1230-19 NY Times Crossword 30 Dec 19, Monday

Constructed by: Gary Larson
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: On a Roll

Themed answers are things that might be found ON A ROLL:

  • 40A Winning time after time … or where you might find 17-, 23-, 51- or 62-Across : ON A ROLL
  • 17A Butter substitute : MARGARINE
  • 23A One getting mostly A’s in school : HONOR STUDENT
  • 51A Shiny kitchen wrap : ALUMINUM FOIL
  • 62A Wallet alternative : MONEY CLIP

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 4m 22s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 ___ Wednesday : ASH

In the Christian tradition, the first day in the season of Lent is called Ash Wednesday. On Ash Wednesday, Palm Crosses from the prior year’s Palm Sunday are burned. The resulting ashes are mixed with sacred oil and then used to anoint worshipers on the forehead with the shape of a cross.

9 Item in a humidor : CIGAR

A humidor is a box or room that has a controlled environment optimized for the storage of cigars, cigarettes and pipe tobacco. The main factor to be controlled is “humidity”, hence the storage area is called a “humidor”.

15 1940s-’60s singer Frankie : LAINE

Singer Frankie Laine was known for singing the theme songs from Western movies and shows, although he wasn’t a country & western singer. Laine released a version of the theme for “High Noon” for example, and “Champion the Wonder Horse”, and they became bigger hits than the originals.

17 Butter substitute : MARGARINE

Emperor Louis Napoleon III of France announced a competition to develop a substitute for butter, a substitute that would be more accessible to the lower classes and more practical for the armed forces. A French chemist called Hippolyte Mege-Mouries came up with something he called oleomargarine in 1869, which was eventually manufactured under the trade name “margarine”. The name “oleomargarine” also gives us our generic term “oleo”.

27 Killer whale : ORCA

The taxonomic name for the killer whale is “Orcinus orca”. The use of the name “orca”, rather than “killer whale”, is becoming more and more common. The Latin word “Orcinus” means “belonging to Orcus”, with Orcus being the name for the Kingdom of the Dead.

30 King Kong, for one : APE

When RKO released the 1933 movie “King Kong”, the promotional material listed the ape’s height as 50 feet. During filming, a bust was created for a 40-foot ape, as well as a full-size hand that went with a 70-foot Kong.

31 China’s Mao ___-tung : TSE

Mao Zedong (also “Mao Tse-tung”) was born on December 16, 1893 in the Hunan Province of China. As Mao was the son of a peasant farmer, his prospects for education were limited. Indeed he left school at age 13 to work on the family farm but did eventually get to secondary school in Changsha, the provincial capital. In the years following, Mao continued his education in Beijing and actually turned down an opportunity to study in France.

32 Campus bigwig : DEAN

A bigwig is someone important. The use of the term “bigwig” harks back to the days when men of authority and rank wore … big wigs.

33 Rainbow shapes : ARCS

Sunlight reflected by airborne water droplets can produce rainbows. The water droplets act as little prisms, dispersing the white light into its constituent colors. Sometimes we see double rainbows. If we look carefully, we can see that the order of the colors in the first and second arcs is reversed.

39 Beavers’ construction : DAM

Beavers build dams so that they can live in and around the slower and deeper water that builds up above the dam. This deeper water provides more protection for the beavers from predators such as bears. Beavers are nocturnal animals and do all their construction work at night.

42 Small inlet : RIA

A drowned valley might be called a ria or a fjord, and both are formed as sea levels rise. A ria is a drowned valley created by river erosion, and a fjord is a drowned valley created by glaciation.

46 Performs like Lil Wayne or Lil’ Kim : RAPS

“Lil Wayne” is the stage name used by rap artist Dwayne Carter, Jr. from New Orleans.

“Lil’ Kim” is the stage name of rap artist Kimberly Denise Jones from Brooklyn, New York. Lil’ Kim spent a year in jail in 2005 for lying to a jury in a case about a shooting.

47 Baseball stat : RBI

Run batted in (RBI)

51 Shiny kitchen wrap : ALUMINUM FOIL

Before thin sheets of aluminum metal were available as aluminum foil, thin sheets of tin were used in various applications. Tin foil isn’t a great choice for wrapping food though, as it imparts a tinny taste. On the other side of the pond, aluminum foil has a different name. No, it’s not just the different spelling of aluminum (“aluminium”). We still call it “tin foil”. You see, we live in the past …

61 Rumble in the Jungle setting : ZAIRE

The African nation once called Zaire is a neighbor of Rwanda. The genocide and war in Rwanda spilled over into Zaire in 1996, with the conflict escalating into what is now called the First Congo War. As part of the war’s fallout there was a regime change, and in 1997 Zaire became the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Rumble in the Jungle was the celebrated 1974 fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman that took place in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The fight was set in Zaire because of financial arrangements between promoter Don King and Zaire’s President Mobutu Seko. Ali coined the term “rope-a-dope” to describe his incredibly successful strategy in the contest. From the second round onwards, Ali adopted a protected stance on the ropes letting Foreman pound him with blows to the body and head, with Ali using his arms to dissipate the power of the punches. He kept this up until the eighth round, and then opened up and downed the exhausted Foreman with a left-right combination. I hate boxing but I have to say, that was a fascinating fight …

62 Wallet alternative : MONEY CLIP

I’m not sure how “money clip” relates directly to “roll”. A roll of cash, I can imagine …

66 Fragrant chemical compound : ESTER

Esters are very common chemicals. The smaller, low-molecular weight esters are usually pleasant smelling and are often found in perfumes. At the other end of the scale, the higher-molecular weight nitroglycerin is a nitrate ester and is very explosive, and polyester is a huge molecule and is a type of plastic. Fats and oils found in nature are fatty acid esters of glycerol known as glycerides.

70 Gem in an oyster : PEARL

Nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, is the strong iridescent material laid down by some mollusks on the inside of their shells, and it’s also what makes up pearls. The creature lays down nacre as a defensive mechanism, protecting the soft tissue of its body from the rough surface of the outer shell. Similarly, it uses nacre to encapsulate harmful debris or a parasite that penetrates the shell, and that’s how a pearl is formed. Cultured pearls are made by inserting a tissue graft from a donor oyster, around which nacre is laid down.

71 Aardvark’s morsel : ANT

The aardvark is the oddest looking of creatures, and a nocturnal burrowing animal that is native to Africa. Even though it is sometimes called the African ant bear, the name “aardvark” is Afrikaans for “earth pig”. Aardvarks are noted, among other things, for their unique teeth. Their teeth have no enamel and wear away quite readily, but continuously regrow. The aardvark feeds mainly on ants and termites.

Down

4 Fort where Davy Crockett died : ALAMO

The San Antonio mission known as the Alamo may have been named for a grove of nearby cottonwood trees. “Álamo” is the Spanish name for the cottonwood.

The pioneer Davy Crockett is often referred to as “King of the Wild Frontier”. Crockett was from East Tennessee. After serving in the local militia he entered politics and represented his state in the US House of Representatives from 1827 to 1831. He disapproved of many of the policies of President Andrew Jackson, which led to his defeat in the 1834 election for the House. The defeat prompted Crockett to leave Tennessee for Texas. Famously, he died there in 1836 at the Battle of the Alamo.

5 Driveway surface : TAR

The terms “tarmac” and “macadam” are short for “tarmacadam”. In the 1800s, Scotsman John Loudon McAdam developed a style of road known as “macadam”. Macadam had a top-layer of crushed stone and gravel laid over larger stones. The macadam also had a convex cross-section so that water tended to drain to the sides. In 1901, a significant improvement was made by English engineer Edgar Purnell Hooley who introduced tar into the macadam, improving the resistance to water damage and practically eliminating dust. The “tar-penetration macadam” is the basis of what we now call tarmac.

6 Nintendo console : WII

Introduced in 2006, Nintendo’s Wii quickly became the biggest-selling game console in the world.

7 Newswoman Curry : ANN

Television journalist Ann Curry is perhaps best known for the time she spent as co-host on NBC’s “Today” show. NBC executives asked Curry to resign from the “Today” show because ratings were low. I just read online that Curry was also pushed out because of the way she insisted on dressing and because she refused to dye her gray hair. I hope that isn’t true …

11 Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. ___” : GOODE

“Johnny B. Goode” is a rock and roll number that was made famous by Chuck Berry in the late fifties. “Johnny B. Goode” even made it into outer space as it was chosen as one of four American songs that were included on the Voyager Golden Record, which was attached to the Voyager spacecraft that left our solar system in 2012.

12 Actor Sean of “The Lord of the Rings” : ASTIN

Sean Astin is best known for playing the title role in the 1993 film “Rudy” and the character Samwise Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings” movies. You might also have seen him playing Lynn McGill in the 5th season of “24”. Astin is the son of actress Patty Duke, and the adopted son of actor John Astin (of “The Addams Family” fame).

18 Illustrator Wilson famous for his macabre cartoons : GAHAN

Gahan Wilson is a cartoonist who is noted for his dark humor. His work has been compared with that of Charles Addams, creator of the “Addams Family”.

22 Six-time N.L. home run champ Mel : OTT

At 5′ 9″, baseball legend Mel Ott weighed just 170 lb (I don’t think he took steroids!) and yet he was the first National League player to hit over 500 home runs. Sadly, Ott died in a car accident in New Orleans in 1958 when he was only 49 years old. And, according to Wikipedia, “Ott’s name frequently appears in crossword puzzles, on account of its letter combination and brevity.” True that …

24 Indian bread : NAAN

Naan (also “nan”) bread is very popular in Indian restaurants, as well as in other West, Central and South Asian cuisines. Indian Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven known as a tandoor.

25 What the “O” of O magazine stands for : OPRAH

The full name of the publication usually called “O”, is “O: The Oprah Magazine”. Since the magazine’s founding in 2000, Oprah has appeared alone on the cover of each issue, with two exceptions. On the April 2009 cover Oprah was shown with First Lady Michelle Obama, and on the December 2009 cover Oprah shared the limelight with Ellen DeGeneres.

26 Place for a Ping-Pong table : REC ROOM

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 What “ibn” and “ben” mean, in names : SON OF

In Arabic names, “ibn” is a word meaning “son of”. The words “bin” and “ben” are also used for “son of”. The word “bint” means “daughter of”. Similarly, in Hebrew “ben” is used to mean “son of”, and “bat” is used to mean “daughter of”.

36 Asia’s shrunken ___ Sea : ARAL

The Aral Sea is a great example of how man can have a devastating effect on his environment. In the early sixties the Aral Sea covered 68,000 square miles of Central Asia. Soviet irrigation projects drained the lake to such an extent that today the total area is less than 7,000 square miles, with 90% of the lake now completely dry. Sad …

41 Jay formerly of late-night TV : LENO

Jay Leno was born James Leno in New Rochelle, New York. Jay’s father was the son of Italian immigrants, and his mother was from Scotland. Leno grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and actually dropped out of school on the advice of a high school guidance counsellor. However, years later he went to Emerson College and earned a Bachelor’s degree in speech therapy. Leno also started a comedy club at Emerson in 1973. Today Jay Leno is a car nut and owns about 200 vehicles of various types. You can check them out on his website: www.jaylenosgarage.com.

44 Like Brink’s trucks : ARMORED

The Brink’s security company was founded in 1859 in Chicago by Perry Brink. Brink’s started out as an armored transportation service.

51 Woodworking tools : ADZES

An adze (also “adz”) is similar to an axe, but is different in that the blade of an adze is set at right angles to the tool’s shaft. An axe blade is set in line with the shaft.

55 Peaceful, picturesque scene : IDYLL

An idyll (also “idyl”) is a short poem with a pastoral theme, usually depicting the scene in romantic and idealized terms. The word “idyl” comes from the Greek “eidyllion”, which literally translates to “little picture” but was a word describing a short poem with a rustic theme.

58 Jessica of “Fantastic Four” : ALBA

Actress Jessica Alba got her big break when she was cast in the Fox science fiction show “Dark Angel”. Alba had a tough life growing up as she spent a lot of time in hospital and so found it difficult to develop friendships. As a youngster she twice had a collapsed lung, frequently caught pneumonia, suffered from asthma, had a ruptured appendix and a tonsillar cyst. On top of all that, Alba acknowledges that she suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder as a child.

“Fantastic Four” is a 2005 movie about the band of comic heroes made famous in Marvel Comics. The Fantastic Four are:

  • Mr. Fantastic (played by Ioan Gruffudd)
  • The Invisible Woman (played by Jessica Alba)
  • The Human Torch (played by Chris Evans)
  • Thing (played by Michael Chiklis)

64 Vardalos of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” : NIA

Not only is the delightful Nia Vardalos the star of the 2002 hit movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, she also wrote the screenplay. The film never made it to number one at the box office, but it still pulled in more money than any other movie in history that didn’t make it to number one. That record I think reflects the fact that the film wasn’t a blockbuster but rather a so-called “sleeper hit”, a movie that people went to see based on referrals from friends. The big fat mistake came when a spin-off TV show was launched, “My Big Fat Greek Life”. It ran for only 7 episodes. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” hit movie theaters in 2016.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 ___ Wednesday : ASH
4 Doing battle : AT WAR
9 Item in a humidor : CIGAR
14 Hotel amenity down the hall : ICE
15 1940s-’60s singer Frankie : LAINE
16 Win by ___ : A NOSE
17 Butter substitute : MARGARINE
19 Hereditary background : ROOTS
20 What locomotives and irons may give off : STEAM
21 Critical, as a situation : DO-OR-DIE
23 One getting mostly A’s in school : HONOR STUDENT
27 Killer whale : ORCA
30 King Kong, for one : APE
31 China’s Mao ___-tung : TSE
32 Campus bigwig : DEAN
33 Rainbow shapes : ARCS
35 Obliterate : ERASE
39 Beavers’ construction : DAM
40 Winning time after time … or where you might find 17-, 23-, 51- or 62-Across : ON A ROLL
42 Small inlet : RIA
43 Asparagus unit : SPEAR
45 Sharpen, as skills : HONE
46 Performs like Lil Wayne or Lil’ Kim : RAPS
47 Baseball stat : RBI
49 Suffix with ball : -OON
50 “Or ___!” (end of an ultimatum) : ELSE
51 Shiny kitchen wrap : ALUMINUM FOIL
56 Signifies : DENOTES
57 Obsolescent phone features : DIALS
61 Rumble in the Jungle setting : ZAIRE
62 Wallet alternative : MONEY CLIP
66 Fragrant chemical compound : ESTER
67 Standard Windows typeface : ARIAL
68 Feather stole : BOA
69 Outbuildings with garden tools : SHEDS
70 Gem in an oyster : PEARL
71 Aardvark’s morsel : ANT

Down

1 Goals : AIMS
2 “Shoo, kitty!” : SCAT!
3 On earth : HERE
4 Fort where Davy Crockett died : ALAMO
5 Driveway surface : TAR
6 Nintendo console : WII
7 Newswoman Curry : ANN
8 Swamp plants : REEDS
9 Merry-go-round : CAROUSEL
10 Properly arranged : IN ORDER
11 Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. ___” : GOODE
12 Actor Sean of “The Lord of the Rings” : ASTIN
13 Change, as a clock : RESET
18 Illustrator Wilson famous for his macabre cartoons : GAHAN
22 Six-time N.L. home run champ Mel : OTT
24 Indian bread : NAAN
25 What the “O” of O magazine stands for : OPRAH
26 Place for a Ping-Pong table : REC ROOM
27 6:1 or 7:1, e.g., at a racetrack : ODDS
28 Harvest : REAP
29 Arrived : CAME
34 What “ibn” and “ben” mean, in names : SON OF
36 Asia’s shrunken ___ Sea : ARAL
37 Doesn’t guzzle : SIPS
38 Simplicity : EASE
40 Spacecrafts circling the earth : ORBITERS
41 Jay formerly of late-night TV : LENO
44 Like Brink’s trucks : ARMORED
46 Excavation find : RELIC
48 Suffix with serpent : -INE
51 Woodworking tools : ADZES
52 What a dog-walker holds : LEASH
53 Bring together : UNITE
54 Chart often with insets of Alaska and Hawaii : US MAP
55 Peaceful, picturesque scene : IDYLL
58 Jessica of “Fantastic Four” : ALBA
59 King of the jungle : LION
60 Small quarrel : SPAT
63 Metal from a mine : ORE
64 Vardalos of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” : NIA
65 Serving of corn : EAR

6 thoughts on “1230-19 NY Times Crossword 30 Dec 19, Monday”

  1. 3:45, no errors. First iPad solve under four minutes. And … yes … it was an easy puzzle … but still … I’m not quite sure how that happened (but, hey, I’ll take it … 😜).

  2. Maybe the easiest Monday NYT puzzle I have ever seen.

    Two points of contention for me.
    #1…As Bill also pointed out…you don’t roll up money to put it in a MONEY CLIP…you flatten it out
    #2…referring to the Alamo as a “fort”…it was (and still is) a Catholic mission…nothing even near a “fort”…”fortress”, maybe

  3. 5:32, no errors. Lost some time erasing MONEY BELT, before entering MONEY CLIP. I’ll lean with the setter on this clue. According to Merriam-Webster: a roll can be “paper money folded or rolled into a wad”. I have used it, myself, to describe a significant amount of cash regardless of whether it’s rolled up, folded, laid flat or crumpled into a wad. As in : “Wow! that’s quite a roll!”.

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