Kunis dated Macaulay Culkin for 8 years, but married Ashton Kutcher, her co-star from “That 70s Show”, in 2015.

44. Out of fashion : DEMODE

“Démodé” is a French word meaning “no longer in fashion”.

46. Bridge officer on the original Enterprise : 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 interracial 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.

49. He said “I learned to be a movie critic by reading Mad magazine” : EBERT

Roger Ebert co-hosted a succession of film review television programs for over 23 years, most famously with Gene Siskel until Siskel passed away in 1999. Siskel and Ebert famously gave their thumbs up or thumbs down to the movies they reviewed. Ebert himself died in 2013.

52. 2012 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, informally : THE EU

The European Union (EU) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”

53. Weird : OUTRE

The word “outré” meaning “unconventional, bizarre” comes to us from French, as one might imagine. It is derived from the verb “outrer” meaning “to overdo, exaggerate”. “Outrer” is also the ultimate root of our word “outrage”.

55. “Double” or “triple” move : AXEL

An axel is a forward take-off jump in figure skating. The maneuver was first performed by Norwegian Axel Paulsen at the 1882 World Figure Skating championships.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Informal font : COMIC SANS
10. Rock climber’s challenge : CRAG
14. Out and about? : OPENLY GAY
15. Break : LULL
16. Symbol created in 1958 as the logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament : PEACE SIGN
17. Ermine predator : SABLE
18. It follows directions : -ERN
19. Talisa Maegyr’s portrayer on “Game of Thrones” : OONA CHAPLIN
21. It’s a long story : SAGA
23. Like “Wonder Woman” : PG-THIRTEEN
24. They’re no good : ILLS
26. Doctors Without Borders, e.g., briefly : NGO
27. Open courts : ATRIA
29. Really clicks with a partner, say? : TAP DANCES
35. Film villain with one eye : HAL
36. Access to the slopes : SKI PASS
38. Plot device? : HOE
39. Deep-fried ball of cornmeal : HUSH PUPPY
41. Goody two-shoes : SAINT
43. John, overseas : IAN
44. Honey : DOLL
45. “You decide” : SURPRISE ME
51. High in the Andes? : ALTO
54. Sarcastic political meme that started in 2009 : THANKS OBAMA
56. Vietnam’s Dien Bien ___ : PHU
57. Some “Lord of the Rings” characters : RUNES
58. Cleansing ritual : DETOX DIET
60. Female name that’s the name of a female assistant backward : IRIS
61. Forger’s mark? : ART DEALER
62. Trashes : PANS
63. Color achieved during tempering : STEEL BLUE

Down

1. Gets along : COPES
2. Word with light or rock : … OPERA
3. 2004 movie featuring a clique called the Plastics : MEAN GIRLS
4. Business end? : INC
5. Last Ptolemaic ruler, informally : CLEO
6. Post masters? : SYSOPS
7. Subject of gerontology : AGING
8. Plague : NAG AT
9. Match (up) : SYNCH
10. Only three-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame : CLAPTON
11. Second-oldest national currency : RUBLE
12. Half of a 1980s sitcom duo : ALLIE
13. John in space : GLENN
17. Sea with no land boundaries : SARGASSO
20. Female deer : HINDS
22. “Moonlight” actor : ALI
25. 2016 WNBA champs, informally : LA SPARKS
27. “That hits the spot!” : AHH!
28. Greek letter that once symbolized life and resurrection : TAU
29. Pro ___ : TIP
30. Skype or FaceTime, e.g. : APP
31. Info in many a help wanted ad : PAY
32. Metaphorical prescription : CHILL PILL
33. Long division? : EON
34. Go down : SET
37. Mila of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” : KUNIS
40. Cool air? : HIPNESS
42. ___ plancha (pan-fried) : A LA
44. Out of fashion : DEMODE
45. High-traffic commercial area : STRIP
46. Bridge officer on the original Enterprise : UHURA
47. Arrested : RAN IN
48. Pops : SODAS
49. He said “I learned to be a movie critic by reading Mad magazine” : EBERT
50. Dull and flat : MATTE
52. 2012 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, informally : THE EU
53. Weird : OUTRE
55. “Double” or “triple” move : AXEL
59. Touch : DAB

4 thoughts on “1208-18 NY Times Crossword 8 Dec 18, Saturday”

  1. 33:32, no errors. I’ll echo Dave’s assessment. Very difficult in places. Deliberately vague and misdirective clues. Last section to fill was upper right corner, entering SNAKE in 17A didn’t help.

    Still not sure how L.A. SPARKS is informal for the Los Angeles Sparks; unless locals give it a Spanish twist and refer to the team as ‘LA SPARKS’.

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