1214-19 NY Times Crossword 14 Dec 19, Saturday

Constructed by: Ryan McCarty
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

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

Bill’s time: 24m 04s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Robert Mueller, once : FBI CHIEF

Robert Mueller served as Director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013, serving under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

9 Seeing double? : DEJA VU

“Déjà vu” is French for “already seen”.

16 Device for mass-producing signatures : AUTOPEN

An autopen is a device used to provide an automatic signature, usually for a batch of documents. With today’s technology, we can provide photographic copies of signatures quite readily. An autopen has the advantage of automatic writing of the signature, while creating the illusion that the document was signed in person using a pen.

18 Four of hearts? : PLAYERS

Hearts is a fun card game that is in the Whist family of trick-taking games, as are bridge (my favorite) and spades.

20 Ancient symbols of magic : SIGILS

A sigil is a seal or signet. The term comes from the Latin “sigillum” meaning “little sign”. In the world of astrology, a sigil is a symbol that is supposed to have great power.

22 Network showing “Barry” : HBO

Home Box Office (HBO) is the oldest continuously-operating pay TV service in the US, having launched in 1972. HBO is a favorite of mine as I really like many of the HBO made-for-television movies and original series. Among the list of original series from HBO are “Mildred Pierce”, “The Pacific”, “John Adams”, “Big Love”, “Extras”, “The Wire”, “Sex and the City”, “From the Earth to the Moon”, “The Sopranos” and “Band of Brothers”. And more recently, there is “Game of Thrones”.

24 Dadaist who experimented with camera-less photography : MAN RAY

Man Ray was an American modernist artist who spent most of his working life in Paris. Man Ray was born in South Philadelphia in 1890, and his real name was Emmanuel Radnitzky. His family shortened “Radnitzky” to “Ray” in response to the anti-Semitic feeling that was prevalent at the time. Emmanuel was known as “Manny”, and he decided to assume the name Man Ray and use it for his work.

25 Novice gamer : NOOB

“Noob” is a not-so-nice slang term for a “newbie”, and often refers to someone who is new to an online community.

27 Malarkey : BILGE

The bilge is the lowest internal part of a ship. The water that collects in there is called bilge water. The term “bilge” is also used as slang for nonsense talk.

It’s not really known how the word “malarkey” came to mean “lies and exaggeration”. What is known is that “Malarkey” is also used as a family name.

29 Black-and-white : POLICE CRUISER

A police car is often referred to by the slang term “black-and-white”, a reference to the vehicle’s common paint scheme.

32 Musical that won six Tonys in 2017 : DEAR EVAN HANSEN

“Dear Evan Hansen” is a 2015 stage musical about a young man with awkward social skills and his efforts to make friends.

36 Marks of scars : POCKS

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.

37 Part of Dixie: Abbr. : ALA

Alabama is known as the Yellowhammer State, in honor of the state bird. Alabama is also called the “Heart of Dixie”.

41 “___ días!” : BUENOS

“Buenos dias” translates from Spanish as “good day”, but can also be used to say “good morning”.

44 One-named singer with the 2000 hit “Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do)” : MYA

Mya is an R&B singer-songwriter. I don’t know her music, but I did see her get to the runner-up spot on the ninth series of “Dancing with the Stars”. On the show, Mya was beaten out of first place by Donny Osmond (don’t ask!).

45 Main artery through N.Y.C.’s Chinatown : MOTT ST

Mott Street in Manhattan was probably named after a successful butcher and tavern owner who lived in the area. Mott was known for lending support to those fighting the British during the American Revolution.

46 Dow alternative : S AND P

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) is a financial services company that is famous for its stock market indices, especially the S&P 500. The company also publishes credit ratings for sovereign governments, and in 2011 famously lowered the rating of the US federal government from AAA to AA+.

54 Possible result of bodybuilding gone wrong : ROID RAGE

Steroids are found commonly in nature, with familiar examples being cholesterol and testosterone. The controversial class of drugs called anabolic steroids (known informally as “roids” or simply “steroids”) are artificially produced chemicals designed to mimic the effect of the male sex hormone, testosterone. They are termed “anabolic” as they build up cellular tissue (particularly muscle) in a process called anabolism. Taking anabolic steroids can be termed “juicing”, and the aggressive behavior that can be a side-effect is known as “roid rage”.

Down

1 Partners in some French firms : FRERES

“Frère” is the French word for “brother”.

2 Guy de Maupassant’s second novel : BEL AMI

“Bel Ami” is an 1885 novel by French author Guy de Maupassant. The title translates as “Nice Friend”, although a 1903 translation of the novel is titled “Bel Ami, or, The History of a Scoundrel”.

4 Source of musk : CIVET

The civet is a spotted cat that is native to Africa and Asia. There is a type of coffee that is highly prized in Vietnam and the Philippines that is made from coffee beans that have been eaten by civets, partially digested and then harvested from the civet’s feces. This civet coffee can cost about $100 a cup, if you want to try some …

Musk has such an elegant connotation these days because of its use in the world of perfumery. However, its origin is not quite so glamorous. The original substance called musk, also used in perfumes, was extracted from a gland in the rectal area of the male musk deer. The name “musk” is a Sanskrit word for “testicle”.

10 HHHHH : ETAS

Eta is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, and is a forerunner of our Latin character “H”. Originally denoting a consonant, eta was used as a long vowel in Ancient Greek.

13 Taboo : VERBOTEN

“Verboten” is German for “forbidden”, and is a word that we have imported into English.

16 World capital on the island of Upolu : APIA

Apia is the capital city, and in fact the only city, of the Pacific island-nation of Samoa. The harbor of Apia is famous for a very foolish incident in 1889 involving seven naval vessels from Germany, the US and Britain. A typhoon was approaching so the safest thing to do was to head for open water away from land, but no nation would move its ships for fear of losing face in front of others. Six of the ships were lost in the typhoon as a result and 200 American and German sailors perished. The British cruiser HMS Calliope barely managed to escape from the harbor and rode out the storm safely. Apia is also known as the home of writer Robert Louis Stevenson, for the last four years of his life.

21 Nickname of Fenway Park’s left field wall, with “the” : … GREEN MONSTER

The left field wall in Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, is the tallest encountered in Major League ballparks. The wall was built that high to prevent viewing of games from outside of the park for free. The height also prevents home runs that would be possible in other ballparks, and so, given its color and reputation, it is called the Green Monster.

24 2000s Disney Channel star, to fans : MILEY

Miley Cyrus became famous playing the Disney Channel character “Hannah Montana”. Miley is the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. When she was born, Billy Ray and his wife named their daughter “Destiny Hope”, but soon they themselves calling her “Smiley” as she was always smiling as a baby, and this got shortened to Miley over time. Cute …

27 2006 mockumentary for which the star won a Golden Globe : BORAT

The full name of the 2006 “mockumentary” is “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”. Borat is played by a British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. Not my cup of tea …

28 Characters in Norse mythology : RUNES

A rune is a character in an alphabet that is believed to have mysterious powers. In Norse mythology, the runic alphabet was said to have a divine origin.

30 Frozen dessert with a rhyming name : CHOCO TACO

A Choco Taco is an elaborate ice cream dessert that was created in the eighties by the Jack and Jill Ice Cream Company in Philadelphia.

32 Holstein, for one : DAIRY COW

The Holstein Friesian breed of cattle originated in the province of Friesland in the Netherlands and in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The breed is very common on dairy farms all over the world, and is the one with the black and white markings. Holstein Friesians are usually referred to as “Holsteins” in North America, and as “Friesians” in Britain and Ireland. Go figure …

34 Side in a Subway Series matchup : THE METS

The term “Subway Series” has been used to describe World Series baseball games when both participating teams are based in New York.

37 Yellow-flowered medicinal plant : ARNICA

Arnica is in the sunflower family of plants. Supposedly, homeopathic preparations made from Arnica help with bruising and sprains.

38 Maxim, e.g. : LAD MAG

A lad mag is a men’s magazine.

“Maxim” is an international men’s magazine featuring revealing photo spreads (non-nude in the US) of female celebrities and models.

39 Bit of current reading? : AMPERE

The unit of electric current is the ampere, which is abbreviated correctly to “A” rather than “amp”. It is named after French physicist André-Marie Ampère, one of the main scientists responsible for the discovery of electromagnetism.

41 Like snake oil : BOGUS

There is actually a real snake oil, a Chinese medicine made from fat extracted from snakes. You can buy snake oil at traditional Chinese pharmacies and it is supposed to be very efficacious in the treatment of joint pain. Snake oil was introduced into the US by Chinese laborers working on the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Medicine salesmen started to ridicule the snake oil as it competed with their own remedies, and in time the term “snake oil” became associated with any cure-all potion.

42 Sch. near the Mexican border : UTEP

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) was founded in 1914 as the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy. To this day, there is a mine shaft on the campus. The mascot of the school’s sports teams is Paydirt Pete, a prospector from the mining industry. The teams are also known as the UTEP Miners and Lady Miners.

43 Seminole’s rival : GATOR

The Florida Gators are the sports teams of the University of Florida, located in Gainesville. Sometimes the female teams are called the “Lady Gators”, and all of the fans make up the “Gator Nation”.

50 Japanese garden denizen : KOI

Koi are fish that are also known as Japanese carp. Koi have been bred for decorative purposes and there are now some very brightly colored examples found in Japanese water gardens.

Nowadays we use “denizen” to mean simply “resident”, but historically a denizen was an immigrant to whom certain rights had been granted, somewhat like today’s resident alien.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Robert Mueller, once : FBI CHIEF
9 Seeing double? : DEJA VU
15 Like some dialects : REGIONAL
16 Device for mass-producing signatures : AUTOPEN
17 110, humorously : ELEVENTY
18 Four of hearts? : PLAYERS
19 Like most bonds for sale : RATED
20 Ancient symbols of magic : SIGILS
22 Network showing “Barry” : HBO
23 Give out : EMIT
24 Dadaist who experimented with camera-less photography : MAN RAY
25 Novice gamer : NOOB
26 What might follow “Down, boy!” : SIT!
27 Malarkey : BILGE
28 Direct, as a message : ROUTE
29 Black-and-white : POLICE CRUISER
32 Musical that won six Tonys in 2017 : DEAR EVAN HANSEN
34 Something a politician shouldn’t take personally? : TAXPAYER MONEY
35 Try to punch : HIT AT
36 Marks of scars : POCKS
37 Part of Dixie: Abbr. : ALA
40 Misunderstands, e.g. : ERRS
41 “___ días!” : BUENOS
43 About 15 1/2 grains : GRAM
44 One-named singer with the 2000 hit “Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do)” : MYA
45 Main artery through N.Y.C.’s Chinatown : MOTT ST
46 Dow alternative : S AND P
47 Acts of environmental extremism : ECOTAGE
49 Not happen overnight : TAKE TIME
51 Exercises : TONES UP
52 Cheap ride : ECONOCAR
53 Some loungewear : SWEATS
54 Possible result of bodybuilding gone wrong : ROID RAGE

Down

1 Partners in some French firms : FRERES
2 Guy de Maupassant’s second novel : BEL AMI
3 “All right! All right!” : I GET IT!
4 Source of musk : CIVET
5 Made the earth turn? : HOED
6 Motor ___ : INN
7 Beats the pants off, so to speak : EATS ALIVE
8 Magic in the air? : FLYING CARPET
9 Sans sparkle : DULLY
10 HHHHH : ETAS
11 Felicity : JOY
12 Zoo habitat with trees and rope lines : APE HOUSE
13 Taboo : VERBOTEN
14 Drunk : UNSOBER
16 World capital on the island of Upolu : APIA
21 Nickname of Fenway Park’s left field wall, with “the” : … GREEN MONSTER
24 2000s Disney Channel star, to fans : MILEY
25 Screaming and shouting, say : NOISY
27 2006 mockumentary for which the star won a Golden Globe : BORAT
28 Characters in Norse mythology : RUNES
29 Old men : PAPAS
30 Frozen dessert with a rhyming name : CHOCO TACO
31 Orders : RANKS
32 Holstein, for one : DAIRY COW
33 Spare : EXTRA ONE
34 Side in a Subway Series matchup : THE METS
37 Yellow-flowered medicinal plant : ARNICA
38 Maxim, e.g. : LAD MAG
39 Bit of current reading? : AMPERE
41 Like snake oil : BOGUS
42 Sch. near the Mexican border : UTEP
43 Seminole’s rival : GATOR
45 Post on a ship : MAST
46 Button indicated by a paper airplane icon : SEND
48 Contents of an infuser : TEA
50 Japanese garden denizen : KOI

21 thoughts on “1214-19 NY Times Crossword 14 Dec 19, Saturday”

  1. 31:51 but with 3 look ups. I came to a screeching halt a few times so had to look something up 3 times to get me going – not the least of which was DEAR EVEN HANSEN (??). Broadway plays is not my forte.

    Tough puzzle, but that’s what Saturdays are for.

    Best –

  2. 58:33 Had “eco rage”…no clue what “ecotage” is. Props to my bride, I did drop off and pick up service when she went to see “Dear Evan Hansen”, otherwise I’m clueless on musicals.

    1. I would also observe that “Guy Haines” is the name of a fictional character in movies (“Strangers On A Train”, for one) and has been used here as an alias by a certain obnoxious (and apparently quite misinformed) troll … 😳.

    1. The key word in the clue is “humorously”. If 90 (nine times ten) is “ninety”, then why shouldn’t 110 (eleven times ten) be “eleventy”? … 😜

        1. Depends on your sense of humor. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy begins with Bilbo Baggins celebrating his 111th birthday, part of his birthday speech: “Alas, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits.”

  3. Close, but guessed (wrongly) at the I in APIA/SIGILS. Was having fun until that snag. 0 for 2 Friday and Saturday; not good.

  4. 43:18, no errors. A severe test of my perseverance. 3D was a good example of today’s effort: I’M ON IT > I GOT IT > I GET IT!!

  5. I have never understood the term “world capital” in crossword clues. The cities are capitals, of course, but what makes them “world” capitals?

  6. 19:24, 1 error.

    @Anonymous (January 19, 2020 at 11:24am)
    World capital as opposed to state capital. Washington D.C. is a world capital, while Albany, New York is not.

  7. This puzzle was very tough because so many of the answers were words/names I had never heard of before:

    DEAR EVAN HANSEN (32A)
    MYA (44A)
    MOTT ST (45A)
    ECOTAGE (47A)
    BEL AMI (2D)
    APIA (16D)
    ARNICA (37A)

    Then there was MILEY (24D). I knew who she was, that she played Hanna Montana and is now kind of a “bad girl” celebrity. I even remembered that her father was the guy with the one hit wonder “Achy Breaky Heart”. But could I remember her real name? Not for the longest time.

    On the other hand, “GREEN MONSTER” (21D) was a gimme.

    “SIGILS” (20A) was nice, I don’t think I’ve seen it in a puzzle before, though with it’s set of letters you’d think it would show up every now and again.

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