1208-20 NY Times Crossword 8 Dec 20, Tuesday

Constructed by: Enrique Henestroza Anguiano
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Polar Opposite

Themed answers come in pairs. The elements of each pair are POLAR OPPOSITES in the grid, and are located around the edge, and are POLAR OPPOSITES in meaning as well:

  • 37A One totally unlike another … or what each answer on the edge of this puzzle has? : POLAR OPPOSITE
  • 1A 9-to-5 activity : WORK
  • 69A Off-hours activity : PLAY
  • 5A In heaven, say : ABOVE
  • 68A In hell, say : BELOW
  • 10A Like a Saturday crossword : HARD
  • 67A Like a Monday crossword : EASY
  • 1D Rainy : WET
  • 63D Not rainy : DRY
  • 13D Take off, as a plane : DEPART
  • 44D Land, as a plane : ARRIVE
  • 23D Like the year you ring out on December 31 : OLD
  • 43D Like the year you ring in on January 1 : NEW

Bill’s time: 6m 30s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

16 Arthur who wrote “Days of Grace” : ASHE

The great American tennis player Arthur Ashe spent the last years of his life writing his memoir called “Days of Grace”. He finished the manuscript just a few days before he passed away, dying from AIDS caused by a tainted blood transfusion.

17 Meat substitute : TOFU

“Tofu” is a name for bean curd, and is a Japanese word meaning just that … bean that has curdled. Tofu is produced by coagulating soy milk, using either salt or something acidic. Once the protein has coagulated, the curds are pressed into the familiar blocks. Personally I love tofu, but my wife, she absolutely hates it …

18 Cards in Monopoly : DEEDS

There are 28 deed cards in the game of Monopoly. There are deeds for 22 properties/streets, 2 utilities, and 4 railroads.

19 Put the kibosh on : STOP

A kibosh is something that constrains or checks. “Kibosh” looks like a Yiddish word but it isn’t, and is more likely English slang from the early 1800s.

22 Upscale hotel facility : SAUNA

As my Finnish-American wife will tell you, “sauna” is a Finnish word, and is pronounced more correctly as “sow-nah” (with “sow” as in the female pig).

23 Electrical unit : OHM

The unit of electrical resistance is the ohm (with the symbol omega) named after German physicist Georg Simon Ohm. Ohm was the guy who established experimentally that the amount of current flowing through a circuit is directly proportional to the voltage applied, (V=IR) a relationship that every school kid knows as Ohm’s Law.

27 Web-footed diver : OTTER

Sea otters actually hold hands while sleeping on their backs so that they don’t drift apart. When sea otter pups are too small to lock hands, they clamber up onto their mother’s belly and nap there.

33 Senegal’s capital : DAKAR

The Republic of Senegal is a country on the far western coast of Africa. For many years Senegal was a French colony, gaining independence in 1960. The capital of Senegal is Dakar. Dakar is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, thus making it the westernmost capital on the African mainland.

34 Where the sheep is in “Little Boy Blue” : MEADOW

Here’s another English nursery rhyme:

Little Boy Blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow,
The cow’s in the corn;
But where is the boy
Who looks after the sheep?
He’s under a haycock,
Fast asleep.
Will you wake him?
No, not I,
For if I do,
He’s sure to cry.

41 Inscribed stone markers : STELAE

Stelae (singular “stele” or “stela”) were used all over the world, sometimes as territorial markers and sometimes to commemorate military victories. In later times stelae were commonly erected as commemorative markers in graveyards or other religious sites.

44 Singer/songwriter DiFranco : ANI

Ani DiFranco is a folk-rock singer and songwriter. DiFranco has also been labeled a “feminist icon”, and in 2006 won the “Woman of Courage Award” from National Organization for Women.

48 Pooh’s morose friend : EEYORE

Eeyore is the donkey character in A. A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh”. Eeyore is very lovable, but has a gloomy and pessimistic outlook on life.

51 Gregor ___, Kafka character who transforms in “The Metamorphosis” : SAMSA

“The Metamorphosis” is a famous novella by Franz Kafka, regarded by many as one of the greatest pieces of short fiction written in the 20th century. The story tells of the metamorphosis of Gregor Samsa into a gigantic insect. His sister Grete Samsa becomes his caregiver.

56 Madison Square Garden team : KNICKS

The New York Knickerbockers (“Knicks”) team is one of only two founding members of the original National Basketball Association that still plays in its original home city. The other is the Boston Celtics.

Madison Square Garden (MSG) is an arena in New York City used for a variety of events. In the world of sports it is home to the New York Rangers of the NHL, as well as the New York Knicks of the NBA. “The Garden” is also the third busiest music venue in the world in terms of ticket sales. The current arena is the fourth structure to bear the name, a name taken from the Madison Square location in Manhattan. In turn, the square was named for James Madison, the fourth President of the US.

64 Flying formations : VEES

Apparently, birds that fly in a V-formation do so for a couple of reasons. One is that it makes for efficient flight and conserves energy. The leading bird gets no advantage, but every following bird gets to “slipstream” a little. It has been noted that the lead bird drops to the back of the formation when he/she gets fatigued. It’s also thought that the flock can stick together more easily when in formation, so it is more difficult to lose someone along the way.

66 Taiwanese electronics giant : ACER

Acer is a Taiwanese company that I visited a couple of times when I was in the electronics business. I was very impressed back then with the company’s dedication to quality, although I have heard that things haven’t gone so well in recent years …

Down

2 Big name in kitchen utensils : OXO

The OXO line of kitchen utensils and housewares is designed to be ergonomically superior to the average household tools. The intended user of OXO products is someone who doesn’t have the normal range of motion or strength in the hands e.g. someone suffering from arthritis.

4 Single-serving coffee pod : K-CUP

A K-Cup is a single-portion cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate in which the beverage is prepared in situ. K-Cup packs are used with brewing machines made by Keurig, a manufacturer of coffee brewers based in Reading, Massachusetts. Personally, I use a Nespresso machine …

5 Venomous snakes with zigzag patterns on their backs : ADDERS

The adder, a snake in the viper family, is the only venomous snake found on the island of Great Britain. Adders are also found in Norway and Sweden, north of the Arctic Circle.

9 They loop the Loop : ELS

The historic commercial center of Chicago is known as the Loop. One theory is that the “loop” got its name from the cable loops in the city’s old cable car system. An alternative theory is that the term only arose with the construction of the elevated railway “loop” that forms the hub of the city’s “L” system.

12 Some French wines : RHONES

Côtes du Rhône is a wine region centered on the Rhône river in France. The name of the region translates as “Slopes (or Hills) of Rhône”. The most prevalent grapes used in Côtes du Rhône wine are Grenache (in reds and rosés) and Grenache blanc (in whites).

25 Speedy shark : MAKO

The shortfin mako shark can appear on restaurant menus, and as a result the species is dying out in some parts of the world. The mako gets its own back sometimes though, as attacks on humans are not unknown. It is the fastest-swimming shark, and has been clocked at speeds of over 40 miles/hour. And the shark in Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”, that’s a mako. “Mako” is the Maori word for “shark” or “shark tooth”.

29 Pizza joint in “Do the Right Thing” : SAL’S

“Do the Right Thing” is a Spike Lee movie that was released in 1989. Much of the action in the film is centered on a local pizzeria called “Sal’s” owned by Italian-American Salvatore Frangione (played by Danny Aiello).

34 Fancy notebook brand : MOLESKINE

Moleskine is a papermaking company based in Milan, Italy. Moleskine’s products include luxury stationery and associated items.

35 Fuel economy org. : EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was set up during the Nixon administration and began operation at the end of 1970.

38 Critic’s pick, for short : REC

Recommendation (rec.)

39 Tourist city in New Mexico’s high desert : TAOS

The town of Taos, New Mexico is named for the Native American village nearby called Taos Pueblo. Taos is famous for its art colony. Artists began settling in Taos in 1899, and the Taos Society of Artists was founded in 1915.

40 Dublin’s land : EIRE

“Éire” is the Irish name for Ireland, coming from “Ériu”. Ériu was the matron goddess of Ireland in Irish mythology.

The city of Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is known as “Baile Átha Cliath” in Irish (“town of the hurdled ford”). The English name “Dublin” is an anglicized form of the older Irish name for the city “Dubh Linn”, meaning “black pool”.

46 Some belly buttons : INNIES

The navel is basically the scar left behind when the umbilical cord is removed from a newborn baby. One interesting use of the umbilicus (navel, belly button) is to differentiate between identical twins, especially when they are very young.

48 Forgo : ESCHEW

“To eschew”, meaning “to avoid, shun”, comes from the Old French word “eschiver” that means the same thing.

61 Kind of tear for an athlete : ACL

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four major ligaments that support the knee.

62 Stephen of “V for Vendetta” : REA

Stephen Rea is an Irish actor from Belfast. Rea’s most successful role was Fergus in 1992’s “The Crying Game”, for which performance he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. In “The Crying Game”, Fergus was a member of the IRA. In real life, Rea was married to IRA bomber and hunger striker Dolours Price at the time he made the movie.

“V for Vendetta” is a 2006 movie based on the political thriller graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. The film stars Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman and Stephen Rea. Two other Moore novels made it to the big screen: “From Hell” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 9-to-5 activity : WORK
5 In heaven, say : ABOVE
10 Like a Saturday crossword : HARD
14 Person in a boardroom, informally : EXEC
15 It’s in the details, they say : DEVIL
16 Arthur who wrote “Days of Grace” : ASHE
17 Meat substitute : TOFU
18 Cards in Monopoly : DEEDS
19 Put the kibosh on : STOP
20 French conductor Boulez : PIERRE
22 Upscale hotel facility : SAUNA
23 Electrical unit : OHM
26 “___ relax” (“Breathe”) : TRY TO
27 Web-footed diver : OTTER
28 Things that may be broken when moving? : LEASES
30 Pic picked in a parlor : TAT
32 Gare de l’___, Paris railway station : EST
33 Senegal’s capital : DAKAR
34 Where the sheep is in “Little Boy Blue” : MEADOW
37 One totally unlike another … or what each answer on the edge of this puzzle has? : POLAR OPPOSITE
41 Inscribed stone markers : STELAE
42 Having no toppings, as a pizza : PLAIN
44 Singer/songwriter DiFranco : ANI
47 Rocks, in drinks : ICE
48 Pooh’s morose friend : EEYORE
49 Complete stranger, slangily : RANDO
51 Gregor ___, Kafka character who transforms in “The Metamorphosis” : SAMSA
54 Put in stitches : SEW
55 Unpleasant encounter : RUN-IN
56 Madison Square Garden team : KNICKS
58 “Really?” : IS IT?
59 Bird whose beak inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution : FINCH
60 Fend (off) : WARD
64 Flying formations : VEES
65 Accustom to difficulty : INURE
66 Taiwanese electronics giant : ACER
67 Like a Monday crossword : EASY
68 In hell, say : BELOW
69 Off-hours activity : PLAY

Down

1 Rainy : WET
2 Big name in kitchen utensils : OXO
3 Arena arbiter, informally : REF
4 Single-serving coffee pod : K-CUP
5 Venomous snakes with zigzag patterns on their backs : ADDERS
6 Drunken, in a way : BEERY
7 Not hidden : OVERT
8 Obsolescent home movie format : VIDEOTAPE
9 They loop the Loop : ELS
10 Rips into : HAS AT
11 Shrewd : ASTUTE
12 Some French wines : RHONES
13 Take off, as a plane : DEPART
21 Method of successive improvement : ITERATION
22 In some sense : SO TO SPEAK
23 Like the year you ring out on December 31 : OLD
24 In a ___ of trouble : HEAP
25 Speedy shark : MAKO
29 Pizza joint in “Do the Right Thing” : SAL’S
31 Hubbub : ADO
34 Fancy notebook brand : MOLESKINE
35 Fuel economy org. : EPA
36 Foxlike : WILY
38 Critic’s pick, for short : REC
39 Tourist city in New Mexico’s high desert : TAOS
40 Dublin’s land : EIRE
43 Like the year you ring in on January 1 : NEW
44 Land, as a plane : ARRIVE
45 Seasickness, e.g. : NAUSEA
46 Some belly buttons : INNIES
48 Forgo : ESCHEW
50 Bubbleheaded : DITSY
52 Cancel : ANNUL
53 Prefix with aggression : MICRO-
57 Exchange : SWAP
59 Little lie : FIB
61 Kind of tear for an athlete : ACL
62 Stephen of “V for Vendetta” : REA
63 Not rainy : DRY

12 thoughts on “1208-20 NY Times Crossword 8 Dec 20, Tuesday”

  1. 9:39 including one lookup. Unfamiliar with MOLESKINE (I have used moleskin for blisters when hiking) and its crosser SAMSA (Though some 45 or so years ago I did read the Metamorphosis in German – Die Verwandlung – in my German class, but have no idea of the characters’ names). Also had STELAS vs STELAE and that took me a little to realize that the down crosser was not VIDEOTAPS.

  2. 10:11, but like Ron I was lost with MOLESKINE, SAMSA, STELAE and even REC. I just peeked at those last few letters as I have too much to do today.

    I never liked the idea of the KCUPS because they control the strength of the coffee instead of me. Never tried Bill’s Nespresso either. I use a Cuisinart Grind and Brew since it grinds the coffee beans and makes the coffee for you with the push of a button.

    Best –

  3. Took a bus tour of Manhattan a couple of years ago. (My first
    and LAST EVER visit to NYC.) Was surprised to learn that Madison Square Garden is in fact round.

  4. One letter incorrect at the STELAE/REC cross. I had an O instead of an E.

    I am surprised at so many of the commenters who say that they have “look-ups” and then give themselves a “time”. In my opinion that is not really working the puzzle. If you were in tournament play you would certainly not have a computer accessible in your booth. You either know the answer in your head or you don’t. That is how I play the game.

    Further I think that solving puzzles online is why so many contestants who do so do not do well in the tournaments. There are major differences in solving online and solving on paper. Namely, solving online is a lot easier. Little notices like “almost there” give a huge advantage over the pencil-and-paper solver.

    As has been said on this board so many times—-each solver must set their own rules. Of course, it is impossible to enforce any standards here. But looking up answers and including that as a part of your time spent—-just doesn’t cut it for me.

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