1212-18 NY Times Crossword 12 Dec 18, Wednesday

Constructed by: David J. Kahn
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal “Answer”: Bohemian Rhapsody

Circled letters at the top and bottom of the grid spell out the song title (and movie title) “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Several answers refer to the band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, who performed the song:

  • 20A. With 58-Across, iconic frontman of 39-Across : FREDDIE …
  • 58A. See 20-Across : … MERCURY
  • 22A. 25-Down, notably : CONCERT
  • 39A. British rock band that gave an iconic performance at 25-Down : QUEEN
  • 25D. 1985 fund-raising event watched by 1.5+ billion people : LIVE AID

Bill’s time: 9m 31s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Baja resort : CABO

Cabo San Lucas is a major tourist destination at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. “Cabo” is sometimes referred to as the “Fort Lauderdale of Mexico”.

5. Prefix with cycle or sphere : HEMI-

Ever wonder what the difference is between the prefixes “hemi-”, “demi-” and “semi-”, all of which mean “half”? Well, the general observation is that words using the “demi-” prefix date back to the days of Norman influence over the English language. As a result, “demi-” turns up in the world of period costume and coats of arms. Words using “hemi-” tend to have Greek roots, and are prevalent in the world of the sciences and the medical field. Words with “semi-” tend to have Latin roots, and are most often found in music and the arts, and mathematics.

15. Big publisher of romance novels : AVON

Avon was a noted publisher of comic books and paperbacks. The company was founded in 1941 and focused on lowbrow literature designed for popular appeal, especially romance novels.

17. Debate venues : FORA

The Latin “forum” (plural “fora”) translates as “marketplace, town square”. “The Roman Forum” is the most famous example of such a space. The Forum is at the heart of the city of Rome is surrounded by the ruins of several ancient government buildings, and has been referred to as the most celebrated meeting place in the world.

18. Nickname of an Israeli leader : BIBI

Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu has been the Prime Minister of Israel since 2009. Netanyahu is the only leader of the country to date who was born in the state of Israel. After graduating high school, he served in the Israeli special forces and participated in several combat missions, and was wounded on multiple occasions. After leaving the army in 1972, Netanyahu studied at MIT in the US, earning bachelors degree in architecture and a masters degree in business.

19. What Fortune magazine called “America’s most innovative company” for six consecutive years : ENRON

After all the trials following the exposure of fraud at Enron, several of the key players ended up in jail. Andrew Fastow was the Chief Financial Officer. He plea-bargained and received ten years without parole, and became the key witness in the trials of others. Even Fastow’s wife was involved and she was sentenced to one year for helping her husband hide money. Jeffrey Skilling (ex-CEO) was sentenced to 24 years and 4 months. Kenneth Lay (CEO) died in 2006 after he had been found guilty but before he could be sentenced. The accounting firm Arthur Andersen was found guilty of obstruction of justice for shredding thousands of pertinent documents and deleting emails and files (a decision that the Supreme Court later overturned on a technicality). But still, Arthur Andersen collapsed under the weight of the scandal and 85,000 people lost their jobs (despite only a handful being directly involved with Enron).

20. With 58-Across, iconic frontman of 39-Across : FREDDIE …
(58A. See 20-Across : … MERCURY)

Freddie Mercury was a British singer-songwriter who was lead singer for the rock group Queen. Mercury wrote many of Queen’s hits, including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Somebody to Love”, “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “We Are the Champions”. Mercury’s real name was Farrokh Bulsara, and he was born to Parsi parents in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) in East Africa. He grew up mainly in India, and arrived in England at the age of 17 when his family had flee from the Zanzibar Revolution.

24. ___ of Hormuz : STRAIT

The Persian Gulf is in effect an inland sea, although it technically is an offshoot of the Indian Ocean. The outlet from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean is one of the most famous maritime “choke points” in the world, and is known as the Strait of Hormuz. About 20% of the world’s supply of petroleum passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

25. Words in an old French cheer : … LE ROI

“Vive le roi!” is French for “Long live the king!” “À bas le roi!” is French for, “Down with the king!”, which was a phrase often heard during the French Revolution.

26. Manhattan Project physicist Bruno ___ : ROSSI

Bruno Rossi was an experimental physicist from Italy who was noted for the study of cosmic rays. Rossi worked on the Manhattan Project during WWII.

The Manhattan project was the joint US-Canada-UK project to develop an atomic bomb during WWII. Initially, the Army headquarters for the program was located on the 18th floor of a building on Broadway in New York City. Eventually, because of that first location, the project adopted the name “Manhattan”.

28. Many a decal : IRON-ON

A decal is a decorative sticker. “Decal” is a shortening of “decalcomania”. The latter term is derived from the French “décalquer”, the practice of tracing a pattern from paper onto glass or perhaps porcelain.

32. Home run, in slang : TATER

Apparently, a baseball has long been referred to as a tater (also “potato”). In the seventies, a long ball started to be called a “long tater”, and from this a home run became a “tater”.

35. June Cleaver or Marge Simpson : TV MOM

Ward Cleaver and his wife June were the parents of Wally Cleaver and his younger brother “The Beaver”. The four family members appeared in the fifties sitcom “Leave It to Beaver”.

Marge Simpson is the matriarch of the family in “The Simpsons” animated sitcom. Marge is voiced by actress Julie Kavner, who is also well known for playing Brenda Morgenstern in the TV show “Rhoda” in the seventies.

38. 1977 album with a palindromic title : AJA

Steely Dan’s heyday was in the seventies when they toured for a couple of years, although the group mainly focused on studio work. The band was formed in 1972 and broke up in 1981. The core of the band reunited in 1993, and is still performing today despite the passing of founding member Walter Becker in 2017. Steely Dan’s best-selling album is “Aja” (pronounced like “Asia”), which was released in 1977.

39. British rock band that gave an iconic performance at 25-Down : QUEEN (25D. 1985 fund-raising event watched by 1.5+ billion people : LIVE AID)

Queen is an English rock band that was formed back in 1970. With the help of lead singer Freddie Mercury (now deceased), Queen has a long list of great hits, including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. “Bohemian Rhapsody” spent a total of nine weeks at number one in the UK.

40. Subject of a spot check? : ZIT

The slang term “zit”, meaning “pimple”, came into the language in 1966, but no one seems to know its exact derivation.

42. Darfur’s locale : SUDAN

Darfur is a region in western Sudan. In response to a 2003 rebellion in Darfur, the Sudanese government embarked on a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the non-Arab population in the area. Hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths ensued, and eventually Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir was indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. al Bashir is still in office.

45. Sevastopol’s locale : CRIMEA

Crimea is a peninsula jutting out into the Black Sea that is almost completely surrounded by water. It is connected to the Ukrainian mainland to the north by the Isthmus of Perekop, and is separated from the nearby Russian region of Kuban by the narrow (less than 10 miles) Kerch Strait. Crimea has been occupied by foreign powers many times over the centuries, and now control of the region is disputed by Ukraine and Russia.

59. White mushroom : ENOKI

Enokitake (also known as “enoki”) are long and thin white mushrooms often added to soups or salads.

60. River in W.W. I fighting : YSER

The Yser is a river that originates in northern France and flows through Belgium into the North Sea. The Yser is often associated with WWI as it figured in a major battle early in the conflict. In the first three months of the war, the German Army pushed almost completely through Belgium, inflicting heavy losses on the Belgian Army as the defenders were forced to fight a fast-moving rearguard action. The Germans were intent on pushing right through Belgium and across France in a “race to the sea”. But the Belgians, with the help of their Allies, decided to make a final stand at the Yser Canal in an effort to prevent the Germans reaching the French ports of Calais and Dunkirk. The 22-mile long defensive line was chosen at the Yser because the river and canal system could be flooded to create a barrier that might be defended. The plan was successful and the front was “stabilized”. As we now know, millions of lives were lost over the coming years with very little movement of that battle line.

62. Sting, e.g. : TRAP

A sting operation often involves a law enforcement officer operating undercover, and is designed to catch a person in the act of committing a crime.

63. April Fools’ Day birth, e.g. : ARIES

Aries the Ram is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, and is named after the constellation. Your birth sign is Aries if you were born between March 21 and April 20, but if you are an Aries you would know that! “Aries” is the Latin word for “ram”.

April Fools’ 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”.

66. One of three biblical gifts : MYRRH

Frankincense and myrrh are both tree resins that are exuded when certain species of tree are damaged. The harvested resins are used to make essentials oils for perfumes, and are also burned to give off a pleasant fragrance.

67. Part of a dog breed’s name : APSO

The Lhasa apso breed of dog originated in Tibet and is named after “Lhasa” (the capital city) and “apso” (a Tibetan word meaning “bearded”). The Lhasa apso has been around since 800 BC and is one of the oldest breeds in the world, one very closely related to the ancestral wolf.

Down

2. Left on a ship : APORT

The left side of a ship used to be called the “larboard” side, but this was dropped in favor of “port” as pronunciation of “larboard” was easily confused with “starboard”, the right side of the vessel. The term “port” was chosen as it was customary to dock a ship, for loading in port, with the left side of the vessel against the dock.

6. Wilcox daughter in “Howards End” : EVIE

“Howards End” was written by E. M. Forster. Emma Thompson won an Oscar for playing Margaret Schlegel in the excellent 1992 film adaptation.

7. Flash ___ : MOB

A flash mob is a group of people who gather to perform a sudden, brief act in a public location and then quickly disperse. Flash mobs originated in Manhattan in 2003, as a social experiment by an editor of “Harper’s Magazine” called Bill Wasik. Wasik’s first attempt to form a flash mob was unsuccessful, but the second attempt worked. The first successful flash mob was relatively tame by today’s elaborate standards, and consisted of about 130 people gathered on the 9th floor of Macy’s department store pretending to be shopping en masse for a “love rug”.

10. Vatican diplomat : NUNCIO

The Latin word for “envoy” is “nuntius”. The Vatican used “nuntius” for the title of Papal Nuncio, or more correctly “Apostolic Nuncio”, a permanent representative of the Holy See to a particular state or even to an international organization. In 1961, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations declared that a Papal Nuncio is an ambassador like those from any other country, and affords them the same rights and privileges.

13. Hit musical set in 1990s New York : RENT

The musical “Rent” by Jonathan Larson is based on the Puccini opera “La bohème”. “Rent” tells the story of struggling artists and musicians living in the Lower East Side of New York, and is set against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic. We saw “Rent” on Broadway quite a few years ago and were very disappointed …

21. Designer who said “My dream is to save women from nature” : DIOR

Christian Dior was a French fashion designer. As WWII approached, Dior was called up by the French military, drawing a temporary halt to his career in fashion. He left the army in 1942 and for the duration of the war designed clothes for wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators. After the war his designs became so popular that he helped re-establish Paris as the fashion center of the world.

23. Hunter in the heavens : ORION

According to Greek mythology, Orion was a giant hunter who was placed in the night sky by Zeus, the king of the gods. Orion is very recognizable as a constellation, especially with the three bright stars known as “Orion’s Belt”. Additionally, the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, is said to be Orion’s hunting dog, and this star sits at Orion’s “foot”.

25. 1985 fund-raising event watched by 1.5+ billion people : LIVE AID

Live Aid was a concert held in 1985 to raise funds for famine victims in Ethiopia. It was held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia, and was organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure. Almost 2 billion people watched the live broadcast.

27. Tuxedo shirt attachment : STUD

Apparently, the style of men’s evening dress called a “tuxedo” was first worn to a country club event in 1886 in New York. The use of a dark dinner jacket without tails became fashionable at the club with the members, and the tradition spread from there. The country club was located in Tuxedo Park, New York, giving the style of dress its name.

29. “Life Is Beautiful” extra : NAZI

The term “Nazi” comes from “Nationalsozialismus”, the German for “National Socialism”. The full name of Adolf Hitler’s political party was “Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei” meaning “National Socialist German Workers’ Party”.

32. Rash decision? : TALC

Talc is a mineral, actually hydrated magnesium silicate. Talcum powder is composed of loose talc, although these days “baby powder” is also made from cornstarch.

33. Cracked a little : AJAR

Our word “ajar” is thought to come from Scottish dialect, in which “a char” means “slightly open”.

34. Lyft alternative : TAXI

Lyft is a ridesharing service that is based in San Francisco, as is Uber, Lyft’s biggest competitor.

39. Somewhat : QUASI

“Quasi” is a Latin word meaning “as if, as though”. We use the term in English to mean “having a likeness to something”.

48. Two-channel : STEREO

Monophonic sound (“mono”) is sound reproduced using just one audio channel, which is usually played out of just one speaker. Stereophonic sound is reproduced using two audio channels, with the sound from each channel played out of two different speakers. The pair of stereo speakers are usually positioned apart from each other so that sound appears to come from between the two. Quadraphonic sound (4.0 surround sound) uses four audio channels with the sound played back through four speakers often positioned at the corners of the room in which one is listening.

50. Root words : ETYMA

The “etymon” (plural “etyma”) is the word from which another word is derived. For example, the etymon of “Ireland” is “Eriu”, the old Celtic name for the island of Ireland.

52. Bad-tempered and unfriendly : SURLY

Someone described as surly is menacing or threatening in appearance. This meaning of “surly” has existed since the 1600s. An earlier definition was “haughty, imperious” from the Middle English “sirly”, which literally meant “like a sir”.

56. Professor Higgins, to Eliza : ‘ENRY

Eliza Doolittle is Professor Henry Higgins’ speech student in George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”. “Pygmalion” was adapted by Lerner and Loewe to become the Broadway musical “My Fair Lady”. The musical spun off the wonderful 1964 film of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. To cockney Eliza Doolittle, Professor Henry Higgins was “‘Enry ‘Iggins”.

61. Bro hello : SUP?

I think that “sup?” is slang for “what’s up?”

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Baja resort : CABO
5. Prefix with cycle or sphere : HEMI-
9. Choice words : AND/OR
14. Informed about : UP ON
15. Big publisher of romance novels : AVON
16. Tour leader : GUIDE
17. Debate venues : FORA
18. Nickname of an Israeli leader : BIBI
19. What Fortune magazine called “America’s most innovative company” for six consecutive years : ENRON
20. With 58-Across, iconic frontman of 39-Across : FREDDIE …
22. 25-Down, notably : CONCERT
24. ___ of Hormuz : STRAIT
25. Words in an old French cheer : … LE ROI
26. Manhattan Project physicist Bruno ___ : ROSSI
28. Many a decal : IRON-ON
32. Home run, in slang : TATER
35. June Cleaver or Marge Simpson : TV MOM
37. Bedazzle : AWE
38. 1977 album with a palindromic title : AJA
39. British rock band that gave an iconic performance at 25-Down : QUEEN
40. Subject of a spot check? : ZIT
41. Easygoing, and then some : LAX
42. Darfur’s locale : SUDAN
43. Exclaims : CRIES
45. Sevastopol’s locale : CRIMEA
47. Something to debate : ISSUE
49. Softened : EASED
51. Service, maybe : TEA SET
55. 25-Down, notably : BENEFIT
58. See 20-Across : … MERCURY
59. White mushroom : ENOKI
60. River in W.W. I fighting : YSER
62. Sting, e.g. : TRAP
63. April Fools’ Day birth, e.g. : ARIES
64. Make silent : MUTE
65. “Where ___?” : ELSE
66. One of three biblical gifts : MYRRH
67. Part of a dog breed’s name : APSO
68. Went platinum? : DYED

Down

1. Police officer’s equipment : CUFFS
2. Left on a ship : APORT
3. Hole maker : BORER
4. How you might go zip-lining : ON A DARE
5. Things that are kicked : HABITS
6. Wilcox daughter in “Howards End” : EVIE
7. Flash ___ : MOB
8. How fish on a fishing boat are stored : IN ICE
9. Benchmark figure given how old a person is : AGE NORM
10. Vatican diplomat : NUNCIO
11. Urgent : DIRE
12. Fragrance : ODOR
13. Hit musical set in 1990s New York : RENT
21. Designer who said “My dream is to save women from nature” : DIOR
23. Hunter in the heavens : ORION
25. 1985 fund-raising event watched by 1.5+ billion people : LIVE AID
27. Tuxedo shirt attachment : STUD
29. “Life Is Beautiful” extra : NAZI
30. Baby’s boo-boo : OWIE
31. Clears : NETS
32. Rash decision? : TALC
33. Cracked a little : AJAR
34. Lyft alternative : TAXI
36. Kind of store or chorus : MEN’S
39. Somewhat : QUASI
42. Haddock or hake : SEA FISH
43. One who might work in the wings of a theater : CUER
44. Flinched or blinked : REACTED
46. Not as assertive : MEEKER
48. Two-channel : STEREO
50. Root words : ETYMA
52. Bad-tempered and unfriendly : SURLY
53. Leave no trace of : ERASE
54. Entered (in) : TYPED
55. Radiant smile : BEAM
56. Professor Higgins, to Eliza : ‘ENRY
57. “Strangers on a Train” film genre : NOIR
58. 2015 World Series team : METS
61. Bro hello : SUP?

7 thoughts on “1212-18 NY Times Crossword 12 Dec 18, Wednesday”

  1. 12:20, no errors. Good puzzle. Enjoyed Bill’s blurb about hemi/demi/semi: I’ve often wondered about that …

  2. 19:21. I remember LIVE AID, but I could not remember on my own what they called it at the time. Did not understand ENRY until I came here, but I did understand SUP…lamentably.

    Best –

  3. Enjoyed the recent movie Bohemian Rhapsody. The music scenes are well done although the rest of the movie is a bit sanitized and formulaic. The puzzle was clever and having no errors is always good.

  4. 13:48, no errors. Enjoyable theme, nice symmetry. Had a tough time getting into the bottom half of the grid, when it dawned on me to check the circled letters. Seeing BOHEMIAN, the entry of RHAPSODY became obvious. Worked the lower half of the grid from the bottom up. Several erasures, including NA(V)I, OW(E)E and (V)(E)T on the right side; and QU(I)(T)(E) before QUASI on the left side. Had to check the wiki to see that HEMICYCLE was an actual thing. Learned something new.

  5. I somehow came through this one unscathed and with no errors. I knew very little about the answers which were centered around the musical theme. Yesterday I had the pleasure of learning about (and listening to) Leonard Cohen. Today I will be on YouTube checking out some QUEEN music. Crosswords are wonderful for expanding the mind into areas you’ve never been.

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