1228-18 NY Times Crossword 28 Dec 18, Friday

Constructed by: David Steinberg
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 11m 05s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

16. High-end Italian sports car : ALFA ROMEO SPIDER

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.

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.

17. 1997 Notorious B.I.G. hit whose title lyric precedes “strictly for the weather” : GOING BACK TO CALI

“The Notorious B.I.G.” was the stage name of rap star Christopher Wallace, who also went by the names “Biggie Smalls” and “Biggie”. While at the height of his fame Wallace was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, a murder case that has never been solved. The 2009 movie “Notorious” is about Wallace’s life and stars fellow rap artist Jamal Woolard (aka Gravy) in the title role.

18. Queen who styled herself as Isis, familiarly : CLEO

Cleopatra was the last pharaoh to rule Egypt. After she died, Egypt became a province in the Roman Empire.

Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility, as well as the protector of the dead and the goddess of children. She was the personification of the pharaoh’s power. The name “Isis” translates as “throne”, and she is usually depicted with a headdress shaped like a throne.

19. ___ Lopez opening (chess tactic) : RUY

A gambit is a chess opening that intrinsically involves the sacrifice of a piece (usually a pawn) with the intent of gaining an advantage. The term “gambit” was first used by the Spanish priest Ruy Lopez de Segura who took it from the Italian expression “dare il gambetto” meaning “to put a leg forward to trip someone”. Said priest gave his name to the common Ruy Lopez opening, which paradoxically is not a gambit in that there is no sacrifice. The chess term dates back to the mid-1600s. We’ve been using “gambit” more generally for any opening move designed to gain advantage since the mid-1800s.

22. Chris of “The Good Wife” : NOTH

The actor Chris Noth is best known for his television roles. Noth played Detective Mike Logan on “Law & Order” and Big on “Sex and the City”. More recently, he played the “bad husband” on the excellent show “The Good Wife”.

“The Good Wife” is a legal drama showing on CBS starring Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick, a litigator who returns to practicing the law after spending 13 years as a stay-at-home mom. I binge-watched the show some time back and found it to be well-written, with a great cast and great acting …

24. Four-thirds of a dram: Abbr. : TSP

Teaspoon (tsp.)

I think that the dram is a confusing unit of measurement. It has one value as an ancient unit of mass, and two different values as a modern unit of mass, another value as a unit of fluid volume, and yet another varying value as a measure of Scotch whisky!

29. Cosmetics company whose letters appear in left-to-right order in “cosmetics company” : COTY

Coty is a producer of beauty products that was founded in 1904 in Paris.

30. Electron particle emission : BETA RAY

Beta particles (the constituents of beta rays) are the products of decay of a radioactive element. Beta particles are high-energy electrons or positrons emitted from the nucleus of the decaying element.

32. Relative of cashmere : ANGORA

Angora wool comes from the Angora rabbit. On the other hand, the Angora goat produces the wool known as mohair. Both rabbit and goat are named for Turkey’s capital Ankara, which was known as “Angora” in many European languages.

Cashmere wool comes from not only the Cashmere goat, but also from other types of goat. Technically, cashmere isn’t really a wool, but rather a hair. Unlike hair, wool is elastic and grows in clusters.

34. Money replaced by euros : LIRE

The word “lira” is used in a number of countries for currency. “Lira” comes from the Latin for “pound” and is derived from a British pound sterling, the value of a Troy pound of silver. For example, the lira (plural “lire”) was the official currency of Italy before the country changed over to the euro in 2002.

36. Prepare for a bomb, say : GO DEEP

A Hail Mary pass (also called “the long bomb”) is a desperation move in American football in which a long pass is thrown with very little chance of a success, right at the the end of a game or at the end of a half. The term dates back to thirties, and was probably first used at Notre Dame. The “Hail Mary” is a prayer in the Christian tradition that is of particular significance Roman Catholicism.

42. Court plea, briefly : NOLO

“Nolo contendere” (sometimes shortened to “nolo”) is a legal term that translates from Latin as “I do not wish to contend”. It’s the plea of no contest, and is an alternative to guilty and not guilty, meaning that one doesn’t admit guilt but nor does one dispute the charge.

43. County east of Devon : DORSET

Dorset is a county on the coast in South West England, with the county town of Dorchester. If you’ve read Thomas Hardy (he was born near Dorchester), you might be familiar with Dorset as he set many of his novels in the county.

Devon (formerly “Devonshire”) is a county in the southwest of England. The county town of Devon is Exeter, and the largest city in the county is Plymouth, the port from which the Mayflower Pilgrims departed.

45. “If u ask me …” : IMO …

In my opinion (IMO)

46. America’s busiest airport after ATL and LAX : ORD

O’Hare International was the world’s busiest airport from 1963 to 1998. The original airport was constructed on the site between 1942 and 1943, and was used by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the manufacture of planes during WWII. Before the factory and airport were built, there was a community in the area called Orchard Place, so the airport was called Orchard Place Airport/Douglas Field. This name is the derivation of the airport’s current location identifier: ORD (OR-chard D-ouglas). Orchard Place Airport was renamed to O’Hare International in 1949 in honor of Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare who grew up in Chicago. O’Hare was the US Navy’s first flying ace and a Medal of Honor recipient in WWII.

51. New toy? : PUP

The toy group of dogs is made up of the smallest breeds. The smallest of the small breeds are sometimes called teacup breeds.

53. Legislative body of Russia : DUMA

A duma is a representative assembly in Russia. The word “dumat” in Russian means “to think, consider”.

54. “Gil Blas” author : ALAIN-RENE LESAGE

Alain-René Lesage was a novelist and playwright from France. Lesage is best known for his novels “The Devil upon Two Sticks” (1707) and “Gil Blas” (1715-1735).

59. Things that contain 59-Across that contain 59-Across that … : MATRYOSHKA DOLLS

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

Down

1. Online gamer’s problem : LAG

In Internet terms, lag is a delay in response caused by network latency. We might notice lag when streaming a video, for example.

3. “100 Years … 100 Movies,” e.g. : AFI LIST

The American Film Institute (AFI) was founded in 1967 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). One of the AFI’s more visible programs is the “100 Year Series”, including lists of Best Movies in several categories and a list of the Best Movie Quotes in 100 years of movie-making.

4. Many employees of the Lego company : DANES

Lego is manufactured by Lego Group, a privately held company headquartered in Billund, Denmark. The company was founded by a carpenter called Ole Kirk Christiansen in 1934 and the now-famous plastic interlocking blocks were introduced in 1949. The blocks were originally sold under the name “Automatic Binding Bricks” but I think “Lego” is easier to remember! The name “Lego” comes from the Danish term “leg godt” meaning “play well”.

5. So : ERGO

“Ergo” is a Latin word meaning “hence, therefore”, and one that we’ve absorbed directly into English.

7. ___ Little, “The Wire” character : OMAR

The character Omar Little is played by Michael K. Williams on the HBO series “The Wire”.

10. It’s two hours behind Pacific: Abbr. : HST

Hawaii–Aleutian Standard Time (HST)

12. 12 points, typographically : PICA

Both “pica” and “elite” are types. Pica is a 12-point type, having about 10 characters per inch. Elite is 10-point type, with about 12 characters per inch.

14. Instrument whose name comes from the Latin for “heavenly” : CELESTA

A celesta (also “celeste”) is a keyboard instrument in which the keys operate hammers that strike a set of metal plates. The resulting sound is similar to that from a glockenspiel, although it is much softer in tone as the celesta’s plates are suspended over wooden resonators. I’d say that the most famous musical work featuring a celesta is Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from his ballet “The Nutcracker”.

23. Highish bridge holding : TENACE

In the wonderful card game of bridge, a tenace is a broken sequence of honor cards, like AQ or KJ.

27. City on the Mexican border : LAREDO

Laredo is a border city in Texas that is situated on the banks of the Rio Grande, across the border from Nuevo Laredo in Mexico.

29. Noted arms manufacturer : COLT

Samuel Colt was fascinated as a young man by the science behind gunpowder and its used in weapons. He decided early on in his life, that he would respond to the challenge of the day, how to achieve the impossible, a weapon that fire more than the two times available at the time using a double-barreled rifle. He came up with the concept of the revolver while at sea, modeling his design on the spoked wheel that steered the ships on which he served. His revolver made him a very rich man in his own lifetime. By the time he died in 1862, his estate was valued at around $15 million. Can you imagine; $15 million back in 1862?

31. Designer Gucci : ALDO

Gucci was founded in Rome, in 1921, by Guccio Gucci. Guccio’s son Aldo took over the company after his father’s death in 1953. It was Aldo who established the international presence for the brand and opened the company’s first overseas store, in New York City.

36. Friend of Tarzan : GORILLA

In the stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes was actually Englishman John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke.

37. Tar : OLD SALT

A jack tar, or just “tar”, was a seaman in the days of the British Empire. The term probably arose due to a sailor’s various uses of tar back then, including waterproofing his clothes and using tar in his hair to slick down his ponytail.

40. Hobbit corrupted by the Ring : SMEAGOL

That would be Tolkien stuff …

47. Host Bert of old game shows : CONVY

Bert Convy was an American actor, although he was perhaps better known as a game show host. Famously. Convy was host for the shows “Tattletales”, “Super Password” and “Win, Lose or Draw”.

48. Vim : GUSTO

“Gusto” is an Italian word meaning “taste”. We use it in English in the phrase “with gusto” meaning “with great enjoyment”.

50. Gucci competitor : DIOR

Christian Dior was a French fashion designer. As WWII approached, Dior was called up by the French military, drawing a temporary halt to his career in fashion. He left the army in 1942 and for the duration of the war designed clothes for wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators. After the war his designs became so popular that he helped re-establish Paris as the fashion center of the world.

57. Pair of nines? : ENS

There is a pair of letters N (ens) in the word “nines”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Dominant figure : LEADER OF THE PACK
16. High-end Italian sports car : ALFA ROMEO SPIDER
17. 1997 Notorious B.I.G. hit whose title lyric precedes “strictly for the weather” : GOING BACK TO CALI
18. Queen who styled herself as Isis, familiarly : CLEO
19. ___ Lopez opening (chess tactic) : RUY
20. Some superhero attire : CAPES
21. Yankees All-Star pitcher Severino : LUIS
22. Chris of “The Good Wife” : NOTH
24. Four-thirds of a dram: Abbr. : TSP
25. “___ time!” : IT’S
26. Brother-to-be : PLEDGE
29. Cosmetics company whose letters appear in left-to-right order in “cosmetics company” : COTY
30. Electron particle emission : BETA RAY
32. Relative of cashmere : ANGORA
34. Money replaced by euros : LIRE
35. Thrash : MAUL
36. Prepare for a bomb, say : GO DEEP
38. Euphoria : ECSTASY
42. Court plea, briefly : NOLO
43. County east of Devon : DORSET
45. “If u ask me …” : IMO …
46. America’s busiest airport after ATL and LAX : ORD
47. ___ América (soccer tournament) : COPA
48. Rose : GREW
49. Screw up : MISDO
51. New toy? : PUP
53. Legislative body of Russia : DUMA
54. “Gil Blas” author : ALAIN-RENE LESAGE
58. Everywhere : ALL OVER CREATION
59. Things that contain 59-Across that contain 59-Across that … : MATRYOSHKA DOLLS

Down

1. Online gamer’s problem : LAG
2. Orate : ELOCUTE
3. “100 Years … 100 Movies,” e.g. : AFI LIST
4. Many employees of the Lego company : DANES
5. So : ERGO
6. Seriously shortchange : ROB
7. ___ Little, “The Wire” character : OMAR
8. Prolific : FECUND
9. Event of 1964 and 2020 : TOKYO GAMES
10. It’s two hours behind Pacific: Abbr. : HST
11. Memorable time : EPOCH
12. 12 points, typographically : PICA
13. Many a battery charger : ADAPTOR
14. Instrument whose name comes from the Latin for “heavenly” : CELESTA
15. Hard to eat quietly, in adspeak : KRISPY
21. ___ Dems (U.K. political party, informally) : LIB
23. Highish bridge holding : TENACE
26. “Je vous en ___” (French for “You’re welcome”) : PRIE
27. City on the Mexican border : LAREDO
28. Things that amaze : EYE-POPPERS
29. Noted arms manufacturer : COLT
31. Designer Gucci : ALDO
33. Indicator of a coming storm : GUST
36. Friend of Tarzan : GORILLA
37. Tar : OLD SALT
39. Communication means since 1911 : AIRMAIL
40. Hobbit corrupted by the Ring : SMEAGOL
41. “That HURTS!” : YOW!
42. Refusal with a contraction : NO, MA’AM
44. Lewdness : RAUNCH
47. Host Bert of old game shows : CONVY
48. Vim : GUSTO
50. Gucci competitor : DIOR
52. Corner office, maybe : PERK
53. Out of juice : DEAD
55. Car that went defunct in 1936 : REO
56. Place to count sheep : LEA
57. Pair of nines? : ENS

15 thoughts on “1228-18 NY Times Crossword 28 Dec 18, Friday”

  1. 34:02, but I finished with one square wrong. Had SMEAlOL/ALAIN RENE LE SAlE. Close enough. Tough puzzle. Loved Omar’s character in The Wire.

    Best –

    1. Same here. To me, Bert Parks from the 50’s is an ‘old’ game show host. Bert CONVY, from the 70’s and 80’s was a relative newcomer.

      1. Agreed. Had Bert Parks right away, which messed things up for a while. When I finally figured out “misdo” and “all over creation,” “Convy” popped into my mind.

  2. The 36 down (Tarzan’s friend = gorilla) is nonsense. Tarzan was friendly with the (mythical) “Great Apes” who raised him, and with various other anthropoids and jungle animals, and with many humans (notably Paul d’Arnot) but he was not friendly with gorillas. See for instance chapter 6 of the first book, TARZAN OF THE APES:

    ” He had taken scarce a dozen steps toward the jungle when a great form rose up before him from the shadows of a low bush. At first he thought it was one of his own people but in another instant he realized that it was Bolgani, the huge gorilla.

    So close was he that there was no chance for flight and little Tarzan knew that he must stand and fight for his life; for these great beasts were the deadly enemies of his tribe, and neither one nor the other ever asked or gave quarter. ”

    The young boy Tarzan survives the ensuing fight, thanks to his knive, but is mauled nearly to death and in recovery for weeks. Some “friend.”

  3. I thought Tarzan’s “friend” was a chimp named Cheetah? Doesn’t matter….too tough for me. Congrats to all you finishers!

  4. Bill?

    46. America’s busiest airport after ATL and LAX : ORD

    O’Hare International is the *fourth* busiest airport in the world…

    Thanks, you’re awesome.

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