1202-19 NY Times Crossword 2 Dec 19, Monday

Constructed by: Lynn Lempel
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Lower the Bar

Themed answers are all in the down-direction, and each includes “BAR” as a hidden word. Those BARS get progressively LOWER and LOWER in the grid as we move from left to right:

  • 28D Reduce one’s standards, as illustrated, respectively, in 3-, 5-, 7-, 40- and 28-Down : LOWER THE BAR
  • 3D Smallest possible amount : BARE MINIMUM
  • 5D W.W. I fighter pilot who is Snoopy’s fantasy opponent : RED BARON
  • 7D Classic actor who played Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life” : LIONEL BARRYMORE
  • 40D Businesses like the Kit Kat Klub in a hit musical : CABARETS

Read on, or jump to …
… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 5m 02s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Mountains seen in “The Sound of Music” : ALPS

“The Sound of Music” is a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that was made into a celebrated movie in 1965 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The musical is based on “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers”, a memoir by Maria von Trapp. The von Trapp family ended up in Stowe, Vermont after the war, and one family descended from the Vermont von Trapps lives here in the same town in which I live in California.

18 Scrabble or Monopoly : BOARD GAME

The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.

The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman named Lizzie Phillips. Phillips used her game as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was first produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, who became a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.

23 Curly and Shemp’s fellow Stooge : MOE

If you’ve seen a few of the films starring “The Three Stooges” you might have noticed that the line-up changed over the years. The original trio was made up of Moe and Shemp Howard (two brothers) and Larry Fine (a good friend of the Howards). This line up was usually known as “Moe, Larry and Shemp”. Then Curly Howard replaced his brother when Shemp quit the act, creating the most famous trio, “Moe, Larry And Curly”. Shemp returned when Curly had a debilitating stroke in 1946. Shemp stayed with the troupe until he himself died in 1955. Shemp was replaced by Joe Besser, and then “Curly-Joe” DeRita. When Larry Fine suffered a stroke in 1970, it effectively marked the end of the act.

24 Syncopated Latin dances : SAMBAS

The samba is a Brazilian dance that is very much symbolic of the festival of Carnival. Like so much culture around the world, the samba has its roots in Africa, as the dance is derived from dances performed by former slaves who migrated into urban Rio de Janeiro in the late 1800s. The exact roots of the name “samba” seem to have been lost in the mists of time. However, my favorite explanation is that it comes from an African Kikongo word “semba” which means “a blow struck with the belly button”. We don’t seem to have a need for such a word in English …

26 Rational selves, to Freud : EGOS

Sigmund Freud created a structural model of the human psyche, breaking it into three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is that part of the psyche containing the basic instinctual drives. The ego seeks to please the id by causing realistic behavior that benefits the individual. The superego almost has a parental role, contradicting the id by introducing critical thinking and morals to behavioral choices.

34 Assn. like Oxfam or Doctors Without Borders : NGO

Non-governmental organization (NGO)

Oxfam was founded in 1942 in Oxford, England, and was originally called Oxford Committee for Famine Relief. The original mission of Oxfam was to persuade the British government to allow food into Greece during WWII in the days the country was occupied by the Axis Powers. The name OXFAM was adopted in 1965. Prior to that date, OXFAM was quite simply the organization’s telegraph address (remember telegraphs?).

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) is an international aid organization that was founded in France in 1971. The organization is usually referred to as Doctors Without Borders here in North America, but goes by the initialism MSF in much of the world.

35 Degs. for entrepreneurs : MBAS

The world’s first Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree was offered by Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, in 1908.

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.

36 ___ milk (source of Roquefort cheese) : EWES’

Roquefort cheese comes from the commune of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the South of France.

41 High point : ACME

The acme is the highest point. The term “acme” comes from the Greek word “akme” that has the same meaning.

42 Fearsome figure of folklore : OGRE

An ogre is a monster of mythology and folktales that has the appearance of a man, and which eats human beings. The term “ogre” comes to us via French from the name of the Etruscan god Orcus, who feasted on the flesh of humans.

46 Helps with a heist : ABETS

The word “abet” comes into English from the Old French “abeter” meaning “to bait” or “to harass with dogs” (it literally means “to make bite”). This sense of encouraging something bad to happen morphed into our modern usage of “abet” meaning to aid or encourage someone in a crime.

48 Piper’s son who stole a pig in a nursery rhyme : TOM

Tom, Tom, the piper’s son,
Stole a pig, and away did run;

The “pig” mentioned in the rhyme isn’t actually a live animal but is actually a small pastry with an apple filling.

49 Tennis great Roddick : ANDY

Andy Roddick is a former World No. 1 tennis player from the US. Roddick retired in 2012, although he has been playing in what’s referred to as World Team Tennis.

50 Morse code O’s have three of them : DASHES

Samuel Morse came up with the forerunner to modern Morse code for use on the electric telegraph, of which he was the co-inventor. Morse code uses a series of dots and dashes to represent letters and numbers. The most common letters are assigned the simplest code elements e.g. E is represented by one dot, and T is represented by one dash. When words are spelled aloud in Morse code, a dot is pronounced as “dit”, and a dash is pronounced as “dah”.

52 Grp. of medical providers : HMO

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

53 Othello, e.g. : MOOR

The most famous Moor in literature has to be Othello, the title character in William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello, the Moor of Venice”. The word “Moor” describes various peoples of North Africa, usually of the Muslim faith. At the height of their geographic influence the Moors occupied much of the Iberian peninsula, calling it Al Andalus (from which modern Andalusia gets its name).

55 Cotton gin inventor Whitney : ELI

The term “cotton gin” is a contraction of “cotton eng-ine”. The gin is a machine that mechanically separates cotton fibers from the cotton seed. The modern version of the cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney in 1793.

64 Vestige : TRACE

We use the word “vestige” for a trace, mark or sign. The term comes from the Latin “vestigium” that also means “trace” as well as “footprint”.

65 Many an Eastern European : SLAV

The Slavic peoples are in the majority in communities covering over half of Europe. This large ethnic group is traditionally broken down into three smaller groups:

  • the West Slavic (including Czechs and Poles)
  • the East Slavic (including Russians and Ukrainians)
  • the South Slavic (including Bulgarians, Croats and Serbs)

66 Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie, to Madonna : EXES

Actor Sean Penn is a two-time Oscar winner, for his roles in “Mystic River” released in 2003 and “Milk” released in 2008. Penn’s celebrity on screen is only matched with his fame off the screen. Apart from his “big name” marriages to singer Madonna and actress Robin Wright, Penn is also well known for political and social activism. He perhaps inherited some of his political views from his father, actor and director Leo Penn. As an actor, Leo refused to “name names” in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee and so was blacklisted in Hollywood and had to move into directing to put bread on the table. In later years as a director he gave his son Sean his first acting role, in a 1974 episode of “Little House on the Prairie”.

Guy Ritchie is an English screenwriter and movie director who is best known for directing films like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998) and two “Sherlock Holmes” films. Famously, Ritchie was married to the singer Madonna for several years. Ritchie and Madonna have two children together: Rocco born 2000, and David adopted in Malawi in 2006.

Madonna’s full name is Madonna Louise Ciccone. Born in Bay City, Michigan, Madonna was destined to become the top-selling female recording artist of all time.

Down

1 Kids’ construction bricks : LEGOS

Lego produces some wonderful specialized sets with which you can build models of celebrated structures, including:

  • The Statue of Liberty (2,882 pieces)
  • The Sydney Opera House (2,989 pieces)
  • The Eiffel Tower (3,428 pieces)
  • Tower Bridge (4,295 pieces)
  • The Taj Mahal (5,922 pieces)

4 Beethoven’s “___ to Joy” : ODE

“Ode to Joy” is a poem written in 1785 by German poet Friedrich Schiller. Famously, Ludwig van Beethoven used “Ode to Joy” in the fourth movement of his Ninth “Choral” Symphony that was first performed in 1824.

5 W.W. I fighter pilot who is Snoopy’s fantasy opponent : RED BARON

Manfred von Richthofen was a famous WWI fighter pilot flying for the Germans and was known as the Red Baron. Von Richthofen was credited with more kills than any other pilot fighting on either side of the conflict, recording over 80 combat victories. He didn’t survive the war though, as he was shot down near Amiens in France in 1918.

Snoopy, the famous beagle in the “Peanuts” comic strip, has a number of alter-egos and is sometimes depicted as a World War I flying ace. Snoopy’s arch-enemy in the air is Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, and Snoopy can often be seen shaking his fist and crying out, “Curse you, Red Baron!”

7 Classic actor who played Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life” : LIONEL BARRYMORE

The Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” was released in 1946, and is a Frank Capra movie starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. The film’s screenplay was adapted from a short story called “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. Remember the famous swimming pool scene? That was shot in Beverly High School gym, and the pool is still in use today.

8 School grp. for moms and dads : PTA

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

12 Film studio with a roaring lion : 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.

There has been a lion in the logo of the MGM studio since 1924. The original was an Irishman (!), a lion named Slats who was born in Dublin Zoo in 1919. However, it wasn’t until Jackie took over from Slats in 1928 that the roar was heard, as the era of silent movies was coming to an end. The current lion is called Leo, and he has been around since 1957.

22 Letters on some American naval vessels : 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.

29 City that’s home to Iowa State : AMES

The Iowa city of Ames was founded as a stop on the Cedar Rapids and Missouri Railroad in 1864. It was named for US Congressman Oakes Ames from the state of Massachusetts in honor of the role that Ames played in the building of the transcontinental railroad.

Iowa State University of Science and Technology (ISU) is located in Ames, Iowa. Among many other notable milestones, ISU created the country’s first school of veterinary medicine, in 1879. The sports teams of ISU are known as the Cyclones.

30 Boll weevil, to a cotton farmer : PEST

A weevil is a small beetle, known for the damage that it can do to crops. The boll weevil damages cotton plants by laying eggs inside cotton bolls. The young weevils then eat their way out. Some weevils have snouts that are as long as their body.

33 World ___ of Poker : SERIES

The World Series of Poker is an annual event held in Las Vegas. The winner of each event is given a much-coveted World Series of Poker bracelet.

37 Observe Ramadan : FAST

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is traditionally a period of fasting. The faithful who observe Ramadan refrain from eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn to dusk everyday, a lesson in patience, humility and spirituality.

38 Prefix with plasm : ECTO-

The endoplasm is the inner part of a cell’s cytoplasm, and the ectoplasm is the outer part.

40 Businesses like the Kit Kat Klub in a hit musical : CABARETS

The musical “Cabaret” is based on “I Am a Camera”, a 1951 play written by John Van Druten. In turn, the play was adapted from a novel “Goodbye to Berlin” written by Christopher Isherwood. The action in the musical takes place in the 1930s, in a seedy Berlin cabaret called the Kit Kat Klub. “Cabaret” is a great stage musical, although the 1972 film of the musical isn’t one of my favorites.

45 Candied Thanksgiving servings : YAMS

Although in the US we sometimes refer to sweet potatoes as “yams”, the yam is actually a completely different family of plants. True yams are more common in other parts of the the world than they are in this country, and are especially common in Africa.

46 Hullabaloo : ADO

Our word “hullabaloo” meaning “commotion” is a derivative of an older term “hollo-ballo”. “Hollo-ballo” was a word used for an uproar in the north of England and Scotland.

51 French fries and coleslaw, often : SIDES

French fries are called “chips” back in Ireland where I grew up. And what we call “chips” in the US are known as “crisps” in Britain and Ireland. In France, French fries are known as “pommes frites” (fried potatoes).

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

52 Modern viewing for couch potatoes : HDTV

High-definition television (HDTV)

Apparently, the phrase “couch potato” was coined in 1976 by one Tom Iacino of Pasadena. Iacino had a friend named Bob Armstrong who eschewed the active life and liked to lie back on the couch watching TV, the “boob tube”. This lazy guy did have the energy to send out a newsletter called “The Tuber’s Voice”, with Armstrong being the “tuber”, the one watching the “tube”. Iacino then referred to Armstrong as the “couch potato”, the tuber lying on the couch.

56 Many I.C.U. workers : RNS

A registered nurse (RN) might work in an intensive care unit (ICU).

59 Disease that causes a skin rash : POX

A pox is any of the diseases that produced “pocks” on the skin, eruptive pustules. The pox might perhaps be smallpox or chickenpox. But, when cursing someone by saying “a pox on you” the reference is to the “great pox”, namely syphilis.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Process of childbirth : LABOR
6 Mountains seen in “The Sound of Music” : ALPS
10 Adjusts lengthwise, as a skirt : HEMS
14 Manage to dodge : EVADE
15 “I’ll ___” (“Try me”) : BITE
16 Impulse : URGE
17 Hurt in the bullring : GORED
18 Scrabble or Monopoly : BOARD GAME
20 Be obligated to : OWE
21 Set on fire : BURN
23 Curly and Shemp’s fellow Stooge : MOE
24 Syncopated Latin dances : SAMBAS
26 Rational selves, to Freud : EGOS
28 Place to set a baby or a napkin : LAP
31 Nigerian princes offering you money, probably : LIARS
32 Craving companionship : LONESOME
34 Assn. like Oxfam or Doctors Without Borders : NGO
35 Degs. for entrepreneurs : MBAS
36 ___ milk (source of Roquefort cheese) : EWES’
37 Pretend : FEIGN
39 High cry at doggie day care : YAP
40 High point : CREST
41 High point : ACME
42 Fearsome figure of folklore : OGRE
43 Flat tire’s need : AIR
44 Prepare to take, as a test : STUDY FOR
46 Helps with a heist : ABETS
48 Piper’s son who stole a pig in a nursery rhyme : TOM
49 Tennis great Roddick : ANDY
50 Morse code O’s have three of them : DASHES
52 Grp. of medical providers : HMO
53 Othello, e.g. : MOOR
55 Cotton gin inventor Whitney : ELI
56 Learns about through books : READS UP ON
60 Flowed out, as the tide : EBBED
62 All tidied up : NEAT
63 Painful to the touch : SORE
64 Vestige : TRACE
65 Many an Eastern European : SLAV
66 Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie, to Madonna : EXES
67 Puts into categories : SORTS

Down

1 Kids’ construction bricks : LEGOS
2 Statement of affirmation : AVOWAL
3 Smallest possible amount : BARE MINIMUM
4 Beethoven’s “___ to Joy” : ODE
5 W.W. I fighter pilot who is Snoopy’s fantasy opponent : RED BARON
6 Shortened word, for short : ABBR
7 Classic actor who played Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life” : LIONEL BARRYMORE
8 School grp. for moms and dads : PTA
9 Church talks : SERMONS
10 Colossal : HUGE
11 Distinctive stretch of time : ERA
12 Film studio with a roaring lion : MGM
13 “Get it?” : SEE?
19 Spoonful of medicine, e.g. : DOSE
22 Letters on some American naval vessels : USS
25 Ready to take home, as groceries : BAGGED
27 Flip out : GO APE
28 Reduce one’s standards, as illustrated, respectively, in 3-, 5-, 7-, 40- and 28-Down : LOWER THE BAR
29 City that’s home to Iowa State : AMES
30 Boll weevil, to a cotton farmer : PEST
33 World ___ of Poker : SERIES
35 “Sheesh!” : MY GOD!
37 Observe Ramadan : FAST
38 Prefix with plasm : ECTO-
40 Businesses like the Kit Kat Klub in a hit musical : CABARETS
42 Pointless : OF NO USE
45 Candied Thanksgiving servings : YAMS
46 Hullabaloo : ADO
47 Opt for : SELECT
51 French fries and coleslaw, often : SIDES
52 Modern viewing for couch potatoes : HDTV
54 Change for a five, say : ONES
56 Many I.C.U. workers : RNS
57 Long-bodied fish : EEL
58 High bond rating : AAA
59 Disease that causes a skin rash : POX
61 Male buddy : BRO

2 thoughts on “1202-19 NY Times Crossword 2 Dec 19, Monday”

  1. 5:47. The only time I’ve ever heard the expression “pox” used as such (i.e. syphilis) was a Monty Python skit with John Cleese as the pharmacist. I never knew what he was referring to until now.

    Best-

  2. 8:43 Someday when I grow up I want to be able to recognize a theme BEFORE I read Bill’s blog. Props to Jeff for being a Monty Python fan 👍

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