1210-18 NY Times Crossword 10 Dec 18, Monday

Constructed by: Alex Eylar
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: The Plot Thickens

Themed answers start with elements that make up a PLOT of land. THE PLOT THICKENS as we move from the top of the grid to the bottom, from DIRT to JUNGLE:

  • 37A. “Now things are getting interesting” … or a hint to the first words of 17-, 24-, 45- and 57-Across : THE PLOT THICKENS
  • 17A. Extremely inexpensive : DIRT CHEAP
  • 24A. Bottom-up, as a political movement : GRASS-ROOTS
  • 45A. Amateurish : BUSH LEAGUE
  • 57A. Bars that kids go to? : JUNGLE GYM

Bill’s time: 5m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9. Brewing giant originally based in Milwaukee : PABST

Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) is the most recognizable brand of beer from the Pabst Brewing Company. There appears to be some dispute over whether or not Pabst beer ever won a “blue ribbon” prize, but the company claims that it did so at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The beer was originally called Pabst Best Select, and then just Pabst Select. With the renaming to Blue Ribbon, the beer was sold with an actual blue ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle until it was dropped in 1916 and incorporated into the label.

Milwaukee sits on the western shore of Lake Michigan, and is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin. Milwaukee has a long tradition of brewing, a tradition that dates back to the 1850s that is associated with the large number of German immigrants that started to arrive in the area during the 1840s. Even though the city was once home to four of the world’s largest breweries, namely Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst and Miller, only the latter is a major employer in Milwaukee today.

16. Hawaiian greeting : ALOHA

The Hawaiian word “aloha” has many meanings in English: affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. More recently, “aloha” has come to mean “hello” and “goodbye”, but only since the mid-1800s.

22. Confucian philosophy : TAO

The name of the Chinese character “tao” translates as “path”, but the concept of Taoism signifies the true nature of the world.

The sayings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (anglicized from “K’ung Fu-Tse”) are collected in a work called “The Analects” or “Linyu”. It wasn’t Confucius who wrote down his thoughts though, but rather his pupils, some 40 or so years after his death in 479 BC.

31. New Testament trio : MAGI

“Magi” is the plural of the Latin word “magus”, a term applied to someone who was able to read the stars. Hence, “magi” is commonly used with reference to the “wise men from the East” who followed the star and visited Jesus soon after he was born. In Western Christianity, the three Biblical Magi are:

  • Melchior: a scholar from Persia
  • Caspar: a scholar from India
  • Balthazar: a scholar from Arabia

40. Gilbert of “Roseanne” and “The Conners” : SARA

The actress Sara Gilbert grew up playing Darlene on the sitcom “Roseanne” from 1988 to 1997. Today Gilbert appears fairly often on another hit sitcom, namely “The Big Bang Theory”. You can also see her on the daytime talk show called “The Talk”, a show that she herself created. And, she made a comeback as Darlene in 2018 in the “Roseanne” reboot(s).

42. Ship of 1492 : PINTA

Famously, Christopher Columbus used three ships in his first voyage across the Atlantic: the Santa Maria, the Niña and the Pinta. The Pinta was the fastest of the three, and it was from the Pinta that the New World was first spotted, by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana who was a lookout on the fateful day. Pinta was a nickname for the ship that translated as “the painted one”. The Pinta’s real name has been lost in mists of time.

43. High degree : PHD

“Ph.D.” is an abbreviation for “philosophiae doctor”, Latin for “teacher of philosophy”. Often, candidates for a PhD already hold a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, so a PhD might be considered a “third degree”.

45. Amateurish : BUSH LEAGUE

“Bush league” is baseball slang for “minor league” or “unprofessional”. The idea is that a minor league team might be based in “the sticks” or “the bushes”, in a small town.

51. GPS lines: Abbr. : RDS

Global positioning system (GPS)

52. Going from gig to gig : ON TOUR

Musicians use “gig” to describe a job, a performance. The term originated in the early 1900s in the world of jazz. The derivative phrase “gig economy” applies to a relatively recent phenomenon where workers find themselves jumping from temporary job to temporary job, from gig to gig.

53. Texas city seen in many westerns : LAREDO

Laredo is a border city in Texas that is situated on the banks of the Rio Grande, across the border from Nuevo Laredo in Mexico.

56. Hatred : ODIUM

Odium is a strong dislike or aversion. The term is Latin in origin and relates to the Latin word “odi” meaning “I hate”.

57. Bars that kids go to? : JUNGLE GYM

The Junglegym was invented in Chicago in 1920, although today we use the generic term “jungle gym”. I hear that monkey bars are a specific type of jungle gym, one consisting primarily of vertical steps and a horizontal ladder from which the “little monkey” can swing from rung to rung.

61. Iraq War danger, in brief : IED

Improvised explosive devices (IED)

62. One of the Hawaiian Islands : KAUAI

Because the Hawaiian island of Kauai is one of the wettest places on earth, all the rainfall has helped to carve out magnificent canyons and left superb waterfalls. The island is often used as a backdrop for movies. The facilities at the island’s Lihue Airport reflect the pleasant climate enjoyed by the Hawaiian Islands. Check-in takes place completely outdoors!

64. “Here’s something interesting,” in brief : FYI

For your information (FYI)

Down

1. Timothy Leary’s drug : LSD

Timothy Leary was a psychologist and writer, an icon of the sixties counterculture and a promoter of the use of LSD. Leary popularized the phrase “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” in the sixties. After he died, some of Leary’s ashes were “buried” in space, launched aboard a rocket that contained the ashes of 24 other people including “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry.

2. “The Greatest” in the ring : ALI

After Muhammad Ali passed away in June 2016, there was a large prayer service and funeral procession in his hometown of Louisville. The pallbearers included actor Will Smith and boxer Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson. Eulogies were delivered by Ali’s wife Lonnie, Billy Crystal, Bryant Gumbel and former President Bill Clinton.

4. “___, Brute!” : ET TU

It was Shakespeare who popularized the words “Et tu, Brute?” (meaning “And you, Brutus?”). They appear in his play “Julius Caesar”, although the phrase had been around long before he penned his drama. It’s not known what Julius Caesar actually said in real life (if anything at all) as he was assassinated on on the steps of the Senate in Rome.

6. ___-de-lis : FLEUR

“Lys” (sometimes “lis”) is the French word for “lily” as in “fleur-de-lys”, the heraldic symbol often associated with the French monarchy.

7. Cowboy’s rope : RIATA

A riata is a lariat or a lasso. “Riata” comes from “reata”, the Spanish word for lasso.

9. Danish or cream puff : PASTRY

The Danish pastry that we know so well over here in the US is indeed a Danish specialty, although the recipe was brought to Denmark by Austrian bakers. A “Danish” is called “Viennese bread” in Denmark.

10. Avis competitor : ALAMO

The third largest car rental company in recent years is Alamo, which was founded in 1974. Alamo made inroads (pun!) into the market by popularizing the idea of “unlimited mileage”.

11. Highly successful, in theaterspeak : BOFFO

“Boffo” is show biz slang for “very successful”, and is a term that dates back to the early sixties.

12. One of 500 in a ream : SHEET

A ream is 500 sheets of paper. As there were 24 sheets in a quire, and 20 quires made up a ream, there used to be 480 sheets in a ream. Ever since the standard was changed to 500, a 480-sheet packet of paper has been called a “short ream”. We also use the term “reams” to mean a great amount, evolving from the idea of a lot of printed material.

13. Zaps with a police gun : TASES

Victor Appleton wrote a novel for young adults called “Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle”. The company that developed the TASER electroshock weapon partly named its product as a homage to the novel. The acronym “TASER” stands for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”.

18. Harleys, in slang : HOGS

The Harley-Davidson motorcycle company was founded in the very early 1900s by two childhood friends, William Harley and Arthur Davidson, . Their first design was in effect an engine hooked up to a pedal bicycle, but the 116 cc cylinder capacity simply couldn’t generate enough power to get up the hills of their native city of Milwaukee. The pair came up with a redesigned model that had a cylinder capacity of 405 cc, which the partners built in a shed at the back of Davidson’s house. In 1906, the partners built their first factory, located where the company’s headquarters is to this day, on Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Famously, Harley motorcycles are nicknamed “hogs”.

21. PC character set : ASCII

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) lists codes for 32 “control” characters, as well as the 95 printable characters. These binary codes are the way that our computers can understand what we mean when we type say a letter, or a number. Unicode is a more contemporary standard, and is like “Ascii on steroids”, encompassing more characters.

27. Stage after larva : PUPA

The pupa is an intermediate stage in the development of an insect. All four stages are embryo, larva, pupa and imago.

28. Bilingualism subj. : ESL

English as a Second Language (ESL) is sometimes referred to as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL).

31. Sacred peak in Greek myth: Abbr. : MT IDA

There are two peaks called Mount Ida that are sacred according to Greek mythology. Mount Ida in Crete is the island’s highest point, and is where one can find the cave in which Zeus was reared. Mount Ida in Asia Minor (located in modern-day Turkey) is where Ganymede was swept up by Zeus in the form of an eagle that took him to Olympus where he served as cupbearer to the gods.

34. Was a maverick : WENT ROGUE

The concept of being one’s own person, going it alone, is popularly known as being a “maverick”. In the days of open range ranching, a maverick was a steer that didn’t carry a brand. An unbranded animal was usually the result of a branded animal giving birth on the open range, with the young growing up without having being captured and claimed by an owner. The use of the name “maverick” comes from Texas rancher Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle. He stated that he did not want to inflict pain on his cattle, and so laid claim to any cattle on the range that weren’t branded. His stubborn refusal to cooperate with the neighboring ranchers gave rise to our modern description of a single-minded individual as a “maverick”.

36. Old Russian royals : TSARS

The last ruler of Imperial Russia was Tsar Nicholas II (of the House of Romanov). Famously, the Tsar and his family were murdered in 1918 in the basement of a house in Yekaterinburg, Russia by members of the Bolshevik secret police. The Tsar’s youngest daughter was 16-year-old Anastasia and rumors of her escape have persisted for years. The rumors grew with the help of numerous women who claimed to be Anastasia. In 2009, DNA testing finally proved that the remains of all of the Tsar’s immediate family, including Anastasia, have been found and identified.

39. Computer’s “brain,” for short : CPU

The central processing unit (CPU) is the main component on the motherboard of a computer. The CPU is the part of the computer that carries out most of the functions required by a program. Nowadays you can get CPUs in everything from cars to telephones.

44. What the Titanic had a disastrous encounter with : BERG

The RMS Titanic set off on her tragic maiden voyage in 1912, sailing from Southampton, England bound for New York City. Regulations only required that the ship have lifeboat capacity for 1,178 people, even though a full complement of passengers and crew was 3,547. When the order was given to abandon ship, the captain adhered to the traditional protocol of “women and children first”. As a result, only 20% of male passengers survived the disaster, compared to 75% of the female passengers. Perhaps more telling is that 61% of those in first class survived, and only 25% of those in third class. The crew fared even worse though, with only 24% making it.

47. “Goosebumps” writer R. L. ___ : STINE

“Goosebumps” is a series of children’s horror novels written by author R.L. Stine. The novels have been adapted into a television series shown on Canadian TV.

48. One of four purchased for a Monopoly property : HOUSE

In the game of Monopoly, one can purchase a hotel by “demolishing” four houses and by paying an extra amount equal to the price of one house.

50. We, on a candy heart : U AND I

The forerunner to Sweethearts candy was introduced in 1866, with the famous sayings written on the candy tailored for use at weddings. One of the original expressions was, “Married in pink, he will take a drink”. The original candy was a lot bigger, to fit all those words! The smaller, heart-shaped candy hit the shelves in 1901. We’ve been able to buy Sweethearts with the words “Text me” since 2010.

54. Fraternal group : ELKS

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) was founded in 1868, and is a social club that has about a million members today. It started out as a group of men getting together in a “club” in order to get around the legal opening hours of taverns in New York City. The club took on a new role as it started to look out for poor families of members who passed away. The club now accepts African Americans as members (since the seventies) and women (since the nineties), but atheists still aren’t welcome. The list of US presidents that have been members of the BPOE includes Presidents Eisenhower, Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Ford.

57. Alternative to Skippy or Peter Pan : JIF

Jif is the leading brand of peanut butter in the US, and has been since 1981. Introduced in 1958, Jif is now produced by Smuckers.

Skippy is a brand of peanut butter that has been around since 1933 when it was introduced by Rosefield Packing Co., just down the road here in Alameda, California. The companies that have owned the “Skippy” brand name have for decades been in dispute with the estate of Percy Crosby, the creator of the “Skippy” comic strip, over use of the name.

The Peter Pan brand of peanut butter is named after the character in the J. M. Barrie play. What we know today as Peter Pan peanut butter was introduced in 1920 as E. K. Pond peanut butter, and renamed in 1928.

59. Cambridge sch. for budding engineers : MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded in 1861 and first offered classes in 1865, in the Mercantile building in Boston. Today’s magnificent campus on the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge opened in 1916.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Shoestrings : LACES
6. Cook in oil : FRY
9. Brewing giant originally based in Milwaukee : PABST
14. Roofing alternative to shingles : SLATE
15. Whopper (but not the Burger King kind) : LIE
16. Hawaiian greeting : ALOHA
17. Extremely inexpensive : DIRT CHEAP
19. Things sometimes hidden behind paintings : SAFES
20. Extinguish, as a fire : PUT OUT
21. Cost of a bank transaction that’s not with one’s own bank : ATM FEE
22. Confucian philosophy : TAO
24. Bottom-up, as a political movement : GRASS-ROOTS
26. Runs away to marry : ELOPES
29. Like some winter highways : ICY
30. Perfect test grade : A-PLUS
31. New Testament trio : MAGI
33. Pop a fly? : SWAT
37. “Now things are getting interesting” … or a hint to the first words of 17-, 24-, 45- and 57-Across : THE PLOT THICKENS
40. Gilbert of “Roseanne” and “The Conners” : SARA
41. Knots : TIES
42. Ship of 1492 : PINTA
43. High degree : PHD
44. Bub : BUSTER
45. Amateurish : BUSH LEAGUE
51. GPS lines: Abbr. : RDS
52. Going from gig to gig : ON TOUR
53. Texas city seen in many westerns : LAREDO
56. Hatred : ODIUM
57. Bars that kids go to? : JUNGLE GYM
60. Get a feeling : SENSE
61. Iraq War danger, in brief : IED
62. One of the Hawaiian Islands : KAUAI
63. Parts of a forest : TREES
64. “Here’s something interesting,” in brief : FYI
65. Got some Z’s : SLEPT

Down

1. Timothy Leary’s drug : LSD
2. “The Greatest” in the ring : ALI
3. One who doesn’t travel to work alone : CARPOOLER
4. “___, Brute!” : ET TU
5. Religious offshoot : SECT
6. ___-de-lis : FLEUR
7. Cowboy’s rope : RIATA
8. Informal affirmative : YEP
9. Danish or cream puff : PASTRY
10. Avis competitor : ALAMO
11. Highly successful, in theaterspeak : BOFFO
12. One of 500 in a ream : SHEET
13. Zaps with a police gun : TASES
18. Harleys, in slang : HOGS
21. PC character set : ASCII
22. Milk dispensers : TEATS
23. Leader of the pack : ALPHA
25. Sounds of resignation : SIGHS
27. Stage after larva : PUPA
28. Bilingualism subj. : ESL
31. Sacred peak in Greek myth: Abbr. : MT IDA
32. Had one’s fill : ATE
33. Equipment often transported on a car’s roof : SKIS
34. Was a maverick : WENT ROGUE
35. Chipped in at a poker game : ANTED
36. Old Russian royals : TSARS
38. None of the above : OTHER
39. Computer’s “brain,” for short : CPU
43. Clouds of smoke : PLUMES
44. What the Titanic had a disastrous encounter with : BERG
45. Give a lift : BOOST
46. Beneath : UNDER
47. “Goosebumps” writer R. L. ___ : STINE
48. One of four purchased for a Monopoly property : HOUSE
49. Sticky : GLUEY
50. We, on a candy heart : U AND I
54. Fraternal group : ELKS
55. “You’re on!” : DEAL!
57. Alternative to Skippy or Peter Pan : JIF
58. Big mouth : YAP
59. Cambridge sch. for budding engineers : MIT

11 thoughts on “1210-18 NY Times Crossword 10 Dec 18, Monday”

  1. 6:37, no errors.

    Bub, buster, mac, dude, fella, guy (some of which are probably a bit dated) … as in “Hey, bub, you gonna move your car outta the way this century or next?” … 😜

  2. No errors but this was not a walk as I was expecting. Nice one for a Monday to get the old neurons shaken up a bit.

    @Bill—-This is the first time that I have come directly to the new URL name for your blog. I love the name. Having the “x” mathematical sign substitute for the word “Times” from the newspaper is very clever. I don’t know if you are the one who came up with that or if it was someone else but it has a nice crosswordy feel to it.

    1. Did you do yesterday’s LAT, Dale? Found it very challenging. What are your thoughts? Today’s 12/10 NYT felt quite crunchy for a Monday; but this is nothing new for recent Monday puzzles.

      1. Yes, Steve, I did do the LA Times Sunday this week. I meant to post on Bill’s LAX blog but somehow never could find the time to do so. I too thought that it was quite challenging. The biggest thing that helped was to look at the title, “Beta Blockers” and to be alert that the letter “B” was going to somehow be involved. After about two or three of the theme answers with the missing “B” then I could at least be assured that my entries were correct if a “B” made sense as the opening letter. Even then I had many more than average the number of erasures as I went through this puzzle.

        As frequently happens in a Sunday LAX, I had the feeling throughout that I was not going to be able to finish the puzzle. What I seem to often encounter is a crucial “tipping point” (that sometimes may even hinge on just one entry) that will determine the outcome of either finishing or throwing in the towel. Fortunately this one broke in my favor and I was able to finish with not a single error.

        What were your experiences with it?

        1. Had a few lookups but found it very enjoyable and a good learning experience, Dale. I find something new from every puzzle I do. Today’s was odium gotten via crosses. I had odious but plumes gave me odium. Was not aware of all the rain in Kauai.

          1. The top of Mt. Waialeale on Kauai is actually “the wettest spot in the world.” I have an advantage living in Hawaii in relation to working crosswords. It seems that just about every puzzle will have at least one Hawaiian word. They are a “gimme” for those of us who live here.

  3. Boy!

    I have been lost all week, not having known about the changed WEB address. Just found the announcement today, so for the last half hour been reviewing all the answers and comments that I had missed. I’m surprised how much I looked forward to the posts of my fellow cruciverbalists.

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