1202-20 NY Times Crossword 2 Dec 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Will Nediger
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Fruit

The starting and ending letters of each themed answer spell out a word meaning “OUTSIDE OF FRUIT”:

  • 60A Type of food whose outsides are suggested by the outsides of 17-, 29-, 43- and 55-Across : FRUIT
  • 17A Classic 1960 platinum-selling Miles Davis album : SKETCHES OF SPAIN (giving “SK-IN”)
  • 29A Small stones used for driveways : PEA GRAVEL (giving “PE-EL”)
  • 43A Spirit of the age : ZEITGEIST (giving “ZE-ST”)
  • 55A “Like … now!” : RIGHT THIS SECOND! (giving “RI-ND”)

Bill’s time: 6m 50s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Breaking of mirrors, some think : OMENS

There is a superstition that breaking a mirror causes an individual to have seven years of bad luck, which originates from the belief that a mirror reflects the soul. So, breaking a mirror reflects breaking part of the soul. As the soul was believed to regenerate itself every seven years then one would have to endure seven years of bad luck before the soul could repair itself.

6 Warty critter : TOAD

The “warts” on the skin of a toad have no relation to the viral infection that can occur on human skin. A toad’s warts are colored bumps that are believed to help the animal blend more effectively into its environment.

10 Film genre that includes “Moonlight” and “Call Me by Your Name” : LGBT

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)

“Moonlight” is a 2016 semi-autobiographical film based on an unpublished play by Tarell Alvin McCraney titled “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”. “Moonlight” won the season’s Best Picture Oscar, thus becoming the first film to do so with an all-black cast, and the first with an LGBT storyline.

14 Film auteur Miyazaki : HAYAO

Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese film director and animator who specializes in producing anime feature films. Anime is animation in the style of Japanese manga comic books.

16 It’s at the southern end of the Caspian Sea : IRAN

The Caspian Sea is a landlocked body of water lying between Asia and Europe. By some definitions, the Caspian is the largest lake on the planet. The name “Caspian” comes from the Caspi people who lived to the southwest of the sea in the South Caucasus.

17 Classic 1960 platinum-selling Miles Davis album : SKETCHES OF SPAIN (giving “SK-IN”)

Jazz musician Miles Davis was born into a relatively affluent family, so he had plenty of music lessons as a child. After high school, Davis studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York but he dropped out before finishing his studies. He stated later that the Juilliard classes focused too much on European and “white” music, but he acknowledged that the school gave him a foundation in music theory that helped him in later life.

21 London district whose name sounds like a letter : KEW

Kew Gardens is a beautiful location in southwest London that was formerly known as the Royal Botanic Gardens. Kew Gardens has the world’s largest collection of different living plants.

23 Major credit card, briefly : AMEX

“Amex” is short for “American Express”, the name of the financial services company that is best known for its credit card, charge card and traveler’s check businesses. The company name is indicative of its original business. American Express was founded in 1850 in Buffalo, New York as an express mail service.

25 Tennis star Nadal : RAFAEL

Rafael “Rafa” Nadal is a Spanish tennis player. He is noted for his expertise on clay courts, which earned him the nickname “The King of Clay”.

29 Small stones used for driveways : PEA GRAVEL (giving “PE-EL”)

Gravel is a loose mixture of rock fragments. Gravel is classified by the size of those fragments. For example, pea gravel comprises pea-size, rounded stones.

31 Hand, in Honduras : MANO

Honduras is a country in Central America that used to be known as Spanish Honduras, in order to differentiate it from British Honduras that is now called Belize. “Honduras” is the Spanish word for “the depths”, which is probably a reference to deep coastal waters.

32 Fulminated (against) : RAILED

To fulminate is to explode or detonate, perhaps in rage. It’s a lovely word derived from the Latin “fulminare” meaning “to hurl lightning”.

35 Pharma products : MEDS

“Big Pharma” is a nickname for the pharmaceutical industry. The monker comes from the acronym for the lobbying group for the industry, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

36 What surrounds the pupil : IRIS

The iris is the colored part of the eye. It has an aperture in the center that can open or close depending on the level of light hitting the eye.

The pupil of the eye is the hole located in the center of the iris through which light enters the retina. The term “pupil” came into English via French from the latin “pupilla”, which is the diminutive form of “pupa” meaning “girl, doll”. The term came about due to the tiny doll-like image that one can see of oneself when looking into the center of another’s eyes.

40 Popular gay dating app : GRINDR

Grindr is a social networking app aimed at gay and bisexual men. Subscribers locate potential partners using the geolocation capabilities of smartphones. A user in a particular location can view a grid showing pictures of fellow subscribers arranged by proximity.

42 Green suits? : CFOS

Chief financial officer (CFO)

43 Spirit of the age : ZEITGEIST (giving “ZE-ST”)

“Zeit” is the German word for “time”, as in “zeitgeist”, the word imported into English meaning “the spirit of the times”.

49 A hyperbola has two : FOCI

A hyperbola is a curve in a plane, a curve with two parts that are mirror images of each other.

50 “Not gonna happen” : NO SOAP

“No soap” is a slang term meaning “not possible”. The term probably originated with the slang usage of “soap” to mean “money”, so “no soap” meant, “I have no money (to lend you)”. Over time, the usage of “no soap” generalized to “it’s not going to happen, so don’t ask”.

58 Sicilian erupter : ETNA

Mount Etna on the island of Sicily is the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy, and indeed the largest of all active volcanoes in Europe. Etna is about 2 1/2 times the height of its equally famous sister, Mt. Vesuvius. Mt. Etna is home to a 110-km long narrow-gauge railway, and two ski resorts. It is sometimes referred to as “Mongibello” in Italian, and as “Mungibeddu” in Sicilian. The English name “Etna” comes from the Greek “aitho” meaning “I eat”.

59 Jekyll’s bad side : HYDE

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was published in 1886. There are many tales surrounding the writing of the story, including one that the author wrote the basic tale in just three to six days, and spent a few weeks simply refining it. Allegedly, Stevenson’s use of cocaine stimulated his creative juices during those few days of writing.

61 Like blue hair, presumably : DYED

Apparently, the popularity of a blue rinse with older women is driven by a reduced ability to see the color blue with age. As a result, to older eyes hair might seem to have a yellow tinge. The color of the blue rinse cancels out the perceived yellow.

62 Vegas casino beside the Bellagio : ARIA

The Aria hotel on the Las Vegas Strip opened at the end of 2009. Architecturally, it is noted for a design that minimizes energy consumption. In fact, it is the largest hotel in the world to have earned a LEED Gold certification.

The Bellagio is a hotel and casino in Las Vegas that is named for the Italian town of Bellagio located on Lake Como. Famously, the hotel features its own artificial lake that covers 8 acres on the front of the property in which there is a large dancing water fountain.

63 Big name in food service : SYSCO

It’s hard to drive down any highway in the US without coming across a Sysco truck. It really is a huge company, the largest food service enterprise in the country. “Sysco” is an abbreviation for Systems and Services Company.

Down

4 Rebel Turner : NAT

Nat Turner was a slave in Virginia who led a slave rebellion in 1831 that led to the deaths of over a hundred people. Half of the casualties were white,and half were black. The 55 white deaths took place on the day of the rebellion as a growing mob of slaves traveled from house-to-house freeing fellow slaves but also killing any white people they came across; men, women and children. The rebellion was suppressed within two days by a white militia. Slaves involved in the rebellion were tried for insurrection and related crimes, and a total of 56 blacks were executed on suspicion of involvement in the uprising. In the aftermath, life for slaves became even more difficult as any freedoms that they had earned were largely curtailed.

6 Virginia Woolf novel with interludes set on a beach : THE WAVES

Virginia Woolf was an English author who was active in the period between the two World Wars. Woolf’s most famous novels were “Mrs. Dalloway”, “To the Lighthouse” and “Orlando”. She also wrote a long essay entitled “A Room of One’s Own” in which she states “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

7 Defense grp. since 1948 : OAS

The Organization of American States (OAS) was founded in 1948, and has its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Not all of the independent states in the Americas are members. Cuba was barred from participation in the organization after a vote in 1962. Honduras had her membership suspended after the country’s 2009 coup.

9 “Robinson Crusoe” novelist : DEFOE

Daniel Defoe is most famous today as the author of the novels “Robinson Crusoe” and “Moll Flanders”. He was also a trader … and a spy for King William III!

When Daniel Defoe wrote his marvelous 1719 novel called “Robinson Crusoe”, he was likely thinking of real-life Scottish castaway Alexander Selkirk. Selkirk was marooned and lived alone on the Pacific Island called “Mas a Tierra” off the coast of Chile, for four years. The island was officially renamed in 1966, and is now called Robinson Crusoe Island.

10 Slimming surgery, for short : LIPO

Liposuction (lipo) dates back to the 1920s when it was developed by a surgeon in France. However, the procedure quickly lost favor when a French model developed gangrene after surgery. As a result, it wasn’t until the mid-seventies that modern liposuction took off, after being popularized by two Italian-American surgeons in Rome.

11 Creator of Hollywood’s Chinese Theater : GRAUMAN

Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles is famous for its celebrity hand and footprints preserved in cement in the forecourt. This tradition started by accident in the mid-twenties when the theater was still under construction. The story is that the actress Mary Pickford (although some say it was Norma Talmadge) stepped in wet cement by mistake. Grauman decided to invite other stars to leave their prints as a permanent record of their celebrity.

13 Channel that became Spike TV : TNN

Spike TV was a 2003 relaunch of the Nashville Network (TNN) and was marketed as the first television channel for men. The station owners ran into trouble though as the director Spike Lee sued, claiming that viewers would assume he was associated with the channel because of the use of “Spike”. The suit was settled when Lee concluded that there was no intention to trade on his name.

19 “Weekend Update” show, in brief : SNL

“Weekend Update” is the longest-running of any recurring sketch on “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). In fact, the segment made its debut on the very first show, back in 1975. The first “anchor” at the “Weekend Update” desk was Chevy Chase.

24 Competition with skateboarders : X GAMES

The X Games are annual events, with a Summer X Games held every year as well as a Winter X Games. It’s very much a commercial venture, with all aspects controlled by the TV station ESPN. The games focus on extreme action sports, like skateboarding and freestyle motocross in the summer and various extreme snowboarding events in the winter.

26 U.S. central bank, with “the” : … FED

The Federal Reserve System is more usually known simply as “the Fed”, and is the central banking system of the US. It was introduced in 1913 in response to a number of financial panics at the beginning of the 20th century. The original role for the Fed was to act as a lender of last resort, in case there was a run on a bank. This can happen as most of the money that is deposited by customers in a bank is reinvested by that bank, so it has very little liquid cash available. If too many customers look for their money at one time, then the bank can be short of cash and this can start a “run”. The Fed’s responsibilities have broadened since those early days …

28 20% of diez : DOS

In Spanish, “cinco” (five) times “dos” (two) is “diez” (ten).

30 Cambodian cash : RIEL

The Cambodian riel was introduced in 1953, and was taken out of circulation by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 when they completely abolished money on taking control of the country. After the Vietnamese invasion of 1978, money was reintroduced and the Cambodian people are still using the “second” riel. The original riel was divided into 100 centimes, but this was changed to 100 “sen” in 1959.

31 Rapper who forms one half of the duo Black Star : MOS DEF

“Mos Def” is the former stage name of actor and rapper Dante Terrell Smith-Bay, now known as Yasiin Bey. Mos Def is one of the few rap stars who is really making a name for himself in the world of movies. He received critical acclaim for roles in 2003’s “The Italian Job” , 2005’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, and for a featured role in an episode of television’s “House”.

34 Item found in “The Hobbit” : RING

“The Hobbit, or There and Back Again” is a children’s fantasy novel by J. R. R. Tolkien that was popular from the time of its first publication in 1937. Included in the early awards for “The Hobbit” was a prize for best juvenile fiction from “The New York Herald Tribune”. Tolkien adapted his succeeding novel “The Lord of the Rings” to incorporate elements in “The Hobbit”, so that the two tales are very much related.

36 Locale of the Isle of Man : IRISH SEA

The Isle of Man is a large island located in the middle of the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. I used to spend a lot of time there in my youth, and a very interesting place it is indeed. The Isle of Man is classed as a British Crown Dependency and isn’t part of the United Kingdom at all. It is self-governing and has its own parliament called the Tynwald. The Tynwald was created in AD 979 and is arguably the oldest continuously-running parliament in the world. The inhabitants of the island speak English, although they do have their own language called Manx, which is very similar to Irish Gaeilge and Scottish Gaelic. And then there are those Manx cats, the ones without any tails. I’ve seen lots of them, and can attest that they are indeed found all over the island.

38 Comcast subsidiary : XFINITY

Comcast is the largest cable company in the United States. Comcast was founded in 1963 as American Cable systems. The company provides many of its services under the brand name “Xfinity”.

39 Calvin Klein’s Eternity, e.g. : COLOGNE

Back in 1709, an Italian perfume-maker moved to Cologne in Germany. There he invented a new fragrance that he named Eau de Cologne after his newly adopted town. The fragrance is still produced in Cologne, using a secret formulation. However, the terms “Eau de Cologne” and “cologne”, are now used generically.

Calvin Klein is an American fashion designer who was born in the Bronx in New York City. Klein’s biography, entitled “Obsession”, is named for one the most famous brands in his line of fragrances.

43 Gentle breeze : ZEPHYR

A zephyr is a gentle breeze, traditionally a light wind from the west. The term comes from the Greek god of the west wind, who was called Zephyrus.

48 Kind of yoga : HATHA

Hatha yoga is a yoga system developed in 15th century India. Traditional Hatha yoga is a more “complete” practice than often encountered in the west, involving not just exercise but also meditation and relaxation. “Hatha” is a Sanskrit word meaning “force”.

51 Variety of herring : SHAD

The shad is also known as the river herring. The eggs (roe) of the shad are prized as a delicacy in the Eastern US.

53 Flag tossers, informally : REFS

Back in the early 17th century, a referee was someone who examined patent applications. We started using the same term for a person presiding over a sporting event in the 1820s. “Referee” is a derivative of the verb “to refer”, and literally describes someone who has the authority to make a decision by “referring to” a book, archive etc.

55 Like Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois Avenues, in Monopoly : RED

The street names in the original US version of the board game Monopoly are locations in or around Atlantic City, New Jersey.

56 Dictator Amin : IDI

Idi Amin ruled Uganda as a dictator from 1971 until 1979. Amin started his professional career as a cook in the Colonial British Army. Amin seized power from President Milton Obote in a 1971 coup d’état. The former cook eventually gave himself the title “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Breaking of mirrors, some think : OMENS
6 Warty critter : TOAD
10 Film genre that includes “Moonlight” and “Call Me by Your Name” : LGBT
14 Film auteur Miyazaki : HAYAO
15 Own : HAVE
16 It’s at the southern end of the Caspian Sea : IRAN
17 Classic 1960 platinum-selling Miles Davis album : SKETCHES OF SPAIN (giving “SK-IN”)
20 Green : NEW
21 London district whose name sounds like a letter : KEW
22 Prevailed : WON OUT
23 Major credit card, briefly : AMEX
25 Tennis star Nadal : RAFAEL
27 Prefix with afternoon : MID-
29 Small stones used for driveways : PEA GRAVEL (giving “PE-EL”)
31 Hand, in Honduras : MANO
32 Fulminated (against) : RAILED
33 Things to right : WRONGS
35 Pharma products : MEDS
36 What surrounds the pupil : IRIS
37 Is a shining star : EXCELS
40 Popular gay dating app : GRINDR
42 Green suits? : CFOS
43 Spirit of the age : ZEITGEIST (giving “ZE-ST”)
46 Petrostate’s reserves : OIL
47 “Oh, brother!” : SHEESH!
49 A hyperbola has two : FOCI
50 “Not gonna happen” : NO SOAP
52 ___ Honor : HER
54 Shirt with a slogan, often : TEE
55 “Like … now!” : RIGHT THIS SECOND! (giving “RI-ND”)
58 Sicilian erupter : ETNA
59 Jekyll’s bad side : HYDE
60 Type of food whose outsides are suggested by the outsides of 17-, 29-, 43- and 55-Across : FRUIT
61 Like blue hair, presumably : DYED
62 Vegas casino beside the Bellagio : ARIA
63 Big name in food service : SYSCO

Down

1 Comment after a zinger : OH SNAP!
2 “You and whose army?!” : MAKE ME!
3 Shades and such : EYEWEAR
4 Rebel Turner : NAT
5 Item sometimes “lost” in a clothes dryer : SOCK
6 Virginia Woolf novel with interludes set on a beach : THE WAVES
7 Defense grp. since 1948 : OAS
8 Declaration : AVOWAL
9 “Robinson Crusoe” novelist : DEFOE
10 Slimming surgery, for short : LIPO
11 Creator of Hollywood’s Chinese Theater : GRAUMAN
12 Deliberately provoking : BAITING
13 Channel that became Spike TV : TNN
18 Royal messengers : HERALDS
19 “Weekend Update” show, in brief : SNL
24 Competition with skateboarders : X GAMES
26 U.S. central bank, with “the” : … FED
28 20% of diez : DOS
30 Cambodian cash : RIEL
31 Rapper who forms one half of the duo Black Star : MOS DEF
33 Squirms : WRITHES
34 Item found in “The Hobbit” : RING
36 Locale of the Isle of Man : IRISH SEA
37 Green: Prefix : ECO-
38 Comcast subsidiary : XFINITY
39 Calvin Klein’s Eternity, e.g. : COLOGNE
40 “Golly!” : GEE!
41 Rip-roaring : RIOTOUS
43 Gentle breeze : ZEPHYR
44 Picturesque : SCENIC
45 Connected with : TIED TO
47 Drunkard : SOT
48 Kind of yoga : HATHA
51 Variety of herring : SHAD
53 Flag tossers, informally : REFS
55 Like Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois Avenues, in Monopoly : RED
56 Dictator Amin : IDI
57 Overreact to spilt milk : CRY

19 thoughts on “1202-20 NY Times Crossword 2 Dec 20, Wednesday”

  1. 12:29 Didn’t get the theme until coming here. And I think a minor theme would be GREEN – in three clues (20A, 42A, 37D) , then PEA gravel and IRISH sea in the answers.

    1. Still a bit up and down, Duncan, thank you for asking. Thankful that it’s not COVID-related, and so doing a lot better than many unfortunate folks out there. Stay safe.

    1. Nah — although I don’t time myself (usually start these while, um, in the bathroom) I know it was at least 20 minutes for me today. If you’re the slowpoke, I’m the banana slug. I’ll never be competitive — just happy to solve these.

      1. I’m currently in the Pacific Northwest…so banana slugs are especially apropos. My times vary widely depending on what else I’m thinking of at the time. Like you, I’m happy to complete them.

  2. McKinleyville Dan…I’m in the same category, most days I’m a turtle in molasses in January. Just happy to finish the puzzle, welcome to the club!

  3. More errors than I care to admit.. got theme early and got all the theme clues. I messed up on a couple of the words.. NOSOUP instead of NOSOAP.. Never heard of HATHA YOGA so that didn’t help. Also not up my GAY APPS so had GRINCH instead of GRINDR which led to a couple more errors. HOOTOUT instead of RIOTOUS. LOCI instead of FOCI and on and on…

  4. Gay movies, a gay app, a rap star and a zeitgeist all in one puzzle. The theme FRUIT has more than one meaning

  5. 13:24, no errors. Did not see the theme until Bill showed it to me. Entered FRUIT, then looked up and saw ‘rind’ in GRINDR, was satisfied with that.

    1. It must be nice to be able to solve this in a few minutes without knowing the theme.
      The reason for blue hair is not an inability to see blue, it’s cataracts making everything too yellow. Cataract surgery is usually done one eye at a time. For a week or two, one eye sees white where the other sees yellow. For me, it was very noticeable. If I had not been colouring my hair…..?

    2. It must be nice to be able to solve this in a few minutes without knowing the theme.
      The reason for blue hair is not an inability to see blue, it’s cataracts making everything too yellow. Cataract surgery is usually done one eye at a time. For a week or two, one eye sees white where the other sees yellow. For me, it was very noticeable. If I had not been colouring my hair…..?

  6. A few errors due to being flummoxed by the crossing of a gay app (not that there’s anything wrong with that), a rap star, and a Spanish word. Speaking of Spain, Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” album is one of my favorites yet I found “Sketches of Spain” to be almost unlistenable. Your mileage may vary, of course.

  7. No errors. Very appropriate difficulty rating for a Wednesday. NW corner was undoubtedly the most difficult area. The theme did not help except to assure me that I was on the right path.

    Yo, Bill. I did not know about your not feeling well. Take care of yourself, old buddy! We depend on you.

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