1223-19 NY Times Crossword 23 Dec 19, Monday

Constructed by: Timothy Polin
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Spin the Dreidel

Themed answers each contain the letter string “DREIDEL”, but the order has been changed, SPUN around:

  • 57A Play a game during Hanukkah … with a hint to 15-, 21-, 42- and 47-Across : SPIN THE DREIDEL
  • 15A Pitcher between a starter and a closer : MIDDLE RELIEVER
  • 21A Snow day activity : SLED RIDE
  • 42A Metalworker’s tool : HIGH-SPEED DRILL
  • 47A Popular apple variety : RED DELICIOUS

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

Bill’s time: 5m 11s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 New World natives noted for their pyramids and calendar : MAYANS

The Maya civilization held sway in Central America and Mexico from about 350 AD, until the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s.

7 Amazon or eBay : DOT-COM

A dot-com is a company that primarily makes it money by providing products and services using its online presence.

Amazon.com is the largest online retailer in the world. It is also the largest Internet company in the world by revenue. The company was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, in his garage in Bellevue, Washington. I’m a big fan of Amazon’s approach to customer service …

eBay was founded in 1995 as AuctionWeb. One of the first items purchased was a broken laser pointer, for $14.83. The buyer was a collector of broken laser pointers …

13 Intriguingly foreign : EXOTIC

The word “exotic” means “belonging to another country”, and is derived from the Greek “exo-” meaning “outside”. Exotica are things that are excitingly strange, often from foreign parts.

14 Companion of Io, Ganymede and Callisto among Jupiter’s moons : EUROPA

As are many celestial bodies, the moon of Jupiter called Europa was named after a figure in Greek mythology. Europa was a Phoenician woman who was abducted by Zeus. Europa also gave her name to the continent of Europe.

So far, Jupiter is known to have 67 moons, more than any other planet in the Solar System. The four largest moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) were discovered by Galileo in 1610, making them the first objects found that did not orbit either the Earth or the Sun.

15 Pitcher between a starter and a closer : MIDDLE RELIEVER

That would be baseball.

18 Biblical birthright seller : ESAU

Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, the founder of the Israelites. When their mother Rebekah gave birth to the twins “the first emerged red and hairy all over (Esau), with his heel grasped by the hand of the second to come out (Jacob)”. As Esau was the first born, he was entitled to inherit his father’s wealth (it was his “birthright”). Instead, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for the price of a “mess of pottage” (a meal of lentils).

19 Biblical boat captain : NOAH

According to the Book of Genesis, Noah lived to a ripe old age. Noah fathered his three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth when he was 500 years old, and the Great Flood took place when he was 600.

20 TV warrior princess : XENA

The Xena character, played by New Zealander Lucy Lawless, was introduced in a made-for-TV movie called “Hercules and the Amazon Women”. Lawless reprised the role in a series called “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”. Xena became so popular that a series was built around her character, with Lawless retained for the title role. The fictional Xena supposedly came from the “non-fictional” Greek city of Amphipolis.

27 State religion of Iran : ISLAM

Before 1935, the country we know today as Iran was referred to as Persia by the Western world. The official name of the country since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 is the “Islamic Republic of Iran”.

32 John of “Full House” : STAMOS

Actor John Stamos is best known as the star of the sitcom “Full House”, although he also played Dr. Tony Gates on the medical drama “ER”.

38 Bu$ine$$ execs : CFOS

Chief financial officer (CFO)

40 Iridescent birthstone : OPAL

An opal is often described as having a milky iridescence known as opalescence.

45 Chow down : EAT

“Chow” is a slang term for food that originated in California in the mid-1800s. “Chow” comes from the Chinese pidgin English “chow-chow” meaning “food”.

46 Note between fa and la : SOL

The sol-fa syllables are: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la & ti.

47 Popular apple variety : RED DELICIOUS

The Red Delicious apple was developed in an Iowa orchard in 1880. The variety was eventually given the name “Hawkeye”, and then “Stark Delicious”. After the Golden Delicious became established in 1914, the relatively unrelated Stark Delicious apple was renamed to “Red Delicious”.

53 Prom rental : TUX

Apparently, the style of men’s evening dress called a “tuxedo” was first worn to a country club event in 1886 in New York. The use of a dark dinner jacket without tails became fashionable at the club with the members, and the tradition spread from there. The country club was located in Tuxedo Park, New York, giving the style of dress its name.

54 El ___ (Pacific Ocean phenomenon) : NINO

When the surface temperature of much of the Pacific Ocean rises more than half a degree centigrade, then there is said to be an El Niño episode. That small temperature change in the Pacific has been associated with climatic changes that can stretch right across the globe. El Niño is Spanish for “the boy” and is a reference to the Christ child. The phenomenon was given this particular Spanish name because the warming is usually noticed near South America and around Christmas-time.

55 School grp. that might hold a walkathon : PTA

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

57 Play a game during Hanukkah … with a hint to 15-, 21-, 42- and 47-Across : SPIN THE DREIDEL

A dreidel is a spinning top with four sides that is often associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Each of the four sides on a dreidel bears a letter from the Hebrew alphabet (nun, gimel, hei and shin). The four letters are the initials of the Hebrew phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” meaning “a great miracle happened there”. According to tradition, children would be taught Torah while hiding in caves away from the Greeks. When Greek soldiers approached, the children would hide their torah scrolls and play with their dreidels instead.

62 Russian czar known as “the Great” : PETER I

Peter the Great (aka “Peter I”) was perhaps the most successful of the Romanov tsars, and was famous for modernizing Russia and expanding the country’s sphere of influence, creating the Russian Empire. He ruled from 1682 until his death in 1725.

63 Tolkien’s Lord of Rivendell : ELROND

Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, is a character in the “Middle-earth” novels by J. R. R. Tolkien. In big-screen adaptations of the books directed by Peter Jackson, Elrond is played by Australian actor Hugo Weaving.

64 Six-line stanza : SESTET

A sestet is a group of six lines of poetry. It is similar to a quatrain, a group of four lines.

65 Afternoon nap : SIESTA

We use the word “siesta” to describe a short nap in the early afternoon, and imported the word into English from Spanish. In turn, the Spanish word is derived from the Latin “hora sexta” meaning “the sixth hour”. The idea is that the nap is taken at the sixth hour after dawn.

Down

1 Joke that goes viral on the internet : MEME

A meme (from “mineme”) is a cultural practice or idea that is passed on verbally or by repetition from one person to another. The term lends itself very well to the online world where links, emails, files etc. are so easily propagated.

3 “Star Wars” character who could this clue have written? : YODA

In the “Star Wars” series of films, the character named Yoda has a unique speech pattern. He often uses the word order object-subject-verb. For example:

  • Patience you must have …
  • Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.
  • To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not.

4 When twilight begins : AT DUSK

Twilight is the light experienced when the sun is below the horizon, both in the morning and the evening. The prefix “twi-” seems to come from the sense of “half”, and in “half light”. There appears to be no connection to the word “twice”, despite twilight occurring twice each day.

5 Zilch : NIL

We use the term “zilch” to mean “nothing”. Our current usage evolved in the sixties, before which the term was used to describe “meaningless speech”. There was a comic character called Mr. Zilch in the 1930s in “Ballyhoo” magazine. Mr. Zilch’s name probably came from the American college slang “Joe Zilch” that was used in the early 1900s for “an insignificant person”.

6 Nativity ___ : SCENE

In the Christian tradition, a nativity scene (also “crèche”) is a display of representing the scene of the birth of Jesus. Nativity scenes might be subjects for paintings, for example, although the term is usually used for seasonal displays associated with the Christmas season.

7 Indian megacity of 28+ million : DELHI

New Delhi is the capital city of India. New Delhi resides within the National Capital Territory of Delhi (otherwise known as the metropolis of Delhi). New Delhi and Delhi, therefore, are two different things.

9 Ferocious dinos : T REXES

The Tyrannosaurus rex (usually written “T. rex”) was a spectacular looking dinosaur. “Tyrannosaurus” comes from the Greek words “tyrannos” (tyrant) and “sauros” (lizard) and “rex” the Latin for “king”. They were big beasts, measuring 42 feet long and 13 feet tall at the hips, and weighing 7.5 tons.

12 NPR’s ___ Liasson : MARA

Mara Liasson is a radio and television journalist. She is a former White House correspondent and is the current national political correspondent for National Public Radio.

16 Cone’s retinal counterpart : ROD

The retina is the tissue that lines the inside of the eye, and is the tissue that is light-sensitive. There are (mainly) two types of cells in the retina that are sensitive to light, namely rods and cones. Rods are cells that best function in very dim light and only provide black-and-white vision. Cones on the other hand function in brighter light and can perceive color.

17 Big part of an elephant : EAR

There are only three species of elephant living today, with all others being extinct. These are the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant (or “Indian elephant”). As is well known, the African elephant is distinguished from the Asian/Indian elephant by its much larger ears.

22 Guitar pioneer ___ Paul : LES

Les Paul was a guitarist, songwriter and inventor. When he was 33 years old, Paul was involved in a near-fatal car crash that left his right arm and elbow shattered. Surgeons offered him the choice of amputation or a rebuilding of the limb that would leave him unable to bend his elbow. He told them to set his arm at just under 90 degrees so that he could at least hold his guitar and perhaps play it.

23 Insult, slangily : DIS

“Dis” (also “diss”) is a slang term meaning “insult” that originated in the eighties. It is a shortened form of “disrespect” or “dismiss”.

24 St. Louis landmark : ARCH

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, and is the tallest monument in the United States. It was designed by Eero Saarinen, with the help of structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel. They did their design work back in 1947, but construction wasn’t started until 1963. In 1980, a daredevil took it upon himself to parachute onto the top of the arch, intending to further jump from the apex of the arch and parachute to the ground. He hit the arch all right, and slid all the way down one of the arches to his death. No comment …

25 What’ll help you see the sites? : WI-FI

“Wi-Fi” is nothing more than a trademark, a trademark registered by an association of manufacturers of equipment that use wireless LAN (Local Area Network) technology. A device labeled with “Wi-Fi” has to meet certain defined technical standards, basically meaning that the devices can talk to each other. The name “Wi-Fi” suggests “Wireless Fidelity”, although apparently the term was never intended to mean anything at all.

28 Blue jeans pioneer Strauss : LEVI

Levi Strauss was the founder of the first company in the world to manufacture blue jeans. Levi Strauss & Co. opened in 1853 in San Francisco. Strauss and his business partner were awarded a patent in 1873 for the use of copper rivets to strengthen points of strain on working pants.

29 Missing G.I. : AWOL

MPs (military police officers) often track down personnel who go AWOL (absent without leave).

30 Whine like a baby : MEWL

To mewl is to cry weakly like a baby, with “mewl” being somewhat imitative.

33 One of 38 for Madonna, a Billboard record : TOP-TEN HIT

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.

35 Fannie ___ : MAE

The Federal National Mortgage Association is commonly called “Fannie Mae”, a play on the initialism FNMA. Fannie Mae was founded during the Great Depression as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal.

41 Comic strip “___ and Janis” : ARLO

The comic strip “Arlo and Janis” is written by Jimmy Johnson. Introduced in 1985, Arlo and Janis are a baby booming couple with an easy approach to life, and who are very much in love.

47 Cash in India : RUPEE

The rupee is a unit of currency used in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. The term “rupee” comes from the Sanskrit word “rupya”, which once meant “stamped, impressed” and then “coin”.

48 Turnpike turnoffs : EXITS

Back in the 15th century, a turnpike (tpk.) was a defensive barrier across a road. By the 17th century the term was used for a barrier that stopped travelers until a toll was paid. By the 18th century a turnpike was the name given to a road with a toll.

50 Politically unaffiliated: Abbr. : IND

In the world of politics, an Independent (Ind.) is neither Republican (Rep.) nor Democrat (Dem.)

51 Some prom hairstyles : UPDOS

A prom is a formal dance held upon graduation from high school (we call them “formals” over in Ireland). The term “prom” is short for “promenade”, the name given to a type of dance or ball.

52 Insert for a blocked blood vessel : STENT

In the world of surgical medicine, a stent is an artificial tube inserted inside a vessel in the body, say an artery, in order to reduce the effects of a local restriction in the body’s conduit.

53 Cough syrup qtys. : TSPS

Teaspoon (tsp.)

56 Hawkeye’s player on “M*A*S*H” : ALDA

Hawkeye Pierce is the lead character in the “M*A*S*H” novel, movie and TV series. Hawkeye was originally portrayed by Donald Sutherland in the film, and then by Alan Alda in the television show. Pierce is the only character appearing in all 250 episodes of the groundbreaking TV series.

59 Uno + due : TRE

“One, two, three” in Italian is “uno, due, tre”.

60 QB Manning : ELI

Eli Manning plays as quarterback for the New York Giants. Eli’s brother Peyton Manning retired from football as the quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2015. Eli and Peyton’s father is Archie Manning, who was also a successful NFL quarterback. Eli, Peyton and Archie co-authored a book for children titled “Family Huddle” in 2009. It describes the Mannings playing football together as young boys.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 New World natives noted for their pyramids and calendar : MAYANS
7 Amazon or eBay : DOT-COM
13 Intriguingly foreign : EXOTIC
14 Companion of Io, Ganymede and Callisto among Jupiter’s moons : EUROPA
15 Pitcher between a starter and a closer : MIDDLE RELIEVER
18 Biblical birthright seller : ESAU
19 Biblical boat captain : NOAH
20 TV warrior princess : XENA
21 Snow day activity : SLED RIDE
24 No longer slumbering : AWAKE
27 State religion of Iran : ISLAM
31 Fix, as an election : RIG
32 John of “Full House” : STAMOS
37 Female sheep : EWE
38 Bu$ine$$ execs : CFOS
40 Iridescent birthstone : OPAL
41 Declare : AVOW
42 Metalworker’s tool : HIGH-SPEED DRILL
45 Chow down : EAT
46 Note between fa and la : SOL
47 Popular apple variety : RED DELICIOUS
53 Prom rental : TUX
54 El ___ (Pacific Ocean phenomenon) : NINO
55 School grp. that might hold a walkathon : PTA
57 Play a game during Hanukkah … with a hint to 15-, 21-, 42- and 47-Across : SPIN THE DREIDEL
62 Russian czar known as “the Great” : PETER I
63 Tolkien’s Lord of Rivendell : ELROND
64 Six-line stanza : SESTET
65 Afternoon nap : SIESTA

Down

1 Joke that goes viral on the internet : MEME
2 x or y, on a graph : AXIS
3 “Star Wars” character who could this clue have written? : YODA
4 When twilight begins : AT DUSK
5 Zilch : NIL
6 Nativity ___ : SCENE
7 Indian megacity of 28+ million : DELHI
8 “Yes, mon ami” : OUI
9 Ferocious dinos : T. REXES
10 Sheltered shoreline spot : COVE
11 Business sign that’s flipped in the morning : OPEN
12 NPR’s ___ Liasson : MARA
16 Cone’s retinal counterpart : ROD
17 Big part of an elephant : EAR
22 Guitar pioneer ___ Paul : LES
23 Insult, slangily : DIS
24 St. Louis landmark : ARCH
25 What’ll help you see the sites? : WI-FI
26 Bug-eyed : AGOG
28 Blue jeans pioneer Strauss : LEVI
29 Missing G.I. : AWOL
30 Whine like a baby : MEWL
33 One of 38 for Madonna, a Billboard record : TOP-TEN HIT
34 Do an impression of : APE
35 Fannie ___ : MAE
36 What the vengeful seek to settle : OLD SCORES
39 Lose, as fur : SHED
41 Comic strip “___ and Janis” : ARLO
43 “You hate to see it” : SAD
44 “Why ___ even bother?” : DO I
47 Cash in India : RUPEE
48 Turnpike turnoffs : EXITS
49 Falsehood : LIE
50 Politically unaffiliated: Abbr. : IND
51 Some prom hairstyles : UPDOS
52 Insert for a blocked blood vessel : STENT
53 Cough syrup qtys. : TSPS
56 Hawkeye’s player on “M*A*S*H” : ALDA
58 Bit of equipment in fishing and basketball : NET
59 Uno + due : TRE
60 QB Manning : ELI
61 Wrath : IRE