1226-18 NY Times Crossword 26 Dec 18, Wednesday

Constructed by: Howard Barkin
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Movies Should Have Featured …

Themed answers are actors with family names that suggest he or she should have been in a particular movie:

  • 17A. Movie that really should have featured Anne Archer? : ROBIN HOOD
  • 25A. Movie that really should have featured Nicolas Cage? : ANIMAL HOUSE
  • 40A. Movie that really should have featured Tom Cruise? : FANTASTIC VOYAGE
  • 50A. Movie that really should have featured Vin Diesel? : BEETLEJUICE
  • 64A. Movie that really should have featured Sigourney Weaver? : SPIDERMAN

Bill’s time: 8m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Shoo-in : CINCH

The term “cinch” was absorbed into American English from Spanish in the mid-1800s, when it was used to mean a “saddle-girth”. “Cincha” is the Spanish for “girdle”. In the late 1800s, “cinch” came to mean a ‘sure thing”, in the sense that a saddle-girth can provide a “sure hold”.

A shoo-in is a surefire winner, especially in politics. Back in the 1920s, a shoo-in was a horse that was prearranged to win a race, a race that was fixed.

9. Rho follower : SIGMA

Sigma is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and is the one used for an “ess” sound, equivalent to our letter S. Sigma is used in mathematics to represent a summation, the adding together of a sequence of numbers.

14. Island greeting : ALOHA

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

16. Animated singer of “Part of Your World” : ARIEL

In the 1989 Disney animated film “The Little Mermaid”, the title character is given the name “Ariel”. In the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that dates back to 1836, the Little Mermaid is given no name at all. There is a famous statue of the unnamed Little Mermaid sitting in Copenhagen Harbor, in Andersen’s homeland of Denmark.

17. Movie that really should have featured Anne Archer? : ROBIN HOOD

“Robin Hood” is a 2010 film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe in the title role, ably supported by Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian.

Anne Archer is an American actress, a native of Los Angeles and the daughter of actors Marjorie Lord (co-star in “The Danny Thomas Show”) and John Archer. Anne’s most famous role was in 1987’s “Fatal Attraction” in which she played the wronged wife. She also played the wife of Jack Ryan’s character in “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger”.

19. Greek-born New Age musician : YANNI

Yanni is a remarkable Greek musician who is very successful in the world of New Age music. What I find so remarkable is that he is a self-taught musician. Yanni was born Yiannis Chryssomallis in Kalamata, Greece and moved to the US in 1972 to attend the University of Minnesota.

20. Cheese from cow’s milk : ASIAGO

Asiago is a crumbly cheese that is named for the region in northeastern Italy from where it originates.

23. Ride associated with low m.p.g.’s : SUV

“SUV” is an initialism standing for sports utility vehicle, and is a term that was introduced by our marketing friends. Using the phrase “sports utility vehicle” was a very clever way to get us to pay a lot of money for what was essentially a station wagon on a truck chassis, or at least it was back then.

24. ___ Talks : TED

The acronym “TED” stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design”. TED is a set of conferences held around the world by a non-profit group called the Sapling Foundation. The conference subjects are varied, and the meetings are often led by big names such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Gates and Jane Goodall. The Sapling Foundation then makes recordings of the conferences available for free online with the intent of disseminating the ideas globally. These conferences are known as “TED Talks”.

25. Movie that really should have featured Nicolas Cage? : ANIMAL HOUSE

The very funny 1978 movie “Animal House” has the prefix “National Lampoon’s …” because the storyline came out of tales that had already appeared in “National Lampoon” magazine. “Animal House” was to become the first in a long line of successful “National Lampoon” films. The main pledges in the movie are Tom Hulce (Pinto), who later played a magnificent “Amadeus”, and Stephen Furst (Flounder), who later played a regular role on television’s “Babylon 5”.

The actor Nicolas “Nic” Cage was born Nicolas Coppola. Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire, both of whom are his father’s siblings.

29. Little untruth : FIB

To fib is to to tell a lie. The verb likely comes from “fibble-fable” meaning “nonsense”, with “fibble-fable” coming from “fable”.

30. Coffee grown on the Big Island : KONA

Kona coffee is cultivated on the Big Island of Hawaii, on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai, two of the five volcanoes on the island. Coffee plants were brought to Kona in 1828 and late in the 19th century, coffee became a viable and worthwhile crop. Today Kona is a one of the most expensive and popular coffees in the world.

36. It’s kept by a metronome : TEMPO

A metronome is any device that produces a regular beat. The metronome was invented in 1815 by Johann Maelzel, who intended it to be an instrument for the use of musicians.

40. Movie that really should have featured Tom Cruise? : FANTASTIC VOYAGE

“Fantastic Voyage” is a 1966 sci-fi film about a medical team that is shrunk, along with a submarine, so that they can “voyage” through the bloodstream of a stricken scientist to repair the damage to his brain. It’s a dreadful film starring Raquel Welch and Donald Pleasance, but I love it. I think I liked it when I watched it as a teenager because I had first read the novel made from the film, which was written by the great Isaac Asimov. Well, there was also Raquel Welch in a skintight SCUBA suit …

Tom Cruise’s real name is Tom Cruise Mapother IV. Cruise was born in Syracuse, New York. That’s one of my favorite cities in the US, because it’s where I met my lovely wife-to-be …

43. Balboa’s film foe : CREED

In the “Rocky” series of films, Rocky Balboa was given the ring name “The Italian Stallion”. Rocky’s first real opponent was Apollo Creed, who was known in the ring as “The Master of Disaster” and “The Count of Monte Fisto”.

44. Opening of a classic Langston Hughes poem : I, TOO …

Langston Hughes was a poet active in the Harlem Renaissance, and someone who helped develop the literary form known as “jazz poetry”. His poem “I, Too, Sing America” was published in 1925.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.

46. Pencil after lots of crosswords, maybe? : NUB

A much-used pencil or crayon might be worn down to a “nub”.

50. Movie that really should have featured Vin Diesel? : BEETLEJUICE

“Beetlejuice” is a 1988 comedy-horror film directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton in the title role. Beetlejuice is an underworld character who tries to scare away the new inhabitants of a house that is haunted by the ghosts of a deceased couple (played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis).

The original Volkswagen design was the Beetle and was built under a directive from Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap car built that ordinary people could afford to purchase. He awarded the contract to engineer Ferdinand Porsche, whose name (paradoxically) would forever be associated with high performance, expensive cars. The Beetle was the official name of the VW model released in North America, but it was usually referred to as a “Bug” here in the US, and a “Beetle” elsewhere in the world.

Vin Diesel is the stage name of actor Mark Sinclair Vincent. He was born in New York City with his twin brother Paul. The twins never knew their father, and their mother is an astrologer. Vincent was given the nickname of “Diesel” by his friends early in his life, as he was said to have a bottomless supply of energy.

58. Balance shower, for short : ATM

Automatic Teller Machine (ATM)

60. Una corrida figure : EL TORO

Spanish bullfighting is known locally as “corrida de toros”, literally “race of bulls”.

64. Movie that really should have featured Sigourney Weaver? : SPIDERMAN

Spider-Man is a 2002 film directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire in the title role. This was to be the first in a series of “Spider-Man” films. The bad guy this time is the Green Goblin, portrayed by Willem Dafoe.

Actress Sigourney Weaver was born Susan Weaver in New York City. She chose the stage name “Sigourney” from Mrs. Sigourney Howard, a minor character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby”. After a playing a few minor roles in major films, Weaver’s big break came with the lead in the 1979 blockbuster “Alien”.

66. Town where Grey Poupon originated : DIJON

Grey Poupon mustard dates way back to 1777 when Maurice Grey started making mustard with Auguste Poupon in Dijon, France.

70. Eponymous ice cream maker : EDY

Dreyers’ ice cream sells its products under the name Dreyers in the Western United States, and Edy’s in the Eastern states. The company’s founders were William Dreyer and Joseph Edy.

Down

1. Diamond unit : CARAT

The carat is a unit of mass equal to 200 mg. It is used in sizing gemstones.

4. ___ Pet : CHIA

Chia is a flowering plant in the mint family. Chia seeds are an excellent food source and are often added to breakfast cereals and energy bars. There is also the famous Chia Pet, an invention of a San Francisco company. Chia Pets are terracotta figurines to which are applied moistened chia seeds. The seeds sprout and the seedlings become the “fur” of the Chia Pet.

5. Plane storage site : HANGAR

“Hangar” is a French word for “shed”. The French first started using the term to mean “shed for airplanes” in the very early 1900s.

6. 1950s Project Blue Book subject, for short : UFO

In 1952, the USAF revived its studies of reported sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in a program called Project Blue Book. Project Blue Book ran from 1952 until it was shut down in 1969 with the conclusion that there was no threat to national security and that there were no sightings that could not be explained within the bounds of modern scientific knowledge.

8. Multiheaded monster of myth : HYDRA

The Hydra of Lerna was a mythical sea snake that had multiple heads. Heracles had to slay the Lernaean Hydra as the second of his Twelve Labors. We now use the term “hydra” figuratively to describe a complex problem that presents new obstacles once once facet is resolved.

10. Lyricist Gershwin : IRA

Ira Gershwin was the lyricist who worked with his brother George to create such American classics as the songs “I Got Rhythm” and “Someone to Watch Over Me”, as well as the opera “Porgy and Bess”. After George Gershwin died, Ira continued to create great music, and worked with the likes of Jerome Kern and Kurt Weill.

11. Kind of knife in old infomercials : GINSU

Ginsu knives are more famous for their hard-sell television ads than they are for their efficacy in the kitchen. The Ginsu phenomenon took off in the seventies when two brothers found a set of knives called “Eversharp” that were being manufactured in Ohio. The brothers changed the brand name to something more exotic, and Japanese in particular (Ginsu), and then produced ads that made references to Japanese martial arts. I think they made a fortune …

12. Maître d’s handful : MENUS

The full title of a “maître d’” is “maître d’hôtel”, which means “master of the hotel”.

26. Famous query in Matthew 26 : IS IT I?

At the Last Supper, Jesus told his apostles that one of them would betray him that day. According to the Gospel of Matthew:

And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

28. Entrepreneur’s protection : PATENT

An entrepreneur is someone takes on most aspects of a business venture, from the original idea to the execution. The term is imported from French, with “entreprendre” meaning “to undertake”. The original usage in English dates back to the early 1800s, when it applied to a manager and promoter of a theatrical production.

30. One of the Yum! brands : KFC

The famous “Colonel” of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fame was Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur from Henryville, Indiana. Although not really a “Colonel”, Sanders did indeed serve in the military. He enlisted in the Army as a private in 1906 at the age of 16, lying about his age. He spent the whole of his time in the Army as a soldier in Cuba. It was much later, in the 1930s, that Sanders went into the restaurant business making his specialty deep-fried chicken. By 1935 his reputation as a “character” had grown, so much so that Governor Ruby Laffoon of Kentucky gave Sanders the honorary title of “Kentucky Colonel”. Later in the fifties, Sanders developed his trademark look with the white suit, string tie, mustache and goatee. When Sanders was 65 however, his business failed and in stepped Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s. Thomas simplified the Sanders menu, cutting it back from over a hundred items to just fried chicken and salads. That was enough to launch KFC into the fast food business. Sanders sold the US franchise in 1964 for just $2 million and moved to Canada to grow KFC north of the border. He died in 1980 and is buried in Louisville, Kentucky. The Colonel’s secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices is indeed a trade secret. Apparently there is only one copy of the recipe, a handwritten piece of paper, written in pencil and signed by Colonel Sanders. Since 2009, the piece of paper has been locked in a computerized vault surrounded with motion detectors and security cameras.

35. Unpleasant strain? : E COLI

Escherichia coli (E. coli) are usually harmless bacteria found in the human gut, working away quite happily. However, there are some strains that can produce lethal toxins. These strains can make their way into the food chain from animal fecal matter that comes into contact with food designated for human consumption.

37. GQ or O : MAG

The men’s magazine known today as “GQ” used to be titled “Gentlemen’s Quarterly”. It was known as “Apparel Arts” when launched in 1931.

The full name of the publication usually called “O”, is “O: The Oprah Magazine”. Since the magazine’s founding in 2000, Oprah has appeared alone on the cover of each issue, with two exceptions. On the April 2009 cover Oprah was shown with First Lady Michelle Obama, and on the December 2009 cover Oprah shared the limelight with Ellen DeGeneres.

38. Org. whose members are teed off? : PGA

The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) was founded in 1916 and today has its headquarters (unsurprisingly) in Florida, where so many golfers live. Back in 1916, the PGA was based in New York City.

39. Ref. that added “cruciverbalist” (a person who does crosswords) in 2006 : OED

Work started on what was to become the first “Oxford English Dictionary” (OED) in 1857. Several interim versions of the dictionary were published in the coming years with the first full version appearing, in ten bound volumes, in 1928. The second edition of the OED appeared in 1989 and is made up of twenty volumes. The OED was first published in electronic form in 1988 and went online in 2000. Given the modern use of computers, the publishing house responsible feels that there will never be a third print version of the famous dictionary.

“Cruciverbalist” is a term developed in the 1990s to describe crossword enthusiasts. The word comes from the Latin for cross (crux) and word (verbum). “Cruciverbalist” is sometimes limited to those who actually construct the puzzles. Over on the other side of the Atlantic, we often call such people “setters”.

47. Pollinator : BEE

The stamen is the male reproductive organ of a flower. The part of the stamen known as the anther sits on a stalk called the filament that carries the pollen. The pollen is picked up by insects, especially bees, who then transfer pollen from flower to flower. The pistil is the female reproductive organ, and it accepts the pollen.

49. Conger catchers : EELERS

Conger eels can grow to be very, very large, perhaps up to 10 feet in length.

51. Amazon’s biz : ETAIL

Amazon.com is the largest online retailer in the world. It is also the most largest Internet company in the world by revenue. The company was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, in his garage in Bellevue, Washington. I’m a big fan of Amazon’s approach to customer service …

52. Bit of graphic language? : EMOJI

An emoji is a character found on many cell phones that is much like an emoticon, but more elaborate.

53. Williams of “Grey’s Anatomy” : JESSE

“Gray’s Anatomy” is a very successful human anatomy textbook that was first published back in 1858 and is still in print today. The original text was written by English anatomist Henry Gray, who gave his name to the work. The TV medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” (note “Grey” vs. Gray”) is centered on the character Dr. Meredith Grey, but the show’s title is a nod to the title of the famous textbook.

55. Actress Marisa : TOMEI

Marisa Tomei’s first screen role was in the daytime soap “As the World Turns”, but her break came with a recurring role in “The Cosby Show” spin-off “A Different World”. Tomei won an Oscar for her delightful performance in “My Cousin Vinny” in 1992.

57. Introverted sort : LONER

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 …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Shoo-in : CINCH
6. “That is really unpleasant,” tersely : UGH!
9. Rho follower : SIGMA
14. Island greeting : ALOHA
15. Word with small or fish : … FRY
16. Animated singer of “Part of Your World” : ARIEL
17. Movie that really should have featured Anne Archer? : ROBIN HOOD
19. Greek-born New Age musician : YANNI
20. Cheese from cow’s milk : ASIAGO
21. Miner matters : ORES
23. Ride associated with low m.p.g.’s : SUV
24. ___ Talks : TED
25. Movie that really should have featured Nicolas Cage? : ANIMAL HOUSE
28. They play for pay : PROS
29. Little untruth : FIB
30. Coffee grown on the Big Island : KONA
33. Red, perhaps : RIPE
36. It’s kept by a metronome : TEMPO
40. Movie that really should have featured Tom Cruise? : FANTASTIC VOYAGE
43. Balboa’s film foe : CREED
44. Opening of a classic Langston Hughes poem : I, TOO …
45. “Yipes!” : EGAD!
46. Pencil after lots of crosswords, maybe? : NUB
48. Told a 29-Across : LIED
50. Movie that really should have featured Vin Diesel? : BEETLEJUICE
55. Business card abbr. : TEL
58. Balance shower, for short : ATM
59. Overflow (with) : TEEM
60. Una corrida figure : EL TORO
62. ___ Osaka, 2018 U.S. Open tennis champion : NAOMI
64. Movie that really should have featured Sigourney Weaver? : SPIDERMAN
66. Town where Grey Poupon originated : DIJON
67. 1/3,600 of an hr. : SEC
68. Pokey or Pee Wee of Major League Baseball : REESE
69. Cast replacement : SLING
70. Eponymous ice cream maker : EDY
71. One going downhill in a hurry? : SKIER

Down

1. Diamond unit : CARAT
2. “You got me this game” : I LOSE
3. Like a contract awarded without competition : NO-BID
4. ___ Pet : CHIA
5. Plane storage site : HANGAR
6. 1950s Project Blue Book subject, for short : UFO
7. Figure on top of some cakes : GROOM
8. Multiheaded monster of myth : HYDRA
9. Greets informally : SAYS HI TO
10. Lyricist Gershwin : IRA
11. Kind of knife in old infomercials : GINSU
12. Maître d’s handful : MENUS
13. Not yet out of the game : ALIVE
18. “May I do the ___?” : HONORS
22. Part of Santa’s workshop : ELF
26. Famous query in Matthew 26 : IS IT I?
27. Followed instructions : OBEYED
28. Entrepreneur’s protection : PATENT
30. One of the Yum! brands : KFC
31. Tool sometimes used with two hands : OAR
32. Boise-to-Missoula dir. : NNE
34. Orchestra’s place : PIT
35. Unpleasant strain? : E COLI
37. GQ or O : MAG
38. Org. whose members are teed off? : PGA
39. Ref. that added “cruciverbalist” (a person who does crosswords) in 2006 : OED
41. Doing grown-up tasks, in modern lingo : ADULTING
42. Performed, as in an animated film : VOICED
47. Pollinator : BEE
49. Conger catchers : EELERS
50. America, Asia and Europe (but not Africa) : BANDS
51. Amazon’s biz : ETAIL
52. Bit of graphic language? : EMOJI
53. Williams of “Grey’s Anatomy” : JESSE
54. Worked behind the plate : UMPED
55. Actress Marisa : TOMEI
56. Clear the boards : ERASE
57. Introverted sort : LONER
61. Long trip : TREK
63. Fellow in Jamaica : MON
65. Supercool? : ICY

11 thoughts on “1226-18 NY Times Crossword 26 Dec 18, Wednesday”

  1. 11:54. Pretty easy Wednesday.

    I read the NYT blurb on this puzzle. Apparently the setter won the ACPT in 2016. He says his weakness is tv and film so he made a theme based on his weakness to try to learn more about it. I like that attitude.

    Best –

    1. I just checked and there are actually rock bands (think music, not geology) called “America”, “Asia”, and “Europe”, but there isn’t one called “Africa”. (When I did the puzzle, five weeks ago, I got the answer from crossing entries and forgot to check it out with Mr. G.)

    2. Oh, hi, Glenn! I’d delete my answer now, since you raced past me, but we no longer have that capability on this blog … 😳.

  2. Pretty much sailed thru this one with no problems. One small note is that apparently the on-line version had 9-Across clued as “Rho follower”. In our printed newspaper we had the actual Greek upper-case symbol for sigma given as the clue.

    @Jeff’s comment is interesting about the setter’s weakness being movies and TV. I have that same weakness. When I begin to see a movie or TV theme coming up I always think “Oh, no!” But I will have to say that Mr. Barkin did, at least, choose some easy ones for us today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.