1220-18 NY Times Crossword 20 Dec 18, Thursday

Constructed by: Ruth Bloomfield Margolin
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answers: No No

Themed answers are each common phrases in which an initial NO has been dropped. There’s NO NO:

  • 35A. With 38-Across, what a two-letter answer is in a crossword, usually … or a hint to 20-, 24-, 44- and 51-Across : NO
  • 38A. See 35-Across : -NO
  • 20A. Choice of routes? : (NO) TWO WAYS ABOUT IT
  • 24A. Result of some sunburn I had? : (NO) SKIN OFF MY BACK
  • 44A. Declaration concerning British geography? : (NO) MAN IS AN ISLAND
  • 51A. Nitrous oxide? : (NO) LAUGHING MATTER

Bill’s time: 15m 11s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Prophet who said “The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem” : AMOS

Amos is one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible. The Old Testament’s Book of Amos is attributed to him.

14. ___ Sweeney, leading character in “Anything Goes” : RENO

“Anything Goes” is a musical by Cole Porter, from a book by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, that tells of the goings on aboard an ocean liner sailing from New York to London. Some of the famous songs from the show are “Anything Goes”, “You’re the Top”, “I Get a Kick Out of You” as well as “The Gypsy in Me”.

15. Actress Aimée : ANOUK

Anouk Aimée is a French film actress. Aimée’s most famous film outside of France is probably the internationally successful 1966 French hit “A Man and a Woman”, in which she played the female lead.

18. Place for a picnic along a highway : SCENIC AREA

Our term “picnic” comes from the French word that now has the same meaning, namely “pique-nique”. The original “pique-nique” was a fashionable potluck affair, and not necessarily held outdoors.

23. From birth : INNATE

Something innate is untaught, has existed from birth. The term comes from the Latin “innatus” meaning “inborn”.

30. Mr. Potato Head part : ARM

Mr. Potato Head is an enduring popular toy that has been around since its invention by George Lerner in 1949. In its original form, the toy was a collection of eyes, ears, and other facial features, that were designed to be stuck into a real potato. Mr. Potato Head also has the distinction of being the first toy ever to be advertised on television.

31. “Ready about! Hard ___!” : ALEE

Alee is the direction away from the wind. If a sailor points into the wind, he or she is pointing aweather.

32. “According to the grapevine …” : I HEAR …

There are competing stories about the etymology of the phrase “heard it through the grapevine”, meaning heard it by means of gossip or rumor. One is that it is a reference to the Grapevine Tavern in Greenwich Village, New York City. The Grapevine was a popular meeting place for Union officers and Confederate spies during the Civil War, and so was a great spot for picking up and spreading vital gossip.

36. Home to the Rohingya : MYANMAR

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is the official name of the Asian country that some nations still recognize as the Union of Burma.

42. River through Flanders : YSER

The Yser river flows into the North Sea at Nieuwpoort in the Flemish province of West Flanders in Belgium.

43. Pouch holder, for short : ROO

The word “kangaroo” comes from the Australian Aborigine term for the animal. There’s an oft-quoted story that the explorer James Cook (later Captain Cook) asked a local native what was the name of this remarkable-looking animal, and the native responded with “Kangaroo”. The story is that the native was actually saying “I don’t understand you”, but as cute as that tale is, it’s just an urban myth.

44. Declaration concerning British geography? : (NO) MAN IS AN ISLAND

The Isle of Man is a large island located in the middle of the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. I used to spend a lot of time there in my youth, and a very interesting place it is indeed. The Isle of Man is classed as a British Crown Dependency and isn’t part of the United Kingdom at all. It is self-governing and has its own parliament called the Tynwald. The Tynwald was created in AD 979 and is arguably the oldest continuously-running parliament in the world. The inhabitants of the island speak English, although they do have their own language called Manx, which is very similar to Irish Gaeilge and Scottish Gaelic. And then there are those Manx cats, the ones without any tails. I’ve seen lots of them, and can attest that they are indeed found all over the island.

John Donne wrote a piece of prose called “Devotions upon Emergent Occasions”. One passage contains two phrases that are oft-quoted: “No man is an island”, and “for whom the bell tolls”.

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

48. Ancient markets : AGORAS

In early Greece, the agora was a place of assembly. The assemblies held there were often quite formal, perhaps for the reading of a proclamation. Later in Greek history, things became less formal as the agora evolved into a marketplace. Our contemporary word “agoraphobia” comes from these agorae, in the sense that an agoraphobe has a fear of open spaces, a fear of “public meeting places”.

50. Egg ___ : SAC

An egg sac is a case made of silk that contains the eggs of a female spider.

51. Nitrous oxide? : (NO) LAUGHING MATTER

“Laughing gas” is a common name for nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is used as an anesthetic, particularly by dentists. It is also used in motor racing to increase the power output of engines. Laughing gas was first synthesized by the English chemist Joseph Priestley, but it was Humphry Davy who discovered its potential as an anesthetic. Once it was realized that the gas could give the patient a fit of the giggles, “laughing gas parties” became common among those could afford them.

57. Time of valor, in a Winston Churchill speech : FINEST HOUR

Soon after Winston Churchill took over as Prime Minister of the UK in 1940, he delivered some stirring speeches that rallied the country in the face of German victories right across Europe. The first of these was his “Blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech as he reported the formation of a new coalition government designed to unite the country in time of war. The second was his “We shall fight on the beaches” speech, as he reported the successful evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk. The third speech concluded with, “This was their finest hour”, words delivered to Parliament just as France fell, and Churchill pledged that the British Commonwealth would fight on, alone if necessary. The last lines of this third speech, from this magnificent orator, were:

… But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’.

58. Big cheese? : EDAM

Edam cheese takes its name from the Dutch town of Edam in North Holland. The cheese is famous for its coating of red paraffin wax, a layer of protection that helps Edam travel well and prevents spoiling. You might occasionally come across an Edam cheese that is coated in black wax. The black color indicates that the underlying cheese has been aged for a minimum of 17 weeks.

60. Hgts. : ALTS

Altitude (alt.)

62. Org. behind the InSight mission : NASA

NASA’s InSight mission is a robotic lander that made it Mars in late 2018. The acronym InSight stands for “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport”, which reflects the use of the lander as a geophysical monitoring station.

63. Part of iOS: Abbr. : SYST

iOS is what Apple now call their mobile operating system. Previously, it was known as iPhone OS.

Down

5. Home to Castro : CASA

Fidel Castro studied law at the University of Havana and there became a follower of left-wing ideals. He launched his first rebellion against Cuban president Fulgencio Batista in 1953, which landed him in jail for a year. He later led rebels in a guerrilla war against the Cuban government, which led to the Cuban Revolution and the overthrow of Batista in 1959. Castro took control of the country, and immediately formed a strong relationship with the Soviet Union. Concern over the alliance in the US led to the botched Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. There followed the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Fidel Castro started to transfer power to his brother Raúl in 2008, and passed away in 2016.

7. Tobiko and ikura, on a sushi menu : ROES

In Japanese cuisine, the roe of salmon is called “ikura” and the roe of flying fish is called “tobiko”.

11. Not teetotal, say : PARTAKE

Teetotalism is the practice of abstaining from alcohol. The teetotalism movement started in England in the 1800s.

13. Variety of ray : SKATE

Skates (formally “Rajidae”) are a family of fish in the superorder of rays (formally “batoidea”). Skates look very similar to stingrays but they lack stinging spines.

19. 1997 Nicolas Cage thriller : CON AIR

“Con Air” is an entertaining action movie that was released in 1997. The film tells the story of a bunch of convicts being transported by air who escape and take control of the plane. If you take a look at the movie’s closing credits you’ll see the words “In Memory of Phil Swartz”. Swartz, a welder with the special effects team, was killed in a tragic accident when a static model of the plane used in the movie fell on him.

24. Comic ___ (typeface) : 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.

25. Ray of fast-food fame : KROC

The original McDonald’s restaurant was opened in 1940 by Richard and Maurice McDonald as a barbecue restaurant. The brothers then moved into fast food hamburgers, eventually selling out to one of their franchise agents, Ray Kroc. It was Ray Kroc who really led the company to its worldwide success. He was played by Michael Keaton in the movie about Ray Kroc’s business life called “The Founder”.

26. Wray of “King Kong” fame : FAY

Fay Wray was a Canadian-American actress who is best known for her starring role in the classic 1933 film “King Kong”. When Wray passed away at the age of 96 in 2004, the lights of the Empire State Building were extinguished for 15 minutes. That fine gesture was a nod to the celebrated Empire State Building scene in “King Kong”.

When RKO released the 1933 movie “King Kong”, the promotional material listed the ape’s height as 50 feet. During filming, a bust was created for a 40-foot ape, as well as a full-size hand that went with a 70-foot Kong.

28. Gatherer of intelligence? : MENSA

If you ever learned Latin, “mensa” was probably taught to you in lesson one as it’s the word commonly used as an example of a first declension noun. Mensa means “table”. The Mensa organization, for folks with high IQs, was set up in Oxford, England back in 1946. To become a member, you have to have an IQ that is in the top 2% of the population.

29. Country where camel jumping is a sport : YEMEN

Yemen is located on the Arabian Peninsula, and lies just south of Saudi Arabia and west of Oman. Yemen is the only state on the peninsula that is a republic (its official name is the Republic of Yemen). Everyone over the age of 18 gets to vote, but only Muslims can hold elected office. Yemen has seen many rebellions over the centuries, and has been suffering through a Shia uprising since February 2015.

33. Shortly, quaintly : ANON

“Anon” originally meant “at once”, but the term’s meaning evolved into “soon” apparently just because the word was misused over time.

34. Where one might find Jesus : ROOD

A rood is a crucifix that specifically symbolizes the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

36. Chatty ones : MYNAHS

Some species of myna (also “mynah”) bird are known for their ability to imitate sounds.

37. The Cardinals, on scoreboards : ARI

The Arizona Cardinals were founded in 1898 as the Chicago Cardinals. That makes the Cardinals the oldest, continuously-run professional football team in the whole country.

40. Six of one and half a dozen of the other, say? : AMOUNTS

Our word “dozen” is used for a group of twelve. We imported it into English from Old French. The modern French word for “twelve” is “douze”, and for “dozen” is “douzaine”.

41. Like the outer matryoshka doll : LARGEST

Matryoshka dolls are those wooden nesting dolls that are on sale at every tourist trap across Russia. “Matryoshka” is Russian for “little matron”.

43. Time for a mint julep in Louisville : RACE DAY

The mint julep is a bourbon-based cocktail that is associated with the American South, and with the Kentucky Derby in particular. If you’d like to make yourself a mint julep, one recipe is:

  • 3 oz of Bourbon
  • 4-6 sprigs of mint
  • granulated sugar to taste

46. Concorde, e.g., for short : SST

The most famous supersonic transport (SST) is the retired Concorde. Concorde was developed and produced under an Anglo-French treaty by France’s Aérospatiale and the UK’s British Aircraft Corporation (BAC). Concordes were mainly operated by Air France and British Airways, with both companies buying the planes with substantial subsidies from the French and British governments. The final Concorde flight was a British Airways plane that landed in the UK on 26 November 2003.

48. Sporty Spiders, informally : ALFAS

The “Alfa” in Alfa Romeo is actually an acronym, one standing for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (“Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”). ALFA was an enterprise founded in 1909 and which was taken over by Nicola Romeo in 1915. In 1920 the company name was changed to Alfa Romeo.

The Spider is a roadster that was manufactured by Italian auto company Alfa Romeo. It was in production from 1966 to 1993, and is considered a design classic.

52. Drag racing org. : NHRA

The sport of drag racing is administered by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).

55. “Wonder Woman” antagonist : ARES

The superhero Wonder Woman first appeared in print in 1941, in a publication from DC Comics. As she was created during WWII, Wonder Woman’s first foes were the axis powers. In the less realistic world her biggest foe was and still is Ares, a “baddie” named for the Greek mythological figure. Wonder Woman had several signature expressions, including “Merciful Minerva!”, “Suffering Sappho!” and “Great Hera!”. She also has several devices that she uses in her quest for justice, e.g. the Lasso of Truth, a pair of indestructible bracelets and a tiara that can be used as a deadly projectile. Wonder Woman uses the name “Diana Prince” when “out of uniform”.

59. Revolutionary figure : MAO

Mao Zedong (also “Mao Tse-tung”) was born on December 16, 1893 in the Hunan Province of China. As Mao was the son of a peasant farmer, his prospects for education were limited. Indeed he left school at age 13 to work on the family farm but did eventually get to secondary school in Changsha, the provincial capital. In the years following, Mao continued his education in Beijing and actually turned down an opportunity to study in France.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Prophet who said “The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem” : AMOS
5. E-tail icons : CARTS
10. Upscale hotel features : SPAS
14. ___ Sweeney, leading character in “Anything Goes” : RENO
15. Actress Aimée : ANOUK
16. Approach in handling something : TACK
17. Afternoon affairs : TEAS
18. Place for a picnic along a highway : SCENIC AREA
20. Choice of routes? : (NO) TWO WAYS ABOUT IT
22. See 21-Down : -HOO!
23. From birth : INNATE
24. Result of some sunburn I had? : (NO) SKIN OFF MY BACK
30. Mr. Potato Head part : ARM
31. “Ready about! Hard ___!” : ALEE
32. “According to the grapevine …” : I HEAR …
35. With 38-Across, what a two-letter answer is in a crossword, usually … or a hint to 20-, 24-, 44- and 51-Across : NO
36. Home to the Rohingya : MYANMAR
38. See 35-Across : -NO
39. Like lizards and fish : SCALY
42. River through Flanders : YSER
43. Pouch holder, for short : ROO
44. Declaration concerning British geography? : (NO) MAN IS AN ISLAND
48. Ancient markets : AGORAS
50. Egg ___ : SAC
51. Nitrous oxide? : (NO) LAUGHING MATTER
57. Time of valor, in a Winston Churchill speech : FINEST HOUR
58. Big cheese? : EDAM
60. Hgts. : ALTS
61. Stand and deliver? : ORATE
62. Org. behind the InSight mission : NASA
63. Part of iOS: Abbr. : SYST
64. Some greens : KALES
65. An aye for an eye, say? : TYPO

Down

1. Biblical verb : ART
2. What parallel lines never do : MEET
3. Because why not? : ON A WHIM
4. “Already?!” : SO SOON?!
5. Home to Castro : CASA
6. Suffix with expect : -ANCY
7. Tobiko and ikura, on a sushi menu : ROES
8. Common casserole ingredient : TUNA
9. Certain attire when hitting the slopes : SKI BIB
10. Steadfast : STAUNCH
11. Not teetotal, say : PARTAKE
12. Nail the test : ACE IT
13. Variety of ray : SKATE
19. 1997 Nicolas Cage thriller : CON AIR
21. With 22-Across, a triumphant cry : WOO …
24. Comic ___ (typeface) : SANS
25. Ray of fast-food fame : KROC
26. Wray of “King Kong” fame : FAY
27. Whips : FLAYS
28. Gatherer of intelligence? : MENSA
29. Country where camel jumping is a sport : YEMEN
33. Shortly, quaintly : ANON
34. Where one might find Jesus : ROOD
36. Chatty ones : MYNAHS
37. The Cardinals, on scoreboards : ARI
40. Six of one and half a dozen of the other, say? : AMOUNTS
41. Like the outer matryoshka doll : LARGEST
43. Time for a mint julep in Louisville : RACE DAY
45. “Do you mind?” : IS IT OK?
46. Concorde, e.g., for short : SST
47. Dormant : LATENT
48. Sporty Spiders, informally : ALFAS
49. In a cheery manner : GAILY
52. Drag racing org. : NHRA
53. Top of a fund drive thermometer : GOAL
54. Trumpet accessory : MUTE
55. “Wonder Woman” antagonist : ARES
56. Carpentry tool : RASP
59. Revolutionary figure : MAO

7 thoughts on “1220-18 NY Times Crossword 20 Dec 18, Thursday”

  1. 29:25. I liked this theme as well, but it took me a while to figure it out. I’d done much of the puzzle without even noticing the 2 two-letter answers.

    Interesting note on Churchill – I was reading an article of people discussing who the most indispensable person of the 20th century was, the emphasis being on the word “indispensable”. One made a rather compelling argument that Churchill was that person. The argument was that without his leadership, Britain would have fallen to the Germans and who knows what the world would look like today. One could argue the case for a lot of people for that title, but it was an interesting exercise to read about.

    Best –

  2. Re: 31 across; Ready about…Hard alee, are commands for turning a sailboat into the wind. Alee, in this instance, refers to the direction the tiller is pushed for those boats that do not have wheels.

  3. Took about as much time to get into the puzzle as to finish it (if that makes any sense.) In any case, it’s a good one and liked it a lot.

  4. I missed three words in the NE. I had TACT for TACK which lead to STATO (I was thinking maybe electromagnetic rays, or something) for SKATE which led to IN NATO (I was thinking about NATAL for birth somehow) for INNATE.

    I was still pleased with my effort today. I don’t see how I could have done any better.

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