1219-18 NY Times Crossword 19 Dec 18, Wednesday

Constructed by: Seth A. Abel
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Anagram

Themed answers are each anagrams of the corresponding clue:

  • 20A. *Acts phony : SYCOPHANT
  • 52A. *Hint: hotel : THE HILTON
  • 11A. *A trails nut : NATURALIST
  • 28A. *Bag manager : GARBAGEMAN

Bill’s time: 8m 59s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

11. Org. with the Wizards and Warriors : NBA

The Washington Wizards are the professional basketball team based in the nation’s capital. The franchise began playing in Chicago as the Packers, in 1961. One year later, the Chicago team changed its name to the Zephyrs. After one more season, the franchise relocated and became the Baltimore Bullets. In 1973, the team moved to Landover, Maryland to became the Capital Bullets, and then took the Washington Bullets name the following season. The final name change came in 1995, as the owner was uncomfortable with the violent images conjured up by the “Bullets” name. The Wizards name was chosen after a fan contest.

The Golden State Warriors are our local NBA franchise out here in the San Francisco Bay Area and are based in Oakland, California. The team was founded in 1946 as the Philadelphia Warriors, becoming the San Francisco Warriors when they moved to City by the Bay in 1962. They changed named again (to Golden State) when they relocated to Oakland in 1971. The statewide name reflected the fact that the team played some of their 1971-72 season games in San Diego, and as such were “California’s” team.

14. Prefix meaning “wine” : OENO-

In Greek mythology, Oeno was the goddess of wine, giving us “oeno-” as a prefix meaning “wine”. For example, oenology is the study of wine and an oenophile is a wine-lover.

15. Pub spigot : ALE TAP

Back in the 15th century, a spigot was specifically a plug to stop a hole in a cask. Somewhere along the way, a spigot had a valve added for variable control of flow.

16. Path of a blooper : ARC

In baseball, a bloop single is more usually called a blooper. It’s a fly ball that drops for a single between and infielder and an outfielder.

18. Ahab’s inspiration? : SEA AIR

Captain Ahab is the obsessed and far from friendly captain of the Pequod in Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick”. The role of Captain Ahab was played by Gregory Peck in the 1956 John Huston film adaptation. Patrick Stewart played Ahab in a 1998 miniseries in which Peck made another appearance, as Father Mapple.

20. *Acts phony : SYCOPHANT

A sycophant is a selfish person, one who flatters. The term comes from the Greek “sykophantes” which originally meant “one who shows the fig”. This phrase described a vulgar gesture made with the thumb and two fingers.

22. Chopin piece : ETUDE

An étude is a short instrumental composition that is usually quite hard to play and is intended to help the performer master a particular technique. “Étude” is the French word for “study”. Études are commonly performed on the piano.

Frédéric Chopin was a Polish composer who spent most of his life in France. He was most famous for his piano works in the Romantic style. Chopin was a sickly man and died quite young, at 39. For many of his final years he had a celebrated and tempestuous relationship with the French author George Sand (the nom de plume of the Baroness Dudevant). Those years with Sand may have been turbulent, but they were very productive in terms of musical composition.

25. Beehive contents : HAIR

That distinctive beehive hairstyle is also called a B-52, because the round, beehive-shape also resembles the bulbous nose of a B-52 bomber! The style originated in 1958, and is credited to Margaret Vinci Heldt, the owner of a hair salon in downtown Chicago. I’m not a fan of the beehive, but I do have to say that Audrey Hepburn carried it off in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, as did Dusty Springfield in her heyday.

26. Carl who wrote “Contact” : SAGAN

“Contact” is a sci-fi novel by Carl Sagan that was first published in 1985. Sagan had written “Contact” originally as a screenplay in 1979, but when plans for the film stalled, Sagan decided to go ahead and create the novel. An excellent film did eventually hit the theaters in 1997, and starred Jodie Foster.

29. “WTF With Marc Maron,” for one : PODCAST

Stand-up comedian Marc Maron has been hosting the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” since 2009. The online show features interviews with comedians and celebrities. The list of interviewees is pretty impressive, and includes Conan O’Brien, Robin Williams and even President Barack Obama.

32. Industry kingpin : CZAR

The word “kingpin” is mainly used figuratively these days, to describe the most prominent member of a group. Back at the start of the 19th century, a kingpin was the largest pin in a bowling game called “kayles”. As such, the term “kingpin” is also used sometimes in ten-pin bowling to describe the 5-pin, the pin in the center of the triangular array.

33. 2002 animated film with a woolly mammoth : ICE AGE

“Ice Age” is a 2002 animated film that has spawned a whole series of movies: “Ice Age: The Meltdown” (2006), “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” (2009) and “Ice Age: Continental Drift” (2012).

36. Warm, action-oriented sort, they say : LEO

The constellation named Leo can be said to resemble a lion. Others say that it resembles a bent coat hanger. “Leo” is the Latin for “lion”, but I’m not sure how to translate “coat hanger” into Latin …

37. Part of S O S, in popular usage : OUR

The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots), although in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so SOS is in effect only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are also mnemonics, introduced after the “SOS” signal was adopted.

40. Scepter’s go-with : ORB

An orb and cross (“globus cruciger”) has been used as a Christian symbol of authority since Medieval times. The cross sits atop the globe, indicating Christ’s authority over the world. When the orb is held in the hand of a king or queen, this indicates the authority invested in the earthly ruler.

A scepter is a ceremonial staff, one often held by a monarch.

45. Unable to sit still : ANTSY

The word “antsy” embodies the concept of “having ants in one’s pants”, meaning being nervous and fidgety. However, “antsy” has been used in English since the 1830s, whereas “ants in the pants” originated a century later.

47. Fast-food utensil : SPORK

“Spork” is the more common name for the utensil that is a hybrid between a spoon and a fork. The same utensil is less commonly referred to as a “foon”.

50. 2000s teen drama set in California : THE OC

“The O.C.” is a teen drama that aired for four seasons on Fox finishing up in 2007. I never watched it, but I understand that it is set in Newport Beach in Southern California.

52. *Hint: hotel : THE HILTON

Conrad Hilton was a native of New Mexico, but he bought his first hotel in Cisco, Texas, in 1919. He did well on the deal and opened up hotels all over Texas in the following years, and built the first high-rise Hilton Hotel in Dallas. Hilton went on to build the world’s first international hotel chain. Hilton was married three times, most famously to actress Zsa Zsa Gabor from 1942 to 1946.

57. Kevin ___, investor on TV’s “Shark Tank” : O’LEARY

Kevin O’Leary is a businessman and investor from Montreal who is one of the “sharks” on the American reality show “Shark Tank”, and one of the “dragons” on the Canadian show “Dragon’s Den”.

“Shark Tank” is a reality television show that features aspiring entrepreneurs making pitches to potential investors (the “sharks”) as they try to grow their businesses. The show is a Mark Burnett production and is based in a British series called “Dragons’ Den”.

60. Rx watchdog : FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves drugs for specific conditions. It is quite legal for a healthcare professional to prescribe an approved medication for a use that is different to the FDA-approved indication. This usage of the drug is described as “off-label”.

There seems to some uncertainty about the origin of the symbol “Rx” that’s used for a medical prescription. One explanation is that it comes from the astrological sign for Jupiter, a symbol put on prescriptions in days of old to invoke Jupiter’s blessing to help a patient recover.

62. Alaska, before 1959: Abbr. : TERR

Alaska was never a profitable colony for Russia, so the empire was probably glad to receive the $7.2 million forked out by the US in 1867. The Alaska Purchase took place during the administration of President Andrew Johnson, while William H. Seward served as Secretary of State. Famously, opponents of the administration labeled the purchase “Seward’s Folly”. The US military ran Alaska for a while, until it was made into a territory in 1884. Alaska was admitted to the Union as the 49th state in 1959.

63. Start of many CB radio codes : TEN-

There is a set of “ten-codes” that were developed in 1937 for the use of law enforcement departments. As of 2006, the US federal government is recommending that they be replaced by plain language due to a lack of standardization in ten-codes. Examples of ten-codes are:

  • 10-1 meaning “bad reception”
  • 10-4 meaning “understood”
  • 10-9 meaning “say again”
  • 10-33 meaning “emergency, all units stand by”

64. Stands in a studio : EASELS

The word “easel” comes from an old Dutch word meaning “donkey” would you believe? The idea is that an easel carries its load (an oil painting, say) just as a donkey would be made to carry a load.

Down

1. Ones always tossing things back? : SOTS

Our word “sot” comes from the Old English “sott”, meaning “fool”. The word “sot” started to be associated with alcohol and not just foolery in the late 1500s.

2. Impose, as a tax : LEVY

A levy is a tax. The term “levy” comes from Old French in which “levée” means “raising”. So a levy is a tax that has been “raised” (in the sense of “collected”, not “increased”).

3. Potentially offensive, in brief : UN-PC

To be un-PC is to be politically incorrect, not be politically correct (PC).

4. Relative of a discotheque : GO-GO BAR

Go-go dancing started in the early sixties. Apparently, the first go-go dancers were women at the Peppermint Lounge in New York City who would spontaneously jump up onto tables and dance the twist. It wasn’t long before clubs everywhere started hiring women to dance on tables for the entertainment of their patrons. Out in Los Angeles, the “Whisky a Go Go” club on Sunset Strip added a twist (pun intended!), as they had their dancers perform in cages suspended from the ceiling, creating the profession of “cage dancing”. The name “go-go” actually comes from two expressions. The expression in English “go-go-go” describes someone who is high energy, and the French expression “à gogo” describes something in abundance.

Discotheques first appeared during WWII in Occupied France. American-style music (like jazz and jitterbug dances) was banned by the Nazis, so French natives met in underground clubs that they called discotheques where records were often played on just a single turntable. After the war, these clubs came out into the open. One famous Paris discotheque was called “Whiskey a Gogo”. In that Paris disco, non-stop music was played using two turntables next to a dance-floor, and this concept spread around the world.

5. One of the Obama daughters : SASHA

Sasha is the younger of the two Obama children, having been born in 2001. She was the youngest child to reside in the White House since John F. Kennedy, Jr. moved in with his parents as a small infant. Sasha’s Secret Service codename is “Rosebud”, and her older sister Malia has the codename “Radiance”.

9. Mai ___ : TAI

The mai tai cocktail is strongly associated with the Polynesian islands, but the drink was supposedly invented in 1944 in Trader Vic’s restaurant in Oakland, California. One recipe is 6 parts white rum, 3 parts orange curaçao, 3 parts Orgeat syrup, 1 part rock candy syrup, 2 parts fresh lime juice, all mixed with ice and then a float added of 6 parts dark rum. “Maita’i” is the Tahitian word for “good”.

12. Thin fastener : BRAD

A brad is a slender wire nail with a relatively small head that is typically used to tack pieces of wood together, i.e. to fasten either temporarily or with minimal damage to the wood. Nowadays, brads are commonly applied using a nail gun.

13. Target of an astringent : ACNE

An astringent is a chemical compound that tends to shrink or constrict body tissues.

21. “The tongue of the mind,” per Cervantes : PEN

The full name of the author of “Don Quixote” was Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. As a young man in 1570, Cervantes was a soldier fighting for the Spanish Navy, stationed in Naples, at that time a possession of Spain. He was injured in battle, receiving three gunshot wounds including two to the chest. His injuries left him without the use of his left arm. After recuperating, he returned to active service, and in 1575 he was captured by Algerian corsairs, and spent the next five years in slavery in North Africa. His parents found him and bought his freedom, and brought him home to his native Madrid.

25. Paul of “Crocodile Dundee” : HOGAN

“Crocodile Dundee” is an Australian film that was released in 1986, starring Australian comedian Paul Hogan in the title role as Mick Dundee with American actress Linda Kozlowski playing the female lead. The main characters fell in love on-screen, and Hogan and Kozlowski fell for each other off-screen. Hogan divorced his wife (whom he had already married twice) and wedded Kozlowski in 1990.

26. Cartoon uncle of Scrappy-Doo, informally : SCOOB

“Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” is a series of cartoons produced for Hanna-Barbera Productions, first broadcast in 1969. The title character is a great Dane dog owned by a young male called Shaggy Rogers. The character’s name was inspired by the famous “doo-be-doo-be-doo” refrain in the Frank Sinatra hit “Strangers in the Night”. Shaggy was voiced by famed disk jockey Casey Kasem.

Scrappy-Doo is a Great Dane puppy who appears in the “Scooby-Doo” series of cartoons.

27. Bright blue : AZURE

The term “azure” came into English from Persian via Old French. The French word “l’azur” was taken from the Persian name for a place in northeastern Afghanistan called “Lazhward” which was the main source of the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. The stone has a vivid blue color, and “azure” has been describing this color since the 14th century.

29. Catherine who married Henry VIII : PARR

Henry VIII was the English King with the most wives. Well, something rubbed off on his last wife Catherine Parr. She was to become the English Queen with the most husbands! By the time she married Henry she had been widowed twice, and after Henry died she married once again, racking up four husbands in all.

31. Young slave girl in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” : TOPSY

Topsy is a young slave girl in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s most famous and most successful work is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. It was also her first novel. Her second was published in 1856: “Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp”.

33. Like gases in the rightmost column of the periodic table : INERT

An inert gas can be different from a noble gas. Both are relatively non-reactive, but a noble gas is an element. An inert gas might be a compound, i.e. made up of more than one element.

34. They measure miles in meters : CABS

A hansom cab is a very specific design of horse and buggy that was patented by Joseph Hansom in 1834 in England. The “cab” in the name is short for “cabriolet”, an earlier design of carriage on which the hansom was based. It’s from “hansom cab” that we get our modern term “cab”.

38. One of seven for New York City : AREA CODE

Area codes were introduced in the 1940s. Back then the “clicks” one heard when dialling a number led to mechanical wear on various pieces of equipment. In order to minimize overall mechanical wear, areas with high call volumes were given the most efficient area codes (lowest number of clicks). That led to New York getting the area code 212, Los Angeles 213 and Chicago 313.

42. Common wear for female tennis players : ANKLETS

An anklet is the equivalent of a bracelet. A bracelet is worn around the wrist, and an anklet is worn around the ankle.

45. Shapiro of NPR : ARI

Ari Shapiro served very ably as White House correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) for several years. He then became a co-host of network’s drive-time program “All Things Considered” in 2015.

50. President who later served as chief justice : TAFT

William Howard Taft may have been the 27th President of the United States, but his lifelong ambition was to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. President Taft was able to realize that dream in 1921, eight years after losing his bid for re-election as president. As Chief Justice, this former US President swore in two new presidents: Calvin Coolidge (in 1925) and Herbert Hoover (in 1929). William Howard Taft is also remembered as the most obese president. In the last year of his presidency, he weighed about 340 pounds (he was 5 feet 11 inches tall). Twelve months after leaving the White House, President Taft had dropped 80 pounds and substantially lowered his blood pressure.

52. Twinings products : TEAS

Twinings is a distributor of tea that was founded in England in 1706. That’s a long time ago! The Twinings logo is the oldest continuously-used logo in the world.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Hit hard : SLUG
5. Beats it : SPLITS
11. Org. with the Wizards and Warriors : NBA
14. Prefix meaning “wine” : OENO-
15. Pub spigot : ALE TAP
16. Path of a blooper : ARC
17. Rating for many a sitcom : TV-PG
18. Ahab’s inspiration? : SEA AIR
19. Give a whuppin’ : TAN
20. *Acts phony : SYCOPHANT
22. Chopin piece : ETUDE
24. Sweat units : BEADS
25. Beehive contents : HAIR
26. Carl who wrote “Contact” : SAGAN
29. “WTF With Marc Maron,” for one : PODCAST
32. Industry kingpin : CZAR
33. 2002 animated film with a woolly mammoth : ICE AGE
36. Warm, action-oriented sort, they say : LEO
37. Part of S O S, in popular usage : OUR
38. Each asterisked clue vis-à-vis its answer : ANAGRAM
39. Little trickster : IMP
40. Scepter’s go-with : ORB
41. Like an evangelical Christian : REBORN
42. Phrase on a yard sale tag : AS IS
43. Kitchen gadgets for mixing : BEATERS
45. Unable to sit still : ANTSY
46. Mother that might have a beard : GOAT
47. Fast-food utensil : SPORK
50. 2000s teen drama set in California : THE OC
52. *Hint: hotel : THE HILTON
56. Sharpshooter’s asset : AIM
57. Kevin ___, investor on TV’s “Shark Tank” : O’LEARY
59. As a result : ERGO
60. Rx watchdog : FDA
61. Sweetums : DEARIE
62. Alaska, before 1959: Abbr. : TERR
63. Start of many CB radio codes : TEN-
64. Stands in a studio : EASELS
65. “So it may ___” : SEEM

Down

1. Ones always tossing things back? : SOTS
2. Impose, as a tax : LEVY
3. Potentially offensive, in brief : UN-PC
4. Relative of a discotheque : GO-GO BAR
5. One of the Obama daughters : SASHA
6. Implore : PLEAD
7. Slants : LEANS
8. “Let’s leave ___ that” : IT AT
9. Mai ___ : TAI
10. Order from a police officer : SPREAD ‘EM
11. *A trails nut : NATURALIST
12. Thin fastener : BRAD
13. Target of an astringent : ACNE
21. “The tongue of the mind,” per Cervantes : PEN
23. Little jerk : TIC
25. Paul of “Crocodile Dundee” : HOGAN
26. Cartoon uncle of Scrappy-Doo, informally : SCOOB
27. Bright blue : AZURE
28. *Bag manager : GARBAGEMAN
29. Catherine who married Henry VIII : PARR
30. Big rigs : SEMIS
31. Young slave girl in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” : TOPSY
33. Like gases in the rightmost column of the periodic table : INERT
34. They measure miles in meters : CABS
35. “I” strain? : EGO
38. One of seven for New York City : AREA CODE
42. Common wear for female tennis players : ANKLETS
44. Besides : TOO
45. Shapiro of NPR : ARI
47. Social media button : SHARE
48. Danger : PERIL
49. “Absolutely!” : OH YES!
50. President who later served as chief justice : TAFT
51. Cry to guests at a surprise party : HIDE!
52. Twinings products : TEAS
53. One leaving in the spring? : TREE
54. Brutish sort : OGRE
55. Average guy? : NORM
58. Pasture : LEA

11 thoughts on “1219-18 NY Times Crossword 19 Dec 18, Wednesday”

  1. 15:19. I tend to punt on anagram puzzles so this one solved like a themeless for me. Lots of interesting stuff in today’s write up too numerous to mention.

    Best –

  2. 14:23, 3 errors: (C)LU(B); (C)OTS; (B)OGO BAR. Was thinking ‘GOGO BAR’ while looking at 4D, just didn’t change the B to G; which would have cued me to change 1A. Clever theme.

  3. No errors. Loved this puzzle. It is just packed with humor. It is great when a puzzle worker can have an “aha moment” and a laugh at the same time. Two of my favorites were “Average guy”….NORM and “One leaving in the spring”….TREE. I hope we will get more of Seth A. Abel’s comedic style in future puzzles.

  4. Loved this puzzle. Made me think a lot. A relative easy crossword from yesterday had a clue of “sultry home”. The answer was Lena. Could any one explain please.

    1. Did not see the clue you have referred to. Is it possible that you misread the clue “Sultry Horne” as “Sultry Home”. I’m thinking the setter had Lena Horne in mind. Just a guess.

  5. @Bill: at the risk of splitting hairs, an ANKLET is also a sock that only reaches up to the ankle. I am sure some female tennis players wear ankle jewelry, but it seems they pretty much all wear the ankle length socks.

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