1223-18 NY Times Crossword 23 Dec 18, Sunday

Constructed by: David Alfred Bywaters
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: Labor Contract(ion)s

Themed answers are common phrases with the letter string “ION” either added or subtracted:

  • 70A. Like some factories … or, in a different sense, like 90-, 109- and 119-Across (but not 24-, 32- and 53-Across)? : UNIONIZEDUN “ION-IZED”)
  • 24A. How polka bands get their start? : WITH ONE ACCORDION (from “with one accord”)
  • 32A. Pontiff’s gold treasure? : PAPAL BULLION (from “papal bull”)
  • 53A. Query about the Freedom Caucus or Berniecrats? : IS THAT A FACTION? (from “Is that a fact?)
  • 90A. Nickname for a hard-to-please girl? : MISS IMPOSSIBLE (from “Mission: Impossible”)
  • 109A. Data maintained by competitive dentists? : FILLING STATS (from “filling stations”)
  • 119A. Speakers’ searches for just the right words? : RHETORICAL QUESTS (from “rhetorical questions”)

Bill’s time: 20m 48s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. English guy : CHAP

“Chap” is an informal term meaning “lad, fellow” that is used especially in England. The term derives from “chapman”, an obsolete word meaning “purchaser” or “trader”.

14. What leads many people to say “Let’s face it”? : MECCA

Mecca is in the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia. It was the birthplace of Muhammad and is the holiest city in Islam. Every year several million Muslims perform the Hajj, a holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

20. G.I.’s address : APO

Army post office (APO)

21. California’s motto : EUREKA

“Eureka” is the Greek for “I have found it”, and is the motto of the state of California. The motto was chosen as a nod to the discovery of gold in the state.

23. Sources of Manchego cheese : EWES

Manchego is a cheese made from sheep’s milk that comes from La Mancha in Spain. The term “Manchego” is used to describe things related to La Mancha.

24. How polka bands get their start? : WITH ONE ACCORDION (from “with one accord”)

The polka is a dance from central Europe, one that originated in Bohemia in the mid-1800s. It’s thought that “polka” comes from a Czech word meaning “little half”, reflecting the little half-steps included in the basic dance.

27. Org. with an annual Help a Horse Day : ASPCA

Unlike most developed countries, the US has no umbrella organization with the goal of preventing cruelty to animals. Instead there are independent organizations set up all over the nation using the name SPCA. Having said that, there is an organization called the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) that was originally intended to operate across the country, but really it now focuses its efforts in New York City.

29. Big suit : CEO

Chief executive officer (CEO)

30. Harvard University Press’s ___ Classical Library : LOEB

The Loeb Classical Library is a series of works from Ancient Greek and Latin literature published by Harvard University Press. Each work includes a translation throughout, with the original language on the left page and the equivalent English on the right. The series takes its name from the philanthropist James Loeb who came up with the idea for the collection and providing the initial funding.

32. Pontiff’s gold treasure? : PAPAL BULLION (from “papal bull”)

A bulla (also “bull”) is a type of seal impression. A papal bull is a formal document from the Vatican that has such a seal attached, hence the name of the document.

43. Like powwows : TRIBAL

“Powwow” means “gathering”, and is a word used by Native Americans. The term derives from the Algonquian Narragansett “powwow” which translates as “spiritual leader”. The Narragansett also gave us such words as “moose”, “papoose” and “squash”.

48. Star bursts : NOVAE

A nova (plural “novae”) is basically a star that suddenly gets much brighter, gradually returning to its original state weeks or even years later. The increased brightness of a nova is due to increased nuclear activity causing the star to pick up extra hydrogen from a neighboring celestial body. A supernova is very different from a nova. A supernova is a very bright burst of light and energy created when most of the material in a star explodes. The bright burst of a supernova is very short-lived compared to the sustained brightness of a nova.

49. Summer hat : PANAMA

Panama hats are traditional headgear from Ecuador, and have never been made in Panama. The “panama” moniker came about as many of the hats were shipped to the Isthmus of Panama for transportation by sea to the rest of the world. Authentic panama hats are made from the leaves of a palm-like plant known locally as the jipijapa palm.

53. Query about the Freedom Caucus or Berniecrats? : IS THAT A FACTION? (from “Is that a fact?)

The Freedom Caucus in the US House of Representatives was formed in 2015. It comprises a group of conservative members of Congress who generally hold views to the right of the mainstream Republican Party, and famously influenced the resignation of Speaker of the House John Boehner in 2015.

Bernie Sanders has served as US Senator from Vermont since 2007. Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist, and used to appear on the ballot as an independent. Prior to joining the Democratic Party in 2015, Sanders had been the longest-serving independent in the history of the US Congress.

56. Noted beauty contest loser : HERA

In Greek mythology, Hera was the wife of Zeus and was noted for her jealous and vengeful nature, particularly against those who vied for the affections of her husband. The equivalent character to Hera in Roman mythology was Juno. Hera was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea.

57. Most remote of the Near Islands : ATTU

Attu is the westernmost island in the Aleutian chain, and so is the westernmost part of Alaska. Japanese forces took the island in October 1942, eventually landing as many as 2,900 soldiers there. In May 1943, the US Army retook the island in twenty days of fighting that is now called the Battle of Attu, the only land battle to take place on US soil during WWII. I am very proud of my father-in-law, who served in the Aleutians during WWII …

The Near Islands of the Aleutian Chain includes the islands of Attu and Agattu. The Near Islands were named by Russian explorers, and the name was chosen as they are the nearest of the Aleutians to Russia.

59. Irish port, county or bay : SLIGO

Sligo is a coastal county in the West of Ireland. The county takes its name from the principal town of Sligo. The town’s name in Irish is “Sligeach”, which means “shelly place”, perhaps indicating that lots of shellfish were found in the town’s river.

61. Sushi eel : UNAGI

“Unagi” is the Japanese name for freshwater eel, and “anago” is the name for saltwater eel.

63. Improvised : RIFFED

A riff is a short rhythmic phrase in music, especially one improvised on a guitar.

69. Figure in Jewish folklore : GOLEM

“Golem” is Yiddish slang for “dimwit”. In Jewish folklore, a golem is an anthropomorphic being made out of inanimate matter, and is somewhat like an unintelligent robot.

79. The 21st Amendment, e.g. : REPEAL

The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution was a great victory for the temperance movement (the “dry” movement), and in 1919 ushered in the Prohibition era. Highly unpopular (with the “wet” movement), Prohibition was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment.

80. Biblical spy : CALEB

According to the Bible, after fleeing Egypt the Hebrews were led by Moses to the promised land of Canaan. Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan (one from each of the Twelve Tribes) to report on what awaited them. Ten spies returned with exaggerated stories of giants who would kill the Hebrew army if it entered Canaan. Two spies, Caleb and Joshua, came back with valid reports, that the Hebrews could inhabit the area. As a result of the false reports from the ten spies, the Hebrews did not enter Canaan but instead wandered the desert for another forty years, before they finally took up residence in the promised land. At the end of the forty years, Caleb and Joshua were the only adults that survived the forty-year journey, a reward from God for their obedience.

84. Dutch cheese : GOUDA

Gouda is a cheese that originated in the Dutch city of the same name, although today Gouda is produced all over the world and very little of it comes from the Netherlands. Gouda is often smoke-cured, which gives it a yellowish-brown outer skin and that characteristic smoky taste.

87. Pas sans : AVEC

In French, if it’s “pas sans” (not without), it’s “avec” (with).

90. Nickname for a hard-to-please girl? : MISS IMPOSSIBLE (from “Mission: Impossible”)

The “Mission: Impossible” TV show featured the following line close to the start of each episode:

As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

And then the tape self-destructed. Great stuff …

95. Room to maneuver : LEEWAY

Our word “leeway” meaning “spare margin” is nautical in origin. A vessel’s leeway is the amount of drift motion away from her intended course that is caused by the action of the wind.

98. Bygone office position : STENO

Stenography is the process of writing in shorthand. The term comes from the Greek “steno” (narrow) and “graphe” (writing).

99. Unctuousness : SMARM

A person described as “unctuous” is oily and insincere. “Unctum” is the Latin for “ointment”.

101. White part of pearly whites : ENAMEL

Tooth enamel covers the crowns of our teeth. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It is composed of 96% crystalline calcium phosphate.

125. Halliburton of the Halliburton Company : ERLE

Erle P. Halliburton was a businessman who made his fortune in the oil business. Halliburton founded the New Method Oil Well Cementing Company in 1919, which changed its name after his death to Halliburton Company.

126. Buckwheat cereal : KASHA

Kasha is a type of porridge made from roasted whole-grain buckwheat. The dish is most popular in the Russian and Jewish cultures.

128. Antidiscriminatory abbr. : EEO

“Equal Employment Opportunity” (EEO) is a term that has been around since 1964 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was set up by the Civil Rights Act. Title VII of the Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.

129. Iago or Othello : ROLE

Iago is the schemer in Shakespeare’s “Othello”. He is a soldier who fought alongside Othello and feels hard done by, missing out on promotion. Iago hatches a plot designed to discredit his rival Cassio by insinuating that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona, Othello’s wife.

130. It notably has two bridges : SITAR

The sitar has been around since the Middle Ages. It is a stringed instrument that is played by plucking, and is used most often in Hindustani classical music. In the West we have been exposed to the instrument largely through the performances of Ravi Shankar and some music by George Harrison of the Beatles, a onetime student of Shankar.

131. Bleachers : STANDS

At a sports event one might sit in the bleachers. “Bleachers” is a particularly American term used to describe the tiered stands that provide seating for spectators. These seats were originally wooden planks, and as they were uncovered they would be bleached by the sun, giving them the name we use today. Sometimes the fans using the bleachers might be referred to as “bleacherites”.

Down

3. War-torn Syrian city : ALEPPO

Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and is located not far from Damascus, the nation’s capital. Aleppo owes it size and history of prosperity to its location at the end of the Silk Road, the trade route that linked Asia to Europe (and other locations). The Suez Canal was opened up in 1869 bringing a new route for transport of goods, and so Aleppo’s prosperity declined over the past one hundred years or so. The city’s population has suffered terribly since the start of the Syrian Civil War, with the Battle of Aleppo raging from 2012 to 2016.

6. Connoisseur of food and drink : EPICURE

An epicure is a gourmet, one who appreciates fine food and drink in particular. The term is derived from the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus.

7. One might be found near a cloverleaf : MOTEL

Cloverleaf interchanges allow two highways to cross without the need for stopping traffic. They are so called as when viewed overheard they look like the leaves of a four-leaf clover.

11. Main ingredient in Wiener schnitzel : VEAL

Schnitzel is an Austrian dish made from slices of meat that have been tenderized and thinned with a wooden mallet, and then coated in breadcrumbs and fried. The variant known as Wiener Schnitzel (i.e. Viennese schnitzel) is usually made from veal, although now that veal had fallen into disfavor due to concerns about animal rights, it is often made from pork.

12. Kitchenware brand : EKCO

The EKCO name dates back to 1888 when Edward Katzinger founded his company in Chicago, to make baking pans. The acronym EKCO stands for “Edward Katzinger Co”.

13. Like corsets : LACED

A corset is a close-fitting undergarment that is stiffened with a material such as whalebone. Corsets are more usually worn by women, to shape the body. The word “corset” is a diminutive of the Old French “cors” meaning “body”.

16. Online enticement : CLICKBAIT

Clickbait is trickery used by website designers to entice a reader to click on a particular link. That link may be a disguised ad, so that the website owner gets some income from the advertiser.

17. Codger : COOT

Geezer, codger and coot are all not-so-nice terms for an old man, like me …

18. Botanical bristles : AWNS

“Awn” is the name given to hair- or bristle-like structures found in numerous species of plants. In some species, like barley, the awns can contain photosynthetic tissue.

25. Evidence left by a moth : HOLE

The larvae of several types of moth are noted for eating fabrics made from natural fibers such as wool or cotton. Many people store woolens in cedar chests believing that the scent of the wood prevents a moth infestation. In fact, the only known effective repellent is the naphthalene found in mothballs, which might be a health concern for humans. One way to kill moth larvae in fabric is to freeze the garment for several days at a temperature below -8 degrees centigrade.

26. Dead reckoning? : OBIT PAGE

Our word “obituary” comes from the Latin “obituaris”. The Latin term was used for “record of the death of a person”, although the literal meaning is “pertaining to death”.

28. ___ Alcorn, creator of Pong : ALLAN

Do you remember the arcade video game that was like a game of tennis, with paddles moving up and down to hit what looked like a ball, over what looked like a net? Well, that was Pong. The arcade version of Pong was introduced in 1972, with Atari selling a home version through Sears for the Christmas market in 1975.

33. Wood for a raft : BALSA

Balsa is a very fast growing tree that is native to parts of South America. Even though balsa wood is very soft, it is actually classified as a hardwood, the softest of all the hardwoods (go figure!). Balsa is light and strong, so is commonly used in making model airplanes. Amazingly, in WWII a full-size British plane, the de Havilland Mosquito, was built largely from balsa and plywood. No wonder they called it “The Wooden Wonder” and “The Timber Terror”.

35. Texter’s transition : OTOH

On the other hand (OTOH)

36. St. Petersburg’s river : NEVA

The Neva is a very large river that empties into the Gulf of Finland at the beautiful city of St. Petersburg. The river forms an expansive delta as it reaches the Baltic Sea, and the delta gives rise to numerous islands, with the number of islands further increased by a network of canals. The historic part of the city is built on these islands, giving St. Petersburg a very Venetian feel. I had the privilege of visiting the city some years ago, and I can attest that it is indeed spectacular …

38. Unduly harsh : DRACONIC

Constitutional law was brought to Athens and Ancient Greece by a legislator called Draco. The legal code that Draco developed was relatively harsh, which is why we use the term “draconian” to describe unforgiving rules.

45. All limbs : LANK

The term “lank” can describe something that is straight and flat, particularly hair. The usage was extended in the early 1800s (especially in the form “lanky”) to mean “awkwardly tall and thin”.

51. City near the Sierras : RENO

Reno, Nevada was named in honor of Major General Jesse Lee Reno, a Union officer killed in the Civil War. The city has a famous “Reno Arch”, a structure that stands over the main street. The arch was erected in 1926 to promote an exposition planned for the following year. After the expo, the city council decided to keep the arch and held a competition to decide what wording should be displayed, and the winner was “The Biggest Little City in the World”.

52. What comes before “B”? : ORAL-

The Oral-B toothbrush was introduced to the world in 1950, designed by a California periodontist. The first “model” was the Oral-B 60, a name given to reflect the 60 tufts in the brush. In 1969, the Oral-B was the first toothbrush to get to the moon as it was the toothbrush of choice for the crew of the Apollo 11 spacecraft.

54. Islamic mystic : SUFI

A sufi is a Muslim mystic, an ascetic.

74. BBQ side : SLAW

The term “coleslaw” is an Anglicized version of the Dutch name “koolsla”, which in itself is a shortened form of “Koolsalade” meaning “cabbage salad”.

76. Rare success story from the dot-com bubble : EBAY

eBay was founded in 1995 as AuctionWeb. One of the first items purchased was a broken laser pointer, for $14.83. The buyer was a collector of broken laser pointers …

The dot-com bubble was a phenomenon seen in 1997 to 2000 during which speculation led to the overvaluation of poorly-understood Internet stocks. The bubble burst on March 10, 2000. Within ten days, the value of the NASDAQ was down by over 10%.

78. More pulchritudinous : COMELIER

Pulchritude is great physical beauty, from the Latin “pulcher” meaning beautiful.

82. ___-Dixie (grocery chain) : WINN

The Winn-Dixie supermarket chain started out as a family concern, growing from a general store in Burley, Idaho in 1914. When the family business was big enough, it took a controlling interest in a chain of stores called Winn-Lovett in 1939. Using the name Winn-Lovett, the company continued to grow and in 1955 bought the Dixie Home chain of stores. At that point the name changed to Winn-Dixie. The original family name? That was Davis …

86. Italian wine city : ASTI

Asti is a city in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The region is perhaps most famous for its Asti Spumante sparkling white wine.

91. Bee, e.g. : SAMANTHA

Samantha Bee is a comedian from Toronto who found fame as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” starting way back in 2003. Bee left “The Daily Show” in 2015 to host her own late-night talk show “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” on TBS.

92. Introvert’s focus : SELF

The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung popularized the terms “Introvert” and “extrovert”, although he believed that we all have introverted and extroverted sides to us. Nowadays we tend to think of extroversion and introversion as extremes on a continuum. We sad bloggers, sitting at home glued to our laptops, tend to the introverted end of the scale …

93. Cross inscription : INRI

The letters written on the cross on which Jesus died were INRI. “INRI” is an initialism standing for the Latin “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum”, which translates into English as “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”.

96. Max at the MoMA : ERNST

Max Ernst was a painter and sculptor, and a pioneer in the Dada movement and Surrealism. Ernst was born near Cologne in Germany in 1891 and he was called up to fight in WWI, as were most young German men at that time. In his autobiography he writes “Max Ernst died the 1st of August, 1914”, which was a statement about his experiences in the war. In reality, Ernst died in 1976 having lived to the ripe old age of 85.

100. Sea cow : MANATEE

Manatees, also known as sea cows, are very large marine mammals that can grow to 12 feet in length. The manatee is believed to have evolved from four-legged land mammals and probably shares a common ancestor with the elephant.

108. Banisters : RAILS

By some accounts, a “banister” is a handrail of a stairway. By other accounts, the banister is actually the handrail and the supporting structures (called “newels”).

112. Some refuges : ARKS

The term “ark”, when used with reference to Noah, is a translation of the Hebrew word “tebah”. The word “tebah” is also used in the Bible for the basket in which Moses was placed by his mother when she floated him down the Nile. It seems that the word “tebah” doesn’t mean “boat” and nor does it mean “basket”. Rather, a more appropriate translation is “life-preserver” or “life-saver”. So, Noah’s ark was Noah’s life-preserver during the flood.

120. It fits in a lock : OAR

Oarlocks are swivelling braces on the sides of a rowing boat that hold the oars as the boat is being propelled. Back in Ireland, we call them “rowlocks” (pronounced “rollox”).

121. Architect Maya : LIN

Maya Lin is a Chinese American born in Athens, Ohio, and is an artist and architect. Her most famous work is the moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Lin was only 21-years-old when she won a public design competition in 1981 to create the memorial. Although her design is very fitting, sadly Lin was not a popular choice for the work given her Asian heritage. As she said herself, she probably would not have been picked had the competition been judged with the knowledge of who was behind each submission.

122. Mathematician’s 116-Down : QED

The initialism “QED” is used at the end of a mathematical proof or a philosophical argument. QED stands for the Latin “quod erat demonstrandum” meaning “that which was to be demonstrated”.

123. Inits. before many state names : USS

The abbreviation “USS” stands for “United States Ship”. The practice of naming US Navy vessels in a standard format didn’t start until 1907 when President Theodore Roosevelt issued an executive order that addressed the issue.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. English guy : CHAP
5. Partner in indecision with 5-Down : HEM
8. Alternative to pavement : GRAVEL
14. What leads many people to say “Let’s face it”? : MECCA
19. Spanish greeting : HOLA
20. G.I.’s address : APO
21. California’s motto : EUREKA
22. Like a truck descending a steep hill : IN LOW
23. Sources of Manchego cheese : EWES
24. How polka bands get their start? : WITH ONE ACCORDION (from “with one accord”)
27. Org. with an annual Help a Horse Day : ASPCA
29. Big suit : CEO
30. Harvard University Press’s ___ Classical Library : LOEB
31. Hundredths: Abbr. : PCTS
32. Pontiff’s gold treasure? : PAPAL BULLION (from “papal bull”)
37. Performed creditably : DID OK
39. Word with store or sign : DOLLAR
40. Value : ESTEEM
43. Like powwows : TRIBAL
46. Register things : SALES
48. Star bursts : NOVAE
49. Summer hat : PANAMA
50. Enthrones : CROWNS
53. Query about the Freedom Caucus or Berniecrats? : IS THAT A FACTION? (from “Is that a fact?)
56. Noted beauty contest loser : HERA
57. Most remote of the Near Islands : ATTU
59. Irish port, county or bay : SLIGO
60. “Shame!” : TSK!
61. Sushi eel : UNAGI
63. Improvised : RIFFED
67. Some refuges : DENS
69. Figure in Jewish folklore : GOLEM
70. Like some factories … or, in a different sense, like 90-, 109- and 119-Across (but not 24-, 32- and 53-Across)? : UNIONIZED … UN “ION-IZED”)
73. Potentially unhelpful answer to “Who’s there?” : IT’S ME?
77. Speed : RACE
79. The 21st Amendment, e.g. : REPEAL
80. Biblical spy : CALEB
81. Wonder : AWE
84. Dutch cheese : GOUDA
87. Pas sans : AVEC
89. Awestruck : GAGA
90. Nickname for a hard-to-please girl? : MISS IMPOSSIBLE (from “Mission: Impossible”)
95. Room to maneuver : LEEWAY
97. Certifiable, so to speak : INSANE
98. Bygone office position : STENO
99. Unctuousness : SMARM
101. White part of pearly whites : ENAMEL
102. Offshore sight, maybe : OIL RIG
104. Vexes : ANNOYS
107. Arabic name that sounds like a polite affirmative : YASIR
109. Data maintained by competitive dentists? : FILLING STATS (from “filling stations”)
112. Envelope abbr. : ATTN
114. That’s right! : EAST
117. Italian article : UNA
118. Intentionally lost : THREW
119. Speakers’ searches for just the right words? : RHETORICAL QUESTS (from “rhetorical questions”)
125. Halliburton of the Halliburton Company : ERLE
126. Buckwheat cereal : KASHA
127. Restroom sign : LADIES
128. Antidiscriminatory abbr. : EEO
129. Iago or Othello : ROLE
130. It notably has two bridges : SITAR
131. Bleachers : STANDS
132. “x” in 5x = x2 ÷ 2 : TEN
133. Tit for tat? : SWAP

Down

1. Shoddy : CHEAP
2. “Alas!” : HOW SAD!
3. War-torn Syrian city : ALEPPO
4. Philosophical argument for belief in God : PASCAL’S WAGER
5. Partner in indecision with 5-Across : HAW
6. Connoisseur of food and drink : EPICURE
7. One might be found near a cloverleaf : MOTEL
8. Modern prefix with tag : GEO-
9. Series : RUN
10. Word with you but not me : ARE
11. Main ingredient in Wiener schnitzel : VEAL
12. Kitchenware brand : EKCO
13. Like corsets : LACED
14. Russian “peace” : MIR
15. Terminus : ENDPOINT
16. Online enticement : CLICKBAIT
17. Codger : COOT
18. Botanical bristles : AWNS
25. Evidence left by a moth : HOLE
26. Dead reckoning? : OBIT PAGE
28. ___ Alcorn, creator of Pong : ALLAN
33. Wood for a raft : BALSA
34. “And who ___?” : ISN’T
35. Texter’s transition : OTOH
36. St. Petersburg’s river : NEVA
38. Unduly harsh : DRACONIC
41. Has a 42-Down : EATS
42. See 41-Down : MEAL
44. ___ Lee, singer with the 2011 #1 album “Mission Bell” : AMOS
45. All limbs : LANK
47. Audit a class, say : SIT IN
50. Move slowly (along) : CHUG
51. City near the Sierras : RENO
52. What comes before “B”? : ORAL-
54. Islamic mystic : SUFI
55. Tinker (with) : FIDDLE
58. Align : TRUE UP
62. Doesn’t really see : IMAGINES
64. Gift tag word : FOR
65. Lansing-to-Flint dir. : ENE
66. Brief swim : DIP
68. Protective sorts in showbiz : STAGE MOTHERS
71. Fervor : ZEAL
72. Some runoff sites : EAVES
74. BBQ side : SLAW
75. What can go before watt : MEGA-
76. Rare success story from the dot-com bubble : EBAY
78. More pulchritudinous : COMELIER
81. Beau’s girl : AMIE
82. ___-Dixie (grocery chain) : WINN
83. It’s not as simple as a), b), c) : ESSAY TEST
85. “Go ahead!” : DO SO!
86. Italian wine city : ASTI
88. Trolley sound : CLANG
91. Bee, e.g. : SAMANTHA
92. Introvert’s focus : SELF
93. Cross inscription : INRI
94. Seethe : BOIL
96. Max at the MoMA : ERNST
100. Sea cow : MANATEE
103. Need for a model : GLUE
105. Flowering herb also known as devil’s nettle : YARROW
106. Woman’s name that means “star” : STELLA
108. Banisters : RAILS
110. Not loose, as a diamond : INSET
111. 4-0 series, say : SWEEP
112. Some refuges : ARKS
113. Like panang curry : THAI
115. “Git!” : SCAT!
116. “I did it!” : TADA!
120. It fits in a lock : OAR
121. Architect Maya : LIN
122. Mathematician’s 116-Down : QED
123. Inits. before many state names : USS
124. Jesus Christ, with “the” : SON

13 thoughts on “1223-18 NY Times Crossword 23 Dec 18, Sunday”

  1. 2 hours and 5 min. With no errors. I was ready to give up but the Ravens game isn’t until 4:30 so I stuck with it.
    Still not a fan of clues like 41 & 42 down

  2. 42:01, no errors. CHUG-ged through this one. Had not heard of PASCAL’S WAGER before, found it interesting. Surprised Bill did not post a wiki for it.

    The beauty contest referred to in 56A is known as the ‘Judgement of Paris’. HERA, Athena and Aphrodite were all vying to be judged the most beautiful goddess. Zeus (smartly) stayed out of it, and assigned the judging to Paris. Each of the contestants offered him a gift. Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful mortal woman in the world; who turned out to be Helen of Troy. And rest, as they say, is history.

    1. You may have encountered the same difficulty as I did. My paper (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) prints the Sunday puzzle in teeny type, like four-point. I read and re-read the clue, trying to figure out why ten was the correct answer. Then I saw that I had read the division sign as a plus sign. With the help of a magnifying glass I realized why ten was the right answer. Frustrating! Three years or so ago I wrote the paper to complain about the type size. They printed my letter but didn’t change their ways.

      1. The confusion is caused by the paper not using a superscript for the 2, as usually indicating square. I first read it as X times 2, not X squared.

  3. Once again a marginal puzzle. Too many references that would apply only to a New York resident, so rather full of colloquialisms most weeks. A good puzzle demands good general knowledge, but one ought not to be penalized for lack of an in-depth familiarity with a foreign language, for example, or very obscure Jewish mythology.
    The usual test for a puzzle? Ask a hundred people in the street – how many would get the answer? If less than 5, your puzzle has a problem.
    I could stump you dead with my puzzle – but it would also be overfilled w colloquialisms, etc.

  4. @Mike … Whose “usual test “ is that? Are you a constructor of puzzles? (I’m not trying to be snarky; it’s entirely possible that puzzle setters have “rules of thumb” that I don’t know about.)

  5. Late weighing in, but I think Golem is relevant in modern culture because of the Hobbit, and then Lord of the Rings, creature who lost “My Precious” to Bilbo Baggins. That’d be Gollum(spelling?). That’s how I relate to it, though I had to read it once in a crossword 😋

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