1219-19 NY Times Crossword 19 Dec 19, Thursday

Constructed by: Andy Kravis & Erik Agard
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: State Line

We have a rebus puzzle today, with four squares occupied by a LINE separating two abbreviated STATE names, states that in reality share a STATE LINE. Themed clues each have two possible answers, one using the first STATE abbreviation, and the other the second:

  • 60A Geographical demarcation represented by each of the four slashes in this puzzle : STATE LINE
  • 1A Club fee / “Hell no!” : COVER/NEVER (CO/NE = Colorado/Nebraska)
  • 1D Dale Evans, for one / Zooey Deschanel TV series : COWGIRL/NEW GIRL
  • 17A Executive’s perk, maybe / It might fit in a tight spot : COMPANY CAR/COMPACT CAR (NY/CT = New York/Connecticut)
  • 15D “Volunteers?” / Play’s start : ANYONE?/ACT ONE
  • 47A Smacks hard / Types : SWATS/SORTS (WA/OR – Washington/Oregon)
  • 23D Obstructing / On paper : IN THE WAY /IN THEORY
  • 49A “Ghostbusters” director Harold / Pours : RAMIS/RAINS (MI/IN = Michigan/Indiana)
  • 51D Move / Unappreciative person : MIGRATE/INGRATE

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

Bill’s time: 14m 12s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

10 Longtime music label inits. : EMI

The Big Four recording labels were (until EMI was broken up in 2012 and absorbed by what became “the Big Three”):

  1. Universal Music Group
  2. Sony Music Entertainment
  3. Warner Music Group
  4. EMI

14 Hoth, in the “Star Wars” universe : ICE PLANET

The fictional planet known as Hoth is featured in the “Star Wars” movie “The Empire Strikes Back”. Hoth is an ice planet, and home to a secret base belonging to the Rebel Alliance.

18 “Sh” or “wr” : DIGRAPH

A digraph is a pair of letters that are used to represent one distinct sound, such as “sh” or “th” in English.

21 Modern-day locale of ancient Persepolis : IRAN

Persepolis is located in modern Iran, just northeast of the city of Shiraz. The earliest remains of the city date back to around 500 BC. Much of the city’s construction took place during the reign of King Xerxes the Great.

22 George Sand, for one : ALIAS

“George Sand” was the pseudonym of the very colorful French novelist Baroness Dudevant. Along with the renown that she garnered for her novels, Sand was also known for celebrated affairs with the likes of Frédéric Chopin.

25 George Sand, par exemple : NOM

In French, “Georges” (George) “par exemple” (for example) is a “nom” (name).

26 Queen of Arendelle, in a Disney movie : ELSA

“Frozen” is a 2013 animated feature from Walt Disney Studios that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen”. The film is all about the exploits of Princess Anna, the younger sister of Elsa, Snow Queen of Arendelle. Spoiler alert: Prince Hans of the Southern Isles seems to be a good guy for most of the film, but turns out to be a baddie in the end. And, a snowman named Olaf provides some comic relief.

28 Humdinger : BEAUT

A humdinger or a pip is someone or something outstanding. “Humdinger” is American slang dating back to the early 1900s, and was originally used to describe a particularly attractive woman.

30 Ping-Pong do-over : LET

Ping-Pong is called table tennis in the UK, where the sport originated in the 1880s. Table tennis started as an after-dinner activity among the elite, and was called “wiff-waff”. To play the game, books were stacked in the center of a table as a “net”, two more books served as “”rackets” and the ball used was actually a golf ball. The game evolved over time with the rackets being upgraded to the lids of cigar boxes and the ball becoming a champagne cork (how snooty is that?). Eventually the game was produced commercially, and the sound of the ball hitting the racket was deemed to be a “ping” and a “pong”, giving the sport its alternative name. The name “Ping-Pong” was trademarked in Britain in 1901, and eventually sold to Parker Brothers in the US.

34 Some Hollywood technology, for short : CGI

Computer-generated imagery (CGI)

38 Alison ___, author of “Fun Home” : BECHDEL

American cartoonist Alison Bechdel introduced what’s now known as the Bechdel test in 1985. The test is used to highlight gender inequality in works of fiction. To pass the test, a work must feature at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a boy or a man. Apparently, only half of movies made meet this criterion.

40 QVC alternative : HSN

The Home Shopping Network (HSN) was the first national shopping network, and was launched locally as the Home Shopping Club in Florida in 1982.

The QVC shopping channel was founded in 1986 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The company now has operations not only in the US but also in the UK, Germany, Japan and Italy. That means QVC is reaching 200 million households. The QVC initialism stands for Quality, Value and Convenience.

41 Filmer Kilmer : VAL

Val Kilmer’s first big leading role in a movie was playing Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s 1991 biopic “The Doors”. A few years later, Kilmer was chosen for the lead in another big production, “Batman Forever”. Things haven’t really gone as well for Kilmer since then, I’d say. Off the screen, he flirted with the idea of running for Governor of New Mexico in 2010. A Hollywood actor as a governor? Would never happen …

45 Longtime M.L.B. second baseman Chase : UTLEY

Chase Utley is a second baseman who played for the Phillies from 2003 until 2015, and for the Dodgers from 2015 to 2017.

49 “Ghostbusters” director Harold / Pours : RAMIS/RAINS (MI/IN = Michigan/Indiana)

Harold Ramis was a real all-rounder; a very successful actor, director and writer. Indeed, in both “Ghostbusters” and “Stripes” he was a co-writer as well as playing a lead character. Ramis worked as writer-director on “Caddyshack”, “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, “Groundhog Day” and “Analyze This”.

1984’s “Ghostbusters” really is an entertaining movie. It stars Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, and was directed by Ivan Reitman (a trio that also worked together on 1981’s “Stripes”). The first draft of the screenplay was written by another star of the movie, Dan Aykroyd. Aykroyd originally envisioned “Ghostbusters” as a vehicle for himself and John Belushi, but sadly Belushi passed away before the project could be realized.

53 Mac platform : OS X

Apple introduced the OS X Operating System in 2000. Each version of this operating system has had a code name, and that code name until recently has been a type of big cat. The versions and code names are:

  • 10.0: Cheetah
  • 10.1: Puma
  • 10.2: Jaguar
  • 10.3: Panther
  • 10.4: Tiger
  • 10.5: Leopard
  • 10.6: Snow Leopard
  • 10.7: Lion
  • 10.8: Mountain Lion
  • 10.9: Mavericks
  • 10.10: Yosemite
  • 10.11: El Capitan
  • 10.12: macOS Sierra
  • 10.13: macOS High Sierra

54 Flattens : KAYOS

A kayo is a knockout (KO).

55 Best Picture of 2012 : ARGO

“Argo” is a 2012 movie that is based on the true story of the rescue of six diplomats hiding out during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The film was directed by and stars Ben Affleck and is produced by Grant Heslov and George Clooney, the same pair who produced the excellent “Good Night, and Good Luck”. I highly recommend “Argo”, although I found the scenes of religious fervor to be very frightening …

65 Like English bogs : PEATY

When dead plant matter accumulates in marshy areas, it may not fully decay due to a lack of oxygen or acidic conditions. We are familiar with this in Ireland, because this decaying matter can form peat, and we have lots and lots of peat bogs around the country.

66 Director Craven : WES

Wes Craven was a very successful film director and writer specializing in movies of the horror genre, which means that I don’t watch them! He was responsible for “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and the “Scream” films. Craven passed away in August 2015.

67 Owner of Words With Friends : ZYNGA

Zynga is a game developer based in San Francisco. The company’s most famous product is CityVille, a game similar to SimCity in look and feel, but it is “stand alone” i.e. doesn’t require an installation on one’s hard drive and is played in a browser window. Cityville attracts about 14 million game-players every day!

“Words With Friends” (WWF) is a word game application that can be played on smartphones and other electronic devices. “Words With Friends” is basically Scrabble under a different name, or so I hear.

Down

1 Dale Evans, for one / Zooey Deschanel TV series : COWGIRL/NEW GIRL

“Dale Evans” was the stage name of actress and singer Lucille Wood Smith, famous as the third wife of Roy Rogers. Evans was from Uvalde, Texas, and had a rough start in life. She eloped with her first husband when she was just 14 years old, and had her first child at 15. That first marriage ended in divorce when she was 17 in 1929, the same year she started on her second marriage. Roy Rogers was Evans’ fourth husband and they married in 1947, a marriage that lasted for 51 years, until Rogers passed away in 1998.

Zooey Deschanel is an actress and singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. Zooey is the younger sister of Emily Deschanel who plays the title role on the TV show “Bones”. Now Zooey is playing Jess Day, the lead character on the sitcom “New Girl”. In the world of music, Zooey teams up with “M” Ward in the duo that goes by the name “She & Him”.

2 Author Mario ___ Llosa : VARGAS

Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian writer of renown, and one of the most significant authors from Latin America by all accounts. Llosa is also very active politically, and in 1990 ran unsuccessfully for the Peruvian presidency.

4 Relative of an ostrich : RHEA

The rhea is a flightless bird that is native to South America. The rhea takes its name from the Greek Titan Rhea. It’s an apt name for a flightless bird as “rhea” comes from the Greek word meaning “ground”.

8 Datebook listings: Abbr. : APPTS

Appointment (appt.)

13 Hawkins of “Li’l Abner” : SADIE

Sadie Hawkins is a character in Al Capp’s comic strip “Li’l Abner”. Sadie was in search of a husband and so declared a “Sadie Hawkins Day” in which she chased the local men in a foot race, with marriage as the prize when one was caught. Starting in 1938, Sadie Hawkins Dances were introduced in schools across the US, to which the woman invites the man of her choosing.

24 Battery fill : ACID

A battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electric energy. A simple battery is made up of three parts: a cathode, an anode and a liquid electrolyte. Ions from the electrolyte react chemically with the material in the anode producing a compound and releasing electrons. At the same time, the electrolyte reacts with the material in the cathode, absorbing electrons and producing a different chemical compound. In this way, there is a buildup of electrons at the anode and a deficit of electrons at the cathode. When a connection (wire, say) is made between the cathode and anode, electrons flow through the resulting circuit from the anode to cathode in an attempt to rectify the electron imbalance.

28 Composer Bartók : BELA

Bela Bartók was a composer and a pianist. After Liszt, Bartók is considered by many to be Hungary’s greatest composer.

29 Word before Pan, Man or can : TIN …

Tin Pan Alley was originally a specific location, i.e. West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. The area was associated with the music publishing business from about 1885 to the start of the Great Depression The name itself is possibly a reference to the tinny sound of cheap pianos that were common at the time.

The movie “The Wizard of Oz” is full of irony. The Scarecrow wants to be intelligent and discovers he is already very smart. The Tin Man wants to be able to love and finds out that he already has a heart. The Lion thinks he is a coward but turns out to be fearless. And the big reveal is that the Wizard of Oz, who is positioned as all-powerful, is actually just a bumbling and eccentric old man.

31 Owner of StubHub : EBAY

StubHub is an online ticket exchange business that is owned by eBay. StubHub acts as the middleman between buyers and sellers of event tickets, whether those buyers and sellers are individuals or large organizations.

35 Popular crime show spinoff, informally : SVU

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is a spin-off from the TV crime drama “Law & Order”. “SVU” has been on the air since 1999, and is set in New York City. Interestingly (to me), there is a very successful Russian adaptation of the show that is set in Moscow.

36 Baby’s bottom? : PATOOTIE

Back in the 1920s, the term “patootie” was used for a sweetheart, a very pretty girl. Somehow, the term has evolved into slang for the posterior, rear end.

39 ___ Nostra : COSA

Apparently, “Cosa Nostra” is the real name for the Italian Mafia. “Cosa Nostra” translates as “our thing” or “this thing of ours”. The term first became public in the US when the FBI managed to turn some members of the American Mafia. The Italian authorities established that “Cosa Nostra” was also used in Sicily when they penetrated the Sicilian Mafia in the 1980s. The term “mafia” seems to be just a literary invention that has become popular with the public.

44 Inspirational passage? : TRACHEA

The windpipe (also “trachea”) connects the lungs to the pharynx, the cavity of the mouth. The trachea is lined with special cells that secrete mucus which is then moved upwards by tiny hairs (cilia). The mucus traps dirt and dust particles inhaled with the air and cilia move the mucus contaminant away from the lungs’ delicate air sacs, into the mouth. Cigarette smoke overwhelms the mucus and cilia, so that smoke particles make it all the way into the lungs. Not a good thing …

48 Brown v. Board of Education city : TOPEKA

Topeka is the capital of Kansas, and is located on the Kansas River in the northeast of the state. The name “Topeka” was chosen in 1855 and translates from the Kansa and the Ioway languages as “to dig good potatoes”. The reference isn’t to the common potato but rather to the herb known as the prairie potato (also “prairie turnip”), which was an important food for many Native Americans.

54 ___ green : KELLY

Kelly green is a strong yellowish green, and was given its name back in the early 1900s. Apparently, the name was chosen because green is popular in Ireland, and Kelly is a common Irish family name.

56 “Avoid watching this at the office,” briefly : NSFW

The abbreviation “NSFW” stands for “not safe/suitable for work”. It’s Internet slang used to describe online content that is best not viewed at work.

57 “This Is Us” co-star Chrissy : METZ

Chrissy Metz is an actress best known for portraying Kate Pearson in the drama TV show “This Is Us”.

59 Person whose Twitter handle is @Pontifex : POPE

Did you know that former Pope Benedict XVI released a music CD while in office? His Holiness is featured singing on an album released by the Vatican called “Alma Mater: Featuring The Voice of Pope Benedict XVI Deluxe Edition”, a collection of sacred music. All proceeds go to help underprivileged children around the world. Benedict XVI was also the first pope to have a Twitter account. His first tweet went out on 12 December 2012:

Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.

61 Chemistry particle : ION

Excitation of an atom occurs when the atom absorbs energy and at least one of its electrons moves out of its resting orbit into a higher orbit. When the electron returns to it lowest orbit it may do so by emitting the excess energy in the form of a photon, that is by emitting a characteristic color of light. If sufficient energy is used to excite the atom, the electron may break out of orbit completely, in which case the atom becomes a positively-charged ion.

62 Holiday drink : NOG

It’s not really clear where the term “nog” (as in “eggnog”) comes from although it might derive from the word “noggin”, which was originally a small wooden cup that was long associated with alcoholic drinks.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Club fee / “Hell no!” : COVER/NEVER (CO/NE = Colorado/Nebraska)
5 Nurse back to health : REHAB
10 Longtime music label inits. : EMI
13 Strip : SWATH
14 Hoth, in the “Star Wars” universe : ICE PLANET
16 Share a take : AGREE
17 Executive’s perk, maybe / It might fit in a tight spot : COMPANY CAR/COMPACT CAR (NY/CT = New York/Connecticut)
18 “Sh” or “wr” : DIGRAPH
20 Full of difficulties : THORNY
21 Modern-day locale of ancient Persepolis : IRAN
22 George Sand, for one : ALIAS
25 George Sand, par exemple : NOM
26 Queen of Arendelle, in a Disney movie : ELSA
27 Bring into harmony : SYNC
28 Humdinger : BEAUT
30 Ping-Pong do-over : LET
32 Floor type : TILE
34 Some Hollywood technology, for short : CGI
35 Place with hot stones : SPA
38 Alison ___, author of “Fun Home” : BECHDEL
40 QVC alternative : HSN
41 Filmer Kilmer : VAL
42 ___ water (trendy drink) : ALOE
43 Prepared for bad news, perhaps : SAT
45 Longtime M.L.B. second baseman Chase : UTLEY
47 Smacks hard / Types : SWATS/SORTS (WA/OR – Washington/Oregon)
49 “Ghostbusters” director Harold / Pours : RAMIS/RAINS (MI/IN = Michigan/Indiana)
53 Mac platform : OS X
54 Flattens : KAYOS
55 Best Picture of 2012 : ARGO
56 “I’m in a hurry!” : NO TIME!
58 Theater fare : POPCORN
60 Geographical demarcation represented by each of the four slashes in this puzzle : STATE LINE
63 “Jeez!” : OH MAN!
64 Unveiling : FIRST LOOK
65 Like English bogs : PEATY
66 Director Craven : WES
67 Owner of Words With Friends : ZYNGA
68 Facility : EASE

Down

1 Dale Evans, for one / Zooey Deschanel TV series : COWGIRL/NEW GIRL
2 Author Mario ___ Llosa : VARGAS
3 Ceaseless : ETERNAL
4 Relative of an ostrich : RHEA
5 To a great degree : RICHLY
6 Prefix with tourist : ECO-
7 Put a border on : HEM
8 Datebook listings: Abbr. : APPTS
9 Uninspired : BLAH
10 Horn in (on) : ENCROACH
11 Glares sourly at, in modern lingo : MEAN-MUGS
12 Humble response to a compliment : I TRY
13 Hawkins of “Li’l Abner” : SADIE
15 “Volunteers?” / Play’s start : ANYONE?/ACT ONE
19 Baby blue, e.g. : PASTEL
23 Obstructing / On paper : IN THE WAY /IN THEORY
24 Battery fill : ACID
28 Composer Bartók : BELA
29 Word before Pan, Man or can : TIN …
31 Owner of StubHub : EBAY
33 Not as much : LESS SO
35 Popular crime show spinoff, informally : SVU
36 Baby’s bottom? : PATOOTIE
37 They’re at the top of their game : ALL-STARS
39 ___ Nostra : COSA
44 Inspirational passage? : TRACHEA
46 Takes off : EXITS
48 Brown v. Board of Education city : TOPEKA
50 Things that bakeries make but don’t sell : AROMAS
51 Move / Unappreciative person : MIGRATE/INGRATE
52 Boyo : SONNY
54 ___ green : KELLY
56 “Avoid watching this at the office,” briefly : NSFW
57 “This Is Us” co-star Chrissy : METZ
59 Person whose Twitter handle is @Pontifex : POPE
61 Chemistry particle : ION
62 Holiday drink : NOG

12 thoughts on “1219-19 NY Times Crossword 19 Dec 19, Thursday”

  1. I contend the cross of BEAUT/MEANMUGS could also be BEAST/MEANMSGS. As in, “Bill Butler is a BEAST of a crossword solver!” Also, I have some issues with ALIAS/NOM. One uses ALIAS in both English in French. In French usage as it pertains to authors, an alias is usually called a NOM de plume” or “pen name” in French.

    Otherwise, a tough grid. But it’s sometimes tricky on Thursday.

  2. 34:04. I was ready to throw up my hands and give up on this one after my first pass came up with about 3 letters filled in for the entire grid. Finally figured out the rebus (double rebus?) and later leaned on it heavily to finish the puzzle. It was a very strange solving experience, but it was very cleverly constructed – 2 rebuses in each direction giving two meanings with the rebus being state abbr’s AND using two states that border each other. Wow.

    DIGRAPH threw me because I always thought that was called a diphthong. I looked it up and the distinction still confuses me, but a DIGRAPH refers to 2 letters to make one sound (e.g. ch) and a diphthong is referring to a double sound – e.g. the vowel combo of “oi” together. But that would mean a “oi” would be both a DIGRAPH and a diphthong. You could make the same argument with “ch” (t+ sh) as being both. “Sh” was the only example I could think of that was only a DIGRAPH and not a diphthong at the same time. A long “a” or long”i” would be diphthongs that aren’t DIGRAPHS.

    Enough minutiae for one day. My head is spinning now.

    Best –

    1. I think what the setter originally intended here was based on another meaning of “digraph”, used in the printing biz: “a character consisting of two joined letters; a ligature”. The clue that appears in the online app uses the character formed by joining “A” and “E” (“Æ”, assuming your browser displays it properly). For some reason, the clue appearing here depends on the other meaning of “digraph”: “a combination of two letters representing one sound, as in ‘ph’ and ‘ey’”. I don’t know at what point the change occurred.

    2. A second thought: I really have no way of knowing which of the two meanings was used in the setter’s original version.

  3. Very clever and enjoyable puzzle. I would have to say that the Thursday puzzles are usually my favorites. They often have some thought provoking clueing combined with the best theme of the week. Curious how others feel.

  4. Had METS/SYNGA for lack of a better guess, otherwise clean. As tough as it gets for a Thursday. Mr. Agard’s are difficult enough without him teaming up with someone. Probably a bear to construct; my compliments.

  5. 31:02, no errors. Very THORNY puzzle; a lot of curveballs. I had difficulty coming to grips with TRACHEA as an “Inspirational passage” until the light came on.
    Regarding DIGRAPH: my syndicated puzzle has a note “Attention Editors: If the ash symbol in 18-Across doesn’t show up with your fonts, there’s a tif (0123nytd18-AE.tif) in Editorial:nytdaily folder. Don’t forget to embed.”

  6. 49A asks for Ghostbusters director. Harold Ramis didn’t direct as even the list of answers indicates that Ivan Reitman was the director.

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