1201-20 NY Times Crossword 1 Dec 20, Tuesday

Constructed by: Byron Walden
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Rec Center

Themed answers each include REC as a hidden word at the CENTER:

  • 33D Community sports facility … or a hint to the answers to the five starred clues : REC CENTER
  • 17A *Many a Silicon Valley business : SOFTWARE COMPANY
  • 39A *Devastating event in a real estate bust : HOME FORECLOSURE
  • 61A *Question suggesting “That just about sums things up” : WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?
  • 7D *Highly stressful situations, metaphorically : PRESSURE COOKERS
  • 10D *Like a guesstimate, by nature : IMPRECISE

Bill’s time: 6m 43s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Timbuktu’s country : MALI

The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in western Africa located south of Algeria. Formerly known as French Sudan, the nation’s most famous city is Timbuktu. Mali is the third-largest producer of gold on the continent, after South Africa and Ghana.

5 Things baseball uniforms and toy pistols have : CAPS

Cap guns are toy guns that use as ammunition a small quantity of explosive that is shock-sensitive. The small disks of ammunition come as individual pellets or perhaps in plastic rings. The cap guns that I used as a child came with about 50 pellets of ammunition on a roll of paper. As a kid, I used to think that cap guns were so cool. Now, not so much …

9 Foe in “Jack and the Beanstalk” : GIANT

“Jack and the Beanstalk” is a fairy tale from England. In the story, young Jack sells the family cow for some magic beans. He plants the beans and a massive beanstalk grows up into the sky. At the top of the beanstalk there lives an ogre. Jack climbs the beanstalk and adventures ensue …

16 Put a stop to : EMBAR

To embar is to hinder or stop, to perhaps hinder with bars, to imprison. The related term “embargo” describes the action of barring vessels from entering or leaving a nation’s ports.

17 *Many a Silicon Valley business : SOFTWARE COMPANY

The Santa Clara Valley, located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay, is better known as “Silicon Valley”. The term “Silicon Valley” dates back to 1971 when it was apparently first used in a weekly trade newspaper called “Electronic News” in articles written by journalist Don Hoefler.

21 Automotive brand with an oval logo : STP

STP is a brand name of automotive lubricants and additives. The name “STP” is an initialism standing for “Scientifically Treated Petroleum”.

23 Africa’s most populous city (21+ million) : LAGOS

Lagos is a port and the biggest city in Nigeria. Lagos used to be the country’s capital, until it was replaced in that role in 1991 by Abuja, a city built just for this purpose. Lagos is also the most populous city in the whole of Africa (followed by Cairo in Egypt).

27 Doctors making deliveries, in brief : OBS

In Latin, the word for midwife is “obstetrix”. “Obstetrix” translates more literally as “one who stands opposite” i.e. the one opposite the woman giving birth. The Latin term gives rise to our modern word “obstetrics” used for the branch of medical science concerned with childbirth.

30 California ___ (state flag words) : REPUBLIC

The original California flag was simply a lone red star on a white background, and was carried by rebels fighting for freedom from Mexican rule in 1836. Ten years later, a new flag was designed, i.e. the original Grizzly Bear Flag and the precursor to today’s state flag. That first use of a bear was in a design by William L. Todd, a nephew of Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd.

34 Hatcher of “Desperate Housewives” : TERI

Teri Hatcher’s most famous role is the Susan Mayer character on the TV comedy-drama “Desperate Housewives”. I’ve never seen more than a few minutes of “Housewives” but I do know Teri Hatcher as a Bond girl, as she appeared in “Tomorrow Never Dies”. More recently, she portrayed Lois Lane on the show “Lois & Clark”.

The TV drama “Desperate Housewives” ran for eight seasons. During pre-production, the show was called “Wisteria Lane” and then “The Secret Lives of Housewives”. The “desperate housewives” lived on the fictional Wisteria Lane in the fictional town of Fairview in the fictional Eagle State. That’s a lot of fiction …

35 Dandy : NIFTY

Something that is a dandy or a oner is remarkable or outstanding.

42 Automotive brand with an oval logo : AMOCO

“Amoco” is an abbreviation for “American Oil Company”, an oil company that merged with BP in 1998. Amoco was the first oil company to introduce gasoline tanker trucks and drive-through filling stations. I wonder if they know what they were starting …?

43 South American palm cultivated for its fruit : ACAI

Açaí (pronounced “ass-aye-ee”) is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.

44 Flair : ELAN

Our word “élan” was imported from French, in which language the word has a similar meaning to ours, i.e “style, flair”.

45 Royal spouses : CONSORTS

A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. The wife may be called a queen, but does not have the king’s political or military power. The husband of a reigning queen is usually called a prince consort, rather than king consort.

48 Records in jackets, in brief : LPS

The first vinyl records designed to play at 33⅓ rpm were introduced by RCA Victor in 1931, but were discontinued due to quality problems. The first long play (LP) 33⅓ rpm disc was introduced by Columbia Records many years later in 1948, with RCA Victor following up with a 45 rpm “single” the following year, in 1949.

49 Actress Anderson : PAMELA

Pamela Anderson is a Canadian/American actress and model, whose most famous TV roles were on the shows “Home Improvement” and “Baywatch”. Anderson is a hot topic in the gossip columns, especially after a honeymoon sex tape was stolen from her home. Beyond all the hype, she is a very committed animal rights activist, having become a vegetarian in her teens after seeing her father cleaning an animal that he had killed while hunting.

52 Passing remarks? : OBITS

Our word “obituary” comes from the Latin “obituaris”. The Latin term was used for “record of the death of a person”, although the literal meaning is “pertaining to death”.

54 Tennis score favoring the server : AD IN

In tennis, if the score reaches deuce (i.e. when both players have scored three points), then the first player to win two points in a row wins the game. The player who wins the point immediately after deuce is said to have the advantage. If the player with the advantage wins the next point then that’s two in a row and that player wins the game. If the person with the advantage loses the next point, then advantage is lost and the players return to deuce and try again. The player calling out the score announces “ad in”, or more formally “advantage in”, if he/she has the advantage. If the score announcer’s opponent has the advantage, then the announcement is “ad out” or “advantage out”. Follow all of that …?

55 Toll hwy. : TPK

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.

65 Sportscaster Andrews : ERIN

Erin Andrews is a sports reporter. I don’t watch much in the line of sports but I do know Ms. Andrews for her appearances on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2010. She did quite well and made it to the final of the show. And then she was hired as the show’s co-host alongside Tom Bergeron. And then they were both let go …

66 Tony-winning musical based on Fellini’s “8 1/2” : NINE

Federico Fellini was a film director and scriptwriter from Rimini in Italy. Fellini won more Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film than anyone else.

Down

1 Sushi restaurant soup : MISO

Miso is the name of the seasoning that makes miso soup. Basic miso seasoning is made by fermenting rice, barley and soybeans with salt and a fungus to produce a paste. The paste can be added to stock to make miso soup, or perhaps to flavor tofu.

2 “Famous” cookie maker : AMOS

Wally Amos was a talent agent, one who was in the habit of taking home-baked cookies with him as an enticement to get celebrities to see him. He was urged by friends to open a cookie store (the cookies were that delicious, I guess) and this he did in Los Angeles in 1975 using the name “Famous Amos”. The store was a smash hit and he was able to build on the success by introducing his cookies into supermarkets. The brand was eventually purchased, making Wally a rich man, and Famous Amos cookies are still flying off the shelf. Wally Amos also became an energetic literacy advocate. He hosted 30 TV programs in 1987 entitled “Learn to Read” that provided reading instruction targeted at adults.

8 Quakers, for one : SECT

Members of the Religious Society of Friends are known as Friends or Quakers. The Christian sect started in England in the 1640s, led by George Fox. The principal tenet at that point was that Christians could have direct experience of Jesus Christ without the mediation of clergy, a reflection of the increasing dissatisfaction with the established church at that time. The term “Quaker” is thought to have been used earlier in reference to foreign religious sects whose followers were given to fits of shaking during religious fervor. Somehow that term became used for members of the Religious Society of Friends.

11 Counters with beads : ABACI

The abacus (plural “abaci”) was used as a counting frame long before man had invented a numbering system. It is a remarkable invention, particularly when one notes that abaci are still widely used today across Africa and Asia.

13 Meeting at a no-tell motel, say : TRYST

In the most general sense, a tryst is a meeting at an agreed time and place. More usually we consider a tryst to be a pre-arranged meeting between lovers. The term comes from the Old French “triste”, a waiting place designated when hunting. Further, a tryst taking place at lunchtime is sometimes referred to as a nooner.

19 October birthstone : OPAL

Here is the “official” list of birthstones, by month, that we tend to use today:

  • January: Garnet
  • February: Amethyst
  • March: Bloodstone or Aquamarine
  • April: Diamond
  • May: Emerald
  • June: Pearl or Moonstone
  • July: Ruby
  • August: Sardonyx or Peridot
  • September: Sapphire or Lapis Lazuli
  • October: Opal or Pink Tourmaline
  • November: Topaz or Citrine
  • December: Turquoise or Zircon (also now, Tanzanite)

24 “The Bartered Bride” and “The Marriage of Figaro” : OPERAS

Smetana’s comic opera “The Bartered Bride” was first performed in 1866, in Prague. The bartered bride is Marenka, a young woman from a Bohemian village who has been promised in marriage to a wealthy young man that she has never met. Much confusion ensues, with lots of bartering, but a happy ending.

Figaro is the title character in at least two operas: “The Barber of Seville” (“Il barbiere di Siviglia”) by Rossini, and “The Marriage of Figaro” (“Le nozze di Figaro”) by Mozart. The two storylines are based on plays by Pierre Beaumarchais, with one basically being a sequel to the other.

26 Heisman winner Torretta : GINO

Gino Torretta is a former NFL quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy in 1992 while playing college football for the University of Miami.

27 Workplace-inspecting org. : OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 during the Nixon administration. OSHA regulates workplaces in the private sector and regulates just one government agency, namely the US Postal Service.

29 Wrestler in a mawashi : SUMO

A mawashi is a belt that sumo wrestlers wear when training and fighting. It’s actually a strip of silk, about two feet wide and 30 feet long, that is wrapped around the body and tied in a knot at the back. It weighs anywhere from 8-11 pounds.

31 Tummy soother : BICARB

“Bicarb” is a familiar term for sodium bicarbonate. Another name for the same compound is “baking soda”. When sodium carbonate is added to a batter, it reacts with acids and releases carbon dioxide which gives baked goods texture, all those “holes”.

36 Like the Rose Bowl, with 92,542 spectators : FULL

The Rose Bowl is the stadium in Pasadena, California that is home to the UCLA football team. It is also host to the Rose Bowl football game held annually on New Year’s Day.

38 Desires : YENS

The word “yen”, meaning “urge”, has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word “yin” imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium.

40 April 1 target : FOOL

April Fools’ Day is celebrated on April 1st in the Western world. In the US (and Ireland) one can make practical jokes all day long if one wants, but in the UK there is a noon deadline. Anyone pranking after midday is called an “April Fool”.

46 Alliance formed in April 1949 : NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an international military alliance that was established in 1949. NATO headquarters was initially set up in London, moved to Paris in 1952, and then to Brussels 1967.

47 Ollie’s partner in old comedy : STAN

Stan Laurel was an English comic actor (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson), who made a great career for himself in Hollywood. Laurel ended up at the Hal Roach studio directing films, intent on pursuing a career in writing and directing. However, he was a sometime actor and was asked to step in when another comic actor, Oliver Hardy, was injured and couldn’t perform. Laurel and Hardy started to share a stage together during that time and when it was clear they worked so well together, their partnership was born. Oh, and the oft-quoted story that Clint Eastwood is the son of Stan Laurel … that’s just an urban myth.

Oliver Hardy was born Norvell Hardy in 1892 in Harlem, Georgia. Hardy used the stage name “Oliver” as a tribute to his father Oliver Hardy. His early performances were credited as “Oliver Norvell Hardy”, and off camera his nickname was “Babe Hardy”. Hardy appeared in several films that also featured the young British actor Stan Laurel, but it wasn’t until 1927 that they teamed up to make perhaps the most famous double act in the history of movies. The Laurel and Hardy act came to an end in 1955. That year, Laurel suffered a stroke, and then later the same year Hardy had a heart attack and stroke from which he never really recovered.

49 Half the pieces in a chess set : PAWNS

In the game of chess, the pawns are the weakest pieces on the board. A pawn that can make it to the opposite side of the board can be promoted to a piece of choice, usually a queen. Using promotion of pawns, it is possible for a player to have two or more queens on the board at one time. However, standard chess sets come with only one queen per side, so a captured rook is often used as the second queen by placing it on the board upside down.

50 Formed for a particular purpose : AD HOC

The Latin phrase “ad hoc” means “for this purpose”. An ad hoc committee, for example, is formed for a specific purpose and disbanded after making its final report.

51 Sporty Mazda model : MIATA

The Mazda MX-5 is sold as the Miata in North America, and as the Roadster in Japan. I’ve always liked the looks of the Mazda Miata, probably because it reminds me so much of old British sports cars. The Miata is built in Hiroshima, Japan. The name “Miata” comes from an Old High German word meaning “reward”.

53 Singapore ___ : SLING

A sling is a cocktail made of brandy, whiskey or gin that is sweetened and flavored with lemon. The most famous version of the sling is the Singapore sling, which was invented by a bartender at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. I am proud to report that I once had a Singapore sling in Raffles Hotel, many moons ago …

58 Singapore setting : ASIA

The Asian city-state of Singapore takes its name from the Malay word “Singapura” which means “Lion City”. However, lions in the wild never made it to Singapore, so the city is probably misnamed and perhaps should have been called “Tiger City”.

62 Some essential workers, for short : MDS

One might find a medical doctor (MD) in an operating room (OR).

63 Prefix with gender : CIS-

The term “cisgender” is now used as the opposite of “transgender”. Cisgender people have a gender identity that matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Timbuktu’s country : MALI
5 Things baseball uniforms and toy pistols have : CAPS
9 Foe in “Jack and the Beanstalk” : GIANT
14 “Sign me up!” : I’M IN!
15 Put on the payroll : HIRE
16 Put a stop to : EMBAR
17 *Many a Silicon Valley business : SOFTWARE COMPANY
20 Televangelist Joel : OSTEEN
21 Automotive brand with an oval logo : STP
22 Some HDTVs : RCAS
23 Africa’s most populous city (21+ million) : LAGOS
25 Biased against seniors : AGEIST
27 Doctors making deliveries, in brief : OBS
30 California ___ (state flag words) : REPUBLIC
32 Sweet’s counterpart : SOUR
34 Hatcher of “Desperate Housewives” : TERI
35 Dandy : NIFTY
39 *Devastating event in a real estate bust : HOME FORECLOSURE
42 Automotive brand with an oval logo : AMOCO
43 South American palm cultivated for its fruit : ACAI
44 Flair : ELAN
45 Royal spouses : CONSORTS
48 Records in jackets, in brief : LPS
49 Actress Anderson : PAMELA
52 Passing remarks? : OBITS
54 Tennis score favoring the server : AD IN
55 Toll hwy. : TPK
57 Classic 1980s space warfare video game : GALAGA
61 *Question suggesting “That just about sums things up” : WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?
64 Eminent : NOTED
65 Sportscaster Andrews : ERIN
66 Tony-winning musical based on Fellini’s “8 1/2” : NINE
67 Battle reminders : SCARS
68 “Hey, over here!” : PSST!
69 Elements in a comic’s repertoire : GAGS

Down

1 Sushi restaurant soup : MISO
2 “Famous” cookie maker : AMOS
3 Elevator, in England : LIFT
4 Info from a spy : INTEL
5 Replace with : CHANGE TO
6 Tire need : AIR
7 *Highly stressful situations, metaphorically : PRESSURE COOKERS
8 Quakers, for one : SECT
9 “Columbia, the ___ of the Ocean” : GEM
10 *Like a guesstimate, by nature : IMPRECISE
11 Counters with beads : ABACI
12 Grannies : NANAS
13 Meeting at a no-tell motel, say : TRYST
18 Potential tire trouble : WEAR
19 October birthstone : OPAL
24 “The Bartered Bride” and “The Marriage of Figaro” : OPERAS
26 Heisman winner Torretta : GINO
27 Workplace-inspecting org. : OSHA
28 Bust’s counterpart : BOOM
29 Wrestler in a mawashi : SUMO
31 Tummy soother : BICARB
33 Community sports facility … or a hint to the answers to the five starred clues : REC CENTER
36 Like the Rose Bowl, with 92,542 spectators : FULL
37 Mouth, slangily : TRAP
38 Desires : YENS
40 April 1 target : FOOL
41 Person in a lawsuit : LITIGANT
46 Alliance formed in April 1949 : NATO
47 Ollie’s partner in old comedy : STAN
49 Half the pieces in a chess set : PAWNS
50 Formed for a particular purpose : AD HOC
51 Sporty Mazda model : MIATA
53 Singapore ___ : SLING
56 Get ready : PREP
58 Singapore setting : ASIA
59 Squad : GANG
60 Supporting votes : AYES
62 Some essential workers, for short : MDS
63 Prefix with gender : CIS-

12 thoughts on “1201-20 NY Times Crossword 1 Dec 20, Tuesday”

  1. 7:40. I wasn’t all that impressed with the theme until I realized the REC was dead center of all those phrases, not just inside somewhere.

    I guess now the blog needs to be changed. LAGOS just edges out Cairo whose metro area is “only” 20.9 million people.

    Out of town tomorrow through Tuesday. I’ll check in when I get a chance.

    Best –

  2. 8:22 What @Duncan said. I also found the theme once completed. Not familiar with GALAGA. Had GALAXY for a short while, but that didn’t last long.

  3. 8:45, no errors, forgot to check out the theme. I also tried to put in GALAXY instead of GALAGA (and stared at the latter, of which I had never heard, for a bit, after the fact).

  4. No errors.. loved that game GALAGA (which i thought was GALAXY also) back in the day but love ASTEROIDS even more.

      1. @Anonymous …

        The clue for 57-Across is “Classic 1980s space warfare video game” and the answer is “GALAGA” (which I had never heard of before now, either).

  5. 9:31, no errors. Small world. As a University of Washington alum and football fan, I have had the pleasure of attending four 36Down’s. Also recall one of our former football head coaches (now heading to Texas), reportedly having a 13Down with 65Across. 61Across?
    I don’t think cap guns have changed, the world has.

  6. No errors. No problems until I hit the SE corner. I was not familiar with either GALAGA or Singapore SLING. I do not play video games nor do I drink alcohol. So anytime puzzles have these two subjects I am on thin ice. Nevertheless, I made calculated guesses and came out as a winner.

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