1209-20 NY Times Crossword 9 Dec 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Owen Travis and Jeff Chen
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Limbo

Themed answers are a progression describing a sequence when doing a LIMBO dance:

  • 64D Contest described by 19-, 30-/41- and 51-Across : LIMBO
  • 19D Establish a standard that’s easy to reach : SET THE BAR LOW
  • 30D With 41-Across, make every effort to be accommodating : BEND OVER …
  • 41D See 30-Across : … BACKWARD
  • 51D Not meet expectations : UNDERACHIEVE

Bill’s time: 8m 55s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Four are credited for a grand slam, briefly : RBIS

In baseball, a grand slam is a home run hit with runners on all three bases, leading to a score of four runs.

10 Channel that a telly may be tuned to : BBC

The marvelous British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is mainly funded by the UK government through a television licence fee that is levied annually on all households watching TV transmissions.

“Telly” is a term commonly used in Britain and Ireland that is short for “television”.

13 Fuel for a funny car : NITRO

“Laughing gas” is a common name for nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is used as an anesthetic, particularly by dentists. It is also used in motor racing to increase the power output of engines. Laughing gas was first synthesized by the English chemist Joseph Priestley, but it was Humphry Davy who discovered its potential as an anesthetic. Once it was realized that the gas could give the patient a fit of the giggles, “laughing gas parties” became common among those who could afford them.

14 Dough : MOOLA

Lettuce, cabbage, kale, dough, bread, scratch, cheddar, simoleons, clams and moola(h) are all slang terms for money.

15 Contraction in “Jingle Bells” : O’ER

The traditional Christmas song “Jingle Bells” was first published in 1857, penned by James Lord Pierpont. We associate the song with Christmas, although in fact Pierpont wrote it as a celebration of Thanksgiving.

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

17 Remnant of an oceanic volcano : ATOLL

An atoll is a coral island that is shaped in a ring that encloses a lagoon. There is still some debate as to how an atoll forms, but a theory proposed by Charles Darwin while on his famous voyage aboard HMS Beagle still holds sway. Basically an atoll was once a volcanic island that had subsided and fallen into the sea. The coastline of the island is home to coral growth which persists even as the island continues to subside inside the circling coral reef.

18 “The way I see it,” to a texter : IMO

In my opinion (IMO)

22 Cameo, say : BIT PART

Even in my day, a cameo role was more than just a short appearance in a movie (or other artistic piece). For the appearance to be a cameo, the actor had to play himself or herself, and was instantly recognizable. With this meaning it’s easy to see the etymology of the term, as a cameo brooch is one with the recognizable carving of the silhouette of a person. Nowadays, a cameo is any minor role played by a celebrity or famous actor, regardless of the character played.

25 Vincent van Gogh or Queen Elizabeth I, notably : REDHEAD

Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who seems to have had a very tortured existence. Van Gogh only painted for the last ten years of his life, and enjoyed very little celebrity while alive. Today many of his works are easily recognized, and fetch staggering sums in auction houses. Van Gogh suffered from severe depression for many of his final years. When he was only 37, he walked into a field with a revolver and shot himself in the chest. He managed to drag himself back to the inn where he was staying but died there two days later.

The Elizabethan Era, the period associated with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, is considered by many to be the golden age of English history. It was the age of William Shakespeare and the age of the English Renaissance. Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and the last sovereign of the House of Tudor.

26 O, in the W.W. II Army/Navy alphabet : OBOE

The Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet was introduced in 1941 and used by all branches of the US military until they transitioned to what’s usually referred to as the NATO phonetic alphabet. The Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet starts with Able, Baker, Charlie and ends with X-ray, Yoke, Zebra.

29 “Between Two ___” (Zach Galifianakis show) : FERNS

Zach Galifianakis is a stand-up comedian who is making a name for himself on the big screen. Galifianakis garnered a lot of attention for his role in 2009’s “The Hangover”, and also starred opposite Robert Downey Jr. in the 2010 release “Due Date”.

32 Ivory, but not ebony : SOAP

Ivory soap is one of Procter & Gamble’s oldest products, introduced way back in 1879. Ivory soap is noted for its “purity” and also because of its property of floating in water. Despite urban myths to the contrary, the property of floating in water was developed deliberately by a chemist at the time Ivory was being formulated. The soap floats because the ingredients are mixed longer than necessary for homogenization, which introduces more air into the product.

45 Big name in pasta sauce : RAGU

The Ragú brand of pasta sauce is owned by Unilever. The name ” Ragù” is the Italian word for a sauce used to dress pasta, however the spelling is a little off. In Italian, the word is “Ragù” with a grave accent over the “u”, but if you look at a jar of the sauce on the supermarket shelf it is spelled “Ragú” on the label, with an acute accent. Sometimes I think we just don’t try …

46 Yours, in Tours : A TOI

Tours is the largest city in the Centre region of France. Sitting on the Loire river, it is said that the people of Tours speak the “purest” form of French in the whole country. The French spoken by a local is also said to be free of any accent.

47 Song words after “Speaking words of wisdom …” : LET IT BE

“Let It Be” was the last album that the Beatles released as an active group playing together. The title song was written by Paul McCartney, and it is clearly one of his own favorites. McCartney says that he was inspired to write the song after having had a dream about his mother (who had died some years earlier from cancer). In fact, he refers to her (Mary McCartney) in the line “Mother Mary comes to me”. Paul’s first wife, Linda, is singing backing vocals on the song, the only time she is known to have done so in a Beatles recording. 18 years after that 1970 recording was made, Paul, George and Ringo sang “Let It Be” at a memorial service for Linda, who was also lost to cancer. Sad stuff, but a lovely song …

54 Big name in cosmetics : ESTEE

Estée Lauder was a very successful businesswoman, and someone with a great reputation as a salesperson. Lauder introduced her own line of fragrances in 1953, a bath oil called “Youth Dew”. “Youth Dew” was marketed as a perfume, but it was added to bathwater. All of a sudden women were pouring whole bottles of Ms. Lauder’s “perfume” into their baths while using only a drop or two of French perfumes behind their ears. That’s quite a difference in sales volume …

62 B&B : INN

In the US, an intimate inn is a bed & breakfast (B&B). Traditionally, a bed & breakfast back in Ireland is more basic accommodation, and used to be much cheaper than a comparable hotel room.

64 Contest described by 19-, 30-/41- and 51-Across : LIMBO

The limbo dance originated on the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean. The name “limbo” is an alteration of our word “limber”, which isn’t surprising given what one has to do to get under that bar!

Down

1 “This is ___” : CNN

CNN (Cable News Network) was launched in 1980 by the Turner Broadcasting System, and was the first television channel in the world to provide news coverage 24 hours a day.

2 Kia subcompact : RIO

Kia have made the subcompact model called a Rio since 2000.

6 “Divergent” author Veronica : ROTH

The “Divergent” series of movies is based on the “Divergent” novels written by Veronica Roth. The movies and novels are set in a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago called the Divergent Universe. The story is about a citizenry that is divided into five different factions based on personality traits. The critics weren’t crazy about the first movie in the series, but I really enjoyed it …

11 Kvetch about : BEMOAN

The word “kvetch” comes to us from Yiddish, with “kvetshn” meaning “to complain” or “squeeze”.

14 Source of the line “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” : MATTHEW

The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of teachings of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. One famous section of the discourse is known as the Beatitudes. The eight Beatitudes are:

  • … Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
  • … Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted
  • … Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth
  • … Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled
  • … Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy
  • … Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God
  • … Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God
  • … Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

21 Perlman of “Cheers” : RHEA

Rhea Perlman’s most famous role has to be Carla Tortelli, the irascible waitress in the long-running sitcom “Cheers”. Perlman is also a successful children’s author, and has published a series of six books called “Otto Undercover”. She married Hollywood actor Danny DeVito in 1982.

The wonderful sitcom “Cheers” ran for eleven seasons on NBC, from 1982 to 1993. “Cheers” spawned an equally successful spin-off show called “Frasier”, which also ran for eleven seasons and often featured guest appearances of characters from the original “Cheers”. The Cheers bar was styled on the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston (in which I’ve had a pint of Guinness two!). The owner of the Bill & Finch cleverly agreed to the initial interior and exterior shots, charging only one dollar. Since then he has made millions from selling “Cheers” memorabilia, and also from increased trade.

22 Variety of tea : BOBA

Bubble tea, sometimes called “boba tea”, is a tea-based drink from Taiwan. The “bubbles” are chewy tapioca balls that are usually added to the drink.

28 Its capital is Oranjestad : ARUBA

Oranjestad is the capital city of the island of Aruba in the Caribbean. Aruba is a constituent country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Oranjestad translates as “Orange Town”, and was named for the first King William of Orange-Nassau.

37 One taking a bow for getting couples together? : EROS

The name of Eros, the Greek god of love, gives rise to our word “erotic” meaning “arousing sexual desire”. Eros was referred to in Latin as both “Amor” (meaning “love”) and “Cupid” (meaning “desire”).

40 Actress Falco : EDIE

Actress Edie Falco won three Emmy Awards for playing Carmela Soprano on HBO’s outstanding drama series called “The Sopranos”. Falco also won an Emmy in 2010 for playing the title role in “Nurse Jackie”, an excellent black comedy.

43 Squatting muscles : GLUTEI

There are three gluteal muscles in the human body, the largest of which is the gluteus maximus. It’s the gluteus maximus which really dictates the shape and size of the human buttocks. In evolutionary terms, the human “glutes” (also “glutei”) are larger than those in related species because they play a big role in maintaining our erect posture.

45 Leader of an Episcopal parish : RECTOR

The Episcopal Church in the US is a branch of the Anglican Communion, and so is associated with the Church of England. The Episcopal Church is descended from the Church of England’s presence in the American colonies, prior to the American Revolution. The American Anglicans split with the mother church, largely because the clergy of the Church of England are required to swear allegiance to the British monarch. Members of the Episcopal Church are known as Episcopalians. “Episcopal” is an adjective and “Episcopalian” is a noun.

48 Mideast port that was home to Sinbad the sailor : BASRA

It’s quite a coincidence that the Iraqi city of Basra has a name that is an anagram of “Arabs”, isn’t it? Basra also features in the H. G. Wells science-fiction tale “The Shape of Things to Come”. Written in 1933, the storyline predicts a global conflict (WWII) that breaks out in 1940 lasting for ten years, after which chaos reigns as no victor emerges. Following worldwide plague, a benevolent dictatorship takes charge and the world moves towards a serene utopia. In time, the dictators are overthrown and peacefully retired, and the people of the Earth live happily ever after, all citizens of one global state with its capital in Basra in the Middle East.

Sinbad is the hero of a set of fictional tales from the Middle East. Sinbad comes from the port city of Basra and had fantastic adventures on voyages throughout the sea east of Africa and south of Asia.

57 Police dept. alert : APB

An All Points Bulletin (APB) is a broadcast from one US law enforcement agency to another.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Pain in the neck : CRICK
6 Four are credited for a grand slam, briefly : RBIS
10 Channel that a telly may be tuned to : BBC
13 Fuel for a funny car : NITRO
14 Dough : MOOLA
15 Contraction in “Jingle Bells” : O’ER
16 Formal turndown : NO, SIR
17 Remnant of an oceanic volcano : ATOLL
18 “The way I see it,” to a texter : IMO
19 Establish a standard that’s easy to reach : SET THE BAR LOW
22 Cameo, say : BIT PART
25 Vincent van Gogh or Queen Elizabeth I, notably : REDHEAD
26 O, in the W.W. II Army/Navy alphabet : OBOE
27 Expressions of enlightenment : AHAS
29 “Between Two ___” (Zach Galifianakis show) : FERNS
30 With 41-Across, make every effort to be accommodating : BEND OVER …
32 Ivory, but not ebony : SOAP
33 Gobbled : ATE
34 One who might have to create an account : NEW USER
36 Utah senator Mike : LEE
39 Green New ___ : DEAL
41 See 30-Across : … BACKWARD
43 Many city layouts : GRIDS
45 Big name in pasta sauce : RAGU
46 Yours, in Tours : A TOI
47 Song words after “Speaking words of wisdom …” : LET IT BE
49 Most serious : GRAVEST
51 Not meet expectations : UNDERACHIEVE
53 As well : TOO
54 Big name in cosmetics : ESTEE
55 Pitch deliverer, perhaps : ADMAN
59 “Gross!” : EWW!
60 Like excited fans in stadiums : AROAR
61 “Crossing my fingers!” : I HOPE!
62 B&B : INN
63 Go-___ : KART
64 Contest described by 19-, 30-/41- and 51-Across : LIMBO

Down

1 “This is ___” : CNN
2 Kia subcompact : RIO
3 “___ complicated” : IT’S
4 Got nice and toasty? : CRISPED
5 Home of the boy band BTS : KOREA
6 “Divergent” author Veronica : ROTH
7 Rude people in stadiums : BOOERS
8 “Who’da thunk it?!” : I’LL BE!
9 Utensil farthest left in a five-piece place setting : SALAD FORK
10 Standard contract text : BOILERPLATE
11 Kvetch about : BEMOAN
12 Groups in stadiums : CROWDS
14 Source of the line “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” : MATTHEW
20 Bookstore section : TRAVEL
21 Perlman of “Cheers” : RHEA
22 Variety of tea : BOBA
23 Sarcastic comeback : I BET
24 Stopped being so loud : TONED IT DOWN
28 Its capital is Oranjestad : ARUBA
31 Hot : ON A STREAK
32 Fix in place : SECURE
35 More in need of a lift? : SAGGIER
37 One taking a bow for getting couples together? : EROS
38 Prepare for publishing : EDIT
40 Actress Falco : EDIE
42 Gave a friendly greeting, in a way : WAVED HI
43 Squatting muscles : GLUTEI
44 Fame : RENOWN
45 Leader of an Episcopal parish : RECTOR
48 Mideast port that was home to Sinbad the sailor : BASRA
50 To no ___ : AVAIL
52 What incubators provide : HEAT
56 Old-fashioned tattoo : MOM
57 Police dept. alert : APB
58 Start of many an art movement : NEO-

13 thoughts on “1209-20 NY Times Crossword 9 Dec 20, Wednesday”

  1. 9:58 Including about 45 seconds to find the S in GLUTES and replace with an I. Don’t think I’ve ever referred to them as my GLUTEI. I am familiar with the NATO phonetic alphabet -26A – and so I wanted that to be Oscar, but put in OSLO instead. Needed crosses to arrive at OBOE.

  2. 10:01, no errors. Missed the theme while solving, got a kick out of it just now. (UNDERACHIEVE, teehee 😜.) Very distracted by a project I’m working on that involves doing a whole lot of the older (pre-Shortz) NYT crosswords.

  3. 10:50. Finally getting back in the saddle with these things. One error, I didn’t notice sNN for 62A and left GLUTEs as is. Oh well.

    I was going to make a joke about GLUTEI being so close to RECTOR, but fortunately I’m too much of a class act to do such a thing…

    Best –

  4. I’m humbled today. Just under 18 minutes. It took some time to find a few stupid fat fingered entries. But I did get GLUTEI right off.

  5. No errors but this wasn’t that easy , for me noway. Several hesitations. Had to let crosses verify my words.. well over 10 minutes while watching TV. It was fun..

  6. Nitro is used in funny cars, but it’s not laughing gas (nitrous oxide). It’s nitromethane. Laughing has is sometimes used for increased power in modified street cars however.

  7. The grammar police have reached baseball. It’s now RBI “runs batted in”.
    RBIs would be runs batted ins? I guess. I’m sticking with RBIs

  8. 21:23 no errors…I had runs for 6A and that slowed me down…22. & 43D were filled via crosses…it’s a Jeff Chen puzzle.
    Stay safe.😀
    Go Ravens 🙏

  9. No errors. I got LIMBO very early so that helped with the long answers and from there on everything fell into place quickly. BOILERPLATE was the most interesting entry for me. I had only a vague acquaintance with the word. I found that the definition is very broad and covers several fields. As pertains to the complex language of contracts, I was, of course, aware that it existed but just never had a term to describe it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.