1204-20 NY Times Crossword 4 Dec 20, Friday

Constructed by: Patti Varol & Doug Peterson
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 12m 12s

Bill’s errors: 2

  • NATALIE COLE (Natalie Iole!!!)
  • MARCO (Mario!!!)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

15 Fear of public places : AGORAPHOBIA

In early Greece, an agora was a place of assembly. The assemblies held there were often quite formal, perhaps for the reading of a proclamation. Later in Greek history, things became less formal as the agora evolved into a marketplace. Our contemporary word “agoraphobia” comes from these agorae, in the sense that an agoraphobe has a fear of open spaces, a fear of “public meeting places”.

18 Half of a frozen foods brand : ORE

Ore-Ida frozen foods are all made using potatoes. The company is located in Oregon, just across the border from Idaho. “Ore-Ida” is a melding of the two state names.

22 Trees symbolizing death in Celtic culture : YEWS

Yew trees were placed around churches and in graveyards all over Europe. The reason for the practice seems to be unclear, but one suggestion is that fronds from yew trees were used as substitutes for palms on Palm Sunday.

23 Crumb : MOTE

A mote is a speck of dust.

24 Speculative fiction writer Stephenson : NEAL

Neal Stephenson is a novelist and video game designer whose work is often classified as science fiction or speculative fiction. I must admit, I haven’t indulged …

27 Before thou knowest : ANON

“Anon” originally meant “at once”, but the term’s meaning evolved into “soon” apparently just because the word was misused over time.

29 Company that owns Rotten Tomatoes : FANDANGO

Rotten Tomatoes is a website that mainly provides reviews and ratings of movies, although it now covers TV shows as well. The site was launched in 1998 and takes its name from the practice of audience members throwing rotten tomatoes at an unappreciated performer on stage.

33 Neighbor of Ciudad Juárez : EL PASO

Although there have been human settlements in the El Paso area for thousands of years, the first European settlement was founded in 1659 by the Spanish. That first community was on the south bank of the Rio Grande, and was called El Paso del Norte (the North Pass). Most of the urban development under Spanish rule took place on the south side of the river, with El Paso del Norte acting as the center of governance for the Spanish for the territory of New Mexico. The Rio Grande was chosen as the border between Mexico and the US in 1848, so most of the city of El Paso del Norte became part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua (and is now called Ciudad Juárez ). The area north of the river developed as a US military post, eventually becoming the modern city of El Paso, Texas.

The Mexican city sitting across the border from El Paso is more correctly called Ciudad Juárez. Juárez used to be called El Paso del Norte (the North Pass). It was to be the younger settlement on the northern side of the Rio Grande which would retain the “El Paso” name.

37 6-9 months? : SUMMER

Months 6-9 (June- September) are summer months.

40 1986 sci-fi film sequel : ALIENS

“Aliens” is a 1986 sequel to the very successful science-fiction movie “Alien” released in 1979. “Aliens” was filmed at Pinewood Studios in England, and at the decommissioned Acton Lane Power Station in London. The film was directed by James Cameron, and starred Sigourney Weaver reprising her role as Ellen Ripley from “Alien”.

42 Pair of skivvies? : VEES

There is a pair of letters V (vees) in the word “skivvies”.

44 Writers Patchett and Brashares : ANNS

Ann Patchett is an author who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Patchett’s most famous work is probably her novel “Bel Canto”, published in 2001. In 2012, “Time” included her in the magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world.

Author Ann Brashares writes fiction aimed at young adults. She is best known for her series of novels “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”. The first book in that series tells the story of four young girls with differing shapes and size who find a pair of jeans that fits all four of them perfectly.

45 Tousle : MUSS

“Muss” means “state of disorder”, and is a term that probably evolved from “mess”. The phrase “no muss, no fuss” means “no bother, no mess made, no excessive hustle and bustle”.

51 Figure that goes through the roof in December? : SANTA

Saint Nicholas of Myra is the inspiration for Santa Claus. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra (now in modern-day Turkey) during the 4th century AD, and was known for being generous to the poor. Centuries after he died, his remains were desecrated by Italian sailors and moved to Bari in Italy. One legend has it that the relics were moved again centuries later and reburied in the grounds of Jerpoint Abbey in Co. Kilkenny in Ireland, where you can visit the grave today. I choose to believe that Santa Claus’s relics are indeed buried in Ireland …

52 QB’s stat: Abbr. : ATT

In football, one statistic (stat) used to track the performance of a quarterback (QB) is attempts (ATT).

53 Director of two Best Picture-nominated films of the 2010s : GRETA GERWIG

Greta Gerwig is an actress from Sacramento whose best-known role is probably opposite Russell Brand in the remake of the film “Arthur”. Gerwig has turned to directing, and was at the helm for the 2019 movie “Little Women”.

55 Issa of comedy : RAE

Issa Rae is a Stanford University graduate who created a YouTube web series called “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl”. Rae also plays the title role in the series, a young lady named “J”. “Awkward Black Girl” was adapted into an HBO comedy-drama called “Insecure”, in which Issa Rae stars.

56 “Unforgettable … With Love” Grammy recipient : NATALIE COLE

Natalie Cole is the daughter of Nat King Cole. Natalie’s mother was Maria Cole, a singer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The most famous version of the hit song “Unforgettable” was released in 1951 by Nat King Cole. In 1991, Natalie Cole recorded a version that was mixed with an earlier 1961 version sung by her father, creating an “unforgettable” father-daughter duet that was made 26 years after Nat King Cole had passed away.

Down

6 Brand for determining if you’re expecting : EPT

Early Pregnancy Test (EPT)

7 World’s deepest river : THE CONGO

The Congo River in Africa is the second-largest in the world in terms of volume of water discharged (after the Amazon), and also the second longest river in Africa (after the Nile). The Congo is named for the ancient Kingdom of Kongo that was once located at the mouth of the river.

8 Survivor at the end of “Hamlet” : HORATIO

Horatio is a character in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. He is a friend of the play’s hero and a relatively uninterested party in the intrigue of the storyline. As a trusted friend, Horatio serves as a sounding board for Hamlet, allowing us in the audience to gain more insight into Hamlet’s thinking and character as we listen to the two in conversation. One of Horatio’s more famous lines is spoken right after the title character dies, as Horatio says goodbye to his friend:

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

9 Long-legged waders : IBISES

The ibis is a wading bird that was revered in ancient Egypt. “Ibis” is an interesting word grammatically speaking. You can have one “ibis” or two “ibises”, and then again one has a flock of “ibis”. And if you want to go with the classical plural, instead of two “ibises” you would have two “ibides”!

10 Fifth of fünf : EINS

In German, a fifth of “fünf” (five) is “eins” (one).

11 Steely Dan singer Donald : FAGEN

Steely Dan’s heyday was in the seventies when they toured for a couple of years, although the group mainly focused on studio work. The band was formed in 1972 and broke up in 1981. The core of the band reunited in 1993, and is still performing today despite the passing of founding member Walter Becker in 2017. Steely Dan’s best-selling album is “Aja” (pronounced like “Asia”), which was released in 1977.

12 1973 Jim Croce hit : I GOT A NAME

Jim Croce’s most successful songs were “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “Time in a Bottle”. Like so many great singers it seems, Croce died in a plane crash. He was killed along with five others just after takeoff when the small commercial plane in which he was traveling hit a tree, possibly because the pilot had a heart attack. Croce died just a few days before the release of his album “I Got a Name”.

14 Tavern in the same town as Krusty Burger : MOE’S

The regulars on “The Simpsons” hang out at Moe’s Tavern, which is named for and run by Moe Szyslak. The most popular beer at Moe’s is Duff Beer. The name “Duff” is a reference to the real-life Duffy’s Tavern that used to be East 13th Street in Eugene, Oregon. “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening used to frequent Duffy’s regularly, and Moe’s looks very much like Duffy’s in terms of decor and floor plan.

23 It bears repeating : MANTRA

A mantra is a word that is used as a focus for the mind while meditating. The term is Sanskrit in origin, and is now used figuratively in English to describe any oft-repeated word or phrase.

26 Long-legged waders : HERONS

Herons are birds with long legs that inhabit freshwater and coastal locales. Some herons are routinely referred to as egrets, and others as bitterns. Herons look a lot like storks and cranes, but differ in their appearance in flight. Herons fly with their necks retracted in an S-shape, whereas storks and cranes have their necks extended.

30 Powerful spirits : AQUA VITAE

“Aqua vitae” is Latin for “water of life”. The original use of the term was for a concentrated solution of ethanol. Over time “aqua vitae” became the term used for distilled spirits and wine. “Water of life” translates into Scots Gaelic as “uisge-beatha” and into Irish as “uisce beatha”. These terms give rise to our modern word “whiskey”.

31 British P.M.’s residence, informally : NUMBER TEN

In the UK, the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street in London is most usually referred to as “Number 10”. The building is really quite large, with three floors (and a basement kitchen) and has about one hundred rooms. The top floor is the private residence of the Prime Minister and his or her family. Number 10 is large, as it was originally three houses. The structure was remodeled into a residence for Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole in 1732, as a gift from King George II.

32 Young woman : DAMSEL

A damsel is a young woman, and often a lady of noble birth. The term “damsel” came into English from the Old French “dameisele”, which had the same meaning. The modern French term is “demoiselle”, which in turn is related to the term of address “mademoiselle”.

38 Sticky stuff : PINE TAR

Pine tar is applied to the handles of baseball bats as it is a sticky substance and improves the batter’s grip. In a 1983 game, the Yankees manager Billy Martin protested a home run hit by George Brett of the Royals because the pine tar on his bat extended beyond the regulation 18 inches. The home run was later allowed as it was determined that the 18-inch rule was in place for economic reasons, and had nothing to do with competitive advantage. If pine tar gets on a baseball it renders it unusable for play, and baseballs cost money!

43 Communicates nonverbally, in a way : SIGNS

It’s really quite unfortunate that American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) are very different, and someone who has learned to sign in one cannot understand someone signing in the other.

49 Org. whose website has a Social Security Resource Center : AARP

“AARP” is now the official name for the interest group that used to be called the American Association of Retired Persons. The name change reflects the current focus of the group on all Americans aged 50 or over, as opposed to just people who have retired.

51 Tarot reader, e.g. : SEER

Tarot cards have been around since the mid-1400s, and for centuries were simply used for entertainment as a game. It has only been since the late 1800s that the cards have been used by fortune tellers to predict the future. The list of tarot cards includes the Wheel of Fortune, the Hanged Man and the Lovers.

54 Tweet attachment, at times : GIF

A bitmap is an image file format used to store digital images. Basically, each pixel in a bitmap file is stored as a “bit” of information, hence the name “bitmap”. In 1987, CompuServe introduced a new type of image file called the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). A GIF image takes the same information as a bitmap and then compresses it, resulting in a smaller file size. However, during compression the image may lose some resolution. The GIF format also handles short video clips, usually animations.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 One who takes stock : CATTLE THIEF
12 Can you believe it?! : ISM
15 Fear of public places : AGORAPHOBIA
16 Sticky stuff : GOO
17 Tending (to) : MINISTERING
18 Half of a frozen foods brand : ORE
19 Makes a splash : PLOPS
20 Tapes, say : CASSETTES
22 Trees symbolizing death in Celtic culture : YEWS
23 Crumb : MOTE
24 Speculative fiction writer Stephenson : NEAL
25 Go away : VANISH
27 Before thou knowest : ANON
29 Company that owns Rotten Tomatoes : FANDANGO
33 Neighbor of Ciudad Juárez : EL PASO
35 On a par with : EQUAL TO
36 Prepared : GROOMED
37 6-9 months? : SUMMER
38 They’re involved in the scheme of things : PLOTTERS
39 File extensions : TABS
40 1986 sci-fi film sequel : ALIENS
42 Pair of skivvies? : VEES
44 Writers Patchett and Brashares : ANNS
45 Tousle : MUSS
49 Choppered in or out, say : AIRLIFTED
51 Figure that goes through the roof in December? : SANTA
52 QB’s stat: Abbr. : ATT
53 Director of two Best Picture-nominated films of the 2010s : GRETA GERWIG
55 Issa of comedy : RAE
56 “Unforgettable … With Love” Grammy recipient : NATALIE COLE
57 Author : PEN
58 Lineup on a city block : STOREFRONTS

Down

1 Absurdly exaggerated : CAMPY
2 Dexterous : AGILE
3 As yet : TO NOW
4 Sets off : TRIPS
5 Young woman : LASS
6 Brand for determining if you’re expecting : EPT
7 World’s deepest river : THE CONGO
8 Survivor at the end of “Hamlet” : HORATIO
9 Long-legged waders : IBISES
10 Fifth of fünf : EINS
11 Steely Dan singer Donald : FAGEN
12 1973 Jim Croce hit : I GOT A NAME
13 Rage quitter, maybe : SORE LOSER
14 Tavern in the same town as Krusty Burger : MOE’S
21 Leaves home? : TEAPOT
23 It bears repeating : MANTRA
25 View from a highland : VALE
26 Long-legged waders : HERONS
28 Communicates nonverbally, in a way : NODS
29 Ending with love or snooze : FEST
30 Powerful spirits : AQUA VITAE
31 British P.M.’s residence, informally : NUMBER TEN
32 Young woman : DAMSEL
34 Things to draw or cast : LOTS
36 Los Angeles suburb bordering Griffith Park : GLENDALE
38 Sticky stuff : PINE TAR
41 Not on time for : LATE TO
43 Communicates nonverbally, in a way : SIGNS
45 One of the racing Andrettis : MARCO
46 Like a prize that’s still up for grabs : UNWON
47 Wooden leg? : STILT
48 Venerable advisers : SAGES
49 Org. whose website has a Social Security Resource Center : AARP
50 School house? : FRAT
51 Tarot reader, e.g. : SEER
54 Tweet attachment, at times : GIF

17 thoughts on “1204-20 NY Times Crossword 4 Dec 20, Friday”

  1. 20:44 after finding and fixing the same error as Bill. I knew the name Natalie Cole, but I was so sure of Mario Andretti that I didn’t check further until the app told me there was an error somewhere. Live and learn … and forget … and relearn … maybe … 😜.

  2. 24:41. Also same as @Bill and @Nonny. I was sure of MARIO until I saw NATALIE IOLE. I knew that was wrong. 2x Bill’s time in Friday. I’ll take it.

  3. 19:51 Like @Bill, I also started with MARIO – that’s too easy for a Friday. Had PREPPED before GROOMED and that led to to PASADENA for a bit before making a zig to GLENDALE. Also had SOFAR vs TONOW.

    @Bill – glad you are on the mend. Even when not feeling well, you have great times.

  4. I, too, had Mario until I realized “I have that CD and it’s Natalie Cole; therefore, it has to be Marco.” About thirty minutes for me on what really wasn’t such a difficult Friday. 34D hung me out to dry for way too long because I was sure it was NETS that could be drawn and cast. Which they can. But not here.

  5. 22:14. Done on vacation so I don’t know if my head was clearer or cloudier than usual. I”ll ask my friend Don Julio what he thinks…

    Best –

  6. They got me again… LEES for Skivvies instead of VEES and I have no idea what AQUAVITAE was so I missed that .. would have been nice to be given a hint that it was latin… probably would have missed it anyway.. can’t say I know a lot of conversive (more than 1 word) latin..

    VITA SIC EST!!!!!

  7. 42:20 no errors…I got CATTLE THIEF right away and that gave me the confidence to tell myself that despite two against one I was going to finish this one…I admit to a small amount of help from “my notes” but we got her done…now if you will excuse me I have to go and rub Bengay on my arm which I hurt while patting myself on the back.
    Stay safe.😀
    Go Ravens 🙏

  8. After I changed EGRETS to IBISES things went smoothly. No errors but I’m unclear about ISM for 12-A. Anyone?

    1. -ism is a suffix for, say, Catholicism or Buddhism or Communism or any other kind of belief system–and, dare I say it, you can believe it or not.

  9. @Gail (from yesterday) …

    The Red River clue referred to an early time in history. See the following Wikipedia article:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_River_of_the_South

    In particular, the second paragraph says this:

    “The south bank of the Red River formed part of the US–Mexico border from the Adams–Onís Treaty (in force 1821) until the Texas Annexation and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.”

    I seldom bet against the setter and editor in situations like this; they’re really very careful to check their sources … 🙂.

  10. 27:29, 2 errors: MAR(I)O; NATALIE (I)OLE. Took me 15 more minutes to get the same 2 errors as Bill. Same as everyone else, I was convinced that MARIO was correct; although NATALIE COLE should have tripped me to the error.

  11. Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole both have the same # of letters so I didn’t make the Mario v Marco error and that is where I started my solve.

  12. 13:01, no errors (I remembered “MARCO” when the string of IEIO didn’t seem right). A little slow going in the NW at first.

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