1227-18 NY Times Crossword 27 Dec 18, Thursday

Constructed by: Mary Lou Guizzo & Jeff Chen
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Contrail

We have some lovely grid art today, with a plane flying towards the top-right, and CON-trails behind:

  • 40D. Follower of a plane … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : CONTRAIL
  • 30A. Drone’s job : AERIAL RECON
  • 35A. Rods’ partners : CONES
  • 38A. One might have a wink or a smile : EMOTICON
  • 44A. Tin or glass : CONTAINER
  • 46A. Business meeting that participants dial into, informally : TELECON
  • 20D. One frequently pictured in GQ or Vogue : STYLE ICON
  • 28D. Radiation cleanup, briefly : DECON
  • 32D. Brooklyn attraction : CONEY ISLAND
  • 47D. Dominate : CONTROL

Bill’s time: 18m 28s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6. Mount whose name means, literally, “I burn” : ETNA

Mount Etna on the island of Sicily is the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy, and indeed the largest of all active volcano in Europe. Etna is about 2 1/2 times the height of its equally famous sister, Mt. Vesuvius. Mt. Etna is home to a 110-km long narrow-gauge railway, and two ski resorts. It is sometimes referred to as “Mongibello” in Italian, and as “Mungibeddu” in Sicilian. The English name “Etna” comes from the Greek “aitho” meaning “I eat”.

14. Detached : ALOOF

I suppose one might guess from the feel of the word “aloof” that is has nautical roots. Originally “aloof” meant “to windward” and was the opposite of “alee”. A helmsman might be instructed to stay aloof, to steer the boat into the weather to keep a distance from a lee-shore. It is from this sense of maintaining a distance that aloof came to mean “distant” in terms of personality. Interesting, huh …?

15. Fed. science org. : EPA

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

16. Family symbol : TOTEM

“Totem” is a word used to describe any entity that watches over a group of people. As such, totems are usually the subjects of worship. Totem poles are really misnamed, as they are not intended to represent figures to be worshiped, but rather are heraldic in nature often celebrating the legends or notable events in the history of a tribe.

19. Monomaniac of fiction : AHAB

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.

23. Sunroof alternative : T-TOP

A T-top is a car roof that has removable panels on either side of a rigid bar that runs down the center of the vehicle above the driver.

29. “Forever, ___” (1996 humor book) : ERMA

Erma Bombeck wrote for newspapers for about 35 years. She produced more than 4,000 witty and humorous columns under the title “At Wit’s End”, with all describing her home life in suburbia.

34. Realm with an Imperial Diet: Abbr. : HRE

The Imperial Diet was a general assembly of the estates of the former Holy Roman Empire. The most famous of these assemblies was the Diet of Worms, a 16th-century meeting that took place in the small town of Worms on the Rhine River in Germany. The main item on the agenda was discussion of the 95 theses of Martin Luther. Luther was summoned to the meeting and found to be guilty of heresy.

35. Rods’ partners : CONES

The retina is the tissue that lines the inside of the eye, the tissue that is light-sensitive. There are (mainly) two types of cell in the retina that are sensitive to light, called rods and cones. Rods are cells that best function in very dim light and only provide black-and-white vision. Cones on the other hand function in brighter light and can perceive color.

37. Rival of Cassio : IAGO

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.

38. One might have a wink or a smile : EMOTICON

An emoticon is a glyph created using text characters to represent facial features, and usually oriented sideways. The emoticon is designed to indicate emotion or attitude. The classic example is the smiley face: 🙂

41. Foreign-born musician with a Presidential Medal of Freedom : YO-YO MA

Yo-Yo Ma is a marvelous American cellist who was born in Paris to Chinese parents. Ma started studying the violin when he was very young, working his way up (in size) to the viola and finally to the cello. He has said that he wanted to play the double bass, but it was just too big for his relatively small frame.

46. Business meeting that participants dial into, informally : TELECON

Telephone conference (telecon)

53. Words before “a good night” : TO ALL …

Here are the closing lines to the Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

55. Author Calvino : ITALO

As well as being an author, Italo Calvino was a famous Italian journalist. He was a supporter of communism and so wasn’t very popular in the US nor in Britain.

57. Former Yankees manager Joe : GIRARDI

Joe Girardi is the manager of the New York Yankees baseball team, having taken over from Joe Torre in 2007. Girardi opted to wear the number 27 on his uniform, a visible reminder of his plan to lead the Yankees to their 27th World Series win, a feat that was achieved in 2009.

63. Clichéd : STALE

“Cliché” is a word that comes from the world of printing. In the days when type was added as individual letters into a printing plate, for efficiency some oft-used phrases and words were created as one single slug of metal. The word “cliché” was used for such a grouping of letters. It’s easy to see how the same word would become a term to describe any overused phrase. Supposedly, “cliché” comes from French, from the verb “clicher” meaning “to click”. The idea is that when a matrix of letters was dropped in molten metal to make a cliché, it made a clicking sound.

64. “A tyrant’s authority for crime and a fool’s excuse for failure,” per Ambrose Bierce : DESTINY

“The Devil’s Dictionary” is a satirical work by Ambrose Bierce, consisting of a list of common words with some very amusing definitions. First published in 1911, “The Devil’s Dictionary” is a more complete version of Bierce’s 1906 publication “The Cynic’s Word Book”. Here are some of my favorite definitions found therein:

  • Cabbage, n. A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.
  • Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
  • Dentist, n. A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket.
  • Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
  • Hers, pron. His.
  • Money, n. A blessing that is of no advantage to us excepting when we part with it.
  • Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
  • Selfish, adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.
  • Sweater, n. Garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
  • Year, n. A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.

Down

2. Song sung by Elvis in “Blue Hawaii” : ALOHA ‘OE

“Aloha ‘Oe” is a song of Hawaii composed by Liliuokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii and her only queen. The title translates as “Farewell to Thee”.

“Blue Hawaii” is one a series of Elvis Presley movies, this one released in 1961. 36-year-old Angela Lansbury was cast as the mother of the character played by 26-year-old Presley. Apparently, Lansbury “wasn’t amused” but took the role anyway.

3. Muscle with a palindromic name : ROTATOR

What we know as the rotator cuff, is more correctly termed the rotor cuff. It is the group of four muscles that stabilizes the shoulder.

4. End of an era? : ONE BC

The designations Anno Domini (AD, “year of Our Lord”) and Before Christ (BC) are found in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dividing point between AD and BC is the year of the conception of Jesus, with AD 1 following 1 BC without a year “0” in between. The AD/BC scheme dates back to AD 525, and gained wide acceptance soon after AD 800. Nowadays a modified version has become popular, with CE (Common/Christian Era) used to replace AD, and BCE (Before the Common/Christian Era) used to replace BC.

5. Company that released “2001: A Space Odyssey” : MGM

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) film studio was founded in 1924 by Marcus Loew. Loew was already a successful movie theater owner when he purchased Metro Pictures Corporation in 1919, and then Goldwyn Pictures in 1924. Later in 1924, Loew also purchased Louis B. Mayer Pictures, mainly so that Louis B. Mayer could merge all three studios and run them himself as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

“2001: A Space Odyssey” is a groundbreaking 1968 sci-fi film that was inspired by an Arthur C. Clarke short story “The Sentinel”. Clarke and director Stanley Kubrick teamed up to write the film’s screenplay. While working on the screenplay, Clarke wrote a novel with the same title as the film, and published it soon after the release of the movie.

6. ___ Club : ELKS

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) was founded in 1868, and is a social club that has about a million members today. It started out as a group of men getting together in a “club” in order to get around the legal opening hours of taverns in New York City. The club took on a new role as it started to look out for poor families of members who passed away. The club now accepts African Americans as members (since the seventies) and women (since the nineties), but atheists still aren’t welcome. The list of US presidents that have been members of the BPOE includes Presidents Eisenhower, Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Ford.

9. It was once big for Aretha Franklin : AFRO

I think that Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, had a tough life. Franklin had her first son when she was just 13-years-old, and her second at 15. In 2008, “Rolling Stone” magazine ranked Franklin as number one in their list of the greatest singers of all time.

10. It’s indicated by arrows on a map : JET STREAM

Jet streams are narrow air currents high in the atmosphere that move very quickly around the earth. The major jet streams surrounding our planet move from west to east.

12. Newspaper headline of 12/8/1941 : WAR

The Infamy Speech was delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The speech takes its name for the opening line:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The phrase “a date which will live in infamy” is often misquoted as “a day which will live in infamy”. The term “infamy” was inserted in the speech just before it was delivered. A previous version read “… a date which will live in world history”.

20. One frequently pictured in GQ or Vogue : STYLE ICON

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.

“Vogue” magazine has been published for an awfully long time, with the first issue appearing in 1892. Over the decades the magazine has picked up a lot of criticism as well as its many fans. Famously, an assistant to the editor wrote a novel based on her experiences working with the magazine’s editor, and called it “The Devil Wears Prada”.

24. Rolex rival : OMEGA

Omega is a manufacturer of high-end watches based in Switzerland. An Omega watch was the first portable timepiece to make it to the moon, Perhaps even more impressive is the fact James Bond has been wearing an Omega watch in the movies since 1995.

25. Texas’ ___ Duro Canyon : PALO

Palo Duro Canyon in Texas is the second largest canyon in the whole of the US (after the Grand Canyon). The Palo Duro Canyon is 60 miles long, and 20 miles wide in places.

28. Radiation cleanup, briefly : DECON

Decontamination (decon)

32. Brooklyn attraction : CONEY ISLAND

Cony (or “coney”) is an old English word for rabbit or rabbit fur, and Coney Island in New York takes its name from the same root. The Dutch used the name “Conyne Eylandt” (Rabbit Island) after the large population of rabbits that was hunted there.

36. Acoustic measure : SONE

In the world of acoustics, the sone was introduced in 1936 as a unit of perceived loudness.

39. Burrowing rodent : MOLE-RAT

The naked mole-rat is an ugly-looking creature, I must say. Native to parts of East Africa, the naked mole-rat has very little hair and lives much of its life underground, hence its name. One reason that scientists are very interested in naked mole-rats is that they are exceedingly resistant to cancer. Discoveries made while studying the species led to the journal “Science” declaring the naked mole-rat “Vertebrate of the Year” for 2013.

40. Follower of a plane … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : CONTRAIL

We talk so often about global warming these days but there is another fascinating phenomenon that is related, and known as “global dimming”. Global dimming is the reduction in the amount of heat that radiates daily from the planet due to the insulating effect of pollution and vapor trails (contrails) from aircraft that are present in the atmosphere. The effect has been touted as a theory for decades but dramatic empirical data became available in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Planes were grounded and the skies over America were clear for three days. There was a stark change in the temperature range measured across the US for these three days, demonstrating the impact that air travel has on our climate.

43. Amos Alonzo ___, coach in the College Football Hall of Fame : STAGG

Amos Alonzo Stagg was an athlete and coach whose talents extended across a number of sports. He is was inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Basketball Hall of Fame.

45. I.S.P. option : AOL

AOL was a leading Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the 1980s and 1990s. The company does still provide dial-up access to the Internet for some subscribers, but most users now access AOL using faster, non-AOL ISPs.

49. Lowest parts : BASSI

The bass is the lowest male singing voice. A man with such a voice might be called a “basso” (plural “bassi”). In an opera, the villain of the piece is usually played by a basso.

50. Author Locke of the Harlem Renaissance, the first African-American Rhodes scholar (1907) : ALAIN

The author and philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke was the first African-American Rhodes Scholar, and studied in Oxford and Berlin. Years later, Locke was the philosophical architect of what became known as the Harlem Renaissance, and indeed is often referred to as the Harlem Renaissance’s “Dean”.

The Rhodes Scholarship is an award that funds postgraduate study at Oxford University. The scholarship dates back to 1902, when it was established by English mining magnate and politician Cecil Rhodes. Several Rhodes Scholars have gone on to head governments including, Bill Clinton (US), John Turner (Canada) and there Australian Prime Ministers (Bob Hawke, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull). The program is not without controversy. For decades, it was only open to males, and in fact only males who were not black Africans.

51. Hall of fame : MONTY

Monty Hall is the stage name of Canadian-born television personality Monte Halperin. Hall is perhaps best known as the longtime host of the game show “Let’s Make a Deal”.

54. Comic strip canine : ODIE

Odie is Garfield’s best friend, and is a slobbery beagle. Both are characters in Jim Davis’ comic strip named “Garfield”.

58. Celestial altar : ARA

The constellation of Ara takes its name from the Latin word for “altar”.

60. Norma ___ (Oscar-winning role of 1979) : RAE

“Norma Rae” is a 1979 movie starring Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster in a tale of union activities in a textile factory in Alabama. The film is based on the true story of Crystal Lee Sutton told in a 1975 book called “Crystal Lee, a Woman of Inheritance”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. ___ billiards, game on a pocketless table : CAROM
6. Mount whose name means, literally, “I burn” : ETNA
10. Something with teeth : JAW
13. In the course of : ALONG
14. Detached : ALOOF
15. Fed. science org. : EPA
16. Family symbol : TOTEM
17. Flier with a message : SKYWRITER
19. Monomaniac of fiction : AHAB
20. Divisions in the Congressional Record : SESSIONS
21. View remotely? : WATCH TV
23. Sunroof alternative : T-TOP
26. “You sti-i-i-ink!” : BOO!
27. Follower of clear or cross : -EYED
29. “Forever, ___” (1996 humor book) : ERMA
30. Drone’s job : AERIAL RECON
33. Rod’s partner : REEL
34. Realm with an Imperial Diet: Abbr. : HRE
35. Rods’ partners : CONES
37. Rival of Cassio : IAGO
38. One might have a wink or a smile : EMOTICON
41. Foreign-born musician with a Presidential Medal of Freedom : YO-YO MA
43. Trough filler : SLOP
44. Tin or glass : CONTAINER
46. Business meeting that participants dial into, informally : TELECON
48. Bunch of lovers? : ROSES
49. “Just like that!” : BAM!
52. Gray : AGE
53. Words before “a good night” : TO ALL …
55. Author Calvino : ITALO
57. Former Yankees manager Joe : GIRARDI
59. Crafty person? : ARTISAN
61. It helps keep the machinery running : GEAR OIL
62. Does something to a T : NAILS IT
63. Clichéd : STALE
64. “A tyrant’s authority for crime and a fool’s excuse for failure,” per Ambrose Bierce : DESTINY

Down

1. Carolina tribe that allied with the colonists in the American Revolution : CATAWBA
2. Song sung by Elvis in “Blue Hawaii” : ALOHA ‘OE
3. Muscle with a palindromic name : ROTATOR
4. End of an era? : ONE BC
5. Company that released “2001: A Space Odyssey” : MGM
6. ___ Club : ELKS
7. Department store department : TOYS
8. “___ get it” : NOW I
9. It was once big for Aretha Franklin : AFRO
10. It’s indicated by arrows on a map : JET STREAM
11. Parody, in a way : APE
12. Newspaper headline of 12/8/1941 : WAR
14. Alternative to “Sincerely” : AS EVER
18. Department with a buffalo on its seal : INTERIOR
20. One frequently pictured in GQ or Vogue : STYLE ICON
22. Symbol on many a bumper sticker : HEART
24. Rolex rival : OMEGA
25. Texas’ ___ Duro Canyon : PALO
28. Radiation cleanup, briefly : DECON
31. “Fingers crossed!” : I HOPE!
32. Brooklyn attraction : CONEY ISLAND
36. Acoustic measure : SONE
38. Sad songs : ELEGIES
39. Burrowing rodent : MOLE-RAT
40. Follower of a plane … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : CONTRAIL
42. “Most definitely!” : YES IT IS!
43. Amos Alonzo ___, coach in the College Football Hall of Fame : STAGG
45. I.S.P. option : AOL
47. Dominate : CONTROL
49. Lowest parts : BASSI
50. Author Locke of the Harlem Renaissance, the first African-American Rhodes scholar (1907) : ALAIN
51. Hall of fame : MONTY
54. Comic strip canine : ODIE
56. Bias : TILT
58. Celestial altar : ARA
60. Norma ___ (Oscar-winning role of 1979) : RAE

12 thoughts on “1227-18 NY Times Crossword 27 Dec 18, Thursday”

  1. Solved it pretty quickly for me…I got the rebus, but didn’t recognize the jet/contrail image. Guess it was a stealth fighter…

  2. 35:56. Setters get an A+ for the theme. I knew something was up when I noticed the grid was not symmetrical. CONTRAIL, the reveal, was my aha moment.

    Duncan brings up an interesting point. This does indeed look like a stealth fighter, but I doubt that was the intention. Regardless, a stealth aircraft (like all military aircraft) tries to avoid leaving contrails. Contrails are ice formations left behind by the aircraft exhaust in given atmospheric temp and humidity conditions. Stealth pilots have an alert system when they start leaving contrails and can sometimes change altitudes to avoid making them.

    All that said, contrails are visible to the naked eye but not to radar so they are generally only visible when they are very close…a.k.a. when it’s too late to do anything about them. Also stealth fighters tend to fly only at night when contrails are not very visible even by the naked eye.

    How did I get off on such a tangent? Must be the holidays.

    Best –

  3. 17:24, no errors. A lovely puzzle! I filled in all the CONs at the very end (after being very puzzled by all the entries containing them), which made for a marvelous “aha” moment. And I still didn’t notice that they were trailing behind some kind of unidentified flying object … so thank you, Duncan and Jeff!

    1. @Brian …

      You’re right about the direction in which the jet stream moves, but the definition of “easterly” (as I discovered a few years ago) is, like Mary, quite contrary:

      https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/easterly

      So a wind blowing from the west is a “westerly”, even though the air is moving in what seems to me (and, according to the dictionary, I’m wrong!) an easterly direction.

      Ever since I first encountered this, I’ve avoided using the words “easterly” and “westerly”, because I think they only lead to confusion. SNAFU … 😜.

  4. 18:31, no errors. Appreciate @Jeff’s insight on contrails; and @Dave’s on ‘easterly’. I remember the easterly/westerly confusion costing me points on an engineering exam in college. The up side is that I still remember the difference between east and easterly. ;D

  5. Fun, challenging, clever stuff. Took a while to get going, but finding the CON trail theme provided the boost needed to finish without error.

  6. @Dave… totally agree with you, however Bill’s explanation said “move in a Westerly direction” which is just the opposite.

    1. @Brian
      Well spotted. That was definitely my bad. All fixed now, thanks to your help, Brian. Much appreciated!

      1. “The direction of the wind is always defined from whence it comes” is the saying I always heard. So if it comes from the west, it’s a westerly wind.

        Easy way to remember it.

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